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New Release move reviews: August 9

Posted by: Jim Schembri | 10 August, 2012 - 12:01 PM
The Sapphires

New Release Film Reviews

THE SAPPHIRES **** (99 minutes) PG

If there's one thing the Australian film industry needs more of it's films like this. Funny, uplifting and blessed with a quintet of winning, energetic lead performances, The Sapphires is a very easy film to fall in love with. Set in the late-1960s and inspired by (though not shackled to) a true story, it tells of four fabulously head-strong indigenous women - Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Kay (Shari Sebbens) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy) - who form a girl group under the brutally honest guidance of their country-and-western hating Irish manager Dave (Chris O'Dowd, from Bridesmaids and the Britcom The IT Crowd). After banging them into shape, often under protest from Gail, the troupe head to Vietnam to entertain the American troops, where opportunity and danger await. Directed with great verve and a killer sense of humour by Wayne Blair, the film deserves great credit for placing its all-important duty to entertain over any obligation to become an issue-driven film, which would have weighed the film down. Written by Tony Briggs (who wrote the source stage musical) and Keith Thompson, the story's dramatic punch draws on matters to do with the Stolen Generation, assimilation and cultural identity, with the resentment Gail feels towards the light-skinned Cynthia being the most potent part of the film. Wisely, though, these "hot button" topics all serve a larger story that is positive, aspirational and celebratory. It's a fair bet that those who enjoyed the upbeat vibe of Rachael Perkins' 2009 musical film Bran Nue Dae - the most successful indigenous-themed film in Australian cinema history - will love The Sapphires. It's a prime example of how embracing the conventions of popular entertainment is the surest way for indigenous culture to step into the mainstream where it belongs.

THE CAMPAIGN *** (85 minutes) MA

Clearly timed to take advantage of election fever in America, here's a very funny, very crude, decidedly unsubtle satire about the twisted ways of American political campaigning as gaffe-prone pants man Cam Brady (Will Ferrell, in full-on Anchorman mode) squares off with soft-hearted family man Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) for the honour of representing the Republican party in their district of North Carolina. There's dirty money involved as two businessmen (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) aim to sway things their way so they can import cheap Chinese labour into heartland America, and there are pleasures aplenty as the campaigning tactics get grubbier and grubbier. Having helmed the Austin Powers trilogy, both Meet the Parents films and Dinner for Schmucks, director Jay Roach deploys his knack for broad comedy with often uproarious abandon. Make no mistake, the film cannot be faulted for having taste - and the scene with the baby is priceless. Far from being a liberal flag waver, the film cleverly toys with Republican Party stereotypes before turning the central caricatures into actual characters. Dylan McDermott puts in a scene-stealing turn as a seasoned campaign spin doctor and Australian actor Josh Lawson (from Any Questions for Ben?) chimes in with a substantial supporting role. (See our list of Best Campaign Movies)

Movies with Jim Schembri

Jimmy S Jim Schembri is one of Australia's most respected film critics. Find out Jim's thoughts on the latest movies, interviews and more!



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