Month: June 2013

Review: ‘The Act of Killing’

Don’t look for regret in ‘The Act of Killing’.

Central to the documentary are the events of 1965, when the Indonesian Government were overthrown by military, thereby elevating small time crooks (selling black market movie tickets) to the roles of death squad leaders. Some 1 million alleged communists were killed.
The men were never tried or convicted.

The film doesn’t focus on the victims, or descendants of the victims.   The key figures are the death squad leaders themselves.  Directors Christine Cynn,  Joshua Oppenheimer (and Anonymous) allow the figures to explain their actions,  to try to help us understand their motivations and how they have continued to live with their actions after all the decades.
One man, Anwar Congo, is unrepentant.  He has no remorse for his actions back in 1965.  So he wilfully, and meticulously re-creates how some of the killings took place.  Because of his background which was influenced by the cinema, he goes about staging the crimes again (not to the point of actually killing anyone) with elaborate sets and costumes.  He is delusional.  Grandeur runs in his veins.

This is a confronting documentary, confusing at times, always bizarre.   The executive producers are some of cinema’s finest – the documentarians in Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.

The subject matter is very heavy.  And as the documentary goes on, a turning point begins to unravel.  The recreation of the killings begin to bring to the surface emotions long held back.

I’ll never forget the final ten minutes of this documentary.
Film begins to take revenge.
Unforgettable.    I can’t shake it from my mind.

Score: 3.5 / 5


Review: World War Z

World War Z is a poorly paced film.  In what is usually the strength of zombie films,  paranoia, the chase,  fear – are all diluted in the first 100 minutes by poor direction.   The viewer is rarely given a chance to focus on what has just happened, or to absorb key plot points.  Instead we jump from one scene to another.  Coherence is lost. Impact is lost.
Someone must have left scenes on the cutting room floor.


In one scene, a character with key information is quickly dismissed from the film in a manner that was underwhelming and farcical.  At this point I did a double take, looked around the cinema to see if anyone else was as bemused, and carried on watching.  The confused frown never fully left my face.

Of the few strengths in the film, one must highlight Marco Beltrami’s score that bounds behind the opening credits. And Mireille Enos’ performance as the wife of Brad Pitt who stays with her children, while he tries to save the world.   Enos’ performance is the only one with any credibility and warmth.  Pitt barely raises any emotion on his face for the whole 116 minutes.

Plagued by production issues, including a re-write of the final act,  it was surprising to find that the final act is actually the strength of the film.   The director finally gives the viewer breathing space, heightens the tensions, slows the paces,  raises the heartbeat.

Apart from that World War Z is a mess.  A complete mess.

Score: 1 / 5

Sydney Film Festival Best Film

The award for the Best Film at the Sydney Film Festival was instituted in 2008.
Below are the recipients of the award, known as the ‘Sydney Film Prize’.

2008-  Hunger  (dir Steve McQueen)

2009 – Bronson (dir Nicolas Winding Refn)

2010-  Heartbeats (dir Xavier Dolan)

2011-  A Separation (dir Asghar Farhadi)

2012-  Alps (dir Yorgos Lanthimos)

2013-  Only God Forgives (dir Nicolas Winding Refn)

The Astor Theatre – 1936 film schedule.

The Astor Theatre , in Melbourne Australia, is one of the most famous cinemas.
Opened in 1936, is still stands in its original place and still projects films on reels (as well as digital).

Researching, I’ve managed to piece together the film schedule for its first year – 1936.
This has never been documented in its entirety, until now.

The Astor Theatre in its second week of existence.

The Astor Theatre in its second week of existence – April 11 1936.

April 3
Opened by Mr Michaelis M.L.A, in presence of Mayor of StKilda (F.E Dixon).
The latest Western Electric wide-range sound equipment was installed.
Hill and Dale method of recording is used.
MGM and Paramount films to be screened throughout the year.
Seating accommodation for 1,700 patrons

April 4 –  April 10
Hands Across the Table (Carole Lombard / Fred McMurray)
Wanderer of the Wasteland (Dean Jagger / Gail Patrick)
All proceeds from tickets purchased for the stalls went to the StKilda branch of the Ministering Children’s League ,  and the StKilda Ladies’ Benevolent Society. (split 50/50)

April 11 – April 17
I Live My Life  (Joan Crawford / Brian Ahearn)
Vanessa  (Robert Montgomery / Helen Hayes)

April 18 – April 21
O Shaughnessy’s Boy  (Wallace Beery / Jackie Cooper)
Ship Cafe  (Carl Brisson / Arline Judge)

April 22 -April 24
Broadway Melody of 1936 (Elinor Powell /Robert Taylor)

April 27 – May 1
Private Worlds (Claudette Colbert / Charles Boyer)
Here Comes The Band ( Ted Lewis and his band)
prices:  Front Stall 1/-    Back Stalls , Circle 1/6   Dunlopillo Lounge Chairs 2/-   Children Half price

May 2 – May 8
So Red The Rose (Margaret Sullavan)
Here Comes Cookie (George Burns, Grace Allen)

May 9 – May 15
Rendezvous (William Powell)
The Perfect Gentleman (Frank Morgan)

May 16 – May 22
Naughty Marietta (Nelson Eddy)
The Virginia Judge  (W.C Kelly)

May 16 only.
Tarzan and His Mates (Johnny Weismuller)  Matinee screening

May 22 – May 29
The  Milky Way  (Harold Lloyd)
Age of Indiscretion (Paul Lukas)

May 30 – June 5

The Astor Theatre, on May 30 1936.

The Astor Theatre, on May 30 1936 screening ‘Rose of the Rancho’.

Rose of the Rancho  (John Boles)
The Man on the Flying Trapeze  (W.C Fields)

June 6 only
Treasure Island (Wallace Beery)

June 6 – June 12
The Eagle’s Brood (William Boyd)
The Garden Murder Case (Virginia Bruce)

June 12 – June 19
The Charm School (Jack Oakie)
The Voice of Bugle Ann (Lionel Barrymore)

June 20 – June 26
Anything Goes (Bing Crosby)
Two-Fisted (Gail Patrick)

June 20 only
Tom Sawyer (Jackie Coogan)

June 27 – July 3
Peter Ibbertson (Gary Cooper)
It’s In The Air (Jack Benny)

June 27 only
Million Dollar Legs (Jack Oakie)

July 4 – July 10
Mutiny on the Bounty (Clark Gable)

July 11 – July 17
Pursuit (Chester Morris)
It’s A Great Life (Joe Morrison)
Chases of Pimple Street (Charlie Chase)

July 18 – July 24
Lives of A Bengal Lancer  (Gary Cooper)
Murder in the Fleet (Robert Taylor)

July 21
A matinee performance is held  in aid of Ministering Children’s League

July 25 – July 31
Dancing Lady (Fred Astaire)
Gentlemen of the Navy (Sir Guy Standing)

August 1- August 7
Whipsaw (Spencer Tracy)
A Night at the Opera (Marx Bros)

August 1 only
Sidewalks of New York (Buster Keaton)

August 8 – August 14
Ruggles of Red Gap (Charles Laughton)
All The King’s Horses (Carl Brisson)astor_theatre_logo

August 15- August 21
A Tale of Two Cities (Ronald Colman)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

August 22 – August 28
Trail of the Lonesome Pine  (in natural colour)  (Sylvia Sidney)
Millions in the Air (Wendy Barrie)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

August 29 – September 4
Queen of Hearts  (exclusive to the district) (Gracie Fields)
Woman Trap (Gertrude Michael)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

August 29 only
The Last Round-up (Randolph Scott)

September 5 – September 11
Abdul the Damned (Fritz Kortner)
No Limit (George Formby)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

September 5 only
Hollywood Party (Laurel and Hardy, Mickey Mouse)

September 12 – September 18
Wife vs Secretary (Clark Gable)
Two Hearts in Harmony  (Bernice Claire)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

September 12 only
Thicker Than Water (Laurel and Hardy)
Speak Easily (Buster Keaton)

Spetember 19 – September 25
Desire (Marlene Dietrich)
Her Master’s Voice (Edward Everrett Horton)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

September 26 – October 2
The Bohemian Girl (Laurel and Hardy)
Speed (Una Merkel)
(Thoroughbred Jockey Caps free for all children who attend the Saturday matinee screening)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

October 2 – October 9
Thoroughbred (exclusive to the district) (Helen Twelvetrees)
It Happened In Paris (John Loder)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

William Roberts, of the StKilda Football Club.

William Roberts, of the StKilda Football Club.

October 7
Presentation of the ”Astor Cup” for most effective player in the StKilda Football Club.  Won by William Roberts (presented on stage by the Astor manager Vaughan Marshall). Players including Jack Perkins, Bill Mohr, Stan Lloyd and officials of the StKilda Football Club are present.

October 10 – October 16
Till We Meet Again (Herbert Marshall)
Coronado (Johnny Downs)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

October 17 – October 23
Small Town Girl (exclusive to the district) (Janet Gaynor)
When Knights Were Bold (Jack Buchanan)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

October 24 – October 30
Robin Hood of El Dorado (Warren Baxter)
Woman Wanted  (Joel McCrea)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

October 24 only
Fra Diavolo (Laurel and Hardy)
Sequoia (Jean Parker)

October 31 – November 6
The Princess Comes Across (Carole Lombard)
Timothy’s Quest (Tom Keene)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

November 7 – November 13
Petticoat Fever (Myrna Loy)
Three Wise Guys (Robert Young)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

November 14 -November 20
Living Dangerously (Otto Kruger)
The Moon’s Our Home (Henry Fonda)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

November 14 only
Sky Patrol (Jimmy Allen)
Finn and Hattie (Mitzi Green)

November 21 –  November 27
The Unguarded Hour (Loretta Young)
Laburnum Grove (Cedric Hardwicke)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

The Astor Theatre, as it stands today.

The Astor Theatre, as it stands today.

November 28 – December 4
Mary Burns, Fugitive (Melvyn Douglas)
Poppy (W.C Fields)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

November 28 only
King of the Jungle (Buster Crabbe)

December 5 – December 11
Riff Raff (Jean Harlow)
Absolute Quiet (Lionel Atwill)
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

December 5 only
West Point of the Air (Wallace Beery)
Winning Ticket (Louise Fazenda)

December 12 – December 18
The Case Against Mrs Ames (Madeline Carroll)
Early to Bed (Mary Boland)

December 12 only
Sunset Pass (Randolph Scott)

December 19- December 24
Exclusive Story (Franchot Tone)
Three Live Ghosts (Richard Arlen)

December 19 only
Have a Heart (Jean Parker)

December 25 – Closed.

December 26 – 1 January 1937
My American Wife
Fatal Lady
Hearing Aids supplied free. (Batteries not included)

December 26 only
Forbidden Adventure (Mitzi Green)

– by Rhett Bartlett.

Key websites to check out to learn more about the cinema.