Review: ‘Moxie.’ is a tale of protest and empowerment

Moxie.

How do you create change? That’s one of the questions at the heart of Moxie, the story of Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a young woman whose high school is, in a word, toxic and the girls of which are disempowered and objectified. The boys literally create a list ranking each of the girls for their best “attribute”, like biggest breasts or “most bangable”, or in the case of Vivian, “most obedient.”

The answer, it turns out, is “however you can.” Tired of existing in a world so toxic, and after both being inspired by a new girl in class and by finding a suitcase full of mementoes from her mother, Lisa’s (Amy Poehler) past, she finds a way to create change with an anonymously produced ‘zine she calls “Moxie”.

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Review: ‘Space Sweepers’ is exactly the kind of bonkers fun I want in my Sci-Fi right now

Space Sweepers

Look, 2020 was a challenging year. In a world that feels incredibly bleak, sometimes you want something bright and colourful and maybe a little naive to get you through the day. Space Sweepers is entirely this: a Korean blockbuster about a group of rag-tag misfits who salvage space junk for a living, get caught up in a massive conspiracy, adopt a child, and fight back against a ruthless and oppressive corporate overlord.

It’s a ton of fun.

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Review: ‘Malcolm & Marie’ confirms Zendaya and John David Washington as major talents

I like movies that are based on plays, or that resemble them. Movies where characters sit in a room and talk endlessly. Showcases for actors, heavy with dialogue and a tendency toward big performances. Malcolm & Marie, the new film by Sam Levinson starring John David Washington and Zendaya is not based on a play, but it does resemble one.

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Review: ‘The Dig’ is an unpretentious look at how the past affects the present

The Dig

They say that you can never really know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been. This is true for societies as well as individuals, and in the new Netflix movie The Dig we get a chance to delve into a moment in England’s history as well as England’s relationship with its history.

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Review: ‘The White Tiger’ is a rags-to-riches story, but not a fairy tale

The White Tiger

With over 1.3 billion people, India is the worlds largest democracy. The country is still steeped in traditional values, and while there used to be many castes of people there are now seemingly just two: the rich, and the poor. The White Tiger sets out to tell you a tale of those two classes, much like 2008s Slumdog Millionaire did, but where Slumdog was a fairy tale, The White Tiger is a tale of power and abuse, and how those things will reveal exactly who you are.

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Review: ‘Outside the Wire’ is a bit derivative but has some cool action

Outside the Wire

You have definitely seen this film before. Well, ok, not exactly this film, but if you’re a fan of science fiction and you’re presented with a story about a cocksure young recruit being paired with an android who can’t lie but clearly isn’t telling the whole truth, well, you’ve seen this movie before.

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Review: ‘Pieces of a Woman’ has a tour de force performance from Vanessa Kirby

Pieces of a Woman

Parents aren’t supposed to outlive their children. This is one of those universal truths, along with things like “the Earth is round” or “water is wet.” The devastation of losing a child is unimaginable, let alone losing one at the moment of birth. This is the story of Pieces of a Woman, which follows expectant parents Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf through the night of their daughter’s birth and then through the year after as they deal with the aftermath of her death.

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Review: ‘The Midnight Sky’ shoots for the stars, but ultimately misses

The Midnight Sky

George Clooney is a talented actor and director, and often produces excellent work when he does both of those things. The Midnight Sky, his latest starring and directorial effort, features an incredible ensemble of character actors, stunning effects and production design, and a story clearly influenced by many seminal science fiction stories, but even in the hands of such talent fails to become something special.

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Review: ‘Mank’ is a love letter to old Hollywood

Mank

The visual language of cinema has changed a lot since the first movies were produced, but one thing they retain is the ability to affect the people. Citizen Kane, widely regarded as one of –if not the– best films of all time, is a thinly veiled look at the life of William Randolph Hearst, and not a kind one.

The authorship of the screenplay of Citizen Kane has been a controversy for decades now. The story was initially conceived of by Welles and Herman Mankiewicz, but who wrote it? Welles? Mankiewicz? I don’t know the answer to this question but Mank, the latest film from David Fincher supposes that Mankiewicz wrote it nearly entirely, and tells the story of that man’s life during the time that he was writing it.

Is that accurate? I don’t know, but it makes for a hell of a story.

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Review: ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ brings us powerful performances by Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

When Chadwick Boseman passed away this summer, it cast a new light on all of his recent work. Not only did he work nearly constantly while also suffering from stage four cancer, but he also took the time to inhabit meaningful African American characters and to bring African American stories to the screen. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has a hell of a lot of expectations, being both produced by Denzel Washington and adapted from the August Wilson play of the same name, and that’s before you consider that it is Boseman’s last film.

So it’s a good thing that its a good movie then.

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Review: ‘The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two’ is another fun holiday romp for Kurt Russell

The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two

Here’s where I admit that I never watched The Christmas Chronicles. The response, at the time, was mixed and very generally speaking Christmas movies in November are not my favourite thing. Now that there is a sequel coming out I took the time to watch them both and you know what? You guys were wrong. The Christmas Chronicles is delightful, and while it definitely loses something by being a sequel The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two is too.

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Review: ‘The Life Ahead’ is a showcase for Sophia Loren and newcomer Ibrahima Gueye

The Life Ahead

It would be easy for the story of an ageing former prostitute who looks after the children of other prostitutes, and who forms a bond with a young Senegalese boy, to be a little too saccharine. In the hands of a lesser director, or a with a lesser cast, that might certainly be the case. As it stands the film toes that line but doesn’t cross it, thanks largely to Sophia Loren and young star Ibrahima Gueye.

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Review: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ has great performances from Glenn Close and Amy Adams, but doesn’t elevate itself to being something special

Hillbilly Elegy

Appalachia is a region that has an image on the world stage that is coloured by stereotype. Poor white people. Bootlegging, moonshining, drug running, and everything that leaps to mind when you think of the movie Deliverance. It is, of course, more than that. There are good people there and culture that has a deep respect for family and loyalty.

Left behind in recent years as the industry that once drove the region gives way to resources being imported, and jobs drying up. There’s a vast amount of interesting societal issues at play in the region, and one that I am sure is fascinating to read about in the book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Written in 2016 by JD Vance, the New York Times best-selling book has proven divisive, with fans and detractors alike claiming it either knows everything or is already out of date.

Unfortunately, much of the examination of class struggles in the region is basically ignored by this film.

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Review: ‘His House’ and the immigrant experience as horror.

His House

“Be one of the good ones.”

It sounds like a nice thing, but what it means is “don’t make trouble. Don’t make work for me.” This is the Britain that Bol and Rial arrive in, and the line they hear from Mark, the man in charge of their asylum status. Having arrived from Sudan, a country ripped apart by tribal civil war, the run-down council house they are given to stay in looks like a mansion. Nevermind the bugs, the rats, the barely functioning electrics, or the smell (“just open the window and let it air out” Mark says).

There’s little that might phase them though, having crossed two contents and a stormy ocean that claimed the life of their daughter. The cold attitude of the social workers charged with helping them is the least intimidating thing they have faced, but it’s also one of the more horrifying things in the film. It’s hard to believe that casting the immigrant experience as a horror film isn’t a well-worn trope at this point because it’s so terrifying, even when you consider the ghosts that have followed them from home.

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