Podcast patron saint Tom Hiddleston has a new movie out, so obviously we were there for it. A B-grade King Kong flick with an A-grade cast and production values, Kong: Skull Island lives up to the awesome Apocalypse Now-inspired trailer that got us excited a few months ago. Newbie director Jordan Vogt-Roberts shows a deft hand, managing well-integrated CG and gorgeous visuals while keeping the big-name cast in check to deliver perfectly-pitched performances. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but at the same time it’s fresh and fun and a damn fine way to spend an afternoon at the cinema.
Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine promised a gritty, adult movie about the end of the world, and with good support from Patrick Stewart and director James Mangold, it does what it says on the tin. Is it the saviour of the superhero genre it’s been made out to be? No. But it is trying something different, and drawing on broader film influences that suit the perpetually grumpy Logan, while giving us a bittersweet story about caregiving and passing the torch.
We review Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, and find that it’s worth seeing, if a little fast and furious. It presents some very serious information in an accessible and palatable way, is beautifully shot and made, and will help you show receipts the next time you’re faced with white folks claiming racism is over. It does, however, have a little of the feeling of a history class, and as it gets closer to its run time it does tend to skip over some of the more interesting things it brings up.
Published 15 February 2017 • 41 minutes, 30 seconds
We went to see this feeling a little conflicted, not wanting to support Casey Affleck or his alleged treatment of some of his female co-workers, but we didn’t feel like our Oscar preparation would be complete without it. It’s pretty good, if a little well-worn, and the story could do with some better structuring, but the cast are great, it looks amazing and it will hit you in the feels.
Published 8 February 2017 • 31 minutes, 29 seconds
This already-beloved film tells the story of three black women mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn, all of whom contributed to the US space program in significant ways. It is a sweet, fun historical picture with broad popular appeal. While we didn’t love it as much as we hoped we would, it is well worth your time, especially if you’re looking for something the whole family can enjoy.
Published 1 February 2017 • 39 minutes, 24 seconds
After a promising debut with Belle, Amma Assante is back with another little-told piece of black history. The real-life story of Seretse Khama, a prince and ruler of Botswana, and his white English wife Ruth Williams, it features the excellent David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike and makes the most of its glorious African location. Unfortunately, like Belle, it suffers a bit from under-done pacing and storytelling.
Natalie Portman’s second Oscar campaign is afoot, for this portrayal of former US First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the minutes and days following her husband’s assassination. The acting is top notch, and some moments in the film are extremely effective in capturing shocking, traumatic grief, but it does start to drag towards the end, as the amount of material struggles to fill it’s short run time.
Published 18 January 2017 • 36 minutes, 23 seconds
This gentle, beautiful film has been generating a lot of buzz, and it’s absolutely justified. It’s the story of a boy, Chiron, dealing with some pretty tough circumstances and overwhelming feelings as a child, a teenager and as a young adult. Born to an abusive, addicted mother, and in love with his (male) best friend, this immersive story puts you right in Chiron’s shoes, delivering a transportive experience.
Published 11 January 2017 • 33 minutes, 22 seconds
The early awards season favourite LA LA LAND arrived in Australia on Boxing Day, and being big musical fans, we were there for it. While it isn’t the masterpiece some people seem to think, it does have its moments. It is helmed by the technically dazzling Damien Chazelle (WHIPLASH) and features the talented John Legend in a small role. It’s let down, however, by the lack of singing and dancing skills of its otherwise charming and charismatic leads.