8:00 PM, 26th May, 2012
In his review of A Few Best Men, David Stratton admitted "not many films make me laugh out loud these days and this made me laugh out loud quite a few times".
The screenwriter Dean Craig previously wrote Death at a Funeral, a black comedy which was not my cup of tea, although many others found it hilarious. Once again, Craig uses a formal event, this time a wedding, as the backdrop to create dramatic tension as seemingly innocuous events snowball into chaotic catastrophe, reminiscent of classic French farce.
And "snowball" is an apt metaphor, despite the wedding being set in the beautiful Blue Mountains during the height of the Australian summer. Director Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) was an uncredited co-author of the script, because the original script had set the wedding in England. I suspect that it was Elliot who inserted the pants-wetting subplot about the merino ram Ramsey.
The film is an ensemble performance by a fantastic cast of Brits and Aussie actors, including Olivia Newton-John as the cougar Mother-in-Law to be. But my personal favourite was Kris Marshall, an English stand-up comedian who portrays one of the three best men. Kris was a vital part of the early seasons of the television sitcom "My Family" and may be better known to film-goers from his minor role in Love Actually as an over-confident young wannabe Love God, stealing every scene that he was in with exquisite comic timing.
9:51 PM, 26th May, 2012
Nim Chimpsky is a chimpanzee who, in the mid-1970s, was the subject of a social and scientific study by scientists at Columbia University. He was taught to communicate using signs, and was raised and nurtured by wealthy hippies as a human child in New York's Upper West Side. After limitations of the experiment became apparent, Nim was moved to a large estate mansion with several carers, and then later to an animal sanctuary, from which point his story just gets sadder and sadder...
Now I'm no animal activist (I'm happy and comfortable with eating meat, I don't hold back from (quickly) killing creepy crawlies if I deem it necessary and I actually have a lot of issues with the corrupt organisation that is PETA). However, recent documentaries like The Cove and this one have alarmed me in depicting how naïve humans can be outright cruel to animals in the service of their own selfish needs. The tragedy of Nim's life will affect you deeply, and the filmmakers who brought us Man On Wire a couple of years ago have actually surpassed that film with this story of an ill-conceived project gone drastically awry.
Yet another piece of evidence to show that maybe the world would be better off if we humans weren't around to stuff things up, Project Nim is informative, profound, unsettling and essential viewing.