Browse Tag

Fred Schepisi

Film Review: ‘Words and Pictures’

Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen

This is a pretty hip high school. Not only do they employ a once-promising, now boozy, crushingly charismatic author as an English teacher, they’ve just hired an acclaimed painter—also loaded with charisma—whose career has been derailed by rheumatoid arthritis. Because of a trumped-up antipathy between these reluctant academics, this private school is about to witness a battle between, as the title puts it, Words and Pictures. If the writer can stay sober long enough, he’ll teach the kids about the power of prose, and if the painter can stifle her bitterness, she’ll espouse the primacy of the image. It’s elbow patches vs. stained smock, plus a countdown to the first shag between these two spectacularly good-looking people.

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche play wordsmith and picture-maker, respectively. The casting is a source of both appeal and disappointment in this one-note movie; the roles are large, but the material thin.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

SIFF 2012: ‘The Eye of the Storm’

Bringing The Eye of the Storm to the screen involved the reunion of a filmmaking “family,” a brilliant bevy of old Oz hands from that heady era of filmmaking hailed as the Australian New Wave. Cast as the lead, legendary Charlotte Rampling is neck-deep in Australian acting royalty: Judy Davis (from My Brilliant Career, 1979, to Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love, 2012); Geoffrey Rush (from Children of the Revolution, 1996, with Davis, to The King’s Speech, 2010); as well as lesser lights such as Helen Morse (Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1975), honorary Aussie Colin Friels, Billie Brown, Dustin Clare (Gannicus in TV’s Spartacus), et al.

Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, Charlotte Rampling

In 1978, Fred Schepisi’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith launched his successful directorial career abroad; Eye of the Storm is the first film he’s shot on home ground since the uncompromising A Cry in the Dark (1988). Nobel-winner Patrick White’s hefty novel was adapted for the screen by Judy Morris, so striking as the star of Peter Weir’s The Plumber (1979), and subsequently scripter of hits like Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City.

Morris’ two-hour adaptation has at its center—or eye—the long dying of wealthy matriarch Elizabeth Hunter (Rampling). A formidable personality, the old woman makes her bedroom a kind of theater, which estranged son Basil (Rush) and daughter Dorothy (Judy Davis) must attend, in hopes of cashing in on a much-needed inheritance. This trio of greater and lesser monsters—emasculating mother, narcissistic son, daughter bereft of joie de vivre—have at each other unlovingly, though it’s clear the aging kids desire nothing so much as the queen’s unqualified admiration. Well, except for her money.

Continue reading at Straight Shooting