Category Archives: Reviews

The inadvertent surrealist genius of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

meganfoxReview by Brad Nguyen

Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a fairly perfect encapsulation of the Hollywood summer blockbuster: Big on spectacle, be it two giant robots battling one another or Megan Fox’s ass; and light on coherent plot. And as easy as it would be for me to dismiss the movie, I would be lying if I were to say that the film wasn’t an entertaining and, yes, a fascinating experience Continue reading

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Post-college melancholia in ADVENTURELAND.

adventureland-stewart

Review by Brad Nguyen

The synopsis for Adventureland sounds familiar enough, but writer/director Greg Mottola is not so much concerned with cliches as he is concerned with pop mythology. Adventureland is a film that has been filtered through a million Beach Boys songs, a million coming-of-age movies, a million Catchers in the Rye, a million OCs and Freaks and Geeks. I’m talking about the mythology of the teenager, or in Adventureland‘s case, the early-twenties post-adolescent. While the idea of the teen is often associated with low culture and superficiality, an enduring American tendency in pop culture is the construction of adolescence as bittersweet, that peculiar combination of melancholy and optimism. Continue reading

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OBSERVE AND REPORT takes a taser to the fantasies of American exceptionalism.

observe

[Observe and Report trailer here.]

Review by James Douglas

With Observe and Report, director Jody Hill cements his place as my new favorite American satirist. Previously known for micro-budgeted indie The Foot Fist Way, and HBO comedy series Eastbound and Down, Observe finds Hill with an increasingly sure grasp of the complex tonalities that marked his previous work, and a high budget, studio-sanctioned playground in which he can let them loose. There’s something excitingly transgressive about watching such subversive, disturbing material delivered straight to multiplexes in a film populated with the hot comedy stars of the moment. Humour is pulled from date-rape, recreational drug use, sexual perversion, mental illness, serious alcoholism, and violence against minors. The key, somewhat contradictorily, is the way Hill plays the laughs, and the characters, so close to real life. Continue reading

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SAMSON AND DELILAH is great but geez, Margaret and David, it’s not THAT good.

samson

[Samson and Delilah trailer here.]

After a five-minute standing ovation at Cannes and every second Australian reviewer giving it 5 stars, Samson and Delilah (along with Mary and Max) is renewing hope in many that Australians can make great cinema. In truth, Samson and Delilah is by no means perfect, but it is certainly a striking feature debut for Warwick Thornton, visually eloquent and emotionally vital. Continue reading

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Finding meaning (or lack thereof) in life and Kaufman’s brilliant SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK.

synecdoche

[Synecdoche, New York trailer here.]

Having seen Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut only the once, I am conscious more than ever that I can’t really convey the complex experience of seeing a film in the space of a review. Synecdoche, New York is Kaufman’s most complex, cerebral and self-reflexive work yet. The film is dense with visual puns, wordplay, symbolism, shifting timeframes, doppelgangers and leitmotifs. But it is also profoundly moving in an immediate, emotional sense and certainly a rewarding experience. So I will be consciously reductive in this review, hopefully saying enough to convince you to see the film, figure out its puzzles for yourself and find something worthwhile in Kaufman’s vision that speaks to you. Continue reading

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X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE: This is how an Oscar-winning director destroys their career.

wolverine

[X-Men Origins: Wolverine trailer here.]

I enjoy a blockbuster film as much as anyone else. Hell, I’d defend Pirates of the Caribbean 3 if you pushed me on it. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, however, is so comprehensively awful that it is indefensible, a giant turd of a film crushing the credibility of all involved in the production and those who would argue its virtues. The film’s flaws have been pointed out already by many a film critic – plot holes, pathetic special effects, lack of depth to any of the characters – and currently rates 37% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The plot (ha ha!) begins with Wolverine as a sweet young sickly child, bed-ridden in 1845. Continue reading

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TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: the logical conclusion to Judd Apatow’s career.

terms-of-endearment

[Terms of Endearment trailer here.]

I fear that admitting to liking James L Brooks’ directorial debut Terms of Endearment is akin to professing admiration for Beaches: A film spanning the lifelong friendship between a mother and daughter ending with an emotional finale involving cancer sounds incredibly sappy, but if I could attempt to make this film cooler I would say that it’s blend of comedy and insightful character development is the logical conclusion to what Judd Apatow is doing with his career as his filmmaking becomes increasingly ‘serious’. Continue reading

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MONSTERS VS ALIENS casts off the anxieties of 1950s monster movies.

monsters_vs_aliens_

[MONSTERS VS ALIENS trailer here.]

Monsters vs Aliens is actually pretty cool in concept: An attempt to reinvent classic monsters from movies of the 1950s in order to celebrate their Otherness, this film is what happens when Todd Hayne’s Far From Heaven gets mashed together with a Saturday morning cartoon. Continue reading

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MARY AND MAX is almost a masterpiece but suffers from Hollywood-itis.

max-and-mary

[MARY AND MAX trailer here.]

Before having even made a feature length film, Adam Elliot had already proven himself as one of Australia’s truly great auteurs. Mary and Max is certainly a great achievement but despite mostly staying true to the spirit of his previous short films, Elliot’s first feature suffers only so very slightly from a mild case of Hollywood-itis. Continue reading

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You must watch SUMMER HOURS. It might be the best film of the year.

summerhours

[SUMMER HOURS trailer here.]

Olivier Assayas’ Summer Hours is the second in a series of films to be sponsored by the Musée d’Orsay and following Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon, it indicates that the Parisian museum is kicking ass at curating films by some of the world’s most outstanding and edgiest filmmakers even if they are not the most famous auteurs. Continue reading

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