Mini Review - Matilda the Musical
Matilda the Musical (out Dec 8) is a film musical based on a stage musical based on a book. The stage show is one of the best of the 21st Century - a rich, dark kids tale (a rarity) with a fantastic score. It's nice to see it on the big screen with a likeable cast (Alisha Weir is sensational) but the direction of the musical numbers is uninspiring (they don't flow well). Grade: B+.
Mini Review - The Road Dance
The Road Dance (out Dec 8) is an early 20th Century tale about a young Scottish woman who, after an unspeakably traumatic event, must make decisions which will change her life forever. It takes a little while to get going but the ending packs an emotional punch. Star Hermione Corfield is very good. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Violent Night
Violent Night (out Dec 1) is set on Christmas Eve and sees Santa Claus (David Harbour) stumbling across an elaborate home invasion while delivering presents. This is part Tarantino with its violence and part Disney with its syrupy, family themes. The writers struggle to make it gel. The family is one-dimensional, the villains are goofy morons, and the film relies totally on unexpected violence to win laughs. Not good. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Little Eggs: An African Rescue
Little Eggs: An African Rescue (out Dec 1) is an animated feature about Russian egg collectors who have kidnapped talking eggs for their own villainous purposes. This is weird and too hectic. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Stars at Noon
Stars at Noon (out Dec 1) stars Margaret Qualley as an American journalist stuck in Nicaragua during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic who gets into trouble with local authorities after a negative article about kidnappings and hangings. The slow pace may annoy some but I enjoyed this as an interesting character study (she's a flawed hero) with a great music score. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Kompromat
Kompromat (out Dec 1) is based on actual events and is the tale of a Alliance française director posted to Russia who convicted of false crimes after getting on the wrong side of government officials. It's clunky in the way it portrays the lead (he's so smart at times and so dumb at other times) but it's still an interesting true story which highlights Russian corruption within the government, media, and judiciary. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Beyond the Reef
Beyond the Reef (out Dec 1) is a rarity - an Australian documentary targeted at teenagers. An energetic host takes us on an educational, visual and culinary journey across the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, It is not offering any great revelations but it knows its audience. Easy to like. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (out Nov 24) is a fun, easy-to-enjoy sequel to the 2019 original. Detective Benoit Blanc is invited to a murder mystery party but things get weird when an actual murder takes place. Grade: B+.