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Film Review 

Act of Valour

Directed by: Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh Written by: Kurt Johnstad Starring: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez and Nestor Serrano An elite team of Navy SEALs embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. What’s unique about that? Nothing. Wait, apologies Act of Valo[u]r stars a group of active-duty Navy SEALs, the story (that’s based on true events) showcases actual, current battlefield technology and tactical strategy from the secretive world of the most elite, highly trained group of warriors in the modern military. I appreciate the intent of Act of Valo[u]r. The audiences’…

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Film Review 

The Deep Blue Sea

Adapted and Directed by: Terence Davies Written by: Terence Rattigan (play) Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale The wife (Rachel Weisz) of a British Judge (Simon Russell Beale) is caught in a self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot (Hiddleston). The Deep Blue Sea is a tale of infatuation that felt so disjointed that it undermined the potential power of a truly raw and vulnerable performance from leading lady Rachel Weisz. Hester Collyer (Weisz) is in a passionless but comfortable marriage with the caring but whipped…

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Film Review 

American Reunion

Directed by: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg Written by: Adam Herz (characters), Jon Hurwitz (screenplay)  Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy and Seann William Scott Jim, Michelle, Stifler, Oz, Kevin, Finch, Vicky and Jim’s Dad are all back together in East Great Falls, Michigan for their 13th high school reunion. American Pie was The Porkys of my generation. I remember so vividly it’s impact on the teen community upon its release and especially going to school the weekend after it was released and bonding with friends as the lexicon of the Pie invaded our own….

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Film Review 

Battleship

Directed by: Peter Berg Written by: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Rhianna, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker and Liam Neeson Don’t be put off by what you’ve seen of Battleship, it’s yet another example of marketing that’s advertising the film as something that it’s not. The fact that it’s a Hasbro property does not make it Transformers 4; or War of the Worlds (where the aliens have been here all along etc). This is an alien invasion film where the aliens aren’t invading. A group of scientists transmit a message across to a ‘Goldilocks’ planet…

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Film Review 

The Hunger Games

Co-Written and Directed: Gary Ross Written by: Suzanne Collins (screenplay/Books), Billy Ray (screenplay) Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Hemsworth Set in a dystopic future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the formerly rebellious twelve districts to sacrifice via a fight to the death on live television. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) protects her younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) by volunteering to take her place for the games. I finally got around to seeing the…

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Film Review 

The Sitter

Directed by: David Gordon Green Written by: Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka Starring: Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, Max Records, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez Noah (Jonah Hill) is a suspended college student who decides to baby-sit the three kids next door  (Max Records, Landry Bender and Kevin Hernandez)  in order for his mother to go on a date, and a series of crazy and wild events interrupt the night. Unfortunately it happens with a lot of ‘it’ actors in the realm of cinematic comedy. Once they’re discovered and become ‘hot’ they’re in…

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Film Review 

Salmon Fishing in Yemen

Directed by: Lasse Hallström Written by: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Paul Torday (novel) Starring: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristen Scott Thomas and Amr Waked A fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) is approached by a consultant (Emily Blunt) to help realize a sheik’s (Amr Waked) vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the Yemeni desert. This unlikely and seemingly impossible task ‘upstream’ is a leap of faith in work, life and love. Usually inept advertising/marketing actually makes films better for me when I see the whole product. There are exceptions of course,…

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Film Review 

The Lucky One

Directed by: Scott Hicks Written by: Will Fetters (screenplay), Nicholas Sparks (novel) Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner A marine (Zac Efron) that collects a glistening photo of a beautiful woman (Taylor Schilling) in the rubble of a fire fight avoids an explosion that would have killed him. For the remainder of his tour he survives some serious ‘shit’ (so-to-speak) and attributes that to the ‘guardian angel’ in the photo. Upon his return he seeks her out to thank her. When he freezes up and cannot disclose why…

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Film Review 

Cafe De Flore

Written and Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée Starring: Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent and Hélène Florent Café De Flore is a deeply personal inquisition. Have you ever been stuck by love like the addictive pulsating beat of your favourite song? You have an almost uncontrollable impulse to move; you don’t see any other option but to bounce or tap to the beat. Have you ever been struck by love in the same way? Has your sense memory imprinted the feeling you had for someone to a song? The tune is tattooed to your consciousness;…

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Film Review 

Haywire

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh Written by: Lem Dobbs Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Angarano and Bill Paxton A black ops mercenary Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) becomes a target in order for her employer Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) to frame her for killing someone she was hired to extract. She escapes the attempt on her life and seeks out all involved in her betrayal for revenge. This film snuck into Australia without a whimper. Even us Film Reviewing types were baffled to discover…

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Film Review 

The Raid

A SWAT team attempts to covertly raid a tenement run by a ruthless mobster (Ray Sahetapy) that serves as a barracks for his private army of the city’s worst killers and criminals. When they’re discovered the survivors must fight their way out through brutal beatings, razor sharp machetes and hails of gun fire. Wow! That’s the first thing that I can say. I had heard a few whispers about the The Raid prior to seeing it. Phrases like “best action film of the year” get bandied about as marketing spin…

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Film Review 

Wish You Were Here

Co-Written and Directed by: Kieran Darcy-Smith Co- Written by: Felicity Price (screenplay) Starring: Felicity Price, Joel Edgerton, Antony Starr and Teresa Palmer Two sisters Steph (Teresa Palmer) and Alice (Felicity Price) with their partners Jeremy (Antony Starr) and Dave (Joel Edgerton) lose themselves in the fun of a carefree South East Asian holiday to Cambodia. Fun turns sinister when only three (Alice, Dave and Steph) return home. Who amongst them knows what happened on that fateful night when they were dancing on the beach under a full moon in Cambodia?…

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Film Review 

21 Jump Street

Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller Written by: Michael Bacall (screenplay), Michael Bacall (story), Jonah Hill (Story) Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube A pair of underachieving cops (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) become part of a special unit that embeds undercover cops in high school. Their mission; to blend in and covertly bring down a synthetic drug ring. Immediately, anyone who is familiar with the original 21 Jump Street is going to ask; “Why the hell is Hollywood looking to ruin another successful 80s T.V franchise with a…

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Film Review 

A Dangerous Method

Directed by: David Cronenberg Written by: Christopher Hampton (screenplay and play “The Talking Cure”), John Kerr (book) Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen Carl Jung (Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) are colleagues pioneering the field psychoanalysis. Jung encounters a patient; Sabina (Keira Knightly); that expands his understanding of the field at the expense of being able to control his impulses. With collaborations such as A History of Violence and Eastern Promises under their belt, the prospect of another Cronenberg and Mortensen joint had me very excited indeed. The…

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Film Review 

Headhunters

Director: Morten Tyldum Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Aksel Hennie, Julie R. Ølgaard, Synnove Macody Lund A Norweigan corporate recruitment ‘headhunter’ Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) steals art on the side to finance his opulent lifestyle and to impress his beautiful wife Diana (Synnove Macody Lund). He meets a potential client in famed former CEO and mercenary Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and discovers that he may have a piece of art so valuable that if he steals it he can retire from his illegal extra curricular activity. This ‘one last job’ gets him…

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Film Review 

50/50

Directed by: Jonathan Levine Written by: Will Reiser Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick I’m baffled that a comedy/drama with a stellar critical reaction overseas starring Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Superbad, 40yr Old Virgin) and Joseph Gordon Levitt [JGL] (Brick, 500 Days of Summer, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) is whimpering its way into one cinema in Australia this week. Fortunately for me, late last year, during a jaunt to New York City, I caught a test screening of 50/50 that was being put forward for fans of two big movie sites in…

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Film Review 

John Carter

Directed by: Andrew Stanton Written by: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andews and Michael Chabon. Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Bryan Cranston, Lynn Collins John Carter is a outstanding achievement of literary adaption. Stanton and co have produced a tightly scripted, rollicking sci-fi adventure that is must see on the big screen; and if  like me, (in Homer salivating voice) See it on IMAX! Stanton honours the source material and creates a richly textured aesthetic and most importantly it’s a hell of a lot of fun. The Plot for those unfamiliar: Former Confederate…

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Film Review 

Carnage

Co Written (Screenplay) and Directed: Roman Polanski Co – Written (Screenplay) by: Yasmina Reza (based on her play by: “Le Dieu du carnage”) Stars: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz Two pairs of parents hold a meeting after their sons are involved in a fight. What starts out as a cordial round table discussion about conflict resolution and discipline gradually descends into (hilarious) chaos. When I hear the name Roman (Chinatown, The Pianist, Rosemary’s Baby) Polanski attached to a project – it immediately peaks my interest….

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Film Review 

A Separation

Country Iran Runtime 123 mins Language Farsi with English subtitles Written and Directed by: Asghar Farhadi Starring: Peyman Maadi, Leila Hatami, Shahab Hosseini, Sarina Farhadi  and Sareh Bayat A married couple are faced with separation when they’re unable to agree on a difficult, life changing decision. Should they leave Iran to improve the life of their adolescent daughter; or to stay in Iran and look after an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s. The opening of the film sees Simin (Leila Hatami) pleading with a legal mediator/judge to be granted a divorce from her husband Nader…

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Film Review 

The Grey

Co-Written and Directed by: Joe Carnahan Co-Written by: Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (screenplay) Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney and Frank Grillo In Alaska, an oil drilling team flying home crash on the frozen tundra. Stranded, wounded, freezing and starving – they’re hunted by pack of wolves that see them as intruders. I know that some of trailers you may have seen are positioning The Grey as Taken in the snow; where instead of Liam Neeson using his ‘unique skills’ to catch and kill euro-trash kidnappers, he’s beating the living Christ out of vicious four legged…

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