Adore Review (Paolo Kagaoan)


Starring Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, James Frecheville, Xavier Samuel and Ben Mendelsohn

Written by Christopher Hampton

Directed by Anne Fontaine

Adore plays out like the Doris Lessing vignette from which it is based called The Grandmothers. It substitutes a presumed South African setting for the Australian beach side. It has this a silent quality that makes the characters within it yearn for change without, of course, disturbing the natural setting near which it occurs. The wind blows against the swaying trees as a – group of – isolated white housewives who break rules.

In this case it is two women, Roz (Wright) and Lil (Watts), who have been friends since childhood, drinking little shotties of hard booze while floating on a raft near the coast. They grow up together, marry different people and have sons, Ian and Tom (Samuel and Frecheville) who are also growing up together. The bonds between these characters, who choose to be together, get stronger despite of all the strong, contradictory emotions they have towards each other. Not even husbands (Mendelsohn), suitors and wives can tear these four apart from each other.

I do like a movie that explores Freudian themes. I would, normally. These four characters transfer and sublimate their desire, every character means and symbolize many things for each other. The sons, as ‘young gods,’ just makes their mothers yearn for their past and to be desired as they would have been in their prime. The mothers reach out to each others’ sons for validation, the sons look for their mothers for comfort. There’s a scene where Lil looks into a mirror and stares at her reflection, looking at the person who feels old and withered.

Both reasons stated above have strains of co-dependent patterns of behaviour. Adulthood and seems to come difficultly for these four characters.

That also means their relationships the forge seem to be based in lies, wanting and being with other people because they don’t want to act on another frivolous tabooed desire. They’re also unable to control their desires, which makes character arcs seem circuitous. Some of us in the audience can argue that these relationships are plausible, but it’s equally frustrating to watch people act repetitiously in life as it would to watch them in a movie.

The repetitious plot points also make the film seem longer than its 110 minute run.. Lessing’s short is around 50 pages long. Christopher Hampton, who adapted this short, has finally written a screenplay set in modern times with characters who somewhat talk like real human beings. However, he could have cut the movie’s running time by 20 minutes and still have given us a more coherent, emotionally effective movie.


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Bait 3D DVD Review (Kirk Haviland)

Bait 3D DVD 

Starring Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Alex Russell, Phoebe Tonkin and Julian McMahon

Written by Russell Mulcahy and John Kim (with additional writing by Shayne Armstrong, Duncan Kennedy, Shane Krause and Justin Monjo).

Directed by Kimble Rendall

From the Gold Coast of Australia Anchor Bay Entertainment brings us Bait 3D on DVD and Blu-Ray. The film stars a cast of rising stars from Australia including Xavier Samuel (Loved Ones, Twilight Saga: Eclipse), Sharni Vinson (Step Up 3D, You’re Next), Alex Russell (Chronicle) and Phoebe Tonkin (TV’s The Secret Circle, Tomorrow, When the War Began). The cast is further rounded out with some veteran presence in the form of Julian McMahon. The question remains with the overabundance of Shark based thrillers out there is Bait more part Jaws or Sharktopus?

After a gargantuan freak tsunami hits a sleepy beach community in Australia a group of survivors, including store staff Josh (Samuel) and Ryan (Russell), Josh’s former fiancée Tina (Vinson), Police Officer Todd and his daughter Jaimie (Tonkin), and the untrustworthy Doyle (McMahon) find themselves trapped inside a submerged grocery store. As they try to escape to safety they soon discover that there is a predator among them more deadly than the threat of drowning – multiple vicious great white sharks are lurking in the water. As the bloodthirsty sharks begin to pick the survivors off one by one, the group realizes that they must work together to find a way out without being eaten alive.

Bait 3D establishes from the beginning that this is not a serious thriller out to uphold the Jaws legacy. It clearly has its tongue firmly planted in cheek. Why the script went through six writers is beyond me as the dialogue is pedestrian and the “twist” obvious to anyone watching the film well before the people in the film discover it. There is a lot of the traditional paint by numbers in the story, but the thing that keeps its forward momentum is the camp factor allowing for some humorous sequences and some decent death scenarios. I say scenarios because the deaths themselves come at the hand of one of the worst realized sharks I’ve seen in a theatrical production (it is playing theatrically in Australia but will be direct to video in North America) and play for laughs not scares. The young cast does manage to represent themselves well here and it’s obvious as to which of these actors are the ones that are already making inroads in not only Australia but Hollywood as well. McMahon serves as senior statesman here and perfectly encapsulates the charming, smarmy guy you know you should never trust but you still do. The setting of the film is actually pretty ingenious and the physical set, set decoration, and physical effects all add to the sense of claustrophobia and urgency of the film. The CGI portions do let the film down considerably as they never appear realistic at any time. Sadly Bait would have been better served with a “Jaws the shark isn’t working” type scenario that would have forced them to get more creative.

Ultimately there is a lot of fun to be had with Bait 3D, while it will never win any awards it does enough that it could easily become a cult classic. While Bait 3D will not be for everybody, there will be a lot who hate it outright and will claim I am losing my mind, I still must give it a Recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Rue Morgue Cinemacabre (Toronto Underground Cinema) – The Loved Ones Review (Kirk Haviland)

Rue Morgue Cinemacabre at the Toronto Underground Cinema

The Loved Ones (2009)

Starring Xavier Samuel, Robin Mcleavy, Victoria Thane, Richard Wilson, Jessica MacNamee and John Brumpton

Written and Directed by Sean Byrne


Yes, it’s that time of the month once again, as the guys from Rue Morgue take over the confines of the Toronto Underground Cinema. As usual, all the familiar faces are there to greet me as we all prepare for the cinematic treat that is The Loved Ones. Unlike last month’s Rue Morgue presentation, I had seen The Loved Ones years before at the Midnight Madness showing as part of TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival for those who aren’t familiar). I’ve been singing its praises for years and a chance to see it once again projected on 35MM was a chance I could not pass up. After catching up with the Underground guys and Rue Morgue crew it was time for the film.

The Loved Ones opens with the unfortunate accident that will drive a wedge between Brent (Samuel) and his suffering mother. We fast-forward six months and meet Brent’s best mate, Jamie (Wilson in a very funny performance). Jamie is obsessed with Mia (MacNamee) and is elated when she says yes to going to the big dance with him. Meanwhile Lola (Mcleavy) has an obsession of her own, Brent. She finds out when she asks him to the dance that Brent has been dating Holly (Thaine) and that they are already going together. But we soon find out that Lola does not take rejection lightly, and she enlists her father (Brumpton) in kidnapping Brent and staging a school dance of her own in their home. Concurrently we see Jamie and Mia’s date, and Holly and Brent’s mom looking furiously around for Brent. Through the movie we come to see many things differently as characters come clearer into view. This all leads to a grisly end as things go completely awry with Lola’s plans and the others start to close in.

The Loved Ones is without a doubt one the best genre films of the last decade. A bold statement indeed, but also a true one. Samuel manages to convey a myriad of emotion in a role that has him silent for more than 50% of the film. His Brent is a sympathetic victim/hero, and in the process becomes the heart of the entire film. McLeavy is a revelation. Her Lola starts off as a shy, awkward teen that you really feel for, but then she flips the switch and becomes a menacing and vindictive sociopath. By the end of the film you are desperate for her comeuppance, and boy does it ever come! In fact the growth of most of the characters throughout the film is what truly sets the film apart. Even a supporting character like Mia has a reason for herself self-destructiveness that is revealed in the final moments of her story. Byrne’s script is tight and the direction is on point. He’s a real talent and someone to keep an eye on in the future.

The Loved Ones is loved very much by this writer. It finally looks to be getting a release this year, albeit a very limited one, so do yourself a favor and track it down. It is very gory in parts and ratchets up the suspense very tight, but if you are a genre fan this film is a must. The Loved Ones is a strong recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films and festivals in Toronto.

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