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The Trial of the Chicago 7

Solid court room drama
This is really Sacha Baron Cohen and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's movie. Their performances stood out most, along with a usually solid Mark Rylance. It was Sacha and Yahya's delivery which actually motivated me to research more into who they were portraying afterwards.

This was a solid movie, but at the end of the day it's a 2+ hour court room drama and crash course in 1960s American politics. Court room dramas have been done better. As a non-American who lives over 15,000km from the US, American politics start to just become white noise to me these days. This film probably wasn't the best choice of escapism from 2020.

That said, it's still a well-written film, which has come to be expected from Sorkin. I think his directing skills haven't quite caught up to match his writing ability though. Just felt it was missing something.

It certainly succeeds in making the viewer frustrated - that judge! Just wish the whole film had matched the phenomenal intro.

Hubie Halloween

Ridiculous fun and much needed antidote to 2020
Far out, I need that thermos.

In a year filled with surprises, this was (for me) yet another. I really enjoyed this. It was the most ridiculous, silly escape from the depression of 2020.

Numerous running jokes throughout the movie that kept making me laugh. Great cameos. Everyone seemed to be having fun and not taking themselves or the movie too seriously.

Some memorable and quotable one-liners that had me laughing out loud. If you feeling like switching your brain off this Halloween, then I highly recommend it.

Somehow becomes feel-good and has a satisfying ending. It made me smile and in a year like this, that's worth its weight in gold.

If I can't find a thermos as bad-ass as Hubie's, then a few of June Squibb's t-shirts will do just fine!

Sandler's best in years.

Lost on Everest

Gripping stuff, beautiful cinematography
Have long been intrigued by the mystery of Mallory and Irvine. I love basically everything about Everest, and have since I was a kid. This National Geographic documentary is no exception!

Some spectacular cinematography and footage of Everest. Viewers are made to feel like they're part of the adventure and expedition. The conditions and danger of Everest are captured well.

Numerous moments made me go "whoah". Full credit to all the guys for the risks taken. It just got slightly frustrating towards the end. For a film that is basically all about Mallory and Irvine, and looking to solve the mystery, it then descends into a usual 'lets summit Everest' documentary.

The actual search for Irvine's body seemed to take a real backseat towards the end - just seemingly tacked on. But still, this was a great documentary for Everest buffs and those into unsolved mysteries. National Geographic have been putting out some excellent climbing films recently.


Powerful and technically brilliant
The kind of film that leaves you completely stunned and exhausted as the credits roll.

How do you even write a review for this? Feel too stunned. It was great. The technical aspects were excellent. Did I enjoy it? Given the realism, to say I enjoyed it, would be to practically say I enjoyed war. War is hell. I don't much like hell.

The runtime went by so fast, which I think is a great way to gauge how good a film is. George McKay was phenomenal. Amazing seeing his career transformation from singing Proclaimers songs to William Schofield on the frontlines of WWI.

The cinematography was breathtaking. In fact, the whole film was breathtaking to the extent you need to come up for air. Only once the credits roll can you finally come up for air and start to process what you've seen.

Powerful stuff. I enjoyed it a lot more than Dunkirk.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

A superb documentary
By far the most effective documentary about climate change that I've seen.

Attenborough has spent a lifetime showing us different worlds, and life through the eyes of different species on our planet. Now, we get to truly see the world through his eyes. It makes for fascinating, heartbreaking and hopeful viewing.

Documentaries about climate change are often far too pessimistic. In fact, their messages often get lost on me because they're just so doom and gloom. The heaviness weighs me down and I come away feeling depressed and hopeless for the future of the planet.

This documentary left me feeling good. It doesn't shy away from the predicament humans have put themselves in, but unlike many others, it provides (in a nutshell) a roadmap out and optimistic look at the future if we act now. I found it very effective that the film was bookended by Attenborough at Pripyat.

If this David Attenborough witness statement happens to be his last work, then he leaves us with his most important yet.

A must watch for all of us.

The Way Back

Great story of sport, addiction and redemption
Was easy to get caught up in this. All the characters were quite likeable, with real problems and a lot of heart.

Ben Affleck plays the role of weary, life-battered Jack Cunningham quite effectively. With his own stints in rehab, it's clear he harnessed something from within for this role. It pays off, because it takes what would otherwise be a generic sports film to the next level.

It was feel-good, but with both feet firmly planted in the real world. The basketball scenes were as good as any I've seen. The parallels in the way they played the game of basketball, and dealt with life's challenges were obvious, without being shoved in our face.

It touched on numerous themes, the largest of which was redemption. A solid sports film, addiction journey and comeback story. Recommend for fans of basketball and Affleck.

The Gentlemen

So much fun!
The funniest film I've seen in a long time. It was a riotous rollercoaster of fun, laughter and good times!

This is by far my favourite Guy Ritchie film. The style, swagger and entertainment value was awesome. I actually enjoyed it more than I did Lock, Stock.

The beginning was a little jarring, but it soon found a good rhythm and settled into a groove that propelled it the duration. So many standout moments, funny scenes and quotable lines. Everyone was at the top of their game and seemingly having fun with what was a fantastic script.

It was almost like everyone was playing a role opposite their usual typecasts. Hugh Grant was so hilarious, in one of his best performances. It's hard to imagine his previous film was Paddington 2! Charlie Hunnam was excellent as Raymond. I really loved his character and his interplay with Hugh Grant's Fletcher was a highlight.

McConaughey and Farrell were perfectly cast in their respective roles. Michelle Dockery managed to steal every scene she was in. Can't help but wonder what Lady Mary Crawley from Downton would've thought! Eddie Marsan was his usual excellent self in his role as Big Dave too.

I loved how everything tied together in typically genius Ritchie style. Definitely recommend. If you're after a fun, refreshing movie and a lot of laughs, then put this on.

A Rainy Day in New York

My favourite Woody Allen film
My 10th Woody Allen film and now my favourite - I found the whole thing oddly hypnotic.

It gave me a few chuckles, and I just found myself really engrossed in the adventures of Gatsby (Timothee Chalamet) and Ashleigh (Elle Fanning). It was way better than I thought it would be. It certainly helped that it was set in New York, as the city was one of the strongest characters.

It was my first time seeing a Timothee Chalamet film, and I found he really carried the film. He certainly slotted into that self-absorbed and quirky-Allen-cliche-character quite naturally. The supporting cast looked like they were enjoying themselves too.

The whole film had numerous really beautiful shots. I enjoyed the witty dialogue too. Couldn't help but smile at times. Sure, it might be a bit pretentious and not for everyone, but I really enjoyed this one. Its short runtime was just the right length.

Makes me want to revisit New York. I enjoyed the slight plot twist, loved the ending - and I won't be forgetting that piano.

Official Secrets

Possibly Keira Knightley's greatest performance
I really enjoyed this one. Quite possibly Keira Knightley's greatest performance and an important true story to boot!

The film sees Brit intelligence specialist Katharine Gun leak a memo to the press (Martin Bright). The memo basically directed British intelligence to spy on (and blackmail) UN security council members - so they would vote in favour of an Iraq War (thereby making it legal etc).

These types of films can often be quite confusing. I thought Official Secrets delivered the story quite effectively in an easy-to-understand and digest way. I found myself completely engrossed and invested in the plight of Katharine.

The wonderful performances by a seriously all-star cast certainly helped keep me engaged. Besides Keira Knightley at her best, "Official Secrets" features Matt Smith (ol' Prince Philip from "The Crown"), a dishevelled Rhys Ifans (impossible to dislike), Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes (uncharacteristically as a good guy!). Even "Black Books" Tamsin Greig made an appearance.

"Official Secrets" is not only a film about real life events, but about staying true to yourself and your values. Standing up for what we believe is right. It's powerful stuff.

Kind of felt a bit like "Spotlight" meets "Denial". With all the espionage, and intelligence services depicted in this film, it starts to make you wonder why more people aren't talking about how great "Official Secrets" is. Definitely one that has slipped under the radar. Highly recommend!

The Social Dilemma

Somewhat interesting, but that dramatisation...
Found the start of this quite interesting. The psychology at play is the most intriguing part - how social media is designed to manipulate and prey on the psychology of the individual user.

I wasn't much a fan of the dramatisation taking place though. The segment on fake news (while important), was less interesting and felt drawn out.

I agreed with the vast majority of points raised, but the doom and gloom towards the end became a bit relentless.

It held my attention, but I kept expecting something more. I was waiting for the moment that would trigger me to delete all social media. It never came. It will make me look at what I see on social media in a different way though.

I feel like this has ensured I'm more aware of my own social media habits.


'Fast and Furious'.. with tanks
The English tagline for this sums it up well: "Fast and Furious with Tanks".

This was a lot of fun, and was epic in scale. It reminded me a bit of the 80s and 90s action blockbusters - where you had to suspend a bit of disbelief, but were entertaining nonetheless.

Inspired by a true story, T-34 sees a tank commander and his crew literally bust out of a concentration camp and go on the run from Nazis. The cinematography and action scenes are dramatic and the film looks really good.

A few soundtrack choices felt out of place at times. But that just added to the unique Russian charm after a while. Never seen a movie with so many slow-motion shots.

This film, (despite its silliness and unrealistic elements) reeled me in quickly. I found myself quite engrossed and captivated by what was happening. I was wanting the Russians to survive against the odds and find a way to freedom.

Alexander Petrov (as Ivushkin) and Irina Starshenbaum (as Anya) shared some great chemistry and fine acting skills. I enjoyed Viktor Dobronravov as crazy-good tank driver Stepan too.

If you want a crazy, epic action-packed WWII film, then maybe T-34 is for you. I watched it in its natural language (with English subtitles) and not the dubbed version. If you need a high-level of authenticity, then maybe pass. This Australian enjoyed it!

A Guide to Second Date Sex

This was fun and hilariously awkward!
Hilariously awkward, with excellent chemistry from leads George McKay and Alexandra Roach. Was great seeing both these excellent actors in a flat out comedy.

You could tell everyone involved was having a lot of fun. I was laughing out loud through majority of the film. Many people should be able to find something to relate to - if you can't, then it's a sign you probably haven't been living enough.

The random housemate guy kind of stole the show for me - I laughed for 100% of his screen time (thanks Tom Bell!). A Guide to Second Date Sex felt incredibly "real". Not just with the awkward 'warts n' all' bedroom antics, but with the lack of soundtrack and real-time unfolding of events.

Despite its short duration, there was also room for McKay and Roach to briefly showcase their considerable dramatic acting chops. All in all, this was fun for what it was and more people should give it a go!

Enola Holmes

Energetic and empowering good time
Not bad. 'Enola Holmes' has a lot of style and swagger. It felt fresh, unique and yet familiar at the same time.

Millie Bobby Brown (who I'd previously never heard of) brings a lot of energy to her performance as Enola. The film itself has a lot of energy and enough 4th wall breaks to reel-in even the most sleepy of viewers. Millie certainly has a strong supporting cast working with her too - they're just rather underutilized. Henry Cavill gave one of the best portrayals of Sherlock Holmes I've seen.

I still have no idea what that romantic interest boy's name was. But that's probably half the point. The men and boys here are just but a sideshow to Enola Holmes and the empowering themes for women throughout. I'm glad young women are getting more and more cinematic role models.

While I wasn't the target audience, 'Enola Holmes' still kept me entertained, without being truly remarkable. I probably will have forgotten this by tomorrow, though I'm curious where a potential franchise of this goes.

Mr. Jones

A powerful film that will stay with me a long time
It felt a bit like 'Spotlight' transported back into the 1930s USSR. It sees journalist Gareth Jones traveling to Ukraine, and discovering the horrors of Stalin's man-made famine. This is the first film I've seen depicting this particular atrocity, despite learning about it (and the Holocaust) in school.

The film certainly shifted intensity once Gareth finds a way to reach Ukraine and slowly discovers the conditions firsthand. Numerous scenes will be etched in my memory - fruit on a train, a crying baby, singing children, "Kolya" and a footchase through snow-covered forest. It was intense. Some viewers will probably start feeling some of the hunger themselves.

James Norton delivered a really strong performance as Gareth Jones. Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard were great in supporting roles too. Peter Sarsgaard seems to be seriously typecast as the sleazeball villain in everything these days.

The film follows the story of Gareth Jones as much as it does the famine itself, interceded with appearances of George Orwell. It's the first film I've seen by director Agnieszka Holland and I'm impressed! Will keep a lookout for her future work. Disappointing "Mr Jones" has somehow slipped under the radar for many. Definitely recommend this to those after a powerful, though-provoking film depicting real-life events.

Richard Jewell

Another brilliant film directed by Clint Eastwood
Sometimes actors and actress depict unpleasant characters so convincingly, that they ruin themselves to an audience as a person - this happened in Richard Jewell for me. Both Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde irritated me to the extent I'll struggle watching them in anything else again.

The pacing of Richard Jewell and the fact it was a true story, kept me engaged throughout. It never felt slow. The frustration and treatment of Richard almost became too much at times. Thank god for Sam Rockwell and his performance as Watson Bryant. Rockwell felt like he was often playing the character of "us", the audience. He also provided welcome comic relief, as well as being someone in Richard's corner.

I'd never heard of Paul Walter Hauser before this. He hit it out of the ballpark with his portrayal of Richard Jewell. How did this man not scoop up a heap of awards? Have I missed something? He was fantastic. Kathy Bates also had her moments to shine as Richard's Mama. She seemed so suited to that role.

Clint Eastwood has given us a powerful tribute here - doing the story (and the man) justice. Feels quite timely too, given current circumstances around the world. Recommend, though not a film I'll watch more than once.

Hitler's Circle of Evil: Meltdown
Episode 10, Season 1

Perfect companion episode to 'Downfall'
Probably the best episode out of this great documentary series. It's the perfect companion piece to the movie Downfall, as it showcases many of the events depicted in that film.

It doesn't just show the last 24 hours in Hitler's bunker though. It also features some of the Nuremberg Trials and other bits and pieces - which tie together all the players we have followed from Hitler's inner circle throughout the series.

Lilyhammer: Ghosts
Episode 8, Season 2

The best Lilyhammer episode
An amazing way to wrap up Season 2 of a great show! This one really has it all and is a laugh-out-loud fun time from start to finish.

Sopranos fans are guaranteed to love it, with numerous surprises and nods to that wonderful former show of Van Zandt's.

'Ghosts' also perfectly showcases the blending (and clashing) of Norwegian and American cultures .

There are quite a few amazing lines and scenes in this one and it all ends up rather satisfying. Fantastic. 10/10.

Plus One

A fun surprise!
Well this movie was a pleasant surprise! Glad I persisted with it, as it took me a little while to get into. I soon found myself having a good time though!

Maya Erksine (Alice) and Jack Quaid (Ben) have great chemistry and work really well off eachother. There are many laugh-out-loud moments and they often come out of nowhere - such is the hilariously unpredictable nature of Maya's character Alice. Maya Erksine really propelled this film forward, with her comedic performance the real standout.

The film has a big heart underneath its raunchy jokes and occasional crass humour. While it strays into stereotypical rom-com territory, it still manages to feel fresh. It was easy to watch and made me smile, which was exactly what I needed for my Saturday night!

Mine 9

Not a fan
I didn't have high expectations for this, but it still somehow didn't meet them. It just seemed like a whole lot of fumbling around in the dark while slowly suffocating.

This felt more like a horror movie than drama or intense survival story. The catastrophic series of events, the gore, the darkness (above and below ground) - the horror feel was throughout. It did, however, succeed in paying tribute to the brave souls for who the coal mines are a way of life.

I understand budgetary restraints, but the special effects here were woeful. Made me feel like I was watching a video game and it took me out of the film. The acting was fine, but the storyline just didn't do anything much. The film petered out into nothingness.

For a better take on a mine disaster film (and based on a true story), check out Beaconsfield (2012).

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Heartfelt, inspiring, amazing
Incredibly heartfelt and inspiring. It's basically a therapy session in movie form.

Tom Hanks is at his wonderful best as Mr Rogers. It seems clear that he loves every second in this role. Matthew Rhys is also phenomenal in his role as journalist Lloyd Vogel. Chris Cooper delivered his usual strong performance (perfectly cast) as Lloyd's father, Jerry.

It all works really well. I never grew up with Mr Rogers, but it doesn't matter, because I feel like I've now benefited from him too. This film exemplifies kindness like no other.

There are so many memorable scenes (and quotes) throughout. The touching moments are in plenty, and I can't help but think Hanks captured both the characteristics and spirit of Rogers perfectly.

The kind of film that makes you want to be a better person. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood will leave you smiling and perhaps even crying. Most definitely an important film to watch during challenging times like this.

I'm Not Dead Yet

A must-watch for all Aussies and country music fans
Chad Morgan is an Australian legend, and this documentary was fantastic. It's half-biography, half-tour piece, and it works really well. The narration of Tex Perkins really suited it too.

It certainly made us laugh out loud - as Chad Morgan always does. His music gives people joy, makes them smile. In turbulent times like this, that's something to appreciate and treasure more than ever.

'I'm Not Dead Yet' was really well made and detailed. There is enough here to please the most die-hard of Morgan fans, and the right amount to introduce him to new fans. Chad is the definition of Aussie larrikin, and his sense of humour is plastered throughout. It also doesn't shy away from more serious themes. He's not only talented but a survivor too.

You will laugh watching this, and you'll also gain a better appreciation for Chad's remarkable songwriting talents. It's both heartwarming and somewhat heartbreaking at times. Ultimately, it's pretty damn inspiring (be yourself) and you can't help but feel proud to be an Aussie and to have Chad as one of our own.

There are so many song highlights, that it's hard to choose one - but the personal, "Ballad of Bill and Eva" will remain in my head and my heart for sometime to come. If you like country music or consider yourself Australian, then this is a must-watch!

The Spiral Staircase

Perfect film for a stormy night
Wow, this really exceeded my expectations. Probably one of the best movies to watch on a stormy night (like I did tonight).

The cinematography and style on display here is well ahead of its time. This film feels pioneering and really uses camera angles to good effect. The suspense is fantastic. The performances are great too, with Dorothy McGuire being phenomenal without even speaking (as her character is mute).

This was genuinely scary in parts. It really caught me off guard in the beginning. I didn't realise these scares from 1946 would hold up in 2020 - they certainly did. The film uses shadows and reflections to excellent effect also. The black and white imagery just adds to the atmosphere.

While it was unable to sustain the pacing and terror of the start, it captivated me throughout and I really enjoyed the ending. I didn't predict the twists. The Spiral Staircase is both a unique and pioneering film that I definitely recommend!

Dark Waters

An important film with strong Ruffalo performance
Gritty but effective in the way the story unravels over such a long period. Mark Ruffalo delivers an excellent performance (as usual) playing the determined lawyer Robert Bilott.

This is an important film. You clearly feel the passion of everyone involved, and how they want to do the story justice. Its this passion and attention to detail which ultimately drew me in. Despite a sluggish start, I eventually found myself both engrossed and terrified as things unfolded. Tim Robbins also reminds us of his impressive acting chops with a particular board room monologue.

Comparisons to Erin Brockovich are likely, and it certainly shares numerous things in common. This felt more "international" though, seemingly impacting everyone everywhere. It was that aspect, along with the plight of those directly affected in West Virginia, that really hit home the emotional stakes.

The facts presented at the end were particularly alarming, and it leaves you wanting to research more (the story is unfinished after all). Despite its by-the-numbers feel and long length, Dark Waters still managed to captivate me on the back of strong performances and its important subject matter.

Special mention of Bucky Bailey, for the best movie cameo I've seen in ages.

The One and Only Ivan

Darker than anticipated
Thank god for Bob the Dog. If it wasn't for him, I would've been reaching for the Prozac or looking for the nearest bridge. This was darker and more depressive than I anticipated. Bob the Dog (perfectly cast Danny DeVito) really stole the show and provided the comic relief. Totally needs a Bob spin-off, as I got the feeling he's seen some stuff.

'The One and Only Ivan' was a bit all over the place. Bryan Cranston was strong as always, though I sometimes found it hard to be engaged. Besides being dark, it was also very much a kids movie. Its use of flashbacks also served to break momentum and structure. They also provided an additional avenue of heartache - Disney really doesn't like parents and parent figures, eh?

The film certainly looks nice - especially the animals and use of colour. It all just seemed a little too shallow - until the end. The ending was fantastic, but didn't quite outweigh the overwhelming darkness of the rest.

The true story itself (featured in the credits) was more interesting than anything else. Despite its downfalls, it'll probably please most young views and is far from being a terrible film. Stick around at the end for a final appearance from our mate, Bob.

"Humans are the worst. Cockroaches have bigger hearts." - Bob the Dog.

The Call of the Wild

Exceeded expectations - enjoyable adventure flick!
This definitely exceeded my expectations. Was an enjoyable adventure flick. Hard to go wrong with Harrison Ford and a dog!

In some ways, it's unfortunate this came out so close to the release of Disney's Togo. It shares numerous similarities, but doesn't quite rise to the same heights as that film. Despite its downfalls, I still enjoyed The Call of the Wild.

The big talking point for many will be the CGI-dog, Buck. After a while, you get used to it - I did anyway. Given the crazy adventure-style of things, it became clear why they opted for CGI. I actually thought they succeeded in giving Buck personality and character, so it worked on that level.

It's definitely the kind of film to switch-off that voice in your head that calls things out for being far-fetched. Just go along for the ride. Embrace the film for what it is, and you'll find that you have a good time. Some of the scenery is spectacular.

There were some touching scenes, though I wasn't as emotional as I thought I'd be. I haven't read the source material, but thought the ending here was good. Harrison Ford and Omar Sly put in good performances, though it also just felt like something was occasionally missing.

For being set back in the old days, it definitely had a modern feel at times. It won't be for everyone, but I love dog movies and adventure movies, and I felt this combined them both well. Good to see Harrison Ford again too. Recommend for fans of Togo, Iron Will and Balto.

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