(M) Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as the title character, an average American with a chaotic family life whose invention of a “miracle mop” leads her into the bizarre world of television marketing. Combining writerdirector David O. Russell’s fondness for squabbling, dysfunctional families and his equal facility with satirising contemporary America, the film is filled with strong performances — Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini among them — but it falters in the later stages and the ending fails to satisfy.
The End of the Tour (M) This biopic about a week or so in the life of the great and tragic American novelist David Foster Wallace, who killed himself in 2008, aged 46, is essentially a two-hour conversation about life, love, selfhood, art high and low. It’s been said Wallace’s writing creates in the reader the sense of “being David Foster Wallace’’. So it goes for Jason Segel’s towering performance here. The physical resemblance is uncanny, but it’s the inhabitation of the author’s brilliant and fragile mind that is most remarkable. It’s a role that needs a foil, and Jesse Eisenberg is a brilliant one as journalist-author David Lipsky.
Youth (MA15+) This ironically titled Englishlanguage film from Italian Paolo Sorrentino ( The Great Beauty) features Michael Caine (a composer-conductor resigned to retirement) and Harvey Keitel (a film director working on his next project) as lifelong friends nearing the end of their lives. Staying in a spa hotel in the Swiss Alps, they act as observers of the other hotel guests, some of them most eccentric. Fellini-ish moments of extravagance are allied to sumptuous photography, and there’s a sublime music score accompanying this moving drama.
Jasper Jones Blockbuster West Australian novel Jasper Jones has sold more than 170,000 copies and won a slew of awards but next year the gothic teen tale will find a much wider audience. Two different stage plays based on the story dubbed Australia’s To Kill a Mockingbird are scheduled, one at Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre next month and another at the Melbourne Theatre Company in August. Jasper Jones author Craig Silvey helped adapt his novel for the screen but he wasn’t involved in the theatrical script, which is the work of award-winning actor and writer Kate Mulvany. The Belvoir production will be directed by Anne-Louise Sarks and star Tom Conroy (pictured) as Jasper Jones. its first generation of admirers. It doesn’t seem enough in 2015 to give the impression the Nazis were a bunch of cartoonish heavies. The courage of the von Trapp family is rendered far less affecting than it should be. There are, however, some blazing performances. The enchanting Maria of Amy Lehpamer, Jacqueline Dark’s bounteous Mother Abbess and the eye-wateringly talented bunch of children raise the roof and save the day. Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket. Today, 2pm and 8pm. Tickets: $70-$115. Bookings: 136 100 or online. Until February 28. The 52-Storey Treehouse First there were 13 storeys, then there were 26 — now Andy and Terry tackle the 52storey treehouse, where Mr Big Nose has disappeared. Can they solve the mysteries and survive the dangers lurking all around them? Adapted from the popular picture book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, which was named best book for younger children and overall book of the year at this year’s Australian Book Industry Awards. Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point. Opens January 3. Tickets: $33-$55. Bookings: (02) 9250 7777 or online. Until January 25.