Jan 282016
 

Screen_Shot_2015-11-06_at_10.33_.16_AM_

In cinemas this week – Spotlight, Room, Looking for Grace and Dirty Grandpa

SpotlightTells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment. Directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent), Spotlight is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times. Spotlight has a cracking script, an ace cast and a compelling story detailing a significant case of investigative-journalism and the resulting Pulitzer Prize-winning article, but it is so un-cinematic that sadly very little has lingered with me. Keen to watch it again, though. You can read Sam’s eloquent take on the film at the link.

Room – Both highly suspenseful and deeply emotional Room is a unique and touching exploration of the boundless love between a mother and her child. After 5-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world. As he experiences all the joy, excitement, and fear that this new adventure brings, he holds tight to the one thing that matters most of all – his special bond with his Ma. No one can deny that Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay’s performances are incredibly moving, but Emma Donoghue’s cinematic adaptation of her own literary phenomenon does have its problems. Sam liked it more than I did – and her thoughts are at the link.

Dirty Grandpa – Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is one week away from marrying his boss’s daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm. However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick (Robert De Niro), to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride. Ultimately, on the wildest journey of their lives, “dirty” Grandpa and his uptight grandson discover they can learn from one another and form the bond they never had. Reactions out of the U.S have been outrageously, but perhaps justifiably, negative.

Looking for Grace – The long-awaited new film from Sue Brooks, the acclaimed and multi award-winning director of Japanese Story is an intimate, funny and profoundly moving story about the complexities of family life. When rebellious 16-year-old Grace (rising star Odessa Young) takes off, her exasperated mum and dad (Radha Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh) enlist the help of a close-to-retirement detective, and begin the long drive from Perth out to the West Australian wheatbelt to try to find her. On the journey, the two must confront the realities of their changing relationship to one another, and to their daughter. Wry, intriguing and poignant, Brooks’ unflinching reflection on the disruptive effects of both adolescence and middle age boasts her trademark sense of character, acerbic humour and eye for the hypnotic rhythms of Australia’s regional landscapes.

Weekly Recommendation – I don’t love either of the Best Picture nominees out this week –  Spotlight and Room – but many people do, and they are certainly worth a look. Two of the most popular and critically acclaimed films of the past year with 10 Oscar nominations between them. On paper they seem unmissable. At the very least, the acting is excellent. 

Jan 152016
 

2016-oscars-best-picturejpg-9c38811222cae63b

Overnight the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were announced, and as usual we were up after the stroke of midnight to catch them as they were broadcast live. There has been a lot of discussion about this year’s leading contenders and we felt that the field would be spread quite deep – no stand-out sweeping many different categories, they will be shared around – and as a result it has been a lot harder to predict. While Spotlight went in the wobbly favourite for Best Picture, contenders in the shape of The Big Short and The Revenant have been building momentum. The number of Best Picture nominees has also been a hotly debated topic, with many pundits claiming that the number would not surpass eight. Would there be a surprise – could Pixar’s Inside Out, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, or box office giant Straight Outta Compton sneak in? Would Sylvester Stallone follow up his Golden Globe with his second nomination for his portrait of Rocky Balboa. There are always stories around the Oscars, and while they may be dipping into a shallow pool of films, some amazing films have been recognised this year.

Well, leading all nominees with a whopping 12 was Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant. Now we predicted it would score at least 8, but when it picked up the uncertain Best Costume Design and Supporting Actor, we knew it was set to hit over 10. George Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road received 10 nominations, on par with our predictions, cleaning up the technical categories (although unfathomably missing out on an Original Score nomination). The rest of the field of nominees is spread right out with a host of films landing between 3 and 7 nominations. Joining The Revenant and Fury Road in the Best Picture field were The Martian (7), Spotlight (6), Bridge of Spies (6), The Big Short (5), Room (4) and Brooklyn (3). On the outside with multiple noms were Carol (6), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (5), The Danish Girl (4), The Hateful Eight (3), Sicario (3) and Ex Machina (2).

Check out the full list of nominees by category after the jump: Continue reading »