Reviews

Reviewing can be a tricky balance between questionable fawning and unnecessarily cruel character assassinations. My approach is to first consider what the artist was setting out to achieve, and then whether or not that aim was successful. I've written reviews for Dork, Under the Radar, Skiddle, and The Ransom Note.

Film review: The Rental

Few trends have captured the millennial sense of self worth and (occasional) sense of self awareness as mumblecore. Defined primarily by muffled naturalistic dialogue, lo-fi production values, and a near-total preoccupation with the trials and tribulations of young middle class Americans, over the past two decades directors like Andrew Bujalski, the Duplass Brothers and Joe Swanberg have carved out their own niches in a genre characterised by nicheness.

Film review: The Rise of Skywalker coughs, splutters, soils itself and dies

Star Wars is in absolute tatters. Disney’s tenure has felt like a game of internal chicken, eyeing up Lucas’ disastrous prequel trilogy and egging themselves on to balls things up even more. There’s been a bevvy of aborted standalone films, a trilogy that totally lacked for a unifying vision (despite the first two parts both being plenty entertaining), and a fanbase that’s never been more divided on what constitutes Star Wars. $4 billion well spent, huh?

Film review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a rare example of pure beauty

What marks Portrait of a Lady on Fire as a more full-bodied work than its impressive romantic thread, is the wider angle Sciamma takes regarding loving relationships. With men largely regulated to off-screen spectres and the things of ancient myth, the full spectrum of female communal spirit grows in the spaces left behind. In Sciamma’s frame no woman is perfect, and yet through sororal companionship something perfect begins to take hold.

Film review: The Lighthouse fuses high contrast horror with dark comedy

The Lighthouse isn’t simply a film shot in black & white—it’s a picture that resonates deeply with stark binary contrasts, even as these oppositions frequently collapse. Where many might accuse A24 of having fanned the flame of shallow visual gimmicks since their inception in 2012, with his second feature Robert Eggers proves striking imagery and strong storytelling are no strange bedfellows

Film review: When Lambs Become Lions

When Lambs Become Lions opens on a roaring fire, or at least that’s what we have to assume. The credits roll out over several shots of a towering plume of smoke, thick black clouds billowing out from a molten orange core. It’s a striking image to start a documentary on, one that feels evasive and pointed. By presenting consequence without instigation, it not only creates atmosphere, but speaks deeply to director Jon Kasbe’s ambivalence.

Album review: FKA twigs - Magdalene

What Barnett is aiming for on MAGDALENE is perhaps best expressed by its first single, "cellophane." Everyone's trying, but those stitches don't always heal right. Sometimes it's easier to stop still, and just let yourself be overwhelmed; sometimes, we don't bridge the gaps we know we should. MAGDALENE might not be perfect, but it reverberates with the sound of someone shutting the door on a difficult chapter in their life.

Film review: Greener Grass

Watching Greener Grass is a deeply unsettling experience. Set in a suburban sprawl as imagined by a ‘50s caricature of a pink-obsessed brat, every inhabitant grins ecstatically as they walk rigidly through their plastic lives. Babies are seen as easily transferable commodities, the drink of choice is the finest in filtered pool water, and there’s no crime worse than losing face publicly. It’s for these very same reasons, though, that watching Greener Grass is also deeply entertaining.

Film review: Joker proves the last laugh is on audiences expecting more

Haven’t we had enough proof that a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf, and that a gold-leafed turd sure as shit ain’t jewellery? Even in our post-postmodern era, pastiche leaves little room for originality, and Todd Phillips’ criminally banal Joker spends a lot of time repurposing greener pastures. Much like Zack Snyder’s slavish panel-for-panel recreation of Watchmen, Phillips’ pursuit of aesthetic resemblance is rooted in a juvenile desire to be gritty, but he never grasps for something worthy of his lofty visual forebears.
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