Review – Terror Nullius (2018)

Director: Soda_Jerk

Starring: Anyone and everyone from the history of Australian cinema and politics

Terror Nullius

In the 1920s, Soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov conducted a series of experiments in which the same image of a neutral male face was screened alongside different images. A bowl of soup. A child in a coffin. A reclining woman. In each instance the audience interpreted the neutral expression in a different way. The man was hungry. He was sad. He was lustful. From these experiments came one of the foundational principles of cinematic language: the meaning of shots was not static, but changed based on how those shots were arranged. This principle of meaning creation, and in particular recreation, through juxtaposition is used to startling effect in the explosive mashup piece Terror Nullius. Continue reading

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Review – Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Director: Brian Singer

Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Tom Hollander, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech

Triumphant and celebratory, Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody – Singer retains his director’s credit despite being replaced during production by Dexter Fletcher – is an authorised biopic charting the rise of beloved British rock band Queen. Seemingly a very ‘authorised’ biopic. Rather than taking us behind closed doors to give us personal insight into the experience of that meteoric rise, you get the impression that the goal of surviving band members Brian May and Roger Taylor in serving as producers of the film was to protect a legacy and control a history.

Guitarist May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Taylor (Ben Hardy) from the pub band Smile are contemplating giving up on their rock dreams after their lead singer quits the band, when they encounter Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek), a peculiar, young Zanzabari immigrant with an incredible vocal range, who offers his services. Continue reading

Review – The Other Side of the Wind (2018)

Director: Orson Welles

Starring: John Huston, Oja Kodar, Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg, Norman Foster, Robert Random, Lilli Palmer, Edmond O’Brien, Mercedes McCambridge, Cameron Mitchell, Paul Stewart

Other Side of the Wind

Hardcore cinephiles have a complicated relationship with Netflix. Netflix, and streaming services like it, arguably pose a bigger threat to the sustainability of the theatrical experience than the rise of television did in the mid-20th century. For where television threatened to steal audiences away from the cinema, Netflix is stealing both audiences and filmmakers. In the last couple of years, the money and apparent creative freedom being thrown at filmmakers by streaming services has seen high profile filmmakers like Ava DuVernay, the Coen brothers, Alfonso Cuaron, and even Martin Scorsese making feature length works for release on Netflix rather than in cinemas. And yet,  every now and then Netflix throws the cinephiles a bone with something like The Other Side of the Wind. Continue reading

Review – First Man (2018)

Director: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott, Ciaran Hinds, Olivia Hamilton

First Man

Adapted from James R. Hansen’s biography of Neil Armstrong, Damien Chazelle’s First Man is faced with two distinct challenges. Firstly, how to build suspense and tension when the audience already knows of the successful outcome of the Apollo mission, and secondly, how to make a contemporary audience appreciate just how audacious and inconceivable an undertaking that mission was back in 1969. By taking a more personal approach to this story, and reinventing the cinematic representation of space travel, it manages to achieve both to great effect. Continue reading

Review – A Star is Born (2018)

Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle

Star is Born

Some stories seem to compel us to reimagine and reinvent them. A classic showbiz saga, A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, is a remake of the 1976 film of the same title starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, which was itself a remake of the 1954 film of the same title starring Judy Garland and James Mason, which was, again, a remake of a 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March which was called, you guessed it, A Star is Born. Each new telling of this story of two careers, one on the way up, the other on the way down, offers a slightly different perspective, a new insight. This newest telling offers reinvention in more ways than one, though, as its two stars reinvent themselves: pop music superstar Lady Gaga as actress and multiple Academy Award nominated actor Bradley Cooper as director. Continue reading

Review – Venom (2018)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Scott Haze

Venom

The tagline that adorns the marketing materials for Ruben Fleischer’s Venom reads: “The world has enough superheroes.” This is because Sony’s latest comic book blockbuster is built around… a villain (gasp). Venom has been a fan-favourite since the mid-1980s when he was introduced into the Spider-Man comics (making him one of the collection of Marvel characters that Sony retains the screen rights to thanks to their Spider-Man deal). However, by telling the story of a villain without their corresponding hero, Venom has little narrative choice but to try and transform this villain into a hero, albeit one of the anti- variety. Continue reading

Review – Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Director: Jon M. Chiu

Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Harry Shum Jr., Ken Jeong, Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, Ronny Cheng, Remy Hii, Nico Santos, Jing Lusi

Crazy Rich Asians

John M. Chu’s romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, adapted from the bestselling novel by Kevin Kwan, starts with a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte: “Let China sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world.” If the incredible box office reception of the film is anything to go by it would appear that finally targeting the Asian diaspora – as the first Hollywood film to boast an all-Asian cast and director since Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club in 1993 – has the potential to shake Hollywood.  Continue reading