Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colmam, Nicholas Hoult, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Joe Alwyn
While far from a household name, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is somewhat of a critical darling, thanks to wildly original, confrontingly absurdist visions like Dogtooth, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Dear. The Favourite, a crackling, dark comedy which challenges our expectations of the costume drama, is Lanthimos’ third English language film and is his most accessible and straight up entertaining film thus far, marking his opportunity to cross over into more mainstream recognition.
Having been lost by her father, along with their estate and, therefore, her title, in a game of cards, Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at the palace of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) to ask her cousin Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), the Duchess of Marlborough, for employment as a servant. The Queen, petulant, infantile and seemingly more interested in her seventeen pet rabbits than in affairs of state, seems hopelessly unfit to rule, so as her closest friend and valued advisor Sarah effectively runs the kingdom. Continue reading
Director: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison
Having largely stuck with the big guns up to this point – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, even Suicide Squad made a point of including DC’s most iconic villain, the Joker – Warner Brothers’ DC Extended Universe ventures out into the relative unknown for the first time with James Wan’s Aquaman. To those outside the comicbook community, Aquaman has always seemed a bit weird. His superhero skillset – breathing underwater, swimming really fast, talking to sea creatures – would seem to have a narrow applicability. But having been introduced in Justice League, Arthur Curry is given the chance to front his own blockbuster, and try and show the world what Aquaman is all about. Continue reading
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine
While the last decade has been the era of the superhero movie, there has remained a clear distinction between the live action and animated entries in the genre. Live action superhero movies have become the biggest show in town, genuine four-quadrant blockbusters designed to appeal to an audience much larger than just comicbook fans. The animated superhero movie, on the other hand, has maintained more of a niche status, tending to be released straight to video and remaining the property of the devoted comicbook audience. Sony Pictures’ latest attempt at rebooting their Spider-Man franchise, the aesthetically original and undeniably cinematic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is the first animated superhero movie to really challenge that distinction. Continue reading
Director: Warwick Thornton
Starring: Hamilton Morris, Bryan Brown, Natassia Gorey Furber, Sam Neill, Ewan Leslie, Tremayne Doolan, Trevon Doolan, Gibson John, Matt Day
The western has long proven a source of fascination for Australian filmmakers. While seemingly the most American of genres, there are obvious elements of shared experience which attract Australian storytellers to the form. It is a genre of landscape, of wide open spaces, which Australia has in spades. It is also a genre of colonisation, of nation building at the expense of an existing indigenous population, a dark history that Australia and America share. Eight years after earning critical acclaim, and the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Camera d’Or, for his debut feature Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton has dipped his toe into the western with Sweet Country, bringing an indigenous perspective to the form. Continue reading
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone, Florian Munteanu, Dolph Lungdren, Phylicia Rashad, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris
Amongst a sea of reboots and revivals, 2015’s Creed set the high water mark, pleasantly surprising audiences and critics alike by bringing a new relevance to a beloved but diminished franchise. Ryan Coogler’s film effectively functioned as both sequel and remake, continuing the story of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) into his older years, while also presenting a new hero for a new generation in Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). With Creed II, Steven Caple Jr, who has taken the reins from Coogler, is attempting a similar balancing of the old and the new, crafting a film that serves simultaneously as a sequel to Creed and to Rocky IV.
After starting out his career as a curiosity, as Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis Creed has earned legitimacy and claimed the world heavyweight crown. He is engaged to Bianca (Tessa Thompson), whose music career is going strong, and they have a child on the way. In short, life is pretty good for Donnie. But again, the shadow of his father proves inescapable. Continue reading
Starring: Anyone and everyone from the history of Australian cinema and politics
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