My thoughts on films, television shows, live shows and more.
Few coming-of-age films are as delicately directed as Lee Isaac Chung’s deeply personal Minari.
Mental illness hasn’t always had the best representation on screen. Whether its exploitative, melodramatic or underplaying its severity, sometimes highlighting a specific illness on camera does more harm than good for breaking down social stigmas. That is why, surprisingly, Words on Bathroom Walls is so good.
From the outset, The Broken Hearts Gallery is a winning formula
Is the history of electricity interesting?
The premise of Downhill takes after Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure, telling the story of a couple on a family ski vacation that sees their relationship come to a breaking point after a certain event shapes what each other consider important in the face of a crisis.
If you’re talking Pixar, you’re talking high quality, heartfelt, premium animation with a standard unsurmounted by other animated feature films.
It’s hard to make a movie about your life without seeming overly indulgent or seeking empathy at every turn.
My first peek into this American TV legend from 1968 to 2001 was in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? which took a peek at the man, Fred Rogers and his life before and during his hugely successful TV program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Bombshell’s story is a perfectly manicured version of sexual harassment allegations against Fox New CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes.
I attended a screening of Spies in Disguise, a Blue Sky Studios – maker of Ice Age franchise and Rio – I went in with low expectations. And with such a lazy title, I expected the worst.
Jojo Rabbit, based on the novel Caging Skies by Christian Leunens, is directed and written by Taika Waititi, and is most likely the first Nazi comedy that’s as subversive as it is boundary-pushing.
Little Women retains the spirit of the story but also makes it feel fresh for new audiences.
The whodunnit renaissance is upon us!
I quite enjoyed Terminator.
Cirque du Soleil is hit and miss.
I love School of Rock. The 2003 film written and starring underrated Mike White is a fun, music-filled romp that is inspirational to kids everywhere and teaches them about “sticking it to the man”.
For Concrete Playground: Lay down and listen to a historic organ in Sydney Town Hall, see an energetic display of youth in western Sydney and explore a light-filled inflated labyrinth in Darling Harbour.
“This is a story about control” starts the opening scene of Hustlers, as Janet Jackson’s hit plays while we meet Dorothy, now Destiny, (Constance Wu), the apparent new girl at a strip club in New York back in 2007.
Woke horror-thrillers appear to be the thing of the moment after the successes of Get Out and Us, and the new Ready Or Not plays off a lot of similar concepts and narrative structure in this comedic take on a classic slasher film.
Opening with black and white footage of the UK in 1984, with clips of the nationalisation of the coal industry and the ensuing miner’s strike in an attempt to prevent colliery closures, sets the stage for Billy Elliot’s return to Sydney 12 years after its last visit.
First there was Popular, a teen drama in the 90s, then there was Nip/Tuck, then a return to teen drama with Glee.
Sweetbitter is just as the misnomer suggests, a bittersweet show.
Tackling space in film is a frontier I think has been well exhausted in recent years.
I was pleasantly surprised with The Angry Birds Movie 2.
Every star needs its vehicle and Jillian Bell runs a marathon performance (and more) in Brittany Runs A Marathon, her breakout film and one of the best crowd-pleasers of the year.
Off the bat, the script for Animals is excellent.
This year seems to be a big for jukebox musicals in the form of Rocketman, Yesterday and now, Blinded By The Light.
There are lots of excellent things about Booksmart.
As the third Disney remake to hit the silver screen this year after the critical failings of Dumbo and Aladdin, all eyes are on the classic “re-imagining” of the classic 1994 animated feature The Lion King
Retreating once again into a formula that proved successfully exactly one time, Men In Black returns in 2019, this time global and with a – gasp – female lead in this tireless and bland retreat into the universe no one asked for.
Full disclosure: I’m a huge X-Men fan and have been for many years.
I personally am not a fan of films about terrorism.
There’s always little luck in adaptations of beloved children’s novels and a little less so when a majority of the population have grown up with it and studied it in school.
I am a long time fan of Jason Reitman, ranking Up In The Air and Juno amongst my favourite films of the 21st century.
In the wake of Disney live action remakes and sequels, there were always going to be lots of eyes on the Mary Poppins follow up.
For Back Row: Fortunately for me, I didn’t see an overwhelming number of terrible films over the past year, but the ones that I did see, were ones I hope to never see again or subject anyone else to watch.
For Back Row: For the first time in a few years my Top 10 Films list span a wide variety of genres, from blockbuster thrillers to historical comedies to art house dramas.
For Pulp Media: It is a truth universally acknowledged that 2016 has been a disaster of a year. In the wake of unparalleled political divergence across the world, the passing of some of our greatest cultural icons and the uncoupling of Brangelina, one thing has not failed us yet, and that is cinema.
For Pulp Media: Australia has had its fair share of circus shows in the last decade, so there’s been an obvious collective hesitation to attend another Cirque du Soleil production at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter beneath the behemoth that is the Grand Chapiteau that has kept the world captivated for years.
For The Australia Times: Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore hasn’t made a film since 2009 when he released Capitalism: A Love Story after the global financial crisis, and for many viewers, the last good film Moore did was Fahrenheit 9/11 way back in 2004.
For The Australia Times: There was a time not long ago when it seemed like every second person in history was deemed worthy of a biopic.
For Pulp Media: Kicking off the first ever University of Sydney Union Identity Revue Season, the stakes were high for the Autonomous Collective Against Racism Revue’s second ever production, A Presidential Race.
As a sequel to blockbuster action film Olympus Has Fallen, there’s little to be left to the imagination before watching London Has Fallen.
Turandot is without a doubt one of the most popular and enduring operas created, so naturally it was only a matter of time until Handa Opera took the seminal story and performed it against the backdrop of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
On the week of their 45th wedding anniversary, Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) are a seemingly happy couple living in the English countryside.
2005 was the last time a huge professional production of Fiddler on the Roof played to Sydney audiences.
The Seekers hold a place in Australian music history and have contributed significant amounts to music culture.
For The Australia Times: There are expectations when going into a Sacha Baron Cohen film.
For Aphra Magazine: Entering the Reginald Theatre at the Seymour Centre, completely unaware of what Unfinished Works is, or what it is about, means a world of possibility and open mindedness from the audience for this new production by playwright Thomas De Angelis.
There are many expectations going into Ghost The Musical at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre on opening night.
For The Australia Times: There are few cinematic experiences a filmgoer has when they see a new, groundbreaking work at a cinema.
For CelebrityOz: It’s been described as the film no one wanted, but Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is precisely what you would expect – over two hours of overdramatic storytelling about bravery against all odds.
For The Australia Times: Four girls live in New York City and try to navigate through the trials and tribulations of dating life. Sound familiar?
For CelebrityOz: Old-fashioned storytelling, classic film techniques and unbridled emotion take centre stage in every moment of John Crowley’s Brooklyn.
When Zoolander opened in cinemas in 2001, like most cult films, it premiered to poor reviews and little audience love.
For CelebrityOz: In the hype of reality cooking television series that appear to be overrunning our networks, it’s not unusual that film studios have tried to commodify this trend.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 blockbuster musical Cats is without a doubt an example of worn out musical theatre, and in many circles is considered one of Lloyd Webber’s productions to dismiss entirely.
Macbeth is certainly one of Shakespeare’s most popular works, and after so many adaptations through the years, there’s any wonder that a new film of the play could bring anything new to the table. But somehow Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel takes the source material, cuts out its best parts and makes it his own, contributing unique elements and creative flair so that it feels original and refreshing.
After a long five films of the Paranormal Activity film series, everything finally comes to a head in the final chapter, The Ghost Dimension, sadly ending with a whimper than one large scream.
Fortunately for comedy lovers, The Dressmaker is a deviation from serious flicks, and evokes the absurdity and farce of past Australian classics like Muriel’s Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert that have been absent from our domestic screens for too long.
For CelebrityOz: From What Women Want to Something’s Gotta Give to my personal favourite The Holiday, audiences have complained about Nancy Meyer’s approach to romance, feminism and viewpoint on life.
For CelebrityOz: It’s safe to say that director Ridley Scott hasn’t had the best luck with his films of late. From the tedious Prometheus to the disastrous Exodus: Gods and Kings, Scott has struggled to regain the brilliance and gravitas that his earlier works, including Alien and Blade Runner, added to the cinematic canon.
For The Australia Times: There’s obvious hesitation to Joe Wright’s new film Pan. It’s the latest in a slew of remakes, sequels, prequels and reimaginings of old classics and adored children’s stories that seem to be saturating every cinema across the world right now.
For BULL Magazine: Anything Goes is one of Cole Porter’s most well known musicals and had been performed countless number of times since it was written. But while each amateur and professional production may be full of fantastic singing and stunning set design, Anything Goes is not one of the best shows in the musical theatre canon.
For OuttaGum: From the first few moments of Life, there’s absolutely no indication where the story is about to go.
For Aphra Magazine: Holding The Man is one of the most profound LGBT Australian books ever published. Released in 1995, the memoir chronicles the life of actor and activist Timothy Conigrave and his relationship with long-time partner John Caro, from their early days in high school through to their joint fight against HIV.
For CelebrityOz: Every few years sees the release of a new teen film dedicated to representing the quirkiness and nature of a generation. Millennials have already seen Mean Girls, Easy A and Juno represent many of our attitudes and contemporary behaviours, but there has always been a tendency toward fewer younger male voices who are less Perks of Being A Wallflower, and more 21 And Over.
For OuttaGum: The Mission: Impossible series has lasted for almost 20 years and is one of Tom Cruise’s most recognisable roles. They aren’t groundbreaking cinema, nor are they the best films about espionage in the modern age. But what they never fail to be is an entertaining, high impact action film series, with Cruise’s headstrong performances a primary reason to revisit them again and again.
Roald Dahl’s classic Matilda comes to life on Sydney’s Lyric Theatre after playing on Broadway and the West End, with music and lyrics by Australian musical comedian Tim Minchin.
For CelebrityOz: Unfortunately this is not the reboot of Fantastic Four that the original 1961 comic book series deserves. Fant4stic (as it’s been remarketed) lacks the thrill, charisma and chemistry necessary for a superhero film to succeed.
For Aphra Magazine: From the outset, Paper Towns just looks like another boring, predictable teenage film about a White unpopular high school boy and his infatuation with his beautiful White popular girl neighbour. But instead the film handles the main themes and common clichés well, with depth and humour throughout, making the film an above average teen rom com.
For BULL Magazine: Eden Caceda isn’t excited to visit a graveyard any time soon.
For CelebrityOz: In recent years Melissa McCarthy has brought to our screens a different kind of funny woman: rowdy, sex-positive, dirty-talking, and unconventional in every sense of the word. But comedienne Amy Schumer’s debut film Trainwreck embodies many of these aspects and more as she continues to drive a provocative humour that pushes many boundaries, making the film one of the funniest and more original ones this year.
When Bring It On: The Musical opened on Broadway in 2012, audiences had only five months to catch the show before it was unceremoniously taken off the Great White Way.
For CelebrityOz: Watching Inside Out with a large audience of older people and young children in a cinema reminds me of the potential for animated films, mostly because the concept is devoid of talking animals and supernatural beings.
For OuttaGum: It’s said that there are variations of Hollywood films in every country around the world. If that’s true, newly released Australian comedy Ruben Guthrie is no doubt the equivalent of 2013’s modern classic The Wolf of Wall Street.
Nothing has challenged the 600-year tradition of indoor opera more than performing it outdoors. Without the imposition of a theatre, Handa Opera’s outdoor production of Aida on Sydney Harbour is one that aims to bring down the well-established walls of the opera experience. Unfortunately, it delivers delicious spectacle without an emotional build.
For Junkee: Australia loves Anzac Day.
It’s been over 40 years since the Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show premiered, but it seems that age has taken its toll on the outrageous stage production once renowned for pushing social boundaries.
After a year long play in Melbourne and shirt stint in Perth, musical classic Les Miserables hits the Capitol Theatre in Sydney after over a decade since it last played in the city.
Circus performance is something that has changed greatly over the years. Whether it’s the artistic and alternative performances of Cirque du Soleil or the traditional fairground shows of amateur big tops, there seems to be two different types of circus performers that circulate in the entertainment world.
For BULL Magazine: Walking into Thriller Live, there were two things that were evident. Firstly, the median age of the Lyric Theatre’s audience was 35 at best. Secondly, I was in a MJ fanatical crowd, the likes of which I had never experienced before.
For Junkee: Taking into account the nature of the plot and the fact that the novel was able to capture specific parts of Australian society and culture that hadn’t been properly explored before, it’s no surprise that the new Americanised series, which premiered last week on NBC, has received mixed reviews
For CelebrityOz: It’s a common fact that sequels are hit and miss. With films that have such a successful formula, it’s difficult to not want to repeat the same old recipe with a few new ingredients, as it is taking a chance to make the a sequel a completely different affair.
For The Reel Word: Rosewater intrigues with its use of real footage to depict what is happening in Iran. Through this story of captivity, what shines is a tale of courage in a time of corruption and political conflict in the Middle East.
For The Reel Word: The film’s distance from the publicized and celebrated career of Hawking is a fresh and interesting amendment to the biopic canon, framed by excellent performances by all.
For BULL Magazine: It’s been four years since Wicked left Sydney and a decade since it opened on Broadway, but seeing Wicked at the Capitol Theatre feels like it hasn’t aged a day.
For Filmink: Melissa McCarthy rehashes her usual vulgar onscreen persona in this uninspired road movie, which squanders all its talent.
For Filmink: In 2010, a group of rogue American army soldiers murdered three civilians during the War in Afghanistan. Calling themselves “The Kill Team”, what followed was years of whistleblowers, legal proceedings and internal investigations.
For The Reel Word: Suicide is often a difficult topic to include and explore in mainstream films. Unlike accidental deaths, which seem to be a plot twist in so many movies, suicide is rarely depicted on screen, and when it is, it easily comes under criticism because of the way it’s shown and the meaning it is trying to create.
For Honi Soit: Eden Caceda wished Ed Revue actually taught him something.
For BULL Magazine: Network TEN’s hit drama Offspring has developed considerably over its five year run, and has perhaps at long last found its true tone.
For The Reel Word: Based on Robert A Heinlein’s short story “All You Zombies”, Predestination centres on a time travelling “temporal agent” (Ethan Hawke), travelling by time-warped violin case, who attempts to prevent a mass terrorist, the Fizzle Bomber.
For Filmink: Focused on seven international qualified bodybuilders training to compete in the Mr. Olympia contest, Mickey Rourke narrates Generation Iron, which aims to get to the core of why these bodybuilders do what they do.
For Filmink: Controversy has surrounded US military interventions in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, and the new political documentary Dirty Wars, reminds viewers of the grave issues of this foreign policy.
For BULL Magazine: Baz Luhrmann’s first film Strictly Ballroom comes to life in this colossal stage adaptation, with all the same lines and songs Australia has come to love.
For Filmink: Very few documentaries profile a personality as unconventional and fascinating as Father Bob Maguire in the brilliant In Bob We Trust.
For Filmink: The small world of a Spanish wedding collides with The 2010 World Cup in Daniel Sanchez Arevalo’s refreshing comedy, Family United.
For Filmink: Battle of the Year is a string of cliches, stock characters and unbearable melodrama.
For Filmink: Pulp Fiction has long been the inspiration for a number of films and the Pawn Shop Chronicles is no exception.
For Filmink: Focusing more on the cars and less on the half-naked women, Born To Race: Fast Track is the sequel to 2011’s Born To Race, but oddly with an entirely different cast assuming the roles previously created.
For CelebrityOz: In 1981, a romantic drama film adapted from a novel of the same name by Scott Spencer graced the screens and filled the hearts of teenagers on dates in local cinemas.
For CelebrityOz: Since The Hangover debuted in 2009, cinemas have screened an abundance of films about friends travelling to Las Vegas, or any other location with alcohol and bright lights, prior to a wedding or as a way to forget their transience. The new adult comedy Last Vegas is no different, but this time the male protagonists are about 40 years older than the younger men cast in similar films.