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Words by Duncan Caillard

Lake Bell’s directorial debut, In a World, is a quirky yet charming romantic comedy about breaking into the competitive world of Hollywood voiceovers. Having just been evicted from her prestigious father’s home, Carol Solomon (played by Bell, who incidentally wrote the film as well) must determine her own place in life outside her father’s shadow.

A strength of the film is its exploration of the often-overlooked corner of Hollywood that is the voice over, without getting bogged down in details. While cinephiles and aspiring sound designers are more likely to jump headlong into the world than a run of-the-mill muggle, the whole movie is nevertheless very accessible.

Its humour is quirky yet surprisingly grounded, a good portion of the laughs rising from simple, human relationships as they breakdown, are remade, and start altogether. The cast is strong, giving the film a sense of closeness and joviality, which is contemporary romantic comedies often miss. The end result is a cosy 90 minutes of character-driven comedy which remains taut and engaging. Despite all this, it still manages to seriously discuss the lack of female voices in the media without being invasive, challenging the audience to rethink the role of a gendered voice in media.

While it can feel a little didactic at points, particularly near the end, this only adds to the film’s quaint charm, having the added bonus of letting you leave the cinema feeling as if you’ve learnt something.

Ultimately, In a World is a crisp, endearing and occasionally very funny film with something clear and meaningful to say. While quirky and distinct, its a well-constructed film that can appeal to a wide audience. While not groundbreaking, it still makes for an excellent movie.

In A World is in Australian cinemas from 3 April.

Words by Duncan Caillard

Launched in June 2009, National Theatre Live broadcasts the best British theatre ‘live’ to select cinemas around the world. From world-renowned productions of Shakespeare to international blockbusters like Warhorse, National Theatre Live distributes world-class theatre to an international audience who would otherwise be unable to get to the West End.

Now available to an Australian audience, the near-live broadcast of Warhorse captures a great deal of the magic of the original stage production, which ended its Melbourne run last year. All for the price of a movie ticket.

Warhorse follows the relationship between a boy and his horse in the lead-up to World War I, and the quest for each other in the horrific shadow of the conflict. Brought to life through the use of stunning puppetry and design, Warhorse is truly a marvel to experience. Touching, well lit and often incredibly funny, the play itself is a theatrical triumph. Aside from the horses, which are themselves mechanical masterpieces, the film is highlighted by the hauntingly beautiful vocals of singer Ben Murray and a particularly hilarious scene-stealing goose.

Warhorse’s success as a broadcast hinges on how successfully it can bridge the disparate mediums of film and theatre. Thankfully, it successfully achieves this balance. Both the sound and cinematography are excellent and do a great deal to capture the magic of the stage play. However, as is always the case when collapsing three dimensions into two, a degree of depth is lost in the transmission.

Ultimately, National Theatre Live’s broadcast of Warhorse serves as a fitting facsimile of the original production . For those of us who weren’t lucky enough to see it in the first time around—or who loved it so much that they’d like to see it again—the live broadcast of Warhorse is a terrific way to catch an extraordinary play.

Words by Duncan Caillard

After Detroit beat cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is fatally wounded by a car bomb, he is resurrected by the hyper-evil robot mega-corporation Omnicorp as a marketing ploy to sell death droids to the US government. What follows is a generic two hours of depthless nonsense that feels as if it was assembled from a flat-packed package from IKEA by a team of people who couldn’t read the instructions.

For its entire duration, Robocop wanders on aimlessly, bouncing from hollow fight scene to hollow fight scene, unsure of what exactly it wants to say or how it wants to say it. Ultimately it resorts to shoring up its ruins with cheap genre tropes of black buddy cops, corrupt CEOs and gorgeous Arian families in the suburbs. The film can’t decide whether it wants to discuss free will, US military engagements in the Middle East, privacy in the modern world or whistleblowers. In the end it leaves nothing explored and very little said.

The acting is almost universally flaccid. The Robocop himself would have been played with more vibrancy and excitement by a halved orange left out in the sun for too long. The film exchanges the original 1987 version’s hyper-violence and relentless satire for an M rating and an uninteresting cardboard love story between Murphy and his wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish).

Despite the fact that the majority of the film is utterly humourless, the scenes containing Samuel L Jackson’s Pat Novak are both genuinely funny and insightful. Parodying personality-driven Fox News shows, the few moments where he’s onscreen are a welcome escape from the bland uselessness of the rest of the film. On a certain level, it’s almost worth seeing the film just for those moments, but that level is very, very low.

Ultimately, RoboCop fails to justify its own existence and stumbles through a flavourless story populated by uninteresting characters. You won’t leave the theatre angry, just bored.