All posts by Richard Cotter

As a child, Richard loved going to the pictures. He is still getting over the advent of the talkie which set cinema back a century but still sounds off on radio ABC, 2GB and 2UE etc about the state of cinema whenever invited. As well, Richard has been a theatre practitioner for the past 35 years and has been resident director for Big Splash Productions for the past 10 years.

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

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NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is Tom Ford’s lush, tense, thriller wrapped in a melodrama.

Amy Adams is Susan, described by her ex as a nocturnal animal, sporting a Veronica Lake hair style that’s a visual delight,an inspired aesthetic nimbly signifying the noirish nuance of the nocturnal animal tale.

In one of the year’s most startling starts, the opening titles feature obscenely obese elephantine females flaunting their fat – prolapsed tummies flap in their laps, thighs of thunder threaten to drape knees in curtains of adipose, a gross flesh fetish that glories in the gross, the gluttonous and the unglamorous.  Continue reading NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

THE FOUNDER : ANOTHER MICHAEL KEATON TRIUMPH

From Beetlejuice to Batman to Birdman to Burger Man, Michael Keaton is on a roll, an open sesame to Oscar contention with a big, beefy performance as Ray Kroc, the Big Mac and French Fries franchise robber baron.

Kroc was a travelling salesman caught up in the American Dream of succeeding. It was a dream that was receding. Until a chance lunch stop at a hamburger joint.

Run by bothers Dick and Mac McDonald it was a phenomenon of clockwork cuisine. Nick had already devised and mastered the time and motion marvel that made the McDonald’s conveyor belt burger a superior fast food operation and Kroc was impressed. He suggested franchise, but the boys had already tried that and failed because Nick wanted absolute control and could not guarantee it outside his personal fiefdom of patties and fries. Continue reading THE FOUNDER : ANOTHER MICHAEL KEATON TRIUMPH

FIVE GO ON A STRATEGY AWAY DAY

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famous-fiveTry to fathom the Famous Five in adulthood, old grist to the Millennial mill of clap trap commerce as they embark on their modern adventure, FIVE GO ON A STRATEGY AWAY DAY.

On securing a new job with large multinational corporation called Lupiter Funckstein, Julian realized his team was severely understaffed and promptly hired his childhood pals Anne, Dick and George. Ripping.

The harmony of their working relationship is threatened when they are required to attend a Strategy Away Day with all the manufactured tensions and stress of hot housed leadership games and fatuous team building exercises intended to “incentivise”, build “cohesiveness”, and create “outcomes”. Continue reading FIVE GO ON A STRATEGY AWAY DAY

LIKE CRAZY

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Thelma & Louise out of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, LIKE CRAZY is, well, like crazy. Crazy good.

After busting out of Villa Biondi, a presumably secure psychiatric centre in the serene countryside of Italy, Beatrice, a delusional billionaire and Donatella, a mentally fragile tattooed introvert, embark on a road trip.

Beatrice keeps both motor and mouth at full throttle, as she heads off to visit her past with Donatella in tow.

A fabulous fabulist, Beatrice passes herself off as a clinical psychiatrist staff member when she first meets Donatella. On discovering the ruse, this pushes the already fragile woman deeper into distress, yet Beatrice’s personality is so robust, so dominant, and, in some intangible way, so simpatico, that Donatella’s fractured mental state allows herself to come under her wing.
And what an encompassing wing it is, flapping, soaring, gliding in to a myriad of mad adventures. Continue reading LIKE CRAZY

WORD HUNTERS TOP SECRET FILES

 

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Educational fun – for some, that’s an oxymoron. So too word play. WORD HUNTERS TOP SECRET FILES turns an oxymoron into a tautology.

Nick Earls and Terry Whidborne’s book is a towering word trade centre, a bazaar for the bizarre origins of words, designed for young readers as a companion to the three fiction titles in the Word Hunter series.

A little like a young readers version of The Inky Fool, Mark Forsyth’s The Etymologicon, WORD HUNTERS TOP SECRET FILES is a fascinating foray into word facts and the phraseology and vernacular that evolves from various forms and fields of human endeavour. Continue reading WORD HUNTERS TOP SECRET FILES

I, DANIEL BLAKE

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Those who categorise Ken Loach films as bleak have the initiative of an echo.

Watch the first three minutes of his latest picture, I, DANIEL BLAKE and I defy you not to piss yourself laughing. And watch the last three minutes and I defy you not to cry.

By golly, what more can we ask of a film-maker than to make us laugh and make us cry, to coerce a rallying cry from the audience, that we are human, and are worthy of respect. Continue reading I, DANIEL BLAKE

HER COMPOSITION

Joselyn Jensen possesses a Greta Gerwig quality as Malorie, a student composer turned call girl in Stephan Littger’s beautifully observed film, HER COMPOSITION.

Neither tarty or tantalising, Malorie enters prostitution in a chance, matter of fact way so as to ensure she can pay her rent and tuition at a prestigious New York music academy.

Her live in boyfriend has taken to seeing someone else and her scholarship is shipwrecked by a latent but inherent sexism in the school.

From crotchet to crotch, she makes men quaver as she hits the high notes of high class escorting in a brilliant subversion on sexuality and feminism, a Joan of Arc painting the New York subway and weaving those images into a soundscape, a concerto of her experience as a sex worker. Continue reading HER COMPOSITION

ORIGINAL BLISS

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“I prayed for a bike and didn’t get one. So I stole a bike then prayed for forgiveness”.

This is the twisted logic of the devout, indoctrinated from infancy, it shows an infantile reasoning, born of the longing of a loving, caring, protective Father.

Helene was a devout until her husband literally knocked it out of her.
Adult reasoning rises to the top and combined with experience, erodes dogma and results in lack of faith. But residue of faith remain, a sense of duty, honour of vows, and Helene stays faithful to a husband who finds fault in her faith, himself a jealous god, who will not tolerate false gods before him.

Plagued by incessant insomnia instigated by a marriage that is more incarceration than an intimate relationship, Helene spends her day compulsively cleaning and cooking in the marital home and channel surfing television, “no more than a bundle of preoccupations.”

A televised interview with renowned psychologist Eduard Gluck prompts her to read his book which consequently compels her to seek him out personally.

There is an instant attraction. His hair is too long, she blurts. By their next meeting, he has had a hair cut. Gluck becomes father confessor, a safe haven conduit for Helene to speak her mind, articulate her thoughts. But Gluck is not God, nor even a saint.

The psychologist suffers from paraphilia, a purveyor of pornography and a chronic masturbator. – If I had been a film you would have watched.

Going through their own individual hell, Helene and Gluck find a sort of salvation in each other, a Rilke-like connection, of two souls bordering and protecting and greeting one another.

Based on a story by Scottish writer A.L.Kennedy, ORIGINAL BLISS is directed by Sven Taddicken, and features two outstanding performances from the two leads, Martina Gedeck and Ulrich Tukur.

The eroticism is powerful, palpable, expectant, pregnant with subdued urgency.

Gedek, achingly beautiful in both physical and emotional sense and sensibility, embodies and empowers Helene, who, as described by author A..K. Kennedy “had been told that her life in its current form represented normality. Existence in the real world was both repetitive and meaningless; these facts were absolute, no one could change them. Ecstasy was neither usual nor useful because of its tendency to distract, or even to produce dependency. Her original bliss had meant she was unbalanced, but now she had the chance to be steady and properly well.’

Ulrich Tukur’s Gluck is a jaunty, playful portrayal, a patina over the painful self loathing he suffers from the blight of his pathological plight.

Profoundly powerful, thought provoking and emotionally charged, ORIGINAL BLISS is compelling cinema, eminently engaging, one of the few films of the year that warrants a second viewing and a seeking out of its source material.

ORIGINAL BLISS is playing as part of the current German Film Festival. Screening times are Friday November 18 at 9 pm  at the Chaucer cinema and Monday November 28 at 9 pm at Palace Norton Street.

JERRY LEWIS : THE MAN BEHIND THE CLOWN

A love letter to the Lewis lunacy and legacy, JERRY LEWIS: THE MAN BEHIND THE CLOWN is a sixty minute salute to the rubber faced farceur and film maker.

The picture begins with a recorded quote from Lewis, “there are three things that are real: God, Human Folly and Laughter.” Lewis certainly made a lucrative living from the latter two.

The Lewis brand of comedy is grounded in the juvenile and infantile, making more faces than a watchmaker and delivering more falls than a forest in Autumn. Continue reading JERRY LEWIS : THE MAN BEHIND THE CLOWN

MONSIEUR MAYONNAISE

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Kicked out of university. Makes a career as a people smuggler. Is this the sort of person we want to come to Australia? You bet it is!

It may sound like a Lubitsch comedy title, but MONSIEUR MAYONNAISE is actually a stunning documentary about film maker Phillippe Mora’s father, Georges Mora.

Expelled from university where he was studying medicine by the Nazi’s, Georges served with the French Resistance smuggling children to safety across the Swiss border.

After the war, he and his wife, Mirka, emigrated to Australia, where they became part of the Melbourne bohemian scene, opening up a restaurant, an establishment that was renowned for its mayonnaise. Continue reading MONSIEUR MAYONNAISE

WOODY ALLEN’S NEW FILM : CAFE SOCIETY

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The good news is that CAFÉ SOCIETY is arguably the best looking Woody Allen film ever. But Woody’s wit takes a back seat to the look – sumptuous cinematography by Vittorio Storraro production, design by Santo Loquasto and Suzy Benzinger’s costumes.

Allow me some more emphasis– lensed by Vittorio Storaro, who won deserved Oscars for Apocalypse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor, production design by Santo Loqausto and costumes by Suzy Benzinger make CAFÉ SOCIETY not only the best looking Woody Allen film ever, but possibly the best looking film to come out of America this year.

Bronx browns give way to honey hued Hollywood, as Bronx born Bobby is packed off by his mother to work with her brother Phil Stern (a Woody wordplay on philistine) in the motion picture business. Continue reading WOODY ALLEN’S NEW FILM : CAFE SOCIETY

2016 SCIFI FILM FESTIVAL 19/10 TO 23/10 @ RANDWICK RITZ

Get ready for Australia’s only SF Film Festival! The 2016 SciFi Film Festival tessellates into the continuum at The Ritz, Randwick, this coming week, premiering the best bleeding-edge science fiction features and short films from around the world over five film-filled days.

The star attraction has got to be FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK, a seminal look at the undeniable star of the Star Fleet.

Fifty years ago, Leonard Nimoy donned fake ears, obtuse eyebrows, and a stony, imperceptible visage to play the emotion-limited but utterly loveble Mr. Spock on the pioneering TV series, Star Trek.

Second officer but certainly no second banana, Spock became the Star Fleet staffer that became an international icon.

Nimoy’s characterisation survived the pilot episode which saw the rest of the cast crash and burn.
Before Star Trek and Mr. Spock, Nimoy had struggled to have a job for more than two weeks at a time, doing guest spots and fifty worders on Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits and Get Smart. Continue reading 2016 SCIFI FILM FESTIVAL 19/10 TO 23/10 @ RANDWICK RITZ

PEDRO ALMODOVAR’S ‘JULIETA’

‘The first reaction by Alberto Iglesias, my musician for twenty years, when he saw the edited film was that it didn’t need music. He liked it bare, just as it had been born in the editing room’, says director Almodovar, of his new film JULIETA.

Thankfully, the film maker insisted that it did need music, at least little transitions to accentuate the changes of era or the character’s repetitions. Something delicate and light like Clint Eastwood’s compositions in some of his best films, like Million Dollar Baby.
The end result is a jazz infused score reminiscent of Ascenseur pour l’echafaud, a perfect accompaniment to this bold melodrama fashioned from three short stories by Alice Munro.

Two different actresses play the titular character, Julieta, Adriana Ugarte from twenty five to forty, and Emma Suárez from forty onward. They are both beautiful and believable performances essaying one woman’s journey from romantic optimism to the minutiae grit of guilt that cruelly cultures into a pearl of reproach. Continue reading PEDRO ALMODOVAR’S ‘JULIETA’

HOLLY THROSBY’S DEBUT NOVEL ‘GOODWOOD’

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Here’s the good wood on GOODWOOD. It’s good.

Holly Throsby’s debut novel, GOODWOOD, is a lyrical, rolling ballad of a small country town hit with a one/two punch of grief and of a one/two punch of burgeoning sexuality for the story’s narrator, seventeen year old, Jean Brown.

Set in 1992, the disappearance of two locals from the small town of Goodwood are harbingers of the disappearance of an era, before mandatory mobile phone use, social media and maniac serial killers burying backpackers in Belanglo.

Rosie White is the first to vanish, seemingly into thin air, followed by the burg’s butcher, Bart, believed to be boating but never returning, believed drowned, body undiscovered. Continue reading HOLLY THROSBY’S DEBUT NOVEL ‘GOODWOOD’

ADRIEN BOSC’S DEBUT NOVEL ‘CONSTELLATION’

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Author Adrien Bosc does not consider his debut novel CONSTELLATION to be a prosopopoeia, a figure of speech in which an abstract thing is personified, or a figure of speech in which an imagined, absent, or dead person or thing is represented as speaking. As the author has it: ‘the description of the flight, the arrangement of the characters within the whole as represented by the plane is the only viewpoint, the only theatricality.’

In 1949, there was still no way to make the dead speak. The black box was not yet in general use and so an exact re-enactment was made, or one that is an exact approximation. CONSTELLATION approaches such an exact approximation, a re-enactment of approximate exactness; a celestial piece of writing about humanity, history, aviation and the discreet power of chance. Continue reading ADRIEN BOSC’S DEBUT NOVEL ‘CONSTELLATION’

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

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There’s a spectacular sequence on the Ghost Train at Brighton Pier at what should be the climax of Tim Burton’s latest fantasy, MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN. Watch out for the director as a wide eyed and terrified rider before the sequence segues into a Ray Harryhausen homage with the skeleton crew of a sunken shipwreck.

Based on the book of the same name by Ransom Riggs, the first in a trilogy, the film version of MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN is scripted by Jane Goldman, a dab hand at fantasy with the splendid and underrated Stardust, as well as The Woman in Black, Kick Ass and X Men: First Class. Indeed, the peculiar children who live at Miss Peregrine’s are very much like juvenile X men, possessing peculiar properties of preternatural power like proficiency in pyrotechnics. Continue reading MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

(l to r) Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.
(l to r) Vincent D’Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures’ THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Bodice ripped buxom widow beseeches black clad bounty hunter to bring unlovable rogue, Bartholomew Bogue to book.

The black knight, Sam Chisolm (didn’t John Wayne play a character called Chisolm?) played by Denzel Washington channelling Richard Boone’s Paladin, assembles a multicultural mercenary force, to aid the damsel in distress.

A Mexican, a Comanche, A Chinese, and a trio of Caucasians, who obviously love a stoush more than money. Continue reading THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

LIFE, ANIMATED

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The extraordinary documentary, LIFE, ANIMATED, is not a Disney picture but what an endorsement of the Mouse House, nonetheless.

Owen Suskind is an autistic man who emerged from years of silence and withdrawal as a child after immersing himself in Disney animated features.

The title of the film takes its cue from Owen’s father, Ron Suskind’s book, Life Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism, and certainly the film’s writer director, Academy Award Winner, Roger Ross Williams, bases part of his narrative on the book, but then proceeds further, capturing Owen’s physical and social maturation as he enters manhood, living away from home, burgeoning romance and sexuality. Continue reading LIFE, ANIMATED

ALL OF US & EVERYTHING

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Featured Image- Author Bridget Asher, the pen name for Julianna Baggott, W.H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters.

Chick lit writ large, Bridget Asher’s whimsical novel, ALL OF US & EVERYTHING, is a three sister ring circus with an eccentric ringmaster mother and a mysterious spy ring father.

Augusta, august and gusty and gutsy is the matriarch, mother of Esme, Liv and Ru.

Esme, marriage in ruins and Tweet obsessed teenage daughter daughter, Atty, named after Atticus Finch, in tow, Liv, marriage also in tatters, and Ru, never married, but recently engaged and now rethinking the idea, are coming home to Mama. Continue reading ALL OF US & EVERYTHING

MULGA’S MAGICAL MUSICAL CREATURES

Last year, Mulga’s Magical Colouring Book became an instant best-seller. Mulga’s latest book, MULGA’S MAGICAL MUSICAL CREATURES looks set to follow in its footsteps.

Saturated in amazing colour, MULGA’S MAGICAL MUSICAL CREATURES takes us from marvellous alliteration to imaginative illustration in a rhyming picture book for children starring a lush and illustrious array of zoological instrumentalists.

Might they be the so called Mexican walking fish plucking guitars in ponchos? Blue suited pink elephants tasking their trumpets is a cool mirage and are banjo playing hooters called banjowls?!

Lions growling out lyrics while wearing pink socks are the envy of the man -o – Manfred Man, pretty flamingos while gorillas beat skins rather than their chests in a jungle drum fantasia.

A musical menagerie full of quirky colourful creatures and delicious detail, a mind expanding blend of the familiar and the surreal, MULGA’S MAGICAL MUSICAL CREATURES is simply delightful, akin to a magical mystery tour, sans the walrus.

With the sanity clause season fast approaching, MULGA’S MAGICAL MUSICAL CREATURES is the perfect stocking filler, however why wait?!
Continue reading MULGA’S MAGICAL MUSICAL CREATURES

THIRTY THREE @ THE OLD FITZ

 

oldfitz-1A good dose of theatre verite takes over the top tier of the Old Fitz pub as resident production company curate the first of a new series of performances, THIRTY THREE.

THIRTY THREE is not only the title of the play but the capacity of audience allocation as viewers sit along three walls and watch a dinner party thrown by Sas to celebrate her thirty-third birthday degenerate into a debauched debacle. Continue reading THIRTY THREE @ THE OLD FITZ

SNOWDEN

snowdon1A couple of years ago, the documentary CitizenFour won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. The film was directed by Laura Poitras, who has become a character in Oliver Stone’s dramatic narrative version of the same story, SNOWDEN.

Poitras is played by Melissa Leo who is flanked by Tom Wilkinson as journalist Ewen MacAskill and Zachary Quinto as reporter Glenn Greenwald, the trusted trio NSA whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, flies to Hong Kong to meet to spew his secrets concerning U.S. Government cyber surveillance programs of seismic proportions.

A top security contractor with virtuoso programming skills, Snowden has discovered that a virtual Everest of information is being assembled tracking all forms of digital communication — not just from foreign governments and terror groups, but from ordinary Americans. Disillusioned with his work in the intelligence community, Snowden meticulously gathers hundreds of thousands of secret documents that will expose the full extent of the surveillance and the mountain of meta data. Continue reading SNOWDEN

PETE’S DRAGON

While her dad, Ron Howard, is stroking the nostalgia zone of baby boomers with his brilliant Beatles doco, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, daughter Bryce Dallas Howard is rekindling interest in a remake of a classic children’s film, PETE’S DRAGON. And whaddya know, it’s one of those remarkable remakes that is OK.

Bryce Dallas plays Grace, a forest ranger complete with Smoky Bear hat who finds young Pete, deep in the woods, a kid who was orphaned in a car wreck years before and brought up by a cute and cuddly dragon called Elliot, who looks like the love child of the flying critter from The Never Ending Story.

Grace’s dad, Meacham, has long held that the legend of the dragon lurking in the local woods is true, and has been wood working the seemingly mythical beast all his life. Of course, he is vindicated, but Elliot is vilified, and the hunt for the ferocious fire breathing flapper becomes hysterical by certain logging log-heads. Continue reading PETE’S DRAGON

THE CONFIRMATION

Gillian Welch’s Wrecking Ball plays over the opening titles of Bob Nelson’s THE CONFIRMATION.

In tone and timbre, it’s the perfect song to accompany the shots of a small American town where Jaeden Lieberher plays eight year old Anthony whose mother has remarried and returned to the Catholic Church. Wanting her son to follow in her devotional footsteps, Anthony is preparing to make his first Communion followed by his Confirmation into the faith.

Part of the preparation of receiving the Sacrament is making a confession to the priest, making an act of contrition, and being absolved of his sins.
Trouble is, Anthony is a good kid and has nothing to confess. He’s also incredibly bright and his inherent logic is at odds with the dogma the dog-collar clerics catechise. Continue reading THE CONFIRMATION

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK : THE TOURING YEARS

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In the film Goldfinger, James Bond infamously says that some things are not done, like listening to The Beatles without earmuffs. Clearly, he means at their concerts when teems of screaming teens were louder than the band.

That’s clearly in evidence in Ron Howard’s fab documentary of the Fab Four, EIGHT DAYS A WEEK: THE TOURING YEARS.

Arguably, director Ron Howard’s best work in feature film narrative have been movies based on real events and real people: Rush, Frost/Nixon, A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, and here he brings all his narrative skills to the screen to create a superlative documentary. Continue reading EIGHT DAYS A WEEK : THE TOURING YEARS