June 28, 2006

2006 Movie Snapshots

Time for some good ol' fashioned small reviews of some 2006 films I've seen this last week. And all three are titles you've probably never heard of (and if so, probably only on this lil ol' blog). Anyway.

The Society Murders (2006, dir. Maher)

Julia Blake and Terry Norris in The Society Murders
This is the (TV) movie based on the infamous (well, famous in my state of Victoria) "Society Murders" when the son of a wealthy socialite murdered her and her husband (his step-father) for no apparent reason and then covered it up while his family were worried sick. The family were given the short end of the stick and the media pounced on them because they were rich and lived in Toorak (rich bitch suburb of Melbourne). The son, Matthew (played here by Matthew Le Nevez) murdered them and his wife Miritza (Daniella Farinacci) covered it up. Or, that's what is believed to have happened, and that's what the book and this subsequence film portray (although the family played no part in either project).

The strength of this production though is that it is something rare for Australia. It is a murder mystery with all the gloss of an American production, but set right in the suburbs that we (well, Victorians anyway) know. I can imagine many Americans watching movies and spotting movies set in places they know and it lends something to it. Watching this and knowing it really took place just 2 hours away added to the atmosphere of it all.

Plus, it also helps that the performances are mostly outstanding. Le Nevez is chilling as the dimwitted brother and Nicholas Eadie and Alex Dimitriadis are fine as the elder brother Damian and the police detective in charge of the case. But really the film belongs to the women. Georgie Parker (where have you been all my life? Oh that's right, in bad tv series, Heather Mitchell (ASHKA herself!) and Asher Kedie are great as the three sisters but the standout is Daniella Farinacci who is fantastic (but, really, when isn't she ???) as the scheming temptress. If I was to make this eligable for my year end awards (which it won't be sadly) she would definitely be in for a Best Supporting Actress prize). B+

The Caterpiller Wish (2006, dir. Sciberras)

This is another film in the long line of Australian productions where a young girl who lives in a small town (preferably on the coast) searches to discover her true identity. It's tried and true plot for Australian films (like the recent Somersault), but thankfully this one still manages to pass the grade. Unlike that other movie I mentioned, this one isn't depressing! It's just a perfectly quaint movie filled with likable characters and sprightly dialogue. The film follows a 17-year-old, Emily (Victoria Thaine), as she tries to discover who her real father is (her mother, played by Susie Porter, tells her it was a tourist but she doesn't believe it).

Nothing particularly big or dramatic happens, but I still liked it. It reminded me of last year's Aussie gem Oyster Farmer, which was a wonderful slice-of-life film about an oyster region on the Hawksbury River. This time it's the picturesque coast area of South Australia. The film is indeed beautiful to look at. The harsh winter cold looks great on screen thanks to cinematographer Greig Fraser. The score by Burkhard Dallwitz is very atmospheric and the occasional songs are well-used.

But, again, it's the performances that made this film. Victoria Thaine is impressive in one of her first lead roles, as is Khan Chittenden (from tv series "Blue Water High") who is definitely gonna become a major hottie in a year or two. Robert Mammone gives great work as the tortured fisherman, and Susie Porter puts another notch in her illustrious belt. But for me my favourite performance was with the welcome return to films by Wendy Hughes. Her performance didn't appear to be anything particularly memorable but she gives her dialogue such a wonderful twist that I fell for it. Her bedroom scene is priceless "Your father's going to live on the street for a while. But soon enough he'll get himself a nice box and you can go visit him sometime. Sound nice?" (er, paraphrased) acted with a sort of maniacle glee that reminded me of Joan Allen. Overall this was a wonderful time at the cinema. B

Renaissance (2006, dir. Volckman)

(I'm gonna keep this one short cause I wanna go to bed) Now this is interesting. A French arthouse animated black and white sci-fi futuristic thriller! The animation in this movie (using motion capture, rotoscoping style) is absolutely stunning. I was just amazed while watching it. It looks spectacular. The plot is a bit "wtf?" but, whatever. It's so pretty. If people can love Sin City without it have the slightest form of things such as plot and structure, then I can love this purely for it's aesthetics. Plus, animated Daniel Craig is much hotter than the actual real life Craig. Yum. B+

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