HOTSHOTS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film -

The Black Bal­loon ( M): Wri­ter­di­rec­tor Elissa Down has made one of the best Aus­tralian films of re­cent years: an ex­hil­a­rat­ing story of sub­ur­ban fam­ily life and the an­guish of teenage love. A fine per­for­mance from Luke Ford as an autis­tic boy, with mem­o­rable sup­port from Rhys Wake­field, Toni Col­lette and the model Gemma Ward. — Evan Wil­liams

Para­noid Park ( M): Gus Van Sant’s latest is a min­i­mal­ist drama cen­tring on an inar­tic­u­late 16- year- old skate­boarder ( Gabe Nevins). Fine cin­e­matog­ra­phy by Aus­tralia’s Christo­pher Doyle can’t com­pen­sate for a need­lessly frac­tured nar­ra­tive ac­com­pa­nied by un­usu­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate mu­sic. Some of the ama­teur ac­tors ac­quit them­selves very well. — David Stratton

Sleuth ( M): An­thony Shaf­fer’s ven­er­a­ble mys­tery play, filmed in 1972 with Lau­rence Olivier and Michael Caine, is given a hi- tech gloss in Ken­neth Branagh’s stylish re­make, with Caine play­ing the Olivier role and Jude Law as his spar­ring part­ner in a dan­ger­ous bat­tle of wits. De­vi­ous and en­gross­ing. — E. W.

Run, Fat­boy, Run ( M): A Bri­tish com­edy which, like Death at a Funeral, is di­rected by an Amer­i­can, David Sch­wim­mer, who brings a fresh eye to the Lon­don back­drops. Si­mon Pegg is in tremen­dous form as the hope­less hero who pulls him­self to­gether to try to win back the wo­man he loves by run­ning a marathon. For­mu­laic fun. — D. S.

Talk to Me ( M): Di­rec­tor Kasi Lem­mons’s ab­sorb­ing film fol­lows the ca­reer of a barely re­mem­bered 1960s disc jockey, Petey Greene, an ex- con­vict who won count­less fol­low­ers with his charis­matic blend of mu­sic and civil rights ac­tivism in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Don Chea­dle plays him with a win­ning blend of blus­ter and charm. — E. W.

In the Val­ley of Elah ( MA15+) A dis­turb­ing film from writer- di­rec­tor Paul Hag­gis ( Crash ) in which Tommy Lee Jones plays a griz­zled army vet­eran who in­ves­ti­gates the bru­tal mur­der of his son soon af­ter the young man re­turns from duty in Iraq. In­spired by true events, the film car­ries a pow­er­ful mes­sage about the state of the US to­day. Char­l­ize Theron gives a fine per­for­mance. — D. S.

We Own the Night ( MA15+): In this com­pe­tent po­lice thriller from writer- di­rec­tor James Gray, Joaquin Phoenix stars as a re­luc­tant un­der­cover cop who in­fil­trates a 1980s New York drugs ring to avenge at­tacks on his fam­ily. Well- han­dled ac­tion and sus­pense, but lit­tle depth or orig­i­nal­ity. — E. W.

Mem­o­rable: A scene from The Black Bal­loon

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