James Fletcher reports on the latest home-viewing offerings
A Loving Father
Director Jacob Berger, son of well known English writer John Berger, isn’t a man afraid of presenting himself as a target within the subtext of his own films. A Loving Father, or Aime Ton Pere for the traditionalists, is a prime example centering on the emotional turmoil of a son trying to connect with a father isolated by fame. But what makes this film remarkable are the confronting performances he draws from his two lead actors, Gerard Depardieu and his own real-life son Guillaume Depardieu, who have their own dark history inspiring their on-screen conflict.
Gerard plays Leo, a cruel self-absorbed writer who receives news that he is to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Against the wishes of his daughter Virginia, played with nervous intensity by waif like actress Sylvie Testud, Leo sets out on a motorcycle journey across Europe to claim his prize. However his son Paul (Guillaume), fresh out of rehab and having heard the news, attempts to reconnect with the man he hasn’t spoken to in years. Of course things don’t go as planned and Paul finds himself kidnapping his renowned father after a fatal accident leaves the literary world, including his sister Virginia, believing Leo to be dead.
Part thriller, part black comedy and part biopic, Berger infuses the script with all his insecurities, angst and obsession while manipulating Gerard and Guillaume’s flawed relationship (which culminated with Gerard publicly disowning his son a year after the films release) to achieve a captivating honesty that saves the film from becoming over indulgent or satirical.
Now on DVD with English subtitles, A Loving Father has little in the way of extra material with biographies on the main cast offering some interesting background facts on the Depardieus’ murky past. However, the stunning performances and obvious emotional investment allows Berger to deliver a brave and entertaining film which explores the darker side of family dysfunction.
Jonny Wilkinson: The Real Story
With the Tri Nations and the Bledisloe Cup fueling the 2005 Rugby season at the moment, it’s not surprising that Jonny Wilkinson: The Real Story makes its way to DVD this month. What is surprising is just how well made and enjoyable this profile of the Lions’ & Newcastle Falcon’s fly half actually is.
Since scoring the winning goal in the 2003 World Cup against Australia, Jonny Wilkinson has become synonymous with international Rugby, gaining fame well beyond the usual fraternity of sports fans. But for the most part, Wil- kinson has avoided the public eye, doing only the occasional media interview or product endorsement.
Having followed Wilkin- son around over a twelve week period in the lead up to the 2003 World cup, The Real Story delivers an entertaining, humourous and surprisingly intimate profile of the sporting icon which thankfully transcends the run-of-the-mill films typical of sports documentaries. Complementing archival footage of Jonny playing in the under-8s league with hard hitting action from international competition, director Simon Niblett also uses to great effect interviews with Wilkinson’s parents, girlfriend and peers including former Lions captain Will Carling and rugby fan Ian Botham filmed exclusively for the documentary.
However it’s the interviews with Wilkinson himself that establish the core of the show, filmed in candid and unpredictable locations around the UK and on tour, and all designed to capture honest, unrehearsed responses. The result reveals a surprisingly likable and sincere man deftly balancing a professional, sporting and private life with a determined ease befitting a much more seasoned player.
Running just short of an hour with no bonus material, Jonny Wilkison: The Real Story easily stands on its own merits as a simple and entertaining profile filmed for the love of the game and without any tabloid motives. A rare find and well worth adding to
Truth, Lies & Intelligence
Truth, Lies & Intelligence is unique in being the only Australian film to effectively explore Australia’s involvement in the lead up to the Iraq War. Filmed in 2003 by award winning filmmaker Carmel Travers the film recounts the origins of the intelligence fraud surrounding Iraq’s WMDs and its use in achieving the eventual invasion of that country by the US, Britain and Australia.
Featuring insightful interviews from high profile whistle-blowers such as Greg Thielman, the former advisor to the US Secretary of State, Australian ex-intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie and Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to key figures in the Middle East including Hamze Mansour, the head of the Islamic National Front and common truck drivers along Iraq’s dangerous highways, highways they point out, which remained safe under Saddam’s rule, Travers delivers a decisive political documentary rich in journalistic integrity and dramatic revelations.
Now on DVD, Truth, Lies & Intelligence boasts an impressive extras package that opens with an introduction by Travers explaining her motivation in making the film. The usual suspects also appear with the film’s trailer, an image gallery and biographies on the key figures included, however it is the two extended interviews that make this package stand out, the first with Greg Thielman, personal advisor to Colin Powell, and the second with Australian Andrew Wilkie who speaks candidly about his role within ONA and the double-edged relationship Australian intelligence agencies have with their American counterparts. He also elaborates on his motivations in exposing the truth, along with details of his resignation and subsequent treatment by the Howard government.
Although threatened by the Attorney General’s Office and forced to surrender her computer hard drives and personal emails during the films production, Travers has managed to produce an undeniably compelling film and a stunning document of Australia’s current political climate.