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Saturday, 16 March 2013

REVIEW - Goddess

This is the first Aussie film for 2013, and being a dramedy musical with a list of outstanding actors and some first timers, it could have gone either way. Fortunately all of the songs, performances, actors and sets come together to produce an outstanding film, setting the bar high for the Australian film industry and showing that we can do musicals and do them justice for the big screen.

Based on Joanna Weinberg's one woman show of the same name, Goddess follows a young family who have migrated from London to Tasmania in Australia for a better life. Elspeth Dickens (Laura Michelle Kelly) is stuck at home with two twin boys who are proving more than a handful while her husband James (Ronan Keating) is away for weeks at a time studying whales in the Antartica. Elspeth is shunned by a group of local mothers who make fun of her and exclude her from their gatherings, while her children run rampant in the local supermarket proving to be more than she can handle by herself day after day.

When James leaves Elspeth with a webcam as a way to communicate with him while he is on the ship, when he doesn't appear on the other end Elspeth starts performing her songs and broadcasting them on a webcam feed for the whole world to see. Her songs are noticed by an advertising agent Cassandra Wolfe (Magda Szubanski) who entices her to come to Sydney and become a star, now Elspeth must juggle her marriage, children and impending stardom.

At this movie's heart it is a musical, and the main elements of a musical are a good story and some amazing songs that compliment and enhance the story. Something that Goddess oozes, it has such a relateable and touching story and the songs only enhance that feeling of love and loss and feeling trapped by a life you didn't sign up for. The songs are addictive and will have you singing them over and over for days after you have left the cinema.

Cast wise is an outstanding culmination of Australian and UK talent, Laura Michelle Kelly shines as the lead and her singing and silly personality shines through as this trapped artist who finds a way. Ronan Keating is enchanting in his acting debut and while he is only limited to one song, he offers a lot to this role. Magda Szubanski has played a lot of roles from The Golden Compass, Babe and Kath And Kimderella, but she really comes into her own and (almost!) steals the show as the binge eating, career driven high powered corporate bitch (in joke if you have seen it!) As well as these talented actors a slew of Aussie's including Corinne Grant, Dustin Clare, Hugo Burt, Pia Miranda and Natalie Tran all bring their A game.

The film is split between Tasmania and Sydney, sweeping shots of the green open plains in Tassie are breath taking and should see a great tourism boost for the state. Placing Elspeth's piano in the outside barn is a stunning scene of the mix of the two, Sydney comes alive with shots of the harbour bridge and opera house incorporating corporate offices and waterfront restaurants are a stark contrast to the countryside of Tasmania.

The musical numbers are choreographed perfectly, there are moments when the movie is extremely camp and cartoonish but it never goes too far. As fun as it gets, it never strays too far from being a musical dramaedy with a huge heart. The majority of the characters in this movie are extremely clumsy, the problem with this is that each character seemed cursed with falling into the chest of drawers, bumping into a table and dropping keys, bags and anything else they seem to be holding and instead of being a quirk for a particular character it spread to all the characters and just came off as a bit ridiculous.

Overall this is a fantastic Aussie film and continues to prove that we can do comedy and make musicals that work, there are flashes of this movie that reminded me of the film Cosi, and is the kind of movie that I want to hold onto and treasure for a very long time. If you are a fan of musicals or rom com's definitely check this one out at the movies, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Happy Australia Day!

I know I am a few days early but I did want to post this and say happy Australia day! A lot of people this time of year get very "we are full get out" or the "invasion day" crowd, it can be easy to get cynical and to buy into the controversial side of this celebratory day. I think this should be a day to reflect on what we have built now. Celebrate our achievements and the plentiful country we live in, gather your close friends and family around you and for some portion of the day think about just how lucky we are to live in such a thriving and beautiful place.

Now that my rant is done I would like to just comment on our film scene, for years people have debated wether or not we have one and if it is decent. You cannot deny the impact that Australian talent and films have on the rest of the world with people like Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths and movies like The Sapphires, The Piano, Strictly Ballroom, that entertain and make the rest of the world realise just what we have here.

This is were my journey begins and I have decided the first film I will review (as they are not going to be in any sort of chronological order) is Strictly Ballroom. Expect is up here shortly!

Till then I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Australia Day!


Monday, 3 December 2012

REVIEW - Bait 3D

We have discussed Aussie movies a lot on the site this year and I am really happy that we it is something we are all talking about. Up until a solid release of Australian films have flooded our cinemas with Not Suitable For Children, The Sapphires and Kath & Kimderella, but turns out the latest Aussie flick Bait 3D falls so far from making the Australian movie industry look good, in fact it does the complete opposite and is a complete embarrassment of a film.

With disaster movies like this it is always good to leave your brain at the door and this is no exception. After the horror that was Sanctum 3D I really didn't think any other Aussie flick could do any worse, I have been proven wrong. A cast of actors who should know better, clunky and horrid dialogue combine with some average special effects and a premise of Jaws invading your local IGA results in this disaster of a movie.

Set in sunny Queensland (supposedly?) a tsunami hits a local beach flooding the town with water. The film features around survivors in a supermarket. Dead bodies are floating in the water, electrical cables are hanging low and the survivors discover some sharks swimming in the water below waiting to pick them off one by one.

All the characters are given a quick back story before the tsunami hits, the engaged couple who have their whole lives ahead of them, a troubled teen and her angry cop dad, a meathead jock and his gucci loving american girlfriend, all characters you just don't really care if they live or die. In fact the movie and dialogue is so bad you will find yourself praying for their death so you can leave the cinema and be done with it.

Cast wise it is quite solid with Xavier Samuel (Twilight Saga), Sharni Vinson (Step Up 3D) and Julian McMahon lead the film and this is honestly the worst performance I have seen from any of them. Guest appearances by Martin Sacks (The Cup, Blue Heelers) and Lincoln Lewis (Home & Away, Tomorrow When The War Began) keep the Aussie factor in check but everyone has a different accent, at times it can be confusing.

The script is clunky and with stereo typical Aussie dialogue it get's real old, real quick. I don't actually think I was scared or surprised at any stage of this movie as the horrid screen writing and terrible acting made it more of a comedy and any attempt to take this as anything else left the cinema.

The 3D was actually pretty good, when the tsumani first hits, it does look great in 3D and a few shark jumps have some great effect, and there are a lot of jellyfish and seaweed floating in the water to make for a great 3D effect.

The sharks however looks horribly un-realistic, and any attempt to make them seem like a viable threat is not present at all.

Overall this is the kind of film that makes you question how Screen Australia get funding to approve projects like this. Horrible dialogue, an obviously high budget result in a disaster of a movie and an embarrassment to add to the Aussie film directory.

Bait 3D is showing in cinemas everywhere, you have been warned!

Review by Alaisdair Dewar

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Hi! Welcome to NovastreaMoviesOz! I just wanted to write a little intro and let everyone know what this site was about, what my goals are and how this all came about.

First of all introuctions, my name is Alaisdair "Arrow" Dewar, I reside in Newcastle, NSW in Australia and I love movies. I run a collection of websites called NovastreaMedia. We review and post news about games, music, tv and surprise surprise movies. In mid 2012 we started launching sites directed at a specific Australian audience. I loved this idea as I think our country produces outstanding local content and wanted my love of Australian movies to factor into this somehow.

Assembling a team together is no easy feat, I started all of the websites by myself and while I love the solidarity and lack of accountability to others, it has been nice to rely on other people to keep things running while I refocus and keep things moving.

I love Australian movies, I love At The Movies with Margaret & David, I love what they have done for the film industry in Australia and their passion and diligence to the aussie film industry. While I share this love, I do not know anyone personally who shares this. Assembling a team to do this project was futile, and most people have the opinion that the Aussie film industry is a wasteland full of garbage. While historically we have had some bad ones, but so has Hollywood, Bollywood and every other movie industry out there.

So why this? I wanted to set out to review every single Australian film ever made, do a proper review and provide some reasons as to why it is still relevant today. In addition to this I wanted a website that would actively promote upcoming Australian movie projects, hopefully get some interviews with some Aussie actors, directors and the ultimate chat with Margaret & David about their career and opinion on the industry today. I also want to do profiles on local cinemas, their history, their origins and their future.

It is a HUGE goal but I am giving myself a whole year to set this up, I love feedback so if you are reading this please feel free to leave comments, or send me an email, or Facebook or Twitter message. If you also love the Aussie movie industry and would like to share your opinions or write a piece or review please get in touch. Also if Margaret or David are reading this PLEASE contact me I would love to set up an interview with you!

I hope you enjoy this website as much as I am going to enjoy posting everything here. Keep checking back for updates and some new content will be up here soon.

For now I will leave you with a photo of myself next to the infamous Batmobile at Warner Bros Movie World on the Gold Coast.


REVIEW - Not Suitable For Children (2012)

Rom Com's have gotten a bad reputation in the last few years, with stinkers like JLo, Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Aniston polluting the genre with fluffy, useless nonsense it was only time before one came along that changed the game. In this case we are talking about the new Australian film Not Suitable For Children starring Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) Ryan Corr (Packed To The Rafters) and newcomer Sarah Snook.

The initial premise of the film may shock and surprise you, Jonah (Kwanten) finds a cancerous lump and is told that he won't be able to have children. It doesn't strike you as a comedy and the winning factor of this movie was combining humour in an impossible situation, while also making it a very real and relatable story.

Jonah is a twenty-something party boy who is infamous for his one night stands and taking no responsibility or commitment in his life. He lives with Gus (Corr) the legendary party entrepreneur and the third housemate Stevie (Snook) the sensible, mature one filled with plenty of zingers and sarcastic wit, she strikes a resemblance to Emma Stone with her comedic timing and red locks.

News of the impending children restriction sends Jonah into a crazed frenzy and he has three weeks to find a girl and get her pregnant to have a child. Stevie lends a hand helping with attempts for old girlfriends, lesbian couples, older career women, but after several rejections it comes down to just one girl, Stevie. It sounds formulaic and predictable but the story and humour is woven so intelligently you will be cheering the two on by the time it gets there.

The script is written by Offspring creator Michael Lucas who knows his way around awkward humour and dramatic situations and is complemented by first time director Peter Templeman ( a short film Oscar nominee in 2007 and director of Bogan Pride).  The script, direction and acting are actually flawless and this movie shows that Australian movies can be great and that we should make more of them in this genre if given to the right director and writer which shines through in this movie.

The lead trio Jonah, Gus and Stevie steal the show with a seemingly natural chemistry and the characters strengths and weaknesses compliment each other and give a sense to a real group of friends living in Sydney, stuck in this impossible situation.

Overall this movie is definitely one to catch at the movies, it is rare that we throw our support behind an Australian film as so many of them are below par, however Not Suitable For Children hits all the right notes with its humour, story and performances by actors and directors involved.

Review by Alaisdair Dewar

REVIEW - Mental (2012)

This year we have been bombarded with some amazing Aussie films, and upon hearing that acclaimed writer and director PJ Hogan was directing an another Aussie movie with Toni Collette, I instantly had high expectations for the outcome and I am glad to say that not only was I not disappointed, but the movie surpassed my expectations.

Mental is the Aussie conversation that we need to have. A film showcasing the different states of mental and re-defining just what is normal and what is not.

The films centres around Sharon Thornbender aka Shaz (Toni Collette) who is kind of like Mary Poppins with a bong and a pitbull terrier. Shaz arrives in Dolphin Heads just as the Moochmore family are about to fall apart. Shirley Moochmore (Rebecca Gibney) opens the film with a version of The Hills Are Alive in an overgrown and run down backyard, complete with twirling on a rusty and depleted swing set, the film's opener set's a fantastic tone for the rest of the story as the neighbours stare in horror and her daughters hide with shame.

Shirley takes her daily trip into town to meet her life-size doll collecting sister who is very controlling of Shirley and we see her character completely breakdown. Shirley convinces herself that her husband Barry (Anthony LaPaglia) has won Wheel Of Fortune and she goes on a shopping spree ordering tons of home delivered furniture.

After this she is committed to a mental asylum and Barry picks up Shaz who is hitchhiking to help look after the 5 girls at home. Each of the girls is convinced that they have some sort of mental disability, self-diagnosed schizophrenia, depression and suicide attempts, all explore the darker side of this film.

One of my favourite lines "This wouldn't be happening if I had a house full of boys! Boy's have breakdowns too dad! Not Australian boy's! They are too busy playing football!" Further on in the movie we discover that the reason why Barry cannot relate to his girls, was because of his tainted relationship with his father. It is incredibly touching and shows the shift in attitudes about Australian men and the stero-typical view that our society has on them.

Shaz is a breath of fresh air for the family and goes about turning the neighbourhood upside down, proving to the girls that being mental is a good thing, and does her best to unite the family.

Do not mistake this for a family movie, it is far from it, while family is a big theme the MA rating, adult themes, constant coarse language, C word and sex scenes should be taken into consideration if taking children to see this film. Family is a major theme in this film but it always manages to weave in and out of dark and light tones seamlessly.

Toni Collette as always does an outstanding job as the offensive Shaz, wielding an okke Aussie accent, complete with trashy make up and attitude, this is truly one of her best performances. Rebecca Gibney plays a fantastic role, especially during the breakdown showcasing another side to this outstanding actress. The real credit here goes to Deborah Mailman, who plays a patient in the mental asylum and almost steals the show from Collette. Liev Shrieber has an amazing Aussie accent and shows other actors how it is done without it sounding cheap and tacky.

Overall this movie will either work or not work for you. It is funny, heart-warming, confronting and gut-wretchingly brave film-making. Obvious comparisons to Muriel's Wedding will be in everyone's head as P.J Hogan reunites with Toni Collette, but the two films could not be more different. If you are a fan of Australian quirky films you will love this, personally for me this is one of the best Aussie films out this year, and has also entered my top 5 overall for 2012.

Mental is showing in cinemas now.

Review - The Sapphires (2012)

Building a musical around Jessica Mauboy’s voice is a sure fire way to get a hit movie. Combine this with the acting prowess of Deborah Mailman and mix in Chris O’Dowd (the cop from Bridesmaids) throw in some classic soul songs, a lot of comedy, a few tears and some action and you have a great Australian movie that is bound to become a classic.

This film is loosely based on fact, and is also a hit stage musical. The movie centers around three aboriginal sisters and their cousin from the Cummeragunja Mission. Singing country and western songs and being abused by the local towns folk, the three sisters Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) live in a mission and are discovered by Irish manager Dave (O’Dowd) at a local pub run by the hilarious Judith Lucy. 

After recruiting Australia’s first aboriginal girl group (Australia’s ONLY aboriginal girl group, in joke, when you see it you will understand) they respond to a newspaper advertisement looking for entertainers for the American troops in the Vietnam war. What follows is an entertaining montage of Dave trying to bring out the “soul” in these girls, clumsily learning dance moves and getting everything perfect for the audition. 

O’Dowd really shows his comedic skills in this role and shines as the male lead, especially when put into a cast of strong female characters. At times he even acts as a narrator, showing the audience just who these girls are and what they are to become. Mauboy stands out as the voice, as she belts out classic soul numbers like “What A Man” and “I Can’t Help Myself” her voice cuts right into your heart and something absolutely beautiful spills out from her. Mailman rises to this role and owns every single part of her character, the over-bearing sister, the “mama bear” who has “the mouth”. Every word, every action is carefully delivered and she is captivating. Tapsell is the comic relief, she is the loud mouth Aussie that everyone loves, says what is on her mind and doesn’t care about the consequences or who is listening, she is the hopeless romantic in all of us who wears her heart on her sleeve as well as her mouth. The film works with the cast and there is no-one else I could see pulling off these performances. 

Surprisingly the film only goes for 90 minutes, there is enough storyline and dramatic tones to flesh out a 2-2/12 hour film with music, self-discovery, racism, drugs, sex, political tension oh and a war, but instead the decision to keep it light and whilst the conflict is resolved in the end, it is never allowed to linger or fester for more than a few minutes which works. 

Earlier this year we talked about Australian movies and how majority get it so wrong, fortunately this is an instance where everything blends together beautifully to deliver a film that is destined to become a classic. There is a lot of racial tension in this movie and the Sapphires use their voices and music to show who they truly are and it is a marvel to watch on screen. This is definitely one to see at the movies!

Review by Alaisdair Dewar

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