Mini Review - In the Name of the Land
In the Name of the Land (out Nov 26) feels like the French equivalent of a Ken Loach film. It's the story of a middle-aged farmer who is struggling to pay the bills and can't catch a break. It starts to take on toll on the whole family. It's a touch slow to begin but the film's climax will leave an impression. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - American Utopia
American Utopia (out Nov 26) is a cool concert film that features musician David Byrne (Talking Heads) performing both new and old works with a bunch of gifted musicians on stage in New York City. Directed by Spike Lee, it makes you wish you were there in person to experience it. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Lassie Come Home
Lassie Come Home (out Nov 26) is a German adaptation of Eric Knight's famed book and is the story of a young boy and his connection with a Collie dog. This is a weak family flick. The fact it's been dubbed into English for audiences here further adds to the disappointment. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - All My Life
All My Life (out Nov 19) is a romantic drama about a freshly engaged couple whose wedding plans are drastically changed when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer. I like the chemistry between leads Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr. but it skirts around tougher moments and hence, the emotions don't resonate as strongly as they could. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Misbehaviour
Misbehaviour (out Nov 26) is a retelling of the 1970 Miss World beauty pageant which was significant for two key reasons - activists disrupted the live show and a black woman won for the first time. More than just a history lesson, the film tackles the subject from multiple angles and shows there were different perspectives and different lessons learned from those involved. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Mank
Mank (out Nov 19) is a biographical drama that delves into the process and motivation behind screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he wrote the script for one of the great films of all time, Citizen Kane. Provided you've done a little background reading beforehand (seeing the 1941 movie will help too), you'll be impressed by what director David Fincher (The Social Network) has been able to achieve in terms of narrative, performances and production design. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Pinocchio
Pinocchio (out Nov 19) is a well-crafted Italian film based on the famous 1883 book from author Carlo Collodi. Having not revisited this story in some time, I was surprised by its depth and its relevance today. Also a big fan of the production design. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Monsoon
Monsoon (out Nov 19) is the story of a middle aged man (Henry Golding) travelling to Vietnam for the first time since he was a small child so he can spread his parents' ashes. It doesn't offer a huge amount of insight into its leading man but I like the approach of imagery over dialogue. Grade: B.