Tag Archives: Three Stars

Film Review: Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (FRA/USA, 2017) is pure visual escapism but hampered by unconvincing casting

When visionary filmmaker Luc Besson first picked up a copy of the French graphic novel series Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres he was inspired to bring that story to cinema screens and has been working towards that goal for most of his life. Coincidentally Mezieres was hired by Besson to assist him on the design of 1997’s The Fifth Element hailed as one of Besson’s greatest sci-fi film epics. And it’s somehow poignant that the year that film celebrates its 20th anniversary is the same year he releases another space opera which is even bolder, brassier, more colourful and expansive than its predecessor. However Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets might be more visually grandiose but it does have a few flaws that prevent it from surpassing its forebear.... Continue Reading

Film Review: The Time Of Their Lives (UK, 2017) is a pleasant road trip & light comedy about two unlikely friends

The Time Of Their Lives is a film about two unlikely friends getting a second chance at life. It’s one where you feel like if it had had its own second chance it could have been excellent, but instead will have to settle for being just good. This is ultimately a light, comedy caper and buddy story about two old biddies letting their hair down on the road.... Continue Reading

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 5 “Burning in Water…” introduces a new conflict

Coming off one of their strongest episodes, the self-contained “100” with the focus solely on a returning Daniel (Rubén Blades), Fear the Walking Dead pull us back into life at the supposedly safe Broke Jaw Ranch where Madison is holed up with Nick and Alicia, trying to prove their value to the suspicious community. “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” brings the ranch’s curious history to the forefront straight from it’s awkwardly quick cold-opener in which one of several founders – the first we, as the audience, hear of Otto having partners who helped start the ranch – awakes to find his wife has turned, making the immediate decision to end both their lives which spills over into their house-on-the-hill burning down.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Phantom Boy (France, 2015) is oddly engaging and effortlessly weird

Whilst animation in film has evolved immensely over the last 20 years, there’s something immediately charming about Phantom Boy‘s deliberately flat and simple palleted aesthetic.  It may lack the emotional weight of the technically more refined Pixar offerings, but this film’s distinct look feels organically melded to its somber mentality.... Continue Reading

Film Review: Rough Night (USA, 2017) brings plenty of laughs from a strong cast in a disjointed dark comedy

Lazily touted in headlines as “The Hangover for women” by writers who couldn’t possibly find another film to compare it to from the last decade (Bachelorette or Bridesmaids immediately come to mind, both of which were also compared to The Hangover at the time of release – hell, even Bad Moms was!), Rough Night is a dark comedy bringing together three of the funniest actors working today – Jillian Bell (Workaholics, 22 Jump Street), Ilana Glazer (Broad City) and Kate McKinnon (SNL, Office Christmas Party) – alongside the talented Zoë Kravitz and Scarlett Johansson, for a stab at the “let’s see how bad things can get for our lovable main characters on a night out” genre.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: To Stay Alive – A Method (Netherlands, 2016) is a quiet and thoughtful piece with Iggy Pop & Michel Houellebecq

Some people subscribe to the theory that you’ve got to suffer for your art. Two such individuals include the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop and the best-selling French novelist, Michel Houellebecq. In To Stay Alive – A Method the pair share a meeting of minds in a film that is artistic, experimental and semi-autobiographical and it’s one that will make you think twice about the idea of the starving artist.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: The Public Image Is Rotten (USA, 2017) is a thorny look at the love & defiance of Johnny the PIL

This is not a love song- it’s a review of Public Image Limited’s (PiL) documentary. The film, The Public Image Is Rotten is one that focuses on John Lydon AKA Johnny Rotten AKA the band’s one mainstay (just like The Cure’s Robert Smith). It shows an outspoken and spiky man who has tempered through age and time and with his co-conspirators (and like the stars at Factory Records) made some great music and occasionally some atrocious decisions.... Continue Reading

Sydney Festival Film Review: Axoltl Overkill (Germany, 2017) burns up Berlin with heavily stylised hedonism

Adapting her own novel for the big screen, German author-director Helen Hegemann makes a polished feature debut with Axolotl Overkill. Pulse firmly on the rapid strobe-lit streets of Berlin, the film is very much a muse on teenage excess and independence, as self-destructive as in can be, with an assured sense of style and impressive visuals to compensate for a lack of originality. Though there isn’t quite as much narrative heft behind it, often falling into repetition and not knowing how to fully capitalise on crucial moments, Hegemann is admirable as she follows sixteen year old Mifti (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) through unstable sexual relationships, a more-is-more approach to drugs, and a desperate desire for rebellion. ... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Spookers (NZ/AUS, 2017) finds therapy under a mask of terror

Kiwi filmmaker Florian Habicht jumps from making documentaries about Pulp and demolition derbies to modestly prodding around the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest horror theme park with Spookers, a stylish 85-minute piece that manages to weave together stories of exploitation and therapy amongst a whole heap of (fake) blood, guts and playful vignettes. It’s clear Habicht and his various subjects, most of whom are amateur actors at this theme park just south of Auckland, had a lot of fun piecing together this documentary and although it overindulges in style while sacrificing deeper themes, it succeeds at presenting us with a unique take on how important it is for someone to feel like they belong.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Game of Death (Canada, 2017) Is Bloody, Forgettable, Fun

Right at home in the “Freak Me Out” strand of this year’s Sydney Film Festival, Game of Death is probably more-or-less exactly the film you expect it to be. It’s a simple but fun romp that manages to eke out the most from its wacky premise, despite being held back by structural shortcomings and uneven dialogue.... Continue Reading