Strange World – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning romp through an unknown world with danger at every turn    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film

The airship descends into the unknown.

Strange World Review

There is always a particular joy when you sit down to an adventure film and get to be taken into a majestic new world with wonders at every turn. It is where danger and joy can switch in a moment or be intertwined. It is easy to give lip service to this genre without exploring the depths necessary to bring it off. But today, we look at a film that plums those depths both literally and figuratively.  

So to set the scene, we open in Avalonia, a beautiful land cut off from the rest of the world due to a ring of impassable mountains. Many people have tried to find a route, but all have failed, and most of them gave their lives in the process. But one family, The Clades, decided to buck that trend as father Jager (Dennis Quaid) and son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal) fight through every obstacle to find a way through the mountains. However, one day when finding the way through the mountains, Searcher finds a green plant brimming with energy that could be Avalonia’s future. The two fight, and Jaeger walks into the icy gloom alone. Twenty-five years later. Searcher has married Meridian (Gabrielle Union), and they have a son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) and make their lives farming and selling Pando. But when the Pando starts dying off, Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), the president of Avalonia, arrives at the farm to go on an expedition to discover why, and Searcher, son of Jaeger, gets roped in, as does a stowaway or two.

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Bros – Movie Review

TL;DR – While incredibly funny at times, it loses its momentum under the weight of the narrative.    

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.

Bobby Lieber records the podcast.

Bros Review

If there is one genre that has almost standardised its narrative, it is the Romantic Comedy. For better or worse, when you go into one of these films, especially the plethora of made-for-tv films that come out during the holidays, you can probably chart the course of the movie in the first five minutes. The business lady will discover she wants a family too. The widower will find love in the most unlikely [i.e. very likely] place. Old lovers, now foes, will become lovers again. This is not necessarily bad. You can still do great things with a tried-and-true formula, but I am always looking for a film that could break through those models, and we might have just such a film today.    

So to set the scene, Bobby Lieber (Billy Eichner) is a podcast host of The Eleventh Brick at Stonewall and has been chosen to be the curator of a new National LGBTQ+ History Museum in Manhattan. It is his dream job, and his complete focus, which, given he is incredibly single, works well for him. He prides himself on his independence, even if that means some awkward hook-ups along the way. However, one night at a nightclub, he connects with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), who ghosts him, un-ghosts him, and then ghosts him again. It is perplexing, but for some reason, it makes Bobby more interested in discovering just what his deal is.

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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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Moonage Daydream – Movie Review

TL;DR – This documentary is a psychedelic kaleidoscope, but you should come into it preparing for a marathon rather than a sprint    

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 contains strobing lights in places.

Glitter falls from the celling into Bowie.

Moonage Daydream Review

While I have been enjoying this current resurgence of musical biopics, I have connected the most instead when films have dived into the more traditional documentary form to explore someone’s life, like Gurrumul. Today we look at a documentary that might also be an experimental artwork in its own right.  

So to set the scene, well, actually, I am not sure that works in this particular situation because this is a film that does not follow a traditional or even non-traditional form of narrative structure. What we get here is a snapshot of different parts of David Bowie’s life, works, and art, as well as what inspired him and how he inspired so many.

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Everything Everywhere All at Once – Movie Review

TL;DR – You may have been told how wild this film is, but trust me, whoever was talking to you was completely underselling it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Everything Everywhere All at Once. Image Credit: A24.

Everything Everywhere All at Once Review

The word surreal gets thrown around quite a bit and usually means something that might be a bit cerebral or weird or maybe both. But for something to be genuinely surreal, it needs to challenge the nature of reality, to contest the very bedrock we live our lives on. Films will often dip their toes into the surreal, but every now and again, a film will dive in headfirst. Today, we are looking at just such a film that just might nail everything it sets out to do.

So to set the scene, in a city in America, Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) lives above the laundromat that she runs with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). Things are pretty stressful for Evelyn at the moment. The IRS is auditing the business. She is trying to put together a party for he estranged father, Gong Gong (James Hong), she is feuding with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and Waymond is about to drop divorce papers on her. As they arrive at the IRS to be audited by Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), Waymond suddenly changes into a completely different person. He declares that Evelyn is in trouble because a force from another universe is hunting her down, and it just might have found its prey, and that is when the alarms go off.

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The American Boys – Movie Review

TL;DR – In this collection of short films, we get a snapshot of life, of stories untold, but nothing that really stands out.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

The American Boys. Image Credit: NQV Media.

The American Boys Review

One of the strengths of short films is their ability to give a concise snapshot into a world. You pick only a couple of characters and dive into their world and how it is shaped. While usually, you would release these films separately, you can also group them around a theme which is what the film we are looking at today did.   

The American Boys is a collection of six short films including These Things Take Time, Legend of Scotty Watts, Two Fish, You Can Play, I Think I’m Gay & Billy’s Blowjobs. All of these films look at different types of relationships, and as some of the titles would suggest, they look at the many different stages of gay relationships. Now because the film has grouped them as a whole, that is how we will look at them in this review.

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The Wanderings of Ivan (La Balade d’Ivan) – Movie Review

TL;DR The Wanderings of Ivan is a cold look at a real problem shown through the eyes of an excellent performance by Aram Arakelyan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Warning – Several scenes contain flashing lights.

The Wanderings of Ivan (La Balade d’Ivan). Image Credit: NQV Media.

The Wanderings of Ivan Review

Homelessness is one of those issues that is a larger issue in modern societies, but we tend to push it aside and not think about it. But what happens to a person when they are cut off from having enough to eat when there are not avenues they can use to get out of where they are? Today we look at a film that is exploring this critical issue.

So to set the scene, Ivan (Aram Arakelyan) lives rough on the streets of Paris. To survive, he begs on the street and steals leftovers, but even that is not really enough. He tries to find work or a safe place to sleep but more often than not ends up sleeping rough each night with only a couple of Euros to his name. After a while, he finds a secluded wooded area on the outskirts of the city where he is not the only one without a home.  

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Movie Review – The Prince (El Príncipe)

TL;DR – A film that spends a long time trying to find its voice but never quite gets there due to issues with the story.     

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

Warning – Depicts scenes of sexual abuse

The Prince (El Príncipe). Image Creidt: Artsploitation.

Review

I watched a lot of films that have had difficult moments to watch, today I look at a film that is filled with them. This makes it a film that is hard to unpack because it has a big barrier of entry. Today we will try to examine that difficulty as we explore The Prince.  

So to set the scene, we open in on a scene carnage as a throat is cut and someone bleeds out on the floor. We then find ourselves walking through the dimly lit halls of a local jail. Jaime (Juan Carlos Maldonado) shuffles from one cell to the next before finding himself in the cell of Potro (Alfredo Castro) one of the jail’s patriarchs a place where safety and danger can be one and the same.    

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Movie Review – Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu)

TL;DR – A beautiful yet deeply sad film that never quite escape its emotional weight      
Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu). Image Credit: Madman films.

Review

Several films came out around Christmas that I wanted to see but I could not make it work because my new job didn’t start till the end of January. Well thankfully a lot of them are now making their way to video on demand (at a reasonable price unlike some other films) so I get to jump back in and fill in those gaps. The first film in that group is full of mood and tension and 18th century France.

So to set the scene, in the 18th century of the coast of Brittany, France a woman takes the long trip across the ocean in a rowboat. Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is a painter and has been hired The Countess (Valeria Golino) to paint her daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). The painting is to be sent as a part of Héloïse’s wedding present, an arranged marriage to a noble in Milan. However, there is a catch, because Héloïse sent the last portrait painter off in disperse with an unfinished work hanging in the house, Marianne has to paint Héloïse in secret without her knowing. 

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Movie Review – I am Jonas (Jonas/Boys)

TL;DR – There is an interesting film here, but it just does not quite come together   

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

I am Jonas (Jonas/Boys). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

In a film, time can be just as much part of the narrative landscape as the words the actors say. It can shape a film, it can direct a film, it can hide and it can reveal. Today, we look at a film that plays with time in its narrative, and while it never quite works it is interesting.

So to set the scene, we open in on a young Jonas (Nicolas Bauwens) playing Tetris on the Gameboy, while his dad fills up the car. Rage quitting he sees something out in the darkness and is attacked by a memory one he can’t shake. Many years later, Jonas (Félix Maritaud) is a very different person, but he is still haunted by the past.   

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