Mini Review - Waves
Waves (out Jul 9) follows a high school senior (Kelvin Harrison Jr) spirals out of control after a series of events. This is a tense, unrelenting film and there’s not a lot of reprieve for audiences. It’s like watching someone self-destruct in slow motion and yet be powerless to stop them. The message resonates strongly - love has the power to both divide and unite us. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - A White, White Day
A White, White Day (out Jul 9) takes place in Iceland and delves into the universal themes of death and grief. It's a patient/slow (take your pick) observational drama centred on an elderly man dealing with the loss of his wife. It’s only scratching the surface when it comes to character development and I wasn’t won over by the finale’s sudden change of pace and its big revelations. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Shirley
Shirley (out Jul 9) provides a glimpse into the mind of reclusive 20th Century writer Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House). Elizabeth Moss deserves praise for illustrating the title character's eccentricities but the script isn't particularly interesting. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - The Personal History of David Copperfield
The Personal History of David Copperfield (out Jul 2) is from comedy director Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, Veep) and is a colourful, lively adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel. I'm not convinced it adds up to a lot but the quality cast (headlined by Dev Patel) make it as fun as possible. Grade: B.
Mini Review - The Assistant
The Assistant (out Jul 2) follows a single day in the life of a newly employed female assistant (Julia Garner) at a film production company. Using dialogue only when necessary, this is a compelling character study that delves into toxic workplace culture and a flawed work-life balance. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarves
Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarves (out Jul 2) tries to put a different spin on the famed Snow White fable but with weird musical interludes and a muddled narrative, the end result is peculiar. Feels more like a simplistic afternoon kids’ cartoon than a meatier feature film. Grade: C.
Mini Review - A Son
A Son (out Jul 2) is a heavy Tunisian drama about a husband and wife who have to make difficult discussions when their young son is critically injured in a terrorist attack. There are a few lulls in the narrative but it still offers insight into the lives and customs of this North African country (seldom depicted on screen). Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Master Cheng
Master Cheng (out Jul 2) is the story of a Chinese chef and his young son who travel to Finland to visit an old friend. Landing a job in a small cafe, he opens the taste buds of the Finnish locals to the world of Asian food. It's corny and overly sentimental in places but it's still a sweet crowd pleaser that will get your stomach rumbling. Grade: B+.