How to Please a Woman – Movie Review

TL;DR – A story that explores a part of life that rarely gets to make it to the cinema, even if it does take some wild turns and does not quite come together in places.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

Swimming in the open ocean.

How to Please a Woman Review

I am not quite sure what I expected when I sat down to watch How to Please a Woman. I had not seen any of the trailers, and there was only the poster to go on that, at best, gives off a ‘Cougar Town after they worked out what Cougar Town was and regretted calling it Cougar Town’ energy. However, no matter what I would have thought, I am not sure I was ready for the wild turns this film takes.

So to set the scene, Gina (Sally Phillips) spends her mornings swimming in the ocean off the West Australian coast with her friends, which is the one part of her life that gives her purpose. Her marriage with Adrian (Cameron Daddo) is loveless, and her boss Gary (Ben Mortley), is more interested in his staff’s physical attributes than how good they are at their jobs. Knowing she is in a bad place, her friends buy her a stripper called Tom (Alexander England) for her birthday. They just didn’t realise that the ‘premium package’ meant they had actually paid for a prostitute and not a stripper. Not wanting to cheat on her husband, Gina takes his ‘I can do anything you want for two hours’ to instead clean her house, which is the point that she has an idea for a new business.

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The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson – Movie Review

TL;DR – A heart-wrenching look at life in Australia on the cusp of the 1900s and at issues that are just as relevant today.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Warning – This film depicts scenes of abuse

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Sheep being headed across the plains

The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson Review

There are many touchstones in Australian literature that you must look at in school, and one of the big ones from the 1800s is Henry Lawson. One of their more famous works is that of The Drover’s Wife, a story of life on the ‘frontier’ in 1983. It is an interesting tale of survival against the elements, but it also glosses over many realities of the time. Today we are looking at a film that takes that central premise and then reinterprets the story from a different perspective.

So to set the scene, it is 1893, and high up in the Snowy Mountains, a lone mother, Molly Johnson (Leah Purcell), is watching over her home and four children while her husband is away droving sheep on the high plains. Her husband is away for months at a time, so she has to be resourceful, like when she takes out a wandering bullock that was about to attack her kids. But as she is cooking the meat, the new town Sergeant Klintoff (Sam Reid) and his wife Louisa (Jessica De Gouw) arrive destitute after losing it all in the river. Molly helps them and sends them on their way because they can take her kids to town, so she can give birth uninterrupted.

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Gold – Movie Review

TL;DR – Brutal, uncomfortable, and completely compelling.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan subscription that viewed this film

Gold. Image Credit: Stan.

Gold Review

When you are creating a film that wonders into the Survival genre, there are two very different ways you can engage your audience. The first is through shock, a sudden event or trauma like a bear attack. Or you can slowly pull everything away from people like a tide coming in or an approaching winter you are not ready for. Today we look at a film that explores the latter, but instead of the chill of winter, we get the brutal, unrelenting heat of the desert Sun.   

So to set the scene, some time, someplace, not far from now, a man is sitting in a train carriage boosting a ride in cargo. Man One (Zac Efron) has the clothes on his back and not much else as he walks out into the desert heat at Greenview Outpost. He is heading to the compound in the restricted Eastern Territories and gets a lift with Man Two (Anthony Hayes) through the inhospitable landscape. Man One goes off to take a leak after the car blows its radiator, which is when he spots something shiny in the desert, a gold nugget.

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The Best Australian Cinema in 2021

It was a fantastic year for Australian Cinema, with each film I saw knocking it out of the park. There were intimate documentaries, films that held up a mirror to society, and those that brought the action to a new level.

This list will be looking more at the locally made Australian productions/co-productions and not just films filmed in Australia.

So without further ado, these are the best Australian Cinema in 2021. Be warned that there will be significant spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banner/titles to go to the full reviews.  

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High Ground – Movie Review

TL;DR – A challenging and confronting film exploring a part of Australia’s history that we don’t like to talk about.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

High Ground. Image Credit Madman Films.

High Ground Review

When I was growing up, every year at school we looked at the explorers that charted the coast, then the first fleet, finally the early penal colonies, and then we skip forward to Federation. At no time did we talk about the people who lived in the land before the colonists arrived, nor did we explore what happened to them as colonisation swept across the nation. The period known as the Frontier Wars was a bloody conflict about removing people from their land. In today’s review, we look at a film that explores this part of Australia’s history and all the ugliness that comes with it.

So to set the scene, in 1919 in Arnhem Land Australia, Gutjuk (Guruwuk Mununggurr) is being taught the dances of his people by his uncle Baywara (Mark Garrawurra) when they stumble across two men fleeing from troopers. They were accused of killing a cow, and they are allowed to stay the night, but then they must move on. However, before than can happen, the troopers arrive at the camp, but with a plan to discuss things peacefully. They were to move in as a group and announce their arrival. They brought the local priest Braddock (Ryan Corr) to help translate and if all went wrong the commander of the troop Travis (Simon Baker) was on the high ground overlooking the settlement and could fire down if needed. Well, that was the plan, but as Travis watches the group splits up, chooses to sneak up on the group, and ignore his command that only Travis can fire first. It is a recipe for disaster, and disaster is what occurs.

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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.

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Occupation: Rainfall – Movie Review

TL;DR – A sequel that improves on the first in every way, full of action, and a ride from the start till finish

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

NominatedBest Australian Film & Fascinating Worldbuilding

Disclosure – I was invited to a screening of this film.

Occupation: Rainfall. Image Credit: Monster Films.

Occupation: Rainfall Review

A couple of years ago, I got to see this little Australian Science Fiction which was punching far above its weight. It was a movie filmed on a minuscule budget that did more with that budget than those with a much larger purse. It was a good representation of an alien invasion film, and full of some great action set pieces. So it was great to see that it was getting a sequel, and I am glad to say it improves on the first film in every way.       

In the years since the first film Occupation, the resistance movement has fought from the hillside towns and villages down to Sydney’s heart. It is a war of attrition and small hit-and-run operations, trying to take the city back one small section at a time. For Matt Simmons (Dan Ewing), this is a battle of zero compromises because it is a fight for their lives. But for Amelia Chambers (Jet Tranter), she is trying to find a diplomatic answer or try to find a cooperative way to work with the other subjugated aliens. However, when Wing Commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies) calls a retreat, and all hope seems lost, a rumour about a new weapon called Rainfall starts to spread. Rainfall could be their one hope, or humanities final downfall.

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Awards – The of Best of Australian Cinema in 2020

It was a fantastic year for Australian Cinema, with each film I saw knocking it out of the park. There were intimate documentaries, films that held up a mirror to society, and those that brought the action to a new level.

This list will be looking more at the locally made Australian productions/co-productions and not just films filmed in Australia.

So without further ado, these are the best of Australian Cinema in 2020. Be warned that there will be some big spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banner to go to the full reviews.  

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The Dry – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that captivates you in the first frame and never lets you go throughout the runtime.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

The Dry. Image Credit: Roadshow Films.

The Dry Review

The murder-mystery who-done-it genre is one that can captivate me as we see the mystery unfold or frustrate me as the film throws in silly narrative choices to pad out the run time. Today we get to look at a movie that does the first as it brings you into this world and does not let you go until the end.

So to set the scene, we open with long pans over a dry and parched landscape full of dust and brown. When in the background we can hear a baby crying, we see it in its crib, but something is amiss and as the camera pans out there is blood everywhere. A couple of weeks later we are in Melbourne where we discover there has been a murder-suicide with a father killing his wife and son but leaving the baby behind. Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) is now an investigator for the Federal Police, but he grew up in the town and knew the husband Luke (Martin Dingle Wall) as they were childhood friends. A letter compels him to return for the funeral, but coming back to town is harder for Aaron because of his past and the suspicious death of one of his friends that caused him and his family to flee all those years ago.   

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True History of the Kelly Gang – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning film that unfortunately left me feeling hollow at the

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Warning – Contains significant strobe lighting

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

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film

True History of the Kelly Gang. Image Credit: Stan.

True History of the Kelly Gang Review

Well, there are many aspects of Australian life I just don’t get, and one of those is the veneration of Ned Kelly. But then it does have the distinction of being the subject of the first feature film ever made. Today we look at a movie that explores the life of Ned Kelly, the true story of the bushranger … well maybe not the whole truth …or even a little bit of it.

So to set the scene, in 1867 Australia, and a young Ned Kelly (Orlando Schwerdt) is trying to find his place in a rural world with no education and a mother Ellen (Essie Davis) with an ‘interesting’ view of raising children. She sells the boy to  Harry Power (Russell Crowe) a bushranger who introduces the boy to the violent world, including shooting Sergeant O’Neill (Charlie Hunnam) a member of the constabulary. After spending time in jail and away from his family Ned (George MacKay) returns home and gets brought back into the world he once escaped.

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