Mini Review - The Boy and the Heron
The Boy and the Heron (out Dec 7) is the final film (apparently) of legendary director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and is a hand-drawn animated feature about a 12-year-old whisked into an assortment of alternate words. Enjoyed the animation and music but, aside from the final 20 minutes, the weird mix of storylines don't generate much humour or emotion. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Master Gardener
Master Gardener (out Dec 7) is a slow-paced drama from director Paul Schrader about a felon-turned-horticulturalist (Joel Edgerton), his boss (Sigourney Weaver), and her grandniece (Quintessa Swindell). The conversations (with a little narration) didn't do enough to have me care about these characters or their fate. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Silent Night
Silent Night (out Dec 7) is a John Woo action flick about an ordinary parent who turns into a vicious vigilante following a tragic event. The fight sequences ain't too bad but the film's big novelty (no dialogue) wears thin quickly. There are only so many facial expressions in star Joel Kinnaman's repertoire. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Bottoms
Bottoms (out Nov 30) is a comedy centred on two unpopular female high school students who start a fight club for nefarious reasons. Liked the cast but the dialogue is over-written and the broader plot is too goofy. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Uproar
Uproar (out Nov 30) is formulaic but still very likeable. It's a New Zealand film, set in the 1980s, about a high school kid forced to pick a side in a simmering political landscape. Finds the right balance between humour, drama, and feel-good. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - The Old Oak
The Old Oak (out Nov 30) is the latest (and perhaps final) film of director Ken Loach. It's the story of a small, declining town in Northern England who becomes divided when a large group of Syrian refugees move in. With great casting, it's a film to be admired for astutely capturing the best and worst of the human condition. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Trolls Band Together
Trolls Band Together (out Nov 30) is an adequate animated feature which continues the franchise. It's easy to follow and the villains are fun... but the musical numbers don't add much. For kids, not adults. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Napoleon
Napoleon (out Nov 23) struggles to compress 28 years into 2.5 hours and while it doesn’t quite work as an historical drama (the battle scenes become tiring), it does work as a darker comedy and with the exploration of the love-hate relationship between French leader Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Josephine. Grade: B.