Phoenix movie review

Featuring: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf
Director: Christian Petzold
Screenwriters: Christian Petzold, Harun Farocki; adapted from Hubert Monteilhet’s novel Le Retour des Cendres
Movie Website: www.phoenix-der-film.de/

2014-15 Lotterywest Perth Film Festival season dates:
Somerville: 30 March-5 April, 7.30pm
Joondalup Pines: 7-12 April, 7.30pm

Reviewer: rolanstein
Verdict: Some obvious credibility issues, but the film amounts to much more than the narrative, culminating in an emotional and dramatic powerhouse of a conclusion.

Review:
Phoenix director Christian Petzold’s previous film Barbara, set in pre-unification East Germany, was one of the best movies of the 2013-14 Perth International Film Festival. Phoenix is atmospherically and thematically similar, featuring a grim setting – in this case, a decimated post-war Berlin – and a female lead character (again played by the superb Nina Hoss) who finds a way to transcend her bleak circumstances by reclaiming her dignity and humanity against oppressive odds. Continue reading

A Little Chaos movie review

Featuring: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle
Director: Alan Rickman
Screenwriters: Alison Deegan, Alan Rickman, Jeremy Brock
Movie website: www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms/film/a_little_chaos
Australian release date: Thu 26 Mar

Reviewer: rolanstein
Verdict: Fine of appearance and manner, and works as an immersive cinematic visitation to 17th century Versailles, but lacks heart and dramatic clout.

Review:
French characters speaking English, as in this Brit period piece set in France circa King Louis XIV, are faintly off-putting, but it could be worse – they could be feigning French accents. Either way, surely period pieces are best performed by actors from the countries of origin. And haven’t the Brits got a rich enough history of their own to plunder?

That little bugbear out of the way, period drama devotees will enjoy being immersed in 17th century Versailles as recreated in A Little Chaos. There is the usual sartorial finery, extravagantly wigged gentlemen, elegant ladies, sumptuous furnishings and lavish accoutrements of the royal court, gorgeous scenery etc. Of course, beneath the impeccably civilised surface of this aristocratic milieu a cauldron of errant human behaviour and conflict bubbles away – although it ends up as a thin gruel, rather than a witches’ brew. Continue reading

The Mafia Kills Only In Summer movie review

Featuring: Cristiana Capotondi, Pif, Alex Bisconti, Ginevra Antona
Director: Pierfrancesco ‘Pif’ Diliberto
Screenwriters: Michele Astori, Pif, Marco Martani
Movie Website: www.palacefilms.com.au/themafiakillsonlyinsummer/

2014-15 Lotterywest Perth Film Festival season dates:
Somerville: 23-29 March, 7.30pm
Joondalup Pines: 31 March-5 April, 7.30pm

Reviewer: rolanstein
Verdict: An unremarkable coming-of-age/love story distracts from the true concern of the film – the reign of terror of the Sicilian mafia from the 1970s to 1990s, and its impact on the people of Palermo.

Review:
This is Italian journalist, TV satirist and director Pierfrancesco “Pif” Diliberto’s first feature film, and it shows, playing out like an early draft in which the writer is discovering his true purpose as he goes along. Symptomatic of this directional uncertainty is a shifting tone, which is unsettling and perturbing. Continue reading

Infinitely Polar Bear movie review

Featuring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide
Writer/Director: Maya Forbes
Movie website: www.facebook.com/pages/Infinitely-Polar-Bear/149426691890182
Australian release date: Thurs, 26 March

Reviewer: rolanstein
Verdict: As entertainment the movie works OK, but it is less than substantial in its treatment of manic depression.

Review:
Hollywood doesn’t do mental illness very well generally. The vastly overrated Silver Linings Playbook, for example, concludes with the ludicrous thesis that the cure-all, even for severe conditions, is the lurve of a compatible soul (ie: one similarly afflicted) and a positive attitude.

The ridiculously titled Infinitely Polar Bear doesn’t raise the bar much higher, opting for a sanitised, audience-friendly version of manic depression – MD lite, if you like. At the beginning of the film, lead character Cam (Mark Ruffalo) suffers an acute episode of mania that teeters on the edge of comedy in its presentation. The closest the film gets to the confronting reality of this frightening and destructive illness is in a subsequent scene – the most sobering and affecting point of the film – in which his wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) and young daughters (Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide) visit him while he is drugged out and zombified during an extended period of institutionalisation. Continue reading

Kumiko The Treasure Hunter movie review

Featuring: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard, David Zellner
Director: David Zellner
Screenwriters: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Movie Website: www.palacefilms.com.au/kumikothetreasurehunter/

2014-15 Lotterywest Perth Film Festival season dates:
Somerville: 16-22 March, 8pm
Joondalup Pines: 24-29 March, 8pm

Reviewer: rolanstein
Verdict: Compellingly weird after a slow start, but seriously undermined by a bum premise that is just not credible.

Review:
There’s a fundamental problem here and it’s serious, mum: the premise. Twenty-something Tokyo based Kumiko is obsessed with the Coen brothers’ movie Fargo, or rather, the suitcase of loot one of the characters is seen to stash deep in the snow. She spends her time after work cooped up in her flat, which she shares with cute pet rabbit Bunzo, re-watching the stashing scene over and over on an old video player (why would she persist with such a relic?). When the worn out tape finally gives up the ghost, she buys a DVD player to continue her investigation until she is certain she has pinpointed the location of the suitcase, whereupon she ups and leaves for America without notice, determined to recover her “treasure”. Continue reading