Reviews

Film Review: Benedetta is a blasphemous, confronting farce from director Paul Verhoeven

December 4, 2021

If there’s one thing director Paul Verhoeven loves to do, it’s poke the bear.  As he has so gleefully outraged audiences and critics across his career, his latest exploitive project – the “based on a true story” nunsploitation drama(?) Benedetta – could easily be dismissed as blasphemous, but there’s also an alarming sincerity to his […]

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Film Review: The Card Counter deals a hand that benefits the house more than the player

December 2, 2021

Kenny Rogers so famously told us “You gotta know when to fold ’em”, and in The Card Counter writer/director Paul Schrader seems unsure as to which hand he wants to confidently play.  It’s not that this film is poorly made, nor is his commitment to the representation of desolation anything other than pure, but it’s […]

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Film Review: Dune merges its blockbuster aesthetic with a desolate mentality.

December 2, 2021

Despite reading Frank Herbert‘s 1965 novel many moons ago and viewing David Lynch’s bizarre 1984 adaptation during my youth, Dune was still a title that felt foreign to me when entering the theatre to bare witness to Denis Villeneuve‘s much-discussed imagining.  Sure, I can clearly see the inspiration this operatic story had on the science-fiction […]

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Film Review: Encanto is a visually colourful and energetically paced animated musical about accepting yourself, flaws and all.

November 30, 2021

An ordinary teenager trying to fit into an extraordinary world is not exactly the road less travelled in film, and certainly not in the realms of the animated genre, but it’s where Disney have opted to explore (again) in Encanto. Now, as much as the general plot line of Jared Bush‘s and Byron Howard‘s outing […]

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Film Review: Cry Macho is a meandering drama that suffers from a lack of urgency

November 26, 2021

Though it’s undeniable what a powerhouse actor and director Clint Eastwood is – he won the Best Director and Best Picture Academy Award twice, for those keeping score – Cry Macho is proof that he’s losing his touch. His fourth film in three years – following 15:17 To Paris, The Mule, and Richard Jewell – […]

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Film Review: Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is blackly comic and insultingly confronting

November 25, 2021

Come for the porn.  Stay for the social commentary. A film that very much opts to take no prisoners during its confronting opening minutes of unsimulated sexual activity, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is at once an enraging drama and a wicked comedy that consistently goes against the grain of what we feel like […]

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Film Review: The Boss Baby: Family Business commits to its ludicrous premise and enjoys playing with its narrative insanity

November 25, 2021

I think it’s a fair assumption to state that not many people expected Tom McGrath‘s 2017 effort The Boss Baby to clear the half a billion dollars it did at the global box office.  It was a bizarre comedy that entirely banked on its central premise – a baby that spoke like an entitled adult […]

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Film Review: Best Sellers is a safe, easy read lightly boosted by the odd-couple pairing of Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza

November 25, 2021

Look, I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s precisely what one will do with Best Sellers, a cliched dramedy that nudges every narrative beat you expect, only mildly saved by the odd-couple pairing of Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza; his cantankerousness at odds with her more manic downtrodden-ness. […]

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Film Review: Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a riotous and entirely overwhelming sequel

November 23, 2021

Despite the fact that the film was ripped apart by critics and was centred on a character who had previously been brought to “life” in a less-than-well received iteration, 2018’s Venom was a mammoth success.  Pulling in upwards of $856 million worldwide, it was the seventh highest grossing film of that year – beating out […]

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Film Review: The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is a sucker punch to the gut showing police brutality at its worst

November 22, 2021

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is a film that will leave you scared and asking, “How could this happen?” It is based on a true event that took place in 2011. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the continued senseless deaths by racists, it remains an achingly important indictment on society […]

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I’m An Electric Lampshade is a docu-narrative that delightfully blurs the lines between what’s fact and what’s fiction: Los Angeles International Film Festival Review

November 22, 2021

Billed as a docu-narrative, indicating that both fact and fiction will be blended throughout, I’m An Electric Lampshade is a bizarre take on the age-old “It’s never too late to follow your dreams” tale, focusing on the unlikeliest of pop star wannabes. Doug McCorkle is the most basic of nondescript American men.  60-years-old, with the […]

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Film Review: Zola is an exhilarating crime-comedy about the nature of exploitation; told with striking style and sharp humour

November 18, 2021

Zola tells the story of the burgeoning relationship and eventual disintegration between Aziah “Zola” King (Taylour Paige), a confident yet downtrodden waitress and part-time stripper and Stefani Jezowski (Riley Keough), an unreserved and blundering stripper. They serendipitously meet one another in the restaurant where Zola works and the two become fast friends through many shared […]

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King Richard is a crowd-pleasing drama featuring a career-best turn from Will Smith: AFI Film Festival Review

November 16, 2021

As much as King Richard has all the trappings of a biopic – and a sports drama, for that matter – it’s a testament to everyone involved that it manages to entirely transcend expectation and feel like something that’s so much more. It’s easy to wax lyrical about the fact that we’re getting a film […]

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Film Review: Last Night In Soho is a demented, musical-inspired trip that delights in nightmarish nostalgia

November 16, 2021

A gorgeously rendered, lovingly crafted, maybe slightly messy, giallo tribute drenched in 1960’s London culture, Last Night In Soho is the type of film one wishes to dissect and divulge in intimate detail.  But that would entirely undo any service to writer/director Edgar Wright, who has implored audiences the globe over to keep their mouths […]

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Red Rocket is a naturalistic dark comedy elevated by an astonishing, career redefining performance from Simon Rex: AFI Film Festival Review

November 14, 2021

When we are first introduced to Red Rocket‘s lead subject – washed-up porn star Mikey (Simon Rex) – writer/director Sean Baker frames him in such a manner that alludes to him being one of those scrappy anti-heroes whose undeniable charm is enough for us to forgive his indiscretions. And indeed, Mikey is that (in a […]

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The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an uneven, yet entertaining biopic driven by a show-stopping Jessica Chastain: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 13, 2021

A film that’s likely to resonate with, or at least feel more familiar to American audiences, The Eyes of Tammy Faye does its best to clue in local Australian viewers as to just who was the larger-than-life personality Tammy Faye Bakker Messner.  An only-in-America type tale, Tammy Faye’s small-time Minnesota upbringing, where she “found Jesus” […]

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Film Review: Home Sweet Home Alone is a new form of punishment for naughty children this Christmas season

November 12, 2021

There’s a moment during Home Sweet Home Alone where two characters are watching a remake of the fictional “Angels With Filthy Souls” – you know, that quotable film within a film that Macaulay Culkin used in a manner to frighten the pizza delivery boy (“Merry Christmas ya filthy animal) – and comment on why studios […]

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The Power of the Dog marks a triumphant return to cinema for acclaimed filmmaker Jane Campion: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 12, 2021

“He’s just a man, Peter. Only another man.” – Rose (Kirsten Dunst) Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons star as Phil and George Burbank; brothers who work as reputable cattle ranchers. George is a simple, upstanding and honest man while Phil is boastful, malevolent and manly. While Phil is happy with their routine of continuing the […]

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After Love rises above the sum of its parts to deliver an affecting drama: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 11, 2021

“We all break the rules we set for ourselves in the end.” – Genvieve (played by Nathalie Richard) Joanna Scanlan stars as Mary, a widow who is undergoing a period of grief after the sudden death of her sea captain husband Ahmed (Nasser Memarzia). Going through his belongings to attain some sort of closure, she […]

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Memoria is one of 2021’s best films thanks to its undeniably immersive nature that is cinematic morphine: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 11, 2021

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” – Anonymous According to writer/director Apitchatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film Memoria, the answer to the question above is a resounding yes. The acclaimed filmmaker is best known for works including Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His […]

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The Justice of Bunny King is a stellar directorial debut from Gaysorn Thavat; Essie Davis and Thomasin McKenzie shine: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 11, 2021

“You never even asked me if it was true!” – Tonyah (played by Thomasin McKenzie) Essie Davis stars as the titular role of Bunny King; a poverty-stricken mother of two who is struggling to fight the social system to get her kids back. During her battle, she crosses paths with her niece Tonyah, who is […]

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Film Review: No Time To Die is an emotional swan song for Daniel Craig’s 007

November 11, 2021

Although it leans into the tropes of what we come to expect from the institution that is a James Bond film, and in some ways this 25th entrant is possibly the most self-aware of the pack, No Time To Die keeps largely in tune with the mentality of the wave of Daniel Craig-led films; the […]

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The Worst Person in the World is a compelling film that defies the tropes of the romantic comedy genre: Sydney Film Festival review

November 8, 2021

As much as The Worst Person in the World adheres to many of the standard ingredients of the “romantic comedy”, to refer to Joachim Trier‘s as one would be doing it a massive disservice. Detailed over 12 chapters (and both a prologue and epilogue), the film gives us a look into a certain period of […]

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Film Review: Julia is a heartwarming documentary about trailblazer chef extraordinaire Julia Child

November 6, 2021

Julia is the latest film by documentary filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen. They are best known for their acclaimed works such as RBG and My Name is Pauli Murray; studies of renowned trailblazers who have contributed so much to the world and have shattered social norms in order to do so. The latest subject […]

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Blue Bayou is a deliberately heartbreaking drama about the intricacies of immigration: Sydney Film Festival review

November 5, 2021

Immigration is a topic that’s quite intensely debated across the world, particularly in the United States.  And in Blue Bayou, a spotlight is shone on a specific group of immigrants, those that come to a country as infants with little to no recollection of their homeland and, quite often, had no other choice. Such is […]

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The Beta Test is a twisted, pitch black comedic thriller: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 4, 2021

On the surface you’d be forgiven for assuming The Beta Test is just another film industry picture, spending its minutes somehow justifying its existence as it hones in on the obnoxious and obnoxiously wealthy Hollywood players who wrongfully assume they’re untouchable in their town.  The film has that air about it, but this satirical-cum-unnerving thriller […]

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Pleasure is a cold, calculating film detailing the politics of the sex industry: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 4, 2021

After introducing itself as a film that promises there’ll be no sugarcoating its subject matter – the first thing we hear are the audible moans and verbal berating from a pornographic film, and the first thing we see is the extremely graphic imagery of a young girl’s privates in the shower – Ninja Thyberg‘s confronting […]

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Titane is an auto-erotic body horror oddity focused on the specifics of sexual identity: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 4, 2021

Similar to how Jordan Peele, Robert Eggers, Jennifer Kent, and Ari Aster all secured their place in the annals of genre cinema with their debut offerings, Julia Docournau‘s bold cannibalistic horror effort Raw cemented the French filmmaker as a name to pay consistent attention to.  And just as those aforementioned auteurs all swung big with […]

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Film Review: Disappearance at Lake Elrod overcomes genre familiarity with an emotional edge

November 4, 2021

Though there’s perhaps a few too many “missing kid mystery” tropes adhered to in Disappearance at Lake Elrod – the grieving mother, the potentially corrupt police, the buried secrets coming to life – writer/director Lauren Fash injects enough character development and psychological complexity for it to get away with it. Centred around the disappearance of […]

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The Card Counter is a bleak and repetitive effort mildly saved by the presence of Oscar Isaac: Sydney Film Festival Review

November 3, 2021

Kenny Rogers so famously told us “You gotta know when to fold ’em”, and in The Card Counter writer/director Paul Schrader seems unsure as to which hand he wants to confidently play.  It’s not that this film is poorly made, nor is his commitment to the representation of desolation anything other than pure, but it’s […]

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