Chopsticks Or Fork?: Season One – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a delightful documentary exploring a world that hits a deep nostalgic note for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I watched this on ABC IView

Chopsticks Or Fork? Image Credit: ABC TV.

Chopsticks Or Fork? Review

Tonight I was looking for something to watch as I ate my dinner, and in a world of streaming where you have so much choice, it is almost paralysing at times just to pick one thing. But as I sat there with all those windows open, there was this moment when a documentary series about rural Chinese restaurants in Australia appeared, and it intrigued me. Now that I have watched every episode, I can tell you that this was the right choice.

So to set the scene, the premise of this show is that presenter Jennifer Wong and the crew, including director Lin Jie Kong, travel to rural towns in Australia to look at the Chinese Restaurants that take up a focal point in these communities. Here we get a show that is a part travel show, part food exploration, and part look at the intersections of culture these restaurants make. We get these stories and more as we meet six different families from restaurants across Australia from The New Bo Wa in Moree, Raymond’s at Malua Bay, Oriental Palace in Hervey Bay, Pagoda Chinese Restaurant in Atherton, Gawler Palace & Happy Garden in Darwin.  

Continue reading

Stowaway – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that understands the weight of the question it asks and the damage that would do to people.     

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this movie

Stowaway. Image Credit: Netflix.

Stowaway Review

It should come as no surprise to long or short term readers that I love Science Fiction. While the fantastical location of space is an excellent place to set your film, and I enjoy them no matter how they come. What can make a film special is when they use that setting to ponder important questions about the human condition. Today we have a look at a film that delves into crucial Kobayashi Maru territory.   

So to set the scene, we open in as the Hyperion mission on MTS42 is about to launch. Mission commander Marina Barnett (Toni Collette) is setting the ship on a course for a two-year mission out to Mars and back. Along for the mission is Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick), a medical researcher and David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim), the ship’s biologist. You feel the rumble of engines, the shake that makes you think the very ship will through itself apart, but then you break free into the void. Once connected with the main module, they begin the long trip to Mars. However, this is a mission with supplies for three people, but as the title implies, someone else made the journey into orbit.

Continue reading

Land – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film where profound sadness and haunting beauty intersects on the mountains of rural Wyoming.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of the film.

Land. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Land Review

There is a genre of cinema that is sometimes derogatory referred to as a vanity project. This when a star gets enough clout to be able to direct their first film and then casts themselves in the lead role. These are usually overly dramatic works hoping to buy into that Oscar love. However, every now and again, you get a film that cuts through that noise and shows a real talent both behind and in front of the camera. With Land, we get just such a film and a phenomenal directorial debut from Robin Wright.  

So to set the scene, we open in Chicago with Edee (Robin Wright) in a therapy session, trying to talk about why she is alone with her pain and why she refuses to share it with anyone. She is there out of her sister Emma (Kim Dickens) insistence, who is scared that her sister might self-harm. Edee instead decides to sell everything she owns, rents a car and drives all the way to rural Quincy, Wyoming. Here she buys a cabin off the beaten track that was already off another beaten path to be alone from everyone. But living with no running water, electricity, or phone has more challenges than first encounters, especially when winter starts.

Continue reading

Penguin Bloom – Movie Review

TL;DR – A beautifully charming film that will make you feel a lot of emotions    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Penguin Bloom. Image Credit: Roadshow Films.

Penguin Bloom Review

You may have many fears, some might be more obvious like spiders or heights, but others are deeper down like what if you were in a crash and became paralysed. This fear is at the heart of the film we are looking at today as we see the aftereffects of this profound change.

So to set the scene, we open with Noah Bloom (Griffin Murray-Johnston) giving a rundown of his life. It is full of living on the beach, going for a surf, and making honey as a family. However, on a fateful trip to Thailand, Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts), her husband Cameron (Andrew Lincoln), and their three kids Noah, Rueben (Felix Cameron), and Oli (Abe Clifford-Barr) were climbing up to the top of a building to get a look of the view. However, when Sam leans on a fence, some rotten wood gives way, and she falls over the edge to the concrete below. Back at home, Sam is trying to adjust to her life in a wheelchair, but as Noah is down the beach, he finds a magpie chick that had fallen out of a nest who they take home and call Penguin.

Continue reading

Awards – The Films of 2020 That Emotionally Wrecked Us

As I have gotten older, I am not afraid of having a good old fashioned ugly cry in the cinemas when the time calls for it, and hell I probably got emotional just writing this list (Spoiler: I did). Sometimes they are tears of grief, sometimes they are tears of joy, and even still sometimes they are tears of anger. 

Emotion is a core part of the cinema experience. If you can’t get us to respond to your characters and/or the situation emotionally, well then I am sorry you have failed in making a good film.

So without further ado, these are the films of 2020 that emotionally wrecked us. Be warned that there will be some big spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, you can click on the banners to go to the full review.

Continue reading

TV Review – Star Trek Discovery: Forget Me Not

TL;DR – A beautiful episode about coming together through the pain of the past

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this series.

Star Trek Discovery: Forget Me Not. Image Credit: CBS Studios.

Forget Me Not Review –

Throughout Star Trek, there has been a long history of letting events happen, but to not really explore the aftermath. However, The Next Generation’s Family as well as, Deep Space Nine’s It’s Only a Paper Moon, both show that this can be some of the best the show can make. This week’s episode also knew this lesson and was the better for it.    

So to set the scene, so far this season, Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) got trapped in the future alone for a year, the USS Discovery crash-landed on a planet with ice that eats you, and last week we found out that Earth had become an isolationist power and the Federation had left 100 years ago. All of this is leaving a toll on the crew because there has been no time to process what has happened to them appropriately. Things are starting to fray, which is understandable given the circumstances, but who will be the first to break. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

Continue reading

Chef’s Table: BBQ – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a beautiful look at the many factors that make up the world of BBQ.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Chef’s Table: BBQ. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are few series on Netflix that have captured my attention more than Chef’s Table. The exploration of food and the journey of those who make it always captures me and brings me into this world. Today we are looking at the next sort of spin-off of the series since Chef’s Table France with a look at the joy that is Barbeque.

One of the exciting things about BBQ is that it means very different things depending on what country you are in. So for this series, their interpretation of BBQ is food cooked under, above, around a fire. As will be mentioned in the series as an Australian, I grew up cooking food over an open flame, and I still try to when I get the chance. This means a series about food cooked on fire is an instant sell for me.

Continue reading

The Eight Hundred (The 800, Bābǎi, 八佰) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A look at the side of WW2 that does not get shown often, which is full of moments that overwhelm you but also full of awkwardness.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

The Eight Hundred (The 800, Bābǎi, 八佰). Image Credit: CMC.

Review

If there is one conflict that has been extensively explored on screen, it is World War Two. Indeed in 2017, we got three different films that explored Dunkirk. Even with all of this coverage, there are still aspects of WWII that have not received the same attention. One of those aspects is the Chinese front which is where our film is set. It started years before the main war and went on to the very end, but we don’t explore it nearly enough. Well, today we look at a film that is trying to change this, and a film backed by the juggernauts of Tencent and Alibaba.

So to set the scene, we open with the collapse of the front lines of the National Revolutionary Army during The Battle of Shanghai. With the Imperial Japanese Army taking the outskirt town of Dachang the city has been lost. However, there is still hope in the retreat. The Revolutionary Army decides to leave a small contingent of troops behind at Sihang Warehouse led by Colonel Xie Jinyuan (Du Chun). They aim to stall the Imperial Army long enough to allow for the retreat of the rest of the army. The second aim is to be an example to the Western powers that have not yet picked a side. This is because the Warehouse is situated right next to the International Settlement in Shanghai, so for one brief moment, the whole world is focused on them. Now because this is a film based on a real event, we will be discussing parts of the plot in a little more depth than we usually would, so please be careful as there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

Continue reading

Movie Review – Babyteeth

TL;DR – This is a film that is both funny and deeply sad, immediately captivating yet also uncomfortable to watch, full complete yet broken characters

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film & The Emotion.
Winner: Best Australian Film & The Emotion

Babyteeth. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Review

When I walked in to see Babyteeth, I had no idea I was walking into. Sure, from the wigs I assumed it had something to do with cancer, it also had Ben Mendelsohn, so at the very least I was going to be entertained by that. However, nothing could prepare me for the emotional roller coaster that I would be taken on from start to finish.

So to set the scene, Milla (Eliza Scanlen) is preparing for her last day at school for a while as soon she would be starting chemotherapy as her cancer had returned. While she is waiting to get on the train, someone crashes into her from behind. Moses (Toby Wallace) had just been kicked out of home due to his drug addiction. They run off to get her hair cut, and Milla brings him home to meet her parents Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) and Anna (Essie Davis). It goes about as well as you expect it would.

I do feel that I have to preface my review with the note that moments in this film are painful to watch. So difficult that you want to turn away from the screen because the pain is too raw to bear. I say this because I feel people are going to come away with very different feelings about this film, and I wanted to give a little forewarning before we dived into the review proper. 

Continue reading

TV Review – The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready & Season 4

TL;DR – This was the perfect way to end such a special show

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready. Image Credit: NBC Studios.

Review

How do you end a show, does it go out in a whimper, in a mess, in a fleeting flame, or do you stand there as a wave of emotion pours over you. I have seen a lot of finales that have stumbled at the last hurdle, some so bad that they cast the rest of the series into question. However, today I get to take a look at one that gets it right as it says goodbye.

So to set the scene, throughout this season the philosophy gang Michael (Ted Danson), Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Jason (Manny Jacinto), and Janet (D’Arcy Carden) have been fighting to save the afterlife. First from a system that just put everyone in The Bad Place, and then from The Judge (Maya Rudolph) who decided to wipe everything away and start again from scratch. However, finally, after everything the gang has made it to The Good Place and it is here that they get to have their best times. Now we will be looking at the episode as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.  

Continue reading