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.
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Fit young Aussie Josh (Wakefield) travels to a remote cave in Papua New Guinea with American financier-adventurer Carl (Gruffudd) and his girlfriend (Parkinson). There they join a team, already deep underground, led by Josh's hard-man dad Frank (Roxburgh). Having just discovered a massive new water-filled chamber, everyone's shocked by the accidental death of a team member (Cratchley). And then a tropical storm descends, flooding their base camp and forcing the spelunkers deeper underground in search of another way out. But the already strained team finds it difficult to work together.
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Frank McGuire has spent most of his life exploring caves, he's a master of his trade and his son Josh wishes to follow in his footsteps. Father and son set out on a mission to explore the Esa'ala caves one of the most beautiful and untouched places in the world. Accompanying Frank and his son are financier Carl and his girlfriend Victoria and George.
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The Guardians of Ga'Hoole are sworn to protect the innocent from trouble and vanquish evil. Soren is a young owl who's grown up listening to his father tell the stories of The Gaurdians. His dream is to one day join his heroes and be a part of that noble life he's learnt so much about.
James Brundage, the exuberant fan:
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Filled with virtuoso special effects and spectacular song-and-dance sequences, Baz Luhrmann's long-awaited Moulin Rouge makes every minute of our collectively held breath worthwhile. In fact, during its opening hour, this critic found it hard to look away even for a second to jot down a note, for fear of missing even a nuanced sparkle in the eye of some French whore.
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Because studio execs are still strangely demanding that directors include human beings in their films, Stealth provides us three Navy test pilots who were chosen to fly the top-secret, experimental Talon planes. Played by Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, and Josh Lucas, they're sort of a holy trinity of hotness, flying their sleek craft in perfect formation, and eager for whatever life-threatening emergency gets tossed their way. Unfortunately, they've just been saddled with a fourth wingman: an unmanned plane named EDI, for Extreme Deep Invader, which sounds like something purchased by seedy men in certain disreputable shops on the dark fringes of the San Fernando Valley. The three are none too happy with having EDI along on the secret mission they're given early in the film: Take out a Rangoon high-rise that's empty save for a number of high-level terrorists. And they're resentful not just because EDI talks like HAL's drugged younger brother, but because they're worried about getting replaced by machines, which is just what their commander officer (Sam Shepard) wants to happen - with a little help from a shadowy buddy of his in D.C.
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Van Helsing ends up as a high-concept adrenaline rush that never stops generating lesser concepts over its elongated 145-minute run time. Wheels start turning when Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) funds the creation of the Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley) to power a machine that will allow the vampire's offspring to live. The prince of darkness is trying to please his voracious brides, while the final descendent of a line of Transylvanian vampire hunters (Kate Beckinsale) is trying in vain to stake the brute before he ends her life. The wild card in this mix is Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), a hired gun with a guilty conscience working for the Catholic Church to vanquish various evil beings.
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