Joe Pingue

  • 04 July 2011



Room Review


One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events from the news headlines to tell a raw, deeply involving story that's unnervingly personal. Irish director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Emma Donoghue bring these events to life with uncanny skill, using a young child's perspective to give it an extra-strong kick. And Brie Larson's central performance is so powerful that she's become the one to beat on Oscar night.

She plays Joy, a young woman who was abducted at 17 by a man she only knows as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). The story opens as her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) celebrates his fifth birthday in the single room where he was born and has spent his entire life. There isn't even a window to look out of so, to help him cope, Joy explains that there is no life outside the room, and everything they see on television is fake. She also gets Jack to hide whenever Nick visits, so they can't develop any kind of relationship. But as he grows up, Jack's curiosity demands more answers, and Joy finally decides to tell him the truth in the hope that he can help them escape.

Its halfway into the film when Jack's world is suddenly opened up around him in a rescue sequence that's exhilarating, terrifying and literally breathtaking. And from here, the film gets even more punchy, as Joy and Jack struggle to adapt to life in what seems like an alien landscape. Joy's parents (the great Joan Allen and William H. Macy) have split up, and her mother has a new partner (Tom McCamus), and their reunion is watched closely by the media, police and psychologists. All of this is seen through Jack's curious, observant eyes. Everyone is worried about him, but he perceptively notices that his mother is having even more trouble coping than he is.

Continue reading: Room Review

Room Trailer

A young woman and her 5-year-old son Jack live together in a confined, sound-proofed room in the outhouse of Old Nick's backyard. There is nothing but a bed, a bathtub and a few household items inside, with Old Nick making occasional visits when Jack hides away in a wardrobe. The woman was kidnapped seven years ago by Nick, and subsequently raped by him, meaning that Jack knows nothing of life outside the room. He's content with life with his mother, but she has never given up hopes to escape their prison. She hatches a plan for Jack to escape and seek help and the pair are eventually re-united with her mother and father, and given temporary accommodation in hospital. But Jack is barely able to comprehend all the new experiences and longs for the comfort of his dark former home.

Continue: Room Trailer

Maps To The Stars Trailer

Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) is an actress struggling with her insecurities and desperate to reprise her late mother Clarice's star role in the remake of the latter's 60s film. Constantly haunted by her mother's image and feeling like a less attractive version of her, she seeks comfort from her psychotherapist Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack). Weiss is struggling in his own life, with his wife managing his child star son's comeback acting career after a stint in rehab - and he's only 13-years-old. His other child, daughter Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), has been discharged from a mental hospital unbeknownst to them, and lands a job as a PA for none other than Havana. Stafford starts to become suspicious when Havana talks of her unnamed PA having a scarred face from a fire and warns his wife and son that their daughter may have returned. Meanwhile, Agatha becomes close to a limo driver named Jerome who has his own Hollywood dreams.

Continue: Maps To The Stars Trailer

The Nut Job - Clips

Surly is a short-tempered purple squirrel who's beginning to worry as the cold winter approaches and he has managed to store hardly any food for hibernation. The city streets offer little in the way of nourishment and so, desperate, he starts to search elsewhere. When he meets the town's other animals; including Buddy the rat, the self-important Mole, Grayson the grey squirrel and some rather intellectually challenged gophers; he discovers the world of Nutlantis in the form of Maury's Nut Store. The animals agree to accompany Surly on a food heist that could keep them cosy all winter, but in order to do so they have to get past the menacing owner and his slobbering pug, Precious. How to rob a nut store isn't the only thing that Surly finds himself learning though, and he starts to realise just how great the benefits can be working in a team.

Continue: The Nut Job - Clips

The Nut Job - Teaser Trailer

Surly is an aptly named, grumpy and uncompassionate squirrel who's desperate to go to any lengths to store enough food for the coming winter. As he struggles to forage for nourishment in the city, he meets the rest of the neighbourhood's fauna including an excitable street rat, a fat mole and some simple-minded gophers - all of whom agree to accompany him on a major heist; the robbery of Maury's Nut Store which is guarded by a highly slobbery bulldog. The store is haven of all the kinds of nuts Surly could ever wish for and offers him an extended period of food stability. Along the way, though, he must learn what it is to work as a team and know the importance of the people around him before his temper pushes his friends away for good.

Continue: The Nut Job - Teaser Trailer

Antiviral Review

By Rich Cline

Very Good

It may be style over substance, but Brandon Cronenberg cleverly blends his father David's love of medical yuckiness with an elusive Lynchian-style mystery to keep us unnerved all the way through this low-key thriller. And the film also works as a dark satire on today's celebrity-obsessive culture, in which fans will go to any lengths to be closer to their idols. So imagine if they had the chance to share a star's illness.

This is the work done by the gleaming, futuristic Lucas Clinic, where clinician Syd (Jones) works. He injects one patient (Smith) with an STD taken from mega-star Hanna Geist (Gadon). But Syd has secretly given himself a more powerful virus, which he learns is killing Hannah. Now everyone wants to get their hands on him, even as he realises that he needs to find a cure before it's too late. So he gets in touch with Hannah's assistant (McCarthy) and doctor (McDowell), and discovers that there's a conspiracy afoot involving his clinic's main rival.

The idea that fans would go to this kind of extreme isn't actually that unbelievable in a culture in which we watch their every move on reality TV and feel like their friends through Twitter. And Cronenberg's idea goes beyond sharing viruses, including cloned skin grafts and even a butcher (Pingue) who sells meat grown from celebrity cells. While the ideas echo some of David Cronenberg's films (mainly Videodrome and eXistenZ), this is also a strikingly original approach. The imagery looks amazing, with all-white surfaces and a spare use of colour, against which Syd's unravelling physicality looks increasingly garish.

Continue reading: Antiviral Review

Drive Trailer

A man who is known only as The Driver moonlights as a getaway driver at night, when he is not doing his day job as a movie stunt driver and mechanic. He only has one rule as a getaway driver: as long as his clients return to his car within five minutes, he will help them get away. If they take longer than five minutes, he leaves and doesn't help them.

Continue: Drive Trailer

Drive - Clips

When he is not doing his day job as a movie stunt driver and mechanic, a man known only as The Driver moonlights as a getaway driver at night. His one rule is simple: as long as his clients return to his car within five minutes, he will help them get away. If they don't, he leaves.

Continue: Drive - Clips

Repo Men Review

By Rich Cline


This action movie misses the two big chances here: to play with the absurdities of its premise and to make a comment on corporate greed. Instead it's just brutally violent and staggeringly stupid.

Remy (Law) is a tough guy working with his childhood pal Jake (Whitaker) for The Union, a company that mercilessly repossesses artificial organs when people fail to make the payments. While their heartless boss (Schreiber) gleefully encourages their violent excesses, Remy's wife (van Houten) wants him to change to a desk job for the sake of their young son (Canterbury). Then there's an accident, and Remy becomes a client as well. So when he falls behind on his payments, he goes on the run with another renegade client (Braga).

Continue reading: Repo Men Review