A strong undercurrent of Aussie black humour helps make this revolting story just about palatable, although the solid cast struggles to make the idiotic characters very likeable. The film owes a lot to the Coen Brothers' classic Fargo, as a group of people make ridiculous decisions that lead to pain, conflict and death in a situation so complex that no one has a clue what's really going on. There are some very funny moments, but the filmmakers' real goal is to gross the audience out. And that they do.
Based on a true story from 1983 Melbourne, the film centres on Ray (Angus Sampson), a geeky TV repairman who wins the annual prize in his local football club and suddenly finds himself invited to the cool parties with the team captain, his childhood friend Gavin (Leigh Whannell). The club's president Pat (John Noble) wants Gavin to travel to Bangkok to collect a shipment of heroin, and Gavin talks Ray into doing the job, swallowing 20 heroin-filled pods. When Ray panics on reentering Australia, he's picked up by federal agents Croft and Paris (Hugo Weaving and Ewen Leslie) and held for seven days in a hotel room. But Gavin refuses to move his bowel, confounding them. Meanwhile, Pat is on a rampage trying to find his missing drugs and make sure Ray doesn't spill the beans, as it were.
Yes, this is literally an anal-retentive story, told with bone-dry wit by a group of filmmakers that includes actors Sampson and Whannell (who play ghostbusters Tucker and Specs in the Insidious movies). The film moves at a surprisingly slow pace, never building up much energy but keeping everything luridly trashy as these chucklehead characters flail pointlessly against everything that goes against them. Each person thinks they're in control, but no one is. And only the underused women are truly likeable: Georgina Haig as Ray's sassy-savvy public defender and Noni Hazlehurst as his increasingly frazzled mother.
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Eric Lomax was a British Officer in World War II who found himself a prisoner of war after he and several of his comrades were ambushed in Singapore. Forced to work on the Thailand-Burma Railway, he was severely tortured by an interpreter by the name of Takashi Nagase to the point where it tormented him throughout the rest of his life, psychologically damaging him for many years. Several years on, his new wife Patti demands to be given an explanation as to what happened in his life to make him so scarred, and she is informed by his friend Finlay of his horrific trauma. After Eric discovers in a newspaper that Nagase is still living, Patti convinces him to make a trip back to Japan to confront his intimidator once and for all and finally end his lifelong ordeal. However, things don't quite go according to plan and Eric is faced with either revenge or acceptance and reconciliation.
'The Railway Man' is the extraordinary true to life war film based on the autobiography of the same name by Eric Lomax. It has been directed by Jonathan Teplitzky ('Burning Man', 'Gettin' Square', 'Better Than Sex') and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce ('24 Hour Party People', 'Butterfly Kiss') and Andy Paterson, and will be released in the UK on January 3rd 2014.
The trailer for Dead Europe is a broody, murky affair. Directed by Tony Krawitz and coming out of Australia, the film explores the country’s Greek heritage, with Ewen Leslie playing Isaac, a man who is out in the European country to scatter the ashes of his father.
Things, as they tend to do in films, take a turn towards the dis-equilibrium as Isaac learns of a terrible curse that affects his family. “I suppose a lot of us from Australia feel like we’re from somewhere else” Isaac mentions at one point; this links to the way that pretty much all whiter Australians have European heritage, however the sentence takes on a darker meaning as he discovers that his father’s curse has come about due to some rather grim circumstances involving “innocent blood … spilled”. What follows would appear your typical creepy-undead-child-following-the-protagonist-around sort of scenario with Isaac being stalked by a rather pallid looking young chap.
The film scored a middling 67% aggregate on reviews site Rotten Tomatoes, with the glut of them coming out in December. “A promising drama of alienation that slides into portentousness” wrote the Daily Telegraph, while our own reviewer Rich Cline wrote “Even if the plot takes too long to come together, this film has a darkly foreboding tone that's thoroughly mesmerising, drawing us into its mysteries while touching on issues of race, religion and sexuality.”
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Isaac is an avid photographer whose recently deceased father encouraged his passion throughout his childhood growing up in Australia. Following his father's funeral, he is determined to travel to a village in Greece to scatter the ashes over the rocks. However, he is in for a shock that will turn his life upside down when he is prevented from doing so by a local who informs him that his family is cursed. At first, he ignores the rumours but is haunted by hidden secrets everywhere on his journey around Europe. He discovers that his father had to run away to Australia years ago following a disturbing incident with a Jewish boy; due to his upbringing and being consistently brainwashed by both his parents that 'Jews and Muslims go to hell', he finds what he is discovering increasingly unnerving. Isaac tries in vain to escape his history but winds up getting mixed up with a young and desperate refugee called Josef who he is required to rescue and take to Australia. His European adventure quite rapidly turns in to a journey of self-discovery he'd rather not take.
This Australian drama was recently released in December 2012 and has been directed by Tony Krawitz ('Jewboy', 'The Tall Man' documentary). It is based on the novel by the award-winning author Christos Tsiolkas whose previous works, 'Head On' and 'The Slap' for example, have also been adapted to screen. The screenplay has been written by Louise Fox ('Full Frontal' TV series) in her movie debut and Krawitz has already received a nomination at the Sydney Film Festival for an Official Competition Award.
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Even if the plot takes too long to come together, this film has a darkly foreboding tone that's thoroughly mesmerising, drawing us into its mysteries while touching on issues of race, religion and sexuality. It's a finely crafted film, although the filmmakers keep everything so enigmatic that we grow impatient to understand what's going on.
It centres on Australian photographer Isaac (Leslie), son of Greek immigrants who forbid their children from returning to the old country. Which of course makes them curious. Isaac's older brother Nico (Czokas) moved to Hungary years ago and never came back. And now that their father has died, Isaac decides to scatter his ashes in Greece and visit Nico. But when he gets to the ancestral village, he discovers that there's a curse on his branch of the family. It has something to do with a young Jewish boy during the war, and looking for answers in Paris and Budapest only deepens the mystery.
As Isaac travels around Europe he meets a wide variety of freaky characters who add to the film's unhinged mystery. These include his helpful Greek cousin Giulia (Skiadi) and her seductive friend Andreas (Samaras), a nutty woman (Fragos) who performs a psychic steam-reading, a Parisian couple (Balmer and Lebrun) who knew Isaac's father, an Arab woman (Bukstein) who's being trafficked, and Nico's cohort (Naor) in the drug-porn business. And there's also a homeless teen (Smit-McPhee) who seems to haunt Isaac wherever he goes.
Continue reading: Dead Europe Review
Lucy is a University student who is struggling to pay her rent. When she's not working in an office, she juggles a science experiment that she is being paid to take part in. Her roommates have all but given up on her; Lucy's only real friend is Birdman, who is slowly dying from alcohol poisoning.
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