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  • Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 03 Feb, 2016

    Perhaps this might have benefitted from the approach taken by films like Elephant in never directly linking its leads to their real-life counterparts, but the material covered is too specific to have made it a pure allegory. Yes, it’s contrived and rearranged and heavily dramatised, but its artistic choices are generally strong (including format shifts from grainy 16mm to 35mm to digital between each of its three backstage acts), and despite little-to-no physical resemblance, Michael Fassbender plays to an outsider’s…

  • Turbo Kid

    Turbo Kid 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 18 Jul, 2015 1

    The blood-soaked, post-apocalyptic BMX love story starring Michael Ironside you never knew you always wanted.

  • The Lobster

    The Lobster 2015

    ★★★★½ Watched 16 Jul, 2015

    Imagine Wes Anderson walked right off the reservation and never looked back. The first half is stronger: its stilted dialogue, naturally lit character moments and unsubtle metaphors are bleakly hilarious, but when the action shifts from the hotel to the great outdoors, we get to the real theatre of absurdity. A singular vision in all senses of the word.

  • The Ground We Won

    The Ground We Won 2015

    ★★★★½ Watched 27 May, 2015

    A beautiful, at times unflattering, portrait of rural and sporting life in New Zealand’s Bay Of Plenty. Given its directors’ outsider status in the community, it’s no wonder they find the film’s heart in Kelvin, a curly-haired solo father of two, who is as at home in the milking shed or the kitchen as he is coaching the town’s juniors. Hopeful and real.

  • Maggie

    Maggie 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 10 May, 2015

    Maggie allows itself some space to explore the post-viral emotional and physical transformation at the heart of its narrative, anchored by an uncharacteristically quiet performance from the tanned, bearded and be-cardiganed Arnold. It mostly works, without breaking too much new ground, but the over-baked grading and a tendency to repeat its prevailing visual motif (extremely shallow depth of field with character off to one side) detract from the otherwise understated approach.

  • Django Unchained

    Django Unchained 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 06 Feb, 2013 1

    You may question his racial politics, his obvious influences, his allergy to subtlety, his revisionist storytelling, and his tendency toward unnecessary bloat, but you cannot question his ability to build worlds that entertain. A bloody, fantastic southern revenge fantasy that lacks the pinpoint focus and outright cleverness of his earlier films, but makes up for it with a haze of bad language, brutality and bullets.

  • The Theory of Everything

    The Theory of Everything 2014

    ★★½ Watched 08 Feb, 2015

    Committed performances from the leads can’t fix a script that’s incapable of conveying the magnitude of Hawking’s legacy, preferring instead to dwell on (and partially revise the chronology of) his domestic infatuations.

  • The Babadook

    The Babadook 2014

    ★★ Watched 29 Jan, 2015

    Starts out well, bearing a little black Aussie humour and employing the kind of abrupt cuts between scenes that push the narrative along briskly while also conveying that something’s a little off-kilter. Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman are perfect as sparring widow and son. But as the tension builds and the central premise is revealed, there isn’t enough in the mechanics of the story to justify where it ventures thematically, and the ending feels hackneyed and expected.

    Plus, not actually very scary.

  • Force Majeure

    Force Majeure 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 01 Jan, 2015 6

    The Loneliest Planet with talking. If that film appealed, you might consider this its vaguely spiritual sequel. Östlund offers some delightfully understated observations on marital disharmony and male delusion, but struggles to maintain his singular vision into the final act, ultimately weakening the film’s resolution by trying to force a role reversal that doesn’t ring true.

  • The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

    The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 22 Dec, 2014

    This intimate look behind the veil of Japan’s Studio Ghibli reveals as much about its two star directors (each in the process of completing his final film) as it does about the studio’s approach to filmmaking. Miyazaki’s quiet, thoughtful side might be guessed at by viewing his films, but the playful cynicism (and rivalry) shown here is at odds with the earnestness he bestows upon each of his pictures. I was particularly taken by some of the smaller moments, such…

  • Neighbors

    Neighbors 2014

    Watched 14 Aug, 2014

    It’s currently a toss up between Rose Byrne and Jude Law for worst Australian accent of the decade so far, and one of them is Australian…

  • Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets

    Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 24 Jul, 2014

    Reminded me a little of LCD Soundsystem’s farewell film Shut Up and Play the Hits, but where that overdosed on concert footage at the expense of a more revealing peek behind the curtain, this finds a better balance and with it a lot more charm.

    Both films focus on the shy but exuberant performer at the centre of their respective bands, as they examine their careers and the act of ending a great thing. Habicht’s superpower is his ability to…