True Spirit – Movie Review

TL;DR – An impressively acted story that is let down by forced conflict and unnecessary padding.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

The Pink Lady leaves Sydney Harbour.

True Spirit Review

There are these moments that you remember because they touched all of society when they happened. Usually, these are moments of tragedy that cut through the world, but for Queensland and Australia, we had the moment built on triumph. Today’s film is based on that long journey by Jessica Watson across the planet.

So to set the scene, Jessica Watson (Teagan Croft) grew up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, where water was always on your doorstep. She learned how to sail on the open ocean, catching the wind and riding the waves here thanks to her coach Ben Bryant (Cliff Curtis). Jessica had one dream: to sail around the world by herself, which took a bit of a beating when her boat was severely damaged by a cargo ship in the 2009 trail run. But with everything going against her, Jessica is determined to make the trip before the government legislates that she can’t go.

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Transfusion – Movie Review

TL;DR – It is a film trying to explore some essential issues. However, it felt like we only got a surface-level analysis.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan service that viewed this film.

Blood in the sink.

Transfusion Review

It is one of modern society’s great tragedies, actually no, not a tragedy, embarrassments, that we send people off to war and wars with dubious pretensions, and then we ignore them when they return home. We give lip service to trying to do something about it, but the damage remains. Today’s film shines a light on that trauma and how it can have generational effects.     

So to set the scene, an Australian special forces team in The Middle East infiltrates a secured compound at night. The mission was a success until a surprise combatant sneaks up on the team, and Ryan Logan (Sam Worthington) is shot protecting his team. Back home, Ryan must adjust back to life with his wife Justine (Phoebe Tonkin) and son Billy (Gilbert Bradman), but where the trauma of the past still lingers. But when tragedy strikes, the bond between a father and a son is stretched to breaking point.     

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The Best Australian Cinema in 2022

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 look 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 2022. Be warned that there will be significant spoilers for the films in question.

The Nominees Are –

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Blacklight – Movie Review

TL;DR – An action film that wastes a lot of its runtime, forgetting it is an action film.     

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this film

Flags at Washington DC

Blacklight Review

As we continue our run to the end of the year, I thought I would continue my catch-up by continuing my look at Liam Neeson’s after yesterday’s Memory. This time around, we have an action film where Liam is an undercover expert caught up in a grand conspiracy

So to set the scene, we open with a politician Sofia Flores (Melanie Jarnson) is giving an empowering speech about bringing politics back to the people and stopping the cooperate interests that are disenfranchising people. Still, later that night, she is run down by an assassin. Meanwhile, in Rural America, Travis Block (Liam Neeson) is extricating a deep undercover operative from a mission gone wrong. He wants to step away from this life and spend more time with his family, but one last mission to extricate Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith) goes pear-shaped, and now he is in the fight of his life.  

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Christmas Ransom – Movie Review

TL;DR – A thoroughly charming film when it is working and a bit overwrought when it is not.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are mid-credit scenes

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan service that viewed this film.

emerging from a ball pit

Christmas Ransom Review

It is the time of year when Christmas films are a plenty. Indeed 5 Christmas films got added to a streaming service just today. But if I am to dive into what can be a mess of sentimentality, I want to spend some time with a local production. Well, it is good timing because the Stan Christmas film just dropped, and it is time to find some joy in the world.
 
So to set the scene, at Harrington & Sons toy store run by Clarence Harrington (Cleave Williams) and famous all through the country and the place to visit for toys. But as time marches on, Clarence’s son Derrick (Matt Okine) now runs the store. Christmas does not hold the joy it once was after doing it alone for so long, and even Gladys (Miranda Tapsell), the store’s security guard, can see something missing from Derrick’s life. Even more so given the store is about to close because of a lack of finance. But once the store is closed for the evening, we discover that not everyone has left. Two members of the naughty list, Wombat (Evan Stanhope) and Brady (Tahlia Sturzaker), are here. But before Gladys can finish integrating the little brats, two actual crooks, Nan (Geneviève Lemon) and Shez (Bridie McKim), come into the store with guns. Soon all the staff are tied up with tinsel, a ransom call has been made, and the question is, who can save them?

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Poker Face – Movie Review

TL;DR – There could have been a good film here, but it gets lost in the mess of two competing ideas.     

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

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

rolling waves

Poker Face Review

One of the things about reviewing films that can be frustrating is when you get a movie where you can see promise in there, but the final product just falls flat. You feel for the filmmakers because they were so close to finding something unique, but you must review what you get at the end of the day. Well, on that front, let’s look at Poker Face.

So to set the scene, we open in on a bunch of kids playing cards, jumping off cliffs, running from bullies, and being there for each other. Many years later, the leader of the group, Jake (Russell Crowe), is visiting a local shaman (Jack Thompson) in the bush and asking his lawyer Sam McIntyre (Daniel MacPherson), to arrange some trust accounts and an extraordinary evening. Soon Michael Nankervis (Liam Hemsworth), Alex Harris (Aden Young), and Paul Muccino (Steve Bastoni) are all racing up the coast in sports cars to make it to Jake’s luxury oceanside holiday house. The childhood friends will play a high-stakes poker game, but secrets are about to escape.

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Sweet As – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure, that brings a profoundly Australian feel to a coming-of-age story set in the simple stunning Pilbara.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are photos during the start of the credits

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

The bus on the highway.

Sweet As Review

One of the best things about film festivals is finding gems you have not heard about. Today we see just such a film that I caught at the closing gala of The Brisbane International Film Festival. A film about finding yourself along the coast of Western Australia.

So to set the scene, Murra (Shantae Barnes-Cowan) lives with her mother, Grace (Ngaire Pigram), in a mining town on the Western Australian coastline. Murra has to mainly look after herself as her mum struggles with addiction relapses, which comes to a head when someone from one of Grace’s parties tries to break into Murra’s room one night. Calling in on her uncle Ian (Mark Coles Smith), he realises that there are very few options for her left. Using his connections as a cop, Ian gets Murra into a photography program for at-risk kids run by Mitch (Tasma Walton) and Fernando (Carlos Sanson Jr.). The program was designed as a way to help, maybe even a last chance, for Murra and the three other campers, Elvis (Pedrea Jackson), Kylie (Mikayla Levy), and Sean (Andrew Wallace) it could well be.

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Three Thousand Years of Longing (3000 Years of Longing) – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it might meander to the end, it shines when it delves into stories and vignettes of the past.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Three Thousand Years of Longing the book.

Three Thousand Years of Longing Review

Few films have ever captured my soul quite like Mad Max Fury Road, a movie that changed and shaped my engagement with cinema. It made such an impact that when I heard that the team behind the film, including director George Miller, were back for another ride. Well, I had to check that out on the opening day.

So to set the scene, once upon a time when humans flew through the skies on metal wings while pulling stories out of the air on their glass pads. A Narratologist called Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) is making her annual trip from her gloomy home in England to a more exotic land in Istanbul to attend a conference of peers. But when she arrives, she starts to see things that are not quite right. Ignoring them as artifacts of her over-active imagination, she spends some time in Istanbul’s Grand Bazar, and she picks the one junk pile, in one of the rooms, in one of the thousands of shops and finds a glass jar whose life told a story. But she got more than what she wished for when in her hotel room, she decided to clean the jar up and inside was a powerful Djinn (Idris Elba) who gave her three wishes.   

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6 Festivals – Movie Review

TL;DR – A transcendent exploration of music, youth, and the times in our lives where the two powerfully intersect.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this film.

Warning – contains scenes that may cause distress.

Utopia Valley, Central Coast, NSW, New Year's Eve.

6 Festivals Review

When people write stories about young people, they often look back to their own lives as inspiration. But there becomes a disconnect between setting something in the now based on a feeling from the past. This issue can lead to outdated films before they even make it to the screen. Well, today, we look at a movie that avoids those pitfalls by focusing on the very real and now.

So to set the scene, we open on a small rowboat in the middle of the river as three friends, James (Rory Potter), Maxie (Rasmus King), and Summer (Yasmin Honeychurch), drink wine out of a box and sing Powderfinger’s My Happiness. They are using the boat to sneak into the Utopia Valley music festival on the central coast of Australia’s New South Wales. But they are soon rumbled by the cops and have to do a quick fence jump to get in. The festival is a riot, right up until the cops catch up with them, and James is forced to reveal that he has cancer. Knowing that he can use his cancer as a good excuse, the three convince James’s mum Sue (Briony Williams), to take them to the Big Pineapple festival and more, as they try to hit six festivals in a row.     

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Bosch & Rockit (Ocean Boy) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A delightful meditative film that explores two damaged lives trying to find their way, and it shines when the film focuses on that.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Walking into the surf with the sun setting in the background.

Bosch & Rockit Review –

I am not sure why Coming-of-Age films capture you as well as they do. Every part of a person’s life should be as interesting as any other, yet there is something about these stories that always captures your attention. This is probably why we see many of these films throughout the year, but some connect better than others, and today we get to look at just such a film.

So to set the scene, we open in on the New South Wales coastline as a young boy Rockit (Rasmus King), is surfing barrels in the waves. While he is struggling with school and wanting to spend time surfing, his father Bosch (Luke Hemsworth) makes money selling weed farmed from his property in the hills. Things are going well until Bosch’s partner and local copper, Keith (Michael Sheasby), brings in a new boss Derek (Martin Sacks), who wants them to sell coke as well. This is bad, but before Bosch can work a way out of this mess, a bush fire crashes down the hill and leads the cops right to Bosch’s farm. Knowing he is rumbled by the police, both legitimate and dirty, Bosch grabs Rocket and goes on the run, or as he calls it, ‘a holiday’.

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