Movie reviews – from Sept 26 to Oct 10

James Douglas
September 26, 2013

September 27–October 2

THE BLING RING

If you can’t be famous, be infamous. From a true story, a posse of celebrity-culture-addicted teenagers track their idols to able to rob them and thus own a piece of their ‘bling.’ A commentary on the shallowness of celebrity and the moral bankruptcy of the idle rich who feed on it. Emma Watson makes for a surprisingly good American teen far removed from Hermione. ‘Girls meets Ocean’s Eleven, The Bling Ring might be a film for right now rather than the ages, but Sofia Coppola’s heist movie is visually arresting, well acted, capricious fun’ (Empire). ‘May be the most exquisitely crafted movie ever made about a bunch of nitwits’ (New Yorker). ‘Make no mistake, it is lovely to look at this celebrity bedazzled bit of L.A. crime history for a while. But the movie ultimately leaves you feeling as empty as the lives it means to portray’ (LA Times).

 

September 30

HAPPY

‘In some ways might seem like a small subject, or a humongous subject, but I thought of it as a humongous subject, so I went around the world to make the film,’ said Roko Belic, whose documentary of positive psychology takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata via Denmark, Namibia, Scotland, China, Kenya, Brazil, Japan and Bhutan in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, the film explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion. Featuring the Dalai Lama, amongst others. Belic: ‘The greatest lesson I learned while making this film is that my pursuit of happiness is not about me. It’s about our relationships and how we help each other. It’s about us.’

 

October 3–10

DIANA

The last two years of the late Princess of Wales’ life apparently featured an affair with a heart surgeon. Anyone remotely interested in this extremely boring and tiresomely unnecessary premise will likely warm to Naomi Watts’ insipid impersonation of Diana (yet balk at Naveen Andrews’ ghastly Khan). About as misguided and probably misinformed as is possible for a commercial enterprise selling itself on a famous name could be and slammed by critics (even in the United States), this horrendously scripted farrago is to be avoided not least out of respect for the deceased. ‘Poor Princess Diana. I hesitate to use the term “car crash cinema”. But the awful truth is that, 16 years after that terrible day in 1997, she has died another awful death’ (The Guardian). ‘More terrible and tacky than one could have imagined, it will soon be forgotten’ (Empire).

 

ODEON Cinema

piazza Strozzi 2, tel. 055/295051

www.odeonfirenze.com

 

 

British Institute Talking Pictures: Australia-New Zealand Filmfest

 

The international success of movies from Australia and New Zealand is a relatively new development in the countries’ long histories of cinema production. Over the past 40 years or so, filmmakers have chosen to investigate the difficult, and sometimes traumatic, social and cultural interface between the diverse inhabitants of the region as well as focusing on the beautiful landscape and rich heritage of these countries. It is no coincidence then that this select overview should feature films that are sometimes challenging, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes silly, sometimes shocking, and sometimes just good for a laugh. Fasten your seatbelts: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

October 2

PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK

Australia’s first international hit!

 

Period mystery drama. Valentine’s Day, 1900. The young ladies of Appleyard College go for a picnic, and some mysteriously disappear. The story asks how and why but does not provide answers. Peter Weir’s haunting and beguiling mystery seems to plug into some ancient subterranean animus, luring its late-Victorian characters into a world beyond their ken through imagined or unimaginable experiences. From the stern Mrs Appleyard to the flighty French mistress and the genteel young ladies, this beautiful film lingers long in the memory and never fails to please.

 

October 9

THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH

Dramatic, colourful, violent and insightful (Variety)

 

Biographical crime drama. New South Wales, 1900. Excellent and powerful adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s novel about a half-caste caught between his aboriginal heritage and white colonial society. His way of fighting back is extreme and fatal. This is one of the key films in the renaissance of Australian cinema in the 1970s and one that addresses its issues with tact and sensitivity, despite the obvious brutality meted out on both sides of the racial divide. It avoids exploitation in the sure and superbly controlled hands of its director, Fred Schepisi.

 

BRITISH INSTITUTE of Florence

Lungarno Guicciardini 9

tel. 055/26778270

www.britishinstitute.it

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