THE RED PILL: A JOURNEY DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

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Controversy erupted over the documentary The Red Pill when its Australian premiere was cancelled and banned in cinemas after a petition spread calling the film “misogynistic propaganda”.

The film’s director Cassie Jayne faced harsh publicity with news programs Sunrise and The Project slamming the feature without watching it before interviewing Jayne.

And what’s all the fuss?

The film follows feminist Jayne’s year with the men’s rights movement and interviews men’s rights activists and supporters. Its title makes references to the films Alice In Wonderland and The Matrix, when Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) offers Neo (Keanu Reeves) a choice of two pills – a blue pill (which when swallowed allows you to believe what you want to believe) or a red pill (reveals the truth).

Jayne sets out to investigate what she believes is a hate movement but soon discovers all is not what she expected. As she learns more about the issues men and boys face in society – mental and physical abuse, working in high risk jobs, crime, health issues and lack of reproductive rights – Jayne begins to question her own views on feminism.

This is a well-made, smart and insightful documentary dealing with issues facing modern man. The Red Pill has been dubbed a propaganda film but that is a judgement all viewers should make for themselves.

Director Jayne challenges viewers to broaden their perspectives on many significant social issues as she shines the spotlight on both women’s and men’s rights. Most interesting is watching Jayne document her own journey throughout the film as she video diaries her thoughts on the people she interviews and the impact this has on her own previously held views.

Don’t form an opinion until you watch this film.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Wizard of Lies


Adaptation of journalist Diana B. Henriques’ account of financier Bernie Madoff’s orchestration of one of the largest frauds in U.S. history that led to financial ruin for thousands of investors and, in the process, his own family’s destruction.

The cast is magnificent and perfectly cast. Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff gives a great performance. The resemblance between De Niro and Madoff is uncanny. Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Madoff’s wife Ruth is flawless. Her performance makes feel for her character as victim of Madoff’s deceit. Alessandro Nivola is exceptional as their older son Mark Madoff. 

Directed by Barry Levinson (Bugsy, Rain Man) and adapted by Sam Levinson, Sam Baum and John Burnham Schwartz, Wizard of Lies is brilliantly made for the small screen. Remarkable shot with a character driven script and great detailed production design. 

A terrific cast with powerhouse performances, Wizard of Lies is a TV movie worth a look. Check it out. 

Rating 5/5 Stars 

Wall Street


On the Wall Street of the 1980s, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a stockbroker full of ambition, doing whatever he can to make his way to the top. Admiring the power of the unsparing corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), Fox entices Gekko into mentoring him by providing insider trading. As Fox becomes embroiled in greed and underhanded schemes, his decisions eventually threaten the livelihood of his scrupulous father (Martin Sheen). Faced with this dilemma, Fox questions his loyalties.

Michael Douglas gives the best performance of his career. As Gordon Gekko, Douglas is a standout. He proves greed is good with his charm, quick wit and ruthlessness. Charlie Sheen is brilliant as young ambitious Bud Fox who idolises Gekko along with Martin Sheen as Bud’s father.

Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK) directs a well paced captivating film that draws you in from beginning to end. Stone co-writes with Stanley Weiser a sharp and well written script with memorable lines. The cinematography is wonderfully shot by Robert Richardson and superb editing by Claire Simpson.

An outstanding cast with excellent dialogue and direction, Wall Street is sensational film. One of my favourite films. A must see for Oliver Stone fans.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Insider


A fictionalised account of a true story, it’s based on the 60 mins segment about Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a whistleblower in the tobacco industry covering the personal struggles of him and CBS producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) as they defend his testimony against efforts to discredit and suppress it by CBS and Wigand’s former employer.

The film has a wonderful cast. Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jeffrey Wigand is phenomenal, he gives a powerhouse performance. It’s one of Crowe’s best roles. Al Pacino is sensational as Lowell Bergman along with Christopher Plummer who portrays 60 mins host Mike Wallace.

Director Michael Mann (Heat, Manhunter) delivers a well paced compelling film. The screenplay by Mann and Eric Roth is excellent and brilliantly written. The cinematography by Dante Spinotti is perfectly shot with great editing by William Goldenberg, Paul Rubell and David Rosenbloom. These elements of what makes a perfect film.

The Insider is a brilliant film. Remarkably made with stellar performances, a flawless script and perfectly shot. It’s one of my favourite films. A must see.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Ocean’s Eleven 


A remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film. Recently paroled from prison, con-man and thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney) recruits a crew of former colleagues and criminal specialists to steal $150 million from 3 Las Vegas casinos in one night.

Performances are excellent from an all-star cast. George Clooney brilliantly plays the charismatic leader of the Eleven. Brad Pitt is terrific as Danny’s right-hand man Rusty. Great performances from supporting cast Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac and Julia Roberts.

Director Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Traffic) and writer Ted Griffin delivers a stylish caper with a quick pace and sharp dialogue with wit. Perfectly shot and visually stunning cinematography by Soderbergh.

The movie poster tagline asks Are you in or out? After watching Ocean’s Eleven, I can say I’m in. It’s one of my favourite films. Everything about this film is perfect. One of the best remakes ever made. A great enjoyable and entertaining heist film to watch from start to finish with a well-acted ensemble cast.

Rating 5/5 Stars

Solaris 

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Solaris is the second film version of Stanislaw Lem’s philosophical sci-fi novel. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is a psychologist still mourning the loss of his wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone) is sent to investigate the crew of a space station orbiting an alien planet that has stopped communications. By the time Kelvin gets there, he interrogates crew Snow (Jeremy Davies) and Gordon (Viola Davis) and he learns that they’ve had unwanted “visitors,” delusions of loved ones who are apparently being generated by the interstellar energy source Solaris. At first Kelvin is skeptical of their claims until one night he, too, is greeted by his late wife Rheya.

Phenomenal character driven performances from George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. Clooney and McElhone work well together and share great chemistry. Solid performances from supporting cast Jeremy Davies and Viola Davis.

From writer and director Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Traffic) has made a mix of science fiction and metaphysical love story. Solaris could’ve been better plot wise. The film felt more of a love story than a sci-fi. The storyline and editing were choppy. It felt rushed as it was too short and needed to be longer.

Great production design by Philip Messina. The sets remind you of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Despite its story flaws, Solaris may not be a perfect sci-fi film but it’s a pretty good. The film draws you in with George Clooney and Natascha McElhone’s characters emotional love story. Engaging, powerful and thought provoking that leaves a lasting impression.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Heartburn

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Based on Nora Ephron semi-autobiographical novel inspired by her second marriage to Watergate investigative journalist Carl Bernstein and his affair with Margaret Jay, the wife of Peter Jay the British Ambassador to the United States. Rachel Samstat (Meryl Streep), a New York food critic, meets Mark Forman (Jack Nicholson), a Washington, D.C., newspaper columnist at a mutual friend’s wedding. The two fall in love and Rachel gives up her job and relocates to be with Mark. They buy a house; have a daughter, and Rachel thinks they are living happily ever after until she discovers that Mark is having an affair while she’s pregnant with their second child.

 The cast is well acted. Meryl Streep is superb as Rachel, the heartbroken mother trying to pick up the pieces after her world falls apart. She makes Rachel likeable and easily relatable. Jack Nicholson is perfectly cast Rachel’s philandering husband Mark. He gives a funny and charming performance. Streep and Nicholson work well together and share great chemistry. A good supporting cast from Stockard Channing, Jeff Daniels, Miloš Forman, Steven Hill and Catherine O’Hara with an early appearance by real life daughter Mamie Gummer as Rachel and Mark’s daughter. 

The music by Carly Simon is excellent. The theme song Coming Around Again is a nice uplifting track to listen throughout the film. 

Directed by Mike Nichols (The Birdcage, Working Girl) and Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle) adapting her own novel, Heartburn is a pleasant film to watch about relationships and the ups and downs of marriage. Though at times it’s downbeat, it has some enjoyable moments such as Rachel tells an amusing story to Mark about her previous marriage and Mark blowing his head at the contractor for failing to put a door in the kitchen. It’s worth a look for fans of Mike Nichols and Nora Ephron. 

Rating: 4/5 Stars