Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie – Movie Review

TL;DR – An improvement on this style of story, but an odd juxtaposition holds it back.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie. Image Credit: Netflix.

Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie Review

 

One way that Netflix has tried to differentiate itself in an increasingly bifurcated market has been the implementation of ‘choose your own adventure’ films. These echo back to an old style of storytelling, but while the nostalgia has been interesting, none of them has been able to nail the technique so far. However, if anyone has a shot at it, it would be Bear Grylls for the entertainment factor alone.

So to set the scene, we open in a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, where we find Bear Grylls (Bear Grylls) running from a lion only to reach his car to find it locked. We then jump back earlier in the day to find Bear inspecting a fence to see that something had broken through and that the fence that should be electric is not working. You have to fix, the power, find a baboon, and stop a lion all before a storm comes in.

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First Blush – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film looking at people trying to find other people to plug that hole in their lives   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

First Blush. Image Credit: Gravitas Ventures.

First Blush Review

There has been a lot of reframing of traditional relationships in the post-modern era. However, when cinema has started to explore this realm, it rarely explores this world’s realities. Today we have a film that gives it a solid try if nothing else.

So to set the scene, Nena (Rachel Alig) and Drew (Ryan Caraway) are a mostly happy married couple living in Los Angeles. While everything is good, it does feel like they are sleepwalking through their lives until one day Drew plans a surprise birthday party for Nena with her annoying friend Carrie (Jordee Kopanski). The party is a bit rubbish, but while they are there, Carrie runs into Olivia (Kate Beecroft), and soon their worlds come crashing together.      

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Awards – Tension That Kept You On the Edge Of Your Seat In 2020!

Well we have looked at Emotion, and then swung wildly across the spectrum to Fun, and now we are completing that trifecta with looking at Tension. Tension is one of the most challenging facets of filmmaking to pull off because it requires the script, direction, acting, and editing to all work in tandem to evoke the perfect pace. If just one part of that group misses then an essential part of the film falls apart.

In 2020 we continued to see some excellent use of tension used to build mystery, or to be the harbinger of the coming dread, or even the ticking clock of inevitability.   

So without further ado, these are the moments of tension that kept us on the edge of our seats in 2020. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question.

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Awards – The Costumes of 2020 That Made Us Say ‘Hot Damn’

You can use many techniques to help build your world, ground your setting, or give dimensions to your characters. You can use music, you can create elaborate sets, but one of the best ways is the costumes you make.

People instantly judge a character within moments on the screen, and the outfits are an essential part of that first impression. More than this, you can also use costumes as a way for storytelling, what do they say about this world, what do they say about how a character is progressing. 

Costumes can build worlds, tell us details we can only see, but also they can make us say ‘hot damn’ look at that beading on that dress, that must have taken hours to do. So without further ado, these are the costumes that made us say ‘hot damn’ in 2020. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, please click on the banners to be taken to the full review.     

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Ava – Movie Review

TL;DR – A lacklustre film from start to finish   

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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

Ava. Image Credit: Vertical Entertainment.

Ava Review

When you see a film with an extraordinary cast that has been amazing in similar movies and with a strong premise, you expect a lot when you click play. Well, you at least expect something. However, today we are looking at a film that takes all that potential and does precisely nothing with it.

So to set the scene, we own with “Brandy” (Jessica Chastain) picking a British businessman Peter Hamilton (Ioan Gruffudd) from the Paris Airport. But as we soon see, Brandy is not just your average Uber Driver doing some flirting on the side. For Brandy is actually called Ava, a hired killer and Peter is about to have a horrible day. After the mission, Ava returns home to Boston, but all is not well as Management is now having her watched. Now before we dive into the film proper, it needs to be said that this was a film that was written by and originally meant to be directed by someone who has plead guilty to common assault with regards to his then partner.                           

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Marital Problems – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film full of awful people being awful to each other   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Marital Problems. Image Credit: Reel Merit Films.

Marital Problems Review

Some films have a very grand scope darting from place to place, or even planet to planet. Then there is those film that are more intimate, sometimes staying in the same location for the entire runtime. Both of these approaches can work for your narrative if you structure them well. Today we look at a film that follows the later, in a world that may not be what it first seems.

So to set the scene, we open in on Ian (Callum Gault) as he lies in bed nursing one hell of a hangover when a bang on the front door wakes him from his stupor. At the front door, is McManus (Neil Goldsmith) a handyman who is here to fix the place up for the landlord Devon (Jonathan Hearns). Why is the home being fixed up, well, Ian has not been playing the rent, and he is about to get kicked out. It is at this moment of despair when an agent of chaos appears in the form of Clarke (Nick Capper).

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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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Dirt Music – Movie Review

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. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

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.

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Romance on the Menu – Movie Review

TL;DR – There are moments when this film comes together. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between.    

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

Romance on the Menu. Image Credit: Netflix.

Romance on the Menu Review

Do long lost relatives ever give you a call to adventure in their wills, no you neither? Well, it does seem to be a ubiquitous plot point in films. Today we explore a movie that as fate would have it has that very set up, that takes our protagonist from the hustle and bustle of New York to the calm of Australia.

So to set the scene, Caroline (Cindy Busby) works as a professional chef running a kitchen of a fine dining restaurant. The one day she took off they had a food critic come and blast the food, so she spends all her time trying to make up for that. Caroline does not have any time for love because she is too busy. However, out of the blue, Caroline receives a letter from Australia, her late aunt had left Caroline her old café in Lemon Myrtle Cove. When Caroline arrives to look over the café to get it ready to sell, she makes a fool of herself in front of Simon Cook (Tim Ross) who is both her landlord and also the cook of The Seagull Café, and yes our love interest. Well, Caroline’s plan of finishing the sale as quickly as possible is put in jeopardy when no one will renovate the café to let her sell it, so she has to take drastic measures to keep to her timeline.     

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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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