Mini Review - Dune: Part Two
Dune: Part Two (out Feb 29) is a winner. A few subplots are rushed (e.g. Florence Pugh) but this a "must watch on the big screen" epic that wants to be more than just action and entertainment. There's an array of interesting themes bolstered by great performances in the foreground (loved Timothée Chalamet again) and bold production values in the background. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Four Daughters
Four Daughters (out Feb 29) is nominated at the Oscars for best documentary feature and is about a single mother from Tunisia who saw two of her four offspring indoctrinated by the Islamic State. Not sure I fully understood the characters but like the creative approach. It has the vibe of a movie which is part documentary, part dramatization, and part behind-the-scenes filmmaking. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Subtraction
Subtraction (out Feb 29) is a rain-filled Iranian flick about a married couple who find they are the spitting image of another married couple. It's a bonkers scenario woven into a very serious family drama. It's weird enough to hold your attention and wonder what will happen next. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Baghead
Baghead (out Feb 22) has a decent idea at its core - a young woman finds a ghoul in the basement who can bring back the dead (for 2 mins only). A shame the characters are so boring, and their actions so contrived. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Drive-Away Dolls
Drive-Away Dolls (out Feb 22) is a short, slick comedy set in 1999. It follows two young women who embark on an impulsive road trip and are pursued by gangsters. It takes a while to get going and the narrative is slight... but it's to be admired for the comedic chemistry between stars Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan, and its outlandish moments (e.g. a female soccer team). Grade: B.
Mini Review - The Rooster
The Rooster (out Feb 22) is an Australian film about a small town police officer who, as part of an investigation, befriends a ping pong-loving hermit living alone in the bush. Strange premise but some deep, interesting conversations are shared between the pair. Hugo Weaving recently won the AACTA for best supporting actor for his performance. Grade: B.
Mini Review - The Zone of Interest
The Zone of Interest (out Feb 22) is set in 1943 and is centred on the Nazi family who lived in the two-story home which bordered the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. It’s hard to watch this and not feel its deliberate coldness. Folks make innocuous small talk in the backyard garden while smoke billows from furnaces in the background. With distinctive cinematography and sound, it’s the kind of movie that makes you think about events back then… and events today. Unforgettable. Grade: A+.
Mini Review - Fallen Leaves
Fallen Leaves (out Feb 14) serves up one of the more interesting and authentic romances over the past year. It’s a Finnish tale about the connection that builds between an alcoholic man and a shy, poverty-stricken woman. It’s the comedy opposite of a Hollywood romantic comedy with the two leads delivering their dialogue, and there isn’t much of it, in a dry, slow, monotone fashion. Grade: A-.