Sleeping Beauty

   Director: Julia Leigh, Screen Australia, Rated MA, 101 mins

Australian novelist Julia Leigh’s directorial debut is not a re-make of the Disney classic fairytale but instead an adaptation of her novel that depicts the sordid story of a young dysfunctional woman who consents to becoming a drugged bed companion (a “sleeping beauty”) to a variety of affluent and perverse old men.
   Aussie actress Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) plays university student Lucy who is seen taking on a number of casual jobs in order to make ends meet including in a medical laboratory, office photocopying and waitressing.
Sleeping Beauty
   In her search for more money, she accepts a job wearing erotic lingerie at specially arranged dinner parties for wealthy old men.
   Her employer Clara (Lantana’s Rachael Blake) then offers Lucy an opportunity to earn more money by becoming a “sleeping beauty’ after taking a drugged drink prepared by Clara so that she can appear as a nude bed companion for old men to display their fantasies while she is asleep.
   This repetitive ritual continues until Lucy develops a need to know what happens to her when she is asleep which becomes quite confronting and an unsettling experience.
   It is no surprise that when Leigh’s movie was shown at this year’s Cannes Festival quite a few people walked out in view of the many disturbing scenes shown especially in the way Lucy is degraded.
   Besides applauding Browning’s brave performance the other cast members come over rather bland including Blake and Ewen Leslie who appears as Lucy’s frenetic friend, Birdmann.
   Despite Jane Campion’s endorsement, the movie comes over as being quite voyeuristic, lacking any real purpose, with both cinematography and direction seeming stilted at times not to mention the inconclusive conclusion.
   The premise of Leigh’s strange storyline of a young woman involved in some form of submissive prostitution does not make this version of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ an enjoyable experience – even from an artistic point of view.
VIC'S VERDICT:       1 Rubber Stamp


DVD Review

Faster

   Release Date: 6 July 2011
   Director: George Tillman Jnr, Sony Pictures, Rated MA, 98 mins

This soon-to-be-released DVD is the story of an ex-con hell-bent on avenging his brother’s murder.
   This is certainly not the best action movie ever made but it is surprisingly a satisfying one.
    As shown in the opening scenes director George Tillman Jr has identified three main characters-Driver (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) - each of whom has a date with destiny in the surprising twist at the end of the movie.
Faster
   After serving 10 years in prison and with the names and addresses in his possession, Driver has only one mission in life - to seek revenge for his brother’s killing after they were double crossed following a bank robbery.
   Driver wastes no time in going after each of the killers but there are three people who stand in his way: the veteran drug-addicted detective (Thornton) who is days away from retiring, his partner Cicero (Carla Gugino), and the young contract killer (Jackson-Cohen) paid to hunt down and kill Driver.
   Still it is the imposing screen presence of “The Rock” that really stands out, fitting flawlessly into his character and reprising the action roles that he does best.
   With time running out, there is only one winner in this fast paced revenge thriller- with Driver systematically eliminating each opponent before Cop and Killer can get to him.    Despite some flaws in the storyline and minimal dialogue from the lead star, Tillman still manages to transform his fast moving production into an entertaining movie due mainly to some great action sequences featuring “The Rock”.
   Both the Blu-ray and DVD editions include a collection of extended and deleted scenes together with the director’s audio commentary as well as an interesting alternate ending.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamp

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