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

Review – Yesterday (2019)

Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Joel Fry, Kate McKinnon, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell, Harry Michell, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar

Yesterday

Does great art transcend time and space or does it require context? Is its greatness dependent on the its ability to speak to a particular audience at a particular moment in history, and what part does the personality of its creator play? These are the questions director Danny Boyle and writers Richard Curtis and Jack Barth are wrestling with in Yesterday. Except they are not wrestling at all. Rather, Yesterday adamantly proposes that such is the inherent brilliance of the Beatles’ music that if their songs were to appear fully formed in a contemporary world in which the Fab Four had never existed, they would still become an instant sensation. Continue reading

Review – The Lion King (2019)

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Donald Glover, JD McCrary, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones, Beyonce, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, John Oliver, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre, Florence Kasumba

Lion King

How iconic does a film need to be before it becomes untouchable? Evidently, the answer is ‘even more iconic than The Lion King.’ The 1994 classic which is regarded by many as the pinnacle of the early 1990s golden era of Disney animated musicals, which was up until Frozen the highest grossing movie musical of all time, and which spawned a Tony Award winning Broadway hit, is the latest of the Mouse House’s back catalogue to get a do-over. Continue reading