Welcome to our 781st weekly edition; Thursday, February 23, 2012

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Movie reviews:
(US, 2011) Dir: Stephen Daldry. Stars Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Zoe Caldwell, Max Von Sydow, John Goodman, Viola Davis, Geoffrey Wright. "Eric Roth has crafted a wonderful screenplay from Jonathan Safran Foer's novel that reveals the vulnerable inner voice of the young boy who not only loses his father, but bears a heavy burden of guilt," says Louise. "Daldry honed his prowess for stories about boys on a mission with his worldwide hit, Billy Elliot (2000); here, the stakes are different but the need for audiences to feel the film is again paramount," says Andrew.

* Julia Overton awarded Stanley Hawes;
* Aus short wins at Berlin - again;
* Famous filmmakers to make Sydney famous;
* Over 1 million 'visit' online French film fest - most from China;
* Anime voice stars at Gold Coast Fest;

Twice weekly reports & charts.
Weekend, February 16-19: Not even bad reviews hindered This Means War from a decent opening weekend, with $1.95 M on 242 screens (avg $8,080); The Grey opened with $785,722 on 150 screens. The bottom six films in the top 20 all grossed between $109,000 and $195,000 and the top 20 dropped 19% to $11.34 M.

Win one of 10 copies of The Whistleblower on DVD, courtesy Hopscotch Entertainment. Stars Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener). Available to rent and own on DVD and Blu-ray from February 22.

Movie reviews:
(US/Aust, 2011) Dir: Gary McKendry. Stars Robert De Niro, Clive Owen, Jason Statham. "It's an extraordinary (and almost plausible) story, and we can only wish that the filmmakers had told it better . a great cast and plenty of tension, action and gunfire, but unless you know the basic story it is rather confusing, jumpy and jumbled," says Andrew. "Fascinating but often frustrating, this Australian co-production from the producers of Tomorrow When The War Began, rips along at a frenetic pace with edge-of-seat thrills as the action hots up, but loses its sizzle by a jumpy, clumsy screenplay and direction," says Louise.

Movie review:
(France/Belgium/UK, 2011) Dir: Julie Gavras. Stars Isabella Rossellini, William Hurt, Joanna Lumley, Simon Callow. " .. while it aims to be funny and charming in equal measure, this drama about coping with the inevitable restraints and realities of getting older, trips up on its good intentions," says Louise.

Movie reviews:
(US/UK/France, 2012) Dir: Baltasar Kormákur. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale. "Wahlberg and the rest of the excellently chosen cast keep us engaged, even though the screenplay and direction are full of holes and contrivances," says Andrew.

Movie review:
(US, 2012) Dir: Heitor Dhalia. Stars Amanda Seyfried, Emily Wickersham, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley."There are plenty of red herrings in this competently made and engaging (but run of the mill) thriller with Seyfried grabbing our attention as she follows leads as if treading on stepping stones over a treacherous river," says Louise.

Movie reviews:
(China, 2011) Dir. Doze Niu Chen-Zer. Stars Vicki Zhao, Shu Qi, Ethan Ruan, Mark Chau, Amber Kuo. "All the performances are excellent, which no doubt helped get the film into the prestigious Berlin Film Festival (2011)," says Andrew.

Short Films:
Alethea Jones, from Melbourne won Tropfest's 20th Birthday competition. Jones's film "Lemonade Stand" was awarded first prize by a judging panel of Oscar Winners - Geoffrey Rush, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett - together with Toni Collette and Asher Keddie.

[Coming soon, Headhunters, stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Aksel Hennie. "Like a good magician, director Morten Tyldum attracts our attention with a sleight of hand as he prepares the ground for a much edgier film," says Andrew. "Art theft, adultery and murder are some of the ingredients of this super Norwegian thriller that never stops pulling metaphorical rabbits out of the hat," says Louise.]
Films releasing soon....

Preview trailers of the latest films on your own screen:
Carnage, stars Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz;
Thirst, stars Victoria Haralabidou, Myles Pollard;
The Amazing Spiderman, stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone;

At a glance:
TOP 20
Short and sweet (or not) opinions on the most popular current releases. An easy reference for choosing which movie to see tonight . or tomorrow . or right now! (Occasionally we also slip in a few of the editors' favourites if they don't make the top 20...)

Stars Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton. "As fight films go, Warrior is as gutsy as they get, with not just a big cash prize at stake but a whole family," says Andrew. "Emotions run far deeper than the bruises, cuts and scars from punishing rounds in the ring in this towering, punchy film in which redemption is the key theme," says Louise.

Stars Milla Jovovich, Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson, Orlando Bloom, Juno Temple. "Director Anderson has injected a great sense of fun in this visually sumptuous adventure, making it a fun jaunt that flies sky-high, while being grounded by its mantra of All for One; One for All," says Louise.

Stars Rachel Weisz, Monica Belucci, Benedict Cumberbatch. "It's a story that should be told and Rachel Weisz's knockout performance is filled with integrity," says Louise.

Competition winners:
To win one of 15 fabulous movie prizes celebrating Urban Cinefile's 15th Anniversary, we asked: In a remake of which movie would you cast yourself in which role and why? Prizes comprise double passes to The Grey, Any Questions for Ben, The Hunter DVD plus a Movie Voucher, courtesy Icon, Roadshow Films, Madman and AMV.

Every Australian film we have ever reviewed (film / DVD / video release), or have reported from the set, or featured in any way, is listed here, going back to films made even before the launch of Urban Cinefile, such as The Piano, Romper Stomper, Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and dozens more. Over 500 films.

TRAVELFILE - our new section:
Gruyères (population 300) has a dark secret which only the most curious - or well informed - will discover: the gallery of H. R. Giger, Oscar winning designer of the alien in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and other things similarly subversive, erotic, fantastic and out of this world. Andrew L. Urban reports.

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