American films about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have usually failed to connect with audiences. Director Peter Berg’s adaptation of US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s memoir Lone Survivor is an exception, raking in big money at the US box office: it seems the secret to mainstream success is no-holds-barred patriotism. The true story of a failed four-man mission in 2005 to assassinate a Taliban leader in Afghanistan, this film is smarter than it looks. Which, to be honest, isn’t all that hard thanks to a lot of extremely overt US patriotism. (It opens with a real-life Navy SEAL training montage and ends with a terrible soft-rock version of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’.)
First, the bad news: this reworking on the 1981 classic does not take the same approach as that film and depicts quasi-underage love (he was 17; she was 15) as some kind of dangerous mental affliction that will burn down both homes and lives with its unstoppable passion. For starters, both our endless lovers here – small town mechanic and country club valet David (Alex Pettyfer) and rich girl Jade (Gabriella Wilde), who’s spent the last few years in a social isolation chamber after the death of her brother Chris – are firmly of age, with the film’s opening scene showing the pair of them graduating from high school.
Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a high school student in modern-day France where just about every book they study has some bearing on her personal life. Something a little less relevant is her peers’ obsession with boys. She acts interested but her heart isn’t in it – and then one glance at a mysterious blue-haired woman (Léa Seydoux) is enough to send her heart (and other regions) a-flutter. As Adele explores her attraction to women, her path and Emma’s crosses again and they become friends, then more than friends, and if you were wondering what “more than friends” actually means, there’s a ten minute sex scene just to make it clear.
When Texas rodeo cowboy and electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) wakes up in hospital with thirty days to live, he’s not happy. As a (generally) straight non-junkie, HIV is not something he’s supposed to have in 1985. His friends promptly shun him and trash his house. The treatment available does nothing. So he does what a hustler does – he pays an orderly to steal him a supply of AZT, a drug that, maybe, might help.
The first show of a national reunion tour could be a cause for concern – will they still have that spark? Hunters and Collectors are an iconic Aussie band with a rich history, and there is an awful lot for them to live up to – and 1998 seems far away now. British India opened the show well. I like these guys more every time I see them and I hope they gained new fans. They deserved to.
Give the People What They Want is the latest release from funk and soul queen Sharon Jones. Opening with ‘Retreat!’, this album sounds original, fresh and, no pun intended, sounds just what the people want. Thundering along like a Bamboos record, the majority of these songs tracks are written by the rhythm section of the band, and from looking at the liner notes of the instrumentation on each track, it would have taken quite a while to piece this together.
The Jezabels are back with their second full-length album. Yay! Following on their debut Prisoner, The Brink follows on with the classic sound that the band has created throughout their career thus far. Opening with the title track, the guitar drones, the drums thunder and Hayley sings ‘I never found someone’. Initially this lyric in the context of the song had me confused; after a few more listens, it makes sense.
If I’m completely honest with you, I don’t know too much about East India Youth, but after a few listens to his debut album Total Strife Forever that has just been released, when he hits the road to tour the album, I’ll definitely be looking to see if he is coming to Geelong. I don’t know whether the title is a reference or pun on the Foals record Total Life Forever, but it made me think how awesome that album is anyway.
Biopics that attempt to cover the whole life of their subject often end up just skimming the surface. It’s just not possible to fit an entire life into a feature-length film, even if a big chunk of that life was spent in a prison cell. This follows the life of Mandela (Idris Elba), starting from his days as a young lawyer in South Africa. Initially more interested in the ladies than in revolution, he gradually became more involved in the anti-apartheid movement, first following the non-violent model set out by Gandhi in India, then moving towards armed struggle when the regime cracked down.
The year is 1987. Adele Wheeler (Kate Winslet) is a single mom living in a rural home with her 13-year-old son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith). Depressed ever since her husband left her (not because she misses him, we’re told, but because she “loves love”), she now rarely leaves the house; so it’s just bad luck that she’s shopping with Henry when a dodgy type with a bloodstained t-shirt comes up to them and tells them that their giving him a lift “needs to happen”.