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  • Beloved

    Beloved

    ★★

    Although it is true that every adaptation of literature must be taken as an interpretation, there are some films that really test said concept. Toni Morrison’s Beloved is among the most potent and challenging novels I have ever read, but Jonathan Demme’s adaptation strips much away from the text's incendiary power.

    There are two reasons why this is not a one- or a half-star review. The first is because I could still sense a general attempt to communicate the concerns…

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    ★★½

    When it comes to horror and exploitation films, there is nothing more aggravating than inconsistent malevolence. I found Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic to possess exactly that: a film of great and disturbing ambition, but one that hinted at an uncertainty peering in from the corners. There are moments that telegraph – so, so loudly – their importance in the film’s overall generation of atmosphere that Hooper’s need for you to take them seriously becomes distracting.

    Perhaps quintessential of these is…

  • Reconstructing Utøya

    Reconstructing Utøya

    ★★★★½

    It is deeply moving and rewarding to watch a film that embraces our limited ability to represent trauma on screen. Reconstructing Utøya is not concerned with trauma as spectacle, but rather with relaying, in the most straightforward of fashions, how an individual’s psyche is forever altered by violence and an encounter with unnerving hatred. This is not a film that dances around its subject, attempting to impress you with cinematic trickery or invent new metaphors for the most profound experience…

  • Aquaman

    Aquaman

    ★★

    A colossal maelstrom of influences: less homage and more silly recapitulations of the Harry Potter franchise, episodes of Power Rangers (the Sicily battle scene, in particular), and most RPG video games of the past fifteen years. While enduring this with my partner, she located the most incisive and revealing point of comparison: Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Regardless of how deep underwater your protagonist may be, that burn is going to last.

    In attempting to prod its audience into caring, the film…

  • The Nightingale

    The Nightingale

    ★★★★½

    This is possibly the most harrowing film I will see for quite some time. Even those with nerves of steel should think long and hard before purchasing a ticket. It is not just that the violence (sexual and otherwise) is profoundly disturbing, but the structures which supported – and, sadly, still support – that behavior are on full, awful display.

    Unfolding amid the lush canopies of 1800’s Tasmania, Jennifer Kent’s second feature drops the intoxicating atmosphere generated in The Babadook

  • The Seen and Unseen

    The Seen and Unseen

    ★★★

    A gorgeous, but puzzling, view of intimate familial relations set amidst indigo skies and verdant Indonesian farmlands.

    Anyone interested in The Seen and Unseen would be well-served by knowing that its narrative is non-linear. Though apparent by about half way through the film, the early instances of this are not well communicated and can leave one slightly confused. Then paired with some of the film’s more peculiar features (children, dressed in white, rolling from place to place, slapping their elbows…

  • The Breaker Upperers

    The Breaker Upperers

    ★★★

    Widening the Lens - Film #2

    Charming, endearing, some laugh-out-loud moments, and perfectly sized cameos from prominent Kiwi performers. Although the narrative is not groundbreaking in any way – following the same introduction, clash, reconciliation format we have seen countless times before – the strength of the film lies in its protagonists.

    The Breaker Upperers presents two wonderfully three-dimensional female characters occupying one of the strangest careers one could select. Punctuated with what Taika Waititi has referred to as New…

  • Eraserhead

    Eraserhead

    So, I haven't technically seen this yet. I attended a re-scored screening with the film on mute (subtitles enabled for dialogue).

    Will post a rating and more detailed review once I've seen Lynch's original version.

  • The Bad Batch

    The Bad Batch

    ★½

    Widening the Lens - Film #1

    This was not the best place to start my new endeavour.

    The soundtrack (barring its inclusion of Die Antwoord) is certainly evocative and fun, and it cannot be denied that Amirpour has an eye for stunning visuals. But there is a fundamental problem when one realises how extraneous all the dialogue is in this film. If I had the will and the patience, I would re-watch The Bad Batch on mute, in order to…

  • Border

    Border

    ★★★★★

    “I don’t want to hurt anyone. Is it human to think that way?”

    I cannot recall the last time a film left me so rattled. Border is a work of genius, but undoubtedly an alarming one.

    Given its title, I had expected a film concerned with the space that prevents touch and connection; the boundaries that keep us cordoned off and artificially distinct. Rather, Abbasi’s film places tactility at its core – touch, taste, sound and, of course, smell are…

  • Piercing

    Piercing

    ★★

    (Snorts)

    Silly, utterly lacking in stakes, and only slightly redeemed by some interesting set design. Abbott has done little to allay my concerns regarding the upcoming Catch-22 adaptation, and I spent way too much time attempting to understand the mechanics of Wasikowska's accent.

    See a reenactment of the script writing process here.

  • Burning

    Burning

    ★★★½

    Burning is worth viewing just for the brief moment in which a child silently observes a greenhouse consumed in a blaze. Not only does the scene add to the film’s overall evasiveness and mystique, it also provides an adequate metaphor for the proceeding action. Beautiful images that frame hissing and crackling psyches which are home to fear and envy, building to a dramatic height. As the narrative flowed to its conclusion, however, I did feel some of the excitement ebb…