Italian Film Festival: a bit late


Marina Play Trailer

True story of beloved singer, songwriter and accordionist, Rocco Granata, from his early life as an immigrant in Belgium to his emergence as a worldwide musical phenomenon with his 1959 song Marina, one of the biggest international hits of that era.1948 Calabria, in southern Italy, poor local worker Toto Granata leaves his wife Ida and two children to work in the Belgian mines, promising to return wealthier. But like countless others, instead of returning after a few years as planned, his family are forced to join him and adjust to a new life as immigrants in a foreign country. It is here Toto’s only son Rocco discovers his sole joys lie in young love and the music that will eventually immortalise him.

☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Show Timings


Wednesday 17 Sep 7:00pm

Wednesday 17 Sep 7:15pm

Saturday 20 Sep 6:45pm

Sunday 21 Sep 1:45pm

Monday 22 Sep 8:45pm

Wednesday 24 Sep 1:45pm

Friday 3 Oct 1:45pm

Friday 3 Oct 9:00pm

Saturday 11 Oct 4:15pm


Wednesday 17 Sep 7:00pm

Friday 19 Sep 1:00pm

Friday 19 Sep 6:00pm

Wednesday 1 Oct 1:00pm

Saturday 4 Oct 6:00pm

Tuesday 7 Oct 6:00pm

Saturday 11 Oct 1:00pm


Wednesday 17 Sep 7:00pm

Wednesday 17 Sep 8:30pm

Thursday 18 Sep 4:30pm

Friday 26 Sep 7:00pm

Monday 29 Sep 4:30pm

Thursday 2 Oct 9:30pm

Thursday 9 Oct 4:30pm

Saturday 11 Oct 9:00pm


Monday 22 Sep 1:30pm

Sunday 28 Sep 4:00pm

Tuesday 30 Sep 9:00pm

Thursday 2 Oct 1:30pm

Sunday 5 Oct 6:30pm

Thursday 9 Oct 8:45pm

Sunday 12 Oct 4:00pm


Wednesday 24 Sep 6:30pm

Friday 26 Sep 1:30pm

Tuesday 7 Oct 1:30pm

Wednesday 8 Oct 6:30pm

Friday 10 Oct 6:30pm

Lots more films below the fold Continue reading

Israel Film Festival

It is remarkable – non? – that, with the vast amounts spent on arts marketing it’s so hard to know what great arts events are on, where they’re on and whether you should go to them ahead of other arts events. In other words that it’s so hard not just to ensure that the information turns up on some feed of yours in a form that’s easily accessible and comprehensible, but also in a form that allows you to ignore dross, unless you want dross.

As a small contribution to solving this problem (with larger contributions in the wings), as you know Troppo hosts film festival highlights in a form that makes it easy for you to identify when and where good films are on. Here’s the Israeli Film Festival films that score around four stars or more from decent independent reviewers.

What’s there not to like?

Top Picks

A deeply compassionate depiction of the intricate and complex relationship between Jews and Arabs in the late 1980s, based on Sayed Kashua’s bestselling novels Second Person Singular and Dancing Arabs. Leaving his Arab home town of Tira to attend a prestigious Jewish boarding school, Eyad faces a dilemma: can he be accepted in this new environment without sacrificing his sense of self and culture? Though this opportunity suggests a positive future, Eyad struggles among Israeli Jews, feeling shame at simple things like not knowing how to use silverware, what music to listen to, and not pronouncing Hebrew correctly.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
This multi award-winning comedy is set in 1991 during the immigration wave from Russia to Israel and depicts one family’s hilarious experience through a video recording when their aunt dies in-flight causing all kinds of problems with entry paperwork!
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
From around the world, a group of thirty somethings return to their homeland of Israel to attend a mutual friend’s wedding with dramas forcing them to reexamine their relationships and desires.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
Zohara decides to travel to her estranged sister’s wedding, but on the way becomes an accomplice in a young Bedouin woman’s desperate escape from an arranged marriage.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆ Vox Magazine
Show Timings:
Aidan Bloom is a 35-year-old man who finds himself at major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family. A struggling actor, father and husband, he is still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life. He winds up trying to home school his two children, when his father can no longer afford to pay for private education and the only available public school is on its last legs. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn’t find.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
Two men, spy and handler, whom history insists must be adversaries, forge an unexpected trust and friendship. A Palestinian in Ramallah, Mosab Hassan Yousef, whose father is a Hamas leader, grows up angry and ready to fight Israel. Arrested for smuggling guns at the age of 17, he’s interrogated by the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, and sent to prison. But shocked by Hamas’ ruthless tactics in the prison and the organization’s escalating campaign of suicide bombings outside, Mosab astonishingly agrees to spy for Israel. Focusing on the complex relationship with his handler, The Green Prince is a gripping account of terror, betrayal, and unthinkable choices, along with a friendship that defies all boundaries
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆ The Guardian
Show Timings:

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The best of Melbourne’s Spanish Film Festival

You know the drum. There’s a film festival on and these are the films that rate four stars or more.
In 1966, John Lennon was determined to leave the Beatles to become an actor, and arrives in Almería to shoot ‘How I Won the War’. Antonio, a school teacher in the small Spanish town of Albacete, learns that Lennon is visiting and decides to undertake the journey to meet his hero. On his way, Antonio meets two runaways; Juanjo, a 16-year-old boy who is escaping his home, and Belén, a 20-year-old pregnant girl reluctantly planning to go home to her mother. Together they travel to reach a destination where they will learn more about themselves and one another than they could have imagined.
☆☆☆☆ View Auckland
Show Timings:
After losing his mother to senseless violence, 12- year-old Lucas embarks on a brave journey to meet the grandmother he never knew. But the graceful, elderly Martina has no idea Lucas is on his way-she is terminally ill, and after thirteen years has decided to return to the region where she spent happy times with her husband. During his travels, Lucas meets up with Kayemó, a young man with a money problem and a gun, who reluctantly agrees to accompany him to his destination. Together, Lucas and Kayemó will discover there is only one destiny, the one you choose for yourself.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
Diego, a young and successful photographer, lives comfortably in the glamorous but shallow and excessive world of fashion. His deeply committed partner Fabrizio works as a paediatrician. However, Diego is not ready to commit to their relationship…until a tragic accident turns his world upside down; Fabrizio is now in a coma. Unexpectedly, and right at this inopportune time, Diego’s estranged son Armando shows up. Both of them have to adapt to each other; Armando to the unknown, homosexual world of his father, and Diego to the closed attitude of his teenage son.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
Claudia has grown up alone for almost her entire life. She fends for herself, living in a small room in a run-down neighborhood of Guadalajara. One day, she falls ill with appendicitis and winds up in hospital. In the bed next to her is Marta, a woman with four children and an endless lust for life, in spite of her terminal illness. Each of her children are very distinct from one another, but all love her profoundly. Claudia is gradually drawn into the family unit, forming a special bond with each one of them and filling a long-empty void in her life. As Marta’s illness advances, Claudia takes on a role within the family, keeping Marta company on regular hospital visits, accompanying the children to school, helping around the house, and even going on holiday with them.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
In order to escape from the squalid barrio in which they live, young Guatemalan teens Juan, Sara and Samuel make the decision to attempt the 1,200 mile-long arduous border crossing into “The Golden Cage”, i.e. USA, via Mexico in search of a better life. In order to blend in with the group and protect herself from the harm a woman can suffer on the journey, Sara initially disguises herself as a boy named Oswaldo. Not long after their departure, the group encounter Chauk, an Tzotzil Indian who speaks virtually no Spanish. Despite Juan’s fervent and passionate opposition, Sara insists they allow Chauk to join the gang. A harsh road follows as the four children show inspiring bravery in the face of relentless danger and obstacles, both natural and man made.
☆☆☆☆ Eye For Film
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
Paula is desperately in love with Jorge, a once divorced literary genius who keeps his feelings held close to his heart. Jorge is nominated to win a prominent literary award, but is only eligible if he completes his current novel. Much to Paula’s dismay, he decides to spend some months living away in his lakeside cottage to complete his writing. Although she accepts the move, Jorge’s lack of passion wears on Paula’s mind, and the limits of her loyalty begin to present themselves. She gradually loses interest in the relationship and gains enthusiasm for her own writing and her compelling thesis supervisor. Her withdrawal initiates a reversal, sparking Jorge’s desire for her and a relationship tug-of war is initiated.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:
After a relationship break-up and being fired from his TV job, Siminiani embarks for India in search of material for a new feature. Anticipating a renaissance of his life, he travels from Delhi to Calcutta, with stops in various striking locations, both urban and rural. As he desperately seeks deep connections between his past and present, he decides he needs a female companion. But when he realizes that she is back in Madrid, his Indian soul searching comes to an abrupt end, and a new journey commences back in Spain.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:

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French Film Festival: Melbourne Edition

As the festival is now upon us in Melbourne anyway, I’m sticking it up the front of Troppo for a while for your delectation. Below is a timetable of the French Film Festival in Melbourne together with a table of the films rating better than most. I hope it helps you get to see a film. And if you want to find the films in cities other than Melbourne, then feel free to hightail it to the festival website.

Top Picks

Friends from France ☆☆☆☆
Going Away ☆☆☆☆
Jules and Jim ☆☆☆☆
Me, Myself and Mum ☆☆☆☆
Our Heroes Died Tonight ☆☆☆☆
The 400 Blows ☆☆☆☆☆
Venus in Fur ☆☆☆☆

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What’s on? A Troppo Initiative starting with the British Film Festival

This image came up on a Google search for “What’s On”. It’s from The Central Tavern at Springfield Lakes, wherever that is. Seems nice enough, the cocktails can be very red by the looks of things, though there does seem to be quite a breeze blowing there. But I digress.

I’ve complained before about the strange state of the world. On the one hand we can set up fabulously useful markets for stuff on eBay and Amazon where you can not only find just what you’re looking for (if it’s available) but are also made aware of things that, based on what you’ve previously bought or liked, you might like, but you can’t get the same service for events on around you. And here the market for events is divided into the heavily marketed standard fare – mainstream films, and Big Arts for instance – and the not so much. Of this there’s what you might call ‘mainstream arthouse’ which is also heavily marketed, and then there are lots of other events like festivals where there are once off events. And here you’re at the mercy of the marketers of the festivals. For instance the British Film Festival started last night and had a film on that it said was pretty swish.  The reviews say it’s pretty horrible, but you have to do a bit of work to find that out.  True, with Google, it’s much less work than it used to be, but then there are a lot of events on. And I would check out perhaps one per cent of those events.

Meanwhile the government which should be in the business of funding public goods is nevertheless in the business of subsidising private goods.  It subsidises the Art Gallery to further its own interests and feather it’s own nest, and the Recital Centre, and the ABC and the Opera and so on. They’re all taking to the internet with their cool new apps. But that isn’t solving the problem, but rather replicating it. Why? Because us users continue to receive a service that’s fragmented which wastes our time and misleads us with marketing bumph rather than addressing our needs (to mainly go to events we’re likely to like.)

But there you go. Complaints are only ever surfaced so as to spur action to solve them – that’s one of our corest of core values on “Our Values Charter” at Troppo. So I’ve asked Anoop, Lateral Economics’ designer-cum-research-assistant in India to do the basic legwork necessary to produce a schedule of a film festival with our interests as potential patrons in mind. So instead of the marketing bumph on the official website, I’ve asked Anoop to go find the two best reviews he can find, and to put up the synopsis, and links to the trailer denoted by this iconTrailer  and the best reviews together with their ratings either as expressed by them in stars out of five, or as they have rated them themselves. So below the fold you’ll find the schedule for Melbourne. It immediately demonstrates the difference between marketing bumph and reviews. The opening movie is described on the official website as “A superb, celebratory crowd-pleaser, with a gorgeous performance from the affable Corden as an inspirational nobody who dared to follow his dream against all odds.”. Maybe that’s right, but you should at least know that the Guardian reviewer reported it as being a “weirdly miscast. . . treacly, tepid heartwarmer”. The bad news is that with this kind of shoestring operation, you would probably have liked to know this before last night when it was on.  But the rest of the festival is similarly unlocked for you. Imagine if markets in information actually worked a little more directly to actually help consumers! It really shouldn’t take much.

Melbourne Schedule

@Palace Cinema Como

Wednesday 20 November

7:00pm One Chance (Opening Night)Trailer
Triumph follows adversity follows triumph follows adversity in dizzying fashion in David Frankel’s contrived but still affecting biopic of Paul Potts, the phone salesman from Port Talbot who became the first winner of Britain’s Got Talent.
☆☆☆☆☆   The Guardian
☆☆☆☆☆   The Independent

Thursday 21 November

Mr Pip: and some things and people who give me the pip

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are the rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried than before – more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.

I went to see Mr Pip last night. I checked out several reviews before I went and they were not encouraging. But I liked the sound of the story and wanted to go to a movie and so there I was. I recommend it – though readers are warned that I am prone to strong views when seeing movies – particularly when I see them on my own which I did with this one.

It’s a film made in New Zealand and I have to say that based on a number of New Zealand films I’ve seen – most particularly Once were Warriors and In my Father’s Den these New Zealanders seem to be much better than us at making serious movies lately. Ours are so timid by comparison – so often focused on fairly cute comedies of manners – like Priscilla and Muriel’s Wedding and usually bathed in the treacle of our national preoccupation with asking “what does it mean to be Australian?” – sorry I nearly lost consciousness just contemplating that last question. Such an interesting one. Note: Henry Lawson and cousin Banjo were no doubt good guys, but can we please move on?

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I went to see Lincoln last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The first five minutes was pretty dreadful with Lincoln meeting a couple of black soldiers who repeated the various lines of the Gettysburg Address to him. Ugggghhh. Death by anachronism.

But the film gets down to the business of its plot which is of course the passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. It’s dark and sombre with a cast of interesting characters, and Lincoln is well portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis. I had always imagined that Mary Todd was a dull, straightening sort, but who knows if that’s true and it doesn’t make for good cinema, so Sally Field’s Mary much more interesting and compelling First Lady isn’t dull.

The thing that’s so good about the film is its writing and acting. There are four or five scenes which are quite brilliantly written and acted, not least a major screaming match between Abe and Mary which ultimately homes in on their shared grief at the loss of their children.

Weaknesses of the film were that, despite some attempts to add a few warts, Abe is still Mr Nice Guy through and through. Despite the attempt at those warts, Americans really can’t quite get beyond their almost infantile relationship of the President as father and teacher of the nation. (This is the same thing that keeps me away from the West Wing, despite the President’s smartarsed irony he’s just such a Great Guy).

One of it’s biggest weaknesses is a kind of politically correct anachronism regarding race.  In his heart of hearts Lincoln was presumably an abolitionist despite his political contortions. He was also someone who seems to have related to black people and this would have had a fair bit to do with his background as a relatively poor country lad. He liked them. But black people would have been treated pretty damn badly as a matter of course in that world in ways that it’s hard to imagine not being drawn into as part of the ordinary discourse of life.  The word ‘nigger’ gets used a couple of times but the generalised discrimination of normal everyday life is no-where captured.  Had this been done, had we even seen the sainted Abe being drawn into it in some way – as I expect he almost certainly was – it would not only have been more realistic, but also a more powerful anti-racist polemic.

Anyway, go see the movie. It’s a great achievement, and not surprisingly for such an ambitious undertaking, there are a few things that might have been better done.

Family apps – where are they?

Osper is a smart new London startup. Here’s its pitch to Angel investors.

Osper is a cash card for young people with a mobile banking app with login for mum and dad (with parental controls) and login for young people (which teaches responsible money management).

The cash card can be used anywhere, is setup within minutes and doesn’t require bank visits or complex paperwork.

The parent app can instantly lock the card, track transactions in real time, and manage loans from the bank of mum and dad! The young person’s app allows them to manage their own savings goals.

That’s all well and good. I’m surprised that the only mainstream parental ‘app’ that’s at all common in my experience is ‘net nanny’ type apps which filter out porn from websites. One of the things I’ve always wanted was software that would enable me to give my kids time limits for recreational use of a computer or a TV. Oh and software on the house wifi to enable you to check out what people were using it for, or, if you don’t like that, to impose download limits on different users. Alas, I think with enough savvy some of these things are possible, but they weren’t easy. And there are only 24 hours in the day.

In defence of Lazenby, the Aussie Bond

With a few days to the local release of the James Bond movie Skyfall, it’s time for all patriotic Aussies to understand the case for the only home-grown James Bond, George Lazenby. I am not a Bond fan, but I’ve long maintained that his sole Bond film, 1969′s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (OHMSS), was at once the series’ best and among its most innovative. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments, with the urbane violence appropriate to the subject.

For most of the past 30 years, OHMSS has been a minority taste: it was usually referred as “the forgotten Bond film”, if it was referred to at all. But recent years have rehabilitated it to the point where it now sits with From Russia With Love and Casino Royale atop most lists of best-ever Bond films. And Lazenby is being re-assessed too.

(Above, some highlights from the final half-hour of OHMSS)

OHMSS began with a problem: Sean Connery was Bond, and he was heartily sick of it. When he turned down a sixth tour of duty, Bond producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman began looking for a remarkable replacement. Their search for the perfect Bond discovered no-one very impressive; both Richard Burton and a 22-year-old Timothy Dalton turned them down.

Enter George Lazenby – initially, through the door of the barber shop where Cubby Broccoli was having his hair cut. Lazenby was a Queanbeyan-raised former car salesman, ski champion and Army martial arts instructor who had made the trip to London and quickly become a highly-paid male model. When Broccoli saw Lazenby in a chocolate commercial he remembered their barber-shop encounter and called him in for auditions. He stood out from the uninspiring alternatives. He first turned up in a suit he had bought from a Saville Row tailor that had actually been made for Connery but never collected. He looked like Bond should look. In a later audition, he brawled like Bond too: one of his punches allegedly broke stuntman Yuri Borienko’s nose. That seemed to seal the deal. He was quickly signed. Unbeknownst to Broccoli, it was Lazenby’s very first acting role. Continue reading