Home' Nova West : July 2011 Contents FILMS BY MARY O’DONOVAN
FILMS BY MARY O’DONOVAN
© NOVA JULY 2011
CAB AUDITED FOR INTEGRITY
★★★★★ so good ★★★★ really good ★★★ pretty good ★★ not so good ★ no good
SLEEPING BEAUTY ★★★
Australian director Jane Campion is the
mentor of Julie Leigh, the writer director of
Sleeping Beauty. However, if anyone had
asked me who I thought was Leigh’s mentor,
my money would have been on Paul Cox.
Sleeping Beauty has many of the hallmarks
of a Cox film, dealing in sexual power plays,
investigations of extreme and benign sexual
expression and adventurousness.
There is no doubting that Sleeping Beauty
is a beautiful film to look at – the set design
and cinematography are exquisite and, like
Cox, Leigh has created a film where Australia
is made to appear almost European and
exotic. Not a tourist landmark in sight and an
overlay of eroticism in every frame. This is no
mean feat, yet it is hard to grasp what exactly
the purpose of the film is.
Central to the film is Lucy (Emily
Browning), a young woman with whom it is
hard to sympathise. Even worse, it is difficult
to determine the nature of her various
relationships. She has an intimate non-sexual
relationship with a man called The Birdman,
but who exactly is he, and why does she
care? You can make a couple of guesses and
all of them have some validity, but do little to
further an understanding of character or plot.
Outside her relationship with Birdman,
Lucy comes across as a self sufficient, self
involved uni student, desperate for money
and experiences, no matter the consequences.
She has no fear of repercussions, nor interest
in exploring her own motivations and the
audience is left perplexed with her choices
and her ability to allow herself to be so
Lucy answers an advertisement in the uni
newspaper for a well paid waitressing job,
and the reason for the high pay rate is that
she, along with other pert young women, is
required to dress in lingerie and serve dinner
to a group of mainly old men. The most
distracting thing about this set piece is the
presence of the actress Benita Collings as one
of the dinner guests – she is a well known
former presenter of Play School.
After this dinner, Clara (Rachael Blake) the
organiser of these events, approaches Lucy to
participate in a more lucrative venture. She
explains to Lucy she will be drugged, she will
be visited by men, but not “penetrated”.
Lucy, her sense of adventure and
invulnerability intact, agrees to the
arrangement. It turns out that while she
sleeps, old men come to the room and fondle
her and sleep with her. The reason for this is
unclear. Is it an expression of power? Are they
grasping at youth? Is it their only opportunity
to feel a young woman’s skin against their
own flaccid and failing life?
The performances here are interesting.
Browning has youth and beauty on her side
and a certain sullen attitude which rings true
for her character, but she is given little to work
with to give us any depth of understanding of
Sleeping Beauty is a disturbing film, not
because of the sexual power plays, but just
because it’s hard to determine what we are
supposed to take away from it apart from some
beautiful images of a naked young woman. ●
NOVA MAGAZINE & LUNA ON SX are giving away 10 DOUBLE
PASSES to THE TREE OF LIFE (TBA). The impressionistic story of a
Midwestern family living through the 1950s, the film follows the life of eldest
son Jack from the innocence of childhood under the watchful eye of his
mother to the disillusionment of his adult years as he attempts to reconcile a
relationship with his father.
NOVA MAGAZINE & CINEMA PARADISO are giving away 10 DOUBLE
PASSES to BEAUTIFUL LIES (M). Fresh and funny romantic comedy
about a chatty hairdresser where she provides an endless stream of well-
meaning advice to her clients and friends and who concocts a plan to cheer up
her mother who is suffering from a serious case of the blues after having been
left by her husband.
NOVA MAGAZINE & CINEMA PARADISO are giving away 10 DOUBLE
PASSES to THE ILLUSIONIST (L’ILLUSIONNISTE) (PG). This
bittersweet homage to a fading music hall tradition sees an illusionist battered
by the seismic onslaught of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Only in the naiveté of a young
girl does his magic find a place in which it can flourish.
NOVA MAGAZINE & WINDSOR CINEMA are giving away 10 DOUBLE
PASSES to MOZART’S SISTER (PG). René Feret’s vivacious costume
drama about Mozart’s talented older sister Nannerl is a vivid depiction of
18th-century pre-revolutionary France. Alive with exuberantly performed
characters and bursting with the joy and power of music.
To be in the draw for these great freebies write the tickets of your choice and
your daytime phone number on the back of an envelope and send with a s.s .a .e . to:
NOVA MAGAZINE FILM COMPETITION, Suite 2, 544 William St, Mt Lawley WA 6050
DEADLINE: JULY 25
Answer the question on our homepage this month to be eligible for the draw.
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Nova Giveaways and Free Tickets online. Strictly one response per giveaway.
Visit www.novamagazine.com.au and click on the links.
long list of people who have been approached
by Coogan, decides to tag along.
So the two erstwhile friends head off
into the wilds of the UK visiting restaurants
and country houses on the list compiled by
Coogan’s girlfriend. Most of the travelling time
is made up in reading road signs and doing
impersonations. Michael Caine is obviously
one of their favourites and Rob Brydon’s take
on Caine is pretty impressive. Interspersed
with the food, the travel, the bickering and
the country houses, are phone calls home.
Brydon’s calls are to his wife and children,
while Coogan’s are desperate attempts to stay
connected to his girlfriend, while bonking
willing females he encounters on his travels.
Brydon, in interviews, has been at pains to
point out that although the characters in The
Trip have the same names as the two actors,
they are, in fact, characters. His point is that
he has more children than Brydon in the
film, and that Coogan’s real life relationship
is different from the way it is portrayed in the
That said, The Trip is an odd film –
and to be honest there are only so many
impersonations that are funny. Given that
neither Coogan nor Brydon is a food critic,
nor has anything interesting to say about the
food they are served, this all seems a bit of a
waste of talent and time.
I was perplexed by this for a while until,
in my research, I read a review entitled, “Not
as good as the TV series”. It turns out that
the film is a shortened version of a television
series and it has been cut down considerably
to be presented as a film. In the process,
much of the emotional heart has been lost.
So the lesson here is, television today is,
on the whole, better and more engaging than
many films and, as you have the choice with
The Trip, go with the TV series.
THE TRIP ★★
Director Michael Winterbottom often comes
up with interesting ideas for films (Welcome
to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People), but the
basis of The Trip is not as adventurous as
some of his other outings.
One of the films that Winterbottom made
is Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story which
starred Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. To
keep themselves and the other cast members
and crew amused, these two comedic actors
would do impersonations, mostly of other
actors. The fact that they are both good
mimics made these interactions pretty funny
(and many made the out takes of that film). It
should be said that although Brydon (Gavin
& Stacey) is not as well known as Coogan
outside the UK, most of his impersonations
are much better than those of his more
successful friend. This becomes increasingly
obvious during The Trip, when Coogan and
Brydon have impersonation competitions to
while away the travelling time.
The basis of The Trip is that Coogan has
been asked to travel around the UK and
write reviews of the best restaurants for The
Observer newspaper. Initially, his plan was to
travel with his American actress girlfriend, but
she is busy chasing her acting dream in the
USA. As a last resort, Coogan phones Brydon
to see if he’s free to join him. Brydon, after
finding out that he is definitely the last in a
PRESENTING THE BEST IN CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN AND WORLD CINEMA.
STARTS JUNE 30 at LUNA and LUNA ON SX
For sessions, check The West or go online to: www.lunapalace.com.au
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