The Sapphires

20131122162310the_sapphires_posterDirector:Wayne Blair

Actors: Chris O’Dowd

Deborah Mailman

Jessica Mauboy

Shari Sebbens

Miranda Tapsell

Tory Kittles

Eka Darville

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Synopsis: In 1968, four smart, gutsy young Australian Aboriginal women become unlikely stars by singing for the U.S Troops in Vietnam. With the help of an R&B loving Irish musician, Dave Lovelace, they transform themselves into a sizzling soul act and set out to make a name for themselves hundreds of miles from home. Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires is a celebration of music, family and self-discovery.

Review:

You can’t just ask someone why they’re not black. But you can, however, ask them to sound more black. Which is one of the first problems facing The Sapphires, a 60’s aboriginal girl group born down under.

The Sapphires is the true story of a remarkable group of women who managed to put together a girl group and travel to Vietnam. Co-written by one of the sons of the real-life singers and directed by Wayne Blair, this movie packs a punch and a amazingly good soundtrack.

The movie opens up with two stark facts. 1. Until 1967 Aborigines in Australia were not considered humans by the government and 2. The government had the authority to remove the light-skinned native children from their families to make them a part of white community.

We meet the future Sapphires as children, about to put on a show for their families. Halfway through, however, the light-skinned cousin is taken away to become a part of the stolen generation. It’s a powerful, painful beginning.

A decade later, the three sisters – Gail (Deborah Mailman) Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) decide to enter a singing competition. Braving the racism of the croud, they sing an American country western song. The accompanist (Chris O’Dowd) is a washed-up mess who nevertheless recognizes their potential and helps them form The Sapphires. They reconnect with their stolen cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), switch from country to Motown and pass the audition to go perform for the US troops in Vietnam.

Once there however, it’s not an easy road for any of them. A girl group with four members means a lot of opportunity for romance, drama and power struggles. Luckily, the Sapphires manages to avoid falling into a Behind the Music hole by matching fabulous 60’s soul songs to the real life drama happening off stage and on. It’s a hard journey for them, dealing with the valor of the GI’s, the still present racism, and the death and horrors happening around them.

The Sapphires is a movie with a lot of heart (I was going to say soul, but Ugh). Form the get go it’s packed with tension and hurt and love. The actors do an incredible job of balancing the frustrations felt along with the joys. Its not an easy movie to watch at times (especially as Gail and Kay deal with the fall-out of the stolen generation) and Mailman does such an incredible job with her protective ferocity.  In addition, the soundtrack manages to add even more oomph to an already great movie. Seriously – these ladies can sing. Anyone who enjoys Motown – I Heard it through the Grapevine, Super Pie Honey Bunch, and other hit classics are performed- will love this movie.

I really enjoyed this movie. It was equal parts sad and funny, uplifting and depressing. It’s a new look at race issues that still impact the world today, and manages to neither harp on nor ignore the seriousness of the issues that the girls face. However, the Sapphires is more than that. It’s a celebration – of family, of good music and life. It’s an amazing movie based on amazing people. Fitting, no?

XX

P.S. While the issues of the stolen generation is an important part of this movie, an excellent film that really delves into those issues is Rabbit Proof Fence. I would highly recommend that movie as well.

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Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

Film Poster

WOOHOO! Time for a Perks of Being a Wallflower review – because I’m apparently on this kick of watching things that are two years or older. I also have to admit that I’ve never read the book…so this is purely a film appreciation post!

 

Director: Stephen Chbosky

Actors: Logan Lerman

Emma Watson

Ezra Miller

Mae Whitman

Kate Walsh

Dylan McDermott

Joan Cusack

Paul Rudd

Genre: Drama

Run Time: 102 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 85%

 

Summary” Freshman Charlie is a perpetual wallflower until he falls under the spell of the beautiful, free-spirited Sam and her fearless stepbrother, Patrick; together, the trio navigates love, loss, fear, hope – and the quest for the perfect song – in this unforgettable adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s beloved novel.

 

Review:

I’m 99% sure that this book is mandatory reading for angsty adolescents.  Stephen Chbosky’s famous novel about an alienated high-school freshman who is befriend by a group of non-conformist older kids is a classic for anyone who has ever felt like a ‘wallflower’. Good news – if you liked the book then you’ll most likely love the movie as well. Perks is directed by Chbosky as well, and he has managed to adapt it near perfectly to the big screen. It’s always great when the writer has direct input – just look at The Fault in Our Stars. Or 50 Shades of Grey. Never mind….

Set in the 90’s, freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman) begins writing a series of letters to his friend. Charlie is the quintessential loner – awkward and uncomfortable around his peers, it’s an exercise in discomfort to watch him navigate this dangerous new world. Welcomed by Sam and Patrick, Charlie is quickly absorbed into a group of seniors who embrace their differences. The crowd is artsy – and more importantly, outsiders. They teach Charlie how to embrace himself and he learns about sex, drugs, drinking and friendship. It’s pretty much every teenagers fantasy of finally finding your people, and very relatable.

It’s an important movie about embracing your differences. Nearly everyone can identify with Charlie, who is so deeply unsure of who he is and where he belongs. Struggling with the suicide of his only friend and the death of his aunt, Charlie is mired in the depression and ‘dorkiness’ of his life. It’s a heartfelt and sincere performance by everyone, with Lerman and Miller shining in particular. Watson’s American accent wobbles at times, but delivers  a solid performance with a quirky, slightly damaged Sam. Perks is a film with a heart, and it’s all about working through people’s damage with the help of friends – and music.

XX

PS. Is anyone else sick of that ‘we are infinite’ quote?