The Sapphires – Soulful Inspirations (2012)

Australian director Wayne Blair’s recent film based on the hit stage musical, The Sapphires, is a warm, big-hearted crowd pleaser. A powerful combination of perky music, appealing performances and an enlightening story delivers this film festival favourite; virtually impossible to resist. This film is a good old-fashioned romantic musical comedy that is both emotionally and harmoniously spotless.

Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires is about three cheeky yet talented Aboriginal sisters and their cousin living their dream of performing on stage. The film originates in Australia 1968 precisely during the harsh Vietnam War. Sisters Gail, Julie and Cynthia travel into town to audition in a local talent competition where Dave Lovelace, a scruffy keyboard player, recognizes their talent and takes them on a whirlwind of challenges and incredible opportunities. Follow the journey of four ambitious singers and discover the meaning of love, friendship and hope all over again.

Tony Briggs, son of one of the original sapphires, creates the screenplay in collaboration with Goalpost pictures. The movie’s finger-snapping appeal comes from R&B and rock ‘n’ roll tunes that offer an arousing yet astonishing soundtrack to the disturbing Vietnam war. The Sapphires wear decorated outfits of the era and move with stylized choreography of original sixties girl groups.

The central performances of all the actors have their pleasures but the film’s irresistible on-screen chemistry comes in the form of Irish actor Chris O’Dowd. The ‘Bridesmaids’ co-star plays scruffy talent scout and manager Dave Lovelace, who introduces the women to soul music. He’s joined by authentic soul sisters Jessica Mauboy, the pop sensation who steals the show with her sumptuous lead vocals and the constantly oppressed yet talented Deborah Mailman. Funky singers Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens are the most dominant and feminine members of the group.

The Sapphires is more than just a cute musical comedy, although if you make it through this film with dancing and singing along then you have a heart made of stone! Between all the amazing singing and performing the film explores some real history and the struggle for respect and rights that Aboriginal people went through during this period, as well as the unsettling reality of life in the war zone. The Sapphires sing their R&B hearts out, wow the servicemen and discover the meaning of family, friendship and war.

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Battleship – The Infamous Board Game Comes to Life (2012)

Jon Hoeber has recently written an action-packed film based on the infamous Hasbro guessing game, Battleship. Battleship combines Air Force One, Independence day and a strong passion for the Navy to create an effects-driven battle against the forces of evil. Battleship is for those who found Transformers too challenging to watch and prefer a modest film that tests the limits of authenticity.

Alex is a careless slouch who lives with his honorable Navy officer brother, Stone. Shortly Alex wins affection of Sam, a tall and beautiful physiotherapist, the daughter of Navy Admiral Shane. He decides to straighten up and join the Navy, but it’s not long before their Navy ship discovers a large robotic armada in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Navy put Alex in charge and its up to him to save the day and return to the girl he’s so madly in love with.

The film has some marvellous visual effects but if you’re generally annoyed by plot holes and the concept of high-tech aliens being beaten by low-tech officers then this isn’t the film for you. However, director Peter Berg has layered patriotism and Navy loyalty into a film filled with morals, to recount the incredible sacrifices of fighting for your country.

Taylor Kitsch showcases his maturity as the leading actor with the troubled and agitated Alex. Popular singer Rihanna is surprisingly great in her first acting effort while Brooklyn Decker steals the spotlight through her delivery of charming physiotherapist Sam. Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard raise the acting quality in the cast but often lack character development throughout the film. It takes half an hour before the aliens hit the screen but meanwhile Battleship introduces the fascinating characters and dramatic persona.

Battleship is a big budget action film perfect for fans of the genre. Peter Berg delivers a dubious yet clever retelling of Transformers but manages to improve the character development and special effects. Strong actors accompanied by a skillful soundtrack; sink into the enthusiastic Navel story that is Battleship.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Love and Misfits (2012)

Writer and director Stephen Chbosky has recently created a spectacular screen adaptation of his own notorious novel. The Perks of Being A Wallflower moves through the terrifying emotions of adolescence, misfits and the importance of accepting yourself. Expect a unique journey through realism and exceptional attention to detail and discover the most dramatic and inspiring film of the year.

Logan Lerman plays Charlie, an ordinary American teenager commencing his first year of high school. He’s psychologically preparing himself for a tough year, considering his best friend is no longer present, his older sister doesn’t care about anyone and he hasn’t got the most outgoing of personalities. Luckily, Charlie is saved from eternal loneliness by two outgoing seniors, Patrick and Sam, who introduce him to a new, more mature, world of music, books and theatre. It’s only a matter of time before the three and some additional friends create a safe place to be different and embark on a journey of deep feelings, pain and broken perspectives.

Perks of Being A Wallflower is a distinctive film with realistic cinematography and admirable visual techniques. While entertaining and light-hearted, this film also touches on a number of darker themes. The film contains a few references to inspirational American books and artists as well as being directed by a fantastic soundtrack.

Logan Lerman showcases his talents and maturity as a leading actor with the confused and agitated Charlie. Starring alongside Logan is Emma Watson, the versatile and sophisticated Sam who delivers her role with sincerity and humility. Ezra Miller is the third addition to the trio and does well as the gay, eccentric and likeable Patrick. With three youthful and talented actors in the lead roles being accompanied by a number of recognisable faces such as Paul Rudd and Kate Walsh The Perks of Being A Wallflower easily becomes a favourite for teens going through high school.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a unique romance for anyone who likes an entertaining yet meaningful film about high school drama. Stephen Chbosky delivers a wonderfully clever and humourous film that might not be as iconic as the best-selling book but its insights into the lives of teenagers remain as effective as they were ten years ago. The perfect actors, cinematography and content; be pleasantly surprised by the masterpiece that is Perks of A Wallflower.

Skyfall – Action, Adventure and Resurrection (2012)

Sam Mendes recently launched the twenty-third installment in the outstanding James Bond series. Skyfall embodies countless powerful stunts, unique espionage and agonizing conflict. This film explores deeper into Bond’s emotional story in oppose to specifically outlining special effects. People who enjoyed Casino Royale and Quantum Solace instantly valued the new chapter in the James Bond series.

Declared MIA and presumed dead, James Bond resurfaces with another hobby to add to his profile – resurrection. Bond returns to the game to capture a skillful terrorist who hacked the Headquarters of British Intelligence with repulsive images and terrorist threats. However Bond struggles with a middle age crisis, an alcohol problem, a controversial relationship with his supervisor and constant threats from an assignment in Istanbul. He must gather his inner agent and battle to save M and the profound British Intelligence.

Skyfall is a highly peculiar film with stunning visual touches including motorbike racing along the roof of Grand Bazaar and fighting off the precipitous skyscraper in Shanghai. Roger Deakins brings the very best of Cinematography with precise camera placements, lighting and a pitch perfect soundtrack.

Skyfall is a joyous and acute anniversary of the treasured Bond series, with Daniel Craig taking full ownership of his vulnerable espionage agent. Judi Dench portrays fearless agent M, who undergoes a rigorous playback of her disastrous past. Javier Bardem steals the show with his illustration of the exceptionally amusing villain, Silva who delivers each movement and dialogue with force and sincerity. Bond’s love interest is english actress Naomi Harris who is energetic and upright but often lacks a real connection with the audience. However, every actor displayed maturity, craft and ability within their role and enhanced quality of the film in general.

Skyfall is an artistic action film with real purpose and emotional address, a change for anyone who is familiar with preceding James Bond movies. The film has managed to reserve what has always been a beneficial moral of all Bond movies; understanding and accepting who we are. Expect revolutionary on-screen effects, natural charisma, spectacular soundtrack, high imposing angles and unique social content that is the award-winning sensation, Skyfall.

Anna Karenina – Triumphant Romantic Tragedy (2012)

Director Joe Wright takes on Leo Tolstoy’s infamous novel to create a marvelous theatrical interpretation of the adored romantic tragedy. Anna Karenina progresses through the discovery of self, the betrayal of loved ones and the risks of pursuing true love. Expect transformation by the realism and unimaginable attention to detail and discover the most visually spectacular film of the year. Anna Karenina is a true masterpiece.

Anna Karenina initiates in the late 1870’s when Anna, the wife of respectable official Alexei Karenin, ventures to Moscow to save her brother’s failing marriage when she unintentionally attracts the eye of dashing Count Vronsky. Fearful of her interest in him, Anna returns to St. Petersburg, only to catch Count Vronsky on her footsteps. It’s only a matter of time before Anna accepts Vronsky’s advances and claims his undying passion for her. The pair instantly embark on a journey of love, pain, self discovery and inconceivable sacrifices.

Joe Wright successfully takes on this big budget film with an admirable idea for cinematography in mind. Scenes will generally originate in a theatre building, on stage or in an auditorium among costumed extras who constantly lurk in the background. The most startling scene is the horse race set exclusively in the theatre with striking visual effects and an overall stunning execution of events. The intense, fast-paced camerawork and emphasis on sets makes the opening scene a blur, but eventually the bustle constrains enough for the viewer to interpret the story.

Anna Karenina is portrayed by the fearless Kiera Knightley who deplores with exquisite, large brimming eyes her rejected state. She takes on this role with a whole new level of maturity. Her restraining husband is performed by Jude Law; bearded, pale-eyed, self punishing and distressed with guilt and love. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Count Vronsky, capturing his shallow and youthful role genuinely well. All of the actors – particularly Knightley – perform admirably.

Anna Karenina is an artistic romance with stunning production and costume design, complex cinematography and brilliant, motivated actors. So if you enjoyed movies such as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, then Anna Karenina is one you must definitely see. Joe Wright executes a spectacular adaptation of the novel with depth and humility and flawless acting from the entire cast.

Les Miserables – A retelling of an infamous tragedy (2012)

An impressive movie version of Les Misérables has arrived, based on the hit stage show adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel, set among the poor civilians in 19th century France. Fans of musical theatre will be thrilled to see the actors sing all their lines, which leads to some real emotional intensity. This is a revolutionary musical in more ways than one. The piece has much grittier realism than I expected, but it also triggers imaginative cinematography, sets, costumes and make up, all of which made the movie sensational to watch.

Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, a decent man imprisoned for stealing bread to save his sisters family. Once he escapes, he is desperately pursued by police officer Javert for breaking his parole. His journey as a homeless man leads him to a respectable and graceful priest who teaches him the importance of honesty and Jean is transformed into an admirable mayor. Along the way he meets Fantine, a distressed prostitute who is willing to risk her life for her young daughter Cosette. Out of good heart Jean decides to raise the angelic orphan.

Oscar Award winning director Tom Hooper goes to extreme measures to deliver realism, often through intimate close up shots, allowing the actors to strengthen their performance and emotional appeal. The film differs from typical Hollywood movies because it often possesses more painful and unexpected events that constantly keep you on the edge of your seat.

Hugh Jackman ultimately steals the spotlight as Jean Valjean. His stage experience and screen presence both physically and emotionally devours the films essence. But the real revelation is Anne Hathaway’s tragic heroin. Her performance as the distressed Fantine is both moving and extremely desolate. The star is Jackman but Russell Crowe delivers the most open and human performance as the repulsive police officer. Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne are ideal love birds, destined for each other from the very beginning. Comedy relief comes in the form of Sacha Baren Cohen and Helen Bonham Carter as spiteful innkeepers.

Overall, each character presents stunning and memorable performances and everyone receives a firm recognition. Les Misérables is an outstanding dramatic musical that everyone can cherish. The movie isn’t perfect and not as well executed as Tom Hooper’s The Kings Speech, but in its strongest moments and the flawless first hour, it comes close to one of the greatest musicals ever created. Sometimes scenes seem dull and it may be all music and lyrics but the film is an edgy approach to original moral themes and context and overall a pleasure to watch.

Silver Linings Playbook – Crime, Chaos and Love (2012)

A bubbly feel-good comedy drama featuring a superb performance from Bradley Cooper as a bipolar man recently released from a mental institution. Silver Linings Playbook was originally adapted from Mathew Quick’s novel published in 2008. Having just followed American Beauty and The Fighter, Director David O’ Russel delivers yet another subtle film. I was pleasantly surprised by the realism factor and genuine on screen chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence. If you enjoy watching drama, comedy and romance all rolled into one spectacular movie, then you’ll most definitely like this film.

After an unfortunate incident with his ex-wife’s lover and a bi polar diagnosis, Pat Solitano spent quality time in a mental institution. After 8 months of intense therapy, Pat embarks on a plan of self improvement with hopes to win back the affection of his ex-wife and set his life back in order. Released into the care of his parents and the local police, Pat discovers he’s not quite ready to be let go yet. Running around the neighbourhood is where he frequently encounters Tiffany, a young widow and a friend of Pat’s ex-wife. Tiffany sees and loves her own problems, and is willing to do the same with Pat.

Director David O’ Russell is an astonishly experienced figure who has had his share of Oscar winning films; American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire. He creates Silver Linings Playbook with a lighter colour scheme and realistic camera effects. O’ Russel fits in more than enough action to determine that the film never gets stagnant.

Bradley Cooper delivers yet another mature performance leading the cast on a rollercoaster of uncertain emotions. Jennifer Lawrence plays the character of Tiffany with charm, wit and pride, another spectacular performance preceding The Hunger Games. Pat’s parents are played by the perfect pair; Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, both in rare and wonderful form. In addition, Rush Hour’s Chris Tucker delivers some real comedy highlights as an institution buddy. The actors all help to increase purity and improve the plot altogether.

There are certain segments of the film which prove challenging to watch but these situations reminds the audience that mental illness is no laughing matter. Even if this film might sound a little typical of the usual Hollywood rom-com, how Tiffany and Pat fit each other’s crazy is an inspiring and entertaining story of how the right people can be good for each other, even in the unlikeliest of situations. Watch Silver Linings Playbook to see just how two sides of chaos make a pair.