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Reviews

Lean on Pete
(2017)

An Interesting, At Times Dark Journey
I went into Lean on Pete with literally no information other than there was a horse in the film, and what a film this turned out to be!

Charlie Plummer stars as a teenager who lives with his loving but kind of deadbeat father in a state of borderline poverty. After meeting Del (Steve Buscemi) he gets a job helping him with horses, this set up leads us to very unexpected places as a chain reaction of unfortunate events and situations present themselves.

Plummer does a fantastic job and owns the role pitch perfectly, also very good here is Steve Buscemi (when isn't he?) , Yes he plays into the stereotype that he's built up of the years but it still works because he plays it so so well.

Lean On Pete is for the most part fairly reserved which really exaggerates when it isn't and we got some really big gasps in the audience during those moments, and in addition a walkout!

With interesting dialogue that holds your attention, strong performances and an emotional core, Lean On Pete soars with potential, highly recommended.

The Old Man & the Gun
(2018)

Redford Oozes With Charm
Its impossible to watch The Old Man And The Gun without having a gigantic grin right across your face, it's literally the most charming film I've seen in recent times.

Lowrey excels with late 70s / early 80s style employing long slow zooms and an extremely soft picture. Redford has an utterly unmatched amount of charm in his supposed final role that made the whole audience fall in love with him. Spacek and Affleck help round out with film with some fantastic supporting performances and they both play really well off of Redford.

The Old Man And The Gun probably won't win any awards but with it's very reserved charming presentation and performances it really leaves you with a great feeling and it's a really fun watch.

Arctic
(2018)

Fantastic Feature Debut From Joe Penna
Arctic is the debut feature from director Joe Penna, whom you might recognise as Mystery Guitar Man from the early days of YouTube. Here he has teamed up with the ever fantastic Mads Mikkelsen to create a story of survival in one of the harshest environments on earth, the Arctic tundra.

The film shows only what it needs to, starting with a cold open (no pun intended) where we are presented with Mads' character, a pilot who has already been stranded for a while after his plane went down in a snow covered valley. Using materials from his downed plane, Mads seems to have been getting by for a while, until for a certain reason he embarks on a perilous journey to find some kind of salvation.

Penna directs with restraint on location, and you can really tell how much poor Mads went through here. With a mostly silent performance, Mads' body language and the camera convey most of the story and works very very well.

Arctic feels very realistic all the way through, even when Mads' has the inevitable encounter with a Polar Bear none of it felt fake and we had a fair few gasps and jumps from the audience at Adelaide Film Festival.

With an uncompromising vision of the raw and desolate tundra, Arctic pulls everything together for a great story of survival and willpower with a beautiful performance by Mads Mikkelsen.

Arctic is out early next year, thanks to Adelaide Film Festival for the screening and passes used for this review!

Outlaws
(2017)

1% is a fantastic showcase of Australian talent & a great feature debut for McCallum
Stephen McCallum's feature directorial debut 1% is a great showcase of Australian talent, following the vice president of a bikie club as he is forced to choose between his brother and allegiance to his superior.

1% is one of those films that puts you right into the midst of a situation with no exposition or information beforehand, we are shown and not told which in this case is executed perfectly as within minutes you can easily ascertain who these people are and what has transpired in the moments before the film begun.

The story is basic, but it's meant to be as the performances and direction carry the film, making it a real joy to watch even if you don't think you would necessarily be into a "bikie" film.

Ryan Corr plays the lead character who after being blackmailed by a rival gang is forced to try to convince his boss to make a deal. In my mind there are two stand out performances here, Matt Nable (who also penned the screenplay) gives a really meaty performance here as the President of the club, amplified by the fact he really bulked up for the role, we get perhaps a much deeper layered character than the usual "generic gang leader" in most films of this type. The other fantastic performance here would have to be Aaron Pederson who plays the leader of the rival bikie gang as an unstable utterly insane character, and is by far my favourite performance in this film even though he has a fairly limited screen time.

McCallum directs extremely well for a feature debut which when combined with some great editing provides great pacing and really kept me engaged for the whole time.

1% is a great example that a simple setup executed well can yield fantastic results with the right writer, director and cast, it is a quintessentially Australian film showcasing some great talent and for me this sits right up with Cargo as my second favourite Australian film of the year.

1% is in cinemas October 18th from Icon Films, who provided me with a screener for this review.

First Man
(2018)

From Utterly Terrifying Spaceflight To Raw Emotional Gut-Punch, First Man is Setllar
First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle cold opens with that I could only describe as an absolutely terrifying look at what it was like to be a test pilot in the 60's, you hear every little nut and bolt warping and you feel every massive unnerving vibration for what felt like an eternity. This set the tone for the rest of the film and signalled that we were in for one hell of a ride.

And yet First Man is not just a bunch of planes and rockets flying around, in fact the entire Film is mostly more focused on Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and how all of these event leading up to the Moon Landing affected him, specifically his mental state. This is where the film absolutely excels, by chronicling his journey from test pilot all the way to Apollo, losing friends along the way.

Gosling and Claire Foy push out really stellar performances here, the relationship between the two seems very very plausible and there is a lot of very emotionally charged scenes between them throughout. The supporting cast is packed to the brim with recognisable faces too, a standout for me was Jason Clarke's performance as Ed White, the first American to EVA in space who at first I thought I really wasn't going to like the character but by the mid-point of the film I was sold.

One of the qualities of First Man that I noticed almost instantly was the very unique Cinematography which most of the time uses handheld medium to long telephoto shots creating a very intimate and raw look to the images on screen. The other main quality visually is the fact that most of the film was shot with 2-perf Techniscope film which gives a very organic vintage look, usually i'd take issue with a lower resolution stock for a film like this but here it really fits in with the overall aesthetics.

In First Man we do get some really ridiculously stellar space sequences, the way these are edited and shot create almost pure dread, in fact the only time I have felt this on edge was when I saw Gravity for the first time, it is that bloody good. Production design is fantastic and of course when we get to the Apollo sequence the images on the screen are graceful and an utterly mesmerising experience.

From impeccably shot terrifying spaceflight to absolute gut wrenching heartbreak, First Man is something to be seen on the biggest screen possible with the loudest sound. I highly recommend this film and the moment this comes out in UltraHD you can be sure I'll be there Day 1.

Thanks to Universal Pictures Australia for the invite to the Premiere.

I Am Paul Walker
(2018)

I Am Paul Walker shines a light on his struggles with fame and his fantastic generosity
Coming to Cinemas for a limited release this friday in Australia, I Am Paul Walker takes a look at the life of the Fast & Furious actor through the lens of his family & close friends. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this film, I myself was a low key fan of Paul Walker and the Fast & Furious films, and I really thought that he was succeeding at finding more interesting roles before he tragically passed away a few years ago.

I ended up quite liking this documentary, mainly because it focuses more on Walker's upbringing and then struggles from the excessive fame he obtained after the Fast & Furious films by mainly interviewing family members & close friends instead of co-stars. The only exception to this is Tyrese Gibson who provides a nice balance without taking up an overwhelming part of the film, this gives I Am Paul Walker a very personal and intimate feeling.

Visually the film uses many family photos and home video (which there is a lot of) provided by the family and paints a very interesting portrait of the type of person that Paul Walker was, it is very clear that he was all about family, and helping others which makes the ending pack even more of a punch when they inevitably reach the day he went out in that porsche.

Overall I Am Paul Walker reveals an intimate picture of his early life right through to his stardom, being well edited and including many anecdotes from Walker's family & friends makes this film a must see for fans and people curious about struggles with fame. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and recommend to go see it this Friday (20th Sept) during it's limited theatrical run here in Australia.

Thanks to The Backlot Films for providing me with a screener for review.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
(2018)

Chloe Grace Moretz Shines
Based on a book, The Miseducation of Cameron post follows Chloe Grace Moretz character who after losing her parents is living with what appear to be foster parents.

When she is caught with a woman by her boyfriend, her religious foster parents force her into signing up to a gay-conversion therapy camp where she is bombarded by misguided teachings stuck very much in the past.

The majority of the film takes place at this camp and chronicles her experience and struggle trying to come to terms with what this therapy wants of her.

Acting wise Moretz gives a great performance here and is very convincing, probably my favourite performance of her career. She instills a kind of raw innocence and confusion about her sexuality and really nails the body language & subtleties.

Throughout the film we are given glimpses of her past through simple flashbacks which work pretty well mixed in with some dream sequences via some good editing.

Pacing wise the film doesn't slow down too much and never feels rushed or drawn out , I suppose it feels like the perfect length for a film like this.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post forgoes any flashy cinematography to let the actors performances really shine through and to me it's one of the reasons that this film works so well to show that gay conversion therapy really has no place anywhere for any reason whatsoever , even the comparatively tame one depicted here.

Id definitely recommend The Miseducation of Cameron Post as it is a timely drama with great performances and even with the sad topic leaves you with some feeling of hope and a smile on your face.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is in cinemas from today in Australia, thanks to Rialto Distribution for the screener , always a pleasure working with you!

Iron Fist
(2017)

Season 2 is a massive step up, recommended!
The first season of Iron Fist was probably my least favourite of any of the Netflix Marvel shows so far, it had some very slow pacing and I really wasn't a fan of the fight choreography, despite this I probably enjoyed it a bit more than most and overall thought it was "okay".

Which is why I was a little worried to have a Season 2 coming so soon after, especially since we haven't seen a Daredevil season in much longer. It really felt like this was going to be another "okay" season, but to my delight Iron Fist Season 2 really takes a great step in the right direction!

Thanks to my good friends at Netflix, I was provided with the first 6 episodes of Season 2 for this review, always a pleasure working with them!

Iron Fist Season 2 opens a while after the events of Season 1 & The Defenders and spends quite a bit of time exploring what Danny, Colleen, Ward & Joy have been up to in-between seasons. I feel like this season is a lot more grounded than the previous entry, in the first six episodes at least. I was really glad to see Detective Misty KNight from Luke Cage cross over here because she has some great chemistry on screen. Before long we are introduced to Alice Eve's character who may not be who she seems at first, I really liked her performance here, especially a few episodes in when things take a bit of a darker turn and she gets to flex her action chops.

Speaking of action, Iron Fist Season 2 ups the ante considerably in quality of fight choreography and editing, the fights here feel so much more visceral and raw, which makes for a very pleasing viewing experience. Most of the cast gets involved somewhat and yes we do get some great team ups of Misty and Coleen that we got a small taste of in Luke Cage Season 2.

This season has a lot of good character moments and much less of the secret scheming than the first season that slowed the pacing down so much, making for a much better flowing first half to the season.

Overall Iron Fist Season 2 is a big improvement over the first season and I really enjoyed the watch, I am very hopeful that this is a sign of Marvel managing to get over some of the pacing issues in the first half of the recent shows.

The one issue I have with the show is that after the main events, there is somewhat of a small epilogue which made no sense to me whatsoever, it's possible I need to have read the comics to understand but it was way out of left field.

If you are a fan of any of the Marvel Netflix shows then I would highly recommend Iron Fist Season 2.

Ozark
(2017)

Season 2 Review - Darker & Darker We Go
Thanks to Netflix for providing me with screeners for Season Two, they are always welcome!

Season One ended with uncertainty when Bateman was stuck as a middle man brokering a deal between the Cartel and the local Ozark heroin dealers which went horribly wrong when they murdered Del, a Cartel boss.

Season Two opens with this same uncertainty and pushes it to the max over the course of 10 episodes as people begin to crumble under pressure and new threats arise, morality really goes downhill and has a truly unsettling finale.

We only really get two main new characters this season , as the Byrdes need to expand the operation further by attempting to build a casino, in pursuing getting it approved they have to turn to a wealthy local man to influence politics. I wasn't really a fan of his character but he does seem to serve a purpose, our other new character however is great, taking the place of Del(the now dead cartel boss) Actress Janet McTeer plays the Cartels supposed lawyer (who appears to be actually pretty high up in the cartel) she gives of an extremely menacing and creepy vibe in this role that seems to be written for her.

Laura Linney's Wendy gets a really interesting arc over these 10 new episodes and goes to a place that I didn't see coming. The real star for me at least in Season Two was Ruth, played pitch perfectly by Julia Garner. She gets a huge amount of very emotional material as she tries to work through increasingly stressful situations, some of which are caused by her abusive father who has a larger role compared to last season when he was contained to prison.

The season comes to a crescendo in the final two episodes where a lot happens but somehow it still feels well paced and really packs an interesting ending.

Ozark Season Two is largely a great continuation of the first and sports some absolutely stellar performances & directing. from the looks of it , Season 3 is going to be very very interesting to watch.

Ozark comes highly recommended, you can catch season two on Netflix worldwide on August 29th.

Thanks again to Netflix for providing the screeners

BlacKkKlansman
(2018)

BlacKkKlansman is somehow funny & utterly brutal at the same time, phenomenal.
I'd love to thank the Adelaide Film Festival Film Club for the free advance screening for this review.

Blackkklansman comes to us from Director Spike Lee & Producer Jordan Peele and tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first african-american police officer in Colorado Springs infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan.

To achieve this he enlists the help of a fellow officer played by Adam Driver to pose as him in person while Ron handled the phone calls and planning.

This film is biographical in nature but has some fantastic storytelling, looking at the trailers, it looked like a really fun time with some funny humour about the time period and racism. I'm glad to report this isn't just some comedy movie, here we have a rare film that manages to be funny and outlandish at times but at the same time drives home a serious emotional message, Spike Lee should absolutely be commended for this because it was executed flawlessly.

John David Washington gives an interesting quirky performance here and nails it perfectly, Adam Driver turned out to be much more involved in the story than I had anticipated and has some really great moments.

I have never had a cinema experience quite like this, for instance at the tail end of the film, in the space of 10 minutes the entire audience in my screening went from laughing and some perfectly executed comedic dialogue to utter still silence in absolute awe, frozen & horrified by what was appearing on screen, this silence went on for a few moment even after the fade to black and an applause started up.

This film had me thinking about what I had seen for a long, long time afterward and I am still thinking about it almost every second.

Blackkklansman really shows the Klan for what they really are, and highlights the good work of an amazing african-american police officer. The supporting cast does a great job here, Topher Grace as David Duke was an insanely good performance and I can imagine how hard it would be to embody that particular character and Laura Harrier plays off of Washington beautifully.

In addition there is a great cameo at the beginning of this film, be on the look out!

Blackkklansman is easily in my top 10 for 2018 so far and I urge you all to go see it in cinemas, small warning though, there are some quite confronting images in this film, they are hard to watch but I think that it should be watched as that is the intention here. Blackkklansman is out in cinemas August 17th.

Ant-Man and the Wasp
(2018)

Great bit of light hearted fun
In the lead up to the release of Ant Man & The Wasp I was a little unfazed by its impending release with it being so close after the massive explosion that was Avengers: Infinity War in April. The trailers for the sequel seemed "run of the mill" and didn't really grab me that much and while I thoroughly enjoyed Ant-Man on release, I hadn't actually viewed it since it's home release all that time ago.

I arrived at the cinema last night for my advanced screening tired and not particularly excited after bad traffic on the way which almost made me consider just going home and catching it another night. I am glad I didn't just go home because this was actually a really fun time and surprised the hell out of me. As other viewers have noted, Ant Man & The Wasp provides a nice upbeat fun time which is great after the tone of Infinity War.

Ant Man & The Wasp thankfully does not follow the main "solo" story structure of most of the earlier Marvel movies by not having a clear cut villain which is great.

Very Slight Spoilers Ahead

The main plot of the film revolves around the search for Hope's mother played by Michelle Pfeiffer who has been lost in the Quantum realm for 30 odd years.

The film looks great for the most part and the returning supporting cast are fantastic as they were in the original with Michael Pena having a particularly great scene that everyone in the theatre was hoping for at about the halfway mark.

It is worth noting that as with the original film, we open to a flashback of sorts using de-ageing Visual Effects trickery on both Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer, let me just say that this is the absolute best success of this technology i have ever seen. I was trying so very hard to pick it apart and while Douglas' looked a tiny bit "uncanny valley" I could not for the life of me pick out anything wrong about de-aged Pfeiffer, it was that good I could have been watching a newly scanned film print from the 80s.

The only thing that lacked for me was the film's soundtrack felt as if it could have been a little punchier, for instance in the final act car chase sequence the soundtrack felt like it was ramping up to something but never did.

Acting wise the whole cast did a great job including a smaller side character played by Randall Park who had some fun little scenes which really added to the film.

Ant Man & The Wasp succeeds as a lighthearted breath of fresh air with well executed comedy and a hell of a fun time.



Thanks to Event Cinemas Marion for providing the advanced screening for this review,

Ant-Man and the Wasp
(2018)

Great bit of light hearted fun
In the lead up to the release of Ant Man & The Wasp I was a little unfazed by its impending release with it being so close after the massive explosion that was Avengers: Infinity War in April. The trailers for the sequel seemed "run of the mill" and didn't really grab me that much and while I thoroughly enjoyed Ant-Man on release, I hadn't actually viewed it since it's home release all that time ago.

I arrived at the cinema last night for my advanced screening tired and not particularly excited after bad traffic on the way which almost made me consider just going home and catching it another night. I am glad I didn't just go home because this was actually a really fun time and surprised the hell out of me. As other viewers have noted, Ant Man & The Wasp provides a nice upbeat fun time which is great after the tone of Infinity War.

Ant Man & The Wasp thankfully does not follow the main "solo" story structure of most of the earlier Marvel movies by not having a clear cut villain which is great.

Very Slight Spoilers Ahead

The main plot of the film revolves around the search for Hope's mother played by Michelle Pfeiffer who has been lost in the Quantum realm for 30 odd years.

The film looks great for the most part and the returning supporting cast are fantastic as they were in the original with Michael Pena having a particularly great scene that everyone in the theatre was hoping for at about the halfway mark.

It is worth noting that as with the original film, we open to a flashback of sorts using de-ageing Visual Effects trickery on both Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer, let me just say that this is the absolute best success of this technology i have ever seen. I was trying so very hard to pick it apart and while Douglas' looked a tiny bit "uncanny valley" I could not for the life of me pick out anything wrong about de-aged Pfeiffer, it was that good I could have been watching a newly scanned film print from the 80s.

The only thing that lacked for me was the film's soundtrack felt as if it could have been a little punchier, for instance in the final act car chase sequence the soundtrack felt like it was ramping up to something but never did.

Acting wise the whole cast did a great job including a smaller side character played by Randall Park who had some fun little scenes which really added to the film.

Ant Man & The Wasp succeeds as a lighthearted breath of fresh air with well executed comedy and a hell of a fun time.



Thanks to Event Cinemas Marion for providing the advanced screening for this review,

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