Ok folks. Strap on in. The March 2018 Umbrella releases are here, and, well… they’re gosh darn great.
(We are not paid by Umbrella to push these releases at all, we simply love their work and feel that folks should be aware of the great releases that are on offer.)
From Umbrella: Ben Mendelsohn stars as Lewis Riley, an unemployed young man who applies for a job as a director/drama teacher at a mental hospital. He lands the job and finds himself directing a production of the Mozart opera Così fan tutte, an elaborate, demanding piece of theatre, an opera in Italian. And it is going to be performed by a cast that he must select from among the patients, who only speak English.
One of the patients, Roy (Barry Otto), sweeps everything along before him, organising auditions, selecting cast members, and criticising the director. The cast chosen include three women: Julie (Toni Collette), Ruth (Pamela Rabe), and Cherry (Jacki Weaver) and two men: Henry (Paul Chubb) and Doug (David Wenham). The musical director is Zac (Colin Hay). The enthusiasm of Roy infects the group, and they charge headlong into a memorable production.
Alongside the story of Lewis, the theme of Così fan tutte is explored as it relates to his personal life. Lewis’s relationship with his girlfriend Lucy (Rachel Griffiths), already under pressure, is not helped by a friend called Nick (Aden Young), who seems more interested in testing Lucy’s faithfulness than anything else.
From AB Film Review: Look, when I saw this announcement, I let out a little ‘squeal’. I won’t lie – I absolutely adore Cosi. It’s a beautiful, wonderful film full of joy and happiness and truly great performances from Toni Collette, Barry Otto, Jacki Weaver and David Wenham. Yeah, Ben Mendelsohn is in there as well, and he’s good (small note: I played Lewis in a stage version of Cosi), but the role is a little thankless. It’s everybody else who works so well. My palms are itching in anticipation of getting my hands on this great film.
From Umbrella: Young Israeli Yossi Ghinsberg (Daniel Radcliffe, Swiss Army Man, Harry Potter ) leaves a safe future behind to chase an improbable dream in the mysterious depths of the Amazon rainforest
For a year he journeys on the path well-travelled, but when he and two new fellow adventurers, Kevin Gale (Alex Russell, Unbroken) and Marcus Stamm (Joel Jackson, Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door ), meet the darkly charismatic Karl Ruchprecter (Thomas Kretschmann, Avengers: Age of Ultron), and follow him into the jungle, what begins as the realisation of a dream soon turns into a harrowing psychological test of faith and fortitude.
Based on the true-life international best-selling memoir by Yossi Ghinsberg, this gut-churning tale of survival is worthy of placement next to the highly impressive likes of Into The Wild, Deliverance, Wild, 127 Hours, and Alive. In a career-best performance, Daniel Radcliffe is superb as Ghinsberg, a young man travelling the world in the early 1980s, against the better wishes of his strict parents.
A survival film that marches to the delirious beat of its own hallucinogenic drum, Jungle bows inventively before the bad guy to end all bad guys: Mother Nature.
From AB Film Review: Jungle was my fifth favourite Australian film of 2017. This is what I had to say about it:
Greg McLean has been one of Australia’s greatest genre filmmakers. The quality of Wolf Creek was no fluke, with his work consistently showing to be some of the best in the field when it comes to the horror/thriller genre. With Jungle, Greg McLean has created his finest work. Telling the true story of Yossi Ghinsberg, and his tale of survival in a Bolivian jungle, McLean works with Daniel Radcliffe to tell this powerful story of survival. There are moments of terror, gore, and fear, and each one of them is driven by a purely human desire to survive, to live, and to exist.
There is a surprising narrative choice to explore Ghinsberg’s religion in flashbacks, that works to reinforce Ghinsberg’s decisions in life that have lead him to be in the middle of a remote, harsh jungle environment. It’s these choices that help humanise the characters, elevating them above being mere vessels to be battered, bruised and beaten by the world around them. One of the more undervalued Australian films of 2017, Jungle is a great work from a great director – and one who I’m excited to see continue to grow from here.
Oh, and it has a scene with a bot fly that is an all timer. The humble bot fly has been absent from screens for too long.
Don’t believe me? Then give Travis’ review a read here.
From Umbrella: Talbot Roe, despite the pleas of his father Prescott (Richard Harris), insists on guarding, in a traditional burial tree, the body of his wife Awbonnie who has died in childbirth. Afraid his son will lose his mind, Prescott goes in search of Eamon MacCre (Alan Bates), the showman who had traded his half-Indian daughter for horses. He intends to buy Eamon’s second daughter in the belief that only she can save Talbot from his terrible grief. When Eamon’s son Reeves (Dermot Mulroney) objects, Prescott kidnaps the girl. But before he can get back to the tree a powerful and terrible presence rises from the body demanding that Talbot let it be devoured by animals and, in doing so, allow Awbonnie’s spirit to rise and forever rest in peace.
From AB Film Review: The late, great Sam Shepard directed two films in his life, Far North, and Silent Tongue. Making a welcome entrance in the Six Shooter Classics line is this film featuring Alan Bates, Richard Harris and River Phoenix. John Petrakis from the Chicago Tribune had this to say about the film: A strangely satisfying and challenging piece of work, one that illustrates how elements of cinema, literature and theater can work in tandem, thanks to a recipe that is one part Poe and two parts Shakespeare.
From Umbrella: Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), the leader of a travelling show, has a dark secret. Thousands of years ago he traded the soul of his daughter, Valentina, to the devil, in exchange for immortality. Now the devil has come to collect his prize. To save her, Parnassus must make a final wager: Whoever collects five souls first will win Valentina. Tony (Heath Ledger), a man saved from hanging by Parnassus’ troupe, agrees to help collect them, with his eye on marrying Valentina.
From AB Film Review: Heath Ledger’s last film may not be the grand swansong that we had all hoped for, but that’s not for want of trying. Given this is Terry Gilliam, this is a visually stunning film that is full of wild ideas and concepts. Well worth the dive into the world of this mad travelling show.
From Umbrella: The most popular soft porn of all time and a breakout box-office hit around the world, Emmanuelle stars Sylvia Kristel as the eponymous heroine who is sexually awakened through a series of erotic adventures. Newly married, young, beautiful and naive, Emmanuelle travels to Bangkok to join her older diplomatic husband Jean.
From Umbrella: The counting house at “Darcey’s Security Services” is a fortress. Security is intense and any would-be-robbers have little hope…unless they get “inside” help.
MONEY MOVERS is a fast-moving, ultra-violent telling of Australia’s biggest and bloodiest armed robbery – the theft of $20 million from a payroll counting office.
Directed by acclaimed film maker Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, The Club) and boasting a top-notch Aussie cast including Bryan Brown, Charles (Bud) Tingwell, Tony Bonner, Ed Devereaux and Terrence Donovan, MONEY MOVERS “delivers an intriguing plot and hair-raising suspense with incredible pace and ferocity. A combination that thriller addicts cannot afford to miss!” (MOVIE NEWS).
From AB Film Review: While I pride myself on knowing about different Australian films, there’s often a film that just appears out of nowhere that you had no idea existed. Money Movers is one such title. Directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy), and starring Bryan Brown, Terence Donovan and Tony Bonner, and rated R18+, Money Movers looks to be exactly the sort of film that I love diving into from this era. Rough as guts, low budget, made with as much gumption as possible and full of blood, sweat and tears. Plus, look at that cover – how can you not be excited by that!
From Umbrella: LUCKY follows the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist and the quirky characters that inhabit his off the map desert town. Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment. Acclaimed character actor John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut, “Lucky”, is at once a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection.
From AB Film Review: Harry Dean Stanton plays his last role after a career filled to the brim with great characters, in John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut, Lucky. This was a film that we foolishly missed while it was in cinemas in 2017 and have been kicking ourselves ever since. To see it being released on DVD so quickly is great as I’ll be able to rectify that error very quickly. Critic Witney Seibold put this right at the top of his favourite films from 2017.
From Umbrella: Fred Schepisi’s internationally acclaimed masterpiece, based on the novel by Thomas Keneally, is the shocking tale of an indigenous man driven to madness and revenge. Jimmie Blacksmith (Tommy Lewis) is a young Aboriginal half-caste raised in central NSW at the turn-of-the-century, a boy initiated by his tribe but also educated by a stern Methodist minister (Jack Thompson). Looking to gain respectability in European society, Jimmy finds a white bride while performing back-breaking work on local farms, but cannot escape his skin colour, suffering ongoing racism and oppression. Discovering that he may not be the father of his wife’s child, and fired without pay, Jimmy explodes in a fury of violent revenge and escapes into the bush with his brother Mort, cutting a bloody path of retribution upon the society that has forsaken him. In 1901, the year Australian democracy is born, Jimmy Blacksmith finally faces his fate, and with it the fate of his people.
From AB Film Review: This Aussie classic is one that I noted in my review: There is nothing more unsettling about the film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith than the fact that it’s still a wholly relevant film. Released on Bluray for the first time, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is a powerful film that will be presented with a swag full of great special features:
- Play feature with introduction by Fred Schepisi
- – A Conversation with director, Fred Schepisi & cinematographer, Ian Baker (66 mins)
- – Melbourne Premiere from Willesee at Seven, June 1978 (7 mins)
- – CELLULOID GYPSIES: Making Jimmie Blacksmith – Interviews with key cast and crew, including director, Fred Schepisi and actor, Tommy Lewis
- – Interview with Tommy Lewis (26 mins)
- – Audio Commentary with Fred Schepisi
- – Q& A session with Fred Schepisi and actor, Geoffrey Rush at MIFF(Melbourne International Film Festival) 2008 (34 mins)
- – Making Us Blacksmiths – Documentary on the casting of Aboriginal lead actors, Tommy Lewis and Freddy Reynolds
- – Stills Gallery
- – Theatrical Trailer
March is a bumper month with some truly great discs being released. It’s hard to actually circle out just one disc to buy, but really, if you’re going to buy any of them you’ll not be disappointed. My money is definitely going to Cosi, and will be upgrading The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith as well.