Movie Review – Instant Family

TL;DR – There are some moments of real humour and it can be really heartfelt, but it has also be smashed into a rigid three-act structure to the point that you can see the plot beats coming a mile away.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

Instant Family. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Review

Adoption and foster care are two very important issues in society today. There are not enough foster parents for all the kids in the system, meaning that they get bounced around from house to house, or left in a worst state than when they came in. Which is a tragedy because these are some of the most vulnerable members of society and we need to be protecting them. Today we look at a film that explores this issue by looking at what happens when you go from having no kids to having three.

So to set the scene, Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are a couple going through life that seemingly has it all. They run a successful renovation business where they buy down and out houses and then do them up to flip them for a profit. This helps gives their lives purpose, until one day Ellie’s sister mentions that they are never going to have kids and a look ensues. This leads to them having a look at adoption websites and being overcome by the need. So they attend training run by Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro) and on a lunch playdate/get to know all the kids/totally weird event, they come across Lizzy (Isabela Moner) who everyone else is ignoring because they don’t want teenagers. They really like Lizzy but there is one catch, she comes with two siblings Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz) and all of a sudden they become a family of five.

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Movie Review – The Favourite

TL;DR – At times funny, at times perplexing, and at times very dark, it explores the world of immense power and those who want to obtain it, and the damage that can do.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

The Favourite. Image Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review

We live in a world where thanks to technology we can explore galaxies far away, to fantasies imagined in every which way, but sometimes reality can be stranger than anything we can muster. Today we are exploring a film that is set around the power politics of last years of the House of Stuart as different people position themselves in an ever-shifting world. This would be interesting enough in itself, but in both a less and in some cases more dramatic way this is what really happened (or at least what was alleged to have happened) in real life. It is a snapshot of absolute power, but also of sadness, and regret.

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Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

TL;DR – At the heart is the powerful story of Freddie Mercury, but you can see the difficulties of adapting a life as grand as his into a standard film runtime.     

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There footage during the credits that you want to stay back for.

Bohemian Rhapsody. Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review

There have been a lot of productions that have been stuck in ‘production hell’ for years before they get made (and some never exit it) and one of the big casualties of this was the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic. It had gone through multiple directors and leading cast before finally going into production, only to find out that the difficulties were not done there. With clashes on set and the inevitable replacement of the director befalling production. When this has happened in the past, it has led to at best an uneven film, but often times the final product is a complete mess. Thankfully, Bohemian Rhapsody avoids the latter but you can still see the problems under the hood.

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Movie Review – Outlaw King (Outlaw/King)

TL;DR – It is a film that is completely serviceable, with some amazing action, but just comes off feeling lacking in many ways

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

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

Outlaw King. Image Credit: Netflix

 

 

Review

This is a real odd duck of a film, even before it came out there were questions about its runtime and how it was edited together, with reports that over 20 minutes got cut for its final release. Add to this the only other thing it was noticeable for was a certain alleged scene involving Chris Pine and well, that was not a strong platform to release a film on. So, my real concern was – did taking a hatchet to the film trim it down to only its best parts, or did it turn it into a hacked up mess – and the answer is a bit of both. Now just a quick thing, I will let others more versed in Scottish history to comment on whether or not the film is accurate with history or not.

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Movie Review – Boy Erased

TL;DR – This is at times a very difficult film to watch, but it is an important film because abuse is abuse and that is what this is.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Boy Erased. Image Credit: Focus Features

 

 

Review

There are many reasons you can make a film, okay well other than making a profit, it is a business after all. It can be to entertain, it can be to inform, it can be to titillate, it could be to scare, or even to keep the kids entertained for 90 minutes so the parents can clean the house. However, sometimes a film exists to shine a light on a subject people might not know about, but they should. Today with Boy Erased we are looking a just such a film as explores the Pray the Gay Away industry in the United States and the dangerous harm it does to people.

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Movie Review – BlacKkKlansman

TL;DR – Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is at times hilarious, at times deeply provoking, and at no time will it hold your hand as it explores the deep centred racism in America (spoiler: it is not just America)

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

BlacKkKlansman. Image Credit: Focus Features/Universal Pictures

Review

I was not one hundred per cent sure what it was that I was getting myself into when I walked into to see BlacKkKlansman. I knew it was about a black police officer infiltrating the KKK and that it was based on a true story but that was about it. Spike Lee is a filmmaker whose work I am unfortunately not that familiar with, so was this going to be a comedy, was it going to play it straight, was it going to do both while being deeper for it? Well with that in mind let’s take a look at the race relations of the 1970s which in no way reflects on America of today … in no way …

So to set the scene, in 1972 Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is hired as the first black police officer in Colorado Springs. While this is meant to be a step forward for race relations, Ron is hidden away in the records room taking abuse from his fellow police officers. That is until one day an important African-Amerian activist Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins) comes to town and they need someone to go undercover at the speech and well every other member of the police force would stand out. It is here where he meets Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier) one of the event organisers, and listens to the speech which focuses on promoting the cause of African people from white oppression, up to and including armed resistance. Happy with his success the police decide to move Ron into the intelligence division and on his first day he responds to an ad in the paper about a new KKK chapter starting up in the town. One slight problem, just a small thing really, but it kind of won’t work if they ever have a face to face meeting. So Ron enlists officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), Ron is Ron on the phone, and Flip is Ron in person, and all of it flows from there.

Ron Stallworth is making the KKK out to be the fools they are
John David Washington captivates the screen as Ron Stallworth in one of the most bizarre Based on a True Story films I have ever seen. Image Credit: Focus Features/Universal Pictures

The first thing I really appreciated about the film is that right from the start it is very clear about what the subtext, and well sometimes the literal text of the film is. Indeed we open on Alec Baldwin doing a pitch-perfect rendition of a 1970s Alex Jones type character, only with veiled racism replaced with literal unabashed racism. This film is not only a spotlight on one of the more fascinating real-world events that I have heard but also mirror on contemporary society because we are not as far removed from the 1970s as we might like to think we are. All of this is crafted by some truly wonderful performances by actors sometimes playing truly repugnant roles. Now, of course, a lot of the attention has been focused on the two lead actors John David Washington and Adam Driver, and there is a very good reason for that. They command every scene they are in but for very different reasons, John by the very nature of the role he is playing draws your eye every moment he is on screen, and backs that up with one of the more nuanced portrayals that I have seen of someone living in two worlds. Driver is playing a character that is much more reserved, and who reveals small parts of himself over the course of the film. All of this is supported by a supporting cast that helps create a world that both feels like an alien relic of the past but also inescapably familiar today.

It also excels with the themes it is exploring and how they present that for the world to see. The first is the role of the KKK and its members. In many films, it is easy to cast the KKK as stupid rednecks lost in the past because their lack of intelligence, now to be fair, in many cases like Django Unchained that is because they are being used to ridicule the modern KKK, and have at I say. However, here we look at the KKK as it exists in reality, and like many other terrorist or extremist groups, sure there are the fools or those who are just looking for violence, but then there are also those who are incredibly intelligent, and are very capable of creating and implementing tactics to forward their despicable goals. As well as this, I really liked the dissection of the debate around historically corrupt or racist organisations. Can you change them from within, or must you tear them down and start again? It is a question that there is not one clear answer to, and it was interesting to see that discussion play out between Ron and Patrice throughout the film.

Lots of Guns, it is America afterall
Adam Driver continues to show why he is one of this century’s best acting talents. Image Credit: Focus Features/Universal Pictures

All of this is added to with how the film is constructed, filmed, and edited together. There are these moments where they almost create a cinematic bait and switch where they present something as almost benign and then shift the framing to show you just how horrific it really is. Like when the KKK members go for some target practice, for all of that sequence we see everything down range with the targets behind us, with only the sound of bullets hitting metal to indicate something is odd. However, as everyone leaves we spin around and see that what they were firing at were metal cutouts of African children, and horrific caricatures of African children as well. There are also several moments in the film where it almost breaks the fourth wall in a very Brechtian manner. These are moments when BlacKkKlansman moves almost into an educational mode explaining parts of the history of African-Americans that people might not know about like Blaxploitation films or parts of American history that has been almost purposefully suppressed like the practice of lynching. Looking at Spike Lee’s filmography he does have a strong history of making documentaries, and it was really interesting seeing some of those techniques added to a dramatic film. Also, it takes a moment to look at the power of film to shape public option and not always for the better, as The Birth of a Nation the first film shown in the White House directly led to the reformation of the KKK.

However, the one thing that elevates BlacKkKlansman from being a great film into being an excellent one is in its ending, and of course, to talk about the ending of the film there will clearly be [SPOILERS] for the rest of this paragraph. Throughout the film there were these moments where I interpreted it as the film almost winking at the audience, like for example when Sergeant Trapp (Ken Garito) let’s Ron know that some of his contacts told him that David Duke (Topher Grace) the current Grand Wizard of the KKK has been trying to shape the public view of the organisation so that he could better make a run for politics or make sure his candidate of choice made it to the presidency. This along with images of Nixon that the film lingers on just that little bit too long to be accidental and other hints all paint a picture as to who is the key target of the film. However, I thought that it was going to remain at just that hints to the audience, but no. So at the end of the film, there is no real happy ending for any of the characters though we do get one more laugh at David Duke’s expense, and the more mockery of him the better. Just as we are contemplating that lack of a happy ending as a cross burns in the background we hard cut to the events of Charlottesville and President Donald J Trump’s offensive response finally ending on the terrorist attack that happened in the city days later. The attack is shown in all its detail and people go flying through the air as the car hits them. As this played out there was complete silence in the cinema as a wave of shock rippled through the room. I grew up in the era of 9/11 to the point where I thought I had become desensitised to seeing events like this on screen, but it is clear that that is not the case. All throughout the film, there is this tendency to comfortably take all the despicable language and actions of the characters in the film and say, well that is the 1970s, that is not today, but the end of the film is there to not give you that luxury.

A cross burning, while the cowards hide behind their masks.
It could be easy to just think that this was a problem of the 1970s, but the film does not give you that easy out. Image Credit: Focus Features/Universal Pictures

In the end, do we recommend BlacKkKlansman? Yes, yes we do. It is not going to be an easy film to watch by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it is an important one and if there is ever a more pressing time for it, well then I don’t know. Before I leave, I should also note that this is not something where we can just go ‘oh America’ here in Australia as I was writing this very review an Australian Senator used his maiden speech in Parliament to argue for a ban on Islamic immigration, pay tribute to the White Australia Policy, and “The final solution to the immigration problem.” This is an issue we all need to confront across the globe and we need to confront it now.

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched BlacKkKlansman?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 

Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)

Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of BlacKkKlansman

Directed by – Spike Lee

Screenplay by – Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel & Kevin Willmott

Based onBlack Klansman by Ron Stallworth

Music by – Terence Blanchard

Cinematography by – Chayse Irvin

Edited by – Barry Alexander Brown

Starring – John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Michael Buscemi, Ashlie Atkinson, Robert John Burke, Ken Garito, Frederick Weller, Nicholas Turturro, Isiah Whitlock Jr. & Alec Baldwin

Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 12; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R

Movie Review – Tag

TL;DR – Overall just a really fun silly film, that is made even sillier by the fact that it is based on a true story. It is just a pity that not everything works.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Content Warning – One of the side plots revolved around an extending sequence about a potential miscarriage

Post-Credit Scene – There is something you’ll want to see in the credits.

Tag. Image Credit: Warner Bros.

 

 

Review

You know when I think back to my school years there were people, really good friends, that I spent nearly every day of my life with who I now have no idea where they are and what they are doing with there lives. As we grow older it is natural for people to grow apart, even with the digitally connected world we live in today where you can be Facebook acquaintances with most of the people of your past. Today we are looking at a story about a group of friends that decided to buck this trend in a really odd yet charming way. Now just before we jump in, for the first time I am giving a content warning with regards to this film because one of the plot lines is dealing with a miscarriage that kind of comes out of nowhere in the film and it may be quite traumatising for some people.

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