Reviews

Moneyboys is a respectful depiction of homosexuality in mainland China: Taiwan Film Festival in Australia Review

September 17, 2021

Films dealing with queer thematics are few and far between in mainland China.  Due to the government’s strict regime on censorship, stories detailing the LGBTQ communities are a rarity, which is why a feature like Moneyboys is all the more curious.  Though set in China, it was filmed in the neighbouring Taiwan, co-financed with European […]

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Film Review: Pig is one of the best films of 2021 thanks to its gripping emotional honesty and a fantastic Nicolas Cage

September 16, 2021

Pig tells the story of Rob (a wonderfully subtle Nicolas Cage), a former renowned chef turned truffle hunter who resides in a cabin deep in the forest who makes a living by hunting for truffles with the help of his valuable foraging pig. He sells the truffles to young supplier and friend Amir (a stellar […]

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Saloum

Saloum blends action, comedy, horror and drama into a satisfying thrill-ride: TIFF 2021 Review

September 16, 2021

Saloum tells the story of three mercenaries Chaka (Yann Gael), Rafa (Roger Sallah) and Minuit (Mentor Ba) who are tasked to extract a Mexican drug dealer Felix (Renaud Farah) and his cargo of gold and drugs away from the chaos of the government overthrow of Guinea-Bissau and transfer to Dakar, Senegal. But when their means […]

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The Rescue is an emotionally rousing & suspenseful documentary about the Tham Luang cave rescue: TIFF 2021 Review

September 16, 2021

“There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” This is a quote from the 1999 sci-fi hit The Matrix by the Wachowskis. Why is this being quoted, you ask? This quote was stuck in this critic’s mind as he was watching the latest project from documentary filmmakers by Jimmy Chin and […]

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Film Review: Disclosure is a tense and all-too-raw drama that delights in its ambiguity

September 16, 2021

Opening with particularly confronting sexual imagery – something that appears unwarranted for gratuity sake before its bookend re-appearance – Disclosure is an unbearably tense and all-too raw drama that leans into the notion that adults can still very much act like children when provoked. And provoked the quartet at the centre of Michael Bentham‘s film […]

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Film Review: Die In A Gunfight is tragically dead on arrival

September 16, 2021

Just because a story has been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be told in a manner that offers something new.  In the case of Die In A Gunfight, a supposedly romantic thriller influenced by Shakespeare’s classic tale Romeo & Juliet, its intent on bringing flare to proceedings is so chaotic and desperate that it […]

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Zalava is an engaging mix of genre thrills, social commentary and potent drama: TIFF 2021 Review

September 16, 2021

Set in 1978, the film tells the story of a mountain village of Zalava in Kurdistan that is supposedly plagued by an ancient curse. The villagers are so drawn into the story of the curse that they have been driven into the ways that veer into levels of superstition, involving the use of metals as […]

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Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is a bewildering but worthwhile genre-mashup: TIFF 2021 Review

September 15, 2021

Set in ‘80s West Java, Indonesia, Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash tells the story of Ajo Kawir (Marthino Lio), a tenacious street brawler who is famous for his fearless attitude. Through his many manly acts of destruction and machismo lies a condition that fuels it all – his sexual impotence. Even with numerous […]

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Encounter is an intentionally ambiguous sci-fi drama that furthers Riz Ahmed’s star quality: TIFF 2021 Review

September 14, 2021

There’s a consistent thrill to Encounter, Michael Pearce‘s ambitious science fiction-leaning effort that delights in its ambiguous nature.  At least, for the most part.  Seen through the eyes of an unreliable narrator (an as expected stellar Riz Ahmed), Pearce’s film is better when it’s holding on to its secrets.  There’s something deeper and darker at […]

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The Starling squanders any of its emotional potential with lazy manipulation: TIFF 2021 Review

September 14, 2021

There’s a hopeful message about tackling grief in a healthy manner and how there’s the possibility of light at the end of darkness present in the core of The Starling.  With so many promising ingredients too, Theodore Melfi‘s feel-good dramedy is likely to lure audiences in with a false sense of security, promising potential but […]

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The Guilty is an intense showcase for the ever commanding Jake Gyllenhaal: TIFF 2021 Review

September 13, 2021

The 2018 Danish thriller The Guilty was riveting, ruthless material.  This American remake, coming courtesy of director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer), is much of the same, which means those who have seen the original will find the plotting all too familiar, yet those uninitiated are likely to be wholly swept up in its […]

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All My Puny Sorrows tackles its raw subject matter with a heightened honesty: TIFF 2021 Review

September 13, 2021

There’s a quirky, indie comedy vibe that initially laces the opening minutes of All My Puny Sorrows that deceptively suggests what will take place over the coming 103 minutes will be an airier approach to incredibly sensitive material.  Character names are unusual – to say the least – and the dialogue is heightened, presented in […]

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Film Review: Ride the Eagle can’t soar above a muted path, despite likeable intentions

September 9, 2021

A film that’s more interesting due to its circumstances – it was made under strict pandemic rules – rather than the actual story put forth, Ride the Eagle is sweet and well-intentioned, but can’t entirely execute its premise with any flare or depth. A take-at-face-value type dramedy, Trent O’Donnell‘s film centres on the lowly Leif […]

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Film Review: Coming Home in the Dark is a menacing feature brimmed with horrific potential

September 9, 2021

It doesn’t take much for director James Ashcroft to create the most horrific of situations from the simplest of ingredients laid bare in the early stages of the eerie Coming Home in the Dark.  A loving family, an idyllic New Zealand locale, and a duo of passing strangers provide all that is needed for Ashcroft’s […]

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Film Review: Cinderella is an unnecessary, yet harmless modernised take on the classic fairytale

September 3, 2021

Contemporary music accompanying a period set film is not exactly a personality that a production should solely rely on.  And whilst this unnecessary, but completely harmless, “re-telling” of the classic Cinderella does its damnedest with admittedly catchy (and colourfully choreographed) numbers – ranging from Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” to Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud”, by […]

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Film Review: You Cannot Kill David Arquette is an alarmingly bleak and emotional documentary about a fascinatingly off-kilter actor

September 2, 2021

At one point in his career David Arquette was poised to be a potential acting force among the other stars of his generation.  He worked the indie cinema circuit, he was profiled alongside such talent as Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, and Matthew McConaughey, his work in the Scream films earned him box office clout, and […]

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Film Review: Summer of Soul is a musical and political celebration that speaks to cultural re-evaluation

September 2, 2021

Somehow, a festival situated in the heart of Harlem, one that featured such performers as Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, and Nina Simone, had been written out of the history books.  In 1969, a year on from the assassination of Martin Luther King, over six weekends in Mount Morris Park, overseen by the liberal New York […]

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Film Review: Streamline underlays a tragic narrative with commentary on the toxic masculinity within the sporting field

September 2, 2021

As easy as it would be to accuse a film like Streamline of adhering to the stereotypical tragic narrative that seems to be at the undercurrent of the majority of Australian dramas, Tyson Wade Johnston manages to include subtle commentary on the notion of toxic masculinity within the sporting field – here, specifically swimming – […]

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Film Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an extravagant tale strengthened by the star-making turn from Simu Liu

September 2, 2021

Familiar with a little father-son friction thanks to his role on TV’s Kim’s Convenience, Simu Liu experiences similar, though considerably higher emotional stakes, but no less dramatic, as the titular warrior-to-be Shang-Chi in Marvel’s latest extravagant offering, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.  There’s the typical end-of-the-world dilemma to contend with, but Destin […]

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Film Review: Under the Volcano is the fascinating tale of how AIR Studios became Atlantis

September 1, 2021

If you’ve ever wondered what Sir George Martin – the legendary Beatles producer – did after the Fab Four split then Under the Volcano is the film for you. Sir Martin remained prolific in the music industry and opened up his own studio-cum-playground in Montserrat. This state-of-the-art workspace was the birthplace of many hits and […]

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Film Review: Rushed is a tender, yet furious drama about the hazing ritual culture of American fraternities

August 30, 2021

Siobhan Fallon Hogan may not be the most recognisable name, but you best believe she’s someone you notice when on screen.  Perhaps best known for her stint on Saturday Night Live, as Elaine’s roommate in TV’s Seinfeld, and films such as Men In Black, where her character was perplexed by the sugar intake of the […]

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Film Review: Vacation Friends is a familiarly-minded comedy elevated by the wild energy of John Cena

August 27, 2021

Over the least few years John Cena has proven himself surprisingly adroit when it comes to executing comedy.  And a film like Vacation Friends, helmed by Silicon Valley executive producer Clay Tarver and featuring co-writing credits from Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Game Night), feels like the perfect vehicle to continue showcasing his wild, […]

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Film Review: Don’t Breathe 2 is morally foul and unapologetic in its B-grade gratification

August 27, 2021

To say there was a certain amount of resistance when it came to the notion of Don’t Breathe 2 would be something of an understatement.  The idea that the original film’s villain – Stephen Lang‘s Norman, aka “The Blind Man”, who emerged from Fede Alvarez‘s tense 2016 thriller Don’t Breathe as a vile shut-in with […]

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Film Review: Candyman is an intelligent horror film that’s as politically charged as it is unnerving

August 26, 2021

When it comes to cinematic boogeymen, the creation of Candyman is undoubtedly a frontrunner.  Since first becoming the stuff of unnerving urban legend in Bernard Rose’s 1992 classic Candyman, the character itself has remained a figure of terror and now, just shy of three decades later, has been summoned once more for a new generation […]

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Film Review: Reminiscence showcases the bold and original creativity of filmmaker Lisa Joy

August 19, 2021

Adopting a futuristic setting and applying a noir mentality to its narrative, Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy shows bold, original footing in her debut as a feature filmmaker.  She may not always stick the landing, but it’s hard to deny her talent and evident vision with Reminiscence, a mystery thriller at its base that incorporates romance […]

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Jacob's Wife

Film Review: Jakob’s Wife is a fun splatter horror comedy about a disintegrating marriage that could use some vamping up

August 19, 2021

Jakob’s Wife tells the story of small-town couple Jakob and Anne Fedder (horror veterans Larry Fessenden and Barbara Crampton); a local minister and his dutiful wife who have been married close to 30 years. Anne feels that after all the tasks of being a housewife – including the cleaning, cooking, gardening, housekeeping and more cleaning […]

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Film Review: The Night House is a thought-provoking horror film exploring the thematics of grief

August 18, 2021

The idea of marrying grief and the horror genre together isn’t exactly a bold, new concept, but thanks to a thought-provoking script (courtesy of Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski), deceptively inventive set design, and a wholly committed central turn from Rebecca Hall, The Night House explores a tested theme in a fresh manner. Hall stars […]

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Film Review: Come Play is an effective scarer for those seeking easy thrills

August 18, 2021

One of the few horror efforts from 2020 that dared an American theatrical release last year – only one minor delay period and no being sold to a streaming service – Come Play, though perhaps stuck with the stigma of being a “direct to digital release” here in Australia, is a worthy scarer that utilises […]

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Fantasia Film Festival Review: The Last Thing Mary Saw takes pride in the subtle and suggestive nature of religious horror

August 17, 2021

Religious principles and the notion of intolerance run thematically rampant in The Last Thing Mary Saw, a horror-leaning drama film that announces first time filmmaker Edoardo Vitaletti as an intriguing mind to keep our radar on. Opting for tension and unease rather than overt gore, Mary… is an 1843 set period chiller that opens on […]

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Film Review: Respect feels like a greatest hits package rather than an album of cohesive work

August 17, 2021

A capable cast, led by a worthy Jennifer Hudson, and a plethora of recognisable hit records may be enough to satisfy a surface level bassline when it comes to the story of soul legend Aretha Franklin, but Respect, for all its good intentions, doesn’t quite feel like the story such an icon deserves. At around […]

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