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Tag Archives: Julia Blake

A Month of Sundays

Things are at a bit of a stand-still for real estate agent Frank Mollard (played by Anthony LaPaglia). He’s divorced, but still has constant contact with his ex-wife Wendy (by Justine Clark) and, of course, their son Frank Junior (by Indiana Crowther). His relationship with Frank Jr is a typically dysfunctional, arms-length, dad-teenage son type thing, that lumbers from failure to failure as Frank tries hard to connect with the young man. Professionally, he hasn’t sold a house in … who knows how long? … and his long-understanding boss, Phillip Lang (by John Clarke) is starting to get less entertained by Frank’s quirky nature and more impatient by his non-sales as the days go by. As he sits in his lonely, sparse, “bachelor” apartment one night, Frank gets a phone call from someone he’s sure is his mother – he chats with her for a while until she realises she has the wrong number and hangs up. Actually … Frank’s mother died last year – he just played along to have a conversation with someone who didn’t know all his baggage. Frank gets curious about the mystery caller and gets in touch with her again a few days later – she is Sarah (by Julia Blake), who has her own interesting life and issues. After his ex-wife Wendy’s constant commentary, Frank finds Sarah refreshingly non-judgemental and very easy to talk to. He discusses things about his life with her that he’s never been able to do with anyone before – so an unlikely friendship develops. Sarah has challenges with her own son, Stuart, so the friendship between them helps her too. Through this friendship they each find ways to repair broken relationships and achieve some balance and peace in their lives.

This is a very nice movie, but … you need to stick with it and not give up too soon.  At first, Frank seems bland and somewhat impenetrable, but this gets explained as he is revealed. Anthony LaPaglia portrays this very well – his deadpan expression and dull tone as he speaks with his clients are dead giveaways of his total disappointment with his life. His support stars, Justine Clarke, John Clarke and Indiana Crowther are perfect to unfold the story lines to reveal him. As Sarah, Julia Blake is excellent – she makes her character so authentic. The movie has a lot of points to make, some will resonate with you and others not – so it’s for you to take whatever you want from the film. It’s a subtle drama which will probably keep you thinking long after the credits roll. Well done.

Made in 2015. Directed by Matthew Saville.

 

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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Movies

 

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The Dressmaker

Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (played by Kate Winslet) is a slave to glamour. She’s besotted with expensive fabrics and stylish textiles and her haute couture creations have established her as a big name in the society design salons of Paris. But now, with her sewing machine under her arm, she’s come back to her small home town in rural Australia. Her memories have drawn her back as there are things she must put right. She trudges up the dirt track to her childhood home and finds her mother, Molly (by Judy Davis), dishevelled, down on her luck and in poor health. The house itself is in a sorry state of repair too. But the town hasn’t changed – the residents are all just as eccentric, judgmental and hypocritical as they always were. With long memories and holding their grudges forever, these people just never change. But they all have secrets too – and Tilly’s determined to right the wrongs of the past one way or another. One by one, she reconnects with her ex-neighbours – the effeminate Sergeant Farrat (by Hugo Weaving), the storekeepers – Alvin Pratt (by Shane Jacobson) and his wife Muriel (by Rebecca Gibney), their daughter Gertrude (by Sarah Snook) and the town simpleton – Barney McSwiney (by Gyton Grantley). The people do their best to go about their daily drudgery, but Tilly’s created a literally “colourful” distraction and it’s hard to ignore her. When she is courted by Barney’s brother, Teddy McSwiney (by Liam Hemsworth), Tilly is taken by surprise when she discovers feelings she thought were long buried beneath her guilt and shame. What was once a town scandal is slowly starting to unravel and the truth is coming out, once and for all, with all the people who told all the lies being found out along the way …

This is a delightful and entertaining movie. It’s a gentle comedy that offers several wonderful cameo performances by people who’ve been in much higher bankrolled films than this. Every character is unique and portrayed wonderfully by a member of the very strong ensemble cast – it’s full of surprises. Several notables are almost unrecognisable in these roles and they don’t seem to care – as Tilly’s mother, Molly, Judy Davis is wrinkled and downright grouchy for most of the movie; Gyton Grantley is endearing and heart-warming as Barney; Hugo Weaving plays the cross-dressing policeman to perfection and Shane Jacobsen’s absolutely made to play Alvin Pratt. I can’t go past the total eye-candy Liam Hemsworth provides either … just saying. There’s so many great performances amongst the cast it’s really unfair to pick out only a few. It’s a bit like “Under Milkwood” where the town boasts so many fascinating characters, each with a curious story in their own right. You will no doubt enjoy the Pettymans – Evan (by Shane Bourne) and Marigold (by Alison Whyte), along with the wonderful characters presented by Barry Otto, Sarah Snook, Julia Blake and Kerry Fox. It is based on the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham , “The Dressmaker”. Rightly so, during the 2015-16 award season the movie has been recognised by the Australian Film Critics Association with a People’s Choice Award for Favourite Australian Film and gives individual awards for best Actress (Kate Winslet), Supporting Actor (Hugo Weaving), Supporting Actress (Judy Davis) and Screenplay (Jocelyn Moorhouse and PJ Hogan); the Australian Film Institute gives best Lead Actress (Kate Winslet), Supporting Actress (Judy Davis) Supporting Actor (Hugo Weaving) and Costume Design (Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson). The Australian Screen Sound Guild recognises it for best achievement in Sound Mixing and the Film Critics Circle of Australia awards Judy Davis with Best Actress – Supporting Role; along with Kate Winslet for Best Actress. Just enjoy it.

Made in 2015. Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse

 

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Movies

 

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Last Dance

Ulah Lippmann (played by Julia Blake) lives in predominantly Jewish suburb of Melbourne in Australia. Since her husband died, she lives alone and pretty much to herself but her daughter, Sophie (by Danielle Carter) keeps an eye on her. Ulah is a strong woman, she’s seen a lot in her life – she’s a holocaust survivor and has maintained a very strong faith. She’s developed a steely resolve but an open heart. In these difficult political times, people hold strong views, often based on their faith. One day, a terrorist attack on the nearby Synagogue shakes the neighbourhood in more ways than one – a bomb kills many and the culprits are on the run. Ulah’s life is disrupted when one of the perpetrators, Sadiq (by Firass Dirani) takes refuge in her home and holds her hostage. Sadiq is a radical moslem and is horrified to find he is holed up in the home of a person of Jewish faith – his most hated enemy.

This drama has its good moments – there are some points where the story takes a surprising turn – and these are welcome. It’s a bit disappointing as I expected a bit more from this movie. On the whole it’s rather ho-hum and would be better suited as a television drama. It’s a seriously slow-burn too. The screenplay seems very cliché to me – on the parts of both the key players and their associates. The performances by Julia Blake and Firass Dirani are fine, but the story is a little implausible. No matter how broad-minded or gentle-hearted she might be, an elderly woman scared out of her wits by an unknown, injured, desperate man is not going to suddenly have a change of heart and care for him in her home, believing him to be a basically good person – sorry, not very likely. The police part is too twee … firstly too superficial and then too extreme … it just doesn’t quite hold together somehow.  Thankfuly, it’s not too long and drawn out – a mere 90 minutes, if that.

Made in 2012. Directed by David Pulbrook

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Movies

 

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