Mini Review - Lost Illusions
Lost Illusions (out Jun 23) is a French 19th Century drama which won seven César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars) including best film and best adapted screenplay. It’s a fascinating tale about a young journalist caught up in a dodgy media world. It’s filled with rich, interesting characters playing power games and trying to outmanoeuvre their adversaries. One of the year’s best. Grade: A.
Mini Review - Elvis
Elvis (out Jun 23) is a wide encompassing biopic directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann. I was lukewarm about the opening hour – it’s a torrent of sound and visuals with barely any time for meaningful conversations. The film settled in the second-half and, thanks to a wonderful lead performance from star Austin Butler, provides audiences with more insight into his talent as well as his strengths and weaknesses. Grade: B.
Mini Review - My Sweet Monster
My Sweet Monster (out Jun 23) is a Russian animated feature involving a princess in search of a prince which has been dubbed into English and released to coincide with the school holidays. The musical numbers are the least convincing part given the mouth movements don't line up with the words. Very underwhelming. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - Lightyear
Lightyear (out Jun 16) is an animated film within an animated film. It's the movie first watched by the 6-year-old Andy from Toy Story (1995) which inspired his parents to buy the Buzz Lightyear toy. The themes are pushed too hard (yay teamwork!) and Buzz is a very one-dimensional character... but these weaknesses are offset by a nice supporting cast including an eccentric crew, a robot cat, and a talking auto-pilot device named I.V.A.N. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Men
Men (out Jun 16) is the kind of film that makes you go “what the hell did I just watch?" A grieving woman (Jessie Buckley) goes on holidays in a small English village and meets a series of male townsfolk (all played by Rory Kinnear). This is an original, unsettling drama-thriller that is open to interpretation. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - The Kitchen Brigade
The Kitchen Brigade (out Jun 16) is a French drama about an arrogant chef who loses her job at a renowned restaurant and gets a much-needed dose of humility after accepting a new job as a cook in a small youth hostel. It doesn't always make sense... but it's feel-good nature will win many over. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Jurassic World Dominion
Jurassic World Dominion is the 6th film in the franchise and represents a “coming together” of characters from previous movies. The two stars of the 1993 original, Sam Neill and Laura Dern, interact with the two stars from the more recent flicks. It ticks a few boxes but not quite enough to make this a distinctive, original, memorable adventure. Weak villain. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - A Hero
A Hero (out Jun 9) won the Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and is a terrific film where the performances are as a strong as the screenplay. It solidifies the reputation of Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi as one who creates complex stories filled with equally complex characters. A movie about truth, fiction, and the greyness that lies in between. Grade: A-.