January Film Reviews

Saving Mr Banks (PG)


Directed by Ian Collie

After trying to get the rights to make the book ‘Mary Poppins’ into a film for 20 years, Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) finally managed to get its author P L Travers (Emma Thompson) to Hollywood to discuss the script. Travers had absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine and requested that all discussions be taped. The talented Sherman brothers (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak) produced storyboards and performed catchy songs but after two weeks, Travers was still reluctant to sign over the rights. It was only when Disney delved into her childhood in Australia (the young Pamela Travers is played by Australian Annie Buckley and her charismatic father is played by Colin Farrell) that he was able to discover the supposed reasons. They do ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history and this film gives it a whole new dimension.


American Hustle (MA)


Directed by David Russell

The beginning of this hilarious film states that some of the things depicted actually happened, and it is not only the 1970s décor and clothing that is painfully accurate. The film is based on an FBI operation that set out to expose corruption by using convicted hustlers to hustle other hustlers. Career FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) gives con artists Irving Rosenfeld (a pot-bellied Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (a super sexy Amy Adams) no choice but to set traps for white collar criminals to be caught. When New Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner) gets tangled in their web and members of the Mafia become touchy, some things don’t seem like such a good idea after all. The seventies soundtrack rocks as the most of the characters make really dumb choices. The scariest thing is that it is based on what someone in authority in the 1970s thought was a good idea.


Lone Survivor (TBC)


Directed by Peter Berg

In 2005, four Navy SEALS are dropped by helicopter into a remote, mountainous, rocky, arid part of Afghanistan on a mission to hunt down a high-ranking Taliban target. Based on the book by Marcus Luttrell, the title gives away outcome, but it doesn’t seem to lessen the palpable tension the audience has to go through as they are immersed in the battle for survival with the ill-fated soldiers. Intense close-up cinematography and the use of slow motion and bone-crunching sound effects bring home the agonising reality of war. Marcus Luttrell (co-producer Mark Wahlberg) and his three mates are pushed beyond human endurance as Commander Erik Kristenson (Eric Bana) monitors their situation from the base camp and eventually attempts a rescue mission. This gripping film also highlights the fascinating ironies of the “rules of engagement” and “Pashtunwali” – the non-written ethical code of the indigenous Pushtun people.


The Past (M)


Directed by Asghar Farhaldi

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhaldi won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for A Separation in 2012. This time his film is set in France where an Iranian man, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) is visiting his ex-wife for the purpose of finalising their divorce. French Marie (Berenice Bejo) wants to remarry and the first half of the film seems to be more about the present and the future. But it is the cracks that started in the past that are disrupting the lives of all the characters, particularly the three children caught in the middle of the adults’ plans. Nothing is straightforward and the film holds the audience mesmerised as it peels back the layers that people have built up over the original rupture. Marie’s daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet) is particularly traumatised and claustrophobic scenes in closed cars and small rooms reinforce the distress. Screening 27 Jan – 2 Feb at Somerville and 4 – 9 Feb at Joondalup Pines.

Lezly Herbert

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