Don’t Worry Darling – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it nails the style, and the cast is giving their all, there is a lack of substance.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Warning – Some scenes may cause distress.

Cars drive out to the headquarters.

Don’t Worry Darling Review

I am not sure any film has quite had as rough a publicity tour as Don’t Worry Darling for quite a while. It felt that every week there was some new drama going on behind the scenes, real or imagined. While this could have derailed the film for me, I quite liked the first trailer, I enjoyed Olivia Wilde’s first directorial work with Booksmart, and look Florence Pugh, and Chris Pine always give great performances. Which meant I was intrigued to see just how this would all play out.

So to set the scene, we open in The Victory Project, a company town in the middle of the desert where all the women stay home manning the house while their husbands go to a mysterious headquarters working on secret new materials. In a perfect house filled with every modern convenience, Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) gets breakfast ready for her husband Jack (Harry Styles) and watches with the neighbourhood as all the men leave for work simultaneously. She spends her days cleaning the house, making dinner, rehearsing ballet, and drinking with her best friend and neighbour Bunny (Olivia Wilde). The couple enjoys being young and fun, days drinking with friends, and nights partying with the neighbours. Things are going well for both of them. But as they chat at a party held by the boss Jack Chambers (Chris Pine) and his wife Shelly (Gemma Chan), their former friend Margaret (KiKi Layne) questions everything, and soon it has Alice wondering too.  

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Heartbreak High (2022): Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR Heartbreak High crafted an interesting narrative with compelling characters in a setting that does not get the coverage that it should

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Warning – Contains scenes that may cause distress

The "Map"

Heartbreak High Review

Ever since Sex Education blasted onto the scene, there has been a big push by networks to jump back into the world of teen coming-of-age series, but written with a level of maturity. While there have been a lot of pretenders, I have yet to see anything come close to capturing that level of honesty in a show, well, that is until today. Today we are looking at a show that feels like a breath of fresh air while also being a call back to an Australian classic set at Hartley High School in Sydney, Australia.

So to set the scene, Amerie (Ayesha Madon) and Harper (Asher Yasbincek) are besties who spend their lives inseparable and then fighting hard. But after a music festival, Harper ghosted Amerie and completely changed her appearance. Amerie is trying to find out why all hell breaks loose when they get into a fistfight. Because all last year, Amerie and Harper spent their time in the abandoned stairwell making a map of all the different sexual encounters their grade had engaged in. So on the day that Amerie losses her best friend, the map is discovered, and Amerie goes from being Amerie to becoming ‘Map Bitch’ before being sequestered away in a sexual literacy tutorial with everyone else on the map, including Darren (James Majoos), Quinni (Chloe Hayden), Malakai (Thomas Weatherall), Ca$h (Will McDonald), Dusty (Joshua Heuston), Sasha (Gemma Chua-Tran), Spider (Bryn Chapman-Parish), Missy (Sherry-Lee Watson), and Ant (Brodie Townsend). Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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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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The Invitation – Movie Review

TL;DR – A completely generic story slightly elevated by a cast understanding what type of film it is and playing to it.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

A DNA Test.

The Invitation Review

There is a whole world of mythology waiting to be mined for ideas, yet we always seem to come back to one or two touchstones, one of which is vampires. The question then becomes, can you do something new in a space that has been mined for hundreds of years? Probably not, but can you still make it entertaining? Well, that is the question we get to explore in today’s film, The Invitation.

So to set the scene, we open in a dark mansion on a stormy night. A woman in a white dress breaks out of her locked room and runs through the building but not seeing an escape, she decides to kill herself than stay where she is. Moving to New York City, we meet Evelyn “Evie” Jackson (Nathalie Emmanuel), a struggling ceramics artist who takes up catering jobs to make a living. After one of those jobs, she gets one of the leftover goodie bags with a DNA kit. Lo and behold, she discovered that she had a relative, a cousin called Oliver (Hugh Skinner), who happened to be coming to New York from England on business. When they meet up, Oliver invites her to the social wedding of the century at the estate of Walter De Ville (Thomas Doherty). There be red flags a plenty, but without any family of her own left, Evie takes the trip, unsure of what she will find on the other side of the pond.  

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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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Beast – Movie Review

TL;DR – It starts strong and has genuinely terrifying moments, but it does not have the legs to make it to the end.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

A truck drives through the South African bush.

Beast Review

A long tradition of films can be summed up as ‘an unknowable antagonist hunts down our plucky protagonists’. If we slip into horror, this can be a slasher hunted down kids at a summer camp, dinosaurs running amok in Jurassic Park, or you could flip it, and the unstoppable force is the protagonist as in John Wick. However, one of the more popular scenarios in this realm is animals, and while sharks may have been king for a while, today’s film looks to unseat them with the big cats that roam the savannah.

So to set the scene, it is late a night as a group of poachers stalk through the bush to a trap they have set up. Letting loose a barrage of gunfire, they kill all the lions there, bar one that gets away. The next day, Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) and his daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries) arrive at Mopani Game Reserve in South Africa to spend time with Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley), an old friend of Nate and his late wife. Nate is a ranger at Mopani, and in the morning, he gives the group a tour around the preserve, even in the areas the public doesn’t usually see. But when they see a man running out onto the road covered in blood and go to help, they soon realise that there is something out there in the grass coming for them.

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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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The Black Phone – Movie Review

TL;DR – While The Black Phone made me deeply uncomfortable for its entire runtime, it also engaged me at every moment. Ethan is terrifying as the unhinged Grabber, and the young cast stepped up to the plate when needed.   

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.

Warning – This film depicts scenes of abuse.

The grabber stands with black balloons.

The Black Phone Review

Horror is one of those genres that I occasionally dip my toes in, but not one that I have ever done a deep dive in enough to be a true aficionado. I think part of that is probably a bit of self-care on my part, and the other is that some people get super into Horror, which is sometimes a bit intimidating. That has made me a bit more choosy about which horror films I see, moving more towards suspense than slasher. However, if there is one company that you know will put out a solid horror film, it is Blumhouse, and today’s film is not an exception.    

So to set the scene, in 1978, in the North of Denver, a young Finney (Mason Thames) is pitching to Bruce (Tristan Pravong) in a little league game. He scores two strikes, but Bruce hits it for a home run on the final ball. Finn is a bit dejected, but Bruce commends him on his swing, telling him that ‘he almost got him’. Having won the match, Bruce rode high as he went home, right up until a black van pulled out in front of him, and he was never seen again. Sometime later, as Finn and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) walk to school, they see missing photos of Bruce and wonder if he will ever be found as the Grabber (Ethan Hawke) has taken more kids and no one can seem to stop him.

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The Phantom of the Open – Movie Review

TL;DR – It is an absolute delight. Mark Rylance completely encapsulates the character bringing warmth and nuisance to the role. Overall, I found the film to be an utter delight and filled with charm from start to finish.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

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

Maurice reveals his golf clothes under his work uniform like superman.

The Phantom of the Open Review

One of the best parts of this recent biopic resurgence has been discovering stories about people I had never heard about before. I am not much of a golf person, so while I knew the British Open was a thing that existed, I had not heard about one of the quirks in its history. However, cast Mark Rylance in your film, and you already have me on board, and what a delight it was.  
                          
So to set the scene, Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) was born in Barrow-in-Furness on the coast of northern England and much like his father before him, he was destined to work in the local shipyards until he was carried out on a box. But when he met Jean (Sally Hawkins), he knew his life would be focused on her and, eventually, his three children, Michael (Jake Davies) and the twins Gene (Christian Lees) and James (Jonah Lees). However, as the shipyard looks to be nationalised and Maurice has a genuine chance of getting a redundancy, he has to look to what he wants to do for his future. Well, one night, while watching the TV, he sees a game of golf being played and thought he’d have a crack at that and give the British Open a try.

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