Category Archives: Movies 2020

Movie: The Invisible Man

Another pre-coronavirus movie. Sigh. Why did I ever take sitting in a movie theatre for granted?

This was really scary!  A spooky story interwoven with domestic violence and surveillance.  Although I must say that I would really like to see a film where Elizabeth Moss isn’t the victim: where she’s the baddie instead.

4.5 out of 5.

Movie: A Hidden Life

From the good old pre-Coronavirus days.

An Austrian farmer, living high in the mountains, knows that he cannot pledge allegiance to Hitler. He can do his compulsory military training, he can work as an ambulance driver – but both of these options require an oath of loyalty to Hitler, and that he cannot do. And so his family is ostracized, he is imprisoned…and I think you know how this is going to end.

This is a beautifully shot film- think of the opening scenes of Sound of Music, and it captures well the isolated, slow pace of life in a small and very primitive village. But ye gods- it is a LONG movie (nearly 3 hours). I hoped to come out feeling inspired, but I just came out thinking “what a bloody waste of a life by a good man”.

My rating 4/5

Movie: Little Women

 

Ah- the good old pre-coronavirus days, when you could sit in a movie theatre with other people.

I suspect that this is a film of Little Women for viewers who have never read Little Women. It’s boisterous and far more feminist than the book or other film versions, and it breaks the mould by mixing in aspects of Louisa May Alcott’s own story as a writer, as well as using flashbacks and disrupting the narrative flow.

I enjoyed the film, but I bristled at some of the casting. At first I thought that Saoirse Ronan was all wrong as Jo, but by the end of the film she had made the role her own.  Meg was as wishy-washy as she seems in the book. Director Greta Gerwig emphasizes the emotional connection between Jo and Amy, who are seen more as soulmates and very similar to each other than I found in the book . Amy didn’t seem right to me either, too rounded and not self-centred enough. The Amy in my head is haughty and thin. Beth didn’t look sick enough.  And Laurie was just WET.  Professor Bauer was too good-looking, and Laurie’s grandfather wasn’t gruff enough.

However, after all these grizzles, I did enjoy the film, which I think will carve out its own place amongst the many versions of Little Women. How many Little Womens are enough, I wonder?

My rating: 4 out of 5

Viewed at: Palace Westgarth with about 10 other people in the theatre with me. So I would have been safe after all.

Movie: Parasite

This won so many Academy Awards that we had to go to see it. I can certainly see that the film would be a film-afficionado’s delight, with beautifully composed shots and lots of visual imagery.  I’ve only just realized that it was directed by Bong Joon Ho, who directed Snowpiercer (which I saw, but omitted to comment on here in this blog, it seems.) It has similar themes about class and subversion.  While watching it, you are very much aware of its careful staging and lighting.

I’m pleased that a film other than one made in America or Britain was so well-received, and it probably reflects my Eurocentrism that I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the characters in the film other than ‘the poor family’ or ‘the rich husband’. And what an unlovely group of people they were, as a poor family ingratiates and plots its way into a rich family’s house. In the midst of architectural beauty and grinding poverty, everyone is either scrabbling to get ahead, or else completely oblivious to their privilege.

There is heaps of stuff on the internet explaining the story, or explaining why it is so important . I wonder if that says something about the film for a Western, non-cinemaphile audience?

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 (which probably shows that I am no film critic)

Viewed at: Cinema Nova, Cinema 3 (one of the big ones)

Movie: H is for Happiness

Yes, it’s another of my ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ postings about a movie I have seen just before it finishes its run at the cinemas. I knew nothing about this movie, except that it was Australian. With a cast of Miriam  Margolyes, Richard Roxburgh, Emma Booth and Deborah Mailman, I thought that it must be doing something right. Set in Albany W.A. it’s the story of a 12 year old girl trying to heal the grief and anger in her family. She befriends her young classmate who is dealing with his own trouble through believing that he is living in another dimension, and endangering himself trying to return to another dimension.  It walks the narrow line between saccharine tweeness and an affecting, brilliantly acted depiction of family grief. Both child actors were excellent, and I’m sure young Wesley Patten will be the new Aaron Pederson in the next 10 years.

My rating: 3.5 / 5

 

Movie: Cancion sin nombre (Song without a name)

This 2019 Peruvian film is set in the late 1980s, although the events it depicts occurred in 1981, when a Colombian/Peruvian child kidnapping scheme was uncovered, whereby children were bought or taken from impoverished women and sold to childless couples in the United States or Europe.  Appallingly, a similar trafficking ring was discovered in 2018,with links going right up to the top of the police ranks.

The film, shot in black and white, follows a 20 year old indigenous woman, Georgina, who sells potatoes in the market with her husband, and lives in a small shanty in a coastal town. Without the money to pay for antenatal care, she notes the address in the city of a clinic that offers free care. When she has her baby, it is whisked away for medical attention and she never sees it again.  This is the story of her search for her baby, and for justice.

The film has an other-worldly feel, as if it is a fable even though it is told in an urban setting. There is little contextualizing information, especially about the political situation and the rise of terrorism, and there is little conversation. Georgina and her husband are rendered completely impotent through their poverty and lack of documentation, and they have no way of negotiating a corrupt system until Georgina catches the attention of a journalist.

There is a rather unnecessary sub-plot about the journalist as well. The director Melina León was the daughter of the journalist who uncovered the original plot (although in different circumstances), so perhaps she wanted the give the journalist a more complex backstory. It felt rather gratuitous, and Georgina’s story was far more important.

It is a very sad and rather depressing movie, particularly the last scene.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Viewed at: Thornbury Picture House as part of the Filmoteca South American and Spanish film program.

Movie: A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

I don’t think that Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood ever showed on Australian television. It started in 1968, the same time as Sesame Street, which did make it onto Australian screens. I think that perhaps, even then, Mister Rogers would be a little bit too saccharine and preachy for Australian audiences. Where Sesame Street went for cognitive development, Mister Rogers went for emotional and -dare I say it- spiritual development. I don’t know, even now, if I feel particularly comfortable amongst such goodness.

Tom Hanks is absolutely brilliant in this film. Stay for the end and keep watching the credits to see a clip of the real Mister Rogers. And the real life Esquire magazine article mentioned in the film is here – Can You Say …Hero?  It’s a beautiful piece of writing. And the real life author Tom Junod wrote another article recently about him in the Atlantic Magazine, after the film had been made, and it’s almost just as beautiful as the original.

My rating:  4.5 stars