Post-college melancholia in ADVENTURELAND.

adventureland-stewart

Review by Brad Nguyen

The synopsis for Adventureland sounds familiar enough, but writer/director Greg Mottola is not so much concerned with cliches as he is concerned with pop mythology. Adventureland is a film that has been filtered through a million Beach Boys songs, a million coming-of-age movies, a million Catchers in the Rye, a million OCs and Freaks and Geeks. I’m talking about the mythology of the teenager, or in Adventureland‘s case, the early-twenties post-adolescent. While the idea of the teen is often associated with low culture and superficiality, an enduring American tendency in pop culture is the construction of adolescence as bittersweet, that peculiar combination of melancholy and optimism. Continue reading

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OBSERVE AND REPORT takes a taser to the fantasies of American exceptionalism.

observe

[Observe and Report trailer here.]

Review by James Douglas

With Observe and Report, director Jody Hill cements his place as my new favorite American satirist. Previously known for micro-budgeted indie The Foot Fist Way, and HBO comedy series Eastbound and Down, Observe finds Hill with an increasingly sure grasp of the complex tonalities that marked his previous work, and a high budget, studio-sanctioned playground in which he can let them loose. There’s something excitingly transgressive about watching such subversive, disturbing material delivered straight to multiplexes in a film populated with the hot comedy stars of the moment. Humour is pulled from date-rape, recreational drug use, sexual perversion, mental illness, serious alcoholism, and violence against minors. The key, somewhat contradictorily, is the way Hill plays the laughs, and the characters, so close to real life. Continue reading

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What is this blog all about?: A Screener manifesto.

thetencommandments31Screener has been moving along nicely for a while now and has suddenly found itself among a bunch of other Melbourne-based film blogs, which to my mind is a great thing. The Internet can be a great space to build a community of film appreciation. But in order to distinguish itself from the crowd, or rather, to better define Screener’s identity, perhaps it is time to set out Screener’s mission statement, its raison d’etre, its manifesto, its Dogme 09 if you will. The rules may be broken from time to time but think of these ideas as Screener’s ideal. Perhaps other blogs already fall in line with these ideas. Maybe other blogs will read this and follow these ideas. This is fine because it will contribute to the culture of film appreciation that is Screener’s ideal. Okay, let’s begin. Continue reading

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SAMSON AND DELILAH is great but geez, Margaret and David, it’s not THAT good.

samson

[Samson and Delilah trailer here.]

After a five-minute standing ovation at Cannes and every second Australian reviewer giving it 5 stars, Samson and Delilah (along with Mary and Max) is renewing hope in many that Australians can make great cinema. In truth, Samson and Delilah is by no means perfect, but it is certainly a striking feature debut for Warwick Thornton, visually eloquent and emotionally vital. Continue reading

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Tarantino is a hack, Murakami gets adapted and Shia LaBoeuf likes his mum ‘that way’.

405px-Precious2009posterYou know that upcoming movie Precious, the one about the obese illiterate black female teenager who gets raped by her father and abused by her mother? The one that stars Mariah Carey?! It now has a gnarly poster and trailer. [The Black Snob]

Life just gets worse and worse for the kids from Slumdog Millionnaire who are apparently set for life due to trust funds hastily set up by the film’s producers. There’s some joke to be made here about the irony of a rags-to-riches fairytale movie being played by actors who went from rags to HAVING THEIR SHANTY HOUSE BULLDOZED BY THE GOVERNMENT LEAVING THEM HOMELESS. But it’s all pretty fucking sad. [Defamer] Continue reading

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Finding meaning (or lack thereof) in life and Kaufman’s brilliant SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK.

synecdoche

[Synecdoche, New York trailer here.]

Having seen Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut only the once, I am conscious more than ever that I can’t really convey the complex experience of seeing a film in the space of a review. Synecdoche, New York is Kaufman’s most complex, cerebral and self-reflexive work yet. The film is dense with visual puns, wordplay, symbolism, shifting timeframes, doppelgangers and leitmotifs. But it is also profoundly moving in an immediate, emotional sense and certainly a rewarding experience. So I will be consciously reductive in this review, hopefully saying enough to convince you to see the film, figure out its puzzles for yourself and find something worthwhile in Kaufman’s vision that speaks to you. Continue reading

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X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE: This is how an Oscar-winning director destroys their career.

wolverine

[X-Men Origins: Wolverine trailer here.]

I enjoy a blockbuster film as much as anyone else. Hell, I’d defend Pirates of the Caribbean 3 if you pushed me on it. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, however, is so comprehensively awful that it is indefensible, a giant turd of a film crushing the credibility of all involved in the production and those who would argue its virtues. The film’s flaws have been pointed out already by many a film critic – plot holes, pathetic special effects, lack of depth to any of the characters – and currently rates 37% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The plot (ha ha!) begins with Wolverine as a sweet young sickly child, bed-ridden in 1845. Continue reading

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To do: STAR TREK, SAMPSON AND DELILAH, BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX, SYNECDOCHE NY.

  • Tonight (Mon 4th): Seminal precursors to Baraka, the first two of Godfrey Reggio’s Quatsi Trilogy, Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance and Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation screen at Astor. Must be seen on the big screen. Baraka will screen next Monday. [Astor]
  • Wed 6th: A double feature of silent Danish films at Cinematheque. Benjamin Christensen’s trippy film Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages and The Master of the House by Carl Dreyer about the breakdown of a marriage. [Cinematheque] Meanwhile Melbourne Spiritual Cinema are screening at Glitch Secret Space II a documentary that investigates the evidence supporting the idea that highly intelligent ‘star gods’ with reptilian features have visited planet Earth. Okay… [Spiritual Cinema]
  • Thu 7th: Too many new releases to choose from. The Star Trek juggernaut releases wide. Samson and Delilah, the Australian indigenous love story competing at Cannes, and The Baader Meinhof Complex, a look at the inner workings of the German terrorist group the Red Army Faction, get an arthouse release. Synecdoche, New York the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman gets a very limited release exclusively at Cinema Nova. [Cinema Nova] And if that ain’t enough, Soul Power begins a season (7th May-24th May) at ACMI. The film documents the 1974 concert that preceded the Ali vs. Foreman ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ featuring such greats as James Brown, B.B. King and Bill Withers. [ACMI] Finally, Bastardy an Australian doco about Jack Charles, an actor/drug addict/cat burglar. The film got great word of mouth at MIFF last year and opens at Kino today. Thanks, Paul M for the tip. [Kino]
  • Fri 8th: Freaky Fridays at ACMI are playing 1950s sci-fi flicks Cat Women on the Moon and Devil Girl from Mars. [Freaky Fridays]
  • Sat 9th: ACMI are playing the 1975 Australian film Pure Shit, which the Herald Sun at the time called ‘the most evil film ever made’. A look at Melbourne’s drug culture, the cast and crew will reunite for a Q&A session after the screening. [ACMI]
  • Sun 10th: ACMI screens the Muhammed Ali documentary When We Were Kings. [ACMI] The classic spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Sergio Leone screens at the Astor. [Astor]

Trailers embedded after the jump: Continue reading

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Susan Sarandon battles the Wachowski Brothers for World’s Hottest MILF title.

joseph-gordon-levitt1I like Natalie Portman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt a lot and Rainn Wilson is OK I guess but this ‘indie dramedy’ they’re starring in sounds horrible: In ‘Hesher’, Gordon-Levitt is a loser twenty-something (aren’t we all?) who invades the life of an awkward 13-year-old who lives with a pill-popping father (Wilson) and grandmother. The kid falls in love with a supermarket worker (Portman) who protects him from bullies. In the bin! [THR]

Rian Johnson (Brick) has announced his next film ‘Looper‘, a sci-fi set in a future dystopic society that has suffered a ‘huge financial collapse of some sort’ (look, it’s topical!) and it’s ‘very dark, very violent’ (must be serious!). I’m sceptical about this one. Brick was a high concept teen/noir film that was seriously about nothing. His goal with this one is to ‘tell a story and keep people watching’. What an artist. [/Film] Continue reading

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TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: the logical conclusion to Judd Apatow’s career.

terms-of-endearment

[Terms of Endearment trailer here.]

I fear that admitting to liking James L Brooks’ directorial debut Terms of Endearment is akin to professing admiration for Beaches: A film spanning the lifelong friendship between a mother and daughter ending with an emotional finale involving cancer sounds incredibly sappy, but if I could attempt to make this film cooler I would say that it’s blend of comedy and insightful character development is the logical conclusion to what Judd Apatow is doing with his career as his filmmaking becomes increasingly ‘serious’. Continue reading

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