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Big fan of International film festivals, and independent films - the place you will find stories that the mainstream is too busy or might be too scared to tell. A gold mine of new ideas.
Sci-Fi fan, Action, Martial Arts, with a bit of Drama and Thriller weaved in....
Joseph Lloyd, Australian Film / TV Review / Movie Critic
Here Are the Young Men (2020)
The cast helped sell the story, glad it didnt get too dark!
I was fortunate enough to not have read the book so I was coming in with fresh eyes and very open to what was on offer after being in my 6th week of lockdown and scraping the bottom of my Netflix / Prime Video barrels.
The film is a snapshot in time that marks the promise of a bright future during one of the most prosperous periods in Ireland's economic and political history. Yet this 2003 era of the "Celtic Tiger" seems to elude the country's seemingly broken sons born of generations of poverty. It's a paradox-pocked landscape in which its protagonists manifest the national psyche of the time in which a nation had an identity crisis and ideas of success were measured on materialism.
Not too dark, Not too light and a great ensemble cast that really got to spread their wings from other roles we know many of them for, Hollyoaks fans - look out for the random homeless guy. I'm not typically one for coming of age dramas so this hit the mark for me with its colorful cinematics as the backdrop for some dark material. There's lots of room for you to draw your own conclusions without having to be spoonfed everything, so if you didn't enjoy it, that's kind of on you.
I would have wished Eoin Macken took more liberties in his interpretation of the book exploring more backstory, showing more scenery of Dublin perhaps and evening out the character development and screen time with Rez who was drowned out a little from the strong performances of Finn Cole and DC Chapman.
American Fighter (2019)
This movie was too short, that's why everyone is complaining
There were some unnecessary token parts in the film that try to tie it to the first movie, but with so many new characters introduced onto the canvas, they just needed to focus on them. American Wrestler needed almost 2 hours to do that with theirs. There are some great moments here if its an easy series of fight potn you are after. You must watch the first film to appreciate this one more.
Supporting actor Bryan Craig is well established in drama, hitting the notes required when he becomes collateral damage in his friend's twelvth hour gamble. He works well with George Thomas / Korsuros in the setup of the forced-to-fight underdog story. Plenty of tightly choreographed sequences that are natural and fluid and great to watch, definitely the way to go as this story was less character driven unlike its predecessor which was a nice change.
The Tomorrow War (2021)
Sketchy in some places, but a good watch!
A dazzling visual spectacular of computer generated imagery, pyrotechnics and high angle aerials, the right proportion of action, drama and suspense are formulated. Does it command the same kind of legacy, in the way Spielberg's, Back to the Future does, probably not so much. Like similar films, including Ryan Reynolds' 6 Underground or Chris Hemsworth's Extraction, there's no flaw in cinematic quality, but probably wouldn't have been that memorable without the principal cast headliners.
As a fan of apocalyspe / dooms day films like, Into the Storm, Greenland, San Andreas and 2012, this definitely gets a replay on the watchlist.
Comedic moments are provided by sidekick, Charlie (Sam Richardson) but for the most part, the supporting cast are a little underdeveloped. Unexplored and hollow backstory like for instance, Dorian (Edwin Hodge) who we meet having served on two missions seems to have a death wish while collecting war souvenirs served no real purpose to the story. Under utilised performers like 24 veteran, Mary Lynn Rajskub who plays self sacrificing, barely had two lines before being killed off in the first hour.
Nice break from the usual Zombie film formula
F. E. A. R. - FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN - takes the old overdone zombie genre letting its audience invest in its characters. Straying away from the typical formula, resources have become scarce and looting, murder and robbery are a daily threat to the Allister family who fight to survive in a world now ravaged by a mysterious disease that turns people into cannibalising zombies. Days of Our Lives fans and Dead to Me Fans will enjoying seeing a different side to the acting chops of Marci Miller and Jason Tobias who play the hardened matriarch and patriarch of the family fending off mankind that is now reduced to its most primal instincts.
Some great sci-fi concepts that will fascinate non-science geeks
It attempts to do what, Crisis did earlier this year,in terms of the narrative, however falls a little short as each short story operates independently from each other.
Give it about twenty minutes, because that's where you begin to see the potential in this film if you're willing to overlook a few things as newcomer, Josh Peck (Fuller House) and Lina Esco (S. W. A. T. and Kingdom) take the stage and show us exactly what the film is trying to do as they work the thriller element of this film in spades.
It's the provocative notion of science fiction and alien life that piques our interest when playing on some familiar notes many of its viewers will be able to relate to as a result of the pandemic experience that has been lived through. The doors / portals are a situation that stops the world, has no explanation, and yet seems to be taking over as populations see millions of their people disappearing when they are mysteriously summoned into the doors, never to beheard from again. Those that do return, are portrayed as stoic gurus.
What makes this an easy watch are the short glimpses into the different perspectives of the global phenomenon the film revolves around, giving us enough room to not only question the existence of extraterrestrial life, but a motive and purpose for their arrival. It offers a self reflection to the rationale of the current destructiveness of humanity, stitching ideas of parallel universes together with the idea of a collective human consciousness. An exciting proposition which holds its own as a science fiction thriller.
Jamal's (Kyp Malone, Never Back Down) story of first contact offers a realistic highlight despite an unclear ending.
It may not be strong enough to compel serious science geeks, but has components creating a melting pot for fans of films like Sliding Doors and series like Sense8. By independent movie standards, it's a pretty strong attempt.
This film has a tiny bid of an identity crisis
If your'e after a film that's low key, non-sensical and cinematically beautiful with gaping holes in the script, do it. There's a very awkward logic to this to the story that introduces ideas without developing them, underusing a potentially great ensemble with little room for characters to develop without the satisfying resolution that it should have had. However, in saying that, it's a non-intensive watch requiring little effort to process as viewers are thrown pieces of a puzzle that doesn't fully get put together by the ending credits. Community's, Joel McHale plays a cartoon-like character of the perfect husband, Tom. Somehow the chemistry he manages to kind with co-star Kerry Bishe, who plays wife Janet brings a cynical sense of realism as they're surrounded by resentful friends who find it impossible to fathom their deliriously happy and fertile marriage after fourteen years. Seems simple enough, until we get pulled into a vortex out of Netflix's, Black Mirror where anything goes really. Supporting ensemble standout, Natalie Morales, we know from, Netflix's 'Dead to Me', 'Santa Clarita Diet', so there's no disappointment in her performance given what she had to play with. It's difficult to understand what the point of the story was here as it leads with the idea that marriage is destined to become a state of complacency and misery, before introducing an unexplained architect and puppet master that imprisons Tom and Janet in a luxury mansion for a circle of trust therapy session. Did we lose you? Yeh, there's alot of that in this. Unexplained resentment between characters, serious issues of domestic violence which we weren't particularly invested enough in to appreciate the resolution, and a sex-deprived housewife that flew under the radar for most of the film turning out to be the catalyst for much of the deception the group's captor was wanting everyone to confess. It's confusing, with so many pitchforks in the road, and the film fails to tie it all together, let alone make believable a longstanding relationship and history with this group of people. This was a film, fails to hit the notes of romance, horror but wins out on some comedic moments but I didn't have to watch. There will be some appreciation value for McHale and Bishe fans most definitely.
The Moogai (2020)
A new Aussie horror sub genre is born
When it comes to the way diversity and stories in first nation culture are told we realise after seeing this film that we have barely begun to scratch the surface. Notions of dreamtime spirits and superstition are touched on and embellished in which a new horror genre unique to Australia is born. Soft edge shots and emotionally intense close ups will have you jolting from your seats as Shari Sebbens and Moyne Wyatt (The Sapphires, Redfern Now) play on our fears from the moment they bring their newborn baby Jacob home. There's definitely something here that is yet to be fully exploited with the promise of 40,000 years of history to draw from in this kind of horror story.
A hilarious tale on wrestling worklife balance
Will Ferrell stays true to form finding humour from material he is given. Playing a therapist, his son David interrupts a life threatening session of one of his patients as work and home life comes to a head! Such a simple plot packed with stomach belching laughs, the cast (Fred Hechinger and William Jackson Harper) don't miss a beat in the delivery of this tales punchlines.
So many unanswered questions
This film highly engages in creating suspense and mystery around the seemingly satanic cannabilism practices that targeted homosexual couples, only because they were the only unconventional and ideal targets available in this small community. The only critique was the unexplained purpose of the group and what they were all about and why the creature had to feed on girls every ten years. Started off great, got weird, and the ending was extremely dissatisfying.
Use Me (2019)
A hybrid genre of storytelling that makes sense in today's digital world
As a viewer, the thrilling part of experiencing this film is trying to ascertain where the line of reality begins and where the fiction ends. Particularly when many players in the fetish scene make cameo appearances and footage from the annual Las Vegas sex expo is integrated into the story. "These characters are kind of ourselves, or like the dark sides of ourselves" explains Shaw. "Even these fictionalised versions of ourselves come from some place of truth and I've just greatly blown it up for dramatic effect"
A waste of two good comedians, though some great moments of realness
Downhill is a somewhat uncomfortable watch with two of cinemas most flamboyant comedians trapped in a script that fails to channel the depth and skill they're known for. While there are attempts and successful moments of hilarity, this Dramedy leans more to the drama but surprisingly delivers honest truths that will resonate with the relationships or marriages we are in.
The event that sets the stage for the story allows for powerful unspoken moments, expressions of hurt and internalised disappointment that would be delivered and felt by any long term couple who encountered a situation like the lead characters.
For a fleeting moment we are given an answer to Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver's impeccable storytelling in Marriage Story before the film itself feels like it's also on a weak layered fracture of snow physically taking the form of the film's title.
Dreyfus and Ferrell play the vulnerability and emotional detriment of their relationship spectacularly, but they are hugely let down by the hollow comedy of the script which does little to extract the goldmine of the setup and peel back layers on their characters and sound acting ability.
Luna Nera (2020)
A nice easy watch for lovers of magic
Short season with something happening each episode, this is the first out of a series of attempts on several Italian originals on Netflix and stands out. Great cinematography, just as impactful in English and Italian and that climatic season finale was a great pay off.
Drags on a bit - but appreciate the effort
Taking us into a future world where this is very much a real possibility, the story drags on for me and there's not enough action. It has some great moments but overall it was not as exciting as it read on paper.
Great feelgood movie without the over intense darkness you often find in many LGBT films
A great watch, enough laughs, quite light without the usual drama and waterworks that coming of age films can often fall in to.
A funny high school flick that sees three of the most popular girl who hold the balance of power fight for the ultimate fashion accessory. A Gay Best Friend. It's not as bad as it sounds, but it's got the right amount of juice without being political - think feelgood Love Simon.
La casa de papel (2017)
Think Ocean's 11 - but more comprehensive!
What a great ensemble. So many stories and character dynamics going on the writers somehow weave it seamlessly together and find the psychology and planning behind each heist so carefully thought out! Excellent show which I watched in Spanish AND English - such a re-watchable show! More More More!!!!
Locke & Key (2020)
I like the tamer version they've taken from the comics
A tight knit group, their journey of healing quickly turns into a quest of mystery as the old family estate reveals secret keys that call out to the children. It's great to see Darby sink her teeth into another meaty role since Scandal went off air. Nina's character didn't really kick in until she fell off the wagon and was continually upstaged by her children / co-stars.
More Aaron Ashmore in Season 2 please, he was only on for 5 minutes and since they've taken creative liberties with the original story could have given him more to do.
Connor Jessup plays the complex emotion of the normally extroverted Tyler who for most of the season believes that he is the reason his father was murdered. Emilia Jones takes us on a journey of Kinsey's hestitation into one of self discovery and assertion as she adjusts to the pecking order of high school. Two strong characters brought to life with commanding performances balancing out the curious younger brother. All actors have the chops to take us to places and hope the show takes advantage of that now that everything's in place for a killer Season 2.
With Supernatural going off air, I can see some of that audience coming over .
It's got the closeness of Lost in Space, the dynamics of Umbrella Academy with a bit of Riverdale realism verberating through as the two older siblings adjust to a new high school while discovering and manging their new powers.
Absolute fave show to stream and re-stream at the moment!
Las Encinas, the best and most exclusive school in Spain where the elite send their children to study, is also where three working class kids have just been admitted after their academy was destroyed by an earthquake and the local council divided up the students between the different schools in the area. The clash between those who have everything and those who have nothing to lose creates the perfect storm that ultimately ends in a murder. It's one of the better shows with english audio options and multi-lingual captions.
The Circle (2018)
Reality TV is general crap - but this one is ok
If you're getting bored with the typical reality TV formats of free-to-air, this one gets you thinking as it uncovers the psychology of who we think we are, how we post, when we filter images, what emojis to use to deliver the personna we are trying to create online.
The Umbrella Academy (2019)
It's all about Klaus - he's the reason to watch!
It's the most searched show on Netflix and the third most watched in 2019 having been streamed over 43 million times since it premiered in February. It places the dynamics of a dysfunctional family against the backdrop of superhero powers. Another example of the originals lineup standard that's been set up with its stellar cast of Game of Thrones, X Men, Broadway expats. There's a lot of promise to this series running for a while as we explore the stories of the 7 siblings who have each been gifted with a power. Season 1 was compromised of Volume 1 and 2 of the comics. It's a visual extravaganza depicting the dynamics of family amidst a magical world of time travel, telekenesis, psychic premonitions, robots and superhuman strength. Underlying it all and bringing the estranged siblings back together - the passing of their father who's affection they yearned for in childhood, a timely reunion in time to save the world from an impending apocalypse.
The comic relief from Robert Sheehan who plays Klaus Hargreaves is one of the main reasons to watch. A second season is on the way ya's mid to late 2020 and we're left wondering where in time the Hargreave siblings end up and the conversation that needs to happen with apocalyspse prone Vanya.
Vampire Diaries 2.0 - Love it!
For longtime fans of Damon from Vampire Diaries which went off air two years ago, Ian Sommerhalder's return to the smallscreen was a very welcome one in a project reminiscent of his iconic and supernatural role. Only, this time around, they've flipped his role where he now plays a vampire chaser or sympathiser of sorts. His character, Luther Swann battles the politics and drama of a doctor in search of a cure to a plague that has struck the population turning them into blood thirsty beasts. The plot seems a little far fetched and is presented intellectually playing on the emotional heartstrings of family and friendship. There's a sense of realism that's brought to this which Vampire Diaries didn't have as we watch Dr. Swann study the vampire creatures through a scientific lense. The core focus is on the relationships with his son, wife, work colleagues and 'brother' are driving the story almost turning the fantasy of vampires into a scientific possibility. Netflix did this successfully
The I-Land (2019)
Loved the idea of it - but wasn't quite there
Ten strangers wake up on an island of paradise with amnesia. It's fun trying to work out where this show takes us - is it going to be like Lost, or Resurrection, or maybe even Manifest. Turns out they are all prisoners who agreed to take part in an experiment to reduce their sentence and have been used as guinea pigs in this Matrix-esque like world. Mix in a bit of prison politics and one of the inhabitants turning out to be innocent, the big twist is when the main character realise they are not the age they appear to be on the island. Nawww. A short seven episode season you can knock down after work...
Such an interesting telling on Time Travel
This show will do your head in if you are not paying attention as its nothing like Back to the Future as it explores time travel and destiny in a more complex way. This is the ultimate puzzle as we're told stories in several timelines introduced to various characters that turn out to be the same person!
Have I lost you?
Dark takes the subject of time travel, twists it up with kidnapping and missing children, tortures a town of lovable citizens and then it all converges into one time period! It's an exciting exploration of the idea of time travel held up by very well thought out characters. There are so many answers lying in episodes, you'll find yourself re-watching them for clues and feel like you need to write things down as you work out who is who and what is what.
The Ghost Bride (2020)
An easy 6 episode watch - great if you have no idea about the culture!
The love triangle was a bit corny, but what really worked here were the supporting cast members that helped establish the main character. Angeline Tan who plays Madame Lim is a definite standout here - really enjoyed this character. I had no idea about colonial Malacca and the significance of it being a gateway of sorts between east and western cultures - such a magical place that fit in with the theme of ghosts. Also very interesting as I had no idea that even today, the marrying of ghosts can take place in some provincial towns. A great watch.
Next in Fashion (2020)
Finally a reality show that makes it all about the fashion again and not the drama!
When it comes to Fashion reality series, the 15 year old Project Runway comes to mind with a format that pits its designers against one another encouraging trash talk and catty behaviour in the cutting room. You won't find any of that nonsense in this grown up version Netflix original that brings the focus back to the design and craftmanship.
The OA (2016)
Steve & Betty need a spin-off show!
Has anyone noticed Brit Marling, creator and star of the show, and her resemblance to a young Julia Roberts? Produced by Brad Pitt, it was devastating to learn that the de-ja-vu moment in Season 2's finale, which was almost identical to the first season was it for the show. It was a bit of a roller coaster as they relegated the main ensemble cast we fell in love with to the sidelines for most of the second season and had to invest in the new guy that everyone playing this mysterious game was dreaming of. The handful of episodes that Steve, BBA, Jessie and Michelle were in made it feel like our old show again, and after the first mind bending season, it was a little overwhelming having to invest in the new character, Karim. We ended up liking him in the end, but it took way too long.
The theme of a multiverse and the interconnection between all living beings impacted by the choices we make was such a provocative topic and still is in mainstream science. That's what made this show appealing. In season two, we got more insight into the character of Betty (Phyllis Smith) and saw a softer side of Steve (Patrick Gibson), but it just wasn't enough as most of their screentime was chopped in half due to the new story that dominated most of the shorter eight episode season.
By telling the story in two dimensions, there wasn't enough interest to warrant solving a new problem when we hadn't finished solving the first one where we were left hanging in Season 1. Brit Marling's strong portrayal of alter ego, Nina was also not enough to keep viewers interested to warrant a third season.
It is still a great watch for science fiction lovers as the theory of everything has never been put into an everyday context for us to unpack before.