Littlerock – Lost in Translation (And Love) in Reverse……

Directed by Mike Ott, “Littlerock” tells of cross cultural confusion, isolation and how simply someone can quickly come into your life and just as fast disappear yet leave a huge impact. The simple story tells of (Rintaro Sawamoto) and Atsuko (Atsuko Okatsuka), a brother and sister combination traveling across the United States and end up in Nowheresville, USA, namely Littlerock. A small dead-end town with little to nothing to keep the people who live there entertained.

The two Japanese visitors end up staying for a few days as their car has broken down. They slowly befriend the townspeople and become good friends with one of the local slackers Cory (Cory Zacharia). Stuck with nowhere to go, the two tourists adapt to the local lifestyle, hanging out, slacking and more hanging out.

Rintaro can speak basic english while his sister cannot speak nor understand but her good looks make her the object of attention.Rintaro decides to move on but Atsuko stays on due to a growing affection for the small town, slow paced lifestyle and some of the migrant workers she meets. The film focuses on relationships in a cross-cultural sense whereby even a language barrier does not prevent people from falling in love; it also shows how some people feel trapped and limited  by small town life but are sometimes fearful to leave their small communities behind.A nice understated piece about the underlying human desire people have to connect.

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011) – “Nature versus Nurture”

One of the most talked about films of the past two decades, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” has finally been released to great acclaim and buzz around the world. Based on the hit book by Lionel Shriver, the film features one mother’s torment and guilt when her son commits an awful crime beyond the boundaries of normalcy and what begins as a routine family drama descends into a psychological thriller / horror.


The film stars Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly as the parents, whom it slowly dawns upon, that regardless of nurture or nature, some people are simply born with evil intent. Told in flash-backs, it shows the remnants of a once happy life and the impact and repercussions one person’s actions can have on everyone around them.


“We Need to Talk about Kevin” first featured at Cannes and has so far won great accolades including taking home the top prize at the “London Film Festival 2011″.
Looks fascinating………

Senna – No Fear. No Limits. No Equal – A Documentary on a Great Man…….

“SENNA” is the long-awaited biography / documentary on the fast life and times of F1 legend Aryton Senna; the Brazilian who lit up the racing world with his courage and bravery.  Shot with archive footage from his go-karting days right till that fateful weekend in Imola in 1994, this piece tells his life story with old footage and does not feature present day interviews from those who knew him; so in a sense Senna’s life story is told from his own perspective…..

I barely follow F1 these days; but back in the day, I did watch the races and the names Senna, Prost, Hill, Mansell and many more featured regularly but Senna was always the star attraction….he constantly brought glory to his nation and himself and courted controversy…….

F1 drivers face their own mortality when they strap up to race, every second counts, any mistake can be fatal….Senna knew these risks yet faced them head on with full conviction…….

A fantastic documentary .

‘Les Misérables’ (2019) – Tension in the Banlieues

‘Les Misérables’ is a 2019 documentary like urban contemporary drama set in the heart of the beating pulse of Paris. The film was directed by Ladj Ly and is a searing observation of racism, class and social division.

The story is based on a real life incident and is set after the 2018 World Cup final. It follows the story of several teenagers who are living in the suburbs – Banlieues. The story is set in Montfermeil and shows the ethnic diversity of the area; this is also where Victor Hugo wrote his famous novel .

The film follows several officers as they go about their routine visits to the area and shows their relationship with the inhabitants of the area.

The film, basically shows the general tension between the police and the inhabitants of the area and it takes one or two minor events which explode into major one for the entire area and suburb to explode. It is shot as a searing documentary style film, which shows the simmering tensions which underlie French society, and specifically Paris.

There are no right or wrongs and the protagonists are trying to do their best in what are difficult circumstances to survive. The film is filled with misunderstandings and missed opportunities for reconciliation before the explosive ending.

The Films of Terrence Malick ….

Terrence Malick is a cinematic genius and here are some of his most famous films from the last few decade. His latest film is the World War 2 film, “A Hidden Life” which tells the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector, refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II.

A Hidden Life

The film has been hailed as one of his best in recent years. With Malik’s latest release, this is a great time to reflect on his past films which stretch back over a few decades and come from the vivid imagination of this reclusive genius

‘THE TREE OF LIFE’

Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Jessica Chastain, and Tye Sheridan

“The Tree of Life” with heavyweights Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. From what I know the film tells of a boy’s relationship with his parents from birth all the way to death. His mother nurtures him to be forgiving and full of grace while he suffers from a fraught and sometimes strained relationship with his father who teaches him the ways of the world. Quintessentially, everyone in life is influenced and affected by people around them, for better or for worse, everyone has choices and the film seeks to explore the interconnections of people, their strengths and of course, their flaws……

A simple enough story but Malick is a modern day artist whom normally weaves intricate storylines blended into stunning visuals. Malick normally takes his viewers into another world with his vivid imagination and the viewer for one will forever be grateful to have experienced such beautiful imagery…….

The Tree of Life has been in production for nearly ten years and it is a testament to the respect that Malick can garner that both Penn and Pitt signed on for this film. In a future post, I will comment on his past films such as the Thin Red Line, The New World and Days of Heaven…..

THE THIN RED LINE ‘

Starring Jim Cavizel, Ben Chaplin, Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, George Clooney, John Cusack, Jared Leto, John Savage and John Travolta.

“There’s only a thin red line between the sane and the mad.’

Tag Line “Everyman fights his own war…..” 

The Thin Red Line is as far away from your average war film that you can imagine. Terrance Mallick took the famous semi-biographical book by James Jones and used it as a sweeping canvas for his vision of men at conflict with not just their percieved enemy but their own souls. TTRL is a stunningly poignant and moving poetic condemnation of the recklessness and insanity of war.

The film is set during the battle of Guadacanal during WW2 and the principal characters are Witt (Jim Caviezel) and Welsh (Sean Penn). The former views the world as a spirtual place and the island is a type of eden while the latter sees the world with cynical and worldly eyes. Even with all the death and destruction around him, Witt still desperately tries to hold onto his beliefs as his comrades become shells of their former selves due to some of the terrible things they have witnessed. For others like Welsh, war and killing is part of human nature, has been and always will be; a cycle of violence that can never truly end. The native Pacific islanders are tragically simply caught up in the fighting and their simple way of life is altered forever…….

The film presents the natural beauty of the island in stark contrast to all the chaos that is engulfing the tropical paradise with the men slowly realising their own mortality in what could essentially be their final resting place. TTRL focuses on the nature of mankind in an unspoiled natural ‘heaven’ on earth; where contemporary society itself comes to a percieved island paradise so must the worse manifestations of mankind.  


The TTRl was Mallick’s first film after about twenty years and a whos who of Hollywood stars were literally falling over themselves to be involved. The stellar cast reflects the respect and esteem that is held for Mallick.There is actually a six hour cut which where people like Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortensen and Billy Bob Thorton are supposedly supposed to be in.  


The film was unfortunately released at around the same time as “Saving Private Ryan” and was somewhat overshadowed by the latter. TTRL went onto to recieve several oscar nominations and took home top prize at the Berlin film festival.


‘DAYS OF HEAVEN’

Starring Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard and Linda Manz

Days of Heaven, a poignant love story, is one of the most beautiful films ever made. The scenery is simply stunning and cinematography will stay with you forever. I wish I saw this in the cinema…but I wasn’t born yet. This is one of Richard Gere’s first performances and how ironic it remains one of this best.  

The simple story tells of a love triangle between Bill (Gere), Abby (Brooke Adams) and a richer farmer (Sam Shephard). Bill and Abby are lovers, at the turn of the twentieth century, who flee from Chicago and the midwest to build a better life. They find work on a farm where they pretend to be brother and sister; the rich farm owner soon meets abby and falls in love with her; soon they find out that the farm owner is dying and wishes to marry Abby before it is too late. Abby and Bill hope to eventually claim the dead farmers fortune; unfortunately circumstances change and a tragic love triangle ensues. A simple story but the canvas on which it plays out is simply beautiful and a sense of melancholy lingers throughout the entire film.  

THE NEW WORLD

Starring Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale

A reinterpretation of the love story between Pocahantas and Captain John Smith and is a stunning visual feast for the eyes.

Survival of the Fittest – “Animal Kingdom”

An incredible Australian film about the criminal underworld of Melbourne. Absolutely riveting and powerful……

Animal Kingdom tells of the ties that bind in an Australian gangland family in Melbourne. The old adage is that you dont choose your family rings true in this absolutely brilliant film. When 17 year Josh (James Frecheville) is left as an orphan right at the beginning of the film, he moves into his maternal grandmother’s home. This would be a pretty straight forward move but the only issue happens to be that the grandmother also is the head of Melbourne’s most wanted and violent criminal family.

The viewer is then taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions as you see Josh torn between following the straight and narrow or being loyal to his blood ties of his relatives whom he barely knows properly. Jackie Weaver deserved her oscar nomination with the amazing performance as the head of the family. Initially, she is seen as loving and warm to the new addition to her clan but as the police close in and the body count rises, she rapidly transforms into the ‘lioness’ out to protect her territory and loved ones at all costs.

This is a excellent little indie piece and offers a great insight into the mindset of members of a family who may not see eye to eye but stay together for the sake of survival. Another great performance from Guy Pearce who coincidently has starred in two Oscar best pictures in a row (Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech).

The film has now been turned into a successful TV series….

Definitely a must see………….

Roman History in Action – “THE EAGLE” and “CENTURION”

Two mega budget films dealing with the true story of the Roman Ninth Legion which disappeared into thin air………..

Roman history, in all its swash buckling pomp and glamour, is returning to the big screens. The legendary true story of the Roman Ninth Legion, which simply vanished into thin air, is coming in the form of two, yes two mega budget films. The Ninth legion were battled hardened and combat ready veterans who numbered roughly 5000 strong. According to legend, in AD117, they marched into Caledonia (Scotland) to confront the northern tribes (Picts) and were never seen again. As no one truly knows what happened to this infamous legion, the films are purely fictional but are guaranteed to be entertaining if not historically accurate.  

“THE EAGLE”

Starring Jamie Bell and Channing Tatum

The first, “The Eagle” stars Jamie Bell and Channing Tatum and features Tatum as a young centurion in ancient Britain trying to solve the mystery of the Ninth Legion which was lead by his father. Haunted by the uncertainty and hoping to redeem his fathers name, he journeys into the northern territories (known as “The edge of the world”) to confront his own fears and his past. Jamie Bell stars as his slave / guide to lead him on his quest. Cue betrayal and chaos as Tatum attempts to recapture “The Eagle”, the emblem of the Ninth Legion.

“CENTURION”

Starring Dominic West and Michael Fassbender

Starring Dominic West, Michael Fassbender and Olga Kurylenko, this version deals with the actual fate of the Ninth legion and from all accounts is an ultra violent action packed revenge and chase film. Fassbender’s role is of Centurion Quintus Dias, the sole survivor of a Pict assault; he is installed to lead the ninth legion back up north to destroy the northern tribes. They are lead by a mute guide, whom shock! Horror! is secretly a Pict warrior who, unsurprisingly, betrays them and is seeking revenge as, again unsurprisingly, those nasty Romans killed her entire family. Cue chaos and a frenetic chase sequence as survivors from the carnage try to reach the safety of Hadrian’s Wall.  

Probably best not to expect historical accuracy on both accounts…..!

“I’m Living It” – A Film that Explores Hong Kong’s Growing Homelessness Issue

“I’m Living It” explores the ‘hidden’ side of Hong Kong, far away from the bustling financial hub which people globally are familiar. The film examines Hong Kong’s inhabitants, who simply try and survive day by day, in one of the most expensive cities in the world and who have fallen below the poverty line in a place which has one of the largest income gaps in the entire world.

The world of “I’m Living it’ follows several characters as they make a un-named fast food restaurant their unofficial home and after their day’s endeavours, etch out an existence, return to the venue to sleep and rest.

The main characters are Bowen (Aaron Kwok) who once was a high flying business star but whose greed got the better of him and he ‘fell’ from grace and now lives both ashamed and without any means to rebuild his life. Other characters include a down on her luck mother (Cya Liu) with her positive and street wise daughter, a broken man (Alex Man) who is haunted by his past, a young and lost runaway (Zeno Koo) and a world weary singer (Miriam Yeung) who tries to unite all these lost souls as an unconventional family.

The title, “I’m living it” is a play on words of the famous McDonald’s slogan “I’m Loving it” and shows how the different characters are trying to survive on the margins of society in a world, often shown to be rich and prosperous.

The film does a decent job of showing the struggles of its main characters though can veer to the overly dramatic in an effort to tug at the heart strings. An intriguing look at the side of Hong Kong which visibly exists in Hong Kong and is not as hidden as it seems.

“Monsoon” – Searching for a Sense of Belonging

The new film “Monsoon” features Henry Golding and discusses the themes of identity and longing for a sense of belonging.

The story features, Kit, a British Vietnamese man, who returns to Saigon, Vietnam for the first time in over 30 years, after fleeing during the vietnam war.

Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie Returns…

The updated version of “Death on the Nile” has returned with Kenneth Branagh again playing the lead role of the beloved fictional character, Hercule Poirot. This classic tale remains one of mystery, suspense and intrigue.

The film is also an update on the 1978 version of this longstanding story.