Wednesday, 30 June 2021

The Many Saints of Newark - Official Trailer

The Many Saints of Newark - Official Trailer

Legends aren’t born. They’re made.

A prequel to The Sopranos, watch the new trailer for The Many Saints Of Newark, only in cinemas September 23.

Sopranos prequel



New Line Cinema’s “The Many Saints of Newark” is the much-anticipated feature film prequel to the groundbreaking, award-winning HBO drama series “The Sopranos.” The film is set in the explosive era of the Newark riots, when rival gangsters began to rise up, challenging the all-powerful DiMeo crime family’s hold over the city. “The Many Saints of Newark” stars Alessandro Nivola (“Disobedience,” “American Hustle”), Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. (Broadway’s “Hamilton,” “Murder on the Orient Express”), Jon Bernthal (“Baby Driver,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”), Corey Stoll (“First Man,” “Ant-Man”), Michael Gandolfini (TV’s “The Deuce”), Billy Magnussen (“Game Night,” “The Big Short”), Michela De Rossi (“Boys Cry,” TV’s “The Rats”), John Magaro (“The Finest Hours,” “Not Fade Away”), with Emmy winner Ray Liotta (TV’s “Shades of Blue,” “Goodfellas”) and Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air,” “The Conjuring” films).


Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”), who won an Emmy for his directing work on “The Sopranos,” is helming the film from a screenplay by series creator David Chase & Lawrence Konner, based on characters created by Chase. Chase, Konner and Nicole Lambert are producing the film, with Michael Disco, Marcus Viscidi, Toby Emmerich and Richard Brener serving as executive producers.


Taylor’s behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Kramer Morgenthau (“Creed II,” “Thor: The Dark World”), production designer Bob Shaw (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “The Sopranos”), Oscar-nominated editor Christopher Tellefsen (“Moneyball,” “A Quiet Place”) and costume designer Amy Westcott (“The Wrestler,” “Black Swan”).


“The Many Saints of Newark” was shot on location in New Jersey and New York, and several beloved characters from the original series that inspired the film are featured in the movie. During its six-season run, “The Sopranos”—widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential television drama series of all time—was honored with 21 Primetime Emmy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, and two Peabody Awards, to name only a portion. New Line Cinema Presents, In Association with Home Box Office, a Chase Films Production, “The Many Saints of Newark.” The film is being distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

What to Watch on Netflix, Disney+, Neon, Amazon Prime Video, Acorn TV and DocPlay in July 2021

What to Watch on Netflix, Disney+, Neon, Amazon Prime Video, Acorn TV and DocPlay in July 2021

July brings another bumper month of streaming possibilities to explore.
Here is the full list of the best things to watch on Netflix, Disney+, Neon NZ, Amazon Prime Video, Acorn TV and DocPlay during July.

The Fear Street Trilogy: Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (Netflix, July 2) 
The Fear Street Trilogy: Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (Netflix, July 2)

After a series of brutal slayings, a teen and her friends take on an evil force that's plagued their notorious town for centuries. Welcome to Shadyside.

The first of a trio of weekly releases for the streamer looks to be a take on the classic horror films of the 80s and from Goosebumps writer R L Stine.

The Tomorrow War (Amazon Prime Video, July 2)
The Tomorrow War (Amazon Prime Video, July 2)

In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travellers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). 
Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

Monsters at Work (July 7, Disney+)
Monsters at Work (July 7, Disney+)

Tylor Tuskmon graduates top of his class from Monsters University and arrives at Monsters Incorporated to begin his dream job as a Scarer… or not. The day he’s set to begin, he learns that they don’t want Scarers… they want Jokesters! Tylor is temporarily reassigned to the Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team. This change shatters Tylor’s plan, but he sets his sights on a new goal: becoming a Jokester.

It's always good to see the world of Sully and Mike back on the screen, and even though Monsters University didn't reach the highs of Monsters Inc, this sequel series looks promising.

Collective (July 8, DocPlay)
Collective (July 8, DocPlay)

The Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary 2021 has some shocking moments as it looks into the 2015 fire at Bucharest’s Colectiv club which leaves 27 dead and 180 injured. 

Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. Then a doctor blows the whistle to a team of investigative journalists. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud. 

Winner of over 20 awards, and selected as Romania’s Academy Awards entry for Best International Film, Collective follows journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials in its uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best.

We Are Lady Parts (Neon, July 9)
We Are Lady Parts (Neon, July 9)

We Are Lady Parts is an anarchic and irreverent music comedy following a Muslim female punk band 
- called Lady Parts - who are on a mission to find a lead guitarist and maybe, just maybe, get a proper gig. 

The six-part music comedy shows the highs and lows of the band as seen through the eyes of Amina Hussein - a geeky microbiology PhD student, who is recruited to be their unlikely lead guitarist. Amina has never met girls like this before, and soon gets swept up in their joyful, anarchic energy and punk spirit. 

Black Widow (July 9, Disney+ Premier Access)
Black Widow (July 9, Disney+ Premier Access)

Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. 

Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

Heist (July 14, Netflix)

Millions in stolen cash. Missing luxury bourbon. Watch ordinary people almost get away with these extraordinary heists in this true crime series.
And then start thinking about whether you could do the same....

The Painter and the Thief (July 15, DocPlay)
The Painter and the Thief (July 15, DocPlay)

When two paintings are stolen from Oslo-based artist Barbora Kysilkova, the police catch the thieves within a few days. 

But the paintings are never found. Barbora attends the court case hoping to find clues for where they can be but finds herself compelled to walk over to one of the criminals to ask another question: “I wonder if I could paint you?” Thief Karl-Bertil answers without hesitation: “That would be possible.” Thus begins the relationship between an artist and her unlikely muse—which soon evolves into an even more unlikely friendship. 

McCartney 3,2,1 (July 16, Star)
McCartney 3,2,1 (July 16, Star)

Paul McCartney sits down for a rare in-depth one-on-one with legendary producer Rick Rubin to discuss his groundbreaking work with The Beatles, the emblematic 70s arena rock of Wings and his 50 years and counting as a solo artist. 

In this six-episode series that explores music and creativity in a unique and revelatory manner, join Paul and Rick for an intimate conversation about the songwriting, influences, and personal relationships that informed the iconic songs that have served as the soundtracks of our lives.

The White Lotus Season 1 (Neon, July 19)
The White Lotus Season 1 (Neon, July 19)

HBO's The White Lotus follows the lives of various resort guests over the span of a week as they relax and rejuvenate in paradise. But each passing day brings a darker complexity to these travellers, the hotel's employees, and the beautiful location itself. 

Starring: Murray Bartlett (Tales of the City), Connie Britton (American Horror Story), Jennifer Coolidge (Gravity Falls), Alexandra Daddario (Why Women Kill), Fred Hechinger (Fear Street), Jake Lacy (High Fidelity), Brittany O'Grady (Little Voice), Natasha Rothwell (Insecure), Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria), and Steve Zahn (Modern Family). 

Outlier (Acorn TV, July 19)
Outlier (Acorn TV, July 19)

Female-led Nordic crime thriller set in the stunningly brutal Arctic wilderness. Maja Angell, an academic who studies and profiles serial  killers revisits her past when she hears of a young woman murdered in her hometown. 

Hoping her work developing analytical tools to  predict serious crimes can aide the investigation and stop more murders Maja heads back to her Sami community, a place she vowed  never to return. 

Jolt (Amazon Prime Video, July 23)
Jolt (Amazon Prime Video, July 23)

Lindy is a beautiful, sardonically-funny woman with a painful secret: Due to a lifelong, rare neurological disorder, she experiences sporadic rage-filled, murderous impulses that can only be stopped when she shocks herself with a special electrode device. 

Unable to find love and connection in a world that fears her bizarre condition, she finally trusts a man long enough to fall in love, only to find him murdered the next day. 
Heartbroken and enraged, she embarks on a revenge-filled mission to find his killer, while also being pursued by the police as the crime’s prime suspect.
Jolt stars Kate Beckinsale, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Lili Rich, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, David Bradley, Jai Courtney

Jungle Cruise (Disney+, Premier Access, July 30)
Jungle Cruise (Disney+, Premier Access, July 30)

Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” is a rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila—his ramshackle-but-charming boat—to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities.

Starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Another Round: DVD Review

Another Round: DVD Review 

The re-teaming of star Mads Mikkelsen with his The Hunt director Vinterberg produces somewhat more demure results than the tension of the 2012 film.

Druk (to give it its proper title) concerns itself with four teachers who're in the middle of their lives and the middle of a crisis. Chiefly, there's Mikkelsen's Martin, a teacher whose class is rife with indifference to his educations and whose home life is being wrecked by his nighttime working wife and sons who barely have their noses out of their phones.
Another Round: Movie Review

When a colleague tells him of the Finn Skarderud thesis of drinking, which claims humans were born with a blood alcohol count of 0.05% lower than it should be, the four posit an experiment - to boost that limit up during daytime hours and see how effective their lives could be...

What follows is perhaps inevitable but nonetheless more pathos-filled as Martin and his friends become fuelled by alcohol and by a new joie de vivre.

There will be many a male who's affected by this tale of a loss of self-confidence and joy in mid-life and anchored as it is by Mikkelsen, the film becomes a tragic look at the seductiveness of alcoholism. 

From his saddened eyes delivering the truth of his life at a restaurant early on to the impish charm on display while he's drinking at school, Mikkelsen's subtle work pays off, where Vinterberg's film doesn't.

Outside of the four central characters, Vinterberg is loathe to sketch out more details of the supporting players - Martin's wife is fairly distant, leading to some feeling his actions are justified; and one of the other's wives who's discussed initially as perfect is turned into a shrew, nagging at her husband for supplies while she looks after their young children.
Another Round: Movie Review

But in fairness, it's Martin's mundane life that Vinterberg's script is more interested in and the brutality of the reality of a binge-drinking culture that soaks up children and Denmark's ethos from the get go. 

The problem is that despite showing the seductiveness of the low level buzz and opening with scenes of youths swayed by binge drinking and taking part in a school competition, Another Round never really condemns the culture, nor promotes it. 

Its inability to state a position on day drinking does make it hard to see what the overall point is, other than to say stability is bad, and alcohol can help but don't overdo it and wrap it all up in a weirdly life-affirming take on existential crisis. 

These are not compelling messages, nor are they new, but were it not for a truly compelling Mikkelsen at the centre of all of this, Another Round wouldn't be the unusually watchable fare it is.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Win a double pass to see Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Win a double pass to see Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

To celebrate the release of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions in cinemas July 1, thanks to Sony Pictures NZ, you can win a double pass!

About Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Win a double pass to see Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is the sequel to the box office hit psychological thriller that terrified audiences around the world.

In this installment, six people unwittingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms, slowly uncovering what they have in common to survive…and discovering they’ve all played the game before.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is in cinemas July 1
All you have to do is email your details and the word ESCAPE!

Email now to 

Competition closes 2nd July

Saturday, 26 June 2021

The New Mutants: Neon NZ Film Review

The New Mutants: Neon NZ Film Review

The idea of the X-Men franchise getting a dose of horror is, in theory, a great one.

But what director Josh "The Fault In Our Stars" Boone delivers is something that fails to build on the potential, frustratingly drawing a veil over 20th Century Fox's involvement in the X-Men franchise.

The story, such as it is, centres around Blu Hunt's Danielle Moonstar, a native American who is the sole survivor of a tornado which destroys her reservation. Awaking having seen her father killed, Dani finds herself chained to a gurney inside a hospital with the soothing voice of Dr Reyes (Braga) telling her everything will be alright, as long as she just accepts the treatment.

Introduced to four other teenagers within the hospital, Dani soon believes they are being trained to be part of the X-Men. But when the group starts to be attacked, they find their loyalties questioned, and their grip on what is the truth crumbling....
The New Mutants: Film Review

The New Mutants never really gets going.

Despite a cast that has charisma in other roles, flat dialogue and limp direction hinders them from being truly memorable.

Add in to that mix, some truly ropey CGI and this X-Men spinoff never finds any of the feet it needed to launch a trilogy. Rough editing, and some uninspired visual choices stop The New Mutants from soaring when it should.

The asylum setting is a nice antithesis to the pristine brilliance of Professor Charles Xavier's school of mutants - and the oppressive claustrophobic nature of what's within should provide the film with the atmosphere it needs, but in truth, the film's script doesn't capitalise on years of prior X-Men films, nor does it show any of its own strengths.

Scenes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer play in the background right before the film practically rips off the moments on the big screen, hints of child abuse and same-sex relationships are danced around to hold off any darkness and the movie never really gains the wisdom of its own merits to soar.

Williams delivers a performance that seems to be another version of her character from (the more superior) schoolgirl murder mystery The Falling; Taylor-Joy appears to be channeling Jennifer Lawrence's Russian Red Sparrow via way of Villanelle and Heaton is playing a kind of Johnny Knoxville-mutant-hick hybrid.

Instead of revelling in the creepy, The New Mutants rolls in the familiar and by being left rotting on a release shelf for 3 years, it really shows that it's out of step and time for what it should be.

Massively frustrating, given the chance to reinvigorate the tired and stale X-Men universe, The New Mutants will fall easily into a category of what should and could have been, rather than what is. 

Friday, 25 June 2021

Portrait of a Lady on Fire: Neon NZ Film Review

Portrait of a Lady on Fire: Neon NZ Film Review

A male-free zone, the luxurious Portrait of a Lady on Fire from Girlhood's Celine Sciamma is in no hurry to get where it's going.

It's the 1700s, and Merlant is Marianne, a painter brought in for a commission of Adele Haenel's fresh-out-of-the-convent Heloise, who's about to be married off to a man she's never met. Heloise has already registered rebellion for this portrait destined for her husband-to-be, refusing to sit for her likeness to be captured.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire: Film Review

So Marianne decides to be Heloise's companion by day and to paint her likeness by night.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a film that luxuriates in the slow burn, and frames itself on fanning the flames of nascent desire.

Back and forths, stolen glimpses and caught looks add much to the burgeoning relationship between the two, and Sciamma lingers when needed and pulls back when expected.

It helps that Merlant and Haenel take their characters on a journey they need, and prove to be such bedfellows for a story. A side story involving the house maid and a situation proves to be a diversion, detracting from what really matters here.

The camera flirts between capturing Marianne's furtive glances, destined to capture details for her pictures and with Heloise's acknowledgement and potential misinterpretation of these glimpses, never once deciding to vocalise either way which is which. It all boils over to a head for obvious reasons, but the simmering before the bubble over is enjoyable to watch.

It may be a little heavy handed in some of its imagery and narrative at times (a long section on Eurydice overplays the looking/ being caught looking metaphor too much) and it may meander on its two hour journey, but Portrait of a Lady on Fire lends much to the story of desire and intimate voyeurs - even if it does so via stiffly starched formal presentation.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Unhinged: Neon NZ Film Review

Unhinged: Neon NZ Film Review

Unhinged is peak 2020, a grubby would-be B movie of a sustained campaign of terror against a woman.

A heavy set Russell Crowe is The Man, a man so far over the edge he's committed double murder and arson before the five minute mark of the film's even hit. Caren Pistorius is Rachel, a woman on the precipice, after waking up late, a messy divorce and a school run all collide.

When Rachel repeatedly beeps her horn at The Man at a junction, her day gets immeasurably worse when he takes affront, and starts pursuing her and her loved ones in a vendetta of road-rage induced revenge.
Unhinged: Film Review

Unhinged really is the kind of low rent film that would have made it straight to DVD back in the 80s.

Shorn of any real background other than cursory exposition from the cops, Crowe needs do nothing more than look menacing and threatening throughout. And to be fair, when he fixes the screen with a dead-eyed stare, the threat levels reach a crescendo.

But Unhinged requires nothing more of any of its actors.

Certainly the script, loaded as it is with coincidence and nothing more, treats all those involved at the dumbest level possible, with Rachel's character behaving improbably and The Man's escalating rage attracting no attention anywhere else other than inside Rachel's world.

Perhaps that's the most frightening thing about Unhinged - that it gives oxygen to such brutal treatment of a woman and the women in its film. Beaten, stabbed, terrorised - the majority of the victims are female, and the camera appears to relish the horrors visited down on them.

Coupled with clumsy dialogue, and the buzzwording of things like "Fortnite scenario" that are thrown in purely to appeal to the kidz, Unhinged makes no case for subtlety or smarts. Repeated shots of objects show they will become important in just a few frames' time and leave no room for doubt within the script.

But Unhinged's worst crime is how it uses its victim. Even in the final frames, she's robbed of any power or sense of victory in the story, and it's shocking to say the least. The loss of agency and the fact she will forever be a victim is a morally reprehensible message, no matter how dumb the rest of the film is.

Ultimately, Unhinged is a film that deserves to be forgotten - the predictable formulaic action lacks any real redeeming points, and its long term message is enough to leave you needing a shower after you've experienced it.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Sweet Tooth: Season 1: Netflix Review

Sweet Tooth: Season 1: Netflix Review

There's a naive innocence that infects much of Sweet Tooth, the palatable pandemic tale that's so swathed in Spielbergian niceness that it's almost too saccharine to bear.

Sweet Tooth: Season 1: Netflix Review

Yet, despite this purity on the big screen, the series is equally adept at spinning a tale to cling to, and one of such contrasts in part that it proves addictively enjoyable.

It's the story of the world after the "Great Crumble" when a virus infects the world, eliciting the US President to tell viewers to pray for each other rather than offer platitudes just moments before mandatory evacuations set in. As the world falls apart thanks to sufferers demonstrating early symptoms of the H5G9 virus such as little fingers shaking, another first emerges - the birth of children that appear to be half-animal, half human. 

These hybrids as they're known soon come to be hunted and feared as harbingers of the Sick (as it's known). One such hybrid is an antlered Gus (a sweet Christian Convery) who lives in the woods with his father Pubba (Will Forte) and who's schooled by his pops to avoid human contact, and run at the first sign of trouble.

Sweet Tooth: Season 1: Netflix Review

But trouble inevitably comes calling and soon Gus is into a whole brave new world, with new threats emerging - and with only the reluctant help of Big Man (Nonso Anozie) to get him through....

Despite being set in a post-apocalyptic world, Sweet Tooth is remarkably tame - even in flashbacks the darkness is fairly well reined in. It's a refreshing change from the bleakness of the likes of The Walking Dead, where drawn-out misery is de rigeur. It helps that Sweet Tooth is only an 8 episode outing, and is done in a little under six hours.

But tone is important to Sweet Tooth, and while some have railed against the darkness of the DC Comics source material being light on the ground in the TV outing, the series has an approachable easy quality that makes it comfortable to dive into.

The message of hope throughout is nicely laid out, and while Gus infects all those around him with the emotion indirectly, viewers are also left with an overriding sense of optimism.

There are darker moments though - such as a concurrent narrative involving Adeel Akhtar's conscientious doctor and his life in a gated community with his ill wife. It's here the horror of humanity in a post apocalyptic world comes more to the fore - and the briefer jaunts to that world serve only to underline the horror of what could lie outside of deer boy Gus' perception.

Sweet Tooth: Season 1: Netflix Review

Yes, there is an undeniable sweetness to Sweet Tooth and some of the more lurid edges of the nastier natures may have been dulled, but it makes for a refreshingly compelling almost family-friendly adventure, reminiscent of the Goonies and worthy of a solid six hours of investment.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Win a copy of Nobody on Blu Ray

Win a copy of Nobody on Blu Ray

To celebrate the release of Nobody, starring Bob Odenkirk, thanks to Universal Home Entertainment, you can win a copy on Blu Ray!

About Nobody
Win a copy of Nobody on Blu Ray

Never underestimate a nobody.

A bystander who intervenes to help a woman being harassed by a group of men becomes the target of a vengeful drug lord.

From the writer of John Wick, and starring Bob Odenkirk, the adrenalin-filled Nobody is available to buy on DVD and Blu Ray now!

All you have to do is email your details and the word NOBODY!

Email now to 

Competition closes 30th June

Monday, 21 June 2021

Nobody: Blu Ray Review

Nobody: Blu Ray Review

"Just a bit excessive, but glorious."
Nobody: Film Review

These are the words spoken in the final act of Ilya Naishuller's pulpy and tautly-executed dadsploitation thriller Nobody - and they're joyfully prescient and gleefully knowing about what has transpired for the past 80 minutes.

Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk stars as Hutch Mansell, a man ground down by routine and monotony who's become a Nobody in his home life and in his auditor role at a manufacturer's office. His lowered status takes a further beating when he refuses to intervene in a break-in at home, leading to mockery from his son, neighbour and colleagues.

When Hutch finds out a valuable item from his young daughter's been taken, he sets out to get justice, a break in his psyche fuelling his long pent-up rage. But he targets the wrong people and soon a clutch of Russian gangsters are on his tail - however, Hutch has a secret past nobody knows of - and a set of skills nobody would have expected this downtrodden suburban dad to possess....

There's a tautness of execution to Nobody that makes its John Wick-style violence feel like an 80s revenge thriller. 

But there's also a wry and comedic thread coursing through its veins, which helps the film feel a little more grounded, and believe it or not, ultimately more crowd-pleasing - especially in its warehouse Equalizer-echoing final act.

It helps that Odenkirk is a very affable presence on screen, and a very plausible later-in-life action hero. 

From selling the monotony of his life to the moment that breaks his character, Odenkirk is always understated, helping sell some of the more ludicrous edges of this unabashedly popcorn beat down. And he's never ferocious either, meaning there's more menace when he's called to exude it.

Director Naishuller puts together some well-choreographed action sequences that don't overstay their welcome and aren't too excessive in their brutality, though they are occasionally riddled with both ass-kickings and humour. Not once do they venture into overkill territory, something that keeps Nobody feeling like it has real stakes, despite its Don't get mad, get even edges.

You can tell Naishuller's taken some of the elements of Hardcore Henry's brutality and fused it with surprises to get the late night audiences on side - it shows, and that's no bad thing.
Nobody: Film Review

There's little deep to be had in Nobody, but there's tremendous joy in the way Odenkirk sells its premise, and how Naishuller helms the whole affair.

If the story hints at more, that's perhaps not a bad thing, but any sequels would have to work their socks off to reach the levels of surprise and adrenaline that Nobody achieves.

Perhaps this is best as a one and done, but my word, what a one and done to experience.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Win a copy of Minari on Blu Ray

Win a copy of Minari on Blu Ray

To celebrate the release of the Oscar-winning Minari on Blu Ray and thanks to Madman Home Entertainment, you can win a copy of Minari!

About Minari
Win a copy of Minari on Blu Ray

A tender and sweeping story about what binds us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream from writer/director Lee Isaac Chung.

Critic Reviews:

  • " What makes this more than just another formulaic feelgood film is the grit with which Chung evokes the hardscrabble lives of his characters, balancing the dreamier elements of the drama with a naturalism that keeps it rooted in reality. " – Mark Kermode (Observer, UK)

All you have to do is email your details and the word MINARI!

Email now to 

Competition closes 29th June

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Minari: Blu Ray Review

Minari: Blu Ray Review

Cast: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Will Patton
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Released by Madman Home Entertainment

Quietly unassuming but even more devastating for being so, Minari is a perfect pearl of a film about the American immigration experience.

Minari: Film Review

The Walking Dead’s Stephen Yeun is Jacob Yi, a speedy chicken sexer who has moved his family to the outskirts of rural America for a better life in the 1980s.

But when his wife Monica (Ye-ri, an effective foil) glimpses said life of a trailer on wheels with a 50 acre plot of land she’s horrified. Their two kids aren’t much more impressed either but they have no choice but to settle in.

The couple's youngest David has his a heart murmur and his mother worries at their distance from a hospital should the worst happen; their eldest seems content to carry on a domestic life but both kids are on edge, firing paper planes with "Don’t fight" messages scrawled on their wings into the rows that develop over time.

Eventually Jacob acquiesces and welcomes his mother-in-law to live with them so they can become a true unit and get on with life.

Minari: Film Review

To say more about Minari is not to reveal more for fear of spoilers, merely a statement that this semi-autobiographical film from Lee Isaac Chung isn’t about plot machinations or dramatic reveals.

While the poster and trailer may  be led by the child David and promise a kind of quirkiness reserved for many films of its ilk, Minari isn't about easy simple and lazy stereotypes. There's an earnestness, humour and warmth that's ripe for the viewing.

It’s a gentle film that wraps you in its rhythms and one which is content to shock you over how engrossed and invested you’ve become in this family as the final moments of quiet slice of tragic devastation play out.

Veracity underpins every scene of this bucolic coming of age movie, skilfully shot by Lachlan Milne and directed by Chung. Each frame is a masterpiece in minimalism and a highly-skilled execution in immersion.

Minari: Film Review

Minari is beyond effective throughout, seeding you deeply into the world of these South Korean immigrants. It's another effective examination of the human condition, and of the journey others take in our worlds - and it's easily one that deserves to be part of any awards' talk which happens.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Luca: Film Review

Luca: Film Review

Vocal cast: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Jim Gaffigan, Maya Rudolph
Director: Enrico Casarosa

A sweet, but insubstantial, tale of friendship Luca may be, but its literal fish-out-of-water story may leave some feeling like Pixar has lost some of its edge - despite powering on as ever with some truly gorgeous visuals.
Luca: Film Review

Half the problem is that Luca feels like a mesh of other stories from the Disney back catalogue - elements of Cinderella, proponents of Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid all persist in among the charm.

Room's Jacob Tremblay is the Luca of the title, a fish-kid who doesn't quite fit in. Spending the day underwater off Italy's coast, shepherding guppy fish around and protecting them from "land monsters" who live in boats on the surface, he yearns for something more.

When Luca goes above the surface by accident, thanks to Grazer's Alberto, he transforms into a boy and finds a whole new world opening to him. After Luca's parents find out and threaten to banish him to the bottom of the sea, Luca and Alberto run away to a seaside Italian riviera and embrace the summer lifestyle.
Luca: Film Review

But the village lives in fear of the sea monsters they believe are haunting their waters...

A love letter to Italy, carefree summers with new friends, Vespas and seeing the wonder of the world for the first time, Pixar's Luca is a charmingly delightful little film that's nicely executed and has a central message of acceptance within.

Casarosa's clearly left these villages in Italy behind, but has lived with their idyllic memories for years, ensuring the animators have translated their charm to the big screen with ease. But in populating these vistas with some admittedly stereotyped individuals (the grumpy fisherman, the heavily-accented braggadacio, the frumpy fisherwives), those behind Luca have failed really to imbue the film with the kind of timeless heart that Pixar's become known for.

It is adorable in parts, thanks to the leads' big eyes as the sea monsters replete with their big swathe of purple and blue fins, and both Tremblay and Grazer make fine protagonists.
Luca: Film Review

But if anything, Luca feels like a short, stretched out more to a story that probably needed just a little more polish.

In its opening frenzy of love and admiration for Italy's finest, the film soars; Vespas and countrysides collide with the giddy pleasures of finding new friends. It's just that in the latter portions of the film, it just doesn't quite coalesce into much more.

Luca is streaming on Disney+ from Friday June 18

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Fast and Furious 9: Film Review

Fast and Furious 9: Film Review

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren
Director: Justin Lin

There's no point expecting sense nor sensibility in the ever-continuing Fast and Furious franchise.

A turbo-charged series that has built its foundations on the tenets of family, fast cars, and outrageous stunts, each new entrant comes with an expectation of "bigger, more" and the latest installment more than delivers on audience expectations.
Fast and Furious 9: Film Review

And yet, Fast 9, while offering some vicarious thrills and some well-executed chase sequences, lacks the emotional depth of other entrants into the series, and continues to somehow manage to lower the stakes by ensuring despite all the car-nage, explosions and car flips, not one single character is killed, or even slightly injured. 

Something which is joked about this time around in an apparently meta-conversation by Tyrese Gibson's Roman but which starts to feel like the writers don't have the bottle to kill off any of the leads, and despite all the peril, nobody is ever in any danger, thanks to the imminent possibility of resurrection throughout.

This time around, relying heavily on flashbacks to create a sins-of-the-father family backstory that never existed before, nor was hinted at, it's up to Vin Diesel's ever-emotionless and near-Jesus status character Dom Toretto to try and save the world when his turned-evil brother Jacob (John Cena, a relatively emotionless performance to match Diesel's) steals a MacGuffin that could give him the power to control all the global technology now and in the future.
Fast and Furious 9: Film Review

Forced out of "retirement" on a farm, and with the words of Michelle Rodriguez's Letty that "this is not who we are" ringing in his ears, it's Toretto vs Toretto in a global car chase that spans several locations - some of which are better utilised than others. (A chase through Edinburgh is as thrilling and as daft as the series comes.)

In truth, over 145 minutes of bum-numbing belligerence and degrees of bloat, Fast and Furious 9 aka F9, is nothing but loud bluster that bludgeons you into submission with its silliness, stunts and its stars' commitment to it. 

While "family" is rolled out again and there are plenty of religious overtones throughout, the film's always set the gold standard for diversity amongst its cast, and does it again here, with the women more than playing their part, and in a refreshing continuation of its themes, needing no help from the men to get by. 

The back story sequences are nicely executed, and add in some colour to a story that was never there before, but ultimately, slows the pace of what's going on, and unfortunately adds in little given how weightless the current day shenanigans are.

Shoe-horning in logic-less use of electromagnets during chases and countless useless enemies who somehow never manage to land a shot on the gang detracts from there being any kind of stakes to this action - and subsequently, any real lack of consequence. This time around, characters return from the dead, others from spinoffs appear and the Fast & Furious cinematic universe expands with nary a thought for coherency or care while it pulls together threads from its own past.
Fast and Furious 9: Film Review

Sure, it's noisy popcorn fodder of the highest fare, but this latest offers only hints of why the franchise has become so beloved; sure director Justin Lin knows how to execute a strong and seat-shifting action sequence, but with a mix of soulless CGI and a lack of real emotional depth, some stereotyped character dialogue and some run-of-the-mill threats, this Fast franchise looks to be Furiously trying to backpedal, and re-inject some course corrections on prior entrants.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Herself: Film Review

Herself: Film Review

Cast: Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Conleith Hill, Ian Lloyd Anderson
Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Opening with a shocking moment that turns on a knife and closing with a similar gut punch, it's hard to believe that Herself is an inspirational film.
Herself: Film Review

But it is - and it's one that's definitely worth diving into, despite the potentially troubling material within.

A mesmerising yet grounded Clare Dunne is Sandra in this cinematic parable of resilience about escaping the vicious hold of domestic violence. When she's viciously beaten by husband Gary (an insidious performance from Anderson), she flees the relationship with her two daughters. 

Running between cleaning jobs and trying to make ends meet, Sandra is gifted land on a family client's home, and decides to build a home and a new life for herself and her children. But the closer her dream becomes to reality, the more the trauma of what's occurred builds up around her...

Herself is trying to be an inspirational film, and a non-preachy affair about the perils of domestic violence.

However, in doing so, it never once loses sight that it's the small things that collectively build to a crescendo of self-belief and empowerment that's been built on fragile foundations.
Herself: Film Review

Dunne is superb throughout, giving her struggle a face that's to be admired, never pitied and a protagonist whose journey you believe in from the very beginning. Mixed in with the passionate power of some galvanising speeches, such as one extremely strong one about why abused women are always asked why they stay and the men are never asked why they don't stop, Herself had the potential to tip into the treacle and fall into the mire.

Not once does it, despite its almost Ken Loachian I'm Daniel Blake overtones - and as a result, it's a powerful compelling piece of human drama that restores faith in what people can do, for good and for bad.

There's a huge heart in Herself, that helps fight off the blackness and ugliness within. It's a journey worth taking, and don't be surprised if the light you see at the end of the tunnel follows you out of the cinema as well.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Deliver Us From Evil: Film Review

Deliver Us From Evil: Film Review

Cast: Hwang Jun-Min, Lee Jung-Jae, Park So-Yi
Director: Hong Won-Chan

Building simply on an assassin (Jun-Min) gets sent to Thailand to solve a missing child's case, Deliver Us From Evil soon becomes a case of a slickly polished narrative that ties nicely together.

Things are further complicated when a revenge story is thrown into the plot, with the sadistic brother (Jung-Jae) of a yakuza killed by the assassin seeking vengeance for his kin's death.

There's a case of an extremely slow build to Deliver Us From Evil. 
Deliver Us From Evil: Film Review

While it starts with a thrilling execution set piece, the next few scenes bring the film's energy down to almost catatonic levels as the narrative sets out its stall. But patience is rewarded as the usual grimy story of assassins, child-kidnapping, organ harvesting and bloody revenge gears up for its conclusion.

Won-Chan delivers some kinetic action pieces that use style to slow down the action, speed it up and then play it at normal speed, rendering moments like a car windscreen shattering almost poetic in their execution.

Equally, the martial arts is balletically filmed, with close range action shots delivering more than a visceral punch to the face. 

Deliver Us From Evil may lack some of the emotional edge and character development you'd perhaps expect and hope of the storyline, but its commitment to taut action, thrilling moments and sheer bloody-mindedness means it's a Korean movie worthy of a watch.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Percy vs Goliath: Film Review

Percy vs Goliath: Film Review

Cast: Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, Zach Braff, Martin Donovan, Roberta Maxwell
Director: Clark Johnson

You've seen a story like Percy vs Goliath before.

It's the tale of one man taking on a multinational conglomerate and the abuse of power.
From Russell Crowe's whistleblower against the cigarette industry in The Insider to the foreign stylings of Woman At War, the genre is not a new one for independent films to explore, and slap on a Based on a True Story opening.
Percy vs Goliath: Film Review

Where Percy vs Goliath has an ace up its sleeve in Christopher Walken, it also has one in its director, the former Homicide: Life on the Street star turned director, Clark Johnson.

Walken stars as Percy Schmeiser, a midwestern farmer, who's spent generations sowing his own seeds and salvaging his own stock to resow year after year. However, when large conglomerate Monsanto finds traces of their patented GMO seeds in his fields, he's taken to court for breaching their copyright and stealing their crops, a seed saver who's seemingly broken the law.

But with generations of seed-saving in his genes, Schmeiser refuses to give in, and takes on the big corporation, despite all the evidence seemingly against him, and with all the lawyers in the world lined up against him...

It's fairly obvious where Percy vs Goliath is going.
Percy vs Goliath: Film Review

However, while Johnson peppers his screen with bucolic shots of rolling fallowed fields, and of mountains and fills the film with well-shot courtroom sequences, he never loses sight of the Schmeisers and the toll their just cause takes.

Walken is suitably restrained when needed, and pained throughout, but an understated performance and a bond with Maxwell is well-performed and gives the film a credence and humanity it needs to avoid the usual trappings of the genre. 

The one minor misstep is a trip to India that seems out of touch with the smaller man mentality, but it's clearly an attempt to show there are global implications to the fight against GMO.

All in all, Percy vs Goliath is a small triumph of a film that transcends its genre expectations, and delivers them solidly yet formulaically. Thanks to Walken's watchability and a script that just about makes all the right moves, it's an entertaining 90 minutes of film, a type of which you've seen a million times before, but still proves to be an enjoyable genre to mine.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard: Film Review

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard: Film Review

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek, Samuel L Jackson, Antonio Banderas
Director: Patrick Hughes

Loud, obnoxious, explosive-filled and expletive-laden, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard is a monument to popcorn blockbuster excess that will find fans in those willing to be battered into submission.

Ryan Reynolds dials up the neurotic and returns as disgraced bodyguard Michael Bryce. Waiting to have his licence reviewed by the bodyguarding agency, Bryce is ordered by a therapist to take a break and put all thoughts of protection and killing to one side.
The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard: Film Review

But at the same time as Antonio Banderas' Trumpian villain cum Liberace dresser Aristotle Papadopolous rises to make Greece great again as it suffers under sanctions from Europe, Bryce finds himself pulled back into the orbit of Darius Kincaid (Jackson, looking dareyousay it almost tired)who's been kidnapped. 

Thanks to the intervention of Kincaid's murderous wife Sonia (the playing-it-for-all-its-worth Salma Hayek), Bryce is forced to drop plans to use only pepper spray to take bad guys out, and try and save the day - again.

Patrick Hughes knows what made the 2017 film The Hitman's Bodyguard a success, and reckons on throwing in Hayek's Sonia as the winning formula to enhance the bickering of The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard.

The explosions are big, the references to other films are outright, and to be honest, there are a few unexpected laughs throughout a somewhat bloated 2 hour run time.

It's fair to say The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard isn't out to change the world, merely to keep it at bay for the aforementioned 120 minutes. But its commitment to almost-ACME levels of cartoonish OTT violence is undeniable.
The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard: Film Review

While Jackson looks at times like he's coasting by, and Hayek tries to find another piece of scenery to ferociously cheer through, Reynolds delivers a thoroughly likeable performance as Bryce's neuroses come bounding to the fore. Perenially exasperated throughout, and with a level of comedic commitment that's hard to deny, Reynolds delivers throwaway lines with aplomb. From comments such as "What if someone's upstairs" when a bad guy unloads in the roof to get attention to some impressive physical comedy, Reynolds is infinitely more committed than the material perhaps deserves.

The bickering bonds work well between the three, and there's clearly an implication of a third movie being on the way, but in some ways, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard is a diminishing returns kind of film.

Some of the side plots and characters simply fizzle into insignificance having been given a bigger part early on, and then reappear from nothing more than what would appear to be contractual, but not narrative, obligations.

It's safe enough - and enjoyable enough - as disposable popcorn fare, but offers little strong incentive for a third outing, despite Reynolds' well-intentioned input.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

In The Heights: Film Review

In The Heights: Film Review

Cast: Anthony Ramos, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Barrera, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariana Greenblatt, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins

Director: Jon M Chu

There's no denying the vibrant nature of Lin-Manuel Miranda's passion comes shining through from the get-go in In The Heights.
In The Heights: Film Review

But it's accentuated by Crazy Rich Asians John M Chu's camera and eye for how to put together an eye-popping spectacle that sizzles like a hot summer should.

Over the 143 minutes run time (which does suffer from some bloat in the back half), In The Heights is the cinematic equivalent of a high blast of Vitamin D straight into your eyeballs.

It's the story of Usnavi (Ramos, a charismatic lead) who's spent his entire life in the New York suburb of Washington Heights but dreams of heading back to his Dominican Republic homeland - despite running a successful bodega in the hub of his community.

But when he gets his chance, it soon appears that not all as it seems, and with the temperature rising, and a city-wide blackout coming, the pressure is on Usnavi and his small circle of friends to make the decisions that are right for them.

Plot (and its few shortcomings in the final furlong) are largely irrelevant to In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda's pre-Hamilton love letter to community, family and heart in New York.

There's a life-affirming vibe from the beginning, and while as with most musicals it feels like conflict is set up as high stakes early on and then summarily dismissed or solved in the final stretch, In The 
Heights manages to be more about the journey than the final destination.

And what a journey it is, thanks to the precision with which Chu has shot.

Large musical numbers bristle with energy, and high performance dancers; whether it's the dizzying opening which sees you meeting all of the residents, or a pool-set number that's got something in every frame that commands your attention, through to an almost-balletic piece on the side of a building, Chu's execution is severely on point, and yet never isolating to the casual viewer in any shape or form.

It helps that the young cast have a good chemistry, and appear on screen to at least have relatively strong pipes as well, giving the music a street-feel, an urgency and a toe-tapping demeanour which is hard to ignore.
In The Heights: Film Review

And it's never been a more multicultural cast as well, giving credence to the 2021 push to get more diverse voices and faces on screen (even if there is a bit of an ongoing furore over the lack of Latinx actors cast within).

The overriding feeling with In The Heights is one of unbridled joy.

Its execution is uplifting, its performances are magnetic, and its pull is undeniable. It's the breeziest film you'll see all year, but it's never patronising to its audience - it's smart, sassy and electric.

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