Tag Archives: Jackie Weaver

Magic in the Moonlight

In 1920’s France, Wei Ling Soo is a hit amongst his hoards of adoring fans and his notoriety spreads far and wide. He’s a masterful magician who can make the impossible happen, right before our eyes! Actually, Wei Ling Soo is really only Stanley (played by Colin Firth), a veteran illusionist dressed as a Chinese Imperial Master, who stuns audiences with his amazing, well practised feats and tricks. One day, Stanley’s friend, fellow magician Howard Burkan (by Simon McBurney) tells him of a new sensation doing the rounds of the social set in France. She, Madam Sophie, claims she can read people accurately, tell fortunes, observe the spirit world and bring messages from those passed to people still on the side of the living. Stanley instantly dismisses any notion of her being authentic and is invited to France to check her out and prove she’s a fraud. Once in France, Stanley views Sophie (by Emma Stone) with complete suspicion, but slowly, as he gets to know her he starts to think perhaps he’s wrong after all … how could she possibly know the things she does about him and his life? He finds himself strangely drawn to her … but surely she’s a fake, isn’t she?

This movie is sweet, but not quite entertaining. The French scenery is divine and a wonderful backdrop to the story, so in parts it has its moments, but overall Colin Firth’s performance renders the piece a little unbalanced and tedious. I can only hope that Director Woody Allen instructed him to perform in this weirdly wooden and robotic fashion as I’ve never seen Colin Firth act like this in any other work. Emma Stone is good and it’s great to see Jackie Weaver here as one of Sophie’s “clients”, Mrs Grace Catledge. Others are okay and the story has nice twists, but overall is only average. I may have just missed the point, I guess.

Made in 2014. Directed by Woody Allen.

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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Movies


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Silver Linings Playbook

Pat Solatano (played by Bradley Cooper) has recently been discharged from a mental institution, where he has spent the last eight months in treatment after beating up the lover of his ex-wife, Nikki. Having lost his house and his job, under the conditions of his release, Pat is now living at his parents’ home with his father, Pat Senior (by Robert De Nero) and his mother, Dolores (by Jackie Weaver). He refuses to take his medication because he doesn’t like the way it makes him feel and he is desperate to reconcile with his wife. He attends mandatory counselling sessions with a therapist (by Anupam Kher) and is convinced that he can get back on the rails, back into his job as a teacher and back with his wife – he just needs to stay positive and focus on the silver linings in his life. Pat’s parents wish everything could just get back to “normal” – but Pat Junior’s bizarre unmedicated behaviour is leading them to the end of their collective tethers.  They hope Pat is able to get back on his feet himself, but this is no easy feat. Pat Senior has his own issues to deal with … his obsessive gambling, his baseball team and his conviction that Pat Junior is his ultimate good luck charm. Dolores just tries to keep everything together. One day, Pat meets Tiffany Maxwell (by Jennifer Lawrence), a refreshingly direct and honest woman who must deal with her own issues. Pat and Tiffany realise that theirs can be a mutually beneficial relationship. They settle on a deal to each get the thing they most want in their lives. … but are they both being honest? … does this come at a price that’s getting too high?  Things progress well, but then start to get complicated and as their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.

This movie is interesting and good. Bradley Cooper’s performance in this role takes him out of the familiar roles he has played to this point – and he is very good here. His haphazard method and his demonstration of the effects of mental illness are realistic and well done. He deserves the nomination for Best Actor for this. As usual, Robert De Niro makes acting look like second nature and his portrayal of Pat Senior is so excellent it just looks effortless. Although small, the role of Dolores is important and Jackie Weaver’s performance is strong and I agree that Jennifer Lawrence is the stand-out – she totally deserves the Academy Award (Oscar) she received for this performance. The movie is very well directed, the relatioships, dependencies, human idiosyncracies and the intricacies of human emotions are all done very well.  Great effort. The film is based on the novel by the same name by Matthew Quick.

Made in 2012. Directed by  David O Russell

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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Movies


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Summer Coda

Heidi (played by Rachael Taylor) has returned from Nevada to her home town of Mildura, in a rural orange-growing area of Australia to attend her estranged father’s funeral. Due to her parents’ separation when she was very young, her mother raised her in the US and she has not been back to Australia until now. She hitch-hikes from Melbourne and on her way she is picked up by Michael (by Alex Dimitriades), an orange farmer who lives near her destination. She reaches Mildura for the funeral and meets her step-family for the first time. As she has a few days before her flight back to the US, she begins picking oranges on Michael’s farm and she mixes with Michael’s friends who have arrived to pick the waiting harvest. A relationship between Heidi and Michael begins to develop, but each has strong issues to deal with which influence their tentative attraction to each other.

This is a gentle love story that nicely depicts the confusion and hesitancy of learning to trust and understanding your feelings again after being damaged. The romance develops slowly but the story also meanders through the relationships between the group of friends and Michael, along with Heidi’s feelings about her father. The ending is very nice and it fits this movie well. It’s a bit hard to tell whether Michael is meant to be older than he looks – sometimes he reflects a much more staid and mature person than he needs to be. Rachael Taylor is luminous as Heidi, but it’s not too much – and she has progressed to some great things in the US since she made this movie. Australian movie matriarch Jackie Weaver makes a very fleeting appearance in this movie also – I’m not sure that it was necessary really.

It is not a soaring romance, nor a deeply emotional experience, but it’s a nice movie.

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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Movies


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Three Blind Mice

Three sailors spend their last night ashore in Sydney before they sail for another tour of duty in Iraq. They have left a stressful and cruel event behind them on board ship and are sharing a city hotel room. Sam (played by Ewen Lesnie) was the victim in the humiliating incident at the hands of his fellow-sailors and is thinking of deserting; Harry (by Matthew Newton) is a larrikin ladies’ man who creates more trouble that he resolves and Dean (by Toby Schmitz) is a more conservative guy, ashore to see his fiance Sally (by Pia Miranda) and her parents (by Barry Otto and Heather Mitchell) before he departs. During the night, Sam meets waitress Emma (by Gracie Otto) and takes her to visit his mother (by Jacki Weaver) and grandfather (by Charles “Bud” Tingwell). The sailors are up for a night on the town and each experience drama and personal challenges during their night ashore. The story comes to a conclusion in the morning when it is time for them to rejoin the ship for roll call and departure.

The movie gets a bit tedious and flimsy in parts, but in general it is very good. The interactions and relationships throughout the drama are very well written and the sarcastic (often nasty) banter between the characters is great. In my view, the hand-held camerawork adds to the general feeling of chaos, which is fine and the excellent performances from the cast make the scenes really come to life. For an Australian movie, this has an impressive cast. In addition to those in key roles, we also see Marcus Graham, Brendan Cowell and Alex Dimitriades. Matthew Newton’s performance is particularly good. This movie is his second and he has done an excellent job.

(Made: 2009)

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Movies


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Animal Kingdom

“Animal Kingdom” is a 2010 Australian crime drama. After his mother dies from an overdose of heroin, 17-year-old ‘J’ moves in with his grandmother, the matriarch of a notorious crime family consisting of her three sons – J’s uncles … (an armed robber in hiding, a drug dealer and a villain in the making who follows the lead of his older brothers).  It is a violent movie – but not in the “blood and gore” sense  – it is the way that the movie violates your senses as it depicts how the family acts and interacts – it is alarming, sudden and shocking. It will show you a slice of crime-family life that is realistic and gritty. 

Jackie Weaver was nominated for an Oscar for her excellent portrayal of the matriarch, she deserves that nomination but I would have liked to have seen more of her character as her true mettle does not reveal itself until relatively late in the movie – and her habit of kissing her sons on the lips is rather unsettling! Fabulous work is contributed by Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Sullivan Stapleton and James Frecheville also. Each of these actors provides a character that is truly striking, unique and totally believable.  The script was inspired by a true crime family of Melbourne, Australia. It is very, very good.

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Movies


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