Category Archives: Movies

Movie: ‘Neruda’

We caught this film last week at the Latin American Film Festival.  I actually knew who Pablo Neruda was, because we read several of his most famous poems in my Spanish conversation class at the local library.  He was a Chilean poet, who became famous through a collection of poems called Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair that he wrote in 1924at the age of nineteen. He went on to have a prominent political and diplomatic career.  He was a senator for the Chilean Communist Party, but when Communism was outlawed in Chile in 1948, he escaped to Argentina. His death has become increasingly controversial over recent years, with the Pinochet government assertion that Neruda died of cancer, being increasingly questioned.

This film is the imagined story of Neruda’s escape to Valparaiso and across the mountains to Argentina, pursued to a Javert-type policeman (think Les Miserables) who, although unfamiliar with him as a poet, sees the chase in very personal terms.

And no- I couldn’t follow the Spanish very well.

Movie: Truman

I’ve been learning Spanish for the last year and that was the main reason that I wanted to see this film. It’s odd- I came out of the cinema smugly happy with my ability to recognize a couple of words in each interaction, but looking at this YouTube trailer- it seems so fast!! I can’t understand a word of it! (I wonder if they slowed it down for the theatre??)

Anyway, Julian is an actor with advanced cancer who is visited by his friend Tomas on a four-day fleeting visit.  It reminded me just a little of Last Cab to Darwin in its combination of gentle humour and poignancy as a man faces the task of death.  Not a lot happens in the four days, but it’s a moving depiction of friendship and priorities.

Three and a half stars leaning towards four stars because I could follow the Spanish!

Movie: Mustang

Set in Turkey, five orphaned adolescent sisters find their freedom increasingly circumscribed when the neighbours complain about the girls’ rambunctious behaviour with boys. Prompted by the girls’ uncle, their grandmother insists on them wearing shapeless, all-covering clothes outside, their schooling is discontinued and the wheels are in motion for the girls to be married off in traditional arranged marriages.

Although viewers are clearly intended to identify with the girls’ resistance to this familial and cultural oppression, I must confess that some  (just some) of my sympathies rested with the grandmother who was bullied by her son into bringing them into line, and who, in the final analysis, had to find some way to get these five (five!) sisters off her hands. They are all very close in age, all rather voyeuristically tactile with each others, and yes- they are out of control.  I found the contrast between their freedom inside the cloistered house incompatible with their restrictions outside it, and the sudden imposition of traditional values within a cosmopolitan city seemed forced and implausible.

So, three-and-a half stars from me.

Movie: God Willing

A friend recommended this film as a feel-good, gentle comedy and that’s exactly what it is. It’s in Italian with English subtitles. A surgeon, who has rather a God-complex himself, is rattled when his son decides that he is going to become a priest.  The surgeon, who is certainly a sceptic if not an outright aetheist, decides to investigate the priest with whom his son has become friends and finds more to him than he expected.

It’s not deep or challenging in any way, but certainly worth considering if you want to while away an hour or two.

Movie: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Oh NO!! I thought as I settled into my seat, looked around, and realized that I’d just paid good money to go to a kid’s movie, and worse still, there were kids sitting all around me. When did I become so ageist?

Well, as it turned out, one of the real pleasures was watching the little boy sitting next to me (kicking the back of the seat in front the whole way through) become increasingly involved in this delightful, engaging story (and even stop kicking).   The scenery is beautiful and it’s pure New Zealand gothic.  Ward-of-the-state and misunderstood ‘bed igg’ (it IS New Zealand) Ricky Baker worms his way into the affections of his foster-uncle as they set off on a escape from the Miss Truchball-esque welfare officer. I admit to a little tear in the eye and felt thoroughly satisfied by this feel-good family story.  In fact, if pressed, I felt so warm and squishy that could even extrude a grim smile at the little boy sitting next to me if I really had to.

Movie: Chasing Asylum

Even if you accept Malcolm Turnbull’s argument that offshore detention is necessary to stop deaths at sea, I think that all Australians need to see what is being done on behalf of “the Australian people” and take responsibility for it.  Brave people speaking out  in this documentary risk jail under the Border Force Act, in order that we can see these camps that are so rigorously hidden from our view.

Movie: Sherpa

Beautifully filmed, this documentary tells in real time the avalanche of 18 April 2014 that took the lives of sixteen sherpas and prompted their refusal to climb Chomolungma, the mother god of Earth that we know as Mt Everest. Big Western money was at stake here with customers ( because, let’s face it- this IS a business) paying big money to have Sherpas transport their every need from camp to camp so that they could cross ‘Everest’ off their bucket list.  Westerners crossed the treacherous and unstable Khumbu Icefall glacier just twice: the Sherpas crossed it twenty to thirty times, carrying heavy loads in the darkness because sunlight made the glacier even more treacherous and unpredictable.  There had been conflict in 2013 when a Westerner swore on the mountain, viewed by the Sherpas as a holy site, and after this avalanche the Sherpas were under government and commercial pressure to recommence their work.

You’re told in the opening sequence that the avalanche is going to occur, and I found myself holding my breath wondering just when it was going to happen. I felt angry at the manipulation exerted on the Sherpas, and the self-centredness of the disgruntled customers.  And, watching this in the knowledge of the death just recently of that young Australian woman on Everest, made me even more certain that there is no way, physically or ethically, that I would ever climb it!