The Girl on the Train (2016)

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The book or the film, the film or the book? Like fellow literary bestseller and psychological thriller Gone Girl, I had read the book before seeing this US film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train. Although the book is always better, when it’s a story that relies heavily on mystery and suspense, knowing the ending significantly affects enjoyment of the film. The subsequent lack of curiosity about what is going to happen also leaves too much time to notice differences. Continue reading

I Am Heath Ledger (2017)

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Image via tribecafilm.com

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This inoffensive hagiography of Australian actor Heath Ledger gathers handfuls of his family and friends to tell us what a good bloke he was. Combined with home movie footage shot by Heath, who obsessively documented his life, we build a picture of a talented young man with a generous heart and an unchecked manic energy that more or less guaranteed he would burn brightly but not for long. He died at age 28 of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.  Continue reading

Their Finest (2016)

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Image via pinewoodpictures.com

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On the surface, this is the kind of feel-good WWII movie that the British do so well. Made, though, by Danish director Lone Scherfig (An Education), it has a subtle complexity, a slightly contrived but interesting subtext and a feminist slant that makes it more interesting than it seems (and almost works). Continue reading

Chappie (2015)

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Image via collider.com

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South African director Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9 was an unexpected delight. Ostensibly a sci-fi about prawn-like aliens who have been accepted into the Johannesburg population, it is instead an endearing and sobering look at the plight of refugees. Chappie is his third feature film, after Elysium in 2013, and I was expecting the same wry observation of white South Africa. Instead I got a story that seemed to replicate District 9‘s edgy style but without the same substance. Continue reading

Rogue One (2016)

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The best way to see a Star wars film is at iMax in 3D (thanks Vaughan for the tip) with your three daughters, some popcorn and a frozen drink. Why? Because it gives a movie reliant on action and special effects its best chance and it will be an enjoyable event regardless. Rogue One has something going for it; being only a fragment of the original Star Wars story (what happened just before Episode IV: A New Hope) it isn’t weighed down by the original Star Wars characters or the unquestioning reverence for Star Wars canon that The Force Awakens seems to struggle under. Continue reading