Category Archives: Movies 2019

Movie: Knives Out

This is a real hoot, with a fantastic cast. But among all these cinematic luminaries – Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette- this film absolutely belongs to Cuban actress Ana de Armas. She cries beautifully, and is completely convincing.

I usually don’t like big-house murder mysteries, but this is really good!

My rating: 5 stars. Really? Maybe 4.5 stars. Nah. 5 stars.

Movie: Yuli

I confess that I was mainly attracted to this film because it is in Spanish, rather than because it’s a ‘dancing’ film.  It’s the true story of Carlos Acosta, the famous Cuban dancer who has danced with the major (Western) dance companies of the world.  Born to a poor family in Havana, it was his father who drove his career when Carlos himself was a reluctant draftee into the world of dance. It’s a Cuban Billy Elliot in reverse. It is filmed in Havana, which surprised me a bit – perhaps the fact that it is not an American movie opened doors. Carlos Acosta plays himself as an adult, and the narrative is intercut with dance scenes that tell the story – beautifully.

But it is, after all, a dance movie so you more or less know the story before you even see it.  I see that Cinema Nova isn’t showing it any more, either. As it turns out, I saw it at its very last showing.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Movie: Locas Mujeres

Gabriela Mistral was the first and only Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Born in 1889, she was a poet, educator and ambassador.  I had actually heard of her: when I was in Santiago there was an exhibition about her in the library across the road, and then when I went to their cultural centre, I found that it was named after her.

But I think that Latin American audiences must know MUCH more about her, because this documentary about her relationship with her younger lover Doris Dana (who, when she was younger, was a dead ringer for Katherine Hepburn) was very light on details. Mainly it was about Doris Dana’s American niece, who ended up being the custodian of all Gabriela Mistral’s papers that had previously gone to Doris Dana. Doris intended sorting them out and publishing them but died before she did so…and there’s so much of the stuff that Doris Dana’s young niece may do the same thing.  So many boxes; so much paper!! As a documentary, film shots of opening boxes and shuffling through papers only gets you so far. Also there were crackly old tape recordings of Gabriela and Doris talking, once Gabriela was getting old and crotchetty.

Still, Steve and I had a good chat about celebrity, and muses, and translated poetry, even if the documentary itself was rather lacklustre and frankly, boring.  It was screened by Filmoteca, who present a Spanish and Latin American film every month through ACMI. It was in Spanish with English subtitles (unlike the trailer I have posted above).

Movie: Birds of Passage

I’ve avoided watching Narcos and all those drug films set in Colombia. This is one different, however. It shows the effects of the drug trade on an indigenous family over a number of decades, as they become more affluent and family loyalties are stretched and broken.  Mainly in Wayuu dialect, there isn’t much Spanish, and it’s pretty fast and indistinct.

Interesting, both as a story and as visual anthropology.

My rating: Four stars

Movie: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

A has-been actor and his stuntman end up living next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate as Charles Manson’s gang are hanging around.

I don’t think that I’m sufficiently steeped in film to catch all the allusions and references in this film.  It was VERY long (three hours) and too self-indulgent in spinning off into side stories. And my God, the ending was violent. I shut my eyes.

My rating: 3/5 (but I probably don’t know what I’m talking about)

Movie: The Australian Dream

I felt ashamed as I watch this. I had forgotten just how decorated Adam Goodes is (was), and I hadn’t realized that he knew so little about his family’s story. His stance against racism was treated with contempt and I just wanted to shrivel up watching Sam Newman, Andrew Bolt and Eddie Maguire. The film operates largely at the emotional level, and I think that Stan Grant lets Australia and the footballing fraternity off too lightly.  And as if that isn’t bad enough, the comments under the YouTube video are horrible reading. Nothing has been learned.

My rating: 4/5

Movie: Never Look Away

This film is loosely based on the life of the German artist Gerhard Richter, although he personally distances himself from it. Born into a German family, Kurt’s father is a reluctant member of the Nazi Party, and his family suffers from the policies of Hitler’s Germany during Hitler’s time, and suffers again afterwards.  It’s a very long movie (3 hours) and I must confess that I was aware that it was a long movie and found myself checking my watch. The baddies are very bad – in fact, despicable- and it is beautifully filmed with moments of real tension. It is German with English subtitles.

My rating: 3 and a half out of five.