Thursday, May 29, 2014. Welcome to our Mid-Year Bumper - weekly editions No 899 to 903 covering films releasing from May 29 to June 26. Next edition July 3. Box office will be uploaded twice weekly as usual.

OPENING MAY 29:
Movie review:
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
(US, 2014 Dir: Seth MacFarlane. Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris. "Today's sensibilities and yesterday's reality is the quirky juxtaposition for Seth MacFarlane's 19th century western romp, filled with expletives, farts, sheep jokes and a frontier cast ... It could have been funnier and some of the sheep penis jokes could have been circumcised, but there is an appealing cumulative effect to the nonsense," says Louise.

Latest:
NEWS: Gossip-free zone
* Cannes 2014 winners - David Gulpilil wins best actor in Un Certain Regard;
* Melb Film Fest 2014 - first glance at the program;

BOX OFFICE: Reports & charts every Monday & Thursday (after 4pm)

COMPETITIONS
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET DVD
Win one of 10 copies of The Wolf of Wall Street on DVD, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie, courtesy Roadshow Entertainment. Available to own and rent on blu-ray, DVD and digital now. (Please note: prizes will be distributed in July.)

Movie review:
THE TRIP TO ITALY
(UK, 2013) Dir : Michael Winterbottom. Stars Steve Coogan, Rob Bryden, Rosie Fellner. "The scrumptious combo of good food, beautiful Italy and the unbridled wit of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon makes this a compelling affair ... Everything soars - the improvised patter, the left of field humour, the lunacy of the movie star improvisations and the combative, easy relationship between the two men," says Louise.

Movie review:
MALEFICENT
(US, 2014) Dir. Robert Stromberg. Stars Angelina Jolie, Juno Temple, Elle Fanning."In a word, Maleficent is magical, with Angelina Jolie hypnotic as the betrayed fairy from whose perspective this re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty is told. Jolie has never looked more stunning – big eyes, ruby lips, porcelain skin and chiselled cheekbones – her face simply glowing and glowering from a range of emotions to match the fairy tale’s narrative," says Louise.

Movie review:
UNDER THE SKIN
(UK, 2013) Dir: Jonathan Glazer. Stars Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, Dougie McConnell. " ... a nonsensical and impenetrable scenario that intrigues as a sensory experience with an alien seductress as our guide but frustrates in the final analysis. Glazer's work is clearly an ambitious and moody interpretation that starts well but ends up as submerged as the naked prey that descend to oblivion in the shiny, black depths," says Louise.

OPENING JUNE 5:
Movie review:
EDGE OF TOMORROW
(US, 2014) Dir: Christopher McQuarrie. Stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Lara Pulver, Jeremy Piven, Marianne Jean-Baptiste. "An audacious concept, superbly executed, this grand scale sci-fi thriller will knock your socks off, combining white-knuckle tension with exhilarating action and a sense of humour... This is a role like no other for Tom Cruise, whose protagonist endearingly goes from smarmy coward to selfless hero. As for Emily Blunt, who could have predicted her transformation into a combat-goddess?" says Louise.

Movie review:
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
(US, 2014) Dir: Josh Boone. Stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Not Wolff, Laura Dern. "A myriad of colours and textures are examined through a multi-faceted kaleidoscope in this teenage love story in which truths about bottled up stars, puddles of tears and things that don't happen as they should, play out in a heart-wrenching journey. Within the subject matter of mortality, love and loss comes a touching tale about first love complete with equal portions of joy and angst and elevated by two stunning performances by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort," says Louise.

Movie review:
GRACE OF MONACO
(US, 2014) Dir: Olivier Dahan. Stars Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey, Paz Vega, Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi. "Melodramatic from the outset, Grace of Monaco plays out like a sob-stricken soapie in which the former Hollywood star's acting career, relationships and reality are all treated in the same breathless, unbelievable manner. Rivalling Oliver Hirchbiegel's 2013 Diana for Razzie honours, Olivier Dahan's film does not sing like his acclaimed 2007 La Vie en Rose, despite its classy ingredients," says Louise.

OPENING JUNE 12:
Movie reviews:
AROUND THE BLOCK
(US/Aust, 2013) Doir: Sarah Spillane. Stars Christina Ricci, Hunter Page-Lochard, Mark Coles Smith, Jack Thompson, Damian Walshe-Howling, Daniel Henshaw, Matt Nable. "There are no false notes here, and there is no whitewash, either (if you'll pardon the expression); it's a good story well told and beautifully performed, supported by a contempo soundtrack and seamless design. Australian cinema at its best," says Andrew. "All the cast is excellent with special mention to Matt Nable, whose minimalist performance as Liam's criminal father is outstanding, providing the film's emotional highlight," says Louise.

Movie review:
THE FACE OF LOVE
(US, 2013) Dir: Arie Posin. Stars Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams. "Love may be lovelier the second time around, but it has never been as complicated as this unusual love story in which the past and the present are juxtaposed at impossible angles. Two top flight performances from Annette Bening and Ed Harris counter any qualms we may have about the preposterous premise," says Louise.

Movie reviews:
GOOD VIBRATIONS
(UK/Ireland, 2012) Dir: Lisa Barros D'Sa, Glenn Leyburn. Stars Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Liam Cunningham, Dylan Moran. "Set on a backdrop of 70s Belfast replete with bombs and conflict, passion for life is the central theme for this offbeat and up-beat film in which punk and new wave music unites the un-uniteable," says Louise. "There are many flourishes in this film, from visual playfulness to devices that rapidly move us through story elements, to touches of magic realism," says Andrew.

OPENING JUNE 19:
Movie reviews:
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY
(UK, 2014) Dir. Hossein Amini. Stars Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac. "This is a tale filled with secrets and shadows with all the elements coming together serendipitously - good storytelling, layered performances and edge of seat tension to keep us guessing," says Louise. "It's the three central performances that define this thriller, with the two men as the 'two faces' - the duality that they represent. (Janus was the god of beginnings and endings for the Romans)," says Andrew.

Movie reviews:
GALORE
(Aust, 2013) Dir: Sophie Hyde. Stars Ashleigh Cummings, Toby Wallace, Lily Sullivan, Maya Stange, Aliki Matangi. "Galore may not tell a new story, but the setting and context is well described, drawing us into that arc of teenage angst, when sex and love are confused and risk-taking flies perilously like an out-of-control kite," says Louise. "While I'm not a fan of either [the] style nor the characters and themes on display here, I do recognise the quality of the work from all concerned," says Andrew.

Movie review:
FRANK
(UK, Ireland, 2013) Dir: Lenny Abrahamson. Stars Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhall, Domhnall Gleeson, Scoot McNairy. "Expect the unexpected in this extremely strange and off-the-wall tale in which music (to use the term loosely) bonds a group of creative types who see the world through their own misshapen prism of expression. As for Fassbender, it's a masterful performance, creating a tangible persona using his voice and body language. It's bizarre, unpredictable and strangely appealing with a unique flavour all of its own," says Louise.

Movie review:
GABRIELLE
(Can, 2013) Dir: Louise Archambault. Stars Gabrielle Marion-Rivardc Alexandre Landry, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin. "Music is the emotive backdrop on which this moving portrait of a disabled woman eager to explore the boundaries of her capabilities and sexual desires is set. There's an inherent simplicity about the emotions expressed in Louise Archambault's uplifting film and the raw honesty with which the characters (a beguiling blend of abled and disabled actors) confront their issues, pierces through the artifice," says Louise.

Movie review:
ERNEST & CELESTINE
(Belg/France, 2012) Dir: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner Voices of Forest Whitaker, Lambert Wilson, Pauline Brunner, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall. "The beauty of this adaptation of Belgian author and illustrator Gabrielle Vincent's characters is its sheer simplicity and sincerity. Oozing with heart, beyond its hand-drawn smudged watercolour animation, is a stunning depiction of two parallel worlds in which the unlikely friends of bear and mouse live," says Louise.

UPCOMING FILMS
[Coming in August, And So It Goes, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. "The easy going charms of Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton blend beautifully in this discerningly funny rom-com with a pedigree," says Louise. ]
Calendar of films releasing in June

NEW TRAILERS
Charlie's Country, stars David Gulpilil;
The Lunchbox, stars Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui;
The Hundred-Foot Journey, stars Helen Mirren, Charlotte Le Bon, Rohan Chand ;
The Two Faces of January, stars Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac;
Sex Tape, stars Sex Tape, stars Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel;
The Jersey Boys, stars Christopher Walken, Freya Tingley, Francesca Eastwood;

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)

NEW DVDS (MAY 29):
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey. " .. an often unflinching and incisive look into greed and how it corrupts us," says Andrew.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
Stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman. "The film is saturated by angst and irony; its humour evolving naturally from the precarious and desperate situations in which Llewyn Davis finds himself," says Louise.

NEW DVDS (JUNE 5):
LONE SURVIVOR
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana. "Apart from the minor irritant of hand held camerawork in some places, the film is intense and often harrowing," says Andrew.

NEW DVDS (JUNE 12):
MANDELA - LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
Stars Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, Tony Kgoroge. " .. never gets bogged down by the enormity of its task or becomes overly earnest. It's a powerhouse of a film," says Louise.

NYMPHOMANIAC
Stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman. ". controversial, provocative, sexually explicit and terminally long film," says Louise.

ARE WE OFFICIALLY DATING?
Stars Stars Zac Efron, Imogen Poots. "..ticked all the right boxes for a date movie in his debut film, delivering an amiable romcom endowed with romance, penis-humour and M-rated sex," says Louise.

LAST VEGAS
Stars Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline. "Played for laughs, director Jon Turteltaub works every predictable scenario and the not so funny jokes about ageing, dying, infidelity and sexual prowess are thrust at us like an unwieldy javelin that flies through the air and keeps coming," says Louise.

NEW DVDS (JUNE 19)
WINTER'S TALE
Stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith. "Problematic from the outset, this melodrama about destiny, chance and connections trips over its own self importance," says Louise.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR
Stars Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos. "It may be overshadowed by its controversial and graphic sex scenes, but the passion runs far beyond the sheets," says Louise.

NEW DVDS (JUNE 26)
LE WEEKEND
Stars Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldlum. "Disarmingly truthful with a bittersweet centre," says Louise.

TRACKS
Stars Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Emma Booth. "A real triumph against the odds - just as was Robyn's journey," says Andrew.

Competition winners:
THE TRIP TO ITALY
To win double inseason passes to The Trip to Italy, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, courtesy Madman, we asked: Where in Italy would you choose to break up with your partner and why (why there, not why break up)? Maria Cristina Arganese (ACT): At one of the active volcanoes. Why not go out with a bang!

AUSTRALIAN FILMS
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 (pic) and dozens more. Over 500 films.

Travelfile:
RITZ-CARLTON, HONG KONG - CONTEMPO AND SKY HIGH
Shortly after its first anniversary, the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, welcomed Andrew L. Urban and Louise Keller for 24 hours of indulgence. Unlike others in the famous chain, with their English gentleman's club ambiance, this one is ultra modern and ultra high ... the highest hotel in the world.

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