The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Review: The Party

Janet has been elected Shadow Minister, with hopes to one day become England’s Prime Minister. To celebrate, she throws a dinner party with her nearest and dearest. Of course, everything goes wrong.

Despite the cliched premise of secrets spilled during a dinner party, this is a very good film. The story is tight and very well acted by a stellar cast; very unusually for a film, the entire cast is made up of just seven people. No extras, no narrator, no one lead character. Ensemble casts are quite uncommon in feature films so it’s a credit to the screenwriter/director and the cast to pull off the feat.

Writer/director Sally Potter also chose another unusual quality for this film: it is shot in black and white. As a film student, I am able to appreciate the lighting to reflect the narrative, highlighting whichever cast member is spilling a secret at that moment. Very well done.

If you’re a fan of dark comedies or any of these actors, this film is definitely worth a viewing.

8 out of 10 popcorns.


January 28, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Kite Runner (film)

Please note that this post contains spoilers.

I think I’ve finally worked out why novels don’t translate to the screen (with few exceptions). When you have a novel that is so entrenched with internal dialogue, it’s impossible to carry that to a film. Not only do you have time constraints, you also have limited characters to move it along (unless you want a narrator, which makes the film very wordy). This is, I believe, the main reason this film doesn’t work. The novel was harrowing, following Amir’s internal anguish over events which the film doesn’t accurately portray. There’s no connection to the story, no ability to follow how one things leads to the next.

The film is disjointed, as is the novel. However, if you’ve not read the novel I think you lose the hows and whys of this linear disconnection. The other main issue I have with the film is that there’s no feeling there; it’s as if the actors turned up, said their lines and disappeared for the day. There’s no connection between the actors or the characters. They are lost in a jumble of Farsi. I liked that the film was mostly in Farsi, with English subtitles as it added to the authenticity of the setting. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends for me. Amir seems trapped in a predestined script (well, obviously he is… but in the novel his journey was much more organic and flowing). All the important scenes and dialogue are there but towards the end, there are some major bits omitted so the ending feels rushed. If you haven’t read the novel, you’ll probably get to the end and wonder what the hell just happened. Even if you have read the novel, you’ll probably get to the end and wonder what the hell just happened.

None of the beauty of the novel is preserved. The film doesn’t have time to stop and smell these roses that create the Afghan world. Obviously filming in Afghanistan is nigh impossible and the imagery created in my mind is not going to be translated to the screen, but I still felt Amir’s world was inaccurately portrayed.

Forget the film, read the book.

5 out of 10 popcorns.

February 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Tomorrow When the War Began

This was a much loved book when I was in high school, and ever since 1996, they’ve been planning a movie. Now, finally, it’s here!

Seven teenagers take a trip into Hell, a little-known camping place amongst rough terrain. It’s a week away together before school starts, a chance to unwind before the seriousness of their final year begins. Have a few laughs, some silly summer romances, all the two minute noodles you can eat. One night, they are woken by jets flying overhead and when they come back to their houses, no one is home. The dogs are dead, the phones and electricity have been cut. Soon they find all their houses the same. A war has begun, their country has been invaded.

During the first twenty minutes, I thought it was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen. It was cliched, juvenile and silly. The characters weren’t as I imagined and a lot was left out. Then, the war began and it quickly turned into a very good movie. Even though I’ve read all the books and know what eventuates with each character, I was still biting my nails waiting to see what happened next. Wisely, the romance was largely omitted in favour of more explosions, which kept the movie’s momentum from falling into its own version of Hell. The cast really have nothing to offer although Deniz Akdeniz is a standout and will definitely go a long way.

Unfortunately, this brings me to the reasons I didn’t particularly love this film. For some reason, everyone sounded like they have the clipped accent of the English, not the rural Australia they live in. They are completely unbelievable as country dwellers and the first scenes of Ellie (Caitlin Stasey) doing every day farm activities was laughable. It was as if young Sydneysiders were appearing in an episode of The Simple Life. The explosions, although plentiful, were clearly enhanced by pyrotechnics and CGI. This in itself isn’t a huge issue but added to the unbelievable atmosphere plaguing the film.

The cinematography was outstanding, but then again, I am a little biased considering the scenes in and round Hell were shot in my hometown of the Blue Mountains. In fact, Hell itself is in bushland near my mum’s house and I have been there many times on my bushwalks. Still, it was exciting to see it used. The bay and bridge integral to the plot were, alas, computer generated and at times isn’t as seamless as it should be. Even though I know there is no water visible from the area, there is still moments when the characters aren’t blending with the background- a sure sign of green screen CGI. The transition between innocent teenagers to guerillas is as bumpy as it should be considering the circumstances they find themselves in. Yet the cast managed this with some humour, which was refreshing and never out of place.

All in all, if you loved the books, you’ll enjoy the film adaptation. It’s not perfect and incorporates modern speech and technology not available 17 years ago when the novel was written, so perhaps the purists will not love it so much…

3/5 popcorns

September 5, 2010 Posted by | Reviews | , | Leave a comment