A thoroughly entertaining New Zealand movie that I couldn't help comparing to "The Castle"!  I am actually sorry that I am not a kiwi as I am sure many of the cultural references and jokes in the film went completely over this aussie's head.  This is not to say the movie is not funny - it is - quirkily so.  The writing and direction by Taika Waititi hits just the right note and the acting especially of the two sons Rocky and Boy is exceptional.  The only slightly weak acting was on the part of the director who played the Dad in a  "keystone cops" style at times which just did not ring true.
The plot revolves around, not surprisingly, Boy (James Rolleston) who is looking after his brother and numerous young cousins while his Grandma is away while trying to be accepted by the other children of the seaside town.  His mother has died giving birth to his brother Rocky (played brilliantly by Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) and his father is in jail.  It is not long before the Dad turns up with his "gang" of two henchmen in the little seaside town and father and son are reunited.  Like all sons, Boy is captivated by his dad and tries to both please him and immitate him.  This gives Boy a new status amongst his mates and especially the girl of his dreams, Chardonnay. Eventually Boy realises that his father is a fraud - something that Rocky seems to suspect from the start. 
This is a great movie, funny, sad, revealing of the importance of a father in a boy's life and one that, given the seriousness of the theme, does not take itself too seriously. Some beautiful cinematography and shots of a New Zealand most of us have never seen top off this very satisfying movie.

Score:  8/10

Yes, this is a delightful movie that warms the heart.  The acting honours go to all the children who are absolutely believeable, especially the younger brother, Rocky, who thinks he has special powers.  This reminds me of a feature which is most pleasing - the animated childish drawings of events and characters which allow the viewer to see this crazy world through the eyes of a child - in particular, Rocky.  We get a glimpse of how the child arrives at an understanding of the adults in his life as well as his hopes and dreams for the future.  For this reason, I did not mind the acting of the father being a bit "over the top" as if fitted with the viewpoint that a child might have of him.
This movie is a tenderly whimsical revelation of the Maori culture and the way of life in a little isolated village, told with humour and love.  I am sure it will achieve a place as a cultural icon such as did "Once were Warriors" but by quite different means.

My score:  9/10



This film written and directed by Shirley Barrett had so much potential and the acting of Miranda Otto (and her dad, Barry) was very real and the character of Meredith was cleverly and sensitively portrayed by Otto.  However, the film didn't quite reach its potential.  I am not sure why - the cinematography, although unobtrusive was first rate, the plot was interesting and the situation in which the characters found themselves was intriguing.  After some thought, I think that the reason is in the script.  There are too many scenes which are obviously set up simply to allow the characters to indulge in exposition.  The scene where Meredith had afternoon tea with the only other woman on the island is a perfect example of this - far too much speaking and not enough showing!
Meredith arrives with her uncle on South Solitary who is to take over the command of the lighthouse.  Of course the two lighthouse assistant keepers treat these newcomers with suspicion and when one of them , Harry, (played by Rohan Stanley), so easily seduces Meredith, his wife reports their indiscretions to the head lighthouse keeper who sends Harry and his family from the island in disgrace.  Eventually the two unlikely characters of Meredith and the other assistant keeper, Fleet, ( Martin Csokas) are thrown together to run the lighthouse during a ferocious storm and of course true love blossoms although Fleet is reluctant to commit to this woman.
All in all a potentially good movie that just didn't quite satisfy this member of the audience.

My Score:  7/10

Yes, this movie has many satisfying features, not least being the wonderful environment of the isolated island off Tasmania where the lighthouse is situated.  Here, life strips away all protective, civilised coatings until the raw essence of the person is visible.  It either makes or breaks people and some don't survive the process, like the previous keeper who "topped himself".  If they arrive already damaged, as did Meredith and Fleet, then who can tell what may happen - the emergence of these two characters is fascinating to watch.  What a pity that there is far too much script - it's a MOVIE for heaven's sake! so much can be suggested by camera work.  As a result, far too much time and importance is given to the minor characters, Harry and his family, who are not central to the plot at all.  Their role in the overall movie could have been achieved much more economically - and in any case the wife needed to be far more jaded and bitter than the beautiful Essie Davis.

Miranda Otto, on the other hand, creates a wonderfully sensitive, wounded heroine, mysteriously here on the island with her uncle, put upon by him, always anxious to please, hungry for affection.  We wonder why she allows him to treat her as he does until we learn her secret sorrow. At no time does she lose our sympathy, nor does the unlikely "hero" Fleet, a returned soldier, clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress (a condition not recognised at the time).  Barry Otto is excellent as the uncle/head lighthouse keeper - funny I did not think about the fact that he is her father in real life until writing this review!

A very good movie which could have been excellent!

My Score:  7/10



Another French movie about an extra-marital relationship but no comparison to Mademoiselle Chambon!  The film stars the always impressive Kristen Scott-Thomas, blast her eyes for looking so gorgeous at the same age as me!  As the wife of a successful surgeon, she is trying to restart her career as a physiotherapist by setting up her own business at home; this requires some renovations - financed by her unsympathetic and condescending spouse.  Unfortunately, the husband's penny pinching leads to the employment of a Spanish migrant labourer  - and you guessed it, the wife falls for him.  In contrast to Mlle Chambon, where the sexual tension builds because of the lack of consummation and the husband wrestles with his dilemma of desire vs family responsibility, in  Leaving there is no such struggle and there is far too much consummation!  The wife falls deeply, irrationally in love (or lust? - hard to tell since Ivan's character is so underdeveloped), abandoning husband and children without a qualm of conscience and without any regard to practical considerations of earning a living or where they will live.  Certainly there is an indication that hers has not been a fulfulling life, marrying the first man who was kind to her in a foreign culture and then being housemaid and chauffeur for so long to their now teenage children.  The force of her passion and her willingness to abandon all for her lover reminds me of Anna Karenina and indeed, like Anna's husband, the husband here turns into a sadistic control freak, refusing divorce, closing joint bank accounts, preventing both her and the lover from finding work in his attempts to force her to return to him.  And true to the Russian story, such great passion can only end tragically. And so it does.

My score:  7/10


I think this is the first French Movie I have seen that left me cold.  Luckily Kristen Scott Thomas was the lead or it would have sunk into oblivion where it belongs.  There was almost no sexual tension although lots of sex and the ease with which the Elizabeth (Kirsten Scott Thomas) gives up her family and luxurious life for the life of penury with her lover left this viewer cold.  Director and joint writer Catherine Corsini resorted to melodrama and dramatics as the film came to its climax - not a good look in a movie purporting to be "real". 
Probably the tone of the film is best exemplified by the scene in the short where Elizabeth is serving dinner for the family and melodramatically drops the serving dish of food in the kitchen because supposedly she "can take no more". 
A very disappointing film and as Ma said, compared to Mademoiselle Chambon where the sexual tension and tension within the relationship of husband and wife is so real that I was kept enthralled, this film lost my interest after about 30min. 
I couldn't care about the characters which is always a sign that the film has failed for me.

My Score:  5/10



We saw this movie more than a month ago.  It was my idea to see it as I have a great respect for Annette Benning's work as well as the little that I have seen of Naomi Watts.  Certainly their acting did not disappoint.  However, I felt the subject matter was not dealt with in a manner that engaged the audience.  It seemed to me that the director/writer Rodrigo Garcia felt that it was necessary to flood his audience with as many examples as possible of the mother/child relationship in order to convey the message, thus watering down the impact of it.  It would have worked much better to concentrate on the central characters and distil a truer and more intense essence of what this special relationship means.

The plot revolves around a 50 yo woman (Benning) who gave up her daughter for adoption 35 years previously and who currently takes care of her ageing (and guilt-ridden) mother.  Meanwhile the daughter (Watts) has become a successful hard-headed corporate lawyer who delights in sexual conquest of any male who comes her way, conveniently having had herself sterilised at age 17 for reasons we are left to guess.  Both these characters are emotionally dysfunctional and in many ways uncannily similar to each other and I was looking forward to watching their progress towards emotional growth and a possible reunion. This was not to be but certainly there is a kind of closure when the mother ends up making contact with the grandchild her daughter manages to conceive during an affair with her boss.  Enroute to this conclusion, far too many random mother/daughter relationships are presented for our examination, most of which do not enhance our appreciation of the relationship.

My score:  6/10


I went along to this movie expecting a bit of schmalz and so was not as disappointed as Ma was.  I guess going to a movie with low expectations helps enormously.  There were some interesting scenes but I agree that there were far too many "Mother/Child" relationships in the movie to allow the writer/director to adequately deal with any of them.  The character of the daughter, Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) was interesting at the beginning of the movie but it went nowhere and the whole scenerio just became trite and increasingly unlikely.
There were far too many scenes involving the adoption agency and the ending was just too incredible and ridiculous for words.
All in all an average, boring, predictable movie with nothing to redeem it except some better than average acting from Benning and Watts.

My Score :  6/10