Mini Review - Angel Has Fallen
Angel Has Fallen (out Aug 22) is an illogical, laughable bad sequel to Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016). Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is framed for an assassination attempt on the U.S. President and must clear his name. Everything is so hard to believe - from the villains' far-fetched plans to the FBI's incompetence. Nick Nolte makes a cameo as Banning's father and is the only highlight. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - The Australian Dream
The Australian Dream (out Aug 22) is an affecting documentary that delves into the racial abuse endured by AFL footballer Adam Goodes during the final years of his playing career and the reasons it left such an impact. With a wide range of interviewees, my wish is that every Australian see this film. Grade: A.
Mini Review - A Dog's Journey
A Dog's Journey (out Aug 15) will most likely be lapped up by dog lovers but it's still a ho-hum, formulaic drama with some one-dimensional characters (e.g. the mum). Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (out Aug 15) is set in Los Angeles 1969 and largely revolves around three people (at various points in their career) trying to find success in Hollywood. Directed by the usually reliable Quentin Tarantino, this is a tiring movie that lacks a compelling narrative. The balance between the storylines is askew (Margot Robbie is wasted) and there are lengthy patches where the film is more interested in the setting than the characters. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Midsommar
Midsommar (out Aug 8) has some wonderful flourishes and some unforgettable sequences... but I'm not convinced by the sum of its parts. Slow in places, it's a "folk horror" tale about a group of Americans who travel to Sweden for a special festival. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Late Night
Late Night (out Aug 8) lacks realism in places but it's still an amusing comedy-drama about a long-time talk show host who must revamp her approach to halt sagging ratings. Emma Thompson feels like she's channelling Meryl Streep's Devil Wears Prada routine in trying to create a tough, mean-spirited character who is still likable. She doesn't quite succeed. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan
Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (out Aug 8) tells the true story of a group of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought a bloody battle against opposition forces during the Vietnam War. The dialogue is stiff and it doesn't offer much insight into the war itself... but the tense fight sequences do a great job putting audiences "in the battle" and showing the perils of war. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Palm Beach
Palm Beach (out Aug 8) is an Australian drama from director Rachel Ward and is about three couples who get together to celebrate a 60th birthday. The film delves into the way we perceive life as we get older. From the delivery of the dialogue to the subtle reactions in key scenes, the experienced cast do an outstanding job of making these characters interesting and authentic. Grade: B+.