Reviews

Film Review: The Craft: Legacy respects its source material whilst placing its own individual stamp on the familiar narrative

October 29, 2020

Written and directed by an openly gay man and fronted by a quartet of women – one of whom a woman of colour – 1996’s supernatural teen horror film The Craft was, in retrospect, ahead of its time.  2 years before witchcraft would become weekly viewing on the television series Charmed, and over a decade […]

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Film Review: Rams will appear to the older crowds who appreciate undemanding, inoffensive cinema

October 28, 2020

Despite being a reimagined take on the 2015 Icelandic drama of the same name, Rams feels distinctly Australian.  The brotherly rivalry between its lead characters – symbolised by their opposing sheep flocks – offset by the wonderfully captured Western Australian backdrop gives Jeremy Sims‘ occasionally amusing drama a homegrown identity, despite the fact that it’s […]

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Film Review: Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity sees two souls journeying far away from Kansas

October 22, 2020

Steve Ewert and Dick Russell certainly had good reason to say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore!” In 1971 the photographer and writer went on a gruelling 4300km hitchhiking trip through the Sahara Desert. The result was like On the Road meets Wild. The documentary, Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity looks back at the pair’s […]

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Film Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm thrives more as a real-world commentary than it does as a crude comedy

October 22, 2020

Whilst the novelty of the original Borat film has indeed worn off, this surprise sequel showcases creator Sacha Baron Cohen‘s twisted mindframe still has a place in an America, a country that sadly has only deteriorated since he last held up his own dirty mirror to their mentality. A few weeks ago none of us […]

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Film Review: Corpus Christi is a gripping drama about the murky and hypocritical grounds of faith, redemption and morality

October 22, 2020

Corpus Christi follows the story of a young inmate Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia), who is imprisoned for second-degree murder. During his long stint, he has a spiritual awakening and he makes it his goal to become an ordained priest. But his journey does not come easy due to his criminal background. After his release, he is […]

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Film Review: Honest Thief fails to make even the most generic genre tropes engaging

October 22, 2020

Given how many lightweight actioners Liam Neeson has aligned himself with in the last decade or so, you’d be forgiven for not being able to differentiate them from one another given how they have all basically bled into each other.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with this late-in-the-game career change for the gruff Irish actor – […]

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Film Review: Kajillionaire is an emotional coming of age story masked underneath an exaggerated comedic premise

October 21, 2020

When you realise that ageing grifters Robert and Teresa Dyne (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) named their daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) after a lottery-winning homeless man, you immediately learn everything you need to know about the swindling couple.  They thought the name would secure them inheritance of some sort, but instead they live […]

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AFI Fest Review: Sound of Metal is an already astonishing film elevated by Riz Ahmed’s uninhibited performance

October 20, 2020

After his standout turn opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in 2014’s disturbing neo-noir thriller Nightcrawler, Riz Ahmed seemed destined for greatness on the big screen.  And thankfully, after years of slumming it in supporting roles in Hollywood blockbusters that have all wavered in their quality (Jason Bourne, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Venom), he’s finally been […]

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AFI Fest Review: Shadow in the Cloud in an off-kilter, bi-polar horror film that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before

October 19, 2020

As evident in fellow AU critic Harris Dang’s TIFF review of Shadow in the Cloud, this film’s connection to disgraced screenwriter Max Landis is understandably a hot-button subject.  Whilst I won’t go into the necessary detail, I’m certainly not making light of the allegations brought towards him, but given the fact that co-writer/director Roseanne Liang […]

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AFI Fest Review: The Boy Behind the Door is a ruthless, taut thriller that benefits from its uncomplicated narrative and daringness to place children at its centre

October 18, 2020

Without so much as letting us settle into our seats, The Boy Behind the Door announces itself as a relentless piece of cinema within seconds of its starting time.  This is harrowing, unbearably suspenseful storytelling, with first time directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell plunging headfirst into thrilling territory, seemingly unafraid to tackle upsetting material […]

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Film Review: Irresistible is a witty political comedy for equal opportunists

October 14, 2020

If there’s anyone who would be secure enough to make a film based around politics, Jon Stewart would arguably be one of the most well suited.  Whilst not quite as politically savvy as one might expect, given his penchant for satire, Irresistible is nonetheless a sly, consistently witty affair that wisely doesn’t exactly choose a […]

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Film Review: The Broken Hearts Gallery is a predictable yet winning rom-com with a star performance from Geraldine Viswanathan

October 9, 2020

Romantic comedies are a bit of a conundrum in terms of execution. In comparison to other genres (and oddly enough, the action genre), it has gone through the most criticism. While people can get into the fantasy of said genre, others criticize the genre for its lack of realism and plausibility. Case in point, The […]

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Film Review: Miss Juneteenth‘s familiar narrative is overcome by Nicole Behari’s stunning central performance

October 7, 2020

A portmanteau of June and nineteenth, Juneteenth is an American-specific holiday predominantly observed by African Americans celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.  The importance of this day serves as the backbone for Channing Godfrey Peoples‘ Miss Juneteenth, though it never hits as hard as one might expect, offering […]

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Film Review: Invasion Planet Earth is bizarrely entertaining for all the wrong reasons

October 5, 2020

There’s a certain unique devotion that the sci-fi genre attracts that sets it apart from other thematic classifications within the realms of cinema.  And given just how much effort Invasion Planet Earth managed in order to be finished and released – 20 years of production, seven crowdfunding campaigns, and hours of pro-bono work from filmmaker […]

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Film Review: The surface-level attractiveness of Dirt Music is unable to distract from its lack of narrative depth

October 2, 2020

With so much talent involved it’s a real shame that Dirt Music is unable to chart above underwhelming mediocrity, framing its narrative around a far more interesting back-story that is only sporadically hinted at. Based on the best-selling novel by Australian scribe Tim Winton, and adapted for the screen by Jack Thorne (Enola Holmes, TV’s […]

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TIFF Review: Spring Blossom is a striking directorial debut from writer/director Suzanne Lindon

September 26, 2020

Writer/director Suzanne Lindon stars as Suzanne, a 16-year old student who is starting to feel a sense of ennui as she trudges through her daily routine of high school adolescence. Her mingling with her friends is becoming tedious and boring – evident in an amusingly awkward party sequence – and her outside life feels constrained […]

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TIFF Review: Director Francois Ozon returns to his roots with Summer of 85

September 24, 2020

Queer cinema has come through quite well over these past few years. We have had great examples like Call Me By Your Name, Love, Simon and Moonlight; foreign entries like BPM (Beats Per Minute), the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman and BAFTA-winning The Handmaiden and hidden indie gems like Princess Cyd, Beach Rats and God’s Own Country. All of these films have had critical acclaim and they […]

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TIFF Review: Those who are adventurous horror seekers would do quite well with Violation

September 21, 2020

Trigger warning: Sexual abuse One of the reasons why cinema is so well received is that it can figuratively transport you into another world. In addition to that, it can be a way of wish fulfilment. Who wouldn’t want to be a kick-ass hero? Who would not want to be in a fairy tale romance? […]

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TIFF Review: Shadow in the Cloud is an exhilaratingly silly yet undeniably entertaining genre mashup from writer/director Roseanne Liang

September 21, 2020

Trigger warning: Sexual abuse and some coarse language Before we start off this review, let’s point out the elephant in the room. The film was co-written by Max Landis, who is now known for the various accusations of emotional and sexual abuse from eight separate women. Since then, lead actress Chloe Grace Moretz has said […]

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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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