Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Best and Worst Movies

 

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2014 was an uneven year in film.  One side featured fine independent productions making good use of limited budgets. The other had the usual swathe of Hollywood blockbusters, sequels and remakes.  Creatively, Tinseltown often resembled a wasteland of ideas – something that will likely to continue with the ongoing quest for dollars.  With the threat of downloading and internet based media looming large it will be interesting seeing where films go next.  Hopefully this will result in some higher quality movies with more risks being taken.

In the meantime here is my annual Top Ten list for the year.  Find out which films made me happy to see them and others that made me wish I hadn’t……..

THE BEST

10.  Jersey Boys

9.  Edge of Tomorrow

8.  The Grand Budapest Hotel

7.   Snowpiercer

6.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

5.   X-Men: Days of Future Past

4.  Nightcrawler

3.  The Wolf of Wall Street

2.  Guardians of the Galaxy

1.  Gone Girl

Gone Girl poster

What I said then: “One of his best films out of a great career, ‘Gone Girl’ is one of Fincher’s most daring projects.  Consistently insightful and engaging, it’s a cinematic oasis amidst a barren sea of recent celluloid mediocrity.”

What I say now: An unapologetic examination of marital hell and media manipulation, ‘Gone Girl’ was one of the bravest Hollywood films of the year.  Setting itself apart from the usual formulaic movies, it was consistently surprising and compelling.

Honourable mentions: Inside Llewyn Davis, 12 Years A Slave, The Two Faces of January, The Hundred-Foot Journey, A Most Wanted Man, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Kill the Messenger, The Drop, Into the Woods.

THE WORST

10. Grudge Match

9.  Noah

8.   22 Jump Street

7.  Paranormal Activity 5

6.  Hercules

5.   Pompeii

4. Endless Love

3.  The Fault In Our Stars

2.  Tammy

1.  Mrs. Browns Boys D’Movie

mrs browns poster

What I said then: “Mrs Browns Boys D’Movie’ is a deceptive and cruel beast.  Behind its masque of hilarity lies a seething cesspit of crudity and malice.  It’s a celluloid abomination richly deserving of its place in cinema’s Hall of Shame.”

What I say now: A cinematic shocker in every sense, ‘Mrs. Browns Boys D’Movie was simply appalling.  It established its own creative nadir with no sacred cows spared in its desperate quest in plumbing new comedic depths.

Dishonourable mentions:  The Equalizer, Before I Go To Sleep.

That’s it for another movie-going year.  Everyone enjoy a safe and happy Christmas and may 2015 be even luckier than the year about to go. Until next time – thanks for reading!

 

Movie Reviews by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Movie Review ... The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

 

The-Hobbit-The-Battle-Of-The-Five-Armies-posterMuch has been made of director Peter Jackson’s decision to film J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ book over three movies.  The story only lent itself to just one with many criticising this extension as a cynical studio money-grab.  Whilst that notion is partially true, it ignores that the Hobbit movies have successfully captured the essence of Tolkien’s work.  The final instalment in the trilogy ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies’ does a great job in closing the Middle Earth chapter begun in 2001’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ extravaganza.

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is in a world of trouble.  Attempting to free a kingdom trapped in the clutches of Smaug the Dragon, he watches helplessly as it goes on a path of destruction.  Helped by wise wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage), Bilbo tries to face his fears and rid his land of tyranny in a final, desperate battle.

‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ thrives on sheer scale.  A true epic with some brilliantly realised battle sequences, as an action fantasy event, it is hard to beat.  Jackson immerses himself with gusto into Middle-Earth’s adventures with the different characters combining to make a fascinating whole.  Whether they are hobbits, orcs or dwarves, you care about their actions – something many fantasy film writers forget to do.  Whilst the admittedly threadbare story mostly takes a back-seat to the spectacle, there’s enough to maintain interest.

A technical achievement on a grand canvas, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ is visually arresting.  Those seeing it in the much publicised higher frame-rate may find the picture quality off-putting.  Although distracting, it doesn’t dilute the power of the amazing CGI.  The creativity gone into conjuring Tolkien’s world is inspiring and is aided by the ever lush New Zealand locations.  All are served by the fine performances with the mix of drama and humour revealing Jackson’s determination to have fun in his last sojourn in Hobbit territory.

There’s a sense Jackson didn’t want the franchise to end with ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ providing a strong final coda.  He should be content his creative legacy will forever shine with the Lord of the Rings films a bench-mark for others to follow.

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Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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SOUNDTRACK

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Ginger Rogers Moment

 

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We Three Kings

 

Three Kings Altarpiece - Hans Baldun Grien (1507)

Three Kings Altarpiece - Hans Baldun Grien (1507)

Trivia Bits 14 December

 

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With a production budget of $300 million, the 2007 English fantasy adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (poster pictured) is the most expensive movie ever made to 2013, even after adjusting for inflation.

The two largest emirates by population in the United Arab Emirates are Dubai and Dhabi.

Legendary Mozambican-born football forward, Eusébio da Silva Ferreira represented Portugal in International games and who, during his professional career, scored 733 goals in 745 matches.

American legal dramedy Boston Legal aired from October 3, 2004, to December 8, 2008 and was a spin-off of long-running Kelley series The Practice, following the exploits of former Practice character Alan Shore (James Spader) at the legal firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt.

Created by the Rome Statute which came into force on 1 July 2002, The International Criminal Court is situated in the Netherlands to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

Rakija is a popular alcoholic beverage in Southeast Europe produced by distillation of fermented fruit generally with an alcohol content of 40% ABV.

Serenade No. 10 for winds by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is scored for twelve wind instruments and double bass and consists of seven movements and probably composed in 1781 or 1782 and is often known by the subtitle Gran Partita.

The semi-precious stone lapis lazuli is deep blue in colour and was being mined in the Sar-i Sang mines and in other mines in the Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan as early as the 7th millennium BC.

The Golden Grove Mine, producing copper, lead, silver, zinc and gold is in the Australian state of Western Australia and located 52 km south-south-east of Yalgoo.

The Lambeth Homilies are a collection of homilies found in a manuscript (MS Lambeth 487) in the Lambeth Palace Library in Lambeth, England containing seventeen sermons and is notable for being one of the latest examples of Old English, written 1185–1225.

Turophobia is the fear of the commonly eaten food of Cheese and the word being derived from Greek τυρός - turos, cheese and φόβος - phobos, fear.

Keep Calm 11 More Days

 

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Madonna and Child

 

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) - Holy Family, oil on canvas, 1975-76

Holy Family- Marc Chagall 1975-76

Quotables 14 December

 

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Movie Review ... The Water Diviner

 

The Water Diviner posterSince the days of Charlie Chaplain, actors directing their own films have become increasingly common.  Whether they want to further their craft or their own egos is debatable.  What isn’t is the differing quality of their directorial projects.  Robert Redford and George Clooney have excelled in their self-made movies, while others have fallen flat.  ‘The Water Diviner’ finds Russell Crowe taking a turn behind the camera.  Crafting an interesting film, it shows he has creative talent behind his sometimes boorish persona.

In 1919, Australian farmer Conner (Russell Crowe) is on a quest.  Wanting to discover the fate of his three sons who fought in Gallipoli, he travels to Turkey.  While staying in a hotel run by Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), Connor teams with a Turkish officer.  Travelling across the still war-scarred terrain, Connor soon learns about sacrifice and heroism with his mission taking some unexpected paths.

‘The Water Diviner’ marks a respectable directorial debut for Crowe.  Grasping the story’s themes and characters with ease, he reveals flair in blending them together. His handling of the culture clashes between Connor and those he meets are especially fascinating.  Not only does Connor deal with tension amongst the Turks but also the stifling British bureaucracy.  The immediate aftermath of such a bloody war is interestingly told, with passions still running high.

Another plus are the locations which look amazing.  From the Australian outback’s rugged terrain to Turkey’s natural beauty, ‘The Water Diviner’ has a good sense of place.  These further magnify the differing nationalities and the character’s determined natures.  Whilst some editing choices and a few out of place action scenes muddy the narrative, ‘The Water Diviner’ succeeds in being a film of quality. 

Generally free of the pretention of many local drama films, ‘The Water Diviner’ is something many should appreciate. Crowe doesn’t disgrace himself as a director or performer with his latest a more than decent directorial debut.

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Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

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Movie Review ... Folies Bergere

 

foliesbergere.poster.wsWhen a child leaves the family home to the occasional dismay of parents, this is usually results in the ‘empty nest syndrome’.  How these fresh waters are navigated has seen marriages sink or swim whilst forging the new horizons free of daily parental responsibilities.  ‘Folies Bergere’ uses this concept to good effect.  A French romantic comedy, the direction and cast enhance the tale of someone eager to rejuvenate their stagnant life.

Working on a farm with husband Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), Brigette (Isabelle Huppert) yearns for more personal challenges.  After the recent departure of their son from the familial home, she leaves her husband to seek adventure. Finding herself in Paris, she begins a romance with suave stranger Jesper (Michael Nyqvist).  With rekindled energy and outlook, Brigette’s actions have a marked effect on her marriage in ways she never would have imagined.

Directed by Mark Fitoussi, ‘Folies Bergere’ is different from the usual rom-com fare.  Instead of clear heroes and villains, Fitoussi’s characters have genuinely complex emotions.  Xavier and Brigette are a loving couple looking to escape marital inertia.  Any long-term partners would have their ups and downs with their ability to consistently re-fresh their union a key to longevity.  The issues of love and fidelity are explored with keen astuteness and played well by a fine ensemble.

Unlike many French-set films ‘Folies Bergere’ doesn’t linger too long on the surrounds.  It ensures the story remains front and centre than the admittedly lush vistas.  Deconstructing and then re-assembling Xavier and Brigette’s marriage, the script effectively shows both facets of the coin.  Wisely avoiding showing sympathy for either side, it leaves it to audiences to judge their deeds.  The level of emotional authenticity further magnifies the realism ‘Folies Bergere’s captures, making for continually engaging viewing.

An interesting foray into the nature of love and marriage, ‘Folies Bergere’ is generally satisfying.  Having some unexpected twists, how couples can re-engage with each other is a theme ‘Folies Bergere’ runs with well.

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Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

Official HomePage click HERE

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A Gina Lollobrigida Moment

 

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We Three Kings

 

The Adoration of the Three Kings - Girolamo da Santacroce

The Adoration of the Three Kings - Girolamo da Santacroce

Trivia Bits 13 December

 

Australian $100 bank note

Australian operatic soprano Dame Nellie Melba, who was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician, features on the Australian $100 bank note (pictured) released in 1996.

Kiefer Sutherland stars as Senator Corvus in the 2014 movie Pompeii, a German-Canadian historical disaster film produced and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and also stars Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas and Jared Harris.

After failing to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics in triathlon, American Mary Beth Ellis went on to win five Ironman Triathlons, including the 2012 U.S. Championships at Ironman New York.

Yad Kennedy, located in the Mateh Yehuda Region near Jerusalem, Israel, is a 60-foot high (18 m) memorial to John F. Kennedy designed by Brazilian-born Israeli architect David Resnick, shaped like the trunk of a felled tree, symbolizing a life cut short and was built in 1966 with funds donated by American Jewish communities.

Sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asian of Singapore takes its name from the Malay word meaning Lion City.

The large populated landmass of Greenland, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, is mostly situated in the Arctic Circle and is said that the Norwegian-born Icelander Erik the Red was exiled from Iceland for murder and set sail with his ships to the northeast and founded Greenland.

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Chisto is best known as half of the duo of French electronic music duo Daft Punk with Thomas Bangalter as the other half.

The South African alcoholic drink umpombothi is a type of beer made from maize (corn), maize malt, sorghum malt, yeast and water with usually less than 3% alcohol content.

The International Sociological Association was established in 1949 under the auspices of UNESCO with its headquarters in Madrid, Spain.

Naomi Campbell, often referred to as the queen of the catwalk, was discovered in the 1980’s while studying ballet at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, her hometown, and became an instant favourite of the Versaces, who for two decades never staged a show without her.

Only 12 to go

 

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Madonna and Child

 

The Alba Madonna by Raphael

The Alba Madonna by Raphael

Quotables 13 December

 

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Friday, December 12, 2014