Mini Review - The Dig
The Dig (out Jan 14) tells a damn good tale. It’s based on actual events and delves into the one of the great archaeological finds of all time that occurred in England, 1939. This film is strongest when the two leads, Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, share the screen together and I love the exploration of their connection (more than a friendship but less than love). Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Music
Music (out Jan 14) is terrible. It's the story of a woman (Kate Hudson) asked/forced to look after her autistic half-sister (Maddie Ziegler) following the death of her grandmother. The subplots are woefully undeveloped (e.g. the Asian neighbours) and clichés are plentiful. Worst of all, writer-director Sia has characters illustrate their emotions using interpretive dance numbers that distract from the actual story. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - The Elfkins: Baking a Difference
The Elfkins: Baking a Difference (out Jan 14) is a German animated feature (dubbed into English) that follows a small, cheeky elf who partners up with a human baker to reinvigorate his struggling business. It's very simplistic in terms of its narrative and villains but it's easy for young kids to follow and they're the target audience. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - The White Tiger
The White Tiger (out Jan 14) is the Indian tale of an ambitious young man who, after landing a servant job for a rich family, loses his naivety and is exposed to a darker side of the world. The narration is overdone but the complexity of the lead character and his decision making (not always good) makes this an interesting film. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - My Salinger Year
My Salinger Year (out Jan 14) is based on a memoir and set in 1995. It's the story of a young writer (Margaret Qualley) who lands a job managing the fan mail for reclusive author J.D. Salinger at a literary agency. The best scenes involve a prickly Sigourney Weaver as the agency's boss but the remaining elements (particularly the romance subplot involving Douglas Booth) are dull. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Ammonite
Ammonite (out Jan 14) reminded me of Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire... except the characters are less interesting and their development is more stilted. It wants to be a moving 19th century British love story between two women, nicely played by Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, but the opening two acts are slow and it's a long wait to get the film's emotional punch. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Buddy Games
Buddy Games (out Jan 7) is a lowbrow comedy about a group of super-competitive friends who reunite to compete against each other in a series of idiotic challenges. It’s like a weaker version of Jackass with boring characters and a dumb script. Not good. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - Promising Young Woman
Promising Young Woman (out Jan 7) is the story of a 30-year-old woman who, following the death of her best friend several years ago, seeks vengeance against sleazy men. It's loaded with interesting, provocative ideas but the contrived nature of the storyline makes it difficult to fully buy into. That said, kudos to writer-director Emerald Fennell and actor Carey Mulligan for creating such an intriguing character. Grade: B.