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Mystery Road Review


Good

This tightly wound drama evokes a strikingly inventive sense of the Wild West in the Australian Outback. Since filmmaker Ivan Sen refuses to crank up even a hint of suspense, he cleverly subverts the usual cliches, refusing to indulge in action-movie exaggeration. But this leaves the film feeling very sleepy, depending on audiences to connect with the central character's internal voyage rather than anything that happens on-screen.

The focus is on Jay (Aaron Pederson), a beefy police detective who moves back home to rural Queensland after several years as a cop in the big city. He's a local boy in this dusty Outback town, but now he's also considered an outsider. His first case involves the murder of a young Aboriginal girl who seems to have been part of a drugs and prostitution ring. This sparks an extra level of concern for Jay because his estranged teen daughter knew the victim. And as Jay digs into the case, he begins to understand that there's a dark criminal element woven right into the fabric of the community. It's so endemic that the last policeman who tried to investigate it turned up dead.

This is an exploration of the dark layers of bigotry and evil that worm their way into any group of people, often far beneath the seemingly peaceful surface. Intriguingly, the film isn't actually about the murder; it's about Jay's journey to discover his own personal history, how his past connects with a present he can barely bring himself to imagine. Pederson is a magnetic presence at the centre of the story as a man dealing with rather a lot of abuse while trying to help solve a nasty situation and understand his own place in this world. Around him the supporting cast add colour to each scene, with notable contributions from the superb Hugo Weaving, Aussie veteran Jack Thompson and True Blood's Ryan Kwanten.

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The Great Gatsby Review


Excellent

Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) is the perfect director to take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic novel about the American dream, simply because he's an expert at showing the emptiness of hyperactive excess. The film is a feast for the eye from start to finish, but it also eats away at us with its bleak story of people who live the high life even though it leaves them naggingly unsatisfied.

The tale is told by Nick (Maguire), trying to work through his life-changing summer in 1922 Long Island, where he rented a small cottage across the sound from his wealthy cousin Daisy (Mulligan), who is married to his college pal Tom (Edgerton), an all-American sportsman with an eye for other women. Next door to Nick's cottage is the vast mansion owned by reclusive millionaire Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio), who throws outrageously raucous parties for New York's celebrity class. But Nick realises that Jay only does this to catch the eye of Daisy, because he's still in love with her after a romance five years earlier. Now he wants to take her away from Tom, and he needs Nick's help.

It's tricky to know whether Luhrmann is celebrating Gatsby's luxuriant lifestyle or offering a cautionary tale about the emptiness of materialism. Obviously, the story is trying to do both, and Luhrmann fills the surfaces with decadent extravagance, filling the air with wafting fabric, buckets of glitter and exploding fireworks. Like a lavish 3D pop-up book, the party scenes are wildly over-the-top, as are smaller gatherings in opulent city flats or roaring open-top cars. These people's lives are so vacuous that they live at top speed, always in search of the next thrill. And it's difficult not to see Gatsby's earnest quest as just another greedy acquisition.

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The Great Gatsby Trailer


When Nick Carraway moved from the Midwest to New York in 1922 to kick start his business career, he unknowingly rents a house right next door to one of the most influential yet elusive characters in the land. The mysterious and great Gatsby who regularly hosts extravagant parties ends up drawing Carroway into his world of sparkle, glamour, wealth and honour with ease as he is already drawn to the overindulgence and luxury of the city. But why does Gatsby, a man known for enjoying his own company, wish to open his doors to the stranger that is Carroway? Nick happens to be the cousin of the Daisy who lives across the bay and that connection gives Gatsby a way in to rekindle an old relationship that has been etched in his mind for several long years. Despite Nick's initial awe of Gatsby's whole existence, he soon begins to have his suspicions of him and starts to uncover the real corrupt and manipulative world of the upper-class.

'The Great Gatsby'  has been directed and produced by Baz Luhrmann ('Moulin Rouge', 'Romeo + Juliet'); a man known for his use of glamour and breathtaking splendour in his dramatic flicks. It is a truly remarkable adaptation of the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and is full to bursting with the glamour, scandal, deceit, romance and tragedy of the 1920's high class world. It is set to be released on May 17th 2013.

Starring: Leonardo Dicaprio, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Callan McAuliffe, Gemma Ward, Amitabh Bachchan, Jason Clarke, Jack Thompson, Jacek Koman, Vince Colosimo, Max Cullen, Barry Otto, Felix Williamson, Stephen James King,

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The Great Gatsby Trailer


It is 1922 and Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner who moved to New York to kick off his career, rents a house next door to the mysterious Gatsby who regularly hosts extravagant parties. Everything is different to how it was; bigger buildings, drinking and parties more prevalent; and Nick finds himself becoming increasingly fascinated by the elusive and wealthy character that is Gatsby. Nick's cousin Daisy and her unfaithful, aristocratic husband live across the bay and, after Nick attends a party of his, Gatsby recognises his connection with Daisy and requests a meeting with her hoping to rekindle an old relationship. Nick bears witness to the corrupt and manipulative world of the upper-class and the tragedy and obsession that threatens to collapse their worlds.

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Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark Review


Excellent
This inventive horror film plays to our deepest childhood fears. It's like a demented variation on The Borrowers, and first-rate acting and effects work combine to thoroughly creep us out.

Shy, artistic 8-year-old Sally (Madison) moves across the country to live with her architect dad Alex (Pearce) and his designer girlfriend Kim (Holmes) in a massive old Rhode Island mansion. But she soon starts hearing strange noises, and after discovering a boarded-up basement studio, things start getting a bit freaky. But how can she convince her sceptical father and the stepmum she doesn't trust that there's something in the house that wants to tear the family apart? Even after the handyman (Thompson) is attacked, Alex continues his renovations so he can lure a buyer (Dale).

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The Australian premiere of 'Next Three Days' held at the Entertainment Quarter - Arrivals

Jack Thompson - Jack Thompson and his son Sydney, Australia - The Australian premiere of 'Next Three Days' held at the Entertainment Quarter - Arrivals Sunday 30th January 2011

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark Trailer


Moving into a new house is a fun and exciting time for most kids, finding new places to explore and play there's always lots of dark corners to go and hide in, but what if there's something else hiding in those dark corners? When a young girl called Sally moves in with her father and his partner it quickly becomes apparent that sometimes things aren't just in your head and sometimes monsters really do jump out and get you.

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Australia Review


Weak
It takes a half hour before you're able to put a finger on the tone and tactic of Baz Luhrmann's Australia. First steps are taken on shaky legs until the sweeping picture hits its stride. After that, you're given an additional two-and-a-half-hours to determine whether or not you like what's attempted.

At 165 minutes, Australia is ambitious to a point -- and then, to a fault. You can actually point to two movies jockeying for position on screen (well, one full story and the seeds of another). And while I quite liked the primary story, the third-act coda struck me as fodder for a potential sequel I wasn't prepared to sit through at the time.

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Premiere of 'Kung Fu Panda' at the State Theatre

Jack Thompson Monday 9th June 2008 Premiere of 'Kung Fu Panda' at the State Theatre Sydney, Australia

Jack Thompson

The Good German Review


Excellent
Those who will hate The Good German will do so not because of its time-appropriate look and technique (more on that in a moment), but because it wants to be a wartime drama stripped of romance -- those movie stars may be standing in the rain next to a plane with its engines running, but this isn't Casablanca. Paul Attanasio's bruiser of a script (based on Joseph Kanon's novel) has all the hallmarks of a classy WWII drama. World-weary reporter Jake Geismer (George Clooney) shows up in Berlin two months after the collapse of the Reich to cover the Potsdam Peace Conference, at which the three Allied powers will carve up Europe like so much pie. His driver, Cpl. Tully (Tobey Maguire, sublimely sleazy), is a big fixer in the thriving local black market, and just so happens to be shacking up with statuesque Berliner Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett), an ex-girlfriend of Geismer's who's so far out of Tully's league he should need a passport to get within five hundred yards of her. But, it's Berlin 1945, and a German woman with a shady wartime past is going to sleep with who she has to in order to get out. Geismer can sense a story in all of Brandt's meaningful silences -- that, and the moment when Tully shows up dead in Potsdam with 100,000 marks in his pocket.Romance, murder, corruption, the looming mood of great historical events, The Good German has all the hallmarks of a well-meaning, by-the-books Hollywood period drama. But director Steven Soderbergh is after something else. There's that shockingly brutal sex scene between Tully and Brandt, a couple of nasty back-alley fights that leave nobody looking good, and an overall mood of tired cynicism that doesn't leave much room for heroics. This is Berlin, after all, the heart of evil, in ruins. Hitler has been dead a mere two months, and while the Americans are hunting down Nazis for war crimes, it's already obvious they will look the other way when it comes to rocket scientists. The grand crusade has already been corrupted, and the Americans and Russians are just squatting in the ruined city fighting over the spoils while their soldiers deal in whores and whiskey.More unsettling than the script's cynicism is how it's presented. Soderbergh -- who once worried that the disastrous response to Kafka meant he'd never have a chance to work in black and white again -- not only shot The Good German in black and white, but he did so in the style of the time period. The sound is echoey and occasional poor, the acting somewhat stiff in that studio film manner, while the film itself comes close to mimicking the very appearance of work from the time period. Soderbergh went so far as to dig up old 1940s Panavision camera lenses, and even utilized unused footage shot in a still-bombed-out 1948 Berlin by Billy Wilder for A Foreign Affair. It's a stunning creation, one of the most gorgeously-composed films of recent years, and accomplishing the seemingly impossible: showing that Blanchett actually looks more beautiful in monochrome.While the visual verisimilitude is a shocking contrast with the script's modernity (swear words, a lack of staginess), it quickly makes a great deal of sense as we realize this isn't meant to be a romantic drama, a la Casablanca, it's a noir thriller in the manner of The Third Man. While the script's game of "who's the patsy?" spins about, it also plays with some weightier topics, most importantly the guilt of everyday Germans who may not have had an active role in the war but didn't necessarily do anything to stop it. In 1945, could there be such things as a good German? As Brandt says at one point, "It's very easy to blame everything on the war."Thick with hypocrisy and corruption, the world of The Good German is more that of Graham Greene and a wearied Europe than that of the sun-dazed California dream factory who would continue to mine happy fake fantasies out of the war for decades later. For this it will be hated, though wrongly. Noirs this good don't come along every day, or even every year.Good evening, ladies and germs.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon Review


OK
Richard Nixon does not die in The Assassination of Richard Nixon, but the film's protagonist - a depressed, angry, middle-aged man named Samuel Bicke (Sean Penn) - eventually comes to believe that, for the good of himself and his country, the commander-in-chief deserves death. Estranged from his wife, unable to hold down employment, and disgusted by the lies and hypocrisies of a 1974 American society that favors the deceitful rich and powerful over the little man, Bicke is a powder keg waiting for his fuse to be lit. And in Niels Mueller's unsettling debut, that igniting spark comes from a series of final disappointments that Bicke - the type of man who blames his woes on a general, conspiratorial "they" - conveniently pins on the corrupting influence of the tricky U.S. president seen talking about hope and prosperity on his living room TV.

A kindred spirit of Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle ("God's lonely man") with politics, instead of prostitution, on his mind, Bicke fervently believes in honesty, upright morals, and a sense of decency and fairness. Unfortunately, his uncompromising idealism functions as a straightjacket, preventing him from performing the casual deceptions necessitated by his job as a furniture salesman or accepting the fact that his estranged wife Marie (Naomi Watts) must don a short miniskirt and tolerate customers' gropes to earn a living as a waitress. He resents the success of his tire salesman brother Julius, longs for the happy stability of living with his wife and three kids (who seem to fear him), sports fanciful dreams of starting his own tire business with an African-American friend (Don Cheadle's Bonny) and longs to join the Black Panthers (who he believes can relate to his supposed persecution). To Bicke, the world has been corrupted, and the only effective response - after sending Leonard Bernstein (a "pure and honest" man) his tape-recorded memoirs - is to orchestrate an attack on the White House via hijacked airplane that will, he imagines, awaken the world to American injustice.

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Last Dance Review


Grim
Dead Man Walking, meet Walt Disney. Sharon Stone plays it grim -- with the same embittered scowl on her face for the entire film -- and tries to convince us that she's a bona fide Death Row dweller. The plot is lifted, virtually verbatim, from Dead Man Walking, even incorporating the hostile victim's family and the strained flashbacks to "the senseless murder." While the Mouse spares us from the requisite Happy Ending, Last Dance adds nothing to this genre (what there is of a genre), and doesn't merit serious attention.
Jack Thompson

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