Thursday 22 February 2024

Drive-Away Dolls: Movie Review

Drive-Away Dolls: Movie Review

Cast: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Colman Domingo, Bill Camp, Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal

Director: Ethan Coen

Ethan Coen's latest, a bawdy and brash road trip movie, is a film that, thanks to its appealing messiness, will test your limits in more ways than one.

Drive-Away Dolls: Movie Review

Despite only mustering a brisk 84 minutes in length, large swathes of this odd couple LGBT comedy road trip feel padded out filled by unnecessary quirks and visuals by a director who's a little unsure of what he wants to do.

Qualley and Viswanathan star as flatmates Jamie and Marian. Polar opposites - Jamie is a fast talking and fast and loose woman about town and Marian an uptight celibate - the pair find themselves on a road trip to Tallahassee to drop off a car.

But by confusion, they end up picking up a car that contains a very precious cargo - a suitcase with mysterious contents - and also pick up a pair of desperate thugs keen to get the case first.

Both are running from something - Jamie, a break up with Sukie her policewoman girlfriend and Marian, on the run from the tedium of daily life and desperate for a change of scene.  Yet Coen doesn't quite seem to know what to do with them, frequently filling escalating screwball proceedings with occasionally lingering shots of women or using Qualley's star-making turn and accent to enliven what transpires.

Drive-Away Dolls: Movie Review

As with any Coen film, there are a number of quirky characters, who range from dim-witted to being overly precise with words - this is a world of extremes where misunderstandings are prevalent and contrived for the plot. But despite the excellent chemistry between Qualley and Viswanathan, there are too many moments when the story's freewheeling feels like it's overplayed and overcooked; yet bizarrely, there are parts when thanks to numerous cameos and distractions, much of it feels undercooked. It's rooted in the 90s in many way, and even the obsession with the case channels Pulp Fiction in more ways than one.

Yet, Drive-Away Dolls is a film of opposites in many ways, but while it's to be commended for presenting the kind of movie where the women are playing as freely as their male counterparts often do in the genre, you can't help but feeling Ethan Coen's storytelling prowess isn't nearly as strong here as it should - or could - have been.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

What's on Prime Video in March

What's on Prime Video in March

One of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year, Road House, lands on Prime Video this month. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as an ex-UFC fighter trying to escape his dark past (and his penchant for violence) in this adrenaline-fueled reimagining of the 80s cult classic which also stars Post Malone and Conor McGregor in his acting debut. 

What's on Prime Video in March


Zac Efron and John Cena team up in hilarious new comedy Ricky Stanicky. Three childhood friends create an imaginary friend giving them an out to go wild, however things get sticky when real-life Ricky is introduced! 


March sees Jeff Daniels in American Rust: Broken Justice exploring a whole new storyline in its new home, Prime Video; George Clooney directed sports drama, The Boys In A Boat is a true story of the underdogs finding the spotlight; Invincible returns with new episodes but the same amazing star-filled line-up including Sandra Oh, Seth Rogan and J.K. Simmons; an intimately raw and magical journey through the life, mind, and heart of iconic artist Frida Kahlo in Frida; wedding bells seem vaguely familiar in Beautiful Wedding, the follow up to Beautiful Disaster starring Dylan Sprouse and Virginia Gardner.

ROAD HOUSE

AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON THURSDAY 21 MARCH



Road House stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Dalton, an ex-UFC fighter trying to escape his dark past and his penchant for violence, in this adrenaline-fueled actioner. Dalton is barely scraping by on the reputation that still precedes him when he is spotted by Frankie (Jessica Williams), owner of a roadhouse in the Florida Keys. She hires him to be her new bouncer in hopes of stopping a violent gang, working for crime boss Brandt (Billy Magnussen), from destroying her beloved bar. Even five to one, Brandt’s crew is no match for Dalton’s skills. But the stakes get higher with the arrival of ruthless gun-for-hire, Knox (Conor McGregor). As the brutal brawls and bloodshed escalate, the tropical Keys prove more dangerous than anything Dalton ever faced in the Octagon. Also starring Daniela Melchior, Joaquim De Almeida, Lukas Gage.


Road House stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Conor McGregor, Daniela Melchior, Billy Magnussen, Jessica Williams, Joaquim de Almeida, Lukas Gage, Arturo Castro, B.K. Cannon, Beau Knapp, Darren Barnet, Dominique Columbus, Bob Menery, Catfish Jean, Kevin Carroll, Travis Van Winkle, Hannah Lanier as well as Austin Richard Post aka Post Malone.



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RICKY STANICKY

AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON THURSDAY 7 MARCH



When three childhood best friends pull a prank gone wrong, they invent the imaginary Ricky Stanicky to get them out of trouble! Twenty years after creating this ‘friend,’ Dean, JT, and Wes (Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler) still use the nonexistent Ricky as a handy alibi for their immature behavior. When their spouses and partners get suspicious and demand to finally meet the fabled Mr. Stanicky, the guilty trio decide to hire washed-up actor and raunchy celebrity impersonator "Rock Hard" Rod (John Cena) to bring him to life. But when Rod takes his role of a lifetime too far, they begin to wish they’d never invented Ricky in the first place.


Ricky Stanicky stars Zac Efron, Jermaine Fowler, Andrew Santino, Lex Scott Davis, Anja Savcic, Jeff Ross, William H. Macy and John Cena.


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AMERICAN RUST: BROKEN JUSTICE 

SEASON 2 AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY FROM THURSDAY 28 MARCH



Four months after the shoot-out in West Virginia, Del has returned to the Pittsburgh P.D. while the folks in Buell try to get their lives back on track. Del and his new work partner Angela, are assigned a high-profile bombing case that proves to be quite complex. Del finds himself back in the folds of The Brotherhood and he struggles to find the balance between his life in Pittsburgh and his life/ relationship with Grace back in Buell. Billy accepts a settlement for his injuries from his time in prison and he decides to try to move forward with his life. Billy uses the money from the settlement to buy Grace the property they lived on. Grace uses this land to give herself new economic/ work opportunities. Meanwhile, Billy and Lee try to figure out their relationship with each other as they navigate their own futures. Lee has taken a job working as a paralegal at a law firm in Pittsburgh. Billy decides to move in with Isaac and Lee and Isaac helps Billy get back into shape. Isaac has decided to make a life for himself in Buell and is working for Landwill Energy. Isaac has fully embraced his sexuality and pursues new romantic situations. Virgil is still up to his old ways but finds a way to get money from Grace so he can pursue a new business opportunity. Steve Park has taken over for Del as the Chief of Police in Buell and is determined to take Del down and prove his connection to the crimes that happened in West Virginia. The town of Buell is rocked by more murders that creates chaos in the lives of all of its residents.


American Rust: Broken Justice stars Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney,  David Alvarez, Alex Neustaedter, Julie Mayorga, Mark Pellegrino, Kyle Beltran and  Luna Lauren Velez.

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THE BOYS IN THE BOAT

AVAILABLE FROM FRIDAY 29 MARCH


The Boys in the Boat is a sports drama based on the #1 New York Times bestselling non-fiction novel written by Daniel James Brown. The film, directed by George Clooney, is about the 1936 University of Washington rowing team that competed for gold at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. This inspirational true story follows a group of underdogs at the height of the Great Depression as they are thrust into the spotlight and take on elite rivals from around the world. 


The Boys In The Boat stars Joel Edgerton, Callum Turner, James Wolk, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jack Mulhern, Sam Strike, Thomas Elms and Luke Slattery. 













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INVINCIBLE SEASON 2 PART 2 

NEW EPISODES AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY FROM THURSDAY 14 MARCH


Based on the groundbreaking comic book by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley, the story revolves around 18-year-old Mark Grayson, who’s just like every other guy his age—except his father is (or was) the most powerful superhero on the planet. Still reeling from Nolan’s betrayal in Season One, Mark struggles to rebuild his life as he faces a host of new threats, all while battling his greatest fear - that he might become his father without even knowing it. 


Invincible Season Two stars Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh, Zazie Beetz, Grey DeLisle, Chris Diamantopoulos, Walton Goggins, Gillian Jacobs, Jason Mantzoukas, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Kevin Michael Richardson, Seth Rogen and J.K. Simmons.


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FRIDA 

AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON THURSDAY 14 MARCH



An intimately raw and magical journey through the life, mind, and heart of iconic artist Frida Kahlo, FRIDA is told through her own words for the very first time, drawn from her famed illustrated diary, revealing letters, essays, and candid print interviews — and brought vividly to life by lyrical animation inspired by her unforgettable artwork. The feature film directorial debut of acclaimed editor Carla GutiĆ©rrez (RBG, La Corona), FRIDA posits a striking context as to why the artist – and her art -- remains as powerful as ever. Covering more than 40 years of her life, the filmmakers received unrestricted access to research materials, much never shown to the general public before. What is extraordinary about Kahlo's life and art is how her images would galvanize multiple generations of admirers worldwide, doing more than solidifying her status as a modern artist of timeless import. An intensive journey spanning two years, GutiĆ©rrez and her formidable team of artisans, most of whom are women and proudly Latine, gathered together to craft a singular cinematic experience that could be no ordinary art history lesson. A living portrait emboldened by the magical realism befitting Kahlo's remarkable life emerges. Yet, her voice ultimately stands supreme, a complex and powerful sound of a multitude of Fridas: fearless, seductive, defiant, vulnerable, raucous, and wonderfully alive.


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BEAUTIFUL WEDDING

AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 1 MARCH



Picking up where Beautiful Disaster left off, Abby and Travis wake up after a crazy night in Vegas as accidental newlyweds. With their best friends in tow and Abby's six-figure poker winnings, they travel to Mexico, where they can enjoy a wild, lavish honeymoon. But as chaos follows "Trabby" at every turn, they must decide if they belong together -- or if this marriage is another disaster waiting to happen.


Beautiful Wedding stars Dylan Sprouse, Virginia Gardner, Austin North, Libe Barer and Rob Estes


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DAVEY & JONESIE’S LOCKER 

SEASON 1 AVAILABLE FROM THURSDAY 22 MARCH


The series follows Davey and Jonesie, two lovably eccentric best friends who have always felt out of step with their peers and the banal backdrop of their high school existence. So, when they discover their locker is actually a portal to the multiverse, they’re more than ready to escape their teenage prison of mediocrity in favor of new horizons. But the joke is on them when they only end up in bizarre, alternate versions of their high school, surrounded by offbeat versions of their classmates. Fortunately, these audacious and creative besties are ready to make the most of this vacation from reality by leaving their mark on every universe they visit…even if it means choosing interdimensional chaos while they’re at it. Worth it for the vibes.


Davey & Jonesie’s Locker stars Veronika Slowikowska, Jaelynn Thora Brooks, Dan Beirne, Emily Piggford, Nikko Angelo Hinayo, Erika Swayze and Sydney Topliffe.


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BEACON 23

AVAILABLE FROM FRIDAY 15 MARCH


In the farthest reaches of the Milky Way, a government agent and a stoic ex-military man find themselves trapped inside a beacon that serves as a lighthouse for intergalactic travelers.


Beacon 23  stars Lena Heady, Stephan James, Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Natasha Mumba, Stephen Root, Eric Lange and Jess Salgueiro. 

MARCH 2024 TOP PICKS:

CHICAGO PD S5-S6 (TV) 1/03/24

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT S19-S20 (TV) 1/03/24

JAQUE MATE (MOVIE) 1/03/24

RICKY STANICKY (MOVIE) 7/03/24

BEAUTIFUL WEDDING (MOVIE) 8/03/24

KING OF KILLERS (11/03/24

FRIDA: A SELF PORTRAIT (MOVIE) 14/03/24

INVINCIBLE S2 (New Episodes) (TV) 14/03/24

BEACON 23 S1 (TV) 15/03/24

DAVEY & JONESIE'S LOCKER S1  (TV) 22/03/24

MY LOVELY YOKAI GIRLFRIEND S1 (TV) 22/03/24

OPERATION VALENTINE (MOVIE) 22/03/24

OURIKA S1 (TV) 28/03/24

ROAD HOUSE (MOVIE) 21/03/24

TIG NOTARO: HELLO AGAIN S1 (TV) 26/03/24

THE BAXTER S1-S3 (TV) 28/03/24

HOPE ON THE STREET S1 (TV) 28/03/24

AMERICAN RUST: BROKEN JUSTICE S2 (TV) 28/03/24

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT (MOVIE) 29/03/24


Monday 19 February 2024

What's on Shudder in March

What's on Shudder in March

Here's everything that's streaming on Shudder in March.

In Malum, a rookie police officer willingly takes the last shift at a newly decommissioned police station in an attempt to uncover the mysterious connection between her father’s death and a vicious cult. Starring Jessica Sula (Skins), Monroe Cline (Don’t Worry Darling) and Natalie Victoria (Last Shift). Film premieres exclusively on Shudder and AMC+ on Monday 18 March

What's on Shudder in March

Malum  

Streaming Exclusively on Shudder and AMC+ 

Film Premieres Monday 18 March 

A rookie police officer willingly takes the last shift at a newly decommissioned police station in an attempt to uncover the mysterious connection between her father’s death and a vicious cult. Starring Jessica Sula, Monroe Cline and Natalie Victoria. 

Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism  

Streaming on Shudder and AMC+ 

Film Premieres Friday 1 March

Lara is a woman tormented, torn between science and faith.  Her husband pushes her to seek treatment from a congregation of zealots, and a ruthless exorcist tries to save her soul by putting an innocent woman through hell. Starring  Georgia Eyers, Dan Ewing and Tim Pocock. 

God is a Bullet 

Streaming on Shudder and AMC+ 

Film Premieres Monday 4 March 

Taking matters into his own hands, Detective Bob Hightower  tries to infiltrate an evil cult to save his kidnapped daughter and avenge the murder of his wife. Starring Maika Monroe, Nikolaj  Coster-Waldau and Karl Glusman.


NEW ADDITIONS TO SHUDDER’S FILM LIBRARY 

March 4 

The Hitcher 

A young man who escapes the clutches of a murderous hitchhiker is subsequently stalked by the  hitcher and framed for his crimes.  

March 11 

First Contact 

Two estranged siblings go to their late scientist father’s farmhouse to make sense of his incomplete  work. They soon discover an evil entity, buried in time and space for millions of years, has been  released and begun wreaking havoc.  

Depraved 

A disillusioned field surgeon suffering from PTSD makes a man out of body parts and brings him to  life in a Brooklyn loft.  

Sympathy for the Devil 

After being forced to drive a mysterious passenger at gunpoint, a man finds himself in a high-stakes  game of cat and mouse where it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems.  

March 18 

The Third Saturday in October 

When a psycho goes on a murderous rampage after surviving a botched execution, only two  survivors of his initial attack can stop him. 

The Third Saturday in October Part V 

Follow an implacable killer as he stalks and butchers the occupants of houses across the stretch of  one lone country road while the residents prepare to watch a yearly college football bout.  

March 25 

Good Boy 

Christian – a millionaire heir, meets Sigrid – a young student, on a dating app. They hit it off quickly  but there’s just one problem: Christian lives with Frank, a man who dresses up and constantly acts  like a dog.  

The Accursed 

Elly is asked by a family friend to look after an elderly woman living in a remote cabin for a few days.  She agrees, but soon discovers there is a demon hiding in the woman, just waiting to break free.


Sunday 18 February 2024

EO: DVD Review

EO: DVD Review

It starts with a pulsating red flashing light and ends with a shock, and everything in between of EO's journey through life seems designed to provide nightmare fuel to anyone who cares anything about animals.

EO: NZIFF Review

Director Jerzy Skolimowski's story is one of simplicity, of innocence snatched and of the horrors inflicted on others - some will see religious allegories in this story, some will find beauty in the moments that show a donkey seemingly remembering the love it felt from its first owner.

In truth, Eo is somewhat of an ethereal experience in places as sound and visuals collide together to seemingly inconsequential effect early on, but as the story pieces itself together of a donkey going through life, it comes together in a haunting tableaux that's likely to provoke discussion after the cinema's lights go up.

Slices of life crash into memories from Eo, and at times, Skolimowski's film feels like the kind of thing a Disney or CGI animator could anthropomorphise to devastating effect. But Skolimowski convinces the audience to invest in Eo, with early shots of a grey melancholy looking donkey staring directly in the camera.

In many ways, the donkey is but an audience vessel, seeing everything good and bad that mankind has to offer - and as such, the journey may prove to be harder to bear for some than others.

The overriding effect is one of an innocent troubled by others - from the POV beating by skinheads to standing on a walkway near a dam, the film reaches levels of emotional pain that are at times difficult to bear.

It's hard to discuss EO without raising the pain of its ending, but by the time it comes, you may find yourself exhausted by the denouement as you realise how much has been invested in Eo's story and by how little has been done to turn the film into a mawkishly sentimental piece.

With carefully constructed imagery and compelling cinematography, Eo is a film that will haunt and appall in equal measures.

Saturday 17 February 2024

Scrapper: DVD Review

Scrapper: DVD Review

Cast: Lola Campbell, Harris Dickinson

Director: Charlotte Regan

A curious mix of the quirky and the heartfelt, Charlotte Regan's Scrapper concerns itself with the tale of a 12-year-old girl whose mum has died and whose father has been AWOL for a long time.

A precocious and impressively confident Campbell plays Georgie, who's somehow managed to convince the social services she's living with her uncle Winston Churchill after the death of her only parent - so she doesn't need any intervention from anyone.

Scrapper: Movie Review



Spending her days robbing bikes from the locals and selling them on, Georgie lives in a haze of self-belief, a situation necessitated by her own solitude. But it's shaken one day when her father Jason (Triangle of Sadness's Dickinson) returns out of the blue.

There is a scrappy vibe to Scrapper, a film that starts off with such energy and vitality as well as extreme confidence but which settles into a more familiar vibe once Georgie's dad shows up.

Beginning with bluster and slicing in quirky to camera mockumentary-style interviews and soundbites from those who swing into Georgie's orbit, Regan sets up a novelty of quirk that threatens to burst the proceedings of the more traditional kitchen sink drama that this is clearly drawn from.

But while that will annoy some, it's a clever way to force you into empathising for Georgie, the little scrapper who's fighting her way through life.

Equally though, Dickinson's Jason is scrapping his way through as well - and the pair make for good bedfellows as they struggle to find a groove for a potential relationship. It's essentially a story about a too-young father finally facing up to his responsibilities and Dickinson, with his angular frame and blonded out locks, makes a compelling case.

Granted there's a predictability to where this story will go, and while Campbell's impudent and cheeky way with one-liners masks a vulnerability to her character, there's never any real doubt what the conclusion will be.

With connection being the main thrust of this piece, Scrapper just about emerges victorious from the melange of medleys and familiarities, but it's largely due to Campbell and Dickinson who make diamonds from the occasional coals the script fires their way.


Friday 16 February 2024

Bob Marley: One Love Movie Review

Bob Marley: One Love Movie Review

Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, James Norton

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Nuance is not in abundance in director Reinaldo Marcus Green's Bob Marley movie, a film that's more about a vibe and feeling than depth and motivation.

Blessed with a blistering soundtrack and musical moments that spring to life, as well as a central performance that shows flashes of excellence, this take on Marley's desire to reunite the Jamaica of the 1970s while dealing with the after effects of an attempted assassination finds a groove, but never really quite capitalises on it.

Bob Marley: One Love: Movie Review

With odd flashbacks providing some fleshing out of both Bob and wife Rita's characters, the screenplay settles on rote and formulaic when it has chances to soar. At times, it feels like a hangout movie that's occasionally injected with some urgency; a visit to London shows the punk energy of the Clash as well as riots in 1970s London. 

But those moments are few and far in between with some late act tensions being injected into proceedings to instil some drama. Yet they don't quite land with any of the heft that's needed.

That said, Lynch and Ben-Adir make for eminently watchable leads; Ben-Adir brings the charisma of Marley to the screen and Lynch turns what could easily have been a one-note thorn in his side wife into something more, elevating her brief moments on screen.

Ultimately, Bob Marley: One Love may try to capitalise on Marley's legacy, but it lacks an urgency to turn it into something timely, and almost nervous to do something more with the conflicts that were drizzled through his life and the time period the movie chooses to zero in on.

It is too by-the-numbers and does lack the get up, stand up that would have helped it soar, but for many Bob Marley: One Love may be the chilled out biography they're wanting.

Thursday 15 February 2024

Madame Web: Movie Review

Madame Web: Movie Review

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O'Connor, Tahir Rahim, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott
Director: S J Clarkson

It had real potential - there's no denying that was the case for this spin-off set within the Spider-Man Universe.

But what emerges from Madame Web's web of utterly muddled catastrophe is something akin to near incoherent at times thanks to director SJ Clarkson's relative incompetence at helming many of the required action scenes with anything approaching clarity.

Johnson is Cassie, a paramedic with mom issues who works with a Ben Parker (but who has no reference to Peter throughout) and who suffers a near death experience that allows her the power of clairvoyance. So when she sees three teenage girls targeted by a maniac killer in a suit, she sets out to change the future and save the day.

Madame Web: Movie Review

Parts of Madame Web hint at what could have been - flashes of clever FX show the power and mystery of the web, but most of what emerges from SJ Clarkson's interpretation of a standalone story in a standalone universe is reduced to rote dialogue, near unwatchable action sequences and an over-reliance on flash forward moments right before they play out.

It helps little that Johnson seems to be continually disconnected from everything around her, with moments feeling like she simply wrapped a scene and asked someone to fix it in post production. Her fellow charges rarely emerge as fully-developed characters either, feeling more like perceptions of what young women should be.

Sweeney looks comatose at times and of the trio, the soon-to-be-star of The Last Of Us II TV series Merced is perhaps the only one who retains some dignity and brings some zing to the screen.

"I can't pretend to understand what's going on here," one character opines in the film's final third and it's possibly at this stage most of the audience will check out too, even if most of the characters spend most of their time dumping heavy exposition on screen. It does feel like large sections of the film were written by a dialogue AI as well.

Ironically rather than feeling like a Spider-Man film or one set in its world, its final moments evoke the TV series Birds of Prey and hint at frustrations with what could have been or what could - but never will - be.

It may mix coming-of-age with thriller, but unfortunately Clarkson, along with a clutch of screen writers, don't handle any of the tones well and the muted, messy film ultimately feels like a clunking disaster. It will win awards admittedly - but those are likely to be of the Razzie kind when the 2025 nominees are announced.

Very latest post

Drive-Away Dolls: Movie Review

Drive-Away Dolls: Movie Review Cast: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Colman Domingo, Bill Camp, Matt Damon, Pedro...