TL;DR – A film with one of the best individual performances I have seen in a long time, bolstered by an amazing supporting cast but ultimately held back by some odd stylistic choices.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene.
Warning – Depicts scenes of abuse.
Disclosure – I was invited to a screening of this film.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday Review –
Billie Holiday has one of those voices that you can instantly pick out. It has this uncanny ability to be soft and harsh all at once. When writing this review, I wondered when the first time was I had heard a recording of her performing? And it could have been off one of my grandfather’s records as he always had Jazz and Big Band playing. Or at the very least, it was on one of the radio stations in Fallout. But knowing about her voice, I realised before watching this film that I did not know much about her life at all. Well, today, I help fix that with a movie that charts some of the struggles she faced.
So to set the scene, we open with an older Billie (Andra Day) as she and her manager Miss Freddy (Miss Lawrence), sits down with interviewer Reginald Lord Devine (Leslie Jordan) to chart her life and explore why the government is so opposed to her. Well, we flashback in time to 1947, as a young soldier Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes) makes his way to a jazz club in New York City where Billie is about to perform a complete set, including the one song no one but the audience wants her to sing Strange Fruit. Someone who especially wants her to stop the song is Agent Harry J. Anslinger (Garrett Hedlund) from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
TL;DR – A film with an interesting cast and set up, filled with gorgeous scenery, that unfortunately grinds to a halt in the third act and never recovers.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Dirt Music Review –
When you are Tim Winton one of Australia’s most prolific and awarded writers, it stands to reason that your work is going to be adapted quite often, and we have numerous film and tv series to back that up. Two years ago, we reviewed the latest adaption from Tim Winton’s work with Breath, and today we get to look at another of his novels with Dirt Music.
So to set the scene, we open in on the small fishing town of White Point on the West Australian coast. We see a woman called Georgie (Kelly Macdonald) with a drink in her hand standing on the balcony of a plush house up behind the dunes. She hears a dog barking, so goes down to the beach to explore, which is where she finds a dog tied to an empty boat trailer. After accidentally letting the dog go free she decides to go for a swim in the middle of the night, as one does apparently, and while diving in the waves, she comes across the boat’s owner Lu Fox (Garrett Hedlund) coming back with a boat full of poached lobsters. The same lobsters Georgie’s partner Jim (David Wenham) catches for a living.
TL;DR – An exploration of a film that effortless blends music, visuals, story, and passion into something that is greater in almost every way.
There are some movies that just touch you in your heart, you can’t really explain why? They just fill you with joy and no matter how many times you have watched it, you are always ready to crack open that DVD/BluRay/digital copy/whatever and give it another watch. For me, one such film is Tron: Legacy, it is the hill I am ready to die on and I love it with all my heart.
So to set the scene, in the years since the first Tron, there has been joy and tragedy. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has become CEO of ENCOM International and had a son Sam (Owen Best). However, tragedy struck and took his wife away. Flynn refocused his work and made a huge discovery, something that would change everything but days after finding it out he disappears leaving Sam an orphan. Years later Sam (Garrett Hedlund) has grown up but while he is the main shareholder of the company he basically leaves ENCOM alone, bar the yearly prank, which this year involves sneaking into the company releasing their new software for free and then base jumping off the top of the tower. This might be a big joke for Sam but is not for Kevin’s old friend and Sam’s mentor Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner). He lets Sam know that he got a page from his father, the first communication since he disappeared. It came from the old arcade, so Sam goes to investigate and finds more than he bargains when he gets transported into the world of the computer and discovers all is not well on the Grid.
TL;DR – While it has all the components for a good film, it feels like it is spending more of its time imitating than driving its own course.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
This is an interesting time for the action films, there are spaces where it is
showing brand new filmmaking techniques,
films that build tension as I have never
seen, or simply shots where you go, how did they get that? Unfortunately, today
I am not looking at a film like that, because today we review one of the most
paint-by-numbers films I have seen in a very long time.
So the set the scene, we open in Colombia where Pope (Oscar Isaac) works as an ‘independent
observer’ helping the local police take down one of the local drug cartels.
While there he becomes friendly with a local informant Yovanna (Adria Arjona)
who lets him know how to get to Gabriel Martin Lorez (Reynaldo Gallegos) the
local big bad. This is not a mission that he can pull off alone, nor does he
want to involve the locals because they might tip his hand. So instead, he goes
back to the States to recruit his old military Special Forces team. Redfly (Ben
Affleck) now sells condos … badly and can barely keep his head above water
after the divorce, Ironhead (Charlie Hunnam) spends all his time giving talks
to military trainees, and his brother Ben (Garrett Hedlund) is now an MMA fighter, and Catfish (Pedro Pascal) can
no longer fly planes after an incident. Together they go down to provide expert
reconnaissance, and maybe a bit more than just that.