A cover of the Vapor’s 1980 hit Turning Japanese, featuring Kirsten Dunst

Thursday, 27 April, 2017

Turning Japanese was originally recorded by British band, the Vapors, in 1980. While it is a tune everyone seems to know, Australia was one of the few countries where it reached number one on the singles charts.

Thirty-five, or so, years later, US actor Kirsten Dunst featured in a cover of the venerable one hit wonder. I think I’m drawn to her version of the song by the blue wig she wears.

Interestingly, the Vapors, who disbanded in 1982, reformed in 2016, not long after the rendition of their hit featuring Dunst was made.

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Trailer for Hidden Figures, the new Theodore Melfi film

Friday, 20 January, 2017

Hidden Figures is the latest feature from Theodore Melfi, who brought us St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray, and Melissa McCarthy, in 2014.

Here he explores the story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), an African American mathematician, who, during the lates 1950s and early 1960s, calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury, the United States’ first human spaceflight program.

Based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures opens in Australian cinemas on 16 February. See the trailer here.

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Hi #KirstenDunst, pleased to meet you, so do you like… stuff?

Monday, 6 October, 2014

I don’t about you, but if I had the chance to hang out with Kirsten Dunst, rather than asking to be tagged on, say, a social network that isn’t fun anymore, I’d take her up on another of the suggestions she makes…

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The Two Faces of January

Tuesday, 24 June, 2014

3 stars
The Two Faces of January scene

Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a young American who lives in Athens, and works as a tour guide, gets far more than he bargained for after Colette (Kirsten Dunst), the younger wife of US financial adviser Chester (Viggo Mortensen), catches his eye, in The Two Faces of January, trailer, the debut feature of Iranian filmmaker Hossein Amini.

As it happens, Chester, who is on the run from aggrieved investors in the US, has also accidentally killed a private detective (David Warshofsky) who was trailing him. Seeing what might be an opportunity to come closer to Colette, Rydal offers to help the couple, but soon finds he is in just as much danger as they are.

Based on the 1964 novel of the same name, written by Patricia Highsmith, “The Two Faces of January”, with its spectacular Mediterranean back drops, makes a promising start, as but as the story progresses the sense that the three leads are merely going through the motions, while lurching from one crisis to another, only grows.

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On the Road

Wednesday, 26 September, 2012

3 stars

Travel is a recurring theme in the work of Walter Salles (“Foreign Land”, “The Motorcycle Diaries”), so it is of little surprise therefore that the Brazilian filmmaker’s latest feature, On the Road (trailer), would be an adaptation of one of the best known, and influential, road trip novels of the twentieth century.

Based on the partly autobiographical book of the same name, written by US writer and poet Jack Kerouac in 1951, “On the Road” depicts the travels of Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young writer struggling to find inspiration, across the US during the late 1940s and early 1950s, and his quest to meet Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund).

Being carefree and free spirited, and married to a beautiful young woman, Marylou (Kristen Stewart), in Sal’s eyes Dean is the epitome of all things cool. Over the course of the next few years Sal and Dean undertake journeys around the country with other friends, including Carlo Marx (Tom Sturridge), and Ed Dunkel (Danny Morgan).

On the Road still

Sal hopes he can find the direction he lacks in the maverick Dean, but begins to reassess his opinion of the person he once considered a hero, after Dean leaves Marylou to marry another woman, Camille (Kirsten Dunst), and then subsequently abandons her, while leaving Sal, who is stricken with dysentery, stranded in Mexico.

While I haven’t read Kerouac’s novel, I suspect followers of his work will be disappointed by Salles’ adaptation. “On the Road” may be a beautifully filmed depiction of travel for the sake of travel, and the search for self, that evokes an enviable sense of wanderlust and a rebellious yearning for complete freedom, but is lacking when it comes to substance.

We all enjoy telling tales about the places we’ve been, but nine times out of ten we’re also the only person interested, and this is how the sometimes rambling “On the Road” comes across. A loose collection of individual, yet interconnected, travellers anecdotes that sound interesting, but don’t really make much of a point.

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Melancholia

Monday, 19 December, 2011

4 stars

The premise

Melancholia (trailer), a sci-fi drama, the latest feature of Danish film director Lars von Trier (“The Boss of It All”, “Antichrist”), is the story about a planet of the same name that threatens to collide with Earth, and the responses of two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst), and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), to the potentially cataclysmic event.

The story is told in two parts, named after each sister, starting with Justine’s wedding reception, and her struggle to hold herself together despite her almost debilitating depression, while the second is of Claire’s determination to maintain her composure as the itinerant, though beautiful, giant blue planet draws ever closer to Earth.

The play

Justine’s wedding reception, held at the sprawling rural estate of Claire, and husband John (Kiefer Sutherland), is a disaster. Justine, and new husband Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), arrive two hours late, while insults her divorced parents, Gaby (Charlotte Rampling), and Dexter (John Hurt) trade publicly, do little for her state of mind.

Justine drifts in and out of the moment, almost unable to cope with all the attention, while her increasingly erratic behaviour throughout the evening sees her marriage implode. Sometime later she returns to Claire and John’s property, now severely depressed, in a bid to sort herself out, though Claire is now distracted by her dread of Melancholia.

John, also an astronomer, insists the rogue planet poses no danger, and eagerly anticipates the research opportunities its approach presents, though his assurances do little however to calm Claire. Justine, meanwhile having significantly recovered, now finds herself comforting Claire, even though she is certain Melancholia will destroy Earth.

The wrap

“Melancholia” is an intricately, beautifully, crafted film whose every frame is a work of art, especially those of the meandering planet. Its inspiration partially came about while von Trier was undergoing treatment for depression, and is based on the notion that sufferers remain calm, even if under enormous pressure, as they innately expect the worst to happen.

The sometimes surreal, metaphorical, narrative will however confound some, while there is little effort, or intention for that matter, to be scientifically accurate, particularly in regards to celestial mechanics. If nothing else though, this is a film worth seeing for the performances of Dunst and Gainsbourg alone, which are nothing less than spellbinding.

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How To Lose Friends And Alienate People

Friday, 7 November, 2008

3 stars

Based on the autobiographical book of the same title, How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, written by British journalist Toby Young.

Sidney (not Toby) Young is a brash writer intent on “shaking things up” when he takes a job with New York magazine Sharps.

It’s funny, in a twisted sort of way, how such resolves have a way of turning themselves back on the person determined to do the shaking up, even if that means laughing at the misfortune, the mostly self inflicted misfortune that is, of someone else.

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