Two and a Half Stars

Film Review: Love is Now (Australia, 2014)

December 7, 2014

Love is Now is ultimately a testament to DSLR film making, with striking photography and some superb production coming together to ensure the film never dips below a certain visual standard, playing out as something photographers the world over will herald as a marvel achievement. Backed by Nikon Australia, the film succeeds at capturing the […]

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Film Review: Serena (USA, France & Czech Republic, 2014)

November 28, 2014

Serena is an adaptation of a Ron Rash novel that at times is considered even too strange to be fiction. This period drama starts off as a sumptuous, romantic tale set in North Carolina during the Depression. It is a slow burn to begin with but in the final act it turns into a bizarre […]

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Film Review: This Is Where I Leave You (USA, 2014)

October 24, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You is the new dramedy from Director Shawn Levy, who many not be a name most are familiar with, but chances are you’ve seen one of his films. Through his massive hits like Night at the Museum, Just Married, Cheaper By The Dozen, Pink Panther and their sequels, his films have […]

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Film Review: Son of a Gun (MA15+) (AUS, 2014)

October 18, 2014

Australian film Son of a Gun looks at a number of different themes, primarily it’s a heist movie but it also examines the desire for a stable family life and the father/son and brother/brother relationships that can evolve in prison. Loyalty, honour and morality are all tested and questioned and all served up with a […]

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Film Review: Annabelle (USA, 2014)

October 2, 2014

The handsome, throwback supernatural-horror that made The Conjuring such a big hit last year was expected to translate well into spin-off Annabelle, with the ground work laid nice and smooth from the doll’s appearance in the critically acclaimed James Wan film. What Wan did with The Conjuring last year was nothing short of incredible, with […]

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DVD Review: HairBrained (USA, 2013)

September 30, 2014

Billy Kent’s latest offering HairBrained, is a take on the college admission coming-of-age tale. It stars Brendan Fraser as self-confessed ‘late bloomer’, Leo Searly and Alex Wolff (from Nickelodeon’s Naked Brothers Band) as child prodigy Eli Pettifog. The title refers to Eli’s extraordinary mass of hair that he claims, “protects his brain.” It is a […]

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DVD Review: Brick Mansions (Canada, 2014)

September 25, 2014

A loose remake of the French action film District 13, Brick Mansions is likely to be known as nothing more than the last completed film of Paul Walker. With his work in the Fast and Furious franchise, and lesser known features like Running Scared, Walker was arguably proving himself as a charismatic action star and something […]

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Sydney Underground Film Festival Review: The Green Inferno (USA, 2014)

September 21, 2014

You know what to expect from The Green Inferno the minute you find out that it comes from the gloriously twisted mind of Eli Roth. This is a man who brought us – among others – the hyper-violent Hostel franchise (at least the first two films; the third was a garbage rip off) and the […]

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Sydney Underground Film Festival Review: Teenage (USA & Germany, 2013)

September 5, 2014

It may be hard to believe but there was a point in history where the idea of the teenager didn’t exist. You were either a child or an adult, there was no other option. Teenage is a documentary that is directed by Matt Wolf and is adapted from the book, Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth […]

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DVD Review: Perfect Sisters (Canada, 2014)

September 5, 2014

Perfect Sisters has some good features but that doesn’t mean it’s free from flaws. The film is based on a real life story, a case involving two Canadian sisters who performed matricide. But despite being based on a true crime story, this film is often unbelievable, flippant and lacking in emotion and tension. The movie […]

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Melbourne International Film Festival Review: Stray Dogs (France & Taiwan, 2013)

August 26, 2014

Tsai Ming-Liang’s Stray Dogs is a film that begs a certain amount of prior knowledge before watching. Had I known that Tsai Ming-Liang is renowned for his lack of dialogue and still image composition, I probably would have been a little more adequately prepared for this 145 minute investment. Undeniably beautiful but a rather hard […]

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Film Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window & Disappeared (Sweden & Croatia, 2013)

August 26, 2014

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window & Disappeared (Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann) looks set to divide people. The reason for this is because your enjoyment of the film hinges on whether you warm to the centenarian lead character. Ultimately, this film is full of dark humour (which also won’t […]

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Film Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey (India, UAE & USA, 2014)

August 14, 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey is the latest addition to the recent surge of food-related films (see: The Chef, The Trip To Italy, Julie & Julia, etc). This new film is a feel-good one which will no doubt curry favour with many members of the audience. But despite being a pleasant trip, the overall meal could use […]

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Melbourne International Film Festival Review: The Good Life (La Belle Vie) (France, 2013)

August 4, 2014

The Good Life (La Belle Vie) is a French drama film based on a true story. It’s a delicate, coming of age tale and portrait of paternal love set in the freewheeling countryside. It asks some big questions about love and freedom. But while it is beautiful, it fails to fill in some of the […]

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DVD Review: A Belfast Story (MA15+) (Ireland, 2013)

July 31, 2014

There’s finally peace in Northern Ireland, but some people have not buried the past.  This is the premise behind first-time director Nathan Todd’s A Belfast Story. Colm Meaney (The Commitments, Layer Cake, Con Air) plays hardened detective James, who, like many of his generation in Northern Ireland, are living in times of “peace”.  In his […]

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Film Review: Lucy (MA15+) (USA & France, 2014)

July 31, 2014

From the man that brought you La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element comes yet another stylised badass individual out to settle some scores whilst simultaneously attempting to advance humankind through a very thinly veiled pseudo-science and psychology subplot. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is our hapless damsel unwittingly roped into being a drug […]

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Film Review: A Most Wanted Man (UK, USA & Germany, 2014)

July 30, 2014

A Most Wanted Man is an espionage thriller about terrorists. But despite this genre, the film contains no explosions, gun battles or high-tech special effects. Instead, it has more in common with The Ides Of March, in that it is a tense and dramatic labyrinth of power plays where rivals with competing agendas use political […]

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Film Review: Devil’s Knot (USA, 2013)

July 16, 2014

A dark thread is strung throughout Devils Knot, the latest feature from Egoyan in which the unnerving act of a real-life case of child murder looms from beginning to end, with the sense of dread carried out well enough for the film to stick with you long after the credits. Unfortunately, awkward pacing speeds through […]

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Japanese Film Festival Encore Review: Departures (Okuribito) (Japan, 2008)

July 13, 2014

Departures (Okuribito) is a simple, Japanese film about some big subjects: love, life and death. This existential family drama was the winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2009. It is also a subtle and nuanced story where a Zen-like air means that even though the final message is poignant and meaningful, it is […]

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Scandinavian Film Festival Review: Spooks and Spirits (Ófeigur gengur aftur) (Iceland, 2014)

July 4, 2014

Spooks and Spirits­ is the story of thirty-somethings Ingi (Gísli Örn Garðarsson) and Anna (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir), a happy couple on the verge of starting the next big chapter of their lives together. Anna’s father, Ófeigur (Þórhallur Sigurðsson) is recently deceased and the couple plans to sell his house in favour of somewhere more family-oriented. But when Ófeigur makes an […]

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Scandinavian Film Festival Review: Ballet Boys (Norway, 2014)

June 30, 2014

Performing arts has always been – and will always be – fertile ground for documentary filmmaking. Clashing egos and high stakes in the pursuit of a craft is always going to be fun for a camera to follow, and we’ve seen it work multiple times over in movies like Every Little Step, Mad Hot Ballroom, […]

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Film Review: Yves Saint Laurent (France, 2014)

June 23, 2014

The late, French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent will be the subject of two different biopics this year. The first is the eponymously-titled one from actor-turned-director, Jalil Lespert and is perhaps the most authentic film, as it had the full support of Saint Laurent’s lover and business partner. Pierre Bergé lent original outfits, designs, and […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: Gabrielle (Canada, 2013)

June 13, 2014

The theme of two lovers kept apart from their families or individual circumstances is hardly anything new. But Gabrielle is a film that deals with another rarely discussed subject and one that is infrequently depicted in cinemas. It is the love lives of the disabled and this film shows this with dignity and for the […]

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Film Review: Bastards of Young (USA, 2013)

May 27, 2014

It’s Halloween, and the dance floor has been rolled out, the alcohol has been mixed and the candy bought: it’s time for Kevulie IX – Kevin (Christopher J Domig) and Julie’s (Lucy Walters) annual Halloween party. Their best friends, Jesse (Gregory Perri) and Jen (Amelia Martin), have been married for ten years and are on […]

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Film Review: The New Black (Sweden, 2014)

May 13, 2014

The Next Black is a fashion documentary that doesn’t look at what’s in style now; nor does it examine what will be fashionable in a year’s time. Instead, it looks around the corner at what is coming next by interviewing the pioneers and innovators within the industry who are using technology and new ideas to […]

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Film Review: The Time Being (USA, 2013)

March 16, 2014

The Time Being is one of those slow burning films that seems to take hold of one’s mind in a gentle unrealising way. The poignant undercurrent of the film would be nought, without the skilful persuasion of notable actors Frank Langella (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Robot & Frank, Superman Returns) and Wes Bentley (Lovelace, […]

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Film Review: The Monuments Men (M15+) (USA)

March 13, 2014

Sometimes out of the horror of war there are unusual and intriguing stories to be told. One of these is that of The Monuments Men, a group of civilians tasked with rescuing stolen art masterpieces and culturally important work from the Nazis and returning them to their rightful owners. From the opening sequence we are […]

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Film Review: Are We Officially Dating? (MA15+) (USA, 2014)

February 12, 2014

Date movies are a given every Valentine’s Day. Usually doomed romances or wildly unrealistic melodramas, they serve their purpose for that one day of the year and are more often than not instantly forgotten. Despite what its When Harry Met Sally inspired poster suggests, Are We Officially Dating? (aka. That Awkward Moment) is a welcome alternative to the normal Valentine’s […]

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Film Review: Grudge Match (USA, 2014)

February 5, 2014

Take two of Hollywood’s heavy-weight legendary actors, both who’ve previously starred in boxing related films, throw in as many nods as you can to the sport, as well as a good helping of comedy and a little drama and that pretty much is Grudge Match. Two aging boxers Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy […]

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Film Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (MA15+) (USA, 2014)

January 26, 2014

Trudging through the wasteland of found-footage, Paranormal Activity has always managed to stay afloat where others – that attempted a similar style – were quickly dismissed. The feel of amateur footage lends itself greatly to the typical tropes of supernatural horror, adding a slightly more effective dose of realism and making it so much more […]

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