Mini Review - Judas and the Black Messiah
Judas and the Black Messiah (out Mar 11) is for those who love an interesting true story. In the late 1960s, the FBI enlisted an African American teenager and used him as a counterintelligence operative to infiltrate a powerful Black Panther group in Chicago. Daniel Kaluuya is the Oscar frontrunner for best supporting actor and it's easy to see why. It’s a juicy role that comes with grand speeches in front of big crowds and heartfelt duologues with his worried girlfriend. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Girls Can't Surf
Girls Can’t Surf (out Mar 11) is a terrific Australian documentary about the evolution of women's professional surfing. It delves into the athletes but, more importantly, it’s as much about the commercial and financial realities of women's sport and the fight for equality. The film includes current day interviews with surfing stars from the 1980s and 90s who are wonderful storytellers with strong personalities. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Max Richter's Sleep
Max Richter's Sleep (out Mar 11) is a documentary that delves into the accomplished German composer and the epic 8.5 hour composition he created for people to listen to while they sleep. This is a meditative experience as you enjoy his soothing opus while learning more about Max, his wife and their background. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Cosmic Sin
Cosmic Sin (out Mar 11) is a futuristic sci-fi flick about a group of humans who travel to another planet to destroy an alien race. There's nothing interesting on offer here. The conversations shared between the characters are boring and clichéd. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Then Came You
Then Came You (out Mar 11) is a contrived romantic comedy about a widowed woman who travels to Scotland for a short holiday and falls in love with the hotel's cheeky manager. The dialogue is unconvincing, the interactions become repetitive (argue, flirt, argue, flirt) and the finale can be seen from a mile away. This needed to be more adventurous. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Chaos Walking
Chaos Walking (out Mar 11) starts slowly but warms up into something half-decent. Set in the future, it's about a conflict that takes place on a new planet colonised by humans. The world and these characters needed to be fleshed out more thoroughly. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Raya and the Last Dragon
Raya and the Last Dragon (out Mar 4) is an animated feature that’s reminiscent of Game of Thrones. A young woman teams up with a dragon to locate magic gemstone pieces which can be used to unite the world. The analogies are laid on too thickly and its depiction of heroes and villains is too simple… but there’s still fun to be had with Awkwafina stealing the show as the voice of the funny dragon. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - About Endlessness
About Endlessness (out Mar 4) is a peculiar, hypnotic film from Swedish director Roy Andersson. With no real plot, it feels like it belongs in a modern art museum! Andersson offers up 70 minutes of random-ish imagery with minimal dialogue. There are splashes of both humour and sadness. Hard to forget. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Another Round
Another Round (out Feb 11) is a darkish comedy from Denmark about four male high school teachers who try to maintain a continual blood alcohol content of 0.05% throughout the day to see if it will improve their lives. This could easily have been a silly, far-fetched comedy but director Thomas Vinterberg isn't "preachy" and he's created real, honest human beings. The ending is the right one. Grade: B+.