Short reviews

  1. For Ellen

    Not sure if this film about absentee father Paul Dano intentionally made him as repellant and unsympathetic a lead as it did, but either way it’s a tough sell

  2. The Quiet Earth

    One of the great ‘last man alive’ films that checks a lot of boxes: man’s hubris, inexplicable science, slow descent into madness montages and most importantly of all, conversations with shop dummies

  3. Nightbreed

    Fantastic creature effects aside, this all feels like a rough first draft for the longer, deeper and more complicated fantasy horror series we’d never see. David Cronenberg as a knife-wielding serial killer is a nice touch though

  4. Mortal Kombat

    Objectively it’s pretty weak but you can tell everybody involved is doing their best and that counts for a lot. The soundtrack does a lot of heavy lifting and an animatronic Goro makes it all worthwhile

  5. Down to the Bone

    While there’s an undeniably-brilliant performance by Vera Farmiga as a cocaine-addicted single mother, a sluggish pace and a two hour running length had me wishing I’d done a couple of lines myself

  6. Out of Sight

    Soderbergh’s crime comedy may be light on complicated heist hijinks and heavy on Clooney and Lopez’s perpetual eye-fucking each other, but it’s so intensely romantic and sweetly performed, I won’t complain

  7. Demolition Man

    As absurdly fun now as it ever was, though any society that forces Dennis Leary to live underground is actually ok in my book

  8. Orca: The Killer Whale

    What could have been a bad JAWS ripoff is something more along the lines of Moby Dick; surprisingly thoughtful, a little downbeat, impressively performed

  9. Black Panther

    One of Marvel’s best; thematically rich and tonally varied with solid action scenes and compelling characterisation

  10. White Men Can’t Jump

    I’m a little torn because the cast is excellent and the first 45 minutes or so is an exhilarating character drama, but the film circles aimlessly after a while and eventually goes off in explicable directions

  11. The Dark Mirror

    Twin-based 40s noir that grinds its promising setup away under endless cod-psychotherapy scenes, all ink blots and lie detectors. Had me rooting for the bad twin by the end

  12. Sleeping Dogs

    A solid political action thriller that sees New Zealand descending into fascism while Sam Neill grows the most luxuriant beard I’ve ever seen on film

  13. The Lawnmower Man

    Almost worthwhile from a special effects history perspective, but not “you should watch this whole film” worthwhile

  14. Blue Ruin

    A short, sharp, shock of a revenge flick; violent, tense, and darkly comic. Macon Blair is outstanding in the lead, sweet and gentle and pushed far too far

  15. Blade

    A bit more ponderous than its sequel, and the pocket-sized Stephen Dorff is never believable as Blade’s opponent; it’s a solid-enough watch, but del Toro’s Blade 2 is better all round

  16. Gladiator

    The extended version of the film that runs for about three hours, and I could happily have watched a further three. Everyone involved is at the absolute top of their game

  17. Griff the Invisible

    An Australian take on the “unpowered superhero” genre, this is sweet and funny and a little soppy

  18. Space Truckers

    Objectively dreadful but Dennis Hopper and Charles Dance are both so clearly enjoying themselves against their better judgement it’s hard not to like. A bright, chunky, colourful aesthetic also helps a lot

  19. Red Hill

    A solid Australian western that hides its simplicity with some great character work and a robust script. Well worth seeking out

  20. Solo

    A disposable prequel that doesn’t tell us anything we needed to know, but it’s generally fun with some solid action and well-drawn heroes and villains. You don’t need to see it, but it wouldn’t hurt if you did

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