Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth may well be the first film I can recall that has its final shot in the actual trailer. Thankfully though, without the context, this does not detract from what is a stark, startling and surprisingly imposing period drama, which is entirely deserving of the almost universal praise it has garnered.

Directed by William Oldroyd and based on the Russian novel, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, screenwriter Alice Birch transposes the story from Siberia to the windswept moors of Victorian north-east England.

Here, Florence Pugh enters from stage left as Katherine, a young woman quite literally sold and then subsequently trapped into both a loveless marriage and the confines of a family house. Taking advantage of her husband, Alexander (Paul Hilton) and his father Boris (Christopher Fairbank) absence on business, Katherine begins to explore her new surroundings and meets an outspoken groomsman Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), embarking on a dangerously obsessive and rebellious affair. (more…)

McLaren

McLaren

Bruce McLaren

As a lifelong Formula One fan, I am a little ashamed to admit that it took Roger Donaldson’s intimate portrait of the life of Bruce McLaren to expose me to the origins of the name McLaren, one of the stalwarts of Formula One.

After 2005’s The World’s Fasted Indian, Donaldson continues his exploration of Kiwis with petrol in their blood and this time transports us back to a 1940s service station and workshop in Remuera, New Zealand. It is here where Bruce McLaren learned his trade and laid the foundations for what was to come. That is, an impressive, but tragically cut short racing career, which saw McLaren quickly rise up through the motor racing ranks, to become one of the most influential drivers, team owners and constructors in motor racing history. (more…)

Bite Size: Life

Life

It’s life Jim, but not as we know it….

It’s pretty clear from the first five minutes what Life is trying to be, a strange kind of hybrid of Alien and Gravity, with an unhealthy dose of John Carpenters’ The Thing thrown in to liven things up. They say in space no-one hears you scream, but Life bucks this trend and boy do we get a lot of screaming.

The plot, for what it’s worth, centres around a group of ‘scientists’ (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Hiroyuki Sanada amongst others) on board the International Space Station, tasked with catching (quite literally), a returning probe containing soil samples from Mars. In the samples, they discover the first incontrovertible proof of life on Mars, which after some poking and prodding, they find is none too friendly. Carnage ensues. (more…)

Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome

Your world on your back

Cate Shortland, the Australian director of the chillingly captivating Berlin Syndrome, shows us the darker side of one of the key Australian rites of passage – backpacking across Europe. It may well give you cause to reconsider what you plan to do on your gap year.

We meet our young Australian backpacker, Clare (Teresa Palmer), arriving in Berlin, where she meets Andi (Max Riemelt), a German English teacher, and the two embark on a passionate and obsessive relationship. Both express their desire for the experience not to end, though Andi takes this to the extreme when Clare wakes up one morning and finds she is unable to leave the apartment. (more…)

Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones

Childhood dreams, small town secrets

Jasper Jones director Rachel Perkins’ engrossing and enthralling adaptation of Craig Silvey’s iconic Australian coming of age novel, takes us back to a time when childhood dreams were all about courage and adventures. It was about discovering the unknown, keeping secrets and making bonds for life.

Adventures are in short supply in 1960s Corrigan, though Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller) escapes the town by devouring the prose of Mark Twain and engaging in heated superhero arguments with his best friend, Jeffery Lu (Kevin Long). One night Charlie’s dreams are shattered by a midnight tap on the window from Corrigan outcast, Jasper Jones (Aaron L. McGrath), who leads Charlie into the woods where the body of Jasper’s girlfriend Laura is hanging lifeless from a tree.

Jasper is panicking, convinced that his reputation and mixed-race will see him convicted of the crime which he screams he didn’t do. Charlie believes him and agrees to help him track down the real culprit. (more…)