Elvis Presley: A reverend once told me, “When things that are too dangerous to say, ‘sing’.”
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer(s): Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge

Synopsis: The life of American music icon Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Baz Luhrmann, an Australian film director, has a visually stunning aesthetic style that distinguishes him as one of the most captivating filmmakers globally. As an auteur, he is one of my favorites. Luhrmann’s approach is characterized by excess, color, energy, music, and a bombastic tone that can be polarizing. His style is both unmistakable and unparalleled among contemporary filmmakers. Lightning-fast editing and cinematography, complex romantic subplots, and plots that move at a breakneck pace are features of every Luhrmann film. His use of camera, music, and flamboyant characters adds to the uniqueness of his vision.

I especially love his first trilogy titled ‘The Red Curtain Trilogy,’ which explores themes of heartbreak, music, melancholy, and tragedy. Luhrmann’s technique of incorporating theatrical conventions to elevate films to spectacular and dizzying heights is referred to as “red curtain cinema.” This method is evident in the trilogy’s three films: Strictly Ballroom (1993), William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (1996), and Moulin Rouge (2001). Luhrmann’s trademark use of bright colors, fast-paced camera cuts and zooms, and bold costumes are all essential elements of his films. They help to underscore the themes and motifs that Luhrmann considers crucial in each of his works.

Growing up being a film enthusiast living in Melbourne, I instinctively identified Baz Luhrmann as a director worth keeping an eye on. Luhrmann, an Australian film director, producer, writer, and actor, has worked across various mediums, including film, television, opera, theatre, and music. He is known by many as a contemporary auteur due to his distinct style and extensive involvement in the writing, directing, design, and musical aspects of his projects. As the most commercially successful Australian director, four of his films are included in the top ten highest-grossing Australian films worldwide.

As soon as I heard that Baz Luhrmann was directing an ‘Elvis’ biopic, I was thrilled. In early 2020, renowned actor Tom Hanks revealed that he had contracted COVID-19 while filming ‘Elvis’ in Australia, which was one of the first mainstream news stories about the virus that would go on to affect everyone’s lives that year. Despite this setback, filming continued, and Luhrmann’s vision came to fruition when he released ‘Elvis‘ to the world last year.

Like other musical biopics such as 2018’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ and 2019’s ‘Rocketman,’ ‘Elvis‘ was a huge box office hit and went on to gross more than $276 million in theaters.

Elvis‘ is a biographical film that centers around the illustrious career of the iconic American singer and actor, Elvis Presley. The movie portrays Presley’s life, from his childhood to his rise to fame as a rock and movie star in the 1950s, all while navigating a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (portrayed in a campy, over-the-top performance by the great Tom Hanks).

Austin Butler delivers a tour de force performance as Elvis Presley in the biographical film. Butler flawlessly transforms into the music legend, earning widespread praise from critics and audiences alike. He expertly captures Presley’s signature swagger, flamboyant stage presence, powerful vocals, and vulnerable, introspective moments.

Butler worked extensively with Luhrmann to perfect Presley’s iconic strut and movements, and underwent rigorous vocal training to master his singing style. The result is a truly impressive and authentic portrayal of one of the most iconic musicians of all time.

Beyond his physical transformation, Butler effectively conveyed the emotional complexity of Presley’s life, delving into his struggles with his manager, drug use, and complicated relationships. He brought a depth and nuance to the character that made him feel like a fully realized human being rather than a mere caricature.

By skillfully navigating Presley’s personal demons, Butler’s performance adds a layer of realism to the portrayal of this beloved cultural icon. It is a testament to his talent as an actor and his dedication to the role.

Overall, Butler’s performance in “Elvis” stands out as one of the best performances of 2022, showcasing his exceptional skill as an actor and his unwavering dedication to the role. He not only expertly captured the spirit of one of the most iconic musicians of all time but also brought new insights and perspectives to his life and legacy.

By bringing Presley to life on the big screen with such authenticity and nuance, Butler’s portrayal will undoubtedly go down in cinematic history as one of the most memorable and impactful performances of our time.

The film delves into the life and music of Elvis Presley, offering a fresh perspective on the music legend through the lens of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The film explores the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker over two decades, spanning from Presley’s initial rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, set against the backdrop of America’s evolving cultural landscape and the loss of its innocence.

At the heart of Presley’s journey is one of the most influential and significant people in his life, Priscilla Presley (portrayed by Olivia DeJonge). Through her character, the film offers a unique insight into Presley’s personal life and the effect it had on his career and legacy.

The film’s most compelling storyline explores the tumultuous relationship between Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Parker began managing Presley in the mid-1950s and played a significant role in his rise to fame. However, their relationship was far from a typical business arrangement, and behind the scenes, things were often less than perfect.

Parker, an illegal immigrant who had changed his name and may not have even held a U.S. passport, had a mysterious tendency to reject numerous concert and tour offers for Elvis worldwide. Some speculate that this may have been the reason for his shady background. Furthermore, Parker meddled in Elvis’s personal life, including his marriage, family affairs, and film career, all in the pursuit of profit. Unfortunately, this behavior took a significant toll on Elvis’s mental state and ultimately led to his downfall.

The combination of Luhrmann’s visually stunning aesthetic and Butler’s exceptional performance elevates this music biopic into a timeless classic that transcends the genre.



Pádraic Súilleabháin: You used to be nice. Or did you never used to be? Oh, God. Maybe you never used to be.
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan

Synopsis: Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.

Friendship is an essential part of our lives as humans. We all desire to have meaningful connections with others and create long-lasting relationships. While it is relatively easy to make friends, keeping them can be challenging, especially as we grow older and our lives take different directions. In this film set against the backdrop of 1920’s Ireland, our main protagonist, Pádraic Súilleabháin, must deal with this existential question.

The central theme of the movie prompts introspection about the definition of friendship and the means to maintain it. Colin Farrell delivers an impressive performance as Pádraic Súilleabháin, whose biggest concern is how to preserve his friendship with his longtime friend, Colm Doherty (portrayed with remarkable gravitas by Brendan Gleeson). One morning he visits Colm only to be rejected without any explanation. Pádraic is a kind-hearted individual who finds solace in enjoying a drink with his mate. As the movie unfolds, viewers are compelled to reflect on their own relationships and the significance of maintaining them. One of the critical factors in maintaining friendships is communication. Communication helps to build trust, understanding, and respect between friends. It is essential to regularly check in with friends, listen actively, and respond to their needs. Regular communication ensures that you remain connected and informed about what is happening in each other’s lives. Additionally, it allows you to discuss challenges or conflicts that arise in the friendship, leading to a stronger bond. Colm disregards Pádraic with no explanation which is puzzling to him and makes the audience wonder what is going on too.

Martin McDonagh, the writer and director of the film, delivers a beautiful narrative with his calm and laid-back script. The movie features breathtaking Irish landscapes, with lush mountains and verdant greenery captured in stunning detail. The visual spectacle is a treat to watch and adds to the overall charm of the film.

In addition to exploring Pádraic’s friendship with Colm, the film delves into his relationship with his sister, Siobhán Súilleabháin, portrayed with heart-wrenching emotion by Kerry Condon. Siobhán is a meek, single Irish woman who yearns for a more exciting life. Despite her tough and straightforward demeanor, she deeply cares for her brother and empathizes with his situation. Furthermore, Pádraic and Siobhán take in Dominic Kearney, played brilliantly by Barry Keoghan. Initially introduced as the village fool, Dominic soon becomes a sympathetic friend to Pádraic during his moments of solitude.

As the film nears its conclusion, it takes a dark and introspective turn as Pádraic must come to terms with the loss of his friendship and the impact it has had on their community. Throughout the movie, we receive fragmented information about the Irish Civil War, a frequent topic of conversation among the islanders who hear the distant sound of rifles and canons. At one point, Pádraic admits to not knowing what the war is about, hinting at the film’s ultimate message. In the final scene, McDonagh draws a comparison between the war and Pádraic and Colm’s falling out. Colm tries to reconcile, discussing the war’s end and the cessation of fighting between him and his best friend. However, Pádraic, simmering with anger, cannot move on, and his gaze reveals his thoughts. The scene ends with Mrs. McCormick’s presence, draped in black, symbolizing the end of their friendship.

The film’s final moments, with a Banshee watching them from afar, provides a stark visual reminder of the rift between Pádraic and Colm, and the consequences of their lost friendship. The film leaves us pondering the value of friendship, the cost of losing it, and the tragedy of wars that cause irreparable harm, long after the fighting has stopped.



Jake Sully: I know one thing: wherever we go, this family… is our fortress.
Director: James Cameron
Writer(s): James Cameron, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis

Synopsis: Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their home.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge admirer of the film director James Cameron. He’s responsible for creating some of the highest-grossing and most beloved movies of all time, including the likes of Titanic (1997), The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He’s a true visionary in the industry, and his latest offering, Avatar: The Way of Water, is no exception. The film is a stunning follow-up to his 2009 blockbuster Avatar, and it once again showcases Cameron’s signature themes of environmentalism, family, the power and beauty of water, overcoming adversity, technology and its impact on humanity, self-discovery and personal growth. His ability to seamlessly weave these themes into his storytelling is one of the reasons he’s widely regarded as one of the most talented and accomplished directors of his generation.

In 2009, I had the pleasure of watching the original Avatar in 3D Imax, and I was completely mesmerized by its stunning visuals and use of 3D technology. Recently, I watched Avatar: The Way of Water in 3D at a Gold Class cinema, and I was once again captivated by the breathtaking scenery and immersive audio. It’s clear that James Cameron is a master filmmaker with an incredible vision that is truly amazing to behold. Avatar: TWOW takes place ten years after the original film with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington delivers a commanding performance in the role), now the Chief of the Omaticaya Clan, leading a peaceful life with his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana portrays the role with striking beauty and an exotic allure). and their children, including adopted daughter Kiri (73 year old Sigourney Weaver portrays the character with a youthful and playful energy, befitting of a teenager), sons Neteyam (played by Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton delivers a lively and spirited performance, imbuing the role with playful energy), and a human boy named Spider (Jack Champion portrays the character with animalistic qualities, adding depth and nuance to the performance) who was unable to be transported to Earth as an infant. Despite Neytiri’s distrust, the children get along well and enjoy each other’s company, with Spider embracing Na’vi culture over his human heritage. However, their idyllic existence is disrupted when they notice an RDA spaceship, carrying humans who plan to colonize Pandora once again, causing destruction in their wake. One of the new arrivals is Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang’s return to the role is marked by his commanding and brutal performance), now cloned into a Na’vi body and with his memories of his death erased. Despite his inability to recall his defeat at the hands of Jake, he remains determined to eliminate him as part of his vengeful mission.

To prevent the RDA from exploiting Pandora once again, Jake takes charge and leads a strategic guerrilla operation to weaken the RDA’s supply lines. During one of the operations, Lo’ak disobeys Neteyam and tries to assist Jake in battle, resulting in him getting wounded. Jake rescues and disciplines him to prevent him from endangering himself by being reckless. Later that night, while tending to Lo’ak’s wounds, Neytiri reminds Jake to not be too hard on their son, to which Jake expresses his concern for the safety of their children. Meanwhile, Quaritch initiates a search mission to kill Jake in retaliation for the attacks on their supply lines.

One day, Jake’s children, along with Spider, venture deeper into the rainforest. Unbeknownst to them, Quaritch and his team are in the area, exploring the site where Quaritch discovers his human remains. An observant Lo’ak notices their presence and quickly informs Jake. A skirmish ensues, and Quaritch’s squad captures Jake’s children. Although Jake and Neytiri manage to free most of them, Spider is taken by Quaritch, who recognizes him as his son. On the ship, the RDA attempts to extract information about Jake from Spider, who refuses to cooperate. In a change of strategy, Quaritch addresses Spider as his son and offers to explain more about the Na’vi in exchange for his freedom. Although uncooperative and unaware of Quaritch’s actual mission, Spider teaches him about Na’vi culture, and Quaritch is even able to successfully tame an Ikran flying creature as his vehicle.

To protect themselves from the danger posed by Spider’s knowledge of their whereabouts and to prevent another catastrophe, Jake persuades a hesitant Neytiri and his family to exile themselves from the Omaticaya Clan and seek refuge in Metkayina, a coral reef island inhabited by a clan that has adapted to Pandora’s aquatic environment. Jake passes on his role as chief to his successor and departs with his family to Metkayina. Upon arrival, they are met by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis delivers a performance that is both compassionate and commanding), the clan chief, and his initially skeptical wife Ronal (Kate Winslet delivers a standout performance in the role, seamlessly disappearing into the character’s ethnicity while bringing a brilliant level of nuance and depth to the portrayal). Jake explains their predicament, and they are granted permission to stay and provided with shelter. Although some of the tribesmen ridicule Jake and his children for their human heritage, the family assimilates into the reef people’s way of life and earns their respect. Kiri is captivated by the aquatic life of Metkayina and establishes a spiritual connection with the sea and its inhabitants, while Lo’ak becomes friends with Tsireya (played with stunning beauty and captivating gaze by Bailey Bass), the daughter of Tonowari and Ronal.

As Lo’ak adjusts to life in his new environment, he becomes embroiled in a conflict with Tsireya’s brother, Aonung, who makes a crude joke about Lo’ak and Kiri’s mixed human lineage. Jake scolds Lo’ak for his behavior and encourages him to apologize to Aonung and his friends. However, Aonung and his companions trick Lo’ak into venturing into the territory of a dangerous sea predator, the akula, and leave him stranded as revenge. The akula attacks Lo’ak, but he is saved and befriended by Payakan, a tulkun, a cetacean species revered as spiritual family by the Metkayina. Lo’ak communicates with Payakan through signing and removes an old harpoon head from the beast’s fin. Upon his return to Metkayina, Chief Tonowari discovers Aonung’s deceit and insists that he apologize to Lo’ak, but Lo’ak takes the blame himself and earns Aonung’s friendship. He also learns that Payakan is an outcast among his kind.

The film is visually stunning, and I highly recommend watching it in IMAX 3D or Gold Class 3D if possible. Cameron transports you to another world and immerses you in the beauty of Pandora. Each frame is a masterpiece, from the vibrant Pandoran forest to the breathtaking water world of Awa’atlu, the Metkayina Clan’s village off the coast of the Eastern Sea. The film’s stunning creatures and landscapes are portrayed with Cameron’s eye for majesty, making it difficult to look away. While the film’s characters and dialogue can be clumsy at times, which is typical of a James Cameron film, the film’s action and beauty make up for it. In my opinion, this film surpasses the original and opens up new possibilities for the world of Pandora, making it a potential science-fiction fantasy franchise on par with Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. I’m excited to see what comes next.


The 95th Academy Awards, Best Picture Nominees: The Oscars 2023 Review: All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

General Friedrichs: What is a soldier without war?
Director: Edward Berger
Writer(s): Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, Ian Stokell and based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque
Starring: Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Daniel Brühl

Synopsis: A young German soldier’s terrifying experiences and distress on the western front during World War I.

As a teen I remember watching ‘Saving Private Ryan‘ in theaters and the traumatic impact of its opening scene remains vivid. The film’s opening is permeated with shocking and disturbing imagery that further intensifies the experience. I was shocked at the brutality but also enthralled with Steven Spielberg’s vision. This was the first time I saw the war depicted on screen in such a horrific way. During my childhood, I was exposed to a variety of war movies that were equally disturbing. Films such as Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Apocalypse Now, and Full Metal Jacket provided a shocking portrayal of the brutalities of war. These movies instilled in me a deep sense of fear about the prospect of being drafted and experiencing a future as bleak as the protagonists in those films. As a child, I was drawn to war films, and Saving Private Ryan was the pinnacle of that genre for me. I loved the movie, but I don’t remember ever experiencing a war film as intense and immersive as that until now. The film’s visceral depiction of the brutality and chaos of war was unparalleled, and it left a lasting impression on me. The movie conveyed a sense of realism and authenticity that I had not seen before, and it was as if I was right there alongside the soldiers, experiencing their struggles and triumphs firsthand. Even now, as an adult, I continue to be captivated by the power of Saving Private Ryan, and it remains one of my all-time favorite war films. Over the years, there have been many great war films that have left a significant impact on me, including Downfall and Inglourious Basterds (more for it’s ambition). However, none of them had the same emotional impact as Saving Private Ryan, until now.

All Quiet on the Western Front is a new war film that was able to match the intensity and realism of Saving Private Ryan. The film depicted the horrors of war in a way that was both raw and authentic, and it was as if I was transported to the battlefield, experiencing the events alongside the soldiers. The movie was a stark reminder of the senselessness and tragedy of war, and it left me feeling shaken and reflective. Although Saving Private Ryan will always hold a special place in my heart, this new war film proved to be just as powerful and thought-provoking.

The film follows a German soldier named, Paul Bäumer, (played intensely by Felix Kammerer) in World War I, the experience of battle was both grueling and harrowing. He was part of a generation of young men who had been trained to believe that war was an honorable endeavor, a duty to one’s country. But the reality was far different from the patriotic propaganda they had been fed. The trenches were dark and damp, and the soldiers were constantly under the threat of bombardment from the enemy. The smell of death and decay was ever present, and disease was rampant. Paul will see comrades fall beside him, their bodies ripped apart by bullets or blown to pieces by explosives. The horrors of war are etched into his memory forever. Despite the hardships, however, there was a sense of camaraderie amongst his fellow soldiers, and a belief that they were fighting for something greater than themselves. But as the war dragged on, and the casualties mounted, it became increasingly difficult to maintain that sense of purpose and the film takes its time to vividly illustrate just how far a soldier can fall in the face of war. The audience is given a raw and unflinching glimpse into the harrowing experiences and emotional toll that combat takes on a soldier. The film exposes the physical and psychological trauma that soldiers endure, as well as the mental and emotional challenges of being away from loved ones for extended periods. It shows how the brutal realities of war can change a person, often leaving them feeling broken and disillusioned. The film’s attention to detail and commitment to realism make it a poignant and sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers in times of conflict.

It’s unfortunate that the themes depicted in this film continue to be relevant today. As of 2023, conflicts and wars around the world are ongoing, and many people are experiencing the same harrowing situations depicted in these films. The ongoing Russian bombing of Ukraine and the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan are just a couple of examples of the continued violence and instability in many parts of the world. It’s important to remember that war and conflict have devastating consequences, affecting the lives of innocent civilians and causing long-lasting damage to communities and societies. It’s a sobering reminder of the ongoing need for peace and diplomacy, as well as the importance of supporting those who are affected by war and its aftermath.



Will Smith: What’s your daughter’s name?
Ollie: Gertrude.
Will Smith: Damn, why’d you do that, man?
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, George Carlin and Jennifer Lopez

Synopsis: After being sidelined by an unexpected tragedy and personal issues, a widower is left to care for his precocious daughter and work towards rebuilding his life and career.

Jersey Girl is Kevin Smith’s attempt at moving on from his New Jersey comedies featuring Jay and Silent Bob. He wanted to make something deeper and more personal. It shows with the sweet story of a father raising his daughter after the death of her mother during child birth. Great performances from Ben Affleck and the extremely cute Raquel Castro as Gertie his daughter. The film mirrors Kevin’s life at the time as he just had a daughter with his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, and was dealing with fatherhood. Lucky for Kevin his wife survived the pregnancy.

The film opens with Ben Affleck as Ollie Trinke a Music Executive who is madly in love with Gertrude Steiney (played by Jennifer Lopez). The opening montage shows them falling in love, meeting Ollie’s dad (played charmingly by George Carlin), getting married, getting pregnant and then Gertrude passing away. It is sweet and and well established showing Smith’s maturity as a filmmaker.

Unfortunately at the time the film was marred by the public backlash of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s flop ‘Gigli’ and their over publicized romance. In a cruel twist of irony now in 2022 Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are back together and everyone loves them as a couple. Too bad Kevin Smith didn’t make the movie now it would have been a hit. The film however didn’t deserve the backlash as it is a sweetly told story of a man growing up with his daughter. The dialogue is as strong and witty as Smith’s earlier films but shows more maturity in its subject matter. Instead of early twenty year old men hanging out at a grocery store or mall this film deals with a young man learning to be a father.

Liv Tyler is sweet and sexy as Maya a video store clerk who develops a relationship with Ollie. As the film progresses it gets a bit too sentimental and it’s not as entertaining throughout as Smith’s former works, although Smith’s raunchy humour continues throughout in his dialogue. It’s overshadowed by the mawkish plot and the over reliance of the fatherhood messages. Despite good performances from Ben Affleck and Raquel Castro, Smith’s attempt at a more adult orientated comedy drama doesn’t have enough memorable scenes, fun dialogue or entertaining characters like his previous films to rise above his oeuvre.


January 2023


As I jump back into completing my Masters in Media this year I want to update this blog more consistently. As I watch so many movies and television I often don’t have time to post about every single one so I will now make a monthly update of everything I’ve been watching from television to cinema.


Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (2022)

2 Stars

Excellent performance from Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston. Unfortunately the film is just a greatest hits collection of her songs. All the real drama is fluffed over with hope being the main theme pushed throughout the film. Everyone comes out looking good from Stanley Gucci’s Clive Davis to Ashton Sanders Bobby Brown. Her gay past is glossed over and her fathers betrayal is also glossed over. This film could’ve been a lot stronger. Better off listening to the real Whitney’s greatest hits in your car or walking the dog on your AirPods.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

4.5 Stars 

James Cameron’s long awaited sequel to 2009’s biggest film ‘Avatar’. Cameron wisely doesn’t repeat the plot of the original but moves forward exploring the world of Pandora and beyond. Sixteen years after the Na’vi repelled the invasion of Pandora, Jake Sully (played again by gruff Australian Sam Worthington) lives as chief of the Omatikaya clan peacefully and prosperous, and raises a family with Neytiri (the beautiful and exotic Zoe Saldaña), which includes sons Neteyam and Lo’ak, daughter Tuk, and adopted children Kiri (born from Grace Augustine’s inert avatar) and Spider, the Pandora-born human son of the late Colonel Miles Quaritch.

Visually the film is amazing. I would recommend seeing it in IMAX 3D or Gold Class 3D if you can. This is a film where you are transported to another world and you just don’t want to leave. Every frame is a painting in Pandora. The luscious beauty of the Pandoran forest to the amazing water world of Awa’atlu, a Metkayina Clan village off the coast of the Eastern Sea. Every creature and landscape is beautifully realised and portrayed with Cameron’s eye for majesty. The film’s characters and dialogue can be clunky at times which is standard for a James Cameron film however with so much action and beauty you can overlook it. I think this film is better than the original and really expands the world to new possibilities and could be the new Star Wars or Lord of the Rings franchise for its science-fiction fantasy storytelling and as an amazing new world to watch on screen. I can’t wait for more.

Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

3 Stars 

It’s classic Twilight Zone meets Mad Men in this disturbing commentary on post-covid lifestyles. The film has exciting performances from Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Kiki Layne and Gemma Chan who drive the film into a more interesting narrative. The film revolves around a 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community. Alice (get the reference?), played by Florence Pugh begins to worry that her husband’s glamorous company could be hiding disturbing secrets. Overall the film is fun to watch with the mysteries leaving you guessing however it could have been a lot better and the climax ultimately fails. Perhaps a different director could have pushed this into classic territory.

True Lies (1994)

4 Stars 

After enjoying Avatar so much I have gone back to check out James Cameron’s previous films. This popped up on Disney Plus and I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid. The film holds up as one of the better Arnold Schwarznegger 90’s action spectacles. Arnie stars as a James Bond-esque undercover spy who is lying to his wife and daughter about what he really does. Jamie Lee Curtis plays his wife who is tired of her boring life and seeks adventure. The middle-eastern villains don’t quite hold up in this post-9/11 world however if you enjoy it for it’s broad comedy and amazing set pieces this is a fun night at home.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022)

1 Star

As the school holidays come and go the cinemas need family fare to get the kids into their local Village or Hoyts cinema. This family film had potential with an interesting concept and great cast. However it seems the writers, producers and director all gave up halfway through and just went to collect their checks because the plot, character motivations, direction and overall narrative don’t make any sense and just jump from scene to scene with no coherent narrative. I was lost about ten minutes into it which is a shame because this could have been a fun musical for the children. Not recommended.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022)

4 Stars

The other holiday family film is actually pretty great. A spin-off from the Shrek franchise, this film continues the parodied world of Fairytales, this one focusing on Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas). He is on a quest to get a wish for nine more lives as his adventurous life is about to run out. Other fairy tale characters included are Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Jack Horner (voiced hilariously by John Mulaney). The film is fun from beginning to end and works for both parents and children. Recommend.

Daddy Day Care (2003)

2 Stars

This family friendly feature is available on Netflix at the moment and is an easy watch for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin and Steve Zahn are fun as corporate business men who are forced to run a daycare when they are fired from their jobs. This film is fun for the family but isn’t memorable enough to rank with Eddie’s other better family features such as Shrek or The Nutty Professor.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre (2023)

2.5 Stars

A pretty average heist movie starring Jason Statham and directed by Guy Ritchie. Aubrey Plaza and Hugh Grant shine but Josh Hartnett is miscast as a Leonardo DiCaprio-esque movie star. The film would have been a lot better and funnier with a real movie star however overall it was still a fun time at the movies if you enjoy watching Statham kick ass!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

3 Stars

The iconic family film based on Roald Dahl’s crazy book. Gene Wilder is fabulous as Willy Wonka the deranged candy store owner who allows five children to explore his factory of wonders. It has a 70s charm that the remake doesn’t have however I prefer Tim Burton’s vision.

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

4.5 Stars

Who are you? What life could you have lived? In the possibility of multi-dimensions we can see what life could have brought us if we went down a different path. This is the main plot of Everything Everywhere All At Once and it is brilliant, innovative and completely different from any other film from the past few years. It reminds me of Being John Malkovich or The Matrix or Mad Max: Fury Road, the type of film so original and innovative that it will be studied in Media class and referred to for a long time. It is a really special film. It’s filled with fantastic performances and amazing visuals. The climax is a bit bloated and nearly crosses the line with the insanity but it’s still a powerful picture that will be remembered. Michelle Yeoh gives a tour de force performance as an ordinary Asian laundry manager who works with her husband Waymond (played by the excellent Ke Huy Quan) and needs to plan a birthday for her father (James Hong), deal with her daughter, Joy (another amazing performance from Stephanie Hsu) and negotiate with an angry tax accountant (hilariously portrayed by the great Jamie Lee Curtis). The film uses this simple scenario to jump into different universes and explore what life is all about. Dealing with relationships, marriage, parenthood and the road not taken. Amazing film that is already getting award buzz.

The Piano (1993)

3 Stars

New Zealand director Jane Campion’s visually stunning 90s art house and Oscar sensation is a great piece of Australian/New Zealand cinema history. Starring Holly Hunter as a mute lady with a daughter who translates for her, an amazing performance from Anna Pacquin. She arrives as a settler in New Zealand which has just been occupied by the English. It’s a period film which shows the struggle of the English settlement over New Zealand and the effect on the land and its indigenous natives. The film is beautiful visually with the ocean dominating the landscape. Sam Neil and Harvey Keitel also star.

The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

1.5 Stars

Jane Campion’s follow up to The Piano is a slow period drama which isn’t as strong or interesting as The Piano. Another period drama with Nicole Kidman stars as an American heiress and free thinker who travels to Europe to find herself. Very slow paced and not as interesting as her other works.

Holy Smoke (1999)

3 Stars

A sweaty and crazy film from Jane Campion. Starring Kate Winslett as a cult follower who needs to be deprogramed by a specialist played by the awesome Harvey Keitel. The film becomes a battle of the sexes as Winslett’s character is not so easy to manipulate. An interesting and fun Australian film from the late 90s that is somewhat forgotten in the arthouse circle as 1999 was such a massive year for arthouse breakouts.

Avatar: The Extended Cut (2009)

5 Stars

Watching the original in Imax in 2009 I didn’t really get on board with this film. Everyone was blown away but I thought it was a pretty standard narrative with a basic plot and characters. However after watching the sequel and enjoying it so much I gave the extended edition on Blu Ray a shot. I’m glad I did because the film looks amazing in high definition and the added scenes add more to the world of Pandora and gives more pathos to the characters and ultimately tells a better story than the simple one I watched in 2009. This film builds on the lore and mythology that Cameron is creating and it now stands with George Lucas’s science-fiction fantasy world of Star Wars as one of the great fantasy worlds in pop culture.


Breaking Bad Season 1 (2008)

3 Stars

Our introduction to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman iconically played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in this crime drama which would go on to become one of the best shows of the 21st century.

Breaking Bad Season 2 (2009)

4.5 Stars

The season that began building up to the show’s brilliance. Introducing Saul Goodman, Gus Fring, Jane Margolis and Mike Erhmantraut. The series leant into Walt’s battle between good and evil. Being a good husband and father or an evil drug kingpin. We know who wins but it’s great to see the fight. Jesse has an excellent arc with his relationship with Jane played by the excellent Krysten Ritter. All performances are top notch especially Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Bob Odenkirk.

Breaking Bad Season 3 (2010)

4 Stars

The season starts off pretty slow with no real direction. Walt is abandoned by Skylar and living in a hotel not cooking. Jesse is in recovery and depressed over Jane. Gus and Saul try to get Walt back to cook and the twin Mexican brothers threaten to kill both Walt and Hank. It isn’t until episode seven; One Minute, that the tension begins to rise again up onto the incredible finale. Still one of the best acted, directed and shot television shows of the 2000s. Iconic television.

The White Lotus (2022)

3 Stars

The odd anthology drama which deals with identity, sex, relationships and families this season is set in Italy. Italy is amazingly shot and every frame looks beautiful. Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya McQuaid is the only returning character from season one. As she was such a scene stealer she is a welcome presence in season two. Other characters include Dominic Di Grasso (played by the excellent Michael Imperioli) as an Italian-American father whose wife has left him due to his constant cheating. He is joined by his father (hilariously portrayed by F. Murray Abraham) and his son, Albie (played by Adam DiMarco in a great performance) as his shy, socially awkward but eager son. They all get involved with two hookers, Lucia and Mia. Also we have Cameron and Daphne Sullivan (played by Theo James and Meghann Fahy), a vain and rich white couple from America who have brought along their friends, Ethan and Harper Spiller (played by Will Sharpe and the superb Aubrey Plaza). We also have the returning Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (played by the irreplaceable Jennifer Coolidge) who is still struggling with her relationships, this time with her husband, Greg (played by the hapless Jon Gries) and her unfortunate assistant, Portia (played by the luminous, Haley Lu Richardson). All of them get entangled in another murder mystery.