Wednesday: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – Wonderful characters crammed into a generic “insert narrative here.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Nevermore Academy sign

Wednesday Review

When you take a beloved property from the past and create a modern adaptation, you need to translate a text into a future it was not ready for. This transition can help you find a new voice for an old work or what can drown an old work as you lose what made it work in the first place. Today we look at a show that hits both of these extremes in its wild ride to make it to our screen.

So to set the scene, Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) is an odd duck in the straight-laced Nancy Reagan High School. However, she is and always will be intensely protective of her family, and no one gets to torture her brother Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez) but her. Well, one application of piranhas during water polo practice later, and she is expelled from another school. Wondering what to do, her parents, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzmán), decide to enrol her in their old school Nevermore Academy. Aghast at being forced to live in her parent’s shadow and her roommate Enid’s (Emma Myers) colourful room, Wednesday decides to run away. But that is when one of the students tries to murder her, and she is saved by a creature that might be disembowelling local hikers, and maybe there is a place for her here after all. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.    

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Bones and All – Movie Review

TL;DR – A modern fairy tale coming-of-age road trip through middle America where two young people find love while eating people because they are cannibals.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

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

Warning – This film contains scenes that may cause distress

Timothée Chalamet's eyes

Bones and All Review

Rarely have I walked out of a film, and my first thoughts were, ‘well, that was a lot!’. However, I think that statement perfectly defines those first moments as the credits rolled and the multitudes of thoughts from the audience leaving the theatre filtered past me. If nothing else, Bones and All is a movie that elicits strong responses from the people who watched it, but I am not sure they were all positive.

So to set the scene, Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell) spends time by herself at high school but finally starts to find some friends. She slips out of the house she is locked into to go to a sleepover, and everything is going well until she bites her friend’s finger off. Her dad Frank (André Holland), gives her 3 minutes to pack before they move, something they have clearly done before. Moving to a new state, Maren wakes up one morning to find her dad missing and only a tape-recorded note left. Maren then has to find her place in the world all alone/ Well, maybe not completely alone because there may be more people like her. But they may not be friendly.

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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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Armageddon Time – Movie Review

TL;DR – A deeply personal and emotional film that gets messy in all the best and worst ways.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Warning – Contains scenes of abuse.

Disclosure – I was invited to a screening of this film at the Brisbane International Film Festival.

Ronald Regan.

Armageddon Time Review

I have long said that I am perfectly fine with crying in the cinema during a film. If the movie’s emotions move me, then fantastic. Indeed I even have a list of them. But there is a bit of a difference between a single stoic tear making its way down the side of your face and ugly crying for so bard you need to freshen up in the bathroom afterwards. Today, we are looking at a film that, even with all its flaws, falls in the latter category.

So to set the scene, it is 1980 in Queens, New York City, on the first day of school. Paul Graff (Banks Repeta) is starting in a new school, and just minutes into the day, he is already getting in trouble with the teacher Mr Turkeltaub (Andrew Polk). Not a great start, but he does get to meet his new friend Johnny (Jaylin Webb), who also ires Turkeltaub. Paul is trying to find his place in a world that feels like it is about to get snuffed out at any moment, with only his grandfather Aaron Rabinowitz (Anthony Hopkins) being able to reach him. Much to his parents, Esther’s (Anne Hathaway) and Irving’s (Jaylin Webb) frustration.

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Drifting Home (Ame wo Tsugeru Hyôryû Danchi/雨を告げる漂流団地) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A fascinating look back to the power that a home can have over us, more than just four walls and a roof.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

The clouds over an ocean.

Drifting Home Review

At the end of last year, I realised that I had not watched enough animated films in 2021 and that needed to change in 2022. I think I succeeded on that front, but when I looked back, I realised that there was one hole in that catchup, Anime. Today I start fixing that blind spot by diving into a film full of mystery.    

 So to set the scene, in town in Japan at the onset of summer, there is an apparently haunted apartment block about to be torn down. While the old building is being removed to put something better, it is still considered ‘home’ for Natsume Touchi (Asami Seto) and Kosuke Kumagai (Mutsumi Tamura), who grew up there. However, since they moved out, the two have drifted apart as they went through separate lives. One day before they tear down the buildings, Kosuke and a group of boys visit one of the buildings and find Natsume hiding in their old apartment. As more school students show up, a concern about a mysterious boy called Noppo (Ayumu Murase), whom no one has met before but who lives in the building, raises the tension. It is all the building blocks for an argument between Natsume and Kosuke that had been percolating for months. As the two fight, Natsume slips off the roof, but before she hits the ground, a storm envelops the apartments, and the group finds themselves in the middle of the ocean, all alone.

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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 – 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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Turning Red – Movie Review

TL;DR – A true delight of a film on an animation and narrative level.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.

Turning Red. Image Credit: Disney+.

Turning Red Review

When it comes to depicting stories outside of its cultural expertise, the Disney Corporation has had a mixed track record. Even when trying to do something in good faith, they stumble. But they took their time making sure Moana worked, and then Bao showed they could nail a complicated narrative if they supported creatives with their vision. When I heard the writer/director of Bao is making a feature film, well, I had to check that out.

So to set the scene, Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is a 13-year-old girl living in 2002 Toronto, Canada. She has become an adult, at least that is what she thinks, and has started making her mark in the world. Mei has three friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Abby (Hyein Park), and Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and together they make a core group trying to survive high school and live with joy with their mutual love of 4*Town. Mei works with her mother Ming (Sandra Oh) at their family’s temple that venerates their ancestors, including Sun Yee, who was famously friends with animals, including red pandas, which is quite a coincidence when Mei wakes up one morning to find herself turned into a giant red panda.   

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Licorice Pizza – Movie Review

TL;DR – One of the funniest and engaging films I have seen this year, but also an experience that made me deeply uncomfortable in places.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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

Licorice Pizza. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Licorice Pizza Review

There have been several films I have watched this year, but I don’t think any of them left such a complicated feeling with me as I left the cinema. This was a film that was a roller coaster that you strapped into at the start, and it never let you go. But it was an old roller coaster, so some sections rattle a bit more than they should (for my Brisbane fam, image the Thunderbolt towards the end of its life).

So to set the scene, we open in San Fernando Valley on a school picture day. Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) is with his friends as they prime themselves to get the best picture, while Alana Kane (Alana Haim) is working with the photo company. When Gary and Alana first meet, there is an instant connection even though they come from different worlds. Well, those worlds now collide all across 1973, Los Angeles.

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Cuties (Mignonnes) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A deeply uncomfortable film exploring the over-sexualisation and control over young girls.      

Score – I am honestly not sure how to score this film

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

Cuties (Mignonnes). Image Credit: Netflix.

Cuties (Mignonnes) Review

If there has been one film in recent times that has been entirely destroyed reputationally before it even came out it was the film we are reviewing today. When Netflix released the promotional material, it was demonised across the internet, and from the excerpts Netflix decided to choose it is not hard to see why. The director was hounded off Twitter and labelled an exploitive filmmaker and more. However, those who had seen the film already made it clear that the framing used in the promotional material was not representative of the final product. Well, today we see which is right as we explore the film now it has had its official release.

So to set the scene, we open in on Amy Diop (Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi) as her family makes a new home in France after moving from Senegal. She is trapped between two worlds, the conservative world of her mother Mariam (Maïmouna Gueye), and the more liberal world she has moved into in France. She becomes drawn to some of her classmates who dance in ways that she has never seen (even if they are just the worst in every other way). These crashing worlds come into even more relief when she discovers that her father has not joined them yet because he has taken a second wife.      

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