Thursday, 30 October 2014

This Is Where I Leave You

A high powered cast represents a family gathered together to sit Shiva (a Jewish period of mourning) for the deceased patriarch of their family. Reunited at close quarters and at a stressful period inevitably highlights tensions within family relationships and generates new sources for tension too.

The group setting is a familiar structure for establishing a dramatic and/or comedic environment. With performers of the calibre of Jane Fonda and Tina Fey the casting element of 'This Is Where I Leave You' is set up for success but for the mine the film goes off the rails somewhat. For example, the Rabbi (admittedly, an incidental character) is as unlikely a spiritual leader as one could imagine. And you know a film about 'adult' issues and relationships is struggling when one of the recurring threads is a joke about a baby's pooping activities.

With all that talent on show this could have been better.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Force Majeure

In 'Force Majeure' a Swedish family, Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) , Ebba  (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and their two children are on a skiing holiday in France when they find themselves in danger from an apparent avalanche. Ebba instinctively tries to protect the children but Tomas seems to run away to safety. The remainder of the film focuses on how the family and others they encounter respond to this moment of behaviour under stress.

Many will find this movie too long and lacking in action and it is indeed overlong and filled with plenty of static, dialogue free scenes. The creators also seem to be undecided on how to bring the film to a conclusion. In the final ten minutes I observed at least five possible endings emerging all of which are retained in the movie as though you should pick the ending you prefer along with the eventual 'non end' final moments. Despite all this I found the film curiously interesting.

For one thing, the many sights and sounds of how the snow resort is maintained and managed were fascinating to me as one unfamiliar with the skiing world. The oddly science fiction and mysterious nature of this activity had me intrigued. Secondly, the angles and stylistic photography appealed to me. Finally, the ginger headed Kuhnke is quite a spunk and notwithstanding his over the top, overwrought, big emotional scene, I could happily watch him for hours on end.

Not for everyone but I liked it.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


(National Theatre of Great Britain)

I love these cinema screenings of live stage performances and those from the National Theatre of Great Britain are amongst the best I have seen.

'Skylight' is about an evening when an older man renews acquaintances with his young mistress some years after their relationship had concluded. His wife has died in the intervening period and she has moved on to pursue a career in teaching. Are these old friends enjoying a catchup, or former lovers seeking to revive a past passion?

The cut and thrust of David Hare's dialogue is delivered expertly by Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in beautiful performances.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Climbing the mountain

It took me enough hours to download and install Apple's new Yosemite operating system to my MacBook so I knew what I was in for when I volunteered today to take Ae's MacBook home to update hers.

Ae's prepaid internet connection simply doesn't have enough capacity for the required amount of download to be handled speedily and I knew that Ae would panic at the apparent lack of progress if left to monitor the download herself.

As it turned out I was 4/5 of the way through the download to her MacBook when my internet connection dropped out and when I got it going again the download restarted from the beginning. Four hours after I started and with much relief the download and installation finally were accomplished.

Children of the Sun

Sydney Theatre Company

Andrew Upton has adapted Maxim Gorky's play 'Children of the Sun'.

Nineteenth century Russia and we find a number of middle class characters are distracted by their relationships; mostly unsatisfactory and unsatisfied relationships. Meanwhile their servants are engrossed in their own mysterious relationships.

Having not seen a version of the original play I am not sure how close this adaption is to Gorky's vision and watching it I felt afterwards that I just didn't 'get it'. Was this play an allegory about impending revolution? Or a mild clash of class structures? Or a depiction of social manners? Maybe all of these things?

I came away from the play somewhat baffled.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Before I Go To Sleep

A woman (Nicole Kidman) awakes each morning not knowing who she is, where she is, or who this man besides her in bed is. That man (Colin Firth) patiently tells her each morning that she is his wife and that she suffers amnesia following an accident. After the man goes to work, leaving the woman at home alone, a Doctor telephones each morning to speak to the woman, to tell her who she is and to seek answers as to how she got to be in this condition.

I suppose this is a potentially interesting plot but its silliness - for one thing how is it that these events occur every day without fail and in the same sequence each day - had me distracted for most of the running time of 'Before I Go To Sleep'.

The eventual 'reveals' made little sense to me.