Sunday, 16 July 2017

THE BEGUILED

The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls' school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.
Beautifully filmed and very well acted. Nicole Kidman, Kristen Dunst, and Elle Fanning all do an excellent job of their respective roles. For me, Colin Farrell was the weakest character. While the movie was technically excellent, it didn't seem as intense as it should have been. Interesting but not emotionally engaging or substantial enough. Check out the 1971 version if you can find it.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

IT COMES AT NIGHT


Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

A very strange movie. Very eerie and unsettling. You never see what the IT of the title is and, like the characters in the story, we as viewers are kept in the dark about the larger context of what is going on. It's like we are isolated in the house with the family. Unfortunately, the movie feels a bit too smart for its own good - a bit too "arty" - which detracts from the tension and suspense. This movie will not be for everyone - especially if you like a straightforward narrative that resolves everything by the time it's finished.

Monday, 10 July 2017

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

If you are tired of superhero movies, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING might just be what you need. It’s great fun with a fresh storyline and doesn’t take itself too seriously — always a good sign in a movie like this. Tom Holland does a great job of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. It moves along at a great pace, there’s some good special effects, but, most of all, the story is actually interesting. This could be the best Spider-Man film so far — you actually care about the characters and it’s more than just a superhero movie. And the villain is refreshing (if one can say that of a villain). Great entertainment.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

BABY DRIVER

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Lots of fun, very fast paced, lots of action, car chases, funny, there’s romance, a great soundtrack, good acting, smart dialogue. Just about everything you need in a movie. Even with all that, I didn’t find it entirely satisfying and the ending is nowhere near as good as it starts out.


Saturday, 8 July 2017

MONSIEUR CHOCOLAT (Also known as, Chocolat. French with English subtitles)

The rise and fall of the famous clown Chocolat, the first black circus performer who revolutionised the stagnant circus acts and conquered Paris of the Belle Époque with his exuberance and originality.

A fascinating story of which I knew nothing. Well acted, good script, and a tragic story arc. There are moments when we, as an audience, are provoked to think about why we find certain things funny. Omar Sy, does an outstanding portrayal of the main character, Chocolat (his real name was Rafael Padilla). James Thiérrée (Charlie Chaplin’s grandson!) plays the other clown in the duo, George Footit.  It’s a good, solid, satisfying piece of storytelling.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

CATCH-UP RATINGS

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING - A man becomes haunted by his past and is presented with a mysterious legacy that causes him to re-think his current situation in life. ****

NERUDA - An inspector hunts down Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, who becomes a fugitive in his home country in the late 1940s for joining the Communist Party. **1/2

NORMAN - Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman's life dramatically changes for better and worse. ***1/2

UNA - When a young woman unexpectedly arrives at an older man's workplace, looking for answers, the secrets of the past threaten to unravel his new life. Their confrontation will uncover buried memories and unspeakable desires. It will shake them both to the core. ****

THE COUNTRY DOCTOR - All the people in this countryside area, can count on Jean-Pierre, the doctor who auscultates them, heals and reassures them day and night, 7 days a week. Now Jean-Pierre is sick, so he sees Natalie, a young doctor, coming from the hospital to assist him. But will she adapt to this new life and be able to replace the man that believed to be irreplaceable? ***

OKJA - Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend - a massive animal named Okja. ***

See you at the movies!

LADY MACBETH

Set in 19th century rural England, a young bride who has been sold into marriage to a middle-aged man discovers an unstoppable desire within herself as she enters into an affair with a worker on her estate.

As one of the the poster says, imagine if Alfred Hitchcock directed Withering Heights. Says it perfectly. It’s a movie based on a Russian novel which is based on a book which is based on Shakespeare. Don’t let that put you off. It’s perfectly directed, superbly acted. There’s drama, romance, and gothic noir. It’s a gritty, raw period drama. Every frame of this movie is riveting. Even though it is set in the 19th century, it has quite a bit to say about race and gender relations and feels quite contemporary. Unnervingly excellent.


Friday, 30 June 2017

A QUIET PASSION

The story of American poet Emily Dickinson from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist.

I knew very little of Emily Dickinson before watching this movie. A very interesting person. The movie was ok — felt a bit too stagey and overwrought but Cynthia Nickson is very good as Dickinson and the film is worth seeing for her performance. I’m not really into poetry but Dickinson’s poetry is profound if the snippets of it throughout the movie are anything to go by. Dickinson was obviously a very intelligent woman. It is sad she was not recognised as a poet until after her death. The rampant sexism of her era and society ruined so many women’s potential — including Dickinson’s.


Sunday, 25 June 2017

DESPICABLE ME 3

Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.

If you’ve seen the previous Despicable Me movies, you’ll know what to expect. Lots of fun. Fast paced. Pleasant humour. There’s a new villain. And, of course, those delightfully cute minions who are very upset that Gru has turned from a life of crime. Good for a family outing.


Friday, 23 June 2017

CHURCHILL

A ticking-clock thriller following Winston Churchill in the 96 hours before D-Day.

Well… I wouldn’t call this a “ticking-clock thriller” as described above. In fact, it is pretty slow and lacks the tension you would normally expect from a thriller. But I still enjoyed this biographical drama of a very interesting person in history. Churchill’s personality was complicated, with a very different “face” in private life compared to public life and is brilliantly portrayed by Brian Cox. If you are interested in history or biography, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Good, old-fashioned film making — despite what the critics say!


Monday, 19 June 2017

MY COUSIN RACHEL

A young Englishman plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.

This was disappointingly average. I expected a tense psychological thriller but, alas, it wasn’t. So much more could have been done with this Daphne du Maurier story. The cinematography is beautiful and Rachel Weisz's performance is good to watch. Check it out if you like a gentle classic-style period drama, but don’t expect too much.


Monday, 12 June 2017

THE MUMMY

Though safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Entertaining, action packed, and completely ridiculous — as it should be. Problem is that it takes itself a bit too seriously, so there isn’t the humour that this genre usually has. And there’s no really horror. Sofia Boutella, who plays the bad mummy, is the best thing about the movie. The worst is Russell Crowe who’s part was terribly written. An average movie. Wait for it to come to VOD and watch it on a rainy afternoon.


Monday, 5 June 2017

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon while being pursued by an undead sea captain and his crew.

Very fast paced, lots of action, some cheesy humour, and Johnny Depp not as upfront as usual makes for an enjoyable, swashbuckling adventure. Not as bad as most of the critics have been saying. Nothing new but good fun — more like the original movie than those in between.


Sunday, 4 June 2017

WONDER WOMAN

Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

An enjoyable superhero origin story. Gal Gadoh, who plays Diana/Wonder Woman, is excellent and bring a strong female role model to the movie. Her and Chris Pine have some great chemistry onscreen. There are some outstanding set pieces with spectacular use of slow motion during action scenes. Ultimately, though, it is another hero movie that ticks off what all hero movies essentially have, so it isn’t a brilliant movie. One major flaw is that we don’t get any backstory for the villains. But it’s definitely worth a trip to the cinema to see on the big screen.


Thursday, 1 June 2017

VICEROY’S HOUSE

The final Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, is tasked with overseeing the transition of British India to independence, but meets with conflict as different sides clash in the face of monumental change.

This an average movie but I learned a lot about this event in history — assuming it’s accurate. For the first time, I feel as though I understand what went on. So, from that point of view, it’s worth a look. Gillian Anderson was very good as Lady Edwina Mountbatten and there is a good cast. But the performances are stilted and the ending is contrived and unconvincing.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern, Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword Excalibur from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy... whether he likes it or not.

An entertaining version of the King Arthur legend. Problem is that there is so much action using just about every filming trick available that the story takes a back seat. Jude Law is excellent as the baddie, Vortigern. The sets and costumes are amazing. There’s some good humour, and the action is pretty good but, overall, it’s an average movie.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

DON’T TELL (2017)

Based on true events that changed the law. This is the story of a survivor, Lyndal, a young woman sexually abused as an 11 year old while attending a prestigious school. Her courage to fight for justice is entrusted to a local lawyer determined to build a case and give Lyndal peace from her torment. With the help of his aspiring young associate and an enigmatic barrister, the lawyer and Lyndal find their way together.

This movie is a must see. It focuses on Lyndal, the main character, and the longterm effects of her abuse, rather than sensationalising the abuse itself or the pedophile who perpetrated the abuse. The story is told with sensitivity and compassion. Sara West, who plays Lyndal, is brilliant in what would have been a demanding role. Aden Young is good as Lyndal’s lawyer and Jack Thompson does a reasonable job as the barrister. I found this movie to be deeply moving and we all need to celebrate the courage that people, like Lyndal, demonstrate in surviving the incredible evil that is child abuse. I really encourage you to see this move.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

John Wick is forced out of retirement by a former associate looking to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to aid him, Wick travels to Rome and does battle against some of the world’s most dangerous killers.

Very, very violent but with a better story than the first one —even if it is totally over the top! If you enjoyed the first John Wick movie, you’ll like this one even more. Keanu Reeves is excellent as John Wick. The action scenes are superbly choreographed and Reeves has clearly done some martial arts training - I believe he does all his own fight scenes and car stunts. Great escapist entertainment for those who like lots of action. It’s a good sequel.


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

CATCH-UP RATINGS

PERSONAL SHOPPER - A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message. ****

THE INNOCENTS - In 1945 Poland, a young French Red Cross doctor who is sent to assist the survivors of the German camps discovers several nuns in advanced states of pregnancy during a visit to a nearby convent. ***1/2

GET OUT - Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined. *****

THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE - The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion. *****

ALIEN: COVENANT - The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. ***1/2

A DOG’S PURPOSE - A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners. ***

See you at the movies!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

THE CASE FOR CHRIST

Based on the true story of an award-winning investigative journalist -- and avowed atheist -- who applies his well-honed journalistic and legal skills to disprove the newfound Christian faith of his wife... with unexpected, life-altering results.

This movie will be emotionally reassuring to fundamentalist evangelical Christian believers. But for anyone who thinks critically, they won’t be persuaded. There are some moving moments in the movie — mostly to do with the relationship between Strobel and his wife. Much is made of Strobel’s ‘well-honed journalistic and legal skills’. But during his investigation of the resurrection of Christ, he didn’t use them very well. The story has him interviewing experts (mostly Christian) on the resurrection who affirm its historicity. There are a couple of atheist or agnostic scholars who are portrayed as amazed at the evidence for the resurrection. But Strobel never thinks deeply or critically about what he is being told and the scholars are cherry-picked so there is no doubt what the conclusion will be. And Strobel, the famous investigative journalist, just accepts the experts’ opinions! The whole purpose of the movie is to make a lot of an atheist’s “unwilling” conversion to Christianity because the evidence for the resurrection is so compelling. Strobel is now a Christian apologist and, like so many movies from an evangelical Christian perspective, it presents a very one-sided view of evidence and scholarship. There’s a lot of circular and fallacious reasoning going on in this movie with lots of straw man arguments. There are cliches like Strobel scribbling all over a whiteboard as he tries to make sense of the evidence to convince us that he is thinking deeply and rationally. I’m sure this movie will make a lot of money with fundamentalist evangelicals flocking to see it. For me, it was a movie that wants to convince the viewer that the resurrection must have happened because an atheist journalist and lawyer just had to believe in the face of overwhelming evidence. But it really ends up mostly preaching to the choir — and, hopefully, the choir will be thinking critically enough to be disappointed, too.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

BAD GIRL (2016)

Bad girl Amy, 17, is given one last chance by her adoptive parents, who think Amy's friendship with local girl Chloe is a step in the right direction. But when Amy discovers Chloe's secret she finds herself fighting for her life, and for the future of the family she herself tried to destroy.

This Australian thriller is excellent considering it was made on a budget of around $1.5 million — a very low budget for a movie. While the plot is not really new, the acting is excellent (especially by the two lead girls) and the production values top notch. Direction is tight and it’s well paced with some good suspense. Good entertainment.


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

THE SALESMAN (Persian, English subtitles)

Forced out of their apartment due to dangerous works on a neighbouring building, Emad and Rana move into a new flat in the centre of Tehran. An incident linked to the previous tenant will dramatically change the young couple’s life.

A very intriguing movie. Subtle and yet riveting. The acting is superb. The ending of this movie is brilliant and totally surprising. Looking into another culture which deals with issues quite differently to one’s own was fascinating and educative. If you saw the director’s previous movie, A SEPARATION, and liked it, don’t miss this one. A fascinating look at some very deep themes.


3D GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill's true parentage.

I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first one. Too long — could have been about 30 minutes shorter. I don’t mind long movies, but they shouldn’t feel long. There’s some good humour throughout the movie and the characters are enjoyable, particularly Rocket who is my favourite! Story is pretty thin. Some good action sequences, of course. Overall, an average movie that has lost some of the freshness of the original.


Monday, 24 April 2017

FRANTZ (French/German with English subtitles)

In the aftermath of WWI, a young German who grieves the death of her fiancé in France meets a mysterious Frenchman who visits the fiancé's grave to lay flowers.

This is an intriguing story that unfolds in surprising ways. I’ve heard a few people try to guess what happens from the trailers they have seen. None of them have been correct. Filmed almost entirely in black and white with sensuous cinematography.  The acting, particularly of the woman who plays Anna (Paula Beer), is excellent. This movie is very satisfying. An intelligent, beautifully structured story. Don’t miss it.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

RAW (French, English subtitles)

In Justine’s family everyone is a vet and a vegetarian. At 16, she’s a gifted teen ready to take on her first year in vet school, where her older sister also studies. There, she gets no time to settle: hazing starts right away. Justine is forced to eat raw meat for the first time in her life. Unexpected consequences emerge as her true self begins to form.

A difficult movie to watch at times. Cannibalism seems so unnatural and unethical and some of the scenes in this story are very confronting, especially those with lurid violence and sexuality. The acting was very good and the story developed in a logical manner. The music was too heavy and, at times, dominated the watching experience too much. If you plan to see this, be warned: there’s aberrant behaviour, bloody and grisly images, strong sexuality, nudity, language and drug use/partying. Some critics have suggested there is a deep symbolism in RAW. But I didn’t find much edification in this one and it became more and more uninteresting as it developed. Not my cup of tea (so to speak).


Friday, 14 April 2017

CATCH-UP ONE-LINER REVIEWS

DENIAL ***** - brilliant true story about a historian, Deborah Lipstadt, who is taken to court by the Holocaust-denier, David Irving, who sues her for libel. A must see.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE * - walked out on this. Extremely lame, totally boring. First one of these wasn’t too bad — but got my money back on this one.

THE BOSS BABY *** — better than I expected. Good fun.

See you at the movies!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.

What great fun this movie is! The 2 hr 16m fly by — every minute is filled with stunning over-the-top action sequences in the context of a James Bond type plot that is pretty good for the genre. And the submarine scene you’ve watched in the trailer? Wait until you see the whole set piece in the film — amazing. Charlize Theron is excellent as the ice-cold baddy and even Helen Mirren puts in an uncredited cameo performance that was obviously a lot of fun. Vin Diesel does what he does best with the usual “family” of supporting cast. An exciting, fun, furious ride. Yes, it’s pulp. But it’s done with such elegance. Thoroughly enjoyable. If you are looking for pure escapism then this one is definitely for you. A great addition to the Fast and Furious canon. See it on the big screen!


A SILENT VOICE (Japanese, English subtitles)

Ishida Shouya bullies a deaf girl, Nishimiya Shouko, to the point that she transfers to another school. As a result, he is ostracised and bullied himself with no friends to speak of and no plans for the future. This is the story of his path to redemption.

Beautiful hand-drawn anime but the movie belabours its important themes about bullying to such a degree that it becomes boring and way too long. There is little subtlety in the script and seems very disjointed. A marathon to watch and left me feeling dissatisfied.