Review – The Irishman (2019)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, Stephen Graham, Jesse Plemons, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin

Irishman

One of the American cinema’s most revered auteurs, Martin Scorsese’s career has been marked by a series of long-gestating projects. The Last Temptation of Christ, Gangs of New York and Silence all sat with the filmmaker for many years before he was finally able to realise them. Likewise, his latest film, The Irishman, spent twelve years on his to-do list. The result of that time, though, is a film which, technologically and tonally, he likely could not have made a decade ago. Based on Charles Brandt’s I Heard You Paint Houses, it tells the story of Frank Sheeran, a mafia hitman who claimed to have murdered the Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. The Irishman brings Scorsese back to the gangster genre with which he is intrinsically linked, but offers a different perspective. Where Mean Streets was a young man’s film, alive and overflowing with energy, The Irishman is an old man’s film, introspective and contemplative. Continue reading

Review – Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Rosario Dawson

Zombieland

For a film that when it came out back in 2009 was viewed as a fun, relatively clever but largely insignificant schlock comedy, Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland proved to be ahead of the curve. The ten years since its release have seen zombies experience a pop culture resurgence with ten seasons of AMC’s The Walking Dead plus a further five of its spinoff Fear of the Walking Dead. In that same period, Zombieland’s quartet of stars have combined for six Oscar nominations between them, while writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese struck it big with Deadpool and Deadpool 2. So even though a decade has passed, it made sense that they would get the band back together for a sequel, and thus we Zombieland: Double Tap. Continue reading

Review – Hustlers (2019)

Director: Lorene Scafaria

Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Wai Ching Ho

Hustlers

While one could be forgiven for making certain assumptions about a movie about con artists strippers – after all, it does sound like the premise for a 1970s exploitation film – from the get go Lorene Scafaria’s energetic caper film Hustlers sets about defying any such expectations. Based on the true story first captured in Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine feature, the tables are turned as the exploited become the exploiters in this interesting and thoroughly entertaining film. Continue reading

Review – Joker (2019)

Director: Todd Phillips

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen

Joker

For a long time, pretty much until Christopher Nolan came along, a criticism regularly levelled at Batman films was that they seemed altogether more interested in their villains than in their titular hero. Batman’s rogues gallery, long celebrated as a strength of the comics, presented somewhat of a stumbling block for big screen adaptations. With Joker, director Todd Phillips goes a step further by doing away with the Caped Crusader completely to focus solely on Batman’s most iconic nemesis. The result is a most unusual blockbuster. A superhero movie without a superhero. A comicbook movie without a single action sequence. Instead we get a psycholgoical drama, a character study of a damaged and dangerous individual. We’ve had gritty reimaginings of comicbook stories before, but Joker is something else entirely.  Continue reading

Review – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Margaret Qualley, Mike Moh, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Julia Butters, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

As the self-taught filmmaker whose primary education was famously five years working behind the counter at a video store, a deep love of the movies has always been a central part of the Quentin Tarantino mythology. While that love of cinema of all kinds has always been evident in his movies through their eclectic references and homages, with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, this great lover of the movies finally gets to make his film about the movies. Taking us back to the late 1960s, he captures Hollywood at a moment of seismic generational change and in typically Tarantino fashion, demonstrates a simultaneous fascination with history and an unwillingness to be beholden to it. Continue reading

Review – The Australian Dream (2019)

Director: Daniel Gordon

Starring: Adam Goodes, Stan Grant, Michael O’Loughlin, Gilbert McAdam, Tracey Holmes, Nova Peris, Nathan Buckley

Australian DreamWhile it is not unheard of for two films on the same subject to come out at roughly the same time, what is more unusual is for them both to be quite good. Only eight weeks after Ian Darling’s The Final Quarter premiered at the Sydney Film Festival, Daniel Gordon’s The Australian Dream, written by journalist Stan Grant, premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Both films examine the final stages of the career of Australian Rules footballer and indigenous activist Adam Goodes which saw him prematurely retire after a prolonged campaign of racially charged crowd abuse. However, their different approaches ensures that they don’t feel like they are treading the same ground and end up complementing rather than competing with each other in the telling of this important story. Continue reading

Review – Parasite (2019)

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-sik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, Lee Sun-kyun, Jo Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so, Jung Hyun-jun, Lee Jeong-eun

Parasite

“A comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains,” is how revered Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho describes his latest film, Parasite. After spending the best part of the last decade operating in the realm of the international co-production, Bong returns home to South Korea for this surprising, visually striking, genre-bending comedy-thriller, the winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Continue reading