May 312015
 

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I made six visits to the cinema in May, double the amount of April but still relatively slim in comparison to last year. But, I have not been short of viewing options. Having gained media accreditation for the Sydney Film Festival I have been working through a bunch of screeners. Some amazing. Others average. Coverage will come during the festival so I can’t discuss any of these films here. I am seeing 30 films during the 12 days of the festival so June is going to be crazy. As has been a 2015 trend, and what I feel is a work requirement, I have been watching a lot of DTV films released on VOD platforms. There are some gems in there. It just takes a little bit of research, but a complete unknown could appear on your best of the year list.

Mad Men is over. Sam and I very much enjoyed finishing the show, after watching from Season 3 together. Very satisfying. Speaking of satisfying I finished Dragon Age: Inquisition on PS4. 85 hours committed and not a regret. I have started ‘My Career’ mode in NBA 2K15 – a whole new addiction. I have also been listening to a lot of music recently, and I discovered two of my favourite albums of the year this month – The Epic by Kamasi Washington and Frozen Niagara Falls by Purient. On the novel front, been reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Every bit as great as I was led to believe. You can never have too much Bourdain in your life.

I watched a total of 32 films in May. Read about a selection after the jump:

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May 222015
 

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New to cinemas this week: Spy, Woman in Gold, Wild Tales and Danny Collins.

Spy – Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster. I am always wary when I see “from the creators of Bridesmaids” but this looks really funny. Hit-and-miss with McCarthy, but heard all good things about this one.

Woman in GoldThe remarkable true story of one woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann (Mirren), starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Klimt’s famous painting ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I’. Together with her inexperienced but plucky young lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Reynolds), she embarks upon a major battle which takes them all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way. I was surprised by how moved I was by this extraordinary story. Strong performances from Mirren and Reynolds. Review at the link.

Wild Tales – Inequality, injustice and the demands of the world we live in cause stress and depression for many people. Some of them, however, explode. This is a movie about those people. Vulnerable in the face of a reality that shifts and suddenly turns unpredictable, the characters of Wild Tales cross the thin line that divides civilization and barbarism. A lover’s betrayal, a return to the repressed past and the violence woven into everyday encounters drive the characters to madness as they cede to the undeniable pleasure of losing control. Been riding buzz from Cannes 2014, through to its nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, through to general word-of-mouth amongst peers. A satirical Argentinian anthology, I believe it is equally hilarious and deranged.

Danny Collins – Al Pacino stars as aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, who can’t give up his hard-living ways. But when his manager (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act. I hadn’t even heard about this until I learned it was already out. Intriguing, but not on the priority list.

Weekly Recommendation: Woman in Gold is strong, but this is a pretty good week in the wake of Fury Road. I am really looking forward to Spy and Wild Tales. 

May 202015
 

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Directed by Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn), from a debut screenplay from award-winning playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell, Woman in Gold is based on the extraordinary true story of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish refugee living in Los Angeles who fought the Austrian government to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting of her aunt, ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I’, stripped of all identity and re-named ‘Woman in Gold’, after it was confiscated from her relatives by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II. Learn more about the story and why I recommend it this week after the jump.

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