After the death of his daughter, doll maker Samuel Mullins had a crisis of self. Children have been his life and making toys to make them happy was something that offered him much joy. Now he lives with his wife and they still mourn the loss of their daughter some twenty years prior.
They live in a large yet rundown home and the doll maker decides to open up his home to Sister Charlotte and a group of orphaned children. Other than a roof over their heads, the Mullins don't have much to offer them but it's more than they have at the moment so they accept the couple's generosity.
One of the children he takes in is called Janice and she soon starts exploring the home. As she tries to enter one locked room, Samuel stops her and tells her that it's locked for a reason. Janice continues on her way; she loves all the dolls in the house, they become her friends and often sits down and has a dolls tea party with them. One of the dolls is extremely large - almost the same size as Janice - and it seems that the doll takes just as much of an initial liking for Janice as she does for it. Knowing the dark history of the doll, Mullins can't keep the doll from associating with the child, even though Janice doesn't realise the immediate danger she's in.
Miranda Otto and various other celebrities gathered on Saturday night for Entertainment Weekly's annual Comic Con party held at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, California, United States - Sunday 24th July 2016
In 2005, Australian author Tim Winton collected a series of 17 short stories and published them under the title 'The Turning'. The stories revolve around the character Vic Lang (Dougie Baldwin, Richard Roxburgh, Josh McConville, Casey Douglas and Dan Wyllie), with themes involving companionship, sentimentality and drug abuse. The book received multiple awards for the stories, and went on to become a part of the Western Australian English curriculum in schools. In 2013, the book was turned into a movie, nominated for numerous awards at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards.
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Life-changing moments feature in each of the nine short films in this Australian anthology, and each is told with remarkable artistry and sensitivity. While the filmmakers use different styles of filmmaking, there's a clever connection between the shorts, as themes of inner longing are made resonant by earthy honesty. So even if each brief segment film feels like just a fragment of an idea, taken together the film is remarkably moving.
It opens and closes with the animated "Ash Wednesday", using the T.S. Elliot poem to explore the idea of communal memory. From here a variety of mini-stories unfurl, often using the same character names even though the films are dramas, comedies or documentaries, and many have no dialogue at all. The lighter clips include "Reunion", in which a couple (Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh) are surprised that spending Christmas with his mum isn't as awful as expected. "Cockleshell" follows a young guy (Toby Wallace) who's obsessed with the girl (Brenna Harding) next door. And both "Big World" and "Boner McPharlin's Moll" take lively kaleidoscopic looks at how reality is often nothing like our idea of how things should be.
Other segments are dark and provocative, including "Aquifer", about a man (Callan Mulvey) who is pushed by a news headline to recall a painful childhood memory. Two young boys (Jakory and Jarli-Russell Blanco) have a creepy adventure while on a beach day out with their dad and uncles in "Sand". The most moving film is "Commission", in which a young man (Josh McConville) drives to the outback to tell his estranged dad (Hugo Weaving) that his mother is dying. The best performance comes from Rose Byrne in the eponymous "The Turning", as a trailer-trash wife and mother whose friendship with a rich woman (Miranda Otto) sparks a religious epiphany. And the most unforgettable short is "Long, Clear View", impressively directed by Mia Wasikowska, which follows a young boy (Matthew Shanley) playing with his dad's rifle.
Continue reading: The Turning Review
Strong characters and a vivid sense of life in frontier America give this film a kick of authentic energy that makes it a gripping journey. While it may be a little too serious for its own good, the movie is strikingly shot and played to bring out the gritty tenacity of people who dare to live in such a foreboding place. And a couple of shocking twists in the tale keep us on our toes.
In the Nebraska Territory in 1853, life was so difficult that three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter) in a small community are driven mad by the isolation, desperation and harsh weather. Their husbands are too busy surviving to do anything about it, so the local pastor (John Lithgow) arranges for the strong-willed spinster farmer Mary Bee (Hilary Swank) to escort them back east to civilisation. She needs a "homesman" to help make the arduous five-week journey, so she drafts in drunken scoundrel George (Tommy Lee Jones). During their long trek across the plains, they have a series of potentially life-threatening encounters with the likes of well-armed Native Americans, an interfering opportunist (Tim Blake Nelson) and a cruelly dismissive hotel owner (James Spader).
The characters are strikingly feisty, starting with Swank's fiercely no-nonsense, self-sufficient Mary Bee, who one local observes is as good as any man around. She's also rather annoyingly holier-than-thou, which explains why she's has so much trouble finding a husband to help her. And these three women really push her to the breaking point: Gummer's Bella is consumed by grief, Otto's Theoline moans day and night, and Richter's Gro is a delusional menace. So it's a good thing that Jones provides some comic relief as the rapscallion George, a snarky realist who's the only likeable person on-screen.He also emerges along the way as the true protagonist of the tale.
Continue reading: The Homesman Review
George Briggs is a claim jumper who has only ever known a dishonest life. When he finds himself in serious trouble (sat astride an impatient horse with his hands bound behind his back and a noose around his neck tied to a branch), he starts to think this could finally be the end for him. That is until he is found by a lone woman with a wagon named Mary Bee Cuddy who agrees to free him from his plight in exchange for a favour. Living alone, she is struggling to carry out an important personal mission; she wants to take three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa now that their husbands can now longer cope with them. Thus, she asks Briggs to help her on the dangerous five week journey and, despite his serious reservations, he agrees to act as her aide and protector against the brutalities they may face along the way.
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Based on a true story, this Brazilian drama has a lush authenticity as it tells a story that has strong historical relevance even as it sometimes slips into heightened melodrama. Filmmaker Bruno Barreto recreates the events with sensitivity, bringing the real people to life in complex, emotional ways. So while it's sometimes a bit tormented, it's also fascinating.
In 1951, American poet Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) leaves her boyfriend (Treat Williams) in New York to travel to Rio de Janeiro to visit her old university friend Mary (Tracy Middendorf) and her new girlfriend, the noted architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Gloria Pires). They live in idyllic splendour in Lota's country estate, where the painfully shy Elizabeth is pried out of her shell by an overt display of affection from Lota. When Mary gets jealous, Lota agrees to adopt a baby, as long as she can keep Elizabeth as well. So they create a rather tense family together, which is strained badly by emotions as the years go by. But they find common ground when they get involved in the election campaign of their politician friend Carlos Lacerda (Marcello Airoldi).
This three-way relationship is clearly never going to last, but these women give it a go. Lota's complete rejection of society's rules is intriguing as it leads to some of her more iconic design work, but her Latina temperament also gets the best of her as she can't bear to let Elizabeth out of her sight. Intriguingly, the script reflects but never exaggerates repressed 1950s and 60s attitudes, layering in all kinds of dark meaning between every line of dialogue. Which makes every scene feel rather gloomy.
Continue reading: Reaching For The Moon Review
Even with its relentlessly cliched production design (trenchcoats and flickering candles galore), this raucous gothic thriller deploys enough visual flash to hold our attention. The gigantic effects-heavy action sequences are eye-catching and sometimes exciting, and there are elements of the story that almost begin to resonate before the script veers off in another more simplistic direction.
Based on a graphic novel, the story picks up where Mary Shelley's novel left off, as the monster (Eckhart) is attacked by demons that want to study his non-human existence. He's rescued by gargoyles, angelic protectors of humanity, and taken to their Queen Lenore (Miranda Otto), who names him Adam and enlists him in the demon-killing cause. Although her second-in-command (Courtney) isn't so sure. Over the next 200 years, Adam hones his skills before returning to Lenore just as the demon Prince Naberius (Nighy) is launching his evil plan to re-animate a dead army with the help of sexy scientist Terra (Strahovski) and Dr Frankenstein's journal. In other words, all hell is about to break loose.
Annoyingly, every time the plot begins to get interesting, writer-director Beattie indulges in another vacuous action set piece that's as irrelevant as the 3D. There's a decent story in here about the nature of the human soul, religious fervour and moral tenacity, but the film only uses these things as devices to make the dialog sound intelligent. Which is tricky since Beattie directs his cast to deliver their lines in growling, blurting monotone. Eckhart's voice-over narration is particularly dull. And this over-earnest tone leaves every potential relationship as a non-starter.
Continue reading: I, Frankenstein Review
And it's expectations that director Peter Jackson has clearly found himself having to address in this movie. Given that all three films in the series were shot simultaneously, Jackson doesn't have much opportunity to introduce new stuff with each movie. We're well familiarized with the main characters and the primary settings, so much of the weight falls on the new people and creatures introduced in this episode to carry the story.
Continue reading: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers Review
I'm not talking about masked-psycho-with-a-chainsaw scary.That's kids' stuff. This is a slow, relentless, meticulous fear. It's thefear of uncertainty, the fear of grand-scale devastation that humanityis powerless to stop. It's a fear that fills the air like a storm and creepsup your spine in a way that's hard to shake. It is a fear not unlike whatevery American felt on September 11, 2001 -- but divorced from fact andrealigned as entertainment through the subconsciously reassuring comfortof a movie theater seat and a tub of popcorn.
It's visceral, it's psychological, and it comes more fromthe terrified performances of Tom Cruise and the remarkable Dakota Fanning(the angelic 10-year-old from "Hide& Seek" and "Manon Fire") -- as a dock-worker deadbeatdad and his daughter on the run from 100-foot alien killing machines --than from the film's hyper-realistic special effects and monsters (whicharen't that different from the ones in the shamelessly corny "Warof the Worlds" rip-off "Independence Day").
The film is worth seeing just to experience this fear,which is a testament to the power of cinema.
Continue reading: War Of The Worlds Review
Robert Zemeckis' self-indulgent direction hangs like an albatross around the celluloid neck of "What Lies Beneath," a soft-peddled yuppie horror flick that could have been -- with some fine tuning -- a sharp and genuinely scary thriller.
Forty minutes longer than necessary and featuring a cry-scream-and-run climax so drawn out that every ounce of tension evaporates from the screen half an hour before the credits roll, it's a frustrating movie to watch because of all the wasted potential.
Anything but a standard teens-in-peril slasher movie, "What Lies Beneath" stars Michelle Pfeiffer as a New England mom with empty nest syndrome after packing her daughter off to college in the opening scenes. Now alone in the house a lot, she becomes a busy body, spying on the new next door neighbors and witnessing what she thinks is a murder.
Continue reading: What Lies Beneath Review
After the death of his daughter, doll maker Samuel Mullins had a crisis of self....
In 2005, Australian author Tim Winton collected a series of 17 short stories and published...
Life-changing moments feature in each of the nine short films in this Australian anthology, and...
Strong characters and a vivid sense of life in frontier America give this film a...
George Briggs is a claim jumper who has only ever known a dishonest life. When...
Based on a true story, this Brazilian drama has a lush authenticity as it tells...
Even with its relentlessly cliched production design (trenchcoats and flickering candles galore), this raucous gothic...
Adam is the original creature created by Dr. Frankenstein 200 years ago and has taken...
Peter Jackson returns with his third and final installment in The Lord of the Rings...