Author: Tom Kavanagh

MIFF Review: Little Men (USA, 2016) reaffirms Ira Sachs’ gift for understated human drama

August 12, 2016

Little Men begins with Jake Jardine (Theo Taplitz) sitting quietly amidst anarchic scenes in a teacher-less classroom. Later that day, home from school, he takes a call from an old friend of his grandfather who, assuming that Jake knows more than he does, clumsily inquires about arrangements for Jake’s grandfather’s funeral. The juxtaposition of these […]

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MIFF Review: Elle (France, 2016) is sensationally subversive

August 8, 2016

Elle, the latest from Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven, is sensationally subversive. Part unnerving psychosexual thriller, part searing familial comedy, the film commences disturbingly with the sounds of the violent rape of the film’s protagonist, Michèle LeBlanc (Isabelle Huppert), in her Parisian home. We do not witness the crime, only the immediate aftermath: masked assailant having […]

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MIFF Review: Toni Erdmann (Germany, 2016) is a meandering delight

August 1, 2016

Written and directed by Maren Ede, Toni Erdmann is a meandering delight. By turns hilarious and poignant, it concerns the ageing Winfried Conradi’s frequently maladroit attempts to re-establish some sort of a meaningful relationship with his adult daughter, Ines, in the course of a spontaneous trip to visit her in Bucharest, the Romanian capital. Unkempt, […]

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A school year’s worth of hijinx and tomfoolery sees HBO’s Vice Principals hit the ground running

July 25, 2016

The pilot for HBO’s new show Vice Principals, “The Principal”, lays the groundwork for a school year’s worth of hijinx and tomfoolery – think lots of phallic jokes, and then some. Behind the camera, Vice Principals finds Danny McBride teaming up again with Eastbound and Down‘s co-creator, Jody Hill. In front of it, McBride’s Neil […]

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Melbourne International Film Festival Review: Mississippi Grind (USA, 2015)

August 11, 2015

Mississippi Grind commences with a fixed camera shot of a pastoral landscape, a glorious rainbow stretches across the horizon in the background. Yet, when Ben Mendelsohn’s Gerry remarks on the spectacle with wonder around a local casino poker table later that evening, he is seemingly the only player to have witnessed it. At least, he […]

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Film Review: I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story (USA, 2015)

July 30, 2015

Like the titular feathered character, I am Big Bird: the Carroll Spinney Story is big-hearted, filled with love and curiosity. This documentary by Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker explores the life and times of the man inside the big yellow bird that has been a joyful part of an inestimable number of childhoods over the […]

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Film Review: Infini (MA15+) (Australia, 2015)

May 7, 2015

The century is the 23rd and the world’s population is, for the most part, impoverished. In an effort to escape the rat race, the poor take jobs in dangerous extraterrestrial industries, of which even the commute, via a process of data transmission known as slipstreaming, is treacherous. Whit Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson) is one such worker. […]

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Film Review: Pitch Perfect 2 (M) (USA, 2015)

May 7, 2015

They are back, pitches. Whether you invited them or not. As Pitch Perfect 2 opens, the Barden Bellas are at the zenith of competitive acapella group achievement, having dominated the scene imperiously since capturing the national title for the first time three years prior. However, a wardrobe malfunction of Janet-Jackson-circa-Super-Bowl-XXXVIII proportions during a televised performance, […]

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Film Review: Testament of Youth (M) (UK, 2015)

April 23, 2015

Testament of Youth begins with a fleeting glimpse of the crowded streets of England on Armistice Day in 1918. Amidst the celebrations, we catch sight of the pained visage of Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander). Overwhelmed by the crowd, she seeks refuge in a nearby church and, finding solitude in an alcove, loses herself in a […]

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