Tuesday 27 September 2022

You Won't Be Alone (2022) - Movie Review

Whenever a film’s discourse involves comparisons between it and the works of Terence Malick, that’s a pretty big red flag that I shouldn’t be watching it. We don’t exactly have the best working relationship, let’s say.

But… well, it’s been nearly five years since that review. A lot has changed about my approach to film critique since then. I used to think quite poorly of ‘artsy-fartsy’ films, and I freely admit that I was one of many budding critics that overused the word ‘pretentious’ until it ceased to have any meaning. Nowadays, the more out-there features tend to be the ones I gravitate towards the most, and with how much I pontificate on the human condition in these reviews, I probably stopped calling things pretentious just so I could avoid being a complete hypocrite.

With all that in mind, I get the feeling that I’m getting closer to the point where I can actually start understanding Malick being lauded as one of the all-time great filmmakers. So I basically went into this film with that main comparison in mind and with a willingness to hear it out. Yeah, it might be a bit slow for my tastes, but who knows? Maybe it’ll finally click for me.

Or maybe it’ll just re-affirm that, even as a chronic navel-gazer, I still have limits.

Monday 26 September 2022

Moonage Daydream (2022) - Movie Review

Like with any other genre, documentaries tend to stick to a formula, especially biographical ones: Go through the subject’s life in chronological order, from childhood to the early days to their initial brush with fame to their eventual solidification as someone worth making a documentary about. Include interviews with people revolving around that person, whether they knew them personally or looked up to them as a fan, show some behind-the-scenes footage of the person hard at work in their field of choice, maybe throw in some historical context to bring out the real worth of their efforts in the larger scheme of things; chances are you’ve seen something just like that at least once before.

Moonage Daydream isn’t a typical documentary. Coming from Brett Morgen, the mastermind behind Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck, it’d be a shock if it were. In fact, when Morgen offers up is so atypical, I’d almost question if this really qualifies as a ‘documentary’ in the strictest definition. While it most certainly offers a look into the life and works of David Bowie, this is more focused on aesthetics than historical documents. Mood rather than facts. It bends the conventions of film around its subject, rather than cutting the latter up to conform to the former. And in the result of this Technicolor smog cloud, Morgen offers up something that offers a far better understanding of Bowie than a simpler documentary would ever be able to grasp at.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) - Movie Review

It’s been a while since a film last caught my attention purely on the basis of its cast. Like, beyond anything to actually do with the film’s contents, I knew I had to check this one out in the cinemas based purely on who’s in it. I admittedly don’t know everyone here; I hadn’t even heard of Industry or Generation before doing my usual Googling, so I didn’t know Myha’la Herrold or Chase Sui Wonders (although, credit where it’s due, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for them from now on). Everyone else, though? Not only is it cool just seeing this cast in a new movie on its own, but holy shit, the specific casting is downright brilliant.

Saturday 24 September 2022

Blaze (2022) - Movie Review

(cw: rape, childhood trauma)

The story of this film is deceptively simple, and truth be told, not a lot technically ‘happens’ over the course of 100-or-so minutes. On her way home from school, 13-year-old Blaze (Julia Savage) witnesses Hannah (Yael Stone) being raped and killed in an alleyway by Jake (Josh Lawson). In the midst of the trauma seeing such an event triggered in her, and retreating into her own mind as a result, she has been asked to testify in court as a witness to the assault.

It’s a rather straight-forward dramatic premise that could easily fit into a short film, which both director/writer Del Kathryn Barton and co-writer Huna Amweero have more experience with over anything feature-length. However, in the process of making it into a feature-length production, Barton has managed to create something that looks entirely unlike any other Australian film I have ever encountered, nor any coming-of-age story from here or anywhere else.

Friday 23 September 2022

Flux Gourmet (2022) - Movie Review

Just in case it wasn’t weird enough that The Invitation and After Ever Happy, two films that fall under the same niche category of ‘hilariously awful fanfiction as cinema’, are both in cinemas at the same time as I’m writing this, we now have a film that fits into another niche that would’ve been weird enough to have one feature representing it in theatres. Much like Crimes Of The Future, the latest from Peter Strickland (who also did the excellent Duke Of Burgundy some years back) is heavily fixated on performance art culture and the politics surrounding it, refracted through the director’s unique sensibilities. However, where Cronenberg used it as a vehicle for his usual musings on the limits of the human body, what Strickland has in mind here is far less heady than that. It is downright silly, in fact.

Saturday 17 September 2022

Crimes Of The Future (2022) - Movie Review

Between the more feminist offerings coming out of Europe like Titane and Hatching, and heir to the throne Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, it makes a lot of sense that King David would choose now to return to the genre that iconified him. While his recent run of more conventional, if cerebral, dramas has certainly produced some winners (A Dangerous Method took a second viewing for me to fully appreciate it, but appreciate it I do), there really is no replacing the kind of fleshy, practical effects-driven insanity he used to specialise in. As those aforementioned films have shown, there's certainly still a market for it. And even though this is the product of a script David wrote back in 2003, it’s only ‘dated’ in the sense that he is indeed returning to his glory days. His unsettling, gross, endlessly fascinating glory days.

Thursday 15 September 2022

After Ever Happy (2022) - Movie Review

Y’know, at the fourth film in, I was honestly expecting the bottom to drop out of this series. Even with how well the After films have been doing at getting increasingly worse, yet increasingly more fun to watch, with each instalment, I thought it would get to a point where the melodrama couldn’t be pushed any harder and we’d start seeing diminishing returns. I mean, even with film series I like for reasons beyond laughing at their expense, it’s rare to see one last this long and still maintain that key engagement factor. And for a little while, it indeed looked like this was where things would start petering out. But then it decided to floor it into a brick wall and further the series trajectory to unleash what is, somehow, the new worst and new funniest entry in the series.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

The Invitation (2022) - Movie Review

Under normal circumstances, writing about a film like this that hinges on a plot twist would be difficult. As much as I gush over the films I like, and trash the ones I don’t, I try and be careful not to get too specific about what happens in the story. The last thing I want is to ruin the experience for someone else, even if it’s with a film I personally don’t care for. However. Seeing as this film has been marketed so poorly that both its trailer, and the first paragraph of its Wikipedia page (not even the plot synopsis, but the full page), give it clean away, I don’t particularly feel like putting in more effort than the people responsible for bringing this to the public. Although, as we’ll get into, that will be a familiar sensation throughout this review regardless.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Beast (2022) - Movie Review

I really like carrots. I admit that I don’t eat as healthy as I probably should, but carrots would likely be a foundation for my diet if I were to make any major overhauls. That slight sweetness combined with the crunch when it’s raw and fresh; it’s definitely one of my favourite healthier foods.

But that’s not to say that I could happily live off just carrots. Eating one or two on their own as a snack, sure, but when I sit down for dinner, I’m not likely to just have a plate piled high with raw carrots to eat. They’re good, but there needs to be something more to it. Seasoning, a particular cooking method, some other vegetables and proteins; anything to make it into more of a complete meal.

No, this has not suddenly become Mahan’s Munchies or anything like that. I’m bringing this up because I have a similar attitude to survival movies. Survival as a character drive in a film can be great, and is usually built into the more visceral genres like action and horror. But I’m starting to realise that a film that is just centred on characters surviving a perilous scenario, with all the scripting and production focus being put towards that one aspect, doesn’t do much for me as a viewer or a critic. So you can imagine how not-glowing my review for this survival thriller will be.

Saturday 3 September 2022

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (2022) - Movie Review

It’s quite impressive how well this film turned out. I feel it’s important to open with that because there are quite a few things here that, if the production team weren’t as synchronised as they are, could’ve turned this into a complete shambles.

Friday 2 September 2022

Where The Crawdads Sing (2022) - Movie Review

When I first saw the trailer for this film, I had two immediate reactions to it: Feeling like I had seen the whole film already just from the trailer, and that the film was going to be a lot if that was even remotely accurate. It’s a coming-of-age survival story, it’s a romance, it’s a parable on the Other, it’s about prejudice, and it’s also a courtroom murder mystery; even at two hours long, this is already looking overstuffed. And indeed, there’s a lot going on here… but that only makes it even more astounding that it ends up as insubstantial as it does.