8:00 PM, 15th October, 2004
Pieces Of April is a comedy about Thanksgiving, families and life in the big city. April Burns (Holmes) invites her family to the festive dinner in her grungy apartment in Manhattan. She plans a traditional meal, complete with turkey. Come the big day, April's oven breaks down, so she seeks the assistance of various neighbours. Meanwhile, her black boyfriend is bashed up. Unaware of what is happening, April's family make the journey from suburban Pennsylvania in turmoil brought on by Joy Burns's (Clarkson) angst at the prospect of yet another let down by her problem daughter, the family underachiever. Unknown to April, Joy is dying of cancer.
Though a comedy, Pieces Of April is not afraid to confront the big questions of fractured relationships, the gap between what we hoped for and what we get and the inevitability of loss. Clarkson (surely one of the best living actresses in the US) gives an outstanding performance as the angry, difficult, dying Joy. Oliver Platt is very good as the father of the family.
Not without minor faults (mainly a sugary Whitmanesque perspective on urban life that seems contrived) Pieces Of April is a charming and life affirming film.
9:40 PM, 15th October, 2004
The opening scene of Walking On Water is pretty traumatic and it's a good lead into the film. Tony Ayres uses the death of Gavin from AIDS/HIV to examine the characters affected by his death. It is an amazing story with one of Vince Colosimo's trademark great performances as the friend who is ravaged by the guilt of his friend's death. At first glance, the film seems to be a look at gay Sydney nightlife, and if not for the marvellous performances of the stars, that's what this film would have remained. You're left not sure if you agree with the characters, or if you even like them, and looking through a window onto the gritty side of hard drugs and gay nightlife. The film has lots of questions, few answers and plenty of emotion.