Mini Review - Playing with Fire
Playing with Fire (out Dec 12) is the tale of a smoke jumper crew who reluctantly care for 3 kids rescued in a fire. It's an over-the-top, nonsensical family flick that struggles to find humour from a tricky subject matter (the negligence of children). Home Alone had charm. This is just dumb. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Black Christmas
Black Christmas (out Dec 12) is the story of a group of young women who are being terrorised at their college by masked assailants. It generates a moderate level of interest/suspense but the ending didn't work for me. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Playmobil: The Movie
Playmobil: The Movie (out Dec 12) is an average animated feature based on the German building toys. It's a silly story that lacks depth and nuance. Better suited to a cartoon TV series. Grade: C.
Mini Review - The Two Popes
The Two Popes (out Dec 5) is a part real, part fictional drama about the transition in 2012 from Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis. The film touches on interesting subjects (settling differences, forgiveness, progression, cover-ups) but disappointingly, there's no big takeaway from this. Worthy performances from stars Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - The Addams Family
The Addams Family (out Dec 5) is an animated feature that features the characters first made famous by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. Unfortunately, is a disappointing film that lacks a strong, compelling narrative. It has monsters doing/saying weird things and humans acting like huge jerks but when that’s all you’ve got for 87 minutes, the novelty quickly wears thin. Grade: C.
Mini Review - The Good Liar
The Good Liar (out Dec 5) reunited the Gods & Monsters pairing of director Bill Condon and actor Ian McKellen. It's the story of an 80-year-old guy who dupes unsuspecting folk out of their hard-earned savings. It’s an intriguing storyline but the execution is poor. From bizarre investment chat, to goofy money-exchanging calculators, to a heinous railway crime, this is a muddled, disappointing movie. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Mrs Lowry & Son
Mrs Lowry & Son (out Nov 28) delves into the life of renowned English artist L. S. Lowry (Timothy Spall) and the fractured relationship he shared with his domineering mother (Vanessa Redgrave). The film has a narrow focus and when compared to other recent films we've seen about gifted painters (e.g. At Eternity's Gate, Never Look Away), it's lacking in ambition. Grade: C.
Mini Review - By the Grace of God
By the Grace of God (out Nov 28) is a moving, informative drama from French director François Ozon about a group of middle aged men who were abused by a priest 30 years ago and now harnessing the courage to do something about it. Ozon does an outstanding job capturing the mindset of the victims and their different approaches to addressing the issue. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - 47 Metres Down: Uncaged
47 Metres Down: Uncaged (out Oct 31) is a rubbishy, inferior sequel to the 2017 original (which I liked). This one is about a group of young scuba divers who get trapped in an underground cave system while being pursued by sharks. The direction is laughably bad - from the bizarre use of slow-mo to the over-the-top use of shaky cam. Grade: C-.