Review: Tracks (2013)

Tracks

Gorgeously shot, with a pronounced performance from Mia Wasikowska at its core, Tracks is a beautiful retelling of Robyn Davidson’s National Geographic article. In 1977, Davidson decided to abandon the real world and trek from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, a 1,700-mile expedition through the treacherous Australian desert. Tracks is worth a watch for its visuals alone. Continue reading “Review: Tracks (2013)”

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Review: The Double (2013)

The-Double-Richard-Ayoade-part1_zps4f3a8c20

Adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, The Double – a darkly funny psychological thriller in its own right – marks Richard Ayoade’s follow-up to the coming-of-age comedy Submarine. Here, Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon James, a timid office drone for a data processing plant who lives his life in the shadows, failing to make an impression on anyone, including boss Mr Papadopoulos (Wallace Shawn) and neighbour come object of affection Hannah (Mia Wasikowska, brilliant as ever). Continue reading “Review: The Double (2013)”

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive isn’t like the vampire films Hollywood have churned out over the years. There’s no sparkle, nor is there much in the way of action or suspense, only people – people with a deep resentment for the world in which they inhabit, who happen to favour blood over food and other liquids. It pays to be different though, and Jim Jarmusch’s film is a stunning subversion that’s entrenched in a wonderful sense of artistry and atmosphere. Continue reading “Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)”

Review: Stoker (2013)

Stoker

Renowned world over by critics and audiences alike for his Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance), Korean director Park Chan-Wook makes his English language debut with Stoker, a brooding psychological thriller rooted deep in the gothic. It’s written by Prison Break alum Wentworth Miller and boasts many of its directors trademarks: ravishing visuals, strong performances and a deluge of tainted motifs. Continue reading “Review: Stoker (2013)”

Cate Blanchett And Mia Wasikowska To Topline Carol

In a press release, Number 9 Films have today revealed that Cate Blanchett (Notes On A Scandal) and Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) have signed on to star in a new adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price Of Salt, tentatively titled Carol.

Phyllis Nagy, the screenwriter responsible for TV film Mrs. Harris, will pen the adaptation, which will then be helmed by Boy A and Is Anybody There director Continue reading “Cate Blanchett And Mia Wasikowska To Topline Carol”

Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Following the overwhelming success of his feature film debut Sin Nombre in 2009, Cary Fukunaga returns with a towering adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s literary classic Jane Eyre.

For those of you shamefully unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, the plot follows Jane (Mia Wasikowska): a mousy governess who, after an unstable childhood, finds employment at Thornfield Hall. During her time there, she develops a beautiful friendship with head housemistress Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench) and a twisted romance with owner Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Continue reading “Review: Jane Eyre (2011)”

Review: The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Lisa Cholodenko directs The Kids Are All Right, a mainstream comedy drama about modern family life.

The film centers on Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening), a strained lesbian couple living in the suburbs of California, who each gave birth to one of their children using a sperm donor.

When the eldest child, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) turns eighteen, her brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson) asks her to initiate contact with their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an attractive, single, laid-back restaurateur

Each of the family members respond to Paul in different ways: free-spirited Jules welcomes him with open arms; head of the family Nic grits her teeth; Joni hits it off with him straight away; while Laser almost rejects him and his self-centered attitude.

The partnership between Moore’s Jules and Benning’s Nic is pitch-perfect. Their personalities are vastly different, but appear to work well together. It’s only during the film as events reach a head that the true reality of their relationship is exposed. Both actresses handle the material beautifully, forming an understandable, and wholly believable, lesbian couple.

Ruffalo delivers one of his most under-stated, yet dignified performances, displaying a range of emotions through the body of an often immature and underdeveloped man. Paul breaks the equilibrium, forcing each character, in turn, to re-address their position within the family.

Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson as the children, Joni and Laser respectively, both provide clever and self-assured performances. Wasikowska in particular, in that tricky second film, shows she’s blossoming into a fine adolescent actress.

Cholodenko’s direction is superb, using the correct lighting and camera shots to add meaning and depth to each of her scenes and character profiles. Despite sometimes verging on static, she always manages to pull it back, the sign of a truly exceptional director.

The screenplay is well executed. Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg are able to find the perfect balance between humour and afflicting, allowing viewers to empathise with each character, never influencing our interpretation. Cholodenko’s personal experience with sperm donation quite clearly had an influence on the film’s narrative, but the film evidently benefits from the personal touch, managing to avoid common clichés and melodrama.

By exploring an experimental model of family, Cholodenko bravely introduces viewers to subject matter not normally addressed within Hollywood films. While this may put off some people, it’s something those willing to accept should celebrate.

A subplot focusing on Laser’s friendship with wayward skater Clay feels unnecessary, and the kids’ parts often feel slightly less integral than that of the adult trio. However, these are minor pitfalls, and never detract from the overall enjoyment or meaning of the film.

In all honesty, The Kids Are All Right a fantastic film, exuding charm, wit, love, insecurity and anguish at every appropriate corner. In essence, it’s a film about the struggles of human relationships, and shows a family’s love has the potential to overcome any obstacle. It’s certainly one of the finer films of the year.