Aug 262014

Night Moves

Opening in a remote Oregon national park, we meet Josh (Jesse Eisenberger) and Dena (Dakota Fanning) as they are walking around a damn. We soon discover the reason for their visit is recon for an upcoming act of crime which they intend to commit in the name of the environment, a big F U to big business. Along with Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), the pair intend to stuff a motorboat (named ‘Night Moves’) full of a homemade fertilizer explosive and blow up the damn.

Very much a film of two halves, pre-crime and post-crime, we see the planning of the explosion and then how the threesome deals with the consequences of their action, which are far more serious than they could have envisioned. What Night Moves does so well, is let the character’s actions speak for themselves. There’s very little exposition here, with writer Jonathan Raymond and writer-director Kelly Reichardt trusting their audience enough to fill in the gaps. Truth be told we don’t need to know more, the real story is in how they exist after the events, not what drove them to it.

Jesse Eisenberg is quietly intense as Josh, his controlled performance serving to emphasise his characters few outbursts. Dakota Fanning is emotive but understated as Dena, and it is through her that the moral conundrum of their actions play out. What is the difference between eco-terrorism and eco-activism? Do the ends justify the means? Reichardt lets the audience decide this for themselves, although events in the final scenes (which may be too hard for many to buy) may be interpreted as a shove in a particular direction.


By Sam McCosh

The Facts

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writer(s): Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: September 11 2014

Aug 242014


August already…where did the time go? I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but there hasn’t been much to see at the cinema here. I’ve been watching a lot of TV and reading pieces about all the good things the rest of you have seen. After the jump a bit from MIFF, a bit of pre-TIFF and some really interesting writing.

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 Posted by at 23:09
Aug 202014

this is where I leave you

I don’t want to say the ‘O’ word so early in the year, so I’m not going to. But the ‘O’ word is definitely in play as the spring releases start pouring in. There’s a mix of big hitters, O hopefuls and indie titles (that are coming from the festival circuit) coming to our cinemas in spring. After the jump I’ve listed 16 films to seriously consider seeing this spring* – check them out. (*subject to the ever-changing Australian cinema release schedule)

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 Posted by at 21:44
Aug 182014

The Inbetweeners 2

The raunchy teenage/young adult male sex comedy is one of those ubiquitous sub-genres that won’t be going away anytime soon. From Animal House to American Pie, these movies are usually good for a chuckle or two so long as the laughs are good-natured, the leads are loveable and the female characters aren’t too appallingly written. But does The Inbetweeners 2 pass this litmus test? My review after the jump.

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Aug 172014


I was honoured when Ryan McNeil at The Matinee invited me to contribute a guest post to his fantastic site. The brief – write about a film you didn’t like a first, but grew to love when you watched it again. A couple of films sprung to mind, but the film I think I’ve done the biggest 180 on is Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

When Eyes Wide Shut was released in cinemas I was 14, that’s 4 years below the age allowed by New Zealand law to view the film. I didn’t know who Stanley Kubrick was, but I knew Hollywood stars Kidman and Cruise, and I thought a film with both of them in it might be cool. A few years later I caught the film when it played on TV late one Saturday evening. By then the film had become infamous for the orgy scenes, and Cruise and Kidman had ended their marriage, but I still didn’t know who Kubrick was (I was a late bloomer in many areas of film appreciation).

Read the full post at The Matinee.

Aug 162014

Oh boy.

I first heard about Nightcrawler when this ad was posted on Craigslist. The ad contained a link which led to the video resume of one Lou Bloom, aka the lead character in Nightcrawler. I must say I appreciate when marketing tries something a little different.

The official synopsis is as follows:

NIGHTCRAWLER is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling — where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents.

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my favourite actors right now. Between Enemy, Prisoners and End of Watch , he is so on form. This is director Dan Gilroy’s first feature film, however he is no stranger to Hollywood. Gilroy has behind the pen for films which include The Bourne Legacy, The Fall and Reel Steel.

Madman Entertainment has picked up Nightcrawler for a 2014 release in Australia. The film will première at TIFF (where I hope to see it) in September.

Aug 152014


In this rather unusual documentary, we follow a day, the 20,000th day in the life of UK-based, Australian musician Nick Cave. This day is a construct, one which is representative of Cave’s daily life. We follow him from writing, catch ups with friends, doctors appointments and of course, practice. This was more like a collage or scrapbook than a linear story. Mixed media – audio, photographs, archival footage are blended in with the documentary’s own footage, giving the film an incredibly textured feel.

Cave spends much of the film musing on some of some pretty big ideas – the power of memory, what legacy we leave and what it means to create. It seems like it’s something he spends a long time thinking about, like he is constantly searching for validation or purpose for his art. His thought processes are quite complex, even pained, and once or twice I felt myself getting lost within the depths of his soul. Much like his music, his thoughts are rather intense and brooding at times. Famous friends, bandmates and associates make appearances throughout, though I found that their contribution served mostly to inflate the mystique of Cave, rather than offer any real insight.

Aside from the interesting construct of the film, what I loved was the cinematography and editing. The film was extremely slick and photographed so beautifully by Erik Wilson (The Imposter, The Double, Tyrannosaur), who is fast becoming one of my favourite cinematographers. Jonathon Amos (Attack the Block, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) stitches the various material together expertly, weaving a layered scrapbook to represent Cave’s life.

It makes sense that writer-directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard come from a visual arts background. What they have created here is quite innovative, ions away from a traditional musical documentary or bio-pic.
By Sam McCosh
The Facts

Director: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard
Writer(s): Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard, Nick Cave
Starring: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Blixa Bargeld, Susie Bick
Runtime: 97 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: August 21 2014

Aug 142014


This is the eleventh post in the “The Best Films Set In…” series. The setting can be a place (like Tokyo), a location (like the beach), or a time (like Winter). In these posts I’m going to pick my 5 favourite films that are set in that particular place/location/time and explain why I like them.

In honour of my current sports movie week, this edition focuses on films set on a particular type of field that you’ll find in the USA. They’re in schools, small towns and big cities. These fields are inhabited by big men, in big padding with big dreams. The screenplays aren’t always subtle, but you’ll almost always be emotional by the end.

After the jump, check out my picks for The Best Films Set In…On a Football Field.

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 Posted by at 21:33