Author: Harris Dang

The Way Back

Film Review: The Way Back is a great showcase for Ben Affleck

March 5, 2020

The sports drama formula in cinema has been the most overused and non-innovative formula in cinema lately. Ever since the early 2000s, Walt Disney Pictures have made a long string of films with a fixed formula: inspirational movies about triumphing over adversity that are mostly based on true stories. Despite the critical reception of the […]

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Film Review: The Call of the Wild is a call not worth answering

February 20, 2020

The 1903 book The Call of the Wild is considered classic literature for young children. So much so, that it has been adapted on-screen multiple times as a silent film, an anime film and through multiple attempts in Hollywood; including a 1996 version starring Rutger Hauer that is considered by some to be the most […]

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Film Review: Richard Jewell is a mostly successful return to form for Eastwood as Hauser shines

February 13, 2020

There are few better ways of getting audiences into the cinema than to provide an underdog story. Even superhero films such as Avengers: Endgame (2019) are in their very nature an underdog story; triumphing over adversity and injustice. But the icing on the cake for such stories is that if the film is based on […]

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Film Review: Midway crashes and burns as it can’t meet its ambitions halfway

February 1, 2020

Bombastic blockbuster filmmaker Roland Emmerich has been on a bit of a downward spiral lately. He started off quite well with projects from his home of West Germany; until he worked in America; making entertaining efforts like Universal Soldier and Stargate that succeeded well at the box office. But few had expected his next effort […]

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Film Review: Bombshell lacks the power of its namesake as it pulls its punches

January 16, 2020

Ever since the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the world had drastically changed and stories of sexual violence have gone through the roof; exposing all the reprehensible actions that have been swept under the rug for decades in the entertainment industry. Since then, the boom has reached worldwide, exposing other horrific stories in the process. What is […]

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Film Review: Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is a masterful adaptation with a spectacular cast

December 31, 2019

The amount of film adaptations of Little Women has been vast – the most recent one only came out in 2018 – but the reason this beloved source material is still relevant today is because of how timeless the story is. Despite the period setting, the story shines light on prescient and relevant themes such as […]

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Film Review: The Gentlemen is a film that should’ve minded its manners

December 31, 2019

British director Guy Ritchie has had an interesting career trajectory over the years. He started off with his calling card film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; a crime comedy that put him on the map thanks to his humour poking fun at geezery [sic] gangsters in Britain, the extreme political incorrectness and his energetic […]

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Film Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire burns with passion

December 22, 2019

French director Céline Sciamma is one of the best writer/directors in French Cinema working today. She specializes in coming-of-age dramas and this reviewer has been a fan of her work ever since he saw her film Tomboy. From fantastic directorial work like her directorial debut Water Lilies and her prior film Girlhood to stellar screenwriting […]

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Film Review: Sorry We Missed You is a grueling, heartbreaking yet compassionate drama from Ken Loach

December 21, 2019

Sorry We Missed You is the latest film from acclaimed British director Ken Loach. Loach has made many great films over the years that delved into social realism. Great works like I, Daniel Blake, It’s a Free World…, Vera Drake, The Wind That Shakes the Barley; all examined the gritty undertakings of the British environment […]

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Film Review: Nothing will prepare you for the experience that is Cats

December 20, 2019

Horror films have had a banner year in 2019. They crept under the audience’s skin, lingering in the mind long after the credits had stopped rolling. But none of them seemed as haunting as the first theatrical trailer for Tom Hooper‘s Cats. When the trailer was released, the public opinion was overwhelmingly negative. Many viewers were […]

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Film Review: Freaks is one of the best genre surprises of the year

December 9, 2019

One of the pleasures of watching films is the feeling of surprise and enjoying the journey and not knowing where it will lead you. In other words, a little mystery goes a long way. In the case of Freaks by co-directors Adam B. Stein and Zach Lipovsky, it comes with an interesting premise that has […]

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Film Review: The Two Popes is a thought-provoking piece of work, featuring a great double act from Pryce and Hopkins

December 4, 2019

Brazillian director Fernando Meirelles has a very interesting body of work. With intense crime thriller City of God (which he co-directed with Katia Lund) as his calling card, Meirelles has always been a filmmaker that aimed for realism and verisimilitude (see: political thriller The Constant Gardener) even if the premise had veered more into a fantastical way […]

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What we learned from The Truth Q&A with director Hirokazu Kore-eda

November 17, 2019

Renowned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest The Truth had it’s Australian premiere this weekend, at a special event at Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, with the director himself in attendance. We were lucky enough to be in the audience for a post-screening Q&A with the director, headed up by film critic David Stratton, and we’ve got all […]

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Film Review: The Report is a gripping procedural, boasting a fantastic performance from Adam Driver

November 14, 2019

Some of the cinema history’s most acclaimed films have revolved around stories of journalistic, procedural or investigative narratives. And with most of the selected group based on true stories, it begs the question: how can you make a gripping film where you already know the outcome of the story? Case in point: writer/director Scott Z. […]

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Film Review: Ford v Ferrari is a fantastic tribute to the Hollywood sports genre

November 13, 2019

The 1960s set Ford v Ferrari might not sound appealing to anyone with limited knowledge of or interest in the world of motor racing. But, in the world of cinema, any story can work, regardless of its premise, thanks to the themes it examines. In the case of director James Mangold‘s latest, these universal themes cover […]

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Film Review: Ready or Not is gleefully sadistic fun, with a great performance from Samara Weaving

October 24, 2019

Horror comedies are a sub-genre that are hard to pull off successfully. One has to steer tonal shifts smoothly and juggle both laughs and scares with skill and balance; all whilst not overwhelming or underwhelming on either front. Successful horror comedies include Sam Raimi‘s horror entries — The Evil Dead Trilogy and Drag Me To […]

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Monster Fest Review: In Search of Darkness gives horror fans what they want in spades

October 7, 2019

It may sound wrong to start off a review in the first person as well stating my personal bias, but I am planning to anyway because it would be unfair for the reader and myself due to certain restrictions in my writing. First off, I love horror films of the ’80s. I grew up watching […]

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MIFF Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a brimming, hot-blooded and passionate romance at its best

August 5, 2019

French director Céline Sciamma is one of the best writer/directors in French Cinema working today. She specializes in coming-of-age dramas and this reviewer has been a fan of her work ever since he saw her film Tomboy. From fantastic directorial work like her directorial debut Water Lilies and her prior film Girlhood to stellar screenwriting […]

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Film Review: Ophelia fails to make the most out of its interesting revisionist premise

August 3, 2019

Filmgoers have always mused upon the fact that there are formulas in cinema that have been explored over and over. Cliches and tropes, if you will. In the case of this review, the formula that has been explored numerous times is the adaptations of the works of renowned English writer/playwright William Shakespeare. What makes Shakespeare’s […]

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Film Review: Stuber is an Uber-amusing three-star ride

July 10, 2019

Buddy comedies are a dime-a-dozen these days. And much like romantic films, they rely on the chemistry of the leads to succeed. An original plot? Unimportant. Solid acting? No need. If the chemistry works between the leads, then it should offset a lot of the film’s flaws. Case in point, Michael Dowse‘s action-comedy Stuber, a […]

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Film Review: Booksmart is so damn good, you’d want to rub your face in it

July 10, 2019

The fact that the existence of another raunchy teen comedy — jam-packed with sex, drugs and alcohol — may not mean much but it has been a very long time since I have heard this much hype for a comedy such as Booksmart. Ever since its premiere at this year’s South by Southwest, it has […]

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Parasite

Film Review: Parasite is a spectacularly insidious film you would want to latch on to

June 25, 2019

Director Bong Joon-ho is one of cinema’s most eclectic filmmakers working today. What makes his work stand out so much is his assured directorial hand in mixing genres that usually do not associate with each other and yet somehow, he executes them brilliantly. But no matter what genre he works in, he always manages to […]

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Melbourne Documentary Film Festival Review: Singled [Out] is too brief to make a true impact, but it is still worth a look

June 22, 2019

Singled [Out] is a new documentary by directors Mariona Guiu and Ariadna Relea; and the premise is what really struck out to me, as we follow the lives of five women (under 30) of different backgrounds (Australia, Turkey, Spain and two women from China), and how they live their lives with their choices, whether they […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: Pain and Glory (Spain, 2019) is one of Pedro Almodovar’s best films

June 14, 2019

Viva Almodovar! If that opening didn’t clue you in, I am a huge fan of the work of acclaimed Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar. His filmmaking is an extravagant blend that is both wondrously idiosyncratic and entertainingly melodramatic; capped off with a colourfully vibrant eye. Even his supposedly disappointing films have won me over time, […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: The Souvenir (UK, 2019) is one of the best films of 2019

June 11, 2019

Before I start off this review, it must be said that I have not seen any of the works by director Joanna Hogg. It wasn’t due to any prior indiscretions, rather my personal ignorance. But upon hearing the massive amounts of praise from festivals and critics all over the world for her latest film, The […]

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Film Review: Happy as Lazzaro (Italy, 2018) is magical realism par excellence

June 11, 2019

Over the recent years, it has come to my attention that some of the most problematic films that have attained a lot of critical derision have come from films that explore the trope of magical realism. Recent efforts such as Collateral Beauty, Life Itself and The Book of Henry have tried to be life-affirming by […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: The Third Wife (Vietnam, 2018) is an entrancing, haunting and sensual experience

June 10, 2019

It feels absolutely wonderful to see a Vietnamese film in this year’s Sydney Film Festival. Of course, there have been many Vietnamese film in film festivals before but, with a stronger focus on genre-centric cinema over the recent year, it feels invigorating for a Vietnamese critic such as myself. This year, we have Ash Mayfair‘s […]

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Film Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix is mutant X-Crement

June 5, 2019

It has been almost two decades since the X-Men franchise started and now it has finally come to an end. Over the years, we have had a series of generally positive outcomes from this franchise — a list of mostly great films and a handful of very bad ones. For every film like X2: X-Men […]

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Film Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters pays loving tribute to its forebears, with monster battles and throwbacks galore

June 3, 2019

It’s finally here! The Godzilla franchise continues with Godzilla: King of the Monsters! Previous director Gareth Edwards has been replaced by Michael Dougherty, best known for his horror efforts like the Halloween anthology film Trick ‘R Treat and the Christmas movie Krampus. With an all-star cast of acclaimed thespians, rising talents and franchise returnees and free reign […]

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Film Review: Triple Threat may not live up to its promise, but it is still an action-packed treat

May 27, 2019

If you were to see the cast of Triple Threat, which is jam-packed with talented martial artists/established action heroes, chances are that you would be overly excited. With this much talent in an action film, how can it possibly fail? We must consider the people behind the scenes. Triple Threat has director Jesse V. Johnson, […]

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