With the summer heat really kicking in, and yesterday being the Australia Day public holiday, the best place to be was in the comfort of an air-conditioned cinema. Judging from the lines we encountered I think half the country had the same idea! I wouldn't be surprised if this weekend is one of the biggest box-office takes in quite a while.
Yesterday, at around 40 degrees, we took the evening off and caught two films.
Keeping Mum is a delightful British comedy starring Rowan Atkinson and the inimitable Maggie Smith, and Maggie completely steals the show from Rowan's comic vicar character. In the tradition of great British comedies like 'The Lavendar Hill Mob' and the current 'Mrs Henderson Presents' (which is definitely worth seeing) 'Keeping Mum' keeps up a steady flow of laughs seamlessly interwoven with a simple message about relationships. It also knows how to push the envelope of 'good taste' without going too far. Once you see the film, you'll wonder how they managed to get you to sympathise with the people you end up caring about, but you'll end up forgiving them a multitude of sins just for the chance of a happy ending.
From the ridiculous to the sublime, we rushed from 'Keeping Mum' to Steven Spielberg's latest 'Munich'. There's been a lot of talk about this film, some say it's Jewish propoganda, others say it goes too light on the Palestinians. Spielberg is Jewish, so his personal agenda is out on the table but surprisingly not nearly as much on the screen. The message of the film is clear, terrorism breeds terrorism. The film is a call for peace by demonstrating the real devastation of the unending cycle of terrorism. As for the movie itself at 160 minutes it is very long and, in places, it does seem to drag and lose it's way, but this seems appropriate as it is much more of a journey of discovery than an action-packed thriller. To see Eric Bana handle the lead role as competently and convincingly as he did is a revelation. Less than 7 years ago we performed at the Regent Plaza Ballroom with him for a corporate dinner. We did our act and then he came out and did 30 minutes of stand-up comedy. At the time he was still well known for his television show and the applause he got when he was introduced was much louder than what he received when he finished. His stand up comedy was good, but he has truly found his calling in acting. With a director like Spielberg to bring out his full potential, we are finally seeing what Eric Bana is capable of. Definitely a film worth seeing.
Today, not quite as hot as yesterday, but unable to resist a preview, I caught the Johnny Cash biography 'Walk The Line'. Another long movie clocking in at 136 mins the performances of Joaquin Phoenix and (dare I say it) Reese Witherspoon were outstanding. Definitely Academy Award winning performances. Not only did they bring their characters to life, but they even performed all of the songs themselves as well. The story is incredible, whether you're a Cash fan or not you will be totally taken by the journey of this man's life. Once again, a great film to catch that's not only inspiring and uplifting, but also true. You can read a little more about what happened after the end of the film here.