Onward

Mar 17, 20 Onward
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SYNOPSIS:

Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers (voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there. The film also features the voices of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Lena Waithe and Ali Wong. Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new original feature film is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae—the team behind “Monsters University.”

IN CINEMAS MARCH 26

Thanks to Disney Australia & New Zealand

REVIEW:

Nerida

Back in the 90s, I absolutely loved the Toy Story films and I’ve been able to see almost every Pixar film in cinemas since then. Even sitting through cash grabs like Cars 2, I knew there would always be originality from them on the horizon. From Monsters Inc. to Coco, this is a company that knows how to tug at your heartstrings in all the right ways, working nearly every time in my opinion. Onward in their latest theatrical release and I believe they’ve done it again. Although I wouldn’t put it in the conversation of being one of their top five movies, that’s also a very difficult list to crack, so I’ll just have to settle with calling this one great instead of amazing. Oh, what a pain.

This is a story that has been done many times in different ways, so you may find the ending slightly predictable, but how they showcase the climactic events actually surprised and impressed me. Nothing really went exactly how I thought it would, but it was all very effective, fun, and incredibly emotional. If for nothing else, I praise this film for winning me over on multiple occasions. I found myself latching onto these two brothers and I was in tears by the final act. As I said, Pixar knows how to tug at your heartstrings, but it is usually always earned, and Onward is no exception.

Director and co-writer Dan Scanlon is really the reason this film exists in the first place. His actual father in real life passed away when he was very young and he has no memory of him. This fact actually made me like the film even more, because it really did feel like it was coming from a real place. The way this film wraps up, even with the mythological aspects at play, felt very real and was shown as if what they were doing was actually possible. I found how everything played out to be incredibly moving.

Overall, Onward may not be one of Pixar’s very best movies, but it’s still a great, moving film that I will probably recommend as one of the better movies of 2020 later in the year. Chris Pratt and Tom Holland are very enjoyable as the voice leads and the animation is stellar as always. It almost seems pointless to talk about how great the visuals are in these movies when reviewing it because you just know Disney won’t release anything that isn’t top-notch in terms of animation. Onward is a film that is aimed at a younger audience, but it really is an adult story through and through. I might not be able to call it amazing or refer to it as a masterpiece, but I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t say that I absolutely loved watching it. This one gets a big recommendation from me.  



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A Hidden Life

Jan 29, 20 A Hidden Life

SYNOPSIS:

A HIDDEN LIFE is a cinematic event from master filmmaker Terrence Malick who brings us an extraordinarily powerful and profound true story of resistance, hope and love.

The three-time Oscar nominated director is back in sublime form and delivers a truly cinematic experience with breathtaking visuals and outstanding performances.

Based on real events, A HIDDEN LIFE, is the story of an unsung hero who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War Two.

When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and love for his family that keep his spirit alive.

A HIDDEN LIFE releases exclusively at Palace Cinemas on
JANUARY 30.

Thanks to Fox Searchlight Pictures

REVIEW:

Nerida

I have never seen a film like A Hidden Life. Terrence Malick is known for his unique style, but this is something else. It is one of the most grim, harrowing, mournful films I have ever seen and it is absolutely masterful. I can’t even find words to properly describe it. This is a film that you enter, that you experience, you almost feel like you’re watching a documentary.

Malick’s direction is absolutely one of a kind, brilliant, almost spiritual. The acting is phenomenal-August Diehl is terrific, and Valerie Pachner is spectacular, along with excellent supporting performances from all. The cinematography is astounding; jaw-droppingly gorgeous (either this or 1917 for best cinematography of the year), and James Newton Howard’s score is beautiful. But what sets this film apart is its emotional brutality- it is heartbreaking, grim, and absolutely brutal. And yet, throughout all of this, the courage, faith and bravery of Franz and his wife, not to mention their three little girls and Franz’s mother-is incredibly overwhelming.

The film is not without flaws-it’s needlessly too long, with some repetitive shots-but that does not take away from the fact that it is fantastic. An incredible film.

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Joker

Oct 02, 19 Joker

IN CINEMAS OCTOBER 3

SYNOPSIS:

Director Todd Phillips “Joker” centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.


https://roadshow.com.au/titles/movies/wb/2019/joker

Thanks to Roadshow Films

REVIEW:

Nerida

Whether you end up loving or hating Joker; Todd Phillip’s gritty and Scorsese-like take on the legendary DC comics villain – there’s no denying that the cinematic comic book adaptations landscape has been changed forever.

Just as Nolan changed our expectations for what a comic book film can be with his Dark Knight trilogy, Joker’s examination of the birth of a nefarious villain hellbent on chaos and anarchy is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before – stripping the well known character back to the bare basics as we’re introduced to the sad life of the misunderstood and unloved Arthur Fleck.

Sharing more in common with dramas such as Taxi Driver and Serpico, rather than it’s other comic book cousins, Phillip’s and his mindbogglingly good leading man Joaquin Phoenix take us into the mind of a broken man trying to fit into a world that doesn’t want to open its arms to him – in what’s an engaging, cant look away, character study that slowly but surely descends into a dark and uncomfortable place that befits the name and reputation of its title being.

It may seem far to early to call, but I for one am confident in saying that Phoenix’s full embodiment of Fleck goes down as one of the most singularly impressive acting turns of not only the decade, but all time.
Phoenix commands every second of screen time he gets in Phillips dark tale, in what must surely be the biggest sure fire bet for an Oscar you could ever hope to get.

From the way in which Fleck appears physically, from a simple walk, through to a slight facial tick, right through to a haunting and hard to forget collection of haunting laughs, Phoenix appears in virtually every scene of Joker and never ones fails to enthrall. In doing so he’s managed to do the seemingly impossible of allowing us to understand a deeply flawed and depraved creature, but a creature you begin to understand and at times even feel sympathy towards.

For all the great incarnations of the character, it’s hard to think of a better way in which the Joker could be born into existence and by bringing his own flavour and nuances to Fleck. There’s no point in comparing Phoenix to Heath Ledger’s iconic take on the face painted mad man, with this take a whole different beast entirely.

As good as Phoenix is, it would’ve only taken the film so far had Phillip’s and his team not come to the party – but for a relatively small budgeted film, Joker’s astounding overall quality ensures it can comfortably sit in the top class of 2019 films.

It’s amazing to think that this is a film from the same man that gave us Old School and The Hangover ,but Joker sees Phillip’s grow into a whole new level with his on point direction, giving Joker an epic and unforgettable cinematic verve that brings it’s A game to match its captivating leading man.

While first and foremost a believable tale of a man pushed to the edge of his already teetering limits, Joker also manages to throw in a number of surprising narrative and comic book throwbacks that will be no doubt be discussed ad-nauseam by die-hard fans and naturally tie together Fleck’s story to a much broader universe without ever feeling forced or unnatural – all within a tale that is as confronting and even topical as you’d get regardless of genre.

Final Say –

Bleak, beautiful and boundlessly inventive, led by a Joaquin Phoenix performance for the ages, Joker is an outstanding cinematic achievement that’s sure to be talked about for years yet to come.



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Ad Astra

Sep 23, 19 Ad Astra

IN CINEMAS NOW

SYNOPSIS:

A paranoid thriller in space that follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) on a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.

https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/ad-astra

Thanks to 20th Century Fox Australia

REVIEW:

Nerida

How much Brad Pitt acting do you really need to sell you on this movie? I’m gonna start with a compliment, before I dive into what I feel are my major flaws with this film. Brad, as expected, is excellent.

The visual aesthetic is incredible! This project simply looks beautiful; every few minutes there will be amazing wide-angle space shots, exquisite astral images and gorgeous planets. Even the directive choices are pretty clever – they add a few front-angle jump scenes,and first-person perspective shots, that gives you this really cool video-game vibe; Kinda like you’re playing a video game. I saw it in VMax at Event Cinemas, so I was spellbound the entire time.

The rest of this film is a real slog-fest. After a very enticing first act, this movie get sloooowww. By the 60 minute mark, you’ll feel the dip; 90 minutes in,and I was just waiting for it to end. That’s not entirely a bad thing – if slow films are your vibe, you won’t mind this. But for me, I just got a bit bored.

The plot also didn’t interest me. The key focus is a father-son relationship, which is fine, but not what I expected. The sub-plots in this story would’ve made for much stronger content. There’s a mission on the far side of the moon, where they’re ambushed by lunar space pirates (which lasts 2 minutes). There’s a rescue mission, stylised as horror, where experimental primates take over a space shuttle (this is about 10 minutes). There’s an entire mini-segment about humans living on mars that is literally 20 minutes. The rest of the story is just dedicated towards his father, which is a let down.

This eventually led to a very underwhelming, unsatisfying climax, which had me going: “Just end it. Say what you need to say, and finish it already. I don’t care anymore”. Honestly, towards the end, I didn’t even want to know what happens, because anything I found interesting was brushed off.

Its really not as horrible as I’m making it sound; its just underused and wasted potential. I, personally, would not recommend it if you’re expecting a bit of action and a draw to keep you entertained; but if you’re happy with the pretty pictures, Brad Pitt, and don’t mind a slower based film, I think you will enjoy it.

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Spider-man : Far From Home

Jul 05, 19 Spider-man : Far From Home

IN CINEMAS NOW

SYNOPSIS:

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever. 


https://www.spidermanfarfromhome.movie

Thanks to Sony Pictures Australia

REVIEW:

Nerida

The MCU is in great hands! I personally have been of the opinion that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man and that the MCU has handled Spider-Man better than previous iterations. I believe Far From Home is proof of that.

I am blown away at the quality of this film – The writing, action, story, and characters are all at a higher calibre than we’ve seen in most of the previous MCU films. I did not once find myself bored. I was always entertained by some aspect of the movie. The high school romance, the elemental battles, and most of all Mysterio.

Mysterio was the big highlight of this. I never thought I’d see Mysterio on the big screen and now we have him in movie where he is done PERFECTLY. He was absolutely flawless and a big stand out character of the MCU. Jake Gyllenhal was born for this role and was used to the fullest of his abilities and the characters abilities.

In the end, this is what Spider-Man should be. Tom Holland is fantastic and is set to lead the future of the MCU.



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Balloon

May 31, 19 Balloon

IN CINEMAS NOW as part of the
GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL

SYNOPSIS:

Known for Germany’s all-time biggest grossing movies Manitou’s Shoe (2001) and Dreamship Surprise (2004), comedy personality Michael “Bully” Herbig now makes his directing foray into thrillers, recreating a gripping historical event.

1979, East Germany at the height of the Cold War. Günter Wetzel (David Kross, The Reader), a bricklayer, and his friend Peter Strelzyk (Friedrich Mücke), an electrician, can no longer bear the oppressive regime. The two men and their wives resolve to undertake a mission to secretly build a hot air balloon from scratch that will carry them and their families over the border fence to freedom. Over the course of the next 18 months they sew 1,000 square metres of cloth and gather countless weather reports from West German radio with the Stasi (State Police) hot on their heels. A nerve-racking battle against the clock begins…

https://germanfilmfestival.com.au

Thanks to Palace Cinemas & The German Film Festival

REVIEW:

Nerida

‘Why do we bother guarding the border? Wouldn’t we be better off without those traitors?’ This question by a Stasi-official pinpoints the paradox of communism: if a system without freedom would be better than a free society, why would citizens escape this system? The German film ‘Balloon’ doesn’t elaborate on the pros and cons of political systems; instead, it is a thriller filled with suspense, about two families trying to cross the border between East and West in a home made hot air balloon. The thriller-element is far more important than the political side of the story. The director doesn’t shy away from classic Hollywood screenwriting clichés, but he gets away with it.

I was gripped by the story, although it’s clear that it’s made more exciting than it was in reality. The excellent Wikipedia-entry ‘East German balloon escape’ is interesting reading material for those who want to compare the film with reality. Besides being a fine thriller, ‘Balloon’ also shows very well the effects authoritarian societies has on its citizens. They risk their own lives and those of their young children, in order to stop living in a big lie. Many films have shown the gruesome aspects of East German communism, but this brings you another aspect of it all.

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