Reviews / 23.02.2021

After struggling through almost a decade of development hell, co-writer/director Joe Carnahan's vision of making Groundhog Day as an action film is finally here. A passion project Carnahan and actor Frank Grillo has been desperately attempting to get off the ground since late 2012, Boss Level is a video game-like twist on the age-old time-loop genre. You're probably rolling your eyes at the thought of another entry in this overused conceit (especially after Palm Springs shattered the mould last year), but this unashamedly violent and occasionally hilarious riot is actually...

Reviews / 22.02.2021

Another cinematic casualty of the disastrous year that was 2020, the vacation romp Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar was originally planned as a giddy piece of summer season fun. But, as we'd all like to forget, summer was all but cancelled last year, and, thus, it's now been dropped at a time when blissful holidays are still a distant dream for most of the world. Maybe now is the perfect moment for such a glorious piece of escapist cinema. Lord knows we could all use...

Awards Season, Reviews / 20.02.2021

Can a song incite a revolution? That's the inherent question floating behind Lee Daniels' messy, bloated biopic, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, that seeks to capture the troubled life of a music legend but gets lost amongst Daniels' penchant for extravagance and melodrama. The powerful story is there, especially for those unfamiliar with Holiday's battles with drugs, men, and the FBI. But Daniels' frustrating direction, chaotic pacing, and a ghastly screenplay derail what could have been a terrific film. Thankfully, this disappointing biopic is saved by the...

Reviews / 18.02.2021

Back in 2014, Rosamund Pike should have won an Academy Award for her sensational performance in David Fincher's Gone Girl. If not for the Julianne Moore "overdue" freight train, Pike would have easily waltzed away with that Best Actress Oscar. Seven years later, she's back with an equally icy femme fatale who would undoubtedly give Amy Dunne a run for her money. In J. Blakeson's terrifically entertaining and deliciously wicked thriller, I Care a Lot, Pike reminds us why she came within an inch of Oscar glory and...

Reviews / 15.02.2021

In a case of unfortunate timing, Robin Wright's directorial debut feature, Land, arrives at a time when another film of a similar nature has been eating up awards season and generating tremendous Oscar buzz. Both feature women-of-a-certain-age essentially turning their back on civilisation. Both are running from their grief after a terrible loss. And both feature spectacular cinematography that showcases the gorgeousness of the wilderness. By virtue of unavoidable comparison, Land can't hold a candle to something like Chloé Zhao's contemplative masterpiece Nomadland. A film that feels painfully familiar...

Reviews / 08.02.2021

As we've now learnt, Apple Studios has set a new Sundance record by purchasing Sian Heder's gorgeous delight Coda for $25 million. While that is a staggering sum of cash for an independent film, CODA is worth every damn penny and will prove a huge coup for Apple as a drawcard for its struggling streaming service, Apple TV+. A rousing crowd-pleaser that will surely find an adoring audience later this year, CODA leans heavily into its well-worn formula to deliver a charming heartwarmer that's good for the soul. Led...

Awards Season, Reviews / 04.02.2021

Even the non-religious are aware of the infamous betrayal of messiah-figure Jesus Christ at the hands of his trusted disciple and eventual saboteur Judas Iscariot. His name has become since synonymous with those who would treasonously sell-out a friend for their own personal benefit. In other words, it's not a moniker you'd be proud to have attached to your name. The biblical tale is the perfect analogy for the tragic true story of Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton and the treacherous FBI informant who infiltrated the...

Reviews / 01.02.2021

When a film is accompanied by a warning about its level of gore, you have a certain expectation something truly wicked is on the horizon, especially when it features in Sundance's infamous Midnight program. While co-writer/director Prano Bailey-Bond's Censor is a film that pays deep homage to the UK's wave of "video nasties" of the 1980s, it isn't quite nasty enough to truly call itself an example of the cult genre. Those seeking lashings of gore and violence may find this one a tad disappointing and that pre-screening...

Awards Season, Reviews / 26.01.2021

Back in 2018, Los Angeles Times freelance film critic Katie Walsh described writer/director Sam Levinson's Asssassination Nation as "a badly bungled attempt at social commentary." It's wildly ironic that very review forms part of the inspiration for Levinson's pretentiously smug Malcolm & Marie; an equally badly bungled attempt at social commentary. Filmed in the grips of coronavirus restrictions, it's an experimental film that ultimately feels like a film school project crafted one weekend by an overly-ambitious filmmaker and his two acting school buddies. This kind of restricted filmmaking is...

Reviews / 15.01.2021

2020 will be remembered for many, many things. In the world of cinema, it will stand as the year of a hundred release date delays. This also meant it was the first year without a film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2009. Naturally, that was never intended to be the case. But when a global pandemic saw both Black Widow and Eternals punted to 2021, the MCU lay silent for the first time in over a decade. While we still await these two new cinematic entries (barring any...