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NEW RELEASE MOVIE REVIEWS – 29 July: Weiners, Jason Bourne and MIFF

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WEINER **** (90 minutes) M

The bizarre, engrossing story of New York Democratic politician Anthony Weiner is captured in all its pathetic glory in a documentary that will do nothing to redress the reputation of politicians as liars, hypocrites and opportunists.

For those few who don’t know, Weiner’s political prospects were pretty much reduced to zero when he began sending pictures of his privates over the internet. This made him a rich and easy target for talk show hosts and headline writers, who no doubt thanked God for being given such a surname to work with.

Yet thanks to a series of mea culpas, a hard-working campaign team, a lot of good luck and his astoundingly loyal wife Huma Abedin, Weiner’s run for Mayor of New York was able to beat back the scandal and get people to focus on the issues. People forgave him, trusted him, believed him.

Then the second part of the scandal kicked in. More pictures emerged and things turned into a comic nightmare. It appeared that Weiner’s online transgressions were part of an unshakeable addiction.    

It’s a great as-it-happened documentary that ultimately serves as testament to the fortitude of his wife, who is forced to withstand a far more demanding ordeal.

As for Weiner, it is hard to spare any real sympathy for him, especially given how he has been the recipient of more than his fair share of dumb luck. He is still a Democrat and is still married to Abedin.

Go figure.

Weiner screens as part of the Melbourne International film Festival and opens at ACMI on 1 September.

JASON BOURNE *** (123 minutes) M

Another ride: Matt Damon rides again as the ex CIA killer in Jason Bourne.

Another ride: Matt Damon rides again as the ex CIA killer in Jason Bourne.

As we kept getting told by Matt Damon after the triumph of The Bourne Ultimatum (2008), the return of professional killer Jason Bourne to our screens for another breathless adventure was supposed to be conditional on new story ideas inspired by a refreshed view of a changing world. 

Alas, as it turns out with the fifth installment in the franchise Damon and director Paul Greengrass deliver on the breathless action – with loads of thrilling car chases, foot chases, gunplay and hand-to-hand fighting easily matching the high standard set in Ultimatum – but rehash most of the story elements from the first three films. (Let’s try forgetting the Damon-free Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner.)

Living as a professional fighter, Bourne is drawn back into an extended chase with his former CIA employers as he investigates the truth behind his father’s involvement in his initial recruitment.

Series regular Nicky (Julia Stiles) is back on board trying to help, while agency newbie Heather Lee (the ubiquitous Alicia Vikander) tries convincing her boss (Tommy Lee Jones) that bringing Bourne back into the fold might be a better idea than killing him.

It is a thrill-ride to be sure, with the taciturn Vincent Cassell stepping in as a particularly efficient assassin. The realism is as visceral as ever and there’s an armrest-clutching car chase through Las Vegas involving an armoured vehicle that appears designed to total as many cars as possible.

But while the plot, which involves a new technology that has the ability to violate everybody’s privacy, creates the illusion of topicality, the film is essentially a retread of the Bourne template; we cross-cut between our boy running and searching for information while people on computer screens try tracking him down with CCTV and satellites.

The world has changed a great deal since the last Bourne and it would have been good to see that seriously incorporated here. It’s a tad disappointing to see the Bourne franchise prove itself susceptible to sequelitis.

If they need a brief for the next Bourne, it would be for him to stop shooting Americans, make good on his claims to patriotism and start fighting all those bad guys who keep on vowing death to his beloved country.

That, if nothing else, would bring it up to date.


The 65th Melbourne International Film Festival is now up and running. We’ll bring you highlights, reviews and interviews over the next three weeks, with early recommendations going to the Jerry Lewis program, the Virtual Reality segment and the Australian films Down Under, – a sharp satirical comedy set during the Cronulla riots – and The Death & Life of Otto Bloom, which is about a man who experiences time in reverse. Check out the interview with director Cris Jones and actor Xavier Samuel.

For program info, visit