David O'Connell

Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Joined April 24th 2008

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Avid film score collector, film fanatic, reader (crime fiction/modern literature mostly), sports watcher - from a couch! Also review Australian films at www.infilm.com.au


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A film about sub-standard work practices that put millions of lives in jeopardy, with minimal characterisation, and full of technical dialogue that might as well be in a foreign language: does it all add up to something disastrous, incapable of enduring as drama? Rather, clocking in at the tail end of America’s finest decade of cinema, The China Syndrome (1979) remains a gripping, spine-tingling masterpiece.

Reporter Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) and her cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) are used to filing throwaway puff pieces despite a yearning for something more. When they’re called out to shoot another nondescript time-filling segment at California’s largest nuclear power plant, their coverage becomes anything but routine. In a case of being in the right place at the right time, they watch startled from the gallery as an “incident” takes place........................ ............................. .

Dying to hear how this all turns out? Will the universe be blown sky high?
For the love of a God, visit the new home of this former site to find out the answer right HERE.


Jurassic World

June 25th 2015 06:04

There’s not a whit of originality in this fourth instalment of the Jurassic Park series; Colin Trevorrow’s film relies on an absurdly familiar formula and every action movie cliché to set up the disaster-heading-our-way-than ks-to-human-stupidity scenario. Why, then, is this film so damn enjoyable, like an oversized box of oversalted popcorn that you grinningly toss down your throat before immediately wanting to regurgitate the whole lot of it?

It’s fascinating to compare last year’s Godzilla (2014).................

The rest of this wholly compelling Jurassic World review can be found at the new location for this former site right HERE.


An underling’s ultimate revenge fantasy comes to life in George Huang’s caustic look behind the scenes at the functioning of Hollywood’s inner machinery. Based on his own time spent groveling for minute snatches of progress up the slippery totem pole at Columbia, Swimming for Sharks (1994) is essentially a satirical black comedy. Though it has similar pretensions to something like Robert Altman’s The Player (1992), there’s a much nastier twist in its tail.

Guy (Frank Whaley) has won a prime post as assistant to studio executive Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey). From the moment he crosses the threshold at Keystone Pictures he begins to understand how brutal his initiation will be. Firstly from the man he’s succeeding, Rex (Benicio Del Toro), and then from Buddy himself who strips him of all delusions by insisting he repeat an important mantra for total comprehension of his lowly status: “I……….have………no………..brain.”

From there he assumes duties as Buddy’s virtual slave, catering to his most insignificant whims, and needing to be available at his beck and call. The only empathy he receives is from producer Dawn (Michelle Forbes) who needs to remain in Guy’s good books for easy, well-oiled access to Buddy. A hesitant relationship develops through which the conundrum of personal versus professional duty is weighed up.

After a year however, and under threat of losing every inch of the progress he’s achieved, Guy snaps, deciding a little payback is due to bring Buddy’s insidious ego down a few pegs. Huang’s structure works to the film's advantage, mixing and matching past and present tenses to reveal the progress of Guy’s night of magnificent revenge and his increasingly harsh indoctrination at Buddy’s hands.

Never, EVER bring this guy the wrong sugar with his coffee!

Spacey tears up the screen as the cruel, torturous, belittling, megalomaniacal Buddy. It's one of the many great roles of his career. With insults flowing like sharpened drill bits from his mouth he lets rip on the hapless Guy with demonic glee and reckless abandon. As uncomfortable as it to say this out loud........it’s fun to watch! Humiliation, when somebody else is on the receiving end, has a cruel but truthful attraction to it; we all know that. And besides, amongst the thunderous, sarcastic effrontery included in Buddy's profane, humiliating arsenal, there are highly quotable gems aplenty.

Whaley is well cast too in what has been a probable career high. He manages to exude a perfect mix of that believable everyman with enough ambition and fire in his belly to battle his way up the chain of command, whilst still retaining an integral wimpy aspect that most people can relate to. (Perhaps I speak for myself here)

Though the underutilised Forbes is typically good in the type of strong female role her brash but likable demeanor seems to engender, her relationship with Guy is never really believable. That's a minor quibble however, because the showdown between Buddy and Guy is, ultimately, the main attraction, where the juiciest moments come to life.

As the past and present converge, Huang raises the stakes and the penultimate scene, rife with dire implications, leaves a momentary, mysterious void in its wake. A gun goes off: does anyone die? The answer is shockingly plausible, prompting a misshapen realignment of power; like much of the film’s content, it’s irony laced with arsenic.

Guy (Frank Whaley) with Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey)


Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

April 30th 2015 04:33


March 26th 2015 04:53
The latest from modern Russian master Andrey Zvyagintsev is the story of a not quite ordinary family shifting in the sands of time under the weight of corruption. In a remote northern town, struggling mechanic Kolya (Aleksey Serabryakov) is about to have his home and hearth pulled out from under him by a bitter, corrupt mayor, Vadim (Roman Madyanov). Though Kolya thinks he has an ace in his deck with the evidence garnered by his old friend and now Moscow lawyer Dimitriy (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), nothing is quite what it appears. As the seams holding his marriage to his younger wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) begin to unravel, he finds himself unable to comprehend the approaching storm. Beholding the world and all it consequences through a vodka-smeared gaze only exacerbates his downward spiral.

Zvyagintsev‘s ferociously bleak film has a soured, grey-tinted, autumnal beauty about it and for two-thirds of its length the film goes close to matching his two great works, The Return (2003) and Elena (2011) in their depth of commentary about Russian societal ills, especially the vast divide between the haves and have-nots. What Leviathan does lack however is a finely honed commentary and, in particular, the great economy of those masterpieces

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March 18th 2015 03:35

Love is Strange

March 17th 2015 03:48

The Congress (Folman, 2013)

March 16th 2015 04:47

The live-action opening 40 minutes of Ari Folman’s The Congress (2013) are marvellous. His latest, and follow up to the brilliant animated documentary Waltz with Bashir (2008), takes a speculative peek into the future in much the same way Andrew Niccol’s S1M0NE (2002) did, imagining a world in which flesh-and-blood actors have become obsolete. Instead, they sign over their identities to be infinitely scanned and manipulated inside a computer, thus eliminating the ‘lousy choices’ that Robin Wright, playing a version of herself, has made, derailing her career and effectively removing her from the A-list. Her beaten-down agent Al (Harvey Keitel) implores her to go with the flow, to live out her life in luxury whilst allowing her computer simulated self to prosper in the roles she never dared contemplate, whilst smarmy studio chief Jeff Green (Danny Huston) pares scenarios back to their basics in his hard sell of what the future holds for her kind. All three performers are excellent but Folman brings these early scenes to life with his eye for unique design details, the striking backdrops all brilliantly lit with a mix of natural and artificial white lights. Inside Wright’s home – an old hangar for what used to be an airport - a balanced palette of flags and meticulously coloured shapes provide a vibe somehow imbuing the scenes with both sterility and warmth

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Seventh Son

March 11th 2015 04:22


Recent Comments

Comment by David O'Connell
on Favourite Films of 2014

January 28th 2015 03:50
Thanks for dropping in for a look mate. My huge list is somewhat of a cop-out having found it absurdly hard to narrow down the candidates in such a strong year.

Our tastes aren't that far apart. Blue Ruin and Cheap Thrills were my two favourite films of MIFF 2013. Loved All is Lost too. Can't wait to see Enemy. The only one on your list that I didn't particularly like was Guardians of the Galaxy. Will keep an eye out for Julia and Starry Eyes too.

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Comment by David O'Connell
on Interstellar

November 13th 2014 07:53
Don't worry fog, despite its flaws, it's still a great ride nonetheless. Plenty of awe-inspiring scenes and enough solid writing to keep you immersed in it all the way. Look forward to hearing your report!

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Comment by David O'Connell
on TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT: a review

November 12th 2014 04:41
Always great to see another review from you foggy! A too rare treat - especially when we're on the same wavelength as we are with this. I generally love the Dardennes' work but have to admit real disappointment at this latest film from them. Their aesthetic choices are in line with their past work and it doesn't detract from the raw power of their characterisation and storytelling usually for me but this one was plain dull. Nothing - including an Oscar winner as headline act - could overcome the flaw of having a series of scenes playing out over and over again without any sort of dynamic development in the narrative. The ending annoyed the hell out of me too!
Hope your in good health mate. Take care until next time, Dave.

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Comment by David O'Connell
on The Two Faces of January

June 25th 2014 04:10
Thanks fog! Will definitely be a part of that, would be great to build a sense of community here again amongst people with a passion for film amongst other things. Actively supporting one another's efforts sounds like a winner.

I think you'll enjoy this one mate - not the most riveting narrative of all time but impeccably acted - by Viggo especially - and a classy production all round.

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Comment by David O'Connell

June 24th 2014 06:16
Great to see you back here again fog and writing!!
Sadly missed in this ghost town of ours.

I haven't seen this yet but have been hearing plenty of other positive words too. Oblivion wasn't too bad all things considered and this seems like a step up in quality from that. You're right about Cruise too - much maligned but regardless his star power is undeniable and his presence alone is usually enough for me to give many of his films a chance.

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Comment by David O'Connell
on How I Live Now (Macdonald, 2013)

April 15th 2014 06:34
I've heard that. Would definitely like to read the book at some stage to see how much has been altered.

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Comment by David O'Connell
on In Bob We Trust

October 31st 2013 02:06
Many thanks for the anecdote fog, hope you're doing well these days mate!

And yes, Father Bob is indeed a truly great man! A national treasure.

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Comment by David O'Connell
on Kick-Ass 2

August 21st 2013 04:44
Thanks Bryn, you're a harsh man! But I do remember you not quite getting onto the original's wavelength too. The film is superfluous in the extreme - I'll be the first to admit that, but I just can't hate it.
I actually loved Carrey in this but his role is absurdly underwritten; there was real potential there I think for something great.

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Comment by David O'Connell
on Antiviral

April 17th 2013 06:01
Hey Bryn, Rialto Distribution have got this. Had the media screening last week and sadly it's only screening at the one cinema - the Nova - down here from the 25th. Hopefully it's getting some sort of a look in up your way too.

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Comment by David O'Connell
on Killing Them Softly

April 2nd 2013 01:05
Great to hear that JD. It baffles me though how many people tell me how much they couldn't stand this. Obviously incapable of appreciating its finer, subtler qualities, which is a real shame.

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