Tag Archives: Five Stars

Sydney Film Fest Review: The Rider (USA, 2018) is an absolute masterpiece from director Chloe Zhao

Expectations can be a very powerful thing, especially when they are low. When people are asked to survey a form of art with subject matter that doesn’t interest them, it’s very certain that they won’t like it. But there are those forms that exceed one’s expectations and manage to give a satisfying experience and what would pique that interest is word-of-mouth.... Continue Reading

Film Review: Hereditary (USA, 2018) is the dictionary definition of horror

When light finally filled the theatre at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema I could see that the older man sitting next to me was visibly shaken. In fact, I could see many people who looked like they were in desperate need of a good, long hug and maybe a bathtub full of bright yellow rubber ducks with a Disney marathon playing in the background. I shared that feeling, whatever it was; the shared sinking sense of dread mixed with awe – powerful and strong responses to a powerful and tough-as-nails film. That’s the astounding debut from Ari Aster, Hereditary: a narrative feature he has both written and directed with such an ironically beautiful sense of pain, presenting one of the darkest horror-drama films I have ever seen.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Nature and nurture square off in the fascinating Three Identical Strangers (UK, 2018)

BAFTA-nominated documentary director Tim Wardle has an enviable subject with the highly publicised reunion of long-lost-triplets Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman, who found each other at the age of 19, tracking three identical New Yorkers separated at birth by a prominent Jewish adoption agency. It’s the kind of stranger-than-fiction story that the most engrossing documentaries are made of, and it certainly helps that the account is not lacking when it comes to eccentric characters. And that’s what truly strengthens Three Identical Strangers, with Wardle faithfully sticking close to the three brothers and those around them while gradually peeling back the layers to reveal a much larger narrative, questions around the age old “Nature vs Nurture” debate, and the moral implications that come with studying such a thing. It feels like a sitcom with a conspiracy wrapped around it, a wholly unique and endlessly fascinating stab at the dark side of psychological research and the importance (especially in this modern era) of individual differences.... Continue Reading

Film Review: Francis McDormand is unstoppable in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (USA, 2017)

Fearlessness and eagle-eyed justice drive Mildred Hayes as she takes an entire town’s police squad to task for failing to properly investigate her daughter’s rape and murder in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Martin McDonagh’s black comedy is all it has been hyped up to be: sharp, wry, nuanced, clever, hilarious and utterly compelling as Francis McDormand, the unstoppable Hayes, gives a career-best performance in a film full of career-best performances. And that’s saying a lot; Hayes’ grief-fueled anger is meticulously molded by the veteran actor into something both effecting and poignant, cutting straight through to real-life frustrations with the ineffectiveness of those in power, but knowingly falling into the trappings of myopic outrage to deliver a strong, heartfelt message of pain and empathy.... Continue Reading

Film Review: I Am Not Your Negro (USA/France, 2016) is a powerful and evocative look at the Civil Rights Movement

America has long been a country divided, afflicted by the separation between white and black men and it still continues to this day. I Am Not Your Negro is a unique documentary that is an analysis of the civil rights movements of the 50’s and 60’s right through to the current Black Lives Matter movement. But also an insight into the very personal dealings of African American essayist, playwright and social critic James Baldwin with his friends and civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. ... Continue Reading

Film Review: mother! (USA, 2017) will test even the most stern of viewers

Where does one even begin to describe the demented deliciousness that is mother!?  Despite the film’s rather studio-heavy calibre of talent on board, Darren Aronofsky‘s latest cinematic insanity is anything but an audience-friendly affair.  The mysterious marketing campaign has wound up viewer interest (and rightfully so), and I would wager many will be entering theatres under the falsest of pretences, but that is all part of mother!‘s twisted plan – to lure you in, only to strike you down when you least expect it.... Continue Reading

Film Review: Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (USA, 2016) achieves cinematic and musical perfection

La La Land is the new film from offensively talented director Damien Chazelle, who last impressed with the Oscar winning film Whiplash, a story (in part) about the search for musical perfection in a young Jazz drummer. In La La Land, we remain in a musical world, as Chazelle takes us back to the classic Hollywood musical – Singin’ in the Rain being one of the most on-the-nose examples thematically and artistically – against the landscape of jazz music (a running theme in all of Chazelle’s films) and a love story across the seasons.... Continue Reading