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Bastardy

Jack Charles (played by Jack Charles) is an indigenous actor who has worked “on and off” for decades. His work is celebrated – he is credited with founding the first Aboriginal theatre company, Nindethana (‘place for a corroboree’) in 1971 – and has collaborated over the years with several Australian actors and filmmakers. He has also been a heroin addict for over thirty years and most often makes his home wherever he can doss down around the Melbourne streets. We meet Jack as he makes his way back to his current lodgings, mixes himself a fix, injects himself as we watch, and explains … “I thought of clearing all this stuff away so you wouldn’t see my drugs, but then it wouldn’t have been truthful – you wouldn’t have seen who I really am.” This is the tenor of the entire piece. Jack is obviously a born performer – he is candid about his upbringing, the lack of affection in his early years as a “stolen child” growing up the sole indigenous resident of an urban boys home. He is also refreshingly direct about his difficulty with relationships and his acceptance of his “lot” today.

This is a documentary. The director, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, followed Charles for seven years, through thick and thin, to make this fascinating piece. As we go with him, Jack has his ups and downs – he is quite explicit about his criminal activities, does stretches in gaol, achieves his first physical home via government housing and goes clean, well as clean as methadone anyway. Jack has several interractions with “the Jacks” and is alarmingly open about they way he steals from people, even those he knows. He is articulate and there is something compelling and endearing about him, his sense of humour is real and he is obviously well regarded by those around him. The feature includes archival material of Jack as the actor and newspaper headlines which document his various highs and lows. I found it curiously compelling, I didn’t feel sympathetic towards Jack, but I was fascinated with this piece.

Made in 2009. Directed by Amiel Courtin-Wilson

Note: Jack Charles worked predominantly in theatre, but his films include Blackfellas (1993) and Fred Schepisi’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Movies

 

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The September Issue

The most significant edition of the American fashion magazine “Vogue” is its annual September issue which provides the awaiting fashion world with an overview of the upcoming trends from recent international couture collections and shows. This movie is a documentary about the creation of the 2008 September issue and it features the infamous Anna Wintour, who has been Vogue Editor-in-Chief since 1988. The 2008 September issue was intended to be the biggest ever produced by Vogue America, hence the creation of this movie to document its development.

Anna Wintour is British, her reputation is well known as a hard-line, decisive and straight talking leader. This was apparent in her working style, but I didn’t think it was offensive, scary or inappropriate. The esteem she clearly commands throughout the fashion world is without question – she is a very effective leader who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to say so to get it. Curiously, the documentary also reveals another very effective and fascinating woman at Vogue – their Creative Director, Grace Coddington. She is also British, and a former model who is now one of the most talented and famous fashion stylists in the world – with good reason.

You will no doubt note the clear points of similarity between Anna’s real life role and that played by Meryl Streep in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” – in which, it is widely believed, Streep’s character was based on Anna.

This movie (documentary) is great. Although I am by no stretch a fashionista, nor a reader of “Vogue”, I loved watching the creative process and the work that goes into such a significant edition of the magazine. I found Anna Wintour totally fascinating – her sense of style is impeccable, her outfits are faultless and her work is enthralling.  If you like fashion or watching hard word create something great, give this movie a go!

(Made: 2009)

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Movies

 

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Valentino – The Last Emperor

If you liked “The September Issue”, you’ll like this too. Valentino is the Italian fashion designer who created the most stunning hand-crafted couture for women for 45 years. In this movie, a team of cameras follow him during the closing years of his career, up to around 2009. His partner of 45 years is Giancarlo Giametti, who is his constant companion during these documented months. Theirs has been a long partnership which is shown full of deep affection, tension and obvious loyalty. Valentino says he knows what women want – “they want to be beautiful” – and he creates the clothes to make that happen. The movie is really interesting – the process to create each collection is intricate, Valentino’s eye for detail and style is stunning and fascinating to watch.

There is a parallel theme running through this story. The Valentino business is under financial stress and there are various scenario’s played out in the business side of the organisation – leading to the conclusion of the movie and Valentino’s ultimate retirement. The real treasure in this movie is the creative process in the fashion that we are priviledged to see.

(Made: 2009)

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Movies

 

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Fair Game

Valerie Plame (played by Naomi Watts) is a covert high-powered CIA agent investigating the biological and weapons program in Iraq soon after 9/11. Her husband is former diplomat Joe Wilson (by Sean Penn) who has expertise in Africa, was asked to investigate the possibility of Niger supplying yellowcake to Iraq. After his (government arranged) work about the basis for Iraq building weapons of mass destruction, he realises that the results were ignored and he exposes this in the media.  This movie tells the story of how (as a result of Joe’s actions) Valerie was “outed” in the media  It provides a compellling insight into this true story (based on the memoirs of both the Wilsons).

I liked this movie and really wanted to find out what happens in the end – I hadn’t realised it was based on facts until the end. The performances are excellent – Sean Penn is fabulous in this bombastic role and the news footage at the end of the movie shows that Naomi Watts made a good job of playing Valerie. A good movie.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Movies

 

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127 Hours

‎127 HOURS is a great movie, based on the true story of a bush-walking adventurer who got into difficulties whilst on a lone weekend bush walk in the Utah mountains. Those who are bushwalkers and/or rock climbers amongst us will really identify with the main character Aaron’s (played by James Franco) love of the great outdoors and the sheer beauty of wilderness he finds himself in. However, his guts, presence of mind and sheer determination never to give in is something to see!!!  It is a well made movie too – an excellent effort by director Danny Boyle and James Franco.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Movies

 

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Senna

“Senna” is a great movie. It’s a documentary which cobbles together news footage, family videos and snippets from other sports features to tell the story of Brazilian Ayrton Senna’s rise through the motor racing classes to reach Formula 1 and eventually become F1 World Champion.  Senna was unequalled in determination and skill in Formula 1 motor racing – until at 34, he was killed in an F1 Championship race at San Moreno in Italy. This documentary follows his career from his 1982 arrival in Europe until his untimely death in 1994. It is fascinating and will also give a remarkable insight into the sport and the risks, but really only scratches the surface to reveal anything of the man “Senna” himself.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Movies

 

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