Film review – Changeling (2008)

3 February 2009
Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie)

Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie)

In 1928 the disappearance of Christine Collins’ 9-year-old son received nationwide attention in the USA. Also at the time, the Los Angeles Police Department were increasingly being accused of corruption and links to organised crime. In an attempt to drum up some much needed positive publicity the Police Department gave Christine custody of another 9-year-old boy who insisted that he was her son. When Christine refused to accept that this boy was her real son, she was accused of being hysterical and an unfit mother. Clint Eastwood’s Changeling is based on Christine’s story and the horrific series of kidnappings and murders of young boys that later became known as the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders. Eastwood explores the injustice done to Christine and her son as a result of ineffective police work, political opportunism, socially ingrained chauvinism and barbaric attitudes towards mental health

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Cinema Autopsy on the 81st Academy Awards Nominees

29 January 2009
Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz  in The Reader

Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz in The Reader

The nominees for the 81st Academy Awards have recently been released and like most critics and film buffs that I know I am far more interested and excited by the outcome than I like to admit. The Academy Awards are notoriously political, conservative and populist, and are rarely a barometer of good quality filmmaking. In just the past ten years two extremely average films (Shakespeare in Love and Crash) and four popular good-but-not-that-great films (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) have won the Best Motion Picture of the Year award. But then again, American Beauty very much deserved its win and I was also pleased when Million Dollar Baby won. The last two years have actually seen awards go to deserving recipients across the board and giving the top prize to The Departed and No Country for Old Men made me think that the standards have lifted at the Academy.

I’ll post another piece closer to the time with my notoriously inaccurate predictions about who will win and who I think should win, but for now I thought I’d share my thoughts about the actual nominations.

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Film review – Gran Torino (2008)

20 January 2009
Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood)

Clint Eastwood’s place in cinema history has been well and truly established by both his iconic presence on screen and his talented work behind the camera. Eastwood really doesn’t need to prove himself any further but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to create entertaining and well-crafted pieces of cinema. While Gran Torino is one of two films that he directed in 2008 (the magnificent Changeling being the other) it is the first film that he has acted in since his Academy Award winning 2004 film Million Dollar Baby.

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