Ma's View:

I wasn't going to review this movie because it is in fact the first movie I have ever walked out of!  About 90 mins in the violence became too much to bear so my daughter and I left.  Apparently, as I later learnt, I had already seen all the violence there was to be!

The movie is a mesmerising expose of the psychology of serial killer, John Bunting, famous for the "bodies in the barrels" murders some years ago in South Australia.  At the same time it is a study in how someone like this can become a hero to the down and out, exploited and ignorant section of Australian society.  Played with equal amounts of charm and menace by the only trained actor in the cast, (Daniel Henshall), Bunting gradually gains ascendancy over a group of social misfits.  His special protege and eventual accomplice is Jamie, a vulnerable and abused teenager played by Lucas Pittaway.  The boy is torn between his conscience and his mingled fear, fascination and dependency on Bunting who has become a father figure in his life.

Clearly not to everyone's tastes but you would have to acknowledge that director, Justin Kurzel, who co-wrote the screen play with Shaun Grant, has done a great job of exposing a very ugly strata in Australian society where someone like Bunting could gain such sway that these events could take place with the full knowledge of a number of people in the group.

My score:  8/10 (if scored on an "enjoyment" scale it woud have to be 4/10!!) 


Pepe's View:

Director Jim Loach has assembled an all star cast in this "expose" of a shameful period of both English and Australian recent history.  He has taken as his topic the forced deportation of children to Australia from England - children who were either born out of wedlock or whose mother could no longer care for them due to circumstances beyond her control and as a result of the "rules" of polite society of the day.  Much of the film centres on the subsequent abuse some of these children received at the hands of the Catholic clergy.

Unfortunately, I felt that Loach has taken a tabloid newspaper approach to the subject and showed us the evil doings of both the authorities in England who took children unfairly from their mothers and the church in Australia who mistreated/abused these children.  There were thousands of children who were deported under this scheme and we saw in the film only a handful of "extreme" cases.  There was no attempt to reveal exactly how many children were in fact abused, how many were in fact taken from their mothers unfairly and the fact that in some cases at least the children did lead a happy life in Australia with a family in which they were loved.  I am not for one minute excusing or condoning the mistreatment but my complaint is that the audience who walk out of this film do so with a view that "all" children were mistreated.

The movie plods along in predictable fashion - corny shots of Ship paintings on the walls as background to "meaningful" scenes - and I asked myself the question how Margaret (Emily Watson) justified her neglect of her family to become the hero of the children who wanted to find their mother in England and find some answers as to why they were sent away.

David Wenham as one of the children who "made it good" in the new country despite being abused,  was as usual David Wenham.  Somehow he finds it difficult to be anything other than the male lead - almost every word he utters can be interpreted as an attempt to seduce the girl!  Hugo Weaving gives a superb performance as another traumatised child/adult and as usual very nearly steals the show.
This movie is very unsatisfying both on the level of entertainment and as a real investigation into the events.

My Score:  5/10

Ma's View:

Well, I can't be quite that harsh on this movie.  It does what it sets out to do very well - make a movie that will have wide audience appeal about a government policy in Australian/English history that was poorly administered and took no account of the individuals involved or their long-term welfare.  Margaret Humphries and her husband certainly put in a number of years of hard work to right the wrongs of these people at considerable personal cost to themselves and their children, I am sure.

Emily Watson always give a strong and authentic performance and she plays Margaret very well indeed as does Hugo Weaving the waif-like Jack.  Unfortunately, you can never forget that David Wenham is acting the character instead of "being" the character.

A bit unsubtle and heavy handed in the cinematography, the movie tends to hit you around the head with its message - which tries to imply that most of the children suffered extreme abuse of one sort or another and the biggest culprit was the Catholic church.  Some statistics might have been helpful at the end but why allow truth to get in the way of a good story?

My score:  7/10



This move is a simple French documentary by Thomas Baimes who took a basic idea to follow 4 babies for the first year of their life in 4 different continents and crafted an entertaining and revealing movie that is riveting from start to finish. That Baimes chose to have no "voice over" narration to push a particular belief only resulted in opening up the movie's interpretation to the audience.  The only sound was the natural sound of the child's environment and of the mother interacting with the baby.
Every viewer falls in love with a "favourite" baby and by the end of the movie I was wishing to see these babies when they are another year older.  "Babies 2" ??

The largest impact that the movie had on me was the distinct impression that babies from the West - Japan and USA are so much like "battery babies" with their every waking moment seemingly organised. They seemed to be constantly taken off to classes/groups for their senses to be stimulated or confronted with "educational" and safe toys.  The babies from Namibia and Mongolia on the other hand were allowed to be stimulated by their environment and explore their world largely unfettered, although in the case of the Mongolian baby, sometimes tethered to the bed post not unlike the animals surrounding their home.

Perhaps the most ridiculous moment in the film was the scene of the American Baby with his Dad at the mothers group which used meditation and chanting in the style of native cultures to affirm their oneness with the earth.  Cut to the Mongolian baby who was interacting with the goat or investigating chickens.
This movie is at once entertainng, cute and very thought provoking as it lays bare many of the cultural beliefs surrounding child rearing.

My Score: 8/10

Ma's View:

Yes this is a really delightful movie which shows that the mother-child relationship world-wide is very similar and that babies make the same progress in their first year whatever culture they belong to.  In fact, the Mongolian and Namibian babies appear to be happier, better adjusted and more resilient than their cosseted, over-stimulated western counter-parts.

The concept of following the development of 4 babies is a simple one but the editing of the film which emphasises the vast difference in the environments/cultures of these babies makes a very telling comment on the way "civilisation" is shaping our little ones.

No voice over and no sub-titles allows the viewer to interpret the human behaviour for themselves - this makes for very thought-provoking cinema.  Unless, that is, you want all the answers served up to you on a platter - which some reviewers seemed to need!

My score:  8/10


Ma's View:

This is quite a long movie but we didn't notice the time passing.  It hasn't received rave reviews but I think some reviewers have missed the point that it was a farce!  And like all good farces acted well (i.e. with perfect seriousness) it has a message that is true for us all.

A group of friends goes on holidays together as they do each year but increasingly are made to face the reality of where they are at in their lives and relationships.  Through a series of absurdly funny situations, they learn the underlying strong message that there is more to life than pure pleasure seeking and that truth and commitment in relationships is what matters not how much money, power, fun you have during your lifetime.

Directed by Guillaume Cluzet, the film depicts the life of a fairly typical group of modern, affluent Parisiens,  who, although long-term friends, have never closely examined what this friendship means.  Francois Cluzet, as Max, is the uptight owner of a successful restuarant who plays host to his friends and clearly revels in the status it brings him to splash his money about.  His wife, Vero, keeps him in line - just!  A lot of the humour is derived from his neuroses - both about weasels in the ceiling and about one of the group who has come out of the closet revealing his secret gay love for the very straight Max.  Marion Cluzet is superb as Marie - at once vulnerable and strong, desperately trying to find a path for herself that is true to her commitment to do good in Africa and her committment to her relationships.  Gilles Lellouche as Eric is the typical bad boy with the soft heart and Vincent, played byBenoit Magimal is an intensely sensitive individual dealing with his gay tendencies and trying to remain a good husband and father.

Perhaps the only flaw for me was that I could not understand how they could all go off on holidays when one of the number was in ICU after a horrendous motorbike accident!  Although he was unable to communicate and they planned to come back early, it just does not seem believable that they would all go off and give him hardly a thought for nearly 2 weeks.  Perhaps the point was that they were so hung up on the pleasure aspect of life that they thought that's what he would have done and would want them to do?

So what if the ending is a bit smaltzy, I still enjoyed this movie!

My score:  7/10

Pepe's View:

I agree Ma.  This is a wonderful movie - funny, sad and thought provoking at the same time. I can understand why this movie was/is such a hit in France - on the one hand it exposes the superficiality of "Parisiens" (as believed by the rest of France) and at the same time portraying a situation that is common in France and elsewhere when a group of friends spend time with each other regularly but not really knowing each other.
By the end of this long movie I did not want to leave - I had begun to care about the characters and, similarly to returning home from a wonderful vacation, did not want to say goodbye.
The acting throughout was first rate - an ensemble cast - and we were carefully led to an understanding of each character as an individual with their faults and their endearing qualities.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie.

My Score 8.5/10