Tag Archives: genre: drama

Fast Five Review: Churchill

churchillblogbannerfinalChurchill
Biography, Drama | 2017 | Reviewed by Michelle

It’s June, 1944, and with only a couple of days to go until the invasion of Normandy – a military operation that, one way or another, promises to turn the war in Europe around – Winston Churchill tries desperately to cancel the mission, fearing it will be a disaster.

1) Did you like the film?

I didn’t hate it. I was a bit meh about this film, to be brutally honest…

2) Why?

I’m sure the acting is good. The attention to detail is good too – expect a lot of shiny black cars and wide shots to show off lavish interiors. But really, Churchill is all a little dull. The Winston Churchill of this film is a complicated figure, bogged down in his own guilt over his role in the Gallipoli campaign back in the First World War (every Australian knows how that one played out…). He spends most of the film as a blustering, dundering old windbag, frail with age and completely shocked that no one will take him seriously. He’s petty, arrogant…need I go on? Yeah, I get that the film is trying to set him up as a flawed figure, and that this is a story of redemption. And it’s not that I’m averse to flawed characters – in fact, quite the opposite. But there’s just very little about this story that feels new or interesting or necessary in any way.

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3) You’ll enjoy this movie if…

You’d probably get more out of this if you were into biopics or history.

4) This film made me think about…

Okay, it did make me more interested in the actual history of World War II. So that’s something.

5) Overall rating?

2.5-stars

Fast Five Review: My Cousin Rachel

mycousinrachelbannerfinalMy Cousin Rachel
Drama | 2017 | Reviewed by Michelle

Philip is an orphan, raised by his slightly older cousin, Ambrose, who he came to regard as a father. But when Ambrose travels alone to Italy and falls in love with a woman named Rachel, Philip can’t help but feel neglected. Soon, word arrives that Ambrose and Rachel are married – and then, Ambrose’s letters home begin to take a worrying tone. Ambrose is sick, and blames Rachel for his illness. When Ambrose dies in Italy, Philip is furious, and is determined to confront Rachel, who he is convinced is directly responsible for Ambrose’s death. However, upon meeting Rachel – young, beautiful, mysterious Rachel – Philip is suddenly lost for words…

1) Did you like the film?

I really enjoyed My Cousin Rachel, and if literary adaptations, fancy costumes and repressed sexual tension are your jam, then I think you’ll love it too.

mycousinrachel2) Why?

What, fancy costumes and repressed sexual tension aren’t enough to convince you? Okay, fine – from the very first scene, My Cousin Rachel will grab you and won’t let go until its thrilling conclusion. If you’re looking for something romantic – say, along the lines of Pride and Prejudice, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. This isn’t a love story. My Cousin Rachel is dark and twisted and dripping with drama.

3) You’ll enjoy this movie if…

I’ll say it again – My Cousin Rachel is a literary adaptation (based on the book by Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca), it has fancy costumes galore, the repressed sexual tension will fog up your television screen…and did I forgot to mention Game of Thrones’ Ser Jorah Mormont is in it?

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(…All the other actors are A+ too.)

4) This film made me think about…

I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read the book. I need to fix that…where’s the nearest library?

5) Overall rating?

4.5-stars

 

Fast Five Review: Adult Life Skills

adultlifeskillsbannerAdult Life Skills
Comedy | 2016
Reviewed by Michelle

Whether she’s ready or not, Anna is about to turn thirty. She lives in her mum’s garden shed, works at a depressing adventure camp for kids and spends her free time making videos of her thumbs with faces drawn on them, providing the voices as they bicker about life, the universe and everything in a rocket ship hurtling through space. As her life spirals out of control, Anna’s mum issues her an ultimatum: she needs to get her act together and move out before her thirtieth birthday. Or else.

1) Did you like this film?

I most certainly did! I had no idea what to expect from Adult Life Skills and was pleasantly surprised. This British indie film completely won me over.

2) Why?

This is a delightfully warped film about grief that’s genuinely funny, and sad, and weird, and thought-provoking – and all at the same time. Jodie Whittaker is captivating in the lead role (it took me ages to work out why her name seemed vaguely familiar…) and the film’s soundtrack is just perfect. Sure, there are a few narrative loose threads, but as a whole, Adult Life Skills is a little film with a giant-sized heart.

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3) You’ll enjoy this movie if…

You don’t mind comedy that makes you laugh one moment and cry the next.

4) This film made me think about…

Last week, I reviewed (and loved!) a feminist film written and directed by a guy, and I had a bit of a rant about how we need more female film critics. But I think I got it wrong. It’s not that we need more female critics – there are heaps of them already out there, working away. What we do need is to place a greater value on the work of female critics, female producers, female writers…and female creators in general. Like Rachel Tunnard, the writer and director behind Adult Life Skills. I’m already looking forward to whatever she does next.

5) Overall rating?

Two thumbs up from me, as well as four stars.

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4-stars

Fast Five Review: American Gods

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American Gods

Drama | Television Series | 2017
Reviewed by Jennifer

Shadow Moon embarks on a road trip across America with enigmatic conman Mr Wednesday. On their journey, Shadow discovers that Mr Wednesday is one of the old gods, who warns of a war brewing between the forgotten gods of myth and the new American gods of money, technology and media. As Shadow finds himself embroiled in this world of gods among men, he has a choice to make. Should he follow Mr Wednesday into battle and find out more about his own mysterious past or attempt to reconcile with his recently deceased wife, who has now returned from the grave?

1) Did you like it?

Yes. I loved the Neil Gaiman book it’s based on, and have been looking forward to the TV adaptation for a while. I think it was worth the wait, though I’m only about halfway through the series as I write this.

2) Why?

The original book of American Gods is a series of intricately woven, atmospheric, intertwined tales, with a grounding in history, religion and mythology, all held together by the main narrative. Book adaptations are always a bit of coin toss, and this one presents many challenges. But to my eyes, the TV series retains the nuances of the book – due in part, I’m sure, to the fact that Gaiman was involved in the screenwriting process. The characters look exactly the way I imagined, and the whole show is beautiful, visually.

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While the decision to create an R-rated show made with online streaming in mind may seem like a cynical attempt by Amazon to compete with Game of Thrones and the swarm of Netflix Originals, I think it was ultimately the right choice. Unlike a lot of screen adaptations (especially of graphic novels), American Gods retains the raw impact of the original story. The sex and violence is in context, and without it some of the characters just wouldn’t make sense.

3) You’ll enjoy this TV series if…

You like the urban fantasy genre – shows like Stranger Things, Grimm, The Dresden Files, etc. If you were a Buffy fan in your youth and are willing to take that extra step further into the darkness, this will probably take your fancy.

4) This TV series made me think about… 

The fairly new phenomenon of the R-rated TV series, with cinematic sensibilities. I’m glad I have a projector to watch this one on!

5) Stars out of five?

4-stars

Fast Five Review: Jasper Jones

jasperjonesblogbannerJasper Jones
Drama | 2017

One night in the scorching hot summer of 1969, outcast Jasper Jones knocks at Charlie Bucktin’s window and beckons Charlie to follow him into the bush, where Jasper reveals to Charlie evidence of a crime – a crime for which Jasper is sure to be blamed. It’s a secret that will change Jasper and Charlie’s lives forever…and will tear their small town apart.

1) Did you like it?

First up, it’s taken me a while to watch Jasper Jones because I really enjoyed the book (which was written by Craig Silvey and published in 2009, by the way) …and I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand bad adaptations of books I love. I get grumpy when filmmakers take too many liberties with books. Or play it safe, and follow the book too closely. In summary: I’m pretty picky.

So, with all that in mind: yes, I liked Jasper Jones.

2) Why?

The thing with Jasper Jones is that it’s a seriously complicated book, with subplots galore – and even though it juggles some pretty heavy themes, it’s also genuinely funny.

Of course, the film can’t capture every one of the book’s nuances and threads. That’s always the case with film adaptations. However, Jasper Jones does a really good job of capturing much of what makes the book unique. Sure, there are a few questions that the film doesn’t quite have time to answer, but for the most part, this is a faithful, careful adaptation that does its source material justice.

(In fact, there are even a couple of elements of this story that the film actually improves, like the relationship between Charlie and Eliza, and Toni Collette’s portrayal of Ruth, Charlie’s mum, brings a humanity to the character that didn’t seem as pronounced in the book.)jasperjonesimage1

3) You’ll enjoy this movie if…

…you loved the book. But that’s not to say that this will only be a hit with novel fans – it’s also set to become a classic in its own right.

4) This movie made me think about…

How rare (and welcome!) it is to encounter a good film adaptation of a much-loved book.

5) Overall rating?

4.5-stars