Mini Review - Knock at the Cabin
Knock at the Cabin (out Feb 2) sees writer-director M. Night Shyamalan take a big swing… and miss completely. He deserves credit for taking chances but, as he has done with several recent films, he’s struggling to create realistic characters, dialogue and reactions. The “news reports” we see in this movie are laughably bad. It’s the tale of a family on holidays in a remote forest who are visited by 4 unconvincing strangers on a world-changing mission. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - The Whale
The Whale (out Feb 2) is the tale of Charlie, a morbidly obese man trying to reconcile with the teenage daughter he walked out a decade ago. The film picked up first-time Oscar nominations for stars Brendan Fraser and Hong Chau but the film’s script is underwhelming. The missionary adds next-to-nothing, the caregiver’s complicity is barely questioned, and Charlie’s attitude is difficult to reconcile. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Tár
Tár (out Jan 26) is an engrossing drama about a renowned, EGOT-winning musician/conductor. She's relied on hard work and talent to earn her success but her arrogance and other behind-the-scenes weaknesses threaten to upend her career. Cate Blanchett turns in one of the most memorable performances of the past year. The ending is pitch perfect. Grade: A.
Mini Review - What's Love Got to Do with It?
What's Love Got to Do with It? (out Jan 26) is a British romantic comedy which entertainingly highlights both the similarities and differences between societies when it comes to finding love. It's centred on two close friends - Zoe (Lily James) who uses dating apps and Kaz (Shazad Latif) who is being guided by his parents into an arranged marriage. Finds a nice balance between drama and humour. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - You Can Go Now
You Can Go Now (out Jan 26) is a straightforward documentary about the art and activism of Aboriginal Richard Bell. A nice tribute to a worthy man. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Babylon
Babylon (out Jan 19) is a no-expense-spared epic about the creation of Hollywood in the late 1920s. It offers lengthy set pieces (like the making of an early "talkie") which are interesting and humorous. I wasn't as convinced by the character development which, for a 3-hour movie, is limited. It's also a little preachy in places. You'll remember the ending! Grade: B.
Mini Review - M3gan
M3gan (out Jan 12) is a horror flick about a young girl who, in need of support after the death of her parents, bonds with a highly sophisticated robot doll. It's predictable but also fun. Certain songs generate laugh-out-loud moments. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (out Jan 12) is the latest from director Guy Ritchie and is an action-comedy about off-the-record spies trying to stop a mysterious object falling into the hands of a billion dollar arms dealer. It's overcomplicated at times but the cast are great. The interplay between Hugh Grant and Josh Hartnett was the highlight for me. Grade: B.