Monday, 23 May 2022

What's on Disney+ in June

What's on Disney+ in June

Here's a list of what's coming to Disney+ this June.

Only Murders in The Building Season 2

Disney+ has revealed the official teaser and key art for the upcoming second season of “Only Murders In The Building”. The new season premieres Tuesday, June 28th with two episodes exclusively on Disney+ under the Star banner in New Zealand.
Only Murders in The Building Season 2

Following the shocking death of Arconia Board President Bunny Folger, Charles (Steve Martin, “Father Of The Bride”), Oliver (Martin Short, “The Morning Show”) & Mabel (Selena Gomez, “The Dead Don’t Die”), race to unmask her killer. However, three (unfortunate) complications ensue - the trio is publicly implicated in Bunny's homicide, they are now the subjects of a competing podcast, and they have to deal with a bunch of New York neighbours who all think they committed murder.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

What's on Shudder in June

What's on Shudder in June

Shudder has a bit of everything on the agenda this June with religious protestors, peep shows and the latest offering from Phil Tippett, the man behind visual effects for Jurassic Park, Robocop and the original Star Wars trilogy.

Get a little jumpy this June with these big releases:

After returning to the isolated offshore island where her mother is buried, Marie (Jocelin Donahue) finds herself stranded when bridges are raised and the island is closed for the Offseason. Ongoing strange encounters reveal she must unravel her mother’s troubled past in order to survive
What's on Shudder in June

Mad God marks the feature directorial debut for visionary Oscar and Emmy Award-winning visual effects guru Phil Tippett, the creative powerhouse behind such classics as Jurassic Park and Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back

Revealer sees tensions rise when a stripper and religious protester are trapped together in a peep show booth and must come together to survive the apocalypse in 1980s Chicago
Cult Classic Cooties starring the ensemble cast of Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Jorge Garcia (Lost) and Rainn Wilson (The Office) will have you second-guessing fast-food when chicken nuggets turn the kids they teach into murderous savages
Offseason – A Shudder Exclusive 
Premieres 10th June 

Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother’s grave site has  been vandalised, in Offseason, Marie (Jocelin Donahue, Doctor Sleep) quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where her late  
mother is buried. When she arrives, she discovers that the island is closing for the offseason with the bridges raised until Spring, leaving  her stranded. 

One strange interaction with the local townspeople after another, Marie soon realises that  something is not quite right in this small town. She must unveil the mystery behind her mother’s troubled past  in order to make it out alive. Starring Jocelin Donahue, Joe Swanberg, Richard Brake, Melora Walters and Jeremy Gardner. Written and directed by Mickey Keating (Carnage Park). 

Mad God – A Shudder Exclusive  
Premieres 16th June 

Mad God marks the feature directorial debut for visionary and Oscar  and Emmy Award-winning stop-motion animator and special effects supervisor Phil Tippett, the creative powerhouse involved in such  
classics as RoboCop, Starship Troopers, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. 

Mad God is an experimental animated film set in a world of monsters, mad scientists and war pigs. A corroded diving bell  descends amidst a ruined city, settling down upon an ominous fortress guarded by zombie-like sentries. 

The  Assassin emerges to explore a labyrinth of bizarre, desolate landscapes inhabited by freakish denizens.  Through unexpected twists and turns, he experiences an evolution beyond his wildest comprehension. 

A  labour of love that has taken 30 years to complete, Mad God combines live-action and stop-motion,  miniature sets and other innovative techniques to bring Tippett's wholly unique and grotesquely beautiful  vision to life. 

Revealer – A Shudder Original 
Premieres 23rd June 

Tensions rise when a stripper and religious protester are trapped together in a peep show booth and must come together to survive the apocalypse in 1980s Chicago. Starring Caito Aase (Black Mold)  
and Shaina Schrooten (Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge). 
Written by popular comic authors Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, Revival) and Michael Moreci (Barbaric, The  Plot) and directed by Luke Boyce. 
What's on Shudder in June

2nd June 
What Keeps You Alive 

On the eve of their one-year wedding anniversary, Jules and Jackie become embroiled in a merciless  fight for their lives when they find themselves pitted against the most unexpected of adversaries: each  other. 

In this found-footage anthology, a gang of thieves find a stash of scary home videos, each different in  genre and tone. Highlights include David Bruckner's (The Signal) "Amateur Night" about three bros  who bring the wrong girl home for sex; Ti West's (The Innkeepers) "Second Honeymoon" about a  stalker menacing a couple on a road trip; and Joe Swanberg's utterly chilling "The Sick Thing That  Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" which may freak you out for days. 

From the innovative minds that brought you V/H/S comes V/H/S/2, an all-new anthology of dread,  madness, and gore. Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his  abandoned house and find a collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of  each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance. 

3rd June 
Available for the first time on SVOD, cult favorite creature features Alligator (1980) and  Alligator II: The Mutation (1991) come to Shudder in stunning new prints scanned from the  original camera negatives. 

From director Lewis Teague (Cujo) and screenwriter John Sayles (The Howling) comes an  unstoppable thriller with bite. A family returning from Florida decides their pet baby alligator is too  much to handle and flushes him down the toilet. Meanwhile, Slade Laboratories is conducting secret  experiments with animals and disposing of them in the sewer. The alligator, fending for itself, begins to  feed on the dead animals, and grows. Now, twelve years later, after several mysterious murders,  David Madison (Robert Forster, Jackie Brown) is on the case to find out who ... or what ... is killing  people. 

Alligator II: The Mutation 
Deep in the sewers beneath the city of Regent Park, a baby alligator feeds on the experimental  animals discarded by Future Chemicals Corporation. Nourished by the toxic growth hormones and  other mutating chemicals, the gator grows immense in size ... and voracious in appetite. Now, it must 
kill to survive! It's a classic confrontation between man and beast. This sequel stars Joseph Bologna  (Transylvania 6-5000), Steve Railsback (Lifeforce), Dee Wallace (The Howling), Richard Lynch (Bad  Dreams) and Kane Hodder (Jason X). 

8th June 
Under the Skin 

An alien of unknown origin arrives on Earth in search of human prey. Taking the form of the perfect  female specimen (played by Scarlett Johansson), she prowls the streets looking for men to lure into  her otherworldly lair. Her victims are seduced, stripped of their skin, and never heard from again. But  as time passes, she grows too comfortable in her borrowed skin, placing her very survival at risk. 

It's Christmas Eve. The last employee to leave her office, ambitious corporate climber Angela (Rachel  Nichols) arrives in the deserted parking garage only to discover her car won't start. She's relieved  when Thomas (Wes Bentley), a seemingly friendly security guard, comes along and offers to help.  Unable to get the engine to start, he invites Angela to share a small Christmas meal with him. She  laughs off the invitation, but it quickly becomes clear her situation is no laughing matter. Angered by  her refusal, the psychopathic Thomas knocks her out and ties her up in his office. Coming to, Angela  realizes that the only way she will live to see Christmas morning is to find a way to escape from P2. 

Wake Wood 
A grieving couple are given the chance to resurrect their daughter in this Irish horror film starring Aidan  Gillen of Game of Thrones fame. After Alice’s accidental death, her parents move to a quaint village to  make a fresh start. But when a local offers to perform a ceremony that will temporarily bring their  daughter back, they can’t resist. But when Alice returns, she isn’t quite herself, of course. 

14th June 
The Woman in Black 

Based on the classic ghost story, The Woman in Black tells the tale of Arthur Kipps(Daniel  Radcliffe), a lawyer who is forced to leave his young son and travel to a remote village to attend to  the affairs of the recently deceased owner of Eel Marsh House. Working alone in the old mansion,  Kipps begins to uncover the town’s tragic and tortured secrets and his fears escalate when he  discovers that local children have been disappearing under mysterious circumstances. When those  closest to him become threatened by the vengeful woman in black, Kipps must find a way to break  the cycle of terror. 

The Void 
A blood-soaked man limping down a deserted road is rushed by officer Carter to a nearby hospital  with a skeleton crew. Trapped inside by hooded figures, Carter discovers that the patients and staff  are transforming into something inhuman. 

21st June 
The Freakmaker 
Professor Nolter, a college science professor who believes it is man's destiny to survive an uncertain  future by evolving into a hybrid plant/human mutation. To test his theories, Nolter supervises the  abduction of young co-eds and fuses them with mutant plants he has developed in his laboratory,  placing his rejects in a neighboring freak show (which stars such real-life oddities as the Alligator  Lady, the Frog Boy, the Human Pretzel, the Monkey Woman, the Human Pincushion and the  unforgettable "Popeye". 

It’s been ten years since the lives of siblings Tim and Kaylie Russell were shattered and Tim was  convicted of murdering their parents. Now released from a mental institution, Tim wants to move on,  but his sister has other plans. Kaylie blames their childhood nightmare on the Lasser Glass—an 
antique mirror with a grisly history— which she intends to destroy by any means possible, even as  the mysterious entity continues to cast sinister spells on anyone who gazes into it. 

Wolf Creek 2 
In this follow up to outback horror, Wolf Creek 2, deranged serial killer, Mick Taylor (John Jarratt),  continues his search for fresh victims in the Australian wilderness. When unsuspecting British  tourist, Paul, inadvertently rescues Taylor’s next victim, the two become embroiled in a deadly game  of cat-and-mouse. Will Mick be able to survive another day? Wolf Creek 2 focuses more heavily on  the exploits of Mick Taylor than in its predecessor, creating a darkly funny tale that explores the  innate prejudices found in the Australian outback. Contains strong language, violence and gore. 

The Bye Bye Man 
When three college students move into an old house off campus, they unwittingly unleash a  supernatural entity known as the Bye By Man, who comes to prey upon them once they discover his  name. The friends must try to save each other all the while keeping the Bye Bye Man’s existence a  secret to save others from the deadly fate.  

28th June 
House of Wax (2005) 
A group of friends falls prey to a pair of murderous brothers in an abandoned small town. The  friends discover that the psychotic siblings have expanded the area's main attraction--the House of  Wax--and created an entire town filled with the wax-coated corpses of unlucky visitors. Now the  group must find a way out before its members also become permanent exhibits in the House of  Wax. 

Ghost Ship 
In a remote region of the Bering Sea, a boat salvage crew discovers the eerie remains of a grand  passenger liner thought lost for more than 40 years. But once onboard the eerie, cavernous ship,  the crew of the Arctic Warrior discovers that the decaying vessel is anything but deserted. It's home  to something more deadly and horrific than anything they've encountered in all their years at sea. 

Queen of the Damned 
After a decades-long slumber, the vampire Lestat becomes a rock star whose music awakens the  queen of all vampires, Akasha, who embarks on a mission to make Lestat her king. But a young  London woman with a gift for the occult falls in love with Lestat and wields a far greater power than  the vampires expect. 

Clint (Elijah Wood) has just started a new substitute teacher job and hopes to inspire his kids with  the beauty of the written word. But he doesn’t get far before tainted chicken nuggets turn his  students into savages who gleefully pull the principal’s guts out. Now Clint must lead his old crush  and her colleagues to safety and find a way to reverse the effects of those nasty nuggets before it’s  too late. Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”), Jorge Garcia (“Lost”), Rainn Wilson (“The Office”) and Alison  Pill (“The Newsroom”) round out the cast of this gruesome horror comedy. 

Saturday, 21 May 2022

What's on DocPlay in June

What's on DocPlay in June

Here's what's coming to the excellent documentary streaming channel, DocPlay, during the month of June.

6 June
Blind Ambition
What's on DocPlay in June

Having escaped starvation and tyranny in their homeland of Zimbabwe, four refugees have conquered the odds to become South Africa's top sommeliers. Driven by relentless optimism, a passion for their craft and unshakeable national pride, they form Zimbabwe’s first ever wine tasting team and set their sights on the coveted title of ‘World Wine Tasting Champions’. From the moment they arrive in France to compete, this team of mavericks turns an establishment of privilege and tradition on its head. A truly uplifting documentary that celebrates just how irrepressible the human spirit can be.

16 June

With the country in economic crisis, long-time Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is ousted in a 2017 coup by then-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Prior to the ensuing and bitter election, 40-year-old lawyer Nelson Chamisa steps in as opposition leader. There are death threats against the charismatic but relatively inexperienced Chamisa, and he's forced into hiding. Election foul play is suspected, results are delayed and activists hit the streets. Nielsson's documentary won a Sundance Special Jury Award for Verité Filmmaking – just weeks after the storming of the US Capitol. The disgraceful response to America's 2020 election reverberates throughout PRESIDENT. A timely reminder of what democracy means and how hard it is to reclaim once lost.

23 June

Elizabeth: A Portrait in Parts

From the famed director of Notting Hill and Tea with the Dames comes ELIZABETH: A Portrait in Parts. A nostalgic, uplifting and modern documentary about Queen Elizabeth II – the greatest British monarch of all time and longest serving female head of state in history. For the last nine decades Queen Elizabeth II has been entrenched in our collective consciousness: instantly recognisable, yet elusively and perpetually unknowable. Until now. With extraordinary access to rare footage from the Royal Archives, ELIZABETH: A PORTRAIT IN PARTS is a truly cinematic celebration of an icon that reveals a unique glimpse of the woman behind the legend.

27 June

Holy Hell

After graduating from college, young idealist Will Allen joined a spiritual community filled with like minded people looking for some answers to the basic questions of life, led by a charismatic but secretive guru.  Camera in hand, Allen documented 20 years of living inside this community, showing how his idealism began to unravel as more is revealed about the true nature of this cult. Speaking out publicly for the first time, and with unprecedented and unparalleled access, Holy Hell is a descent into a world no one, not even its participants, could have imagined. 

30 June

Bar Talks by Schumann

Follow world-renowned bartender Charles Schumann on a discovery of the world's best bars in New York, Havana and Tokyo. It’s an exploration of the history of bar culture and the cocktail itself. Marieke Schroeder’s documentary takes us on an intoxicating global tour with languid and stylish barman Charles Schumann, a legendary cocktail connoisseur of the highest order.

Friday, 20 May 2022

To Olivia: Movie Review

To Olivia: Movie Review

Cast: Keeley Hawes, Hugh Bonneville
Director: John Hay

Revelling in its miserabilism and its maudlin nature while missing some of the magic of Roald Dahl himself, director John Hay's To Olivia looks like a prestige picture for the elderly, but fails to hit any truly resonant notes.

Set in the 1960s, To Olivia looks at the fracture that hit US actress Patricia Neal (Hawes) and struggling author Roald Dahl (Downton's Bonneville) after the death of their daughter Olivia from encephalitis.
To Olivia: Movie Review

But as the duo spiral into depression, each handles it in different ways, bringing tension to their marriage on screen, but unfortunately not really translating it well into an audience sat through endlessly soul-sinking moments.

It's not that Bonneville and Hawes don't deliver rich performances, it's more that the material is too whimsical and interested in manufacturing moments rather than making them feel organically sown in. Things simply happen because they need to, and it somewhat punctures the story and robs it of any would-be emotional heft.

It's a fairly solid TV drama in the way that old films play in the background on a Sunday, but is enlivened by a cameo from Geoffrey Palmer as a vicar intent on telling Dahl and Neal that there's no place in heaven for animals.

Yet it's this moment which also points to To Olivia's flaws. It's too keen to wallow in shallow dramas rather than dive fully in, and seems almost uncertain of what exactly it wants to be.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

The Innocents: Movie Review

The Innocents: Movie Review

Cast: Rakel Lenora Flottum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, Sam Ashraf, Ellen Dorrit Pedersen, Morten Svartveit, Kadra Yusuf, Lise Tonne
Director: Eskil Vogt

There's just something about creepy kids that the horror genre loves.
The Innocents: Movie Review

Just ask The Midwych Cuckoos, Village of the Damned or Let The Right One In.

And director Eskil Vogt certainly knows about exploiting that - and dubious childhood moral codes - for maximum effect in this atmospheric and unsettling psychological thriller about a group of kids in a high rise building.

When the fair-skinned blonde-haired 9-year-old Ida (Flottum) moves with her severely autistic sister Anna (Ramstad) to a new home, she finds she has nobody really to play with. So as her parents have to keep permanent eyes on Anna, Ida's sent down outside to go see who she can befriend.

Stumbling across Ben, a seemingly shy kid, Ida's thrilled by his skill of making objects move through the sky and soon they form a playground friendship. But Ben's a damaged boy, with more cruel edges gradually revealing themselves - and soon Ida, her sister and a third friend find their almost naive take on cruelty turning inwards and threatening to destroy them all.

There's a real sense of discomfort throughout The Innocents that Vogt plays cleverly and carefully into.
The Innocents: Movie Review

It may be a slow burning film in some ways, but Vogt's desire to eek out the narrative makes it all the more unsettling as it gradually unspools. Whether it's subtle moments like Ida deliberately pinching her sister early on to see if she reacts or Ben's disturbed view of life, there's a genuine feeling here of something inveigling its way under your skin and proving to be callously creepy.

The child actors are solid enough, balancing a careful mix of wide-eyed naivete and babyish looks to make their actions feel genuinely upsetting. (There's possibility an argument against some of the subtext here though that wrongfoots some of Vogt's story as Ben, the dark-skinned immigrant seemingly turns on the porcelain-like children in a worrying parable and campaign against outsiders.)

But The Innocents is a troubling film, one that explores the almost carefree nature of childlike cruelty. Shooting from lower down and never really getting full shots of the adults, Vogt creates a world that Ida and her friends can inhabit, an environment that builds from the ground up to ultimately disturb.

There's no denying The Innocents will leave you a bit traumatised. While eschewing some of the earsier horror edges in favour of a more subtle psychological take, Vogt has made children extremely creepy again - and avoided the pitfalls of the tropes of the genre to ensure maximum cinematic effect.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Nobody Has To Know: Movie Review

Nobody Has To Know: Movie Review

Cast: Michelle Fairley, Bouli Lanners
Director: Bouli Lanners

A low key drama set in the hills of Scotland's remote islands, Nobody Has To Know is the kind of film where little is said, but the countryside and subtle looks tell more of the story than any dialogue could.
Nobody Has To Know: Movie Review

Game of Thrones' Fairley is Millie MacPherson, a woman declared the Ice Queen of a remote Scottish island. Buttoned up and primly dressed, Millie is not exactly overflowing with the love of the locals. Unlike Phil (Lanners), a middle-aged farmhand, covered in tattoos and the very embodiment of rugged. 

But when Phil suffers a stroke and resultant amnesia, Millie helps nurse him back to health after confessing to him her reasons for doing so. 

Nobody Has To Know has a quiet elegance, but little happens over the film's duration that isn't more keen on using the countryside and locations to proffer insight into Millie and Phil's mindset. 

Not exactly a story that pushes the boundaries of anything daring (aside from a final act twist), Nobody Has To Know gets by on its subtext and the feeling of seizing the moments in life that you can. It helps that with a more mature cast, the fragility that's explored within feels more timely and pressing - but there are elements of ennui which creep in toward the end.
Nobody Has To Know: Movie Review

There's a dignity to the direction, though, and some of that is also afforded by the seeming opposites attract approach of the leads. Fairley plays up the prim and proper icier edges of her character and Lanners' gruffer edges rub nicely up against creating a frisson of something that's about later life than more youth-oriented concerns.

Subtlety is the key to Nobody Has To Know and while it is in no rush to get where it needs to, and occasionally risks alienating a younger audience less interested in cinematic craft, it proves to be a quietly thoughtful piece.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

The Northman: Movie Review

The Northman: Movie Review

Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Bjork, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang
Director: Robert Eggers

VVitch director Robert Eggers returns to an oeuvre he knows well for The Northman, a simple revenge tale painted large on an epic canvas.
The Northman: Movie Review

Skarsgard is Amleth, a prince who sees his king father (Hawke, memorable in only a handful of scenes) murdered by his uncle Fjolnir (Bang) and his mother (Kidman, underutilised) kidnapped in front of him. Fleeing the scene and swearing revenge, Amleth becomes part of a marauding group of killers, who ransack villages, pillage and take what they want.

But as Amleth finesses his plan for revenge, he finds an opportunity when he discovers his uncle has been outlawed and is living outlawed in Iceland...

Based on the legend of Amleth, Eggers fills his film with grandiose Norse mythology, talk of Valhalla and mountains of superstition and pagan ceremonies. Building on the work done by The VVitch, Eggers expands his canvas and throws everything into the production and look of The Northman. This is not a film that holds back from the realities of the times, and is all the better for it. 

This is a film that goes for scope, achieves it, and then some - there will hardly ever be another film that matches the look and feel of this Norse storyline, without others comparing it to Eggers' work. (It's also worth noting that Taylor-Joy reunites with both Eggers and Ralph Ineson from The VVitch.)

Unfortunately though, it's saddled with a script that is barely one note and which does little more than its quest for revenge storyline. 
The Northman: Movie Review

Skarsgard spends most of the film simply skulking and hulking around, roaring and ranting in between fighting. Dialogue is guttural, muttered and in all honesty, stilted as it tries to inject mythos into the simplicity of the revenge tale. 

It may be part of Eggers' examination of masculinity in the Viking world and the cunning of women to survive that threads through large swathes of The Northman, and shows the dichotomy of the world they inhabit.

It doesn't quite work, and leaves parts of The Northman feeling drawn out in its 140 minute run time.

(There are latter portions of this too, which feel extremely reminiscent of parts of The VVitch, as Amleth stalks around a farmstead, various superstitions come into play and talk of evil haunts the air.)

But ultimately, The Northman is a visceral and gnarly knotted ride that's worth taking. There won't be any other film that looks like what Robert Eggers has committed to screen - and in truth, the grit and the grime may leave you feeling like the MCU has missed a trick with their iteration of Thor.

Monday, 16 May 2022

David Tennant and Catherine Tate to return to Doctor Who

David Tennant and Catherine Tate to return to Doctor Who

The Tenth Doctor David Tennant and his companion Donna Noble Catherine Tate are to return to Doctor Who.

The BBC announced the news on Sunday evening (UK time), saying the pair is filming scenes for inclusion in the show's diamond jubilee airing in 2023.
David Tennant and Catherine Tate to return to Doctor Who

Showrunner Russell T Davies said "They're back! And it looks impossible - first, we announce a new Doctor, and then an old Doctor, along with the wonderful Donna, what on earth is happening?  Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback. The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime."

It's not the first time Tennant appeared in the show after his departure in 2010 - he appeared in the 50th anniversary outing The Day of the Doctor.

The news today follows the announcement of Ncuti Gatwa as the 14th Doctor Who. He will take over the role in 2022 when current TARDIS incumbent Jodie Whittaker steps aside.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Uncharted: Blu Ray Review

Uncharted: Blu Ray Review

The Uncharted games on PlayStation are iconic.

Naughty Dog's cinematically-led adventure series traverses the world, essentially creating an Indiana Jones style video game that mines both the emotion and the depth of a character that's gripped a generation of gamers.

Uncharted: Movie Review

By contrast, the Uncharted movie seems to tick some of the game's boxes, but does it in a soulless way that betrays some of the talent involved, and despite a cliffhanger post credits scene, seems to be in uncharted waters for any potential sequel.

Tom Holland is Nathan Drake, a bartender blessed with plenty of historical knowledge and who crosses paths with Mark Wahlberg's Victor "Sully" Sullivan who entices him into an adventure that hints at revealing something of his long-missing brother, Sam.

However, as Nate and Sully head off to find the truth about Magellan's missing gold, Antonio Banderas' villainous Santiago Moncada steps into the frame, determined to claim his birthright.

Uncharted is relatively pacy for its 2 hour run time, and borrows liberally from iconic sequences from the game within the first 10 minutes, but as it begins to play out, there's a distinct feeling that this would-be adventure is lacking in spirit and chutzpah, preferring to play it safe, rather than maybe taking a few risks.

There's clearly a love for the source material here, with traps, sleuthing, nods to the game, and a beachside cameo for fans, but there's a distinct lack of chemistry between Wahlberg and Holland's characters, which would have given the movie a bit of badly-needed sparkle.

The one silver lining is Sophia Ali's Chloe Fraser, a fellow treasure hunter whose loyalties can't easily be guessed and who's clearly having a blast, playing a hard-as nails character whose agency doesn't rely on any of the male leads.

She's one of the only things that injects some life into some truly flat sequences - not even Holland's usual charisma can pull the film out of the "merely adequate" territory it finds itself in. Banderas is utterly wasted and underused, making a villain that's about as villainous as a chocolate bar.

That's half the trouble with Uncharted - it's frustratingly close to what could have been at times - as a post credits scene hints at - but spends most of the film zipping by its planned narrative stops rather than taking time to create a brand new mythology and subsequent franchise that's worth revisiting.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Win a Top Gun: Maverick prize pack

Win a Top Gun: Maverick prize pack

To celebrate the release of Top Gun: Maverick, in cinemas exclusively from May 26, thanks to Paramount Pictures NZ, you can win an exclusive Top Gun: Maverick prize pack!

Each prize pack contains a double pass to see the film, a hoodie, a tote bag and a Top Gun pin! 

About Top Gun: Maverick

After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. 

When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.”
Win a Top Gun: Maverick prize pack

Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.

Top Gun: Maverick is in cinemas from May 26! (Don't forget you can book tickets now to secure your place to be some of the first in the world to see Tom Cruise in the much-anticipated sequel!)

Friday, 13 May 2022

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival announces first films for 2022

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival announces first films for 2022

Seven titles have been announced for the upcoming Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival for 2022.

Ali & Ava, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time, Lost Illusions, Meet Me in the Bathroom, Navalny and The Good Boss are just a handful of the extraordinary international films that will be premiering in Aotearoa alongside homegrown features when the festival brings its celebration of cinema to 13 cities and towns this winter from 28 July.

“We’re incredibly excited to share this initial line-up from our 2022 programme,” said NZIFF’s Head of Programming Michael McDonnell.  
Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival announces first films for 2022

“Music fans will be delighted with the documentaries Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, a film exploring the legendary singer-songwriter’s life through the prism of his most renowned song, and Meet Me in the Bathroom, a thrilling examination of New York’s rambunctious ’00s rock scene. Other documentaries include Robert B. Weide’s tribute to the extraordinary life of American author Kurt Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time and the jaw-dropping fly-on-the-wall documentary Navalny which follows the attempted assassination of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“As always, we have some exceptional films from Europe and the UK, including Spain’s 94th Academy Awards entry for Best International Feature Film, The Good Boss, staring Javier Bardem, as well as acclaimed British director Clio Barnard’s triumphant social-realist tale Ali & Ava, and, from France, the seven-time 2022 César Award-winning adaptation of Balzac’s classic novel, Lost Illusions.”

The NZIFF’s programming team have been attending film festivals from around the globe, including Sundance and Berlinale, in search of the best films to bring to New Zealand audiences and will attend Festival de Cannes later this month. More titles from the 2022 programme, including New Zealand films, will be announced in the coming months.

NZIFF will open in Auckland on Thursday 28 July, followed by Wellington on the following Thursday, 4 August, and Christchurch and Dunedin on 11 August. The remaining nine centres will span August and September.

When Ali and Ava meet through their shared affection for the child of Ali’s Slovakian tenants whom Ava teaches, sparks fly, and a deep connection grows between them. However, the legacies of their past relationships threaten to overshadow their newfound passion. A refreshingly authentic depiction of finding love right on your doorstep, abound with humour and the transformative power of song.
Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival announces first films for 2022

A documentary deep-dive into the life and legacy of legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen told through the prism of his most anthemic and well-known song.

An unconventional portrait of an unconventional author that not only chronicles the extraordinary life, work, and legacy of Kurt Vonnegut but also his decades-long friendship with the filmmaker who set out to document it.

Reaping top awards at France’s prestigious César Awards 2022, this lavish and exhilarating spectacular, adapted from Balzac’s masterpiece, paints a cruel portrait of 19th century Parisian society and the burgeoning world of the press, which has startling contemporary overtones.

A vivid first-hand portrait of the New York music scene of the early 00s featuring era-defining groups like The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and LCD Soundsystem.

This staggering, fly-on-the-wall portrait of the charismatic anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, filmed in secret following an assassination attempt on his life, is one of the year’s most electrifying films.

Javier Bardem, renowned for his memorable portrayals of villains in No Country for Old Men and Skyfall, adds another sinisterly charming, immoral character to his repertoire as the titular ‘good boss’ in this dark Spanish satire which bagged all the top awards at the 2022 Goyas (the Spanish Oscars).


Thursday, 12 May 2022

Belfast: Blu Ray Review

Belfast: Blu Ray Review

It's hard to know if Kenneth Branagh's nostalgia-tinged ripped-from-my-childhood Belfast is such a simplistic film because it's supposed to be viewed through the eyes of a child, or because there is little depth in its script, which is set against the backdrop of the Cathotic and Protestant troubles in 1960s Ireland.

Belfast: Movie Review

Fortunately, Branagh's black and white tinged view of things is sumptuous enough on the eyes - even if its nourishment is lacking for the soul.

Newcomer Jude Hill plays Buddy, whose world is fighting with bin lids and make-believe swords and whose nights are filled with the first series of Star Trek and High Noon, as well as trips to the local cinema.

Buddy lives in a world of innocence and naivete but is treading tenderly into reality with catching snatched conversations of financial tensions between his ma and pa (Balfe, the solid performer of the film and Dornan, watchable but unspectacular) and facing the reality of his beloved Pop (Ciaran Hinds) having to go into hospital for issues with his lungs.

Against the barricades going up in Belfast, Buddy lives day to day - whether it's trying to get the attention of a girl in his class, or being involved in scrapes that he initially doesn't want to be part of. 

Belfast feels like a cross between Roma, Moone Boy and Derry Girls, albeit one that's being lovingly fused together with the hue of nostalgia. But its execution feels piecemeal, and seems to be more about capturing a feeling and atmosphere of being a child in a turbulent time, rather than the drama of being caught in the whirlwind. 

Belfast does little to transcend the usual coming-of-age tropes, but a slickly shot sheen helps to sell it as something a bit different (even if it's stuffed with excessive Van Morrison-laden syrupy montages) and gives it the hue it's aiming for.

Belfast: Movie Review

While Hill is round-cheeked and wide-eyed enough to rank up there with Martin Moone, Belfast belongs solely to Outlander's Caitriona Balfe who leads from the front, even when the subtlety is distinctly lacking. Fused with charisma, heart and honesty, it's Balfe that makes the film work - and sells some of the improbabilities. (Such as marching the kids back into the middle of a riot and shoplifting spree to return goods.)

But it's in the intentions that Belfast seems a bit lost. 

It may open with colourful cloud-level vistas of the city now, before peeking over a wall and then lapsing into the past (a bravura directorial moment), but Branagh's film follows most of the conventions and avoids the darkness of the Troubles in the city. It's high on sentiment and intent, rather than execution and while it's winningly filled with comedic moments, and blasts of the past, it's nothing more than a crowd-pleasing blanket of comfort feeling that audiences will be left with.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Jackass Forever: Blu Ray Review

Jackass Forever: Blu Ray Review

In Ancient Greece, they had athletes at the peak of their fitness competing for glory.

In Ancient Rome they had gladiators, fighting for survival and honour in front of coliseums full of spectators waiting to be entertained.

And in the 2000s the MTV generation had The Jackass crew putting their bodies - mainly their scrotum - on the line for your entertainment.

Jackass Forever: Movie Review

So ask yourself - with the fourth film finally here a decade from the last - are you not entertained?

The answer is sort of - if you’re into broing, having a drink with some mates and enjoying schadenfreude while someone else endures the pain you don't have to.

Sticking with a largely unchanged formula and crew, a greying Johnny Knoxville is the ringmaster of the cruel, the clown prankster leading his merry men and 1 solitary woman into battle - and never too far from deploying a taser to his male adolescent colleagues before collapsing in rasping laughter.

How funny you will find the escalating humiliation depends on your puerile propensity for penises being targeted, various fart gags, and endless wedgies.

Jackass Forever is not a precise sport, it’s a growing exercise in enduring cruelty as the older performers find themselves in peril inflicted on them by their peers - and don't even get yourself started on how much torture the animals involved have to endure (regardless of how humanely the film decries they were treated.)

In fact it’s a tribute to the horror of peer pressure, a warning about the lengths men will go to for the acceptance of those around them.

Jackass Forever: Movie Review

While there are the series’ first black and female performers, this collection of circus freaks exist only to entertain - and to make you feel good that it’s not your penis being forced to endure countless bees. This is not exactly anything other than the Jackass formula of low-hanging fruit, delivered in slow agonising HD and replayed for your joy.

A couple of set pieces bookend proceedings and bring some of the camaraderie that’s largely missing from just what is no more than a series of sketches loosely hung together, that must have seemed like a good idea at the time but in execution fail to fully live up to their potential.

There are telling moments though when the bravado falters making the danger feel more real. None more so than when one is slathered in honey and salmon and a bear is unleashed into the room when he's chained to the chair, and his so-called pals have deserted him. 

Equally, there's a sense of mortality when performers are warned about the dangers of a rattlesnake, then tricked into being locked in a room, with the lights turned off, and various attempts to convince them they've been bitten play out.

In truth, the pranks involving the public work better because of the reaction of all involved; the more scripted and the more self-centred the action becomes, the more the film stutters. Though, it's pleasing to see Knoxville humbled by a bull, given a broken wrist, concussion and knocked out pursuing a replay of a stunt from some 20 years ago.

“Twenty years later, we’re still doing the same stupid shit,” Knoxville cries at one point, underlying maybe the joke on the audience and themselves. So, ask yourselves as this hits the cinema - are you not entertained? Because the moral of Jackass Forever is the more you see these performers doing it, it's highly likely they'll do it and debases themselves again for your pleasure - as depressing a prospect as that is.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Avatar: The Way of the Water teaser trailer

Avatar: The Way of the Water teaser trailer

The first look at the much-awaited Avatar sequel has arrived.
Avatar: The Way of the Water teaser trailer

Avatar: The Way of the Water teaser trailer

Avatar: The Way of the Water teaser trailer

Avatar: The Way of the Water teaser trailer

The trailer for Avatar: The Way of the Water has been released online.

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive,  and the tragedies they endure. Directed by James Cameron and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau, the film stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement and Kate Winslet. 


To whet audiences appetites, the studio will re-release Avatar in cinemas on September 22.

James Cameron’s first follow-up to the highest grossing film of all time will open in New Zealand cinemas on December 15

Monday, 9 May 2022

Ukrainian Film Festival launches in New Zealand

Ukrainian Film Festival launches in New Zealand

A charity film festival is being launched in New Zealand to help those suffering in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Film Festival is starting off at Auckland's Victoria Theatre in Devonport, before hopefully expanding nationwide. $20 from every $30 ticket sold will go to charity.  The charities are - The Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, Voices of Children, Ukrainian Women' Guard and Support for Ukrainian filmmakers
Ukrainian Film Festival

Over three Sundays between May 29 to June 12, the iconic Vic Theatre in Auckland’s Devonport will host three special screenings of Ukrainian cinema: two feature films and a collection of contemporary shorts.

Here's what's playing the upcoming Ukrainian Film Festival.

Four short stories are set along the roads of Donbas, Ukraine during the war. There are no safe spaces and no one can make sense of just what is going on. Even as they are trapped in the chaos, some manage to wield authority over others. 

But in this world, where tomorrow may never come, not everyone is defenceless and miserable - and even the most innocent victims may have their turn at taking charge.
The film premiered at the 35th Venice International Critics Week where it screened in competition.

This is a story about a young creative family. The family is one, but the goals of the spouses are different. She wants a child, and he dreams of an acting career. How far are they willing to go to reach their goals? (18 mins)

A love triangle between a cashier and two security guards of a small supermarket in a provincial town. (30 mins) 

Winner of the main prize at I-st Khmelnytskyi Film Festival (Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine, 2021).

Nazar lives his small life in a big city, trying to flee from his haunting past. Will he ever overcome his shadows? Will he ever dare to love and make another person happy?
(30 mins)
27 y.o. Sasha missed his flight. He has to spend the whole day in the mysterious southern city, without cash, mobile phone, wi-fi and other benefits of civilization, accompanied by young Sashka, an eccentric and beautiful girl. (35 mins)
What if Taras Shevchenko (aka the “serf who founded a nation”) put down his pen and took a samurai sword into his hands? 

Ncuti Gatwa is the 14th Doctor Who

Ncuti Gatwa is the 14th Doctor Who

Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa has been named the 14th Doctor Who.

Gatwa will take over the lead role from Jodie Whittaker when she leaves the TARDIS later in 2022.
Ncuti Gatwa is the 14th Doctor Who

Gatwa said: "There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling.

A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared.

This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care.

I will endeavour my utmost to do the same."

Showrunner Russell T Davies spoke more of Gatwa's audition and how he got the part.

"The future is here and it’s Ncuti!

Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars.

Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds. It’s an honour to work with him, and a hoot, I can’t wait to get started.

I’m sure you’re dying to know more, but we’re rationing ourselves for now, with the wonderful Jodie’s epic finale yet to come.

But I promise you, 2023 will be spectacular!"

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Blu Ray Review

Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Blu Ray Review

Who you gonna call?

Returning after a Covid-induced hiatus, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is solidly and squarely about seizing on the nostalgia of the original 1984 Ghostbusters movie.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Film Review

But there's a lot here that is about the effect of legacies.

In this latest, Carrie Coon's Callie and her two children, Trevor (Stranger Things' Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Grace) are forced to move onto their grandfather's abandoned old farm in Summerville, Oklahoma.

Resentful of their fate, both Trevor and Callie try to adjust to life in a small town, and to clear the mountain of debt left by her father; whereas Phoebe, sporting a very familiar pair of round glasses and frizzy hair, finds herself drawn to the town's mysteries. Building a friendship with Paul Rudd's feckless summer school teacher Gary Gooberson, Phoebe begins to investigate how a town miles away from any faultlines is having regular earthquakes......

There's a point in Ghostbusters: Afterlife where the movie basically becomes the original Ghostbusters.

It's a series of scenes that the older ends of the audience will remember from 1984 and the younger audience may not be too aware of. 
Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Film Review

But that's part of what Jason Reitman is trying to do here - and it's also part of what ever so slightly cripples the film's intentions by robbing it of any voice of its own. Most of what transpires here is derivative - a new take on Slimer appears, there are mini Stay Pufts, the next generation of Ghostbusters is born and does little to distinguish themselves from their past and an utterly egregious use of CGI pushes the digital image as far as it should ever go.

It's not that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is not enjoyable in parts. There are certainly moments - mainly nostalgia-led - where the goosebumps tingle and Reitman does his best to manipulate them for narrative use.

Carrie Coon once again makes a case for being one of the most underrated actresses of her time, with her Callie largely leading proceedings with heart and humanity before being horrendously sidelined for the younger generation.

Ultimately, Ghostbusters: Afterlife occasionally feels like Ghostbusters: Afterthought as reference upon reference is shoehorned in - it's stifling and unfortunately, more of a rehash than its own future.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

C'Mon C'Mon: DVD Review

C'Mon C'Mon: DVD Review

There's an interesting dichotomy at the heart of C'Mon C'Mon, Mike Mills' paean to childhoods lost, and futures hoped for.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Johnny, an interviewer who trudges around the country talking to kids about their hopes and dreams for the future, while trying to reconcile his own past fractious relationship with his sister, Viv (Gaby Hoffmann).

C'Mon C'mon: Movie Review

When Viv has to leave to take care of her son's father's mental issues, Johnny naively offers to take her kid Jesse (Woody Norman) under his wing, believing it will be easy to do. However, as Johnny reconnects with his sister over their difficult relationship with their once-ailing mother, he finds Jesse challenging him at every turn, forcing a re-examination of his own beliefs.

Occasionally meandering, and a little overlong for nothing more than a 3-hander film, C'Mon C'Mon, shot in its monochrome colour scheme, is a film that may try your patience.

While Phoenix is mellow, and Norman is prodigious (rightly Oscar-nominated), the vibe of the film takes a little while to settle in as it builds its almost elegaic and fragile atmosphere.

There's nothing new in a main character being forced to revaluate themselves at the hands of a kid, but Mike Mills takes time to slowly stoke the quietly burning fires among the self-analysis of what life is about, and the ups and downs of parenting.

With its "nobody knows what they're doing they just have to keep doing it" ethos, the film soars when it uses real life interviews with children who reveal the fragility of their outlook in the 21st Century. Children in New Orleans provide more fascinating insights than the normal city-based ones interviewed, but none lack the validity of their hopes and dreams.

It may be an extended babysitting film, and a film about listening to all around you as well as yourself, but C'Mon C'Mon never wallows in preachiness, even as a degree of pomposity creeps in when Johnny starts interviewing himself and recording his feelings. Thankfully, the relaxed Phoenix can sell that side of the narrative with ease, removing subtly any claims of pretentiousness.

However, an over-reliance on voiceover and flashbacks slows the already glacial pace, and pushes C'Mon C'Mon dangerously close toward overindulgence territory from the Beginners and 20th Century Woman director.

Ultimately, C'Mon C'Mon is saved by a delicate Phoenix and a precocious outstanding new child talent - it may not be to everyone's taste, but the reflective vibe is a soothing balm for mentally fragile times.

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