Reviews

Queer Screen Film Fest Review: Cicada is a beautiful and tragic film that wisely doesn’t preach to its audience

September 19, 2020

Given how authentic this “based on real events” tale proves to be, it’s safe to assume that writer/director/actor Matthew Fifer is baring a healthy portion of his soul and experiences in Cicada.  Likely to ring true with queer audiences – especially gay men – the film tackles uncomfortable subjects and presents promiscuous sex in an […]

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Queer Screen Film Fest Review: Stage Mother is an entertaining yet forgettable affair

September 18, 2020

In 2020, a movie detailing the drag scene and the straight Texan mother who comes to embrace it following the death of her queer son should be something worth remembering.  Even more so when said mother is portrayed by a seasoned performer like Jacki Weaver.  Sadly, as well-intentioned as Stage Mother is, it’s a forgettable […]

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TIFF Review: The magnificently mesmerizing Wolfwalkers will have audiences howling with joy

September 18, 2020

Whenever one thinks of animation studios, the main ones one would think of would be either Disney and Pixar from the West and Studio Ghibli overseas. Then on the lesser known side, there would be studios like Laika and Aardman studios. But there is one that is even more obscure and that is called the […]

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TIFF Review: Pieces of a Woman is a moving drama and stellar acting showcase for Vanessa Kirby and Ellen Burstyn

September 18, 2020

The filmography of playwright/director Kornel Mundruczo is quite interesting from a first glimpse. The standout feature is the fact that his works are usually political parables disguised as genre fare. His last two films White God and Jupiter’s Moon delved into the horror/sci-fi genre but were more about the examination of the inner workings of […]

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TIFF Review: Naomi Watts is the best thing in the underwhelming Penguin Bloom

September 17, 2020

Penguin Bloom follows the story of the Bloom family, a happy and adventurous troupe who are led on many treks by the outgoing matriarch Sam (Naomi Watts). All appears well as they are holidaying in Thailand until a once-in-a-lifetime accident occurs; leaving Sam paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.  Seen as a shadow of her former […]

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Film Review: The Secrets We Keep is a thought-provoking examination on the aftermath of violence

September 16, 2020

Whilst Yuval Adler‘s The Secrets We Keep has quite a nasty temperament, it’s a testament to his and Ryan Covington‘s script that it never overindulges in its wince-worthy material. Set in a post-WWII America where the horrors of Nazi camps and prisoner brutality are a distant though still painful memory, Maja (Noomi Rapace), a Romani […]

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TIFF Review: Shiva Baby is one of the funniest films of 2020

September 15, 2020

Rachel Sennott stars as Danielle, a young bisexual Jewish woman, traipsing through life going through a phase of self-defeat as she essentially performs sex work for money; all under the guise of sexual empowerment excused by her gender studies degree. The mindset of Danielle is set up in a succinctly and hilariously tired fashion as she has sex with her […]

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Film Review: Trolls World Tour‘s sunny disposition is just what families need during these uncertain times

September 14, 2020

Prior to COVID-19 taking a hold of the industry in a capacity the world was unprepared for, Trolls World Tour was primed for a first quarter release – hell, Sydney was even planning a premiere with director Walt Dohrn and star Anna Kendrick in attendance – ready to capitalise on the somewhat-unexpected success of the […]

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TIFF Review: Get the Hell Out is an exhausting yet ultimately amusing zombie horror comedy

September 13, 2020

There are genre conventions that we see all the time in film that whenever they show up, we cannot help but smile at the sight of it. One of them is seeing the hero succeed in their journey; another is seeing the protagonist triumph over oppression and adversity and another is seeing a zombie getting […]

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TIFF Review: A Good Man is an empathetic and understanding look into the life of a trans man wanting to have a child

September 13, 2020

When news of the latest project by writer/director Marie-Castille Mention-Scharr was announced, this reviewer was intrigued yet quite trepidacious [sic]. The premise of the story itself is inspiring but the casting of the titular role can be seen as quite problematic. The major reason for being is because of the lack of proper representation for […]

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TIFF Review: One Night in Miami is an electrifying film directorial debut for Regina King

September 12, 2020

In America 1964, the audience is introduced with its four main players. Renowned boxer Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) had just defeated Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion of the world; Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is still fighting for the cause for Black people; pop musician Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom […]

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TIFF Review: Holler is a remarkable coming-of-age drama and directorial debut from Nicole Riegel

September 11, 2020

Jessica Barden stars as Ruth Avery, a high school student who lives in Jackson, Ohio with her older brother Blaze (Gus Halper). She is intelligent and resilient but due to her living conditions, she is looked down upon by people at school to the point that she has to resort to stealing books (i.e. Madame […]

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Film Review: Bill & Ted Face the Music is a genuinely joyous slice of nostalgia that proves worth the wait for long-standing fans

September 8, 2020

As someone who was a kid when the first two Bill & Ted films were released (Excellent Adventure in 1989, Bogus Journey in 1991), and watched them on a regular basis throughout my childhood, I’m very much in the target demographic for the unexpected sequel that is Bill & Ted Face the Music.  As 1980’s-leaning […]

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Film Review: Buffaloed is a vehicle for Zoey Deutch’s star quality and infectious enthusiasm

September 7, 2020

Zoey Deutch is a star, and as her infectious enthusiasm and penchant for live-wire-fuelled comedy proves in Buffaloed, the world is simply waiting to catch up to her.  In the same manner as someone like Anna Kendrick, Deutch does so much with so little, going-for-broke with a fearlessness that often elevates both the material she’s […]

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Film Review: The New Mutants is painfully full of dialogue and not enough horror scares

September 4, 2020

The New Mutants was going to be Fox’s attempt at re-invigorating the X-Men franchise, or at least, it probably was before it got bogged in production issues and a merger with Disney. The film, now released some two years later, gets dropped into cinemas whilst a pandemic is happening, which is probably a metaphor for […]

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Film Review: The Eight Hundred is at once a distinctive yet conventional entrant in the war film genre

August 31, 2020

We’re twenty minutes into Hu Guan‘s epic The Eight Hundred before the credits cease on screen.  Then the film informs us that we are on Day 1 of what is to be a four-day siege – not to mention a further 2 hours in its running time. The titular Eight Hundred refers to the 400 […]

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Film Review: Tenet is an ambitious, visually stunning, inherently interesting, mind-numbingly confusing tale

August 22, 2020

There’s a scene relatively early in Christopher Nolan‘s ambitious time-bending actioner Tenet where Clemence Poesey is explaining to John David Washington‘s confused character – known only as The Protagonist – about the supposed science behind his forthcoming operation; “Don’t try to understand it” she assuredly states. And it’s that advice that audiences best take when […]

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Film Review: Sequin in a Blue Room is a risqué but nonetheless important teen-aimed drama

August 19, 2020

A cautionary tale about the thrills and perils of recreational sex in the digital dating world, Sequin in a Blue Room is a risqué but nonetheless important teen-aimed drama that offers something of a safe space for queer or questioning audiences regarding the nature of their sexual selves. An erotic film without being overtly explicit […]

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Melbourne International Film Festival Review: Black Bear is a chaotic, relentless experience grounded by a mesmerising Aubrey Plaza

August 12, 2020

There are some films you just can’t quite pick. As much as Lawrence Michael Levine‘s Black Bear stays relatively true to its basic plot logline – “A filmmaker at a creative impasse seeks solace from her tumultuous past at a rural retreat, only to find that the woods summon her inner demons in intense and […]

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Film Review: Yes, God, Yes is a quieter, more relatable take on the classic teen sex comedy

July 28, 2020

The teen sex comedy isn’t a rarity within the studio system, but they are often quite outlandish enough that they never entirely ring true regarding the situations they’d like teenagers to relate to.  Weighing down the high concept mentality so often adopted by the genre, Yes, God, Yes is that rare beast that hopes to […]

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Film Review: Babyteeth is a human drama that isn’t afraid to be messy, frustrating and darkly comedic

July 15, 2020

Whilst it’s easy to roll your eyes at the almost insultingly familiar narrative Babyteeth works with at its core – terminal ill teenager falls in love with the wrong guy – it somehow manages to avoid most of the genre cliches, thanks to a mindset that isn’t afraid to be messy, frustrating and, at times, […]

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Film Review: The King of Staten Island is a surprisingly grounded film that operates more as a showcase for Pete Davidson’s dramatic capabilities

July 14, 2020

So you should know going into The King of Staten Island that, yes, director Judd Apatow hasn’t changed his aesthetic in terms of narrative length or character ingredients.  A too-long comedic drama (emphasis on the drama here) focusing on a typical man-child who’s failed to launch himself, Staten Island hopes to be more endearing than […]

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Is Stan Original Relic worth watching?

July 13, 2020

Prior to watching Natalie Erika James’ Relic, I’d read constant comparisons to Hereditary and The Babadook. The former has too strong a grasp on literal malevolence to align in any way with James’ debut feature, but The Babadook certainly shares a great deal with this Australian-made indie-horror, given both are rooted in German expressionism and […]

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Film Review: Waves is both a stirring and sobering experience

July 9, 2020

Despite this year’s Oscars honouring one of 2019’s more diverse offerings (Bong Joon-ho’s Korean black comedy/thriller Parasite), the whitewashing of the event was overwhelming.  In a cinematic year where actors of colour delivered universally-praised performances (see Lupita Nyong’o in Us, Awkwafina in The Farewell, and Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, for a start), it was disappointing that […]

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Film Review: Love Sarah delivers a charming but under-baked cinematic confection

July 2, 2020

When the eponymous Sarah unexpectedly passes away, her best friend and business partner Isabella (Shelley Conn) throws in the towel and backs out of their dream of running a bakery. But when Sarah’s daughter and estranged mother (Shannon Tarbet and Celia Imrie, respectively) re-enter her life, things are set right back in motion. With the […]

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Film Review: Dogs Don’t Wear Pants: In case Fifty Shades was too safe for you…

July 1, 2020

In case the filmic version of Fifty Shades of Grey was ultimately a little too safe in its actuality compared to the near-porn mentality of E.L. James’s novel, J-P Valkeapää‘s striking Dogs Don’t Wear Pants stands as something of a reparative.  And as much as the bold, dark comedy intends to shock its audience, this remains […]

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Is Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga worth watching?

June 28, 2020

Given the state of the world right now, a little comedy would be the perfect antidote to distract us.  And, on paper, a satire-cum-love-letter surrounding the Eurovision Song Contest starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as a duo of Icelandic popstar-wannabes desperate to win said contest sounds like a potential winner. The reality, unfortunately, is […]

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Film Review: Darkness Falls is a hollow thriller that doesn’t rise above its B-grade sensibility

June 15, 2020

At just over 80 minutes, Darkness Falls (which is also known as Anderson Falls in other regions) understands the importance of not overstaying its welcome.  It’s a lean, tight running time for a serial killer thriller, one that opens with a particularly harsh sequence where the predators murder their prey by forcing them to digest […]

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Film Review: Da 5 Bloods is Spike Lee’s Vietnam War opus and one of his very best

June 15, 2020

Fresh off the acclaim of his last film Blackkklansman and the series reboot She’s Gotta Have It, writer/director Spike Lee is back with his most ambitious film yet; the 2020 wartime drama Da 5 Bloods. Taking his prescient, provocative style and conveying it on a larger scale, it looks to be an absolute winner. A […]

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Artemis Fowl

Is Disney Plus’ new kids film Artemis Fowl worth watching?

June 12, 2020

Based on the 2001 book series by author Eoin Colfer, Disney have finally released their latest adaptation onto their streaming service. The film was originally delayed from an August release last year to April 2020. Then the Covid-19 pandemic caused a closure of cinemas globally. Now, finally, the film finally receives a release on Disney Plus […]

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