Mini Review - The Assistant
The Assistant (out Jul 2) follows a single day in the life of a newly employed female assistant (Julia Garner) at a film production company. Using dialogue only when necessary, this is a compelling character study that delves into toxic workplace culture and a flawed work-life balance. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarves
Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarves (out Jul 2) tries to put a different spin on the famed Snow White fable but with weird musical interludes and a muddled narrative, the end result is peculiar. Feels more like a simplistic afternoon kids’ cartoon than a meatier feature film. Grade: C.
Mini Review - A Son
A Son (out Jul 2) is a heavy Tunisian drama about a husband and wife who have to make difficult discussions when their young son is critically injured in a terrorist attack. There are a few lulls in the narrative but it still offers insight into the lives and customs of this North African country (seldom depicted on screen). Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Master Cheng
Master Cheng (out Jul 2) is the story of a Chinese chef and his young son who travel to Finland to visit an old friend. Landing a job in a small cafe, he opens the taste buds of the Finnish locals to the world of Asian food. It's corny and overly sentimental in places but it's still a sweet crowd pleaser that will get your stomach rumbling. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Monos
Monos (out Jul 2) is a Lord of the Flies-like tale about a band of inexperienced teenage commandos in Columbia who are asked to guard a kidnapped woman. With a credible young cast and some brutal plot twists, I enjoyed the shifting power dynamics with the group of naive youths. Great setting too. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - The Booksellers
The Booksellers (out Jul 2) is an interesting documentary about a group of experienced booksellers in New York City who reflect on their industry. It covers a broad range of topics but above all else, it highlights our affection for physical books (particularly classics) and their "value" to individual collectors and broader society. Some of the collections in the film are staggering. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Bellbird
Bellbird (out Jul 2) is set on a small New Zealand farm. It's centered on a father and son who are questioning their future and their livelihood following a family tragedy. There are no big revelations on offer but it's still a nicely told story. Grade: B.
Mini Review - It Must Be Heaven
It Must Be Heaven (out Jul 2) is the fictional story of a Palestinian film director and his curious observations as he travels across the world. He rarely speaks and he maintains the same monotonous expression throughout. An odd film but it highlights how strange the human race can be. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Love Sarah
Love Sarah (out Jul 2) is the tale of an eclectic group who open a bakery in London to honour the memory of a deceased love one. It's predictable, formulaic and contrived but the tasty food and warm-hearted performances help compensate. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Romantic Road
Romantic Road (out Jul 2) is a documentary that follows a long married couple who use a 1930s Rolls Royce to go on a 6 month road trip across India. They're nice people but the film is light when it comes to significant, interesting content. Grade: B-.