(PG) Jonathan Demme is perhaps best known for The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won a best director Oscar. Before that he made Stop Making Sense, a superior rock concert movie featuring Talking Heads. It’s that last film that comes to mind at the start of Ricki and the Flash as mature rock chick Ricki Rendazzo (Meryl Streep) straps on a guitar and struts on stage to join her band. Streep looks and sounds the real deal, all leather and boots, braids, tatts and rings. However, Ricki and the Flash is not a music movie but a family drama, one that for a long stretch is tight and captivating. The big disappointment is the ending, where it falls victim to the pervasive trend in films to tie up every loose end. The toxic cheesiness of the final half hour undoes much of the good work that precedes it.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (M) A wise, humorous and very tender adaptation of Jesse Andrews’s novel about a shy, introverted Pittsburgh highschooler (the excellent Thomas Mann) and his friendship with Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a girl his own age who has been diagnosed with leukaemia. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, a protege of Martin Scorsese among others, handles this delicate story with tremendous skill and fills the movie with cinematic references bound to delight every film buff.
We are Your Friends (MA15+) We are Your Friends, the feature film debut of young American documentary maker and TV host Max Joseph, is Entourage for the digital music generation. A posse of lads in California aspires to greatness in the electronic dance music scene. Their chances rest on the shoulders of Cole Carter (Zac Efron), who has definite talent as a DJ. Cole’s fortunes look up when he is befriended by superstar DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley). “A successful artist,’’ James tells him, “must stop being an admirer and find their own signature.’’ This is a coming-of-age film and the best scenes are between James and Cole.
High Society The 1956 movie High Society, starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, with delicious songs by Cole Porter, has been adapted as a stage musical. Wealthy socialite Tracy Lord is about to get married, but trouble arises in the form of misbehaving family members and an inconvenient exhusband. Helen Dallimore directs Hayes Theatre Company’s first in-house production. Arms and the Man Stuck in a small-town Bulgarian backwater, Raina Petkoff wants adventure, love and escape. When a charming Swiss soldier clambers into her bedroom, Raina can’t help herself — she offers him sanctuary, feeds him chocolate and falls in love. George Bernard Shaw’s classic play takes its title from the opening line of Virgil’s Aeneid. Directed by Richard Cottrell, featuring Andrea Demetriades and Mitchell Butel. Wharf Theatre, Pier 4, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney. Opens September 14. Tickets: $58-$100. Bookings: (02) 9250 1777 or online. Until October 31. Pacific, The Phantom of the Opera, Carousel, Carmen and La Traviata.