News of the World – Movie Review

TL;DR – A compelling ride through the 1890s with a man trying to his best in difficult circumstances    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

News of the World. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

News of the World Review

There are few actors around that you know going in will always give their best performance no matter what film they are in. One of those few is Tom Hanks who gives his all even in movies that are not that great. Today we get to explore a film that puts him right in the centre of a world going through a difficult transition.

So to set the scene, we open in Wichita Falls, North Texas, 1870, on a cold a rainy night. Here we find a Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks) speaking with the fine folks of the town. They are cut off from most of society, so he lets everyone know the news of the time, like a local fever going around or river crossings being cut, for a fee of 10c. On the way to the next town he stumbles across a black man who had been lynched, and the young girl Johanna (Helena Zengel) who he was carrying. She had been taken in a raid by the ‘Indians’, and she had been brought back to what was left of her family. When some Cavalry riders arrive, we discover that Captain Kidd served with the Confederate Army in the Civil War. They tell him to take the girl to the next town, but things are never as easy as that.

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True History of the Kelly Gang – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning film that unfortunately left me feeling hollow at the

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Warning – Contains significant strobe lighting

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

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film

True History of the Kelly Gang. Image Credit: Stan.

True History of the Kelly Gang Review

Well, there are many aspects of Australian life I just don’t get, and one of those is the veneration of Ned Kelly. But then it does have the distinction of being the subject of the first feature film ever made. Today we look at a movie that explores the life of Ned Kelly, the true story of the bushranger … well maybe not the whole truth …or even a little bit of it.

So to set the scene, in 1867 Australia, and a young Ned Kelly (Orlando Schwerdt) is trying to find his place in a rural world with no education and a mother Ellen (Essie Davis) with an ‘interesting’ view of raising children. She sells the boy to  Harry Power (Russell Crowe) a bushranger who introduces the boy to the violent world, including shooting Sergeant O’Neill (Charlie Hunnam) a member of the constabulary. After spending time in jail and away from his family Ned (George MacKay) returns home and gets brought back into the world he once escaped.

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The Black Emperor of Broadway – Movie Review

TL;DR – A look at a revolutionary figure in Broadway’s past and the layers of oppression he had to go through to get where he did.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Warning – Extensive use of blackface

The Black Emperor of Broadway. Image Credit: Vision Films.

Review

If there is one large blind spot in my art history, it is Broadway. I didn’t come from a musical theatre background, so any introduction to this world is welcome. Today we look at a film that explores this through the life of Charles Sidney Gilpin one of its first Black stars. I should say that before we dive in as a bit of a warning that this is a film very much set in the 1920s and the language and depictions used in the movie are consistent with that time which may be difficult for some viewers.

So to set the scene, Charles Sidney Gilpin (Shaun Parkes) is working in a blackface minstrel show that goes around entertaining white people at parties. He hates the work and tries to get a job a legitimate actor which is difficult in a time when few roles are written for black men, and white people in blackface perform most of them. That chance finally comes when noted play write Eugene O’Neill (John Hensley) writes his newest play The Emperor Jones about a leader of Haiti and he wants Charles for the role.

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How Well Did They Create Ethiopia in Civilization VI?

TL;DR – So how well does Civilization 6 capture Ethiopia with its new entry? It’s raining faith Halleluiah, its rain faith, amen

Review –

With the drip-feed of content coming out of Civilization VI’s New Frontier pack we have already gotten a look at the Maya, Gran Colombia, and now Ethiopia. Given that Ethiopia is the first of these civilizations that has grabbed me, I thought it best to sit down and have a look at just how well they have implemented it in-game. After that, we will also spend a little bit of time looking at the other additions to the game. But to refresh ourselves, let’s take a look at Ethiopia’s bonuses.

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Escape From Pretoria – Movie Review

TL;DR – A exploration of tension when one wrong step can be fatal.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Escape From Pretoria. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Review

One of the things I like the most about cinema is when they let me know of stories that I have previously been unaware of. As well as this, I have seen a lot of prison break films in my time, some fictional, some real, some ‘we think this is how they did it’, and I have always found them fascinating. Well, today we get to explore both of these with Escape From Pretoria.

So to set the scene, we open in the heart of apartheid South Africa with accrual footage of the time. It is here where we are introduced to Tim Jenkin (Daniel Radcliffe) and Stephen Lee (Daniel Webber) who work setting up leaflet bombs for the African National Congress or ANC. One day after a successful campaign, they are captured by the police and sentenced to twelve and eight years in the all-white political prisoner’s prison in Pretoria. While in Pretoria jail they meet Denis Goldberg (Ian Hart) who was put on trial with Nelson Mandela and fellow prisoner Leonard Fontaine (Mark Leonard Winter). They dream of escaping, but how do you do that when you are locked behind several feet of steel?    

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Movie Review – The Windermere Children

TL;DR – A deeply emotional and confronting film that looks at the aftermath of trauma and how you can walk back from it.   

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Awards:

Nominated: The Emotion.

The Windermere Children. Image Credit: Fremantle.

Review

There are those moments in life where we get to see the full depths of human cruelty and few moments have exemplified it more than the Holocaust. It was a moment where human depravity was industrialised and weaponised in the endeavour to exterminate an entire race. Today we explore a film that deals with the aftermath and trauma through the eyes of the children that survived it.     

So to set the scene, we open in on a bus full of children as they make their way through the British countryside at night. The bus is full of children refugees rescued from Holocaust camps. One thousand children brought from the camps to Brittan and 300 of them came to Calgarth Estate on the shores of Lake Windermere. As they arrive, there is a real fear that they have swapped one camp of despair for another. Their families are likely all dead, and all of them have suffered travesties that make every dog a threat and food something you hide when you can. They only have funding for four months to help them with their trauma, which is not enough time given everything they had gone through.

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Movie Review – Downton Abbey (2019)

TL;DR – This is sort of the cinematic equivalent of sitting down under a doona in your PJs eating ice cream while vegging out on some TV. Perfectly pleasant and even enjoyable in places, but with not really any substance with it.    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

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

Downton Abbey. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Review

Well, I am going to get something out of the way right from the start, I have not watched a single episode of Downton Abbey before today. I, of course, know what it is and also thanks to the internet and the enormous fan following it has, I know most of the main plot points but it never interested me to hunt down the DVDs. I say this so if you are a fan of the show you can put my critiques in context, however, I am mostly writing this for those like me who have never seen it before and may get brought along for what is billed as the cinematic event of the year.

So to set the scene, it has been two years since the series finished off and life at Downton is moving on at its usual pace, but no one could be prepared for the letter that is making its way through the Royal Mail system all the way from London. For you see King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be spending the night at Downton as part of their Yorkshire tour. Suddenly everything is thrown into chaos as Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) rush to get the house ready, but there are more problems on the horizon and I am not just talking about the boiler kicking it in.

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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 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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