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Tuesday, 25 September 2007


More a prime example of the “one crazy night” genre (anything from Adventures in Babysitting to Martin Scorsese's After Hours) than a teen sex romp, Superbad still presents audiences with some of the flat-out filthiest dialogue heard outside of an episode of Deadwood. And yet there’s enough insight in its depiction of dorky high school boys and the girls who might like them to keep it from ever being merely crude.

With high school nearly over and different universities awaiting them, best friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) seize on a surprise invite to an cool kids party as their last chance for some serious fun. Their invite depends on them bringing booze; being underage, this proves to be way more difficult than anyone could have predicted.

Some might say that the freewheeling subplot involving two unbelievably nutty cops (Bill Hader and scriptwriter Seth Rogen) undermines the otherwise emotionally resonant depiction of a couple of friends about to be torn apart by adulthood. Others might question all the dick jokes. They’re both wrong: with great performances, classic scenes, and plenty of heart, Superbad is a brilliantly hysterical comedy.

Anthony Morris

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Final Winter

Despite Australia's passionate love affair with all forms of sport, we don't seem to make all that many movies about sport - presumably because in Australia culture you either love one or the other. That's their loss: rough around the edges The Final Winter may be, and with it's fair share of clumsy scenes and two-d characters, this still manages to be one of the more down-to-earth entertaining local efforts of the year. It's the early 80's, and Sydney rugby league club The Jets is in turmoil: crowd numbers are down, the old style of bash-heavy play is out of favour, and new club CEO Murray 'Colgate' Perry (John Jarrat) thinks the only way to keep the club alive is to take it down a more professional path. One man who disagrees is Grub Henderson (writer Matt Nable), a 200 game man and old-school thug who solves his problems by hitting people or ignoring them until they go away. In the week that follows Grub will finally realise that his playing days are be behind him - but he's not going to bow out without a fight. Stories about the end of an era always have a resonance, and even though this is perhaps too heavily weighted in Grub's favour - Colgate is an a-grade creep, even though pretty much everything he says and does makes a lot more sense than Grub's stubborn bull-headedness - the rugby stuff turns out to be a lot more universal in terms of the global corporatisation of sport than you might think (and the games themselves are filmed with bone-jarring impact like a widescreen Nutra-grain commercial). Likewise, Grub himself isn't that likeable, but his slow realisation that time is passing him by is one that even non sports fans can identify with. The Final Winter isn't going to win any awards - but who goes to see the Australian films that do?

Anthony Morris

(this review appeared in Forte#410)

Forbidden Lie$

In 2004 Norma Khouri's best-selling book Forbidden Love was a global sensation, a gripping true-life tale exposing the horror of Jordan's 'honour killings' where young women were killed by their family for falling in love with the wrong man. Then West Australian journalist Malcolm Knox exposed the book as a fake, and Khouri as a married Chicago mother of two - not the Jordanian virgin she'd claimed to be. Norma went on the run, leaving her kids behind with a neighbour for months while her publishers pulled the book from the shelves and tried to retrieve the hundreds of thousands of dollars Norma had received in advances. She's been in hiding ever since - until now. In Forbidden Lie$, film-maker Anna Broinowski gives Norma enough rope to hang herself, and instead finds herself tangled up in an ever more complex tales of scams and interconnected lies with the increasingly compelling Norma front and centre throughout. The twists and turns of the tale in itself are enthralling, especially as Norma refuses to back down as more and more holes get punched in her story, but the portrait of Norma, aka "one of the best [con artists] ever", that gradually develops is just as interesting. By turns laugh-out-loud, wince-making, appalling and bizarre, this constantly surprising documentary is a classic.

Anthony Morris

(this review appeared in Forte#41o)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


Animation studio Pixar is the closest thing Hollywood has to a sure thing. Films like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles have given the studio a reputation for making hits (that people actually enjoy) that’s second to none. That’s a tough legacy to live up to, but Ratatouille doesn’t flinch. Writer/director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) takes what should be a fairly icky subject - Remy the rat (Patton Oswalt) loves cooking so much he becomes the head chef at a swanky French restaurant by teaming up with clumsy garbage boy Linguini (Lou Romano) - and turns it into a triumph.

Weaving non-stop physical comedy with romance, friendship, family dramas, health concerns, the kind of hero’s journey most blockbusters would kill for and a hefty swipe at cynical critics, this occasionally threatens to collapse in on itself like a badly cooked soufflĂ©. But Bird, demonstrating a directing ability that mirrors the Remy/Linguini team’s virtuoso skill in the kitchen, constantly adds and mixes characters and subplots until everything comes to a head in a riotous conclusion that can't fail to satisfy. It might have been created virtually, but Ratatouille is the best physical comedy of the year.

Anthony Morris