The true story behind this movie just about makes up for its oddly flat tone, which never quite captures either the grandeur of the Australian Outback or the deeper emotions of the people on-screen. The acting is superb, but director John Curran (The Painted Veil) opts for a warm, slick style when something much spikier was called for.
It's the story of Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska), a young woman who in 1975 decided to walk nearly 2,000 miles from Alice Springs to the western coast as a way of connecting with her explorer father, who vanished on a similar trek. She needs at least three camels to carry her supplies, so she spends nearly a year working for camel dealers (Rainer Bock and John Flaus) learning how to care for the animals and earning cash to buy them. She also gets sponsorship cash from National Geographic magazine, which sends photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) along to document the trip, which is a series of amazing encounters, beautiful landscapes and colourful local customs.
Wasikowska is superb as the plucky young woman who drops out of society to take on this mind-boggling challenge. In a nicely understated performance, she conveys Robyn's steely courage and tenacity, as well as her reluctance to accept the help she needs. The most inspiring aspect of the story is Robyn's ultimate observation: "I'd like to think an ordinary person is capable of anything." So it's a bit frustrating that Curran keeps trying to turn her into a movie heroine, complete with sun-drenched childhood flashbacks and a tetchy romance with the always-terrific Driver.
Continue reading: Tracks Review
A German spy belonging to a secret anti-terrorist group named Gunther Bachmann embarks on his latest mission when an immigrant named Issa of both Chechen and Russian descent is discovered in Hamburg, following a traumatic experience of torture back home. Issa insists he is the heir to a large fortune, enlisting human-rights lawyer Annabel Richter to help him claim it, but Gunther's colleagues are not convinced; they believe he is an Islamic terrorist who needs to be arrested and interrogated immediately. Gunther sees things a little differently, and is more suspicious of his relationship with Richter rather than his more obvious circumstances, but when it suggested that Issa could be in league with a Muslim philanthropist who is also an advocate of terrorism, he has to decide if Issa is the villain his co-workers suggest he is. Or could he just be the imperilled victim of the whole situation?
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Gunther Bachmann is a German spy who has been enlisted by both German and American Secret Services to track down a Chechen-Russian immigrant named Issa in Hamburg who claims to be the heir to an enormous fortune in a private bank account. Gunther's colleagues believe Issa is an Islamic terrorist and request that he is rounded up and questioned immediately, however when Gunther discovers a suspicious relationship between him and his lawyer Annabel Richter, he holds back in order to find out what's going on in their heads. When he finds out that an Islamic charity boss is strongly linked to a terrorist organisation, he has to work out if Issa is in on it too - but could he be the biggest victim?
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Robyn is a free spirit with an unusual, not to mention dangerous, ambition to cross the 1,700 mile Australian desert from Alice Springs to reach the Indian Ocean accompanied by four camels and a dog. Mocked at by the Alice Springs locals, she starts to train camels on a farm and learn about survival in the wildnerness. By the time she is ready to embark on her journey, she is well equipped with the knowledge and tools of basic survival in a scorching desert. Before her trip, she meets a National Geographic photographer named Rick Smoland who promises to fund her trip as long as he can visit her on her journey to take photographs. Robyn's loneliness starts to overwhelm her and she has a brief romance with the photographer, but the real revelations are what she learns about herself along the way.
'Tracks' is based on the true memoirs of the same name written by the real Robyn Davidson who spent 9 months crossing the barren Australian sands. The movie has been directed by John Curran ('The Painted Veil', 'We Don't Live Here Anymore', 'Stone') and written by Marion Nelson, and it was nominated for awards at the Venice Film Festival and the London Film Festival last year. It is set for UK release on April 25th 2014.
Christine is a manipulative and unpredictable chief of an advertising company. When she reins in a new assistant, Isabelle, they quickly become embroiled in a conflict as the latter puts Christine's position of power in deep jeopardy. When Isabelle thinks up a new idea for the company, Christine takes credit for it as her own and tensions arise as a full-on war begins to bubble below the surface. Isabelle embarks on an affair with Christine's husband Dirk, while Christine attempts to seduce her to throw her life and career into confusion. But soon, petty advances are replaced by sadistic motives when an apparent murder takes place naming Christine as the victim and Isabelle as the perpetrator. Beneath that, however, is a scheme even more calculating and evil.
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