Free Solo – 4.5 out of 5 (Film 8 of 2019)

I’ve given this film 4.5 stars because I’m sure if I tried I could find a flaw. Seeing Free Solo is the most visceral, immersive movie-going experience I’ve had in a long time. Going into the cinema I know our free-solo climber, Alex, won’t fall to his death. Despite knowing this my palms are sweaty throughout and there are times I just have to close my eyes. I don’t suffer from vertigo (if you do, needless to say, don’t see this film) but I’m not great with heights either. Considering that the ultimate tension which might come with the question of …

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Green Book – 3 out of 5 (Film 7 of 2019)

The problem with Green Book is it tells the story from the wrong point-of-view. Well, that and it feels like a big-budget, well-acted Hallmark movie. Everything is obvious. This is  storytelling for people who can’t really pay attention or maintain interest if anything gets a bit complex or challenging (Edit: which is meant as a criticism of the filmmakers not those who enjoyed the film). It was fine but could have been so so so much more. Let me get back to my first point. I had never heard of Dr Don Shirley and that is a damn shame. What we …

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Roma – 4 out of 5 (Film 6 of 2019)

Eventually I’ll see another film with a really strong story to tell but in the meantime I’ll keep going to see gorgeously shot films with something missing. That is, films like Roma. Is it beautiful? Yes, it’s beautiful. And, yes, I was immersed in a world I knew nothing of – that of a well-off family and their servants in Mexico City in the 1970s.  But the film – all 2h 15m of it – is a deep recreation of one person’s past and the camera lingers and caresses this replica of the writer/director’s childhood. I wish the story was …

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Mary, Queen of Scots – 3 out of 5 (Film 5 of 2019)

I’m giving Mary, Queen of Scots 3 out of 5 stars.  It’s my 5th film in the cinema for 2019 and the 2nd directed by a woman – Josie Rourke, a theatre director making her film debut. The film is beautifully shot. Margot Robbie is magnificent. The costuming and makeup are excellent. But I think the writing is weak and that Saoirse Ronan just isn’t quite up to the role – she didn’t seem forceful enough, maybe. I’ve liked her in other things and I’m not faulting her acting. My criticism is more around the casting or, perhaps, the directing. I …

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The Mirror (1975) – Impenetrable, sure, but beautiful

I’m trying to get back into seeing the free films at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Gallery has a large, beautiful theater where they screen films related to current exhibitions. Now they are screening a series called Cosmic Futures: Visionary Russian Cinema  in relation to the show Masters of Modern Art from The Hermitage. This is how my 4th film of 2019 came to be The Mirror a film made by Andrei Tarkovsky in the Soviet Union in 1975. Mirror Zerkalo Tarkovsky trailer from Budapest Film Zrt. on Vimeo. If you prefer films which tell a narrative story, this is not a …

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Kusama – Infinity (Movie 3 of 2019) A tale of trial, perseverance, and fragility

3.75/5 My 2018 mission of seeing all the female directed films continues into 2019 with Kusama – Infinity. This is a documentary about artist Yayoi Kusama by Heather Lenz. I like seeing documentaries about people I really don’t know much about. I’d heard of Yayoi Kusama – but what I knew was: Japanese, dots, lives in a mental hospital, and that I’d read this article in Vice which left me with the impression that she might be a little bit racist. The film by offers a fascinating look at Kusama’s life, art, and travails – especially in relation to the …

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Movie 2 of 2019: The Favourite – A weird, charming, disquieting film.

4.25/5 Some trailers tell you too much about the film, others skip right over major plot points – the trailer for The Favourite falls soundly in the latter category. I had read nothing, but seen the trailer several times and had heard good things. It was good, very good, while also not being what I expected. All three women in the main roles are excellent – especially Olivia Colman as Queen Anne. I haven’t seen Olivia in many things but when I have (Broadchurch) I have loved her. I think the Oscar-buzz around her performance is a fair call. Look, it’s …

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Movie 1 of 2019: Vice – Brutal & Hilarious

4 out of 5 This is a brutal, and at times hilarious, bio pic about Dick Cheney. Christian Bale disappears into the role. Steve Carell is both uber Steve Carell and totally Donald Rumsfeld. Amy Adams is utterly Machiavellian as Lynne Cheney. I laughed out loud and uproariously several times between moments of feeling quite angry about this fucker, his friends, and the shit they’ve done. Seen at Dendy Newtown on 5 January with Jonathan Bradley  

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