Felices 140 (Happy 140): Film Review

Part of the Spanish Film Festival, Felices 140 (Happy 140) stars Mirabel Verdu as Elia, a woman throwing herself an elaborate 40th birthday party in a remote villa. She invites her sister’s family and her lifelong friends as well as an old lover, who shows up in a helicopter with a self-centred and vain girlfriend half his age. This consistently amusing film takes a twisted turn, after Elia reveals she’s won €140 million.

Envy and resentment bubbling below the surface rises quickly as a moral crisis threatens Elia’s happiness. Interestingly, Elia’s grand romantic gesture to sweep her old flame off his feet is an unfamiliar twist on usual romantic comedy fodder. Continue reading Felices 140 (Happy 140): Film Review

Shock Wave: Film Review

Shock Wave, written and directed by Herman Yau, stars Andy Lau, who also acts as producer. The film has a ridiculous plot centred on Cheung Choi-san (Lau), a policeman and explosives expert who inexplicably goes undercover with criminals and subsequently allows them to blow up half of Hong Kong before arresting only one of them. Years later, he’s disarming bombs left, right and centre in the city without wearing protective gear. Hot shot men don’t need to follow the rules, they are made of reinforced steel! Continue reading Shock Wave: Film Review

Race in Reviews of “Get Out”

I saw Get Out last week and absolutely loved it. It’s only just been officially released across Australia this week. I was excited about this not just as an horror movie aficionado but to see a film made by and starring people of colour (Black men specifically). I purposefully didn’t read any reviews or articles until after watching the film. What’s been interesting is now reading reviews by White people, both from the USA and from Australia.

The film has received almost universally positive reviews – as it should; it is excellent! White American reviewers disproportionately write about the film as if it is written for them; that it is meant to reflect onto *other White people* (not the reviewer, not their readers) their own latent racism.

Reviews by Black writers, especially Black women, see tht the film is primarily for Black people, a view supported by interviews with the writer/director Jordan Peele.

White Australians see this film is also about White Americans, and they do not reflect to what extent the racial dynamics might have some comparison to, and diverge from, race relations in Australia.

Get Out

Continue reading Race in Reviews of “Get Out”

Ma Ma: Film Review

Penelope Cruz is absolutely wonderful in Ma Ma, the biggest feature at the Spanish Film Festival in Canberra. Cruz plays Magda, a single mother who decides to leave her cheating husband, a professor of Philosophy who is sleeping with his students (!). This decision coincides with her learning that she has breast cancer.

On the same day of her marital independence, she meets and forms a friendship with Arturo (Luis Tosar), an ailing husband who, also on this fateful day, learns his wife and child have been in an accident.

This film begins by exploring grief and human connection through loss, but soon proves itself a film about life and how to be happy in brief, imperfect moments. The film is a beautiful celebration of motherhood; the film ends with a dedication: “to all the women.”

There is more to like about this movie: it’s depiction of friendship especially as well as its wrestling with faith and atheism. It is a lovely statement on the diversity of families and ultimately has an affirming message about gay fatherhood. While there are many cliches along the way about living life to the fullest, there is great joy in seeing a woman-centred story where the journey is driven by her own desires.

Score: Distinction (7.5/10). Continue reading Ma Ma: Film Review

The Companion: Film Review

Playing at the Sydney Latin American Film Festival, The Companion is a Cuban film centred on Horacio, a Black Cubano who is a former boxing champion now disgraced. Played by Yotuel Romero, Horacio is assigned to work at a military-run hospital (”Los Cocos”) where all Cubans who were HIV positive were quarantined in the 1980s under the guise of universal healthcare. Continue reading The Companion: Film Review

Guarani: Film Review

As part of Cine Latino, I watched Solos, a Peruvian film, which I enjoyed, but let’s deep dive into Guarani, which was absolutely sublime. This year’s program has fewer women-centred films than previous Latin film festivals in recent years, but Guarani was so beautifully rendered.

Continue reading Guarani: Film Review

Sidetracked: Film Review

At the Spanish Film Festival 2016, I saw many good films; one of which was Las Ovejas No Pierden El Tren (translated to “Sidetracked” but that’s not quite right – direct translation is the sheep don’t miss the train).

The film was a very sweet comedy about the relationship between adult siblings and their parents, and about coming to terms with the disappointment that life does not turn out how you hope. The film had a lovely recurring theme about how people trick themselves into thinking they’re happy, and wasting time pretending to be happy, or angry and disappointed that they don’t get what they want how they want it.

Image: Bar lounge at the Electric Palace Cinema,Canberra, host of the Spanish Film Festival.

Perished: Film Review

Perished is a short Australian film screening at the MIFF alongside REC 3: Genesis. This tale follows a solitary man who survives the zombie apocalypse. Trapped inside a shed without food or drink, he vacillates from despair to resourcefulness. Plenty of gore for zombie lovers, but stands apart thanks to its ending.

REC Genesis: Film Review

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Day 1: [REC]³ Génesis.

Spanish film with English subtitles. Screens with the impressive, low-budget short Australian zombie flick Perished.

Like most adoring fans of the [REC] franchise, I came to this film brimming with excitement. REC³ Genesis (the third REC film) is the first of 14 films I’m watching at the MIFF. Unfortunately, this third instalment is disappointing – primarily because of it does not live up to the REC legacy. Continue reading REC Genesis: Film Review