The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2017: Moka Mar21

The Alliance Françai...

The Alliance Française French Film Festival is running in Melbourne from 8 March – 30 March, and our writer in Australia will be covering a selection of the movies being shown. AFFFF is the biggest festival of French films outside of France, and you can see the program and book tickets...

Brimstone Delivers O...

Overview: Hounded by an evil preacher, mute midwife Liz struggles to keep her family safe in the wilds of the Old West. Momentum Pictures; 2016; Not Rated; 148 minutes. A Word of Warning: Martin Koolhoven’s Brimstone is one of the bleakest films I’ve seen in some time. In tone, content, and...

The Alliance Françai...

The Alliance Française French Film Festival is running in Melbourne from 8th March – 30 March and our writer in Australia will be covering a selection of the movies being shown. AFFFF is the biggest festival of French films outside of France and you can see the program and book tickets...

Criterion Discovery: Fat Girl

Background: Catherine Breillat’s 2001 outing, Fat Girl, followed her controversial explorations of sexuality in Perfect Love! and 36 Fillette with aplomb. Whereas these earlier films seemingly fetishized male power over women, Fat Girl explores the fragility of women in a patriarchal society. In this sense, the women of the film are given a voice that evokes empathy and a brutal sadness. This is Breillat’s only film in the Criterion slate, spine #259. Story: Fat Girl juxtaposes the life of two adolescent sisters, the overweight 12-year-old Anaïs and the socially approved, 15-year-old beauty Elena. The sisters share a deep sibling love for...

Logan Director James Mangold is Taking Fansites to...

Sometimes, a movie grows to be about something else after it is released. Culture shifts, perspective moves, the audience grows to learn the intent of the artist more with future work, or hindsight vision reveals a new narrative or unseen or maybe even somehow added details. As showcased by Birth of a Nation to Wet Hot American Summer, this discovered value can make a film better or worse. Movies grow. They evolve. Usually this evolution, like any other, takes time. But this weekend, we saw one mutate. James Mangold’s Logan is straight killing it right now, by all logical measures. Currently, the film, Hugh Jackman’s farewell to the...

The Institute Is An Absurd Mess Mar06

The Institute Is An ...

Overview: Isabel, a well-to-do young Victorian woman chooses to go to Rosewood Institute, a mental health convalescence facility, at the urging of her brother in order to recover following the death of their parents. There, she meets Doctor Cairn, whose “methods” draw her into a bizarre world...

Logan is a Poignant Rumination On Mortality Mar04

Logan is a Poignant Rumination On Mortality

Overview: In a future where mutants have become near extinct, a world-weary, battle-damaged Logan must make his way alongside Charles Xavier to deliver a young mutant girl to North Dakota’s fabled mutant safe-haven, Eden. 20th Century Fox; 2017; Rated R; 137 minutes. I See A Darkness: “Maybe we’re God’s mistake,” a haggard Logan tells an equally haggard Charles Xavier, as both men come to terms to with their failing powers and grief over the fact that most of their kind have died, be remembered as novelty acts at best. For seventeen years, we’ve watched X-Men films proclaim that mutants were the future, children of the atom who were...

“This is the Zodiac Speaking”: Fincher’s Fil...

The story of what came to be known as the Zodiac murders began on December 20, 1968, though no one knew at the time how significant that particular shooting was to become. There’s no agreed upon date when the murders ended because the Zodiac—a moniker the killer gave himself—has never been identified. His shadow stretches until it just reaches into 1970, though attacks beyond 1969 have never been substantiated. For a period of just a bit more than a year, the Bay Area was paralyzed by the randomness and viciousness of these crimes. And that viral fear was spreading. Down in Los Angeles, the Tate and LaBianca murders committed by the Manson...

The King Returns in Latest Kong: Skull Island Trailer Feb27

The King Returns in Latest Kong: Skull Island Trai...

This morning, Tom Hiddleston tweeted our latest look at Kong: Skull Island! New trailer! Kong is back. In cinemas all over the world. March 10, 2017. #kongskullisland #kongisking pic.twitter.com/OLnyGYKLW0 — Tom Hiddleston (@twhiddleston) February 27, 2017 We may not have needed a new trailer for Kong: Skull Island a week before the film’s release, but it’s a hell of a trailer! The movie looks visually spectacular, and seems to possess a sense of humor that’s unexpected but could be quite refreshing. This could end up being one of the year’s surprise hits. Plus, I’m hearing that we’d do well to sit...

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore Is A Lynchian Maze Feb27

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore I...

Overview: After her house is broken into and robbed, a desperate woman enlists the help of her neighbor to seek retribution in an unfeeling world. Netflix; Not Rated; 2017; 93 minutes. “Everyone Is An Asshole”: Macon Blair surprised audiences with his startling turn in Blue Ruin just four years ago. Last year he turned heads yet again in a supporting role in Green Room. While working in close collaboration with writer and director Jeremy Saulnier on both films – in addition to their self-funded debut Murder Party from 2007 – Blair has managed to carve out a small corner of mainstream popularity and acclaim for himself in the...

Deserted Wanders Into Nothingness Feb24

Deserted Wanders Int...

Overview: Just out of prison, Jae and her brother head to a music festival in the desert along with a crew of strangers only to find themselves stranded together and at the end of their rope. Winterstone Pictures; 2016; Not Rated; 92 minutes. The Set Up: Stories about surviving the elements...

The Great Wall Is A Complex Structure Feb21

The Great Wall Is A Complex Structure

Overview: Two mercenaries stumble upon the Great Wall of China and discover a secret military order tasked with fending off a horde of monsters that attack every sixty years. Universal Pictures; 2017; PG-13; 104 minutes. Two Westerners Walk Up To A Wall: “What God made these things?” Tovar (Pedro Pascal) asks William (Matt Damon) after they experience the first of many brutal attacks upon the Great Wall by the Taoteis, a horde of creatures which rises from the earth every sixty years or so. “None that we know,” William shoots back. It’s a brief exchange to highlight the characters’ otherness and...

Man on High Heels St...

I don’t know how to feel about Man on High Heels. Not because it has the complexity of a Silence or the mystery of a Mulholland Dr. but because it breaks new ground, and I’m not sure it does so in the right way. One paragraph in and a good time to back up: Man on High Heels, or...

Criterion Discovery: Roma

Background: Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical Roma (Spine #848) is a cluttered, messy affair that nevertheless contains sequences of intense, visceral power. This is Fellini’s twelfth film in the Criterion Collection: Amarcord (Spine #4), Nights of Cabiria (Spine #49), And the Ship Sails On (Spine #50), Variety Lights (Spine #81), 8½ (Spine #140), Juliet of the Spirits (Spine #149), The White Sheik (Spine #189), La Strada (Spine #219), I vitelloni (Spine #246), La dolce vita (Spine #733), Satyricon (Spine #747). Story: A loose, nonlinear procession of reminiscences and allegories, Roma sees director Federico Fellini turn his camera...

Fifty Shades Darker Has A Few Bright Spots Feb10

Fifty Shades Darker Has A Few Bright Spots

Overview: Anastasia and Christian are up to their old tricks, but this time . . . they’ve got company. Based on the novel by E.L. James. Universal Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 118 minutes. How Many Shades of Grey Are There Really?: When the credits rolled on 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, there was a sense that the movie salvaged something in its closing. That film, based upon the first entry in the cash grab erotic trilogy from E.L. James, was never going to overcome its wooden dialogue and its clumsy narrative feet, but it did stick the landing in terms of structuring its character development, the elevator doors of its conclusion...

Samantha Sanders Talks Elle With Pop Culture Case Study Feb09

Samantha Sanders Talks Elle With Pop Culture Case ...

Where do you even start in a discussion of the power dynamics, the unflinching violence, and the sheer Verhoeven-ness of the mesmerizing French film, Elle? Lucky for me, the always-reliable and ever-curious David Hart of Pop Culture Case Study had that covered. You can listen to the conversation here. I hope you enjoy our lively discussion of each twist and turn of what, for me, was one of the most engrossing films of 2016. We even managed to keep our Isabelle Huppert fawning down to just a few minutes! (Be happy Hart didn’t give me unlimited time) If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe—and special thanks to Pop Culture Case Study...

Netflix Hidden Gem #97: 3 Women

3 Women (1977) Director: Robert Altman Genre: Drama 20th Century Fox Synopsis: In a barren 1970s California desert town, a woman forms a complicated relationship with her mysterious co-worker at an elderly rehabilitation center. Overview: Among the deluge of outrageous and depressing headlines that came out of November 2016, Shelley Duvall’s appearance on Dr. Phil stood out. Duvall’s obvious mental illness became fodder for the kind of tabloid opportunism that turns human lives and stories into an “eyes at any cost” media strategy. There was of course a collective response of disapproval, but our attentions have been diverted to the newer,...

T2 Trainspotting Comes Close To Greatness Feb07

T2 Trainspotting Comes Close To Greatness

Overview: Twenty years after abandoning his friends, Mark (Ewan McGregor) returns home to Edinburgh to make amends. Meanwhile, Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) plot their revenge on him for the money he stole. TriStar Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 117 minutes. Choose Your Future: The question of how to make a great sequel, especially over two decades later, is one that is often asked but rarely answered satisfactorily. With legacy sequels, you have a wide range of uses of nostalgia. There’s Harrison Ford’s, “Chewie, we’re home,” that made people cry simply watching a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and on the other...

Chapter & Verse Is Indulgent Viewing Feb03

Chapter & Verse...

Overview: A recently paroled ex-gang member struggles to re-acclimate himself into society after serving eight years in prison. Paladin; 2015; Not Rated; 97 minutes. Tough Crowd, Tough Crowd…: One of the film critics I find myself returning to over and over again for inspiration is the...

20th Century Women & The Distance Between American Generations Jan30

20th Century Women & The Distance Between Ame...

Overview: In 1979 Santa Barbara, single mother Dorothea struggles to raise her son Jaime and seeks the help of two young women. A24; 2016; Rated R; 118 minutes. Mama Can’t Buy You Love: Director and writer Mike Mills, recently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, has more than proven his mastery of incorporating personal yet universal themes in his work. Mike Mills’ most recent feature, Beginners (2010) was simple yet profound, heartbreaking yet hopeful, and creatively crafted. 20th Century Women certainly feels larger, and while in some ways it is a more adventurous endeavor, it is no less personal and no less...

Smokin’ Aces: 10 Years of Dead Reckoning, Sl...

To call Smokin’ Aces sleazy is an understatement. It’s a shotgun blast of nihilism with the bullets made out of compact flesh from a rusty meat-grinder. Once the trigger is pulled, the shrapnel propels itself into a block of cheese that will not be satisfactory to everyone’s tastes. But Joe Carnahan isn’t interested in taste here. The focus is on watching a menagerie of degenerates and people in way over their heads get lost in the shuffle of what we can refer to as a “gaggle-fuck” of bad decisions and worse combatants. It also stars an assortment of fantastic character actors doing some of the weirdest work in their careers. The...

A Patch of Fog Backtracks Into Predictability Jan26

A Patch of Fog Backt...

Overview: After he’s caught shoplifting by an obsessive security guard, a famous writer finds himself pulled into a maniacal and possibly deadly forced friendship. XLrator Media; 2015; Not Rated; 92 minutes. Caught in the Act: Almost 25 years ago, Sandy Duffy released his first and only book....

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is a Satisfying Relaunch Jan24

xXx: The Return of X...

Overview: The death of an ally brings Xander Cage out of self-imposed exile to stop a series of terrorist satellite attacks. Paramount Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 107 mins. Fast & Furious: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage reintroduces the audience to Vin Diesel, as Xander Cage over a...

Kuro Challenges the Way We Think of Storytelling Jan23

Kuro Challenges the ...

Overview: While caring for her paraplegic lover Millou, Romi recounts for him the story of a time they spent in Japan, caring for a man named Mr. Ono. 2017; Not Rated; 84 minutes. Space: There’s a lot of in-between space inside of Kuro, the new film from directors Joji Koyama and Tujiko...

The Founder is Almost Golden Jan23

The Founder is Almost Golden

Overview: Ray Kroc turns a single hamburger stand into one of the most successful business models ever—often at the expense of those along the way who help him. The Weinstein Company; 2016; Rated PG-13; 115 minutes. American Dreams: Rarely do the trailers before a film factor into its review, but it was impossible to miss something interesting that was happening in the 15 minutes before The Founder began. If film is a kind of projection of our collective psyche, right now we’re awfully anxious. And the studios seem to sense our fear. The previews I caught were about, in turn: Stalin’s 1932 takeover of Ukraine and the famine that followed;...