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...

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...

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...

Awards Season, Reviews / 27.12.2020

While its heydey may have ended some six decades ago, the Western genre refuses to truly die. They may not exactly light up the box office (remember that?), but Westerns can still be event films, particularly when one of the world's most beloved actors dips his toe into the genre for the very first time. Sure, it's a style of film that's unlikely to thrill the masses, but there's a classic charm to something like Paul Greengrass' sprawling Western epic News of the World that we could use...

Awards Season, Reviews / 23.12.2020

American cinema has its daring heroes and its dastardly villains, but the most interesting films often focus on those folks simply living an unextraordinary life. The quest to achieve the American Dream forms a central conceit of many of these films, but what of those who've chosen a different path? It's here in this underrepresented cinematic world that auteur-in-the-making Chloé Zhao lays her scene. Amongst the ghosts and ruins of the American Dream lies Nomadland, a stunning portrait of a subculture cinema has yet to touch. As writer, director,...

Awards Season, Reviews / 21.12.2020

One of the biggest tragedies of all the cinematic casualties of 2020 is the difficult fact Soul will stand as the first Pixar film to not receive a theatrical release. As will undoubtedly be the case for many of you, Soul will sadly be the first Pixar release this film critic does not see inside a cinema. The bitter disappointment is only compounded by the realisation this film is easily their most visually ambitious and experimental to date and deserved to be seen on the big screen. But this...

Awards Season, Reviews / 18.12.2020

In the gloomy days following the tragic, unexpected death of Chadwick Boseman in late August, there was one ray of light that gave the world some comfort; Boseman would still grace our screens in one final film. That performance has finally arrived. And what a tremendous swan song it proves to be. As a cocky, hotshot trumpet player with a heavy chip on his shoulder, Boseman's last performance will indeed stand as his greatest. A dazzling showcase for two powerhouse performances from Boseman and a typically commanding Viola Davis,...

Awards Season, Reviews / 16.12.2020

Every year, we film critics hope to find those rare movies that deservedly earn the title of "masterpiece." It's a term many seem to throw around quite liberally these days, but it's a word this particularly film critic has always reserved for the absolute cream of the crop. In 2020, it's a pleasure to bestow this special title to writer/director Lee Isaac Chung's Minari; a film that completely took my breath away, leaving it quite difficult to surmise the right words to describe the beauty of Chung's treasure. Every...

Awards Season, Featured, Reviews / 15.12.2020

From Regina King and Natalie Erika James to Radha Blank and Autumn de Wilde, one of the few redeeming qualities of 2020 has been the confident directorial debuts of numerous female filmmakers. In a year of such darkness, their stellar work has been a bright light of hope for the future of the film industry. As 2020 finally draws to a close, it's time to add another name to that list. And she has delivered one of the year's most deliciously enjoyable treats. Provocative, stylish, and sardonically dark, Promising...

Awards Season, Reviews / 10.12.2020

Last year, it was Brad Pitt in Ad Astra. One year earlier, it was Ryan Gosling in First Man. And who could forget Matt Damon in 2015's The Martian and Matthew McConaughey in 2014's Interstellar? In 2020, it's George Clooney. Yes, we've finally reached the year's obligatory "sad man in space" movie. Alright, so Clooney actually remains completely earthbound in The Midnight Sky, but it's a space-themed film with a huge A-list star playing a miserable astronomer, so Clooney's latest directorial effort joins this club as an honorary...