Movie Review – Unsane


EXPECTATIONS: A lean, mean, 70’s style exploitation horror film with a fantastic performance from Claire Foy.

REVIEW: Steven Soderbergh is known to be one of the greatest filmmakers to come from independent cinema with films like Sex, Lies and Videotape and King of the Hill. But he became a bigger name when he ventured into commercial filmmaking with crime films like Out of Sight, The Limey and the Ocean’s film series.

Since then, he’s produced various projects, helped boosting careers like the career of director Christopher Nolan, he balanced out his commercial projects with his experimental projects. The latter resulted with mixed results like the drama film Bubble; the sci-fi remake of Solaris and the comedy Full Frontal. When Soderbergh announced his retirement from feature filmmaking back in 2012 (although it was later claimed to be a sabbatical), it didn’t feel like much of a blow since his creative outlets would be fascinating regardless of the format, whether it is from television, theatre or the internet.

For his latest project, after his return to feature filmmaking with heist comedy Logan Lucky, he has mixed his commercial aspirations with his experimental sensibilities with Unsane, a horror exploitation film starring the talented Claire Foy. But what makes this film experimental is that the film was made entirely with the iPhone 7. Does the film succeed at being entertaining as well as showing what the iPhone 7 is capable of in terms of cinematic panache?


The film follows Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy), a woman who has been relocating from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape her stalker, David Strine (Joshua Leonard) for the last two years. Despite having a normal office job and living healthy (due to her salad lunches) she is unable to live a normal life due to her seeing striking visions of her stalker.

Consoling with a therapist of her past events and her current condition, she unwittingly signs in for a voluntary 24-hour commitment to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Her stay at the facility soon gets extended when doctors and nurses begin to question her sanity. And just when things get worse, Sawyer believes that one of the orderlies is David. Without much support from her friends and family as well as in the facility itself, Sawyer will do whatever it takes to survive and fight her way out.


Unsane is a very striking entry in Soderbergh’s filmography due to the fact that it is an entry where he ventures into pulp B-movie territory. With the script written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer (who have previously written comedies like Just My Luck and The Spy Next Door, no really), the story hearkens back to the old-school exploitation films like Shock Corridor and classic madhouse films like The Snake Pit, One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Repulsion; so we are in familiar territory here. The film does venture into horror tropes in the third act, which could lose some of the audience, but Soderbergh lends it enough style to make it fresh, even when the script does show itself to be mildly problematic in retrospect.

But there are many elements that make Unsane stand out from its familiar trappings and flaws. One element is the film’s surprising thematic punch. Whether the film was uncannily released in a time that involves the era of Time’s Up and Me Too movements, the film is essentially a timely metaphor for how women are not believed and how they are subjected into harassment, how they are driven to doubt their experiences to the point of possible delusion, how men treat them in such a way that it affects every viewpoint of their actions, however trivial.

The opening scene of Unsane sets the tone rather quickly and succinctly; as it involves Sawyer talking to her boss and he offers her a work-related invitation or a moment in the film where even as something as seemingly small as not reading the fine print of a contract can be seen as scary. But the way it is executed gives off an underlying sense of tension that rings undeniably true.

It also makes some striking social commentary on disabled care and the medical profession that not only compels within the scope of the story but it also adds to the delusion of the characters and whether they are sane or not, resulting in more added tension. And what makes it all work is Soderbergh’s restraint in conveying these themes without rubbing it in one’s face.


Another element that makes Unsane stand out is the direction by Soderbergh (under the name of Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard). Utilizing the iPhone 7, the colours, the compositions and the shots lend the film a sense of grit and tact, which is reminiscent of 70’s exploitation films. And it also lends the film a creepy, voyeuristic vibe that implies that anyone out there would be using their cellphones to spy on them. And the specific idea is amusingly delivered by a high-profile cameo from a Soderbergh regular who states that “Think of your cellphone as your worst enemy”. The musical score by Thomas Newman compliments the vibe of the film really well, whilst sounding unconventional in that it doesn’t build up the tension, but it makes the tension pervade throughout.

The staging of the conflicts in the film are also quite unexpected. In one scene where Sawyer becomes incredibly destructive, the scene is shown in both the POV of Sawyer and from behind within the same shot. Now usually a scene such as this would be an opportunity for the actor to “carve a slice of ham” so to speak, but Soderbergh relies more on the filmmaking, rather than the performances.

But slyly enough, there is a scene where it is set in the room of quiet solitary confinement and it becomes like a stageplay of sorts, where the characters become quite confronting and vent their feelings towards each other and it gets quite thrilling like an action scene. And with the honest thematic punch, the scene becomes one of the most thrilling scenes in 2018. It is that good.


The supporting cast of Unsane are all good sports from the charismatic Jay Pharoah whose character can be seen as sane even if his theories sound delusional; to the chameleon-like Juno Temple who gives another unhinged performance and Amy Irving (famous from 1976’s Carrie, another film involving the abuse of a woman) providing strong support as Sawyer’s mother. And of course there’s Joshua Leonard as George Shaw (or is it David Strine?). As much as is suitable to go into the details of praising his performance, it would venture into spoiler territory, but he is compelling here just as he was natural in 1999’s The Blair Witch Project.

But the biggest element that t makes Unsane worth seeing is the Queen herself, Claire Foy. Standing out to this reviewer ever since titular performance in the underwhelming Season of the Witch, I have enjoyed her work in The Crown and Breathe. And hearing that she is playing Lisbeth Salander in the upcoming film, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Unsane is essentially the audition tape for it.

Foy gives an incredibly raw performance that conveys the gamut of emotions that Sawyer goes through perfectly.  What is notable about Foy’s performance is that it never feels like Foy is trying to endear herself to the audience. There is a righteous anger within her that makes her lash out physically or even as minor as saying something that passes off as passive-aggressive, even if it becomes irrational. All of this adds to the credence that her character may or may not be insane, and Foy conveys that convincingly. Whether she is angry at the position she is in or whether she is panicking at the supposed presence of her stalker, Foy’s performance is the solid foundation that makes Unsane work.

Overall, despite the familiar story and the minor script problems in the third act, Unsane is a lean, mean and powerful psychological horror-thriller that packs a timely thematic punch and features what could be Foy’s best performance.

Sidenote: Unsane not only amusingly ends on a freeze-frame (which is basically unheard of in the present day of cinema) and it features one of the shortest end credits reels in a very long time.


Quickie Review


Fantastic performance from Claire Foy

Game supporting cast

Soderbergh’s direction

Gritty iPhone cinematography and idiosyncratic musical score


Problematic third act

Script flaws

SCORE: 8/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Amy Irvine, Polly McKie, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Gibson Frazier, Aimee Mullins
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenwriters: Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer


Movie Review – The Party


EXPECTATIONS: A black comedy so barbed and sharp that I should see acid leaking off the cinema screen.

REVIEW: Black comedies can be a very hard genre to pull off. Since it dwells within serious issues that could potentially be seen as taboos in comedies, it requires a certain balance between empathy, humour and darkness. But like all films, they have to have a certain amount of humanity for the audience to cling on to.

Some comedies would have either have characters that can we can believe in and latch on to or the characters are so reprehensible that we can laugh at them as well as their predicaments. And this is where Sally Potter‘s latest film, The Party fits in.

With an embarrassment of riches ranging from the cast (including Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Timothy Spall, Cillian Murphy and others) to the crew (including editor Anders Refn) and an acclaimed director in Sally Potter, The Party looks like to be a great change of pace for Potter’s filmography. Will it be fun like a party should be or will it stink like a party pooper?


Shot in monochrome widescreen, Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) hosts an intimate gathering of friends in her London home to celebrate her ascension up the political ladder. After her passive-aggressive best friend (Patricia Clarkson) and other stand-out characters arrive (Cillian Murphy, Cherry Jones, Bruno Ganz, Emily Mortimer), some of them have dramatic news to share, which could end up showing them to be party poopers.

And of course, the cherry on top could be an announcement by Janet’s husband (Timothy Spall), which could provoke a series of revelations. As the sophisticated shindig starts to peel away the layers, a night that began with champagne soon ends up with arguments, shouting and a pointed gun. Now it’s a party!


The funniest part of the film, in this reviewer’s opinion, is the visual cue of a fox in the film, which was reminiscent of Lars Von Trier‘s horror film, Antichrist. Since The Party was edited by Anders Refn, who had worked on Antichrist as well as having both films being shot in monochrome, it seemed to be a sly poke on Antichrist, hinting that chaos would reign once the party starts.

The Party is only 71 minutes long, so this review is going to be short and concise like the film. Sally Potter and her cinematographer, Alexey Rodionov try really hard to make a small setting look well-drawn and distinct and The Party is really well shot, as the lustrous black and white accentuates the feelings and points of view of the characters: there is always a grey area.

The characters are all forward-thinkers and their cynical views could have been a drag to watch on-screen, even at 71 minutes, but thanks to director Sally Potter and the ensemble cast, it is great to see that them show empathy for the characters and that is what makes the audience stick through the film. Even if the titular party is meant to be a victory celebration.

Since the main trajectory of the film is politics, the humour itself could easily had aimed for easy targets like bigotry, Brexit, capitalism etc, but thankfully the humour is always grounded in character, and the seven characters assembled here are all wonderfully realized by the cast.


On the female side, Kristen Scott Thomas is great as the repressed Janet, who is basically trying to remain composed with her many responsibilities as being a dutiful wife to her husband as well as her duties for her newly appointed position, and her many secrets. And we have Patricia Clarkson, who is entertainingly acerbic as April, delivering barbed lines of dialogue as if they were grenades; and of course the couple, Emily Mortimer and Cherry Jones, who are both endearingly grounded as the moody Jinny and the intellectual Martha.

On the male side, we have Timothy Spall, who’s facial expressions and seemingly monosyllabic deliveries are spot-on, being the so-called “patriarch” of the entire film. And we have Cillian Murphy, who is fantastic as the unstable member of the party and clearly doesn’t have the skills to stay composed as Janet. And last but definitely not least, we have Bruno Ganz, who is endearing as Gottfried, to the point of almost seeming delusional as he quotes lines upon lines of hippy New Age platitudes.

What weakens the impact of the film however is the ending. Although it does tie up most of the loose strands in the narrative, the impact of it all doesn’t really amount to much, in comparison to what had proceeded it.

Overall, The Party is a pitch-black, hilarious and satirical comedy with a fantastic cast and Potter’s assured filmmaking. Although the film may not have the impact that it could have, The Party was great while it lasted.

Quickie Review


Great performances from the ensemble cast

Humour is always grounded in character

Potter’s direction, Refn’s editing and Rodionov’s cinematography complement the story


Ending lacks impact

SCORE: 8/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall
Director: Sally Potter
Screenwriters: Sally Potter

Movie Review – Phantom Thread


EXPECTATIONS: Something classical and elegant, which lives up to the reputation of both the director and lead actor.

REVIEW: I must be a really bad film critic since I have realized another error of my film-watching ways. After other mistakes like never seeing a Agnes Varda film before until Faces Places, there is another mistake that I have to confess about and rectify: I have never seen any of the works of Daniel Day-Lewis.

Considered to be the best actor of this generation, his work in films like Lincoln, There Will Be Blood, In the Name of the Father and My Left Foot have gathered massive acclaim all due to his intense commitment in method acting. When it was announced that his latest film would be his last, filmgoers had their hopes up in what would be a swan song and not a swan dive.

And once again, I have another mistake I have to confess: I have only seen one of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s films, which is his romantic comedy/drama Punch Drunk Love. From that film alone, it’s perfectly obvious that Anderson’s direction is idiosyncratic, unorthodox and delightfully playful even during serious moments.

To rectify my barbaric ways of my lack of film knowledge, I ventured to watch Day-Lewis’ and Anderson’s latest collaboration, Phantom Thread. Considering the massive buzz and my lack of knowledge of both the film and the filmmakers, my mind was fresh to expect anything. Does the film live up to the buzz?


Set in 1950’s London, renowned dressmaker and “tragic” artist Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are the milestone of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutantes and dames with the distinct and famous style of The House of Woodcock.

Women are used and dispensed with in Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes an asset in his life as his muse and his lover. Once feeling meticulous and in control, he finds his carefully tailored life (pun definitely intended) derailed by love.


Reading into the synopsis, it sounds like Phantom Thread is a film about the whining of a supposedly reclusive artist who complains about his way of life being disrupted until a woman comes into his life and supports him through this supposed dilemma. But this is a Paul Thomas Anderson film, so don’t expect it to follow any genre conventions, as it is really a romantic comedy disguised as a period drama.

Anderson (acting as the cinematographer and writer in-between directorial duties) basically conveys a magical and wondrous mood mixed with acerbic wit to themes that usually wouldn’t warrant such things like sadomasochism, toxic masculinity, gastronomy and of course, tailoring and dressmaking.

But even with doing all of these things, and accomplishing them very well, he never forgets the humanity of the distinct characters. And the storytelling never goes through certain cinematic conventions and tropes, always keeping the audience on edge, particularly during the climax, despite being oddly similar to other 2017 films, due to using the exact same plot device.

Jonny Greenwood‘s score is absolutely magnificent. Emotionally stirring, incredibly catchy and in perfect synchronization with Anderson’s twisted storytelling, the score is basically a main character of the film itself. While Greenwood has made many great musical scores like with Norwegian Wood and We Need to Talk About Kevin, he really takes the cake here.

In fact, the sound design by Christopher Scarabosio is done so well, it complements the story, it adds punch to comedic scenes, it aids the unraveling characters and even adds a sense of palpable tension. And to think that all of this can come from the simple act of buttering toast.


The acting is also a major plus. Daniel Day-Lewis is fantastic as Reynolds Woodcock (no, really), as he isn’t afraid to delve into the flaws of the character as well as imbuing a bit of a tongue-in-cheek quality that makes Woodcock fun to watch, if not repellent in retrospect. Whether he is swearing at his colleagues or beating Alma at mind games (or in one scene, backgammon), Day-Lewis makes Woodcock strangely magnetic.

As good as he is, the actresses are the stand-outs of the film. Vicky Krieps (who is best known to Westerners in films like Hanna and A Most Wanted Man) is absolutely brilliant as the multi-faceted Alma. The more Woodcock (or in another case, Anderson) pulls on the thread about Alma, the more she unravels as an alluring, strong, off-kilter and charming person, and Krieps opens up convincingly, sweeping the audience off their feet in the process.

The interactions and chemistry between Krieps and Day-Lewis sway between wonderful, acidic, funny and a little bit psycho (intellectually and humourously speaking; especially during a dinner scene where they argue about such minuscule issues like how asparagus should be cooked. What’s best about their chemistry is that it never feels rehearsed or prepared; it feels intimate and immediate. In every relationship, there’s always that person that has the upper hand, but in the case of Woodcock and Alma, it’s hard to know who has it, and it becomes quite fun to figure it out.

And of course, there is Lesley Manville. Mostly known for her collaborations with acclaimed director Mike Leigh, she brings much humanity to the role of Cyril Woodcock, that she easily avoids conveying her character as a one-dimensional thorn on one’s backside.


While the film is definitely unconventional, Phantom Thread can be seen as an experience that can be quite irksome due to the fact that Anderson always avoids cinematic conventions to the point that it can feel artificial and self-satisfying. But if one were to look at it in a different way, that kind of creative influence could apply to the character of Reynolds Woodcock himself.

As beautiful as it is twisted, Phantom Thread is a film worth unraveling, with its wonderful performances, Anderson’s unpredictable storytelling and Greenwood’s emotionally stirring score that is sure to appeal to adventurous cinemagoers.


Quickie Review


Fantastic acting from the three leads, especially Vicky Krieps

Glorious musical score by Johnny Greenwood

Interesting chemistry between characters and their interactions

Great curveballs in the story


May be a bit too offbeat for it own good

SCORE: 9/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville, Camilla Rutherford, Gina McKee, Brian Gleeson, Harriet Sansom Harris, Lujza Richter, Julia Davis
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Screenwriters: Paul Thomas Anderson

Movie Review – Call Me By Your Name


EXPECTATIONS: Hopefully something that is brimming with passion and not passivity.

REVIEW: As of writing this review, the Australian Parliament has passed the law, allowing same-sex marriage. What great timing, right?

Anyway, Call Me By Your Name. This film has been gathering up critical buzz ever since it made its premiere splash at Sundance back in January. Then it showed at many other film festivals like Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and our very own Sydney Film Festival (to which yours truly regretfully missed out on).

And now finally, near the end of the year, it’s finally here out on local release. Does the film live up to its rapturous hype with claims of passionate romance, astounding performances and emotionally stirring drama? Or will it succumb to be something underwhelming and be thrown away like the pit of a peach?

Call Me by Your Name - Still 2

The film is set somewhere in 1983’s Northern Italy (it’s stated that way in the film and not due to my lack of research) and we follow Elio (Timothee Chalamet), a 17-year old boy who’s enjoying the Italian summer with his parents (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar).

His father is a professor of archaeology and in every summer, he invites a student over for the summer to help out with his academic paperwork. This summer, he invites an American student, Oliver (Armie Hammer).

Elio, who’s a bit of an introvert due to his fascination with literature, doesn’t really click with Oliver due to his outgoing personality, but over a short amount of time, the two begin to have a growing desire for one another that will change their lives forever.


Does the film live up to its immense hype? Well, firstly, let me get down to the problems of the film just to get things moving. The film can be a bit overlong and…well…that’s basically it really, because overall, Call Me By Your Name is one of the best films of the year.

One of the main reasons why it succeeds with flying colours is because of Luca Guadagnino‘s unpretentious direction of the small story. Sure, the story may be about a romance that involves homosexuality, but it is exactly that. There are no prejudices, no conflicts arising from said element; it is simply a love story and the filmmakers treat it just so.

The story is incredibly universal with its themes of first love, hidden sexual desires and coming-of-age elements and yet what Guagadnino has come up with has so much passion, so much feeling and so much heart, it makes the film much more eventful and fruitful than it really is.

What always makes first love so memorable are the sights and sounds that accompany it and in Call Me By Your Name, these are very notable indeed. The cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (famous for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and the upcoming Suspiria remake, also directed by Guagadnino) and shot compositions convey the small moments that stick; shots that linger on fruits, people and beautiful summer landscapes that make you almost feel like you’re being a voyeur, spying on these characters.

The blocking in many scenes (i.e. a scene where Elio and Oliver walk around a fountain) convey the development of the relationship perfectly, showing the distance and eventually closeness between the two characters.


Then there’s the sound design, which consists of buzzing insects, the breeze of the winds and even the sound of a peach being squeezed, it makes the small story feel like it’s brimming with fire and immerses you in with ease. And there’s of course, the soundtrack. All love stories have musical choices that one would remember with fondness and Call Me By Your Name has a couple of doozies. Although I do not want to spoil what songs they are, any film that has a song that featured in the dance film Flashdance gets a thumbs up from me.

The camera also lingers on the two leads as if they are the Greco-Roman statues that are being studied in the film, but unlike the statues, these are full-bodied characters and the film never lets you forget it. And while the interactions between the two never become prurient or salacious, it’s the chemistry between the two actors that make the film and bring it to life.

Armie Hammer has never been more charismatic and alluring here; playing Oliver as an charismatic and confident character who gradually reveals layers under the bravado. Whether he is owning the floor with his unruly dancing or impressing the adults with his American banter, it’s pretty easy to see why the attraction is there.

But really, the film truly belongs to Timothee Chalamet. He plays Elio as pure of heart, even when he is saddled with his naive perceptions on lust and adulthood, his actions ring genuine and true and Chalamet brings a nuanced and convincing portrayal of that. He never hides his feelings about Oliver, but when he tries to hide under a facade of denial, Chalamet hits the mark with his physical acting chops. There is a scene with just him involving a peach that conveys so much of the insecurities and contradictions of the character, that it is both beautiful, enthralling and slightly terrifying.


And while the supporting cast do well with their parts (including Esther Garrell as Marzia, who brings a timid innocence to her breezy character), the big standout is Michael Stuhlbarg as Elio’s intelligent and supportive father. In a five-minute scene in the third act, he basically steals the entire film with a monologue that shows love, compassion, understanding and regret all at once, and Stuhlbarg completely nails it.

Overall, Call Me By Your Name is a masterfully told story about first love, hidden sexual desire and coming-of-age experiences with great performances, immersive production values and nuanced direction that will surely dazzle the eyes, enchant your ears and warm your heart.

Quickie Review


Great performances from the leads (especially Timothee Chalamet)

Guagadnino’s great direction elicits passion and sensitivity

Supporting cast make the most out of their parts

Production values back up Guagadnino’s vision


A bit too long

SCORE: 9/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois, Vanda Capriolo, Antonio Rimoldi, Elena Bucci, Marco Sgrosso
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenwriters: James Ivory, Luca Guadagnino, Walter Fasano

Movie Review – Paddington 2


EXPECTATIONS: A sequel equal to the wonderful original.

REVIEW: I don’t know how the first Paddington film became as good as it is. Considering that the trailers made it look awful and the late cast changes in regards to who provides the voice of the titular bear, I was actually expecting the worst. But to everyone’s shock, it turned out to be one of the best family films of that year. Or even one of the best films of that year.

Full of charm, heart, British wit, visual invention and a refreshing lack of postmodernism and pop culture references, Paddington was a genuine and welcome surprise for all. So when there was news that a second film was going to be made, I was excited beyond belief. With all the cast and crew from the original returning (bar Nicole Kidman, of course) and with Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson and others playing new characters, will the film live up to the original?


After the events of the original film, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has nestled in nicely with the Brown family (consisting of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin and Julie Walters) and has become a hit in the neighbourhood.

Still communicating to his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) via letter, Paddington plans to get her a special birthday present in the form of a pop-up book. Realizing how expensive and valuable the book is, Paddington works as a window cleaner to earn the money.

And just as he is close to achieving his goal, a ragged thief steals the book from the antique store owned by Samuel Gruber (Jim Broadbent). Failing to catch the thief, Paddington ends up taking the fall for the crime and is sent to prison.

Will Paddington ever get to send Aunt Lucy the perfect birthday present? Will the Brown family ever catch the thief and clear Paddington‘s name? Will Paddington survive his time in prison?


To get off track of this review a tiny morsel, over the course of my life, I’ve never tried marmalade before. But if I were to try it, it would have an immense lot to live up to in comparison to this wondrous film.

Everything that made the original such a joy is back in the sequel. The extravagantly colourful cinematography by Erik Wilson is more bold than ever to the point that this film has the most beautiful looking prison I’ve ever seen. Dario Marianelli (who replaces Nick Urata) unsurprisingly provides a magically stirring score that adds to the storybook vibe of the film.

And the script by director Paul King and Simon Farnaby (who reprises his small role as Barry) never forgets the lightness of tone and sweet humour and storytelling that made the previous film so successful. They give the characters ample screentime and moments that are all satisfying arcs that foreshadow a fantastic punchline or an emotional moment.

Even some of the more daring humour packs a punch i.e. when Mrs. Bird despises a particular occupation. And once again, the film thankfully does away with the modernities to keep its storybook vibe intact (i.e. no mobile phones) and keeps the classic elements like phone booths and steam trains. Speaking of steam trains, the action sequences are terrific in terms of thrills and visual humour that is reminiscent of Wes Anderson or even Harold Lloyd.


But let’s not forget the wonderful cast. The regulars are all enjoyable to watch and they clearly haven’t lost a step. Ben Whishaw is again spot-on as Paddington, as he provides the perfect balance of sincerity, sweetness, heart and conviction. Sally Hawkins is a hoot as she conveys Mary’s unhinged thirst for adventure while Peter Capaldi is clearly making the most out of his screen-time as the lovably annoying neighbour Mr. Curry.

Even the supporting actors of various amounts of screen-time (including Jessica Hynes, Joanna Lumley, Sanjay Bhaskar and others) add much joy to the film. There’s one particular cameo which I will not spoil that had the audience laugh out loud when he showed up.

But the new actors coming in are the stand-outs here. Brendan Gleeson, who’s no slouch to comedy or family films (as In Bruges and the Harry Potter films clearly indicate) and he is an incredibly good sport as Nuckles McGinty, the prison cook. He clearly knows the material and adapts his performance to it perfectly, making a surprising companion (Or is he?) to Paddington.

And there’s of course, Hugh Grant. One of the most self-deprecating actors on the planet, in Paddington 2, he takes it up another step as washed-out theatre actor, Phoenix Buchanan (A true stage name, if there ever was one.). In the film, he basically plays multiple roles (ranging from a ragged hobo to a nun of all people) and he relishes every single one of them. Whether he is equipped with small throwaway gags (like missing a cravat) or dressing up in silly costumes (like a dog costume), Grant nails the part with gusto.


As for its flaws, I honestly can’t really think of any. Apart from some gags I missed out because I was laughing so much and some of the CGI/green-screen effects in the action scenes being quite noticeable, those barely even qualify as nitpicks.

Overall, Paddington 2 is a wonderful sequel that the whole family will enjoy and it will certainly bring a smile to one’s face. Now I’m off to go and try marmalade for the first time before Paddington gives me the hard stare. Just kidding!

Quickie Review


Fantastic cast

Vibrant storybook score

Colorful cinematography

Retains sense of humour that made the first film successful

Great new characters


Gags may be missed due to massive amounts of laughter

Some iffy CGI/green-screen effects

SCORE: 9/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Peter Capaldi, Tom Conti, Joanna Lumley, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Eileen Atkins
Director: Paul King
Screenwriters: Paul King, Simon Farnaby, based on characters created by Michael Bond

Movie Review – Professor Marston and the Wonder Women


EXPECTATIONS: Something wonderful.

REVIEW: Biopics these days are a hard genre to execute due to the fact that whenever actors star in them, it just gives off a vibe that he, she or they are acting for awards. Like the formula for Oscar Bait is to talk in a funny accent or shout. To truly nail a true character, there’s more to it than just imitation.

Bad examples of biopics include films like Patch Adams, Diana and yes, even A Beautiful Mind fail to succeed from a filmmaking standpoint (due to sappy music, biopic cliches, lacking in exploration of the spirit of the subject etc.) and have performances that come off as a collection of tics, rather than a true embodiment of the subject that they are playing.

With great biopics like Walk the Line, Nixon and I’m Not There, these are films that capture the spirit of the real-life subjects with the combination of fantastic performances that inhabit the subject and stellar filmmaking that does more than just recount a series of events.

So when I went into seeing Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and all I knew about the film was that it involved the creation of the popular female superhero, Wonder Woman. What I didn’t know about the film until I saw it was something that led me to think this is one of the best movies of the year.


Luke Evans plays Professor William Marston, a famed college teacher and psychologist who is in the middle of creating an invention that would go on to be the lie detector. Collaborating with his wife, Elizabeth Marston (Rebecca Hall), who is also a teacher, they become stuck in the way of progress and decide to hire a college student to help get them out of their creative slump. Their search for the perfect aide leads them to Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote).

Little do they know is their solid relationship that they will forge together will not only lead to the creation of the first female superhero but also a relationship that shows love knows no bounds.


Once again, I had no clue of what the film was truly about, even when I saw the final trailer, which thankfully doesn’t spoil any of the moments. But this is a story that is about sexuality, dominance, submission, femininity, poly-amorous relationships and how they were treated and of course, the creation of Wonder Woman and the rapturous reactions it got from people.

With Angela Robinson‘s assured direction and screenwriting, she gamely handles all of the themes above with integrity and sincerity, easily resonating with the audience. Even the sexuality is handled tastefully, but never to the point of either being exploitative or lacking in passion.

Even in scenes of sexual discovery, character epiphanies and empowerment eg. when Olive wears what would end up being a prototype of the Wonder Woman costume, Robinson subverts expectations of that scene and it ends up being surprisingly tense, emotionally stirring and inspiring, rather than going along the lines of prurience.


But even with the direction and scripting of Robinson, none of the film’s emotional power would be as effective as it stands without the trio of stellar performances from the three talented leads, as well as their palpable chemistry.

Having seen Luke Evans last in the mediocre live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, being miscast in the role of Gaston, I remember saying that he looked too smart to play a buffoon like that. In the case of Professor Marston, Evans pulls off the charisma, intelligence and passion of the character with gusto. Finally having a role on-screen that is worthy of his talents, Evans is an actor that will be following steadfastly from now on.

In the case of fellow Australian actress Bella Heathcote, she has given some good performances in films like The Neon Demon (where she is more like cyborg than human) and The Rewrite (where she charms and delights with maturity). In the case of Olive Byrne, Heathcote makes the progression of her character from timidness to empowerment play out in a convincing fashion that it makes the scene where she dons the prototype outfit of Wonder Woman that much more powerful.

But the best out of the three leads is Rebecca Hall. To think that she already peaked with her underseen performance in Christine, Hall gives a fantastic performance as Elizabeth Marston, conveying her tenacity, her quick wit and especially her vulnerability so brilliantly, it’s no wonder that Professor Marston would fall for such a fascinating woman.

And the chemistry the three share is compelling, making it incredibly easy for the audience to root for them. Even when Robinson edges over the line of overusing the musical score by Tom Howe, it never annoys when these characters are so wonderfully human and engaging. So much so that it makes the story about the creation of Wonder Woman look inferior by comparison, which by the way, did make me look at the female superhero in a different light after I left the cinema.


As for its flaws, aside from the slight overuse of the musical score, the film does suffer a bit from creative licensing due to some questionable events that may seem a bit too phony to be true, but in retrospect, it’s not that much of a flaw due to the fact that the film works because of the creative licensing.

For example, the Oliver Stone film JFK took major liberties with the events of history, but that never stopped it from being a great film. So why would such creative licensing stop Professor Marston and the Wonder Women from being a great film?

In either case, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women succeeds as a poly-amorous love story, a fascinating biopic, a compelling view on the creation of Wonder Woman and as a showcase for Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote.

Over the times, I usually say I love a film when I enjoyed it immensely, but Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is the first film in 2017 that I fell in love with. Don’t let it fall into obscurity and go see it as soon as you can.

Quickie Review


Fantastic performances/chemistry between the three leads

Angela Robinson’s assured direction and scripting rises above biopic cliches


Slight overuse of the musical score

Creative liberties may irk some

SCORE: 9.5/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote, Connie Britton, Monica Giordano, JJ Feild, Chris Conroy, Alexia Havins, Oliver Platt
Director: Angela Robinson
Screenwriters: Angela Robinson

Movie Review – Okja (Sydney Film Fest 2017)


EXPECTATIONS: Another fantastic entry into Bong Joon Ho’s filmography.

REVIEW: Okja is a film involving a giant mutated pig. What more do you want? But seriously, in order to understand the hype of the film, you have to know the filmmaker Bong Joon Ho.

Bong Joon Ho is an acclaimed Korean filmmaker who has made some incredible films. And the reason he is so acclaimed is his assured directorial hand in mixing genres that usually do not associate with each other and executes them brilliantly. And he also adds a sense of humour, regardless of how inappropriate the tone of the film is.

His impressive resume so far includes films like the strikingly dark comedy Barking Dogs Never Bite, the comic-confronting crime thriller Memories of Murder, the blockbuster monster film The Host (not the film starring Saoirse Ronan, thank goodness), the old-fashioned mystery-noir Mother and the dystopian epic Snowpiercer.

Considering the critical acclaim that Bong has received, having expectations reaching levels other than high is an understandable reaction. Seeing how this was the closing film of Sydney Film Fest 2017, it was likely that Okja would end it with a bang. Does it?

An Seo Hyun stars as Mija, a young girl who lives in the mountains with her grandfather (Byun Heebong) and is a caretaker and loving companion to Okja, a giant super pig. Life seems simple enough but that eventually changes when a family-owned multinational conglomerate takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where image obsessed and self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend.

With no plan and only her sheer focus, Mija vows to get her back but the journey will be hard going, going through many obstacles like capitalists, fat cats, greedy consumers, demonstrators (led by Paul Dano). Will Mija succeed in bringing her best friend home?


Just like his earlier films, director Bong deals with a lot of issues and ideas like consumerism, animal rights, the environment and capitalism; all while forming an action-adventure film and a political satire at the same time. Even with all that baggage, it’s a miracle that Okja works as well as it does.

Even though the issues are serious, Bong never backs out from adding a touch of humour into the mix, as he places the targets both the characters and themes and satirizes them with verve. For example, the characters Bostick and Henshall play, who foolishly contribute to their cause by starving themselves to leave a minimal environmental footprint.

But this does not mean Bong doesn’t get straight to the point, as he steers the film into very dark territory, particularly in the final act. This may be the first film that I praise due to the fact that it almost made me throw up.


All the themes pack a thematic punch as well as an emotional punch, as it adds to the heart of the film, which is the bond between Mija and Okja. The peaceful scenes between the two are executed very well (complete with references to the anime film, My Neighbour Totoro), without being overstated or sappy. There’s even a scene where the family are gathering together to eat and it is reminiscent to one of the scenes in The Host.

There’s a scene where the two take a shortcut back home and it ends up being more than they bargained for. The scene is thrilling, action-packed and skillfully foreshadows what is to come between their relationship.

Speaking of action scenes, they are all gleefully manic, yet intricately composed. There is a scene where Mija arrives in Seoul and single-handedly shakes the corporation, resulting in a fantastic car chase, leading to a shopping center that reaches its beautifully realized climax with the use of “Annie’s Song” by John Denver.

But none of it would be as good as it looks without the cinematography by Darius Khondji, who is clearly embracing the resources of what digital filmmaking can do. The CGI modelling of the creature itself is quite impressive, considering the budget, which is only $50 million.


The acting from the ensemble cast are all either fun, unhinged or thankfully, genuine. An Seo Hyun, who impressed in the 2010 remake The Housemaid, is the solid rock of the film that keeps the film grounded, as she convincingly conveys both the tough, determined side and the paternal side of her character. The former is shown perfectly during a funny scene where Mija tries to enter the government floor entrance.

On the other side of the spectrum, Jake Gyllenhaal gleefully hams it up figuratively as well as literally. Tilda Swinton vamps it up as well as camps it up as the primary antagonist, Lucy Mirando, and she nails it, as usual while Paul Dano, in an example of off-kilter casting as with Gyllenhaal, is surprisingly cool as the leader of the animal rights group.

The smaller roles from the conflicted Steven Yeun, the fiery Lily Collins, the comically dedicated duo of Devon Bostick and Daniel Henshall, the fatherly Byun Heebong, the weaselly Choi Woo Shik, the subtly menacing, scheming Giancarlo Esposito and the overworked and nasally Shirley Henderson all immensely contribute to the fun.

Like Okja itself, the film tends to lumber a lot, veering in many directions and tones, sometimes going on-the-snout with its themes, and like Gyllenhaal’s character, its rebellious and off-kilter filmmaking may turn people off. But like a roller-coaster, it is exhilarating stuff, and it rarely ever abides to filmmaking conventions and tropes. Okja was a film that had everything I hoped for and I wish more films like this would get made, regardless of where it comes from.


Quickie Review


Fantastically rebellious direction from Bong Joon Ho

Mixing of genres and ideas is done really well

The ensemble cast is great

Action scenes are very thrilling


The filmmaking and Gyllenhaal’s performance will polarize

SCORE: 9/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, An Seo Hyun, Byun Heebong, Steven Yeun, Giancarlo Esposito, Lily Collins, Yoon Je Moon, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Devon Bostick, Choi Woo Shik
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Screenwriter: Bong Joon Ho, Jon Ronson

Movie Review – John Wick: Chapter 2


EXPECTATIONS: More bang for your buck.

REVIEW: Keanu Reeves is by far the most versatile actors ever, when you consider his acting range. From comedic roles like his iconic slacker character, Ted “Theodore” Logan to the action heroes like Jack Traven from Speed and Neo from The Matrix films; dramatic roles like in River’s Edge and Hardball; and even villainous roles like in The Gift and Man of Tai Chi. Clearly from his filmography, you can’t criticize the man for lack of trying.

Although his choices have not always resulted in successes i.e. his performances in Dracula and Much Ado About Nothing, when he picks the right project, you can bet you are going to hear about it. Case in point: John Wick.

An independent action film with no Hollywood backing, directed by talented stuntmen making their directorial debut and starring many talented character actors. When it gathered incredibly positive buzz at screenings, it became a cult hit, mainly thanks to video sales.

And now we have the long-awaited sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2. Promising more hard-hitting action, more memorable characters, more ample story, more world explorations and no deaths of canines, will it live up to the immense hype and equal the quality of its predecessor?


The film starts off basically minutes after the events of the first film, where John Wick ties up one loose end that involves a fun action scene in a warehouse; complete with a fun cameo by Peter Stormare.

Then Wick tries to go back to his self-imposed retirement, but an old acquaintance of his (played by Riccardo Scamarcio) comes back into his life and demands a favour that can only result in Wick getting back into the killing floor once again.

Bounded by a sacred blood oath (as encapsulated by a marker), he is hired to assassinate a high-ranking mob boss but little does he know is that this will spur a tumultuous turn of events that will make the retirement of John Wick cut short once again.


First things first, is the film as good as the original? Unfortunately, no, but it is definitely not from lack of trying. Let’s start with the problems. In the first film, Wick had an emotional motivation that linked to the death of those dear to him, whereas in the second film, he feels obligated due to a oath made years prior. It is not as compelling as it should be, and it does harm the film somewhat.

Secondly, since audiences were raving about the world that the first film built and teased, director Chad Stahelski decided to explore the world in a more expansive way. While there are some moments and features that are quite fascinating (seeing veteran actors like Laurence Fishburne and Franco Nero will never be a flaw), it does very little in the long run due to the fact that it hinders the pacing as well as making some of the action scenes strangely anti-climactic. Clearly, Stahelski is aiming to make another sequel, but his directing chops are not good enough to make the disparate moments anything more than they really are.


But if you can get over those flaws, John Wick: Chapter 2 is still a blazing time at the movies. As with most sequels, the action is bigger and John Wick: Chapter 2 is no exception to that rule.

The use of long takes are more plentiful, the environments are more expansive and the choreography is much more ambitious. One scene in a train station is striking due to the fact that it combines both character and action together to make a thrilling and oddly amusing experience.

The actors are clearly committed to the physical toils they go through with their action scenes and it pays off in the long run. Common, in particular, proves a worthy foil to Reeves as they fight twice (in the scene mentioned above) and it is quite a thrill to watch.


Speaking of moments that are odd, John Wick: Chapter 2 has a more comedic touch that yields surprising results. At times, it is quite reminiscent of the old Pink Panther films, where an antagonist would attack our hero at any moment.

There are moments where Stahelski is expanding his directing chops by establishing mood and it becomes very effective in conveying the stakes of the plot. A scene where Wick meets his mark (played by Claudia Gerini) is quite haunting and unexpected.


And the performances all hit their mark with ease, even down to the smallest of parts with Reeves leading the pack with his sheer presence and commitment; and to the smallest part from Gerini, who makes a big impression in her one scene.

Overall, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a very serviceable sequel that could have been an improvement over its predecessor if it weren’t for its ambitions far exceeding the film’s grasp. A gunshot can only travel so far, but at least Wick still has a few surprising tricks up his sleeve.



Quickie Review


Action scenes are much more creative

Acting is spot-on

Stahelski expands on his directing chops


Muddled storytelling

SCORE: 7.5/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, John Leguizamo, Claudia Gerini, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynahan
Director: Chad Stahelski
Screenwriter: Derek Kolstad

Movie Review – The Innocents


EXPECTATIONS: Something special along the lines of the 2013 Polish film, Ida.

REVIEW: Films based on true events are usually met with mixed reactions. So much to the point that the audience will question the validity of the liberties the filmmakers take. Whether it renders the films as potentially predictable or even unbelievable; some can potentially be inspiring and heart-wrenching. In the case of The Innocents, the film belongs to the latter camp.

Films of a similar nature however can tend to be blatant and insistent that it can alienate may people, like Schindler’s List and The Flowers of War, but some can be quietly powerful, thanks to a subtle approach to storytelling and assured direction. Thankfully, The Innocents fits in with the latter.


Set in Poland at December 1945 (after World War II), the film starts off in a church and Sister Maria (Agata Buzek) sneaks out to find someone who can tend to the needs of the convent; someone other than a Russian. She finds a French Red Cross doctor, Mathilde (Lou de Laage) and she tends to the nuns, who are discreetly pregnant.

Through her time there, she uncovers some very dark secrets that can possibly destroy the very foundation that the church is built on. And now, with the support of the nuns, Mathilde brings it upon herself to help the nuns, the newborns while balancing her work with the French Red Cross and also evade the Soviet soldiers.


Not to provide spoilers but the story is incredibly tough going. One of the things that is refreshing about The Innocents is that unlike the films of its type where the backdrop would usually be set during the war; in The Innocents, the story is set in the aftermath of the war, and its consequences.

Another refreshing thing about The Innocents is that we see a story like this from a female’s point-of-view. Rarely do we see stories of war and how it impacts females dealt with such conviction and depth. Director Anne Fontaine applies nuance and sensitivity to the story, making the film very eerie, poignant and shocking, without resulting into scare tactics, nationalism and hopelessly tugging the heartstrings. And in doing so, the story becomes a lot more humane, which makes it a lot easier for the audience to immerse themselves.


Characterizations and development are also stellar. Told in the point-of-view of Mathilde, her character is a non-believer of faith and religion, but eventually she opens up to the beliefs the nuns hold dear and when she embraces the times that a shining light beams through, it becomes extremely rewarding. Every positive that Mathilde earns or feels is guaranteed to affect the audience in a way that feels rightfully earned.

It also applies to the nuns themselves. They all seem like ciphers at first in both look and personality. But throughout the course of the film, as the revelations are revealed, we notice how distinct they really are. One of them reacts with extreme guilt; another is in complete denial while another chooses to deal with it extensively, but one thing is for certain: their faith is no longer ironclad.

There’s even a scene in the film where one of the nuns questions their faith by asking whether God let their troubles happen to them. Although the theme of religious belief may irk some, Fontaine again, examines it with nuance that it never comes across as judgmental and somehow becomes a mark of change in character.

The production values certainly hold up by their end of the bargain. The cinematography by Caroline Champetier is hauntingly sterile (a simple shot of a nun running up a hill and through a forest will linger) while the musical score by Gregoire Hetzel is very effective in conveying mood and tension, even when sparingly used.

Agata Buzek, Lou de Laâge and Anna Próchniak in

And of course, the actors are all wonderful. Lou de Laage, who has been fantastic in films like Respire and The Wait, delivers top work as Mathilde, as she conveys her character progression convincingly. Agata Buzek (who plays another nun after the Jason Statham drama, Hummingbird) delivers with conviction as Sister Maria and she shares a nice, understated chemistry with de Laage, as the two bond over their differences in life.

Agata Kulesza (who was in Ida, another film involving nuns) is great as Mother Superior, as she balances both her faith and care for her sisters and the conflicts that she experiences. And Vincent Macaigne is very good as Samuel, a fellow doctor with Mathilde who happens to be Jewish. He provides some much-needed levity to the film, which provides some relief from the grim nature of the story.


As for flaws, the ending is a little too neat given the events that happened prior and the pacing can be quite glacial at times, but the film is so well-executed in every other regard, it becomes quite easy to ignore them.

At last, a war film The Innocents may be quite a harrowing experience due to its subject matter, but the subtle, sensitive storytelling, the assured direction by Anne Fontaine, the complimentary production values and the fantastic performances ensure that The Innocents is a film is worth the effort.

The fact that this is a war film made by women and it is about women is remarkable and that alone makes it a must-see.


Quickie Review


Nuanced, sensitive storytelling

Anne Fontaine’s direction

Fantastic performances

No nationalism


Ending is a bit too neat

Glacial pacing

SCORE: 9/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Lou De Laage, Agata Buzek, Agata Kulesza, Vincent Macaigne, Joanna Kulig, Eliza Rycembel, Anna Prochniak, Katarzyna Dabrowska, Helena Sujecka, Dorota Kuduk, Klara Bielawka, Mira Maludzinska
Director: Anne Fontaine
Screenwriter: Sabrina B. Karine, Alice Vial, Anne Fontaine, Pascal Bonitzer, Philippe Maynial

Movie Review – Colossal


EXPECTATIONS: Something original, audacious and surprising.

REVIEW: Nacho Vigalondo has always been an exciting film-maker for me. Ever since I saw his first film, I’ve always wanted to see more of this work. His handling of genre film and melding it with themes of humanity or topical themes has always fascinated and thrilled me.

Timecrimes was a great time-travel film that revolved around infidelity; Extraterrestrial was an entertaining sci-fi movie that just so happened to be a rom-com; while Open Windows was a nail-biting thriller that happened to revolve around the invasion of privacy.

So when I heard that Vigalondo was making a film that featured a kaiju monster, I was in. And having the biggest star to date with Anne Hathaway (as the lead actor and producer), the film has some big expectations to fill. And knowing nothing about the genre it is executing for, will Vigalondo live up to the bonkers premise?


Anne Hathaway stars as Gloria, a trainwreck in human form. Because of her relentless partying and drinking, she has been dumped by her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens), has lost her job as an online writer and has no place to live. So she reluctantly moves back to her hometown.

Struggling to stay awake, let alone trying to get her life back on track, she finds her way into Oscar (Jason Sudekis), a childhood friend of Gloria who may or may not have feelings for her. As he helps her get back on her feet, a giant monster is attacking Seoul, Korea and through some strange coincidences (or maybe the drinking finally has long-term effects), she strangely has some sort of connection to said monster.


As much as I want to go into extreme detail about the story, I know I can’t because not only do I want to spoil the many surprises, but the film is best if you know absolutely nothing about it, beyond the premise. Even the trailer doesn’t spoil much, which is surprising. But what I can say with utmost honesty is that Colossal is one of the best films I have seen this year so far.

The film is basically a female self-empowerment story that just happens to have a giant monster in it. And it is these mix of genres that meld together is what makes the film so original. But none of it would be effective if it weren’t for Nacho Vigalondo‘s direction.

Executing the film’s tone as straight as possible, finding the sincerity in all of its grounded themes and wringing the best out of his actors, Vigalondo just knocks it out of the park. The themes here, including coming to terms with ones’ self and overcoming addictions, are all dealt with in surprising ways. Like how the monster can be a metaphor for our destructive selves and how they can harm others. Even something as minor as a playground fight, where Gloria puts up her dukes, can have such strong meaning behind it.


Speaking of putting up dukes, there are many monster scenes in the film, which are very well done considering the budget and the way the story combines both the human story and the monster story together in the climax is absolutely satisfying, both emotionally and cinematically.

A lot of the credit goes to actors, which include Anne Hathaway, who gives her best performance since Rachel Getting Married. Funnily enough, the character of Gloria is quite similar her character in Married due to the fact that they are both trainwrecks; they both repel everybody close to them and they both refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.

But in Colossal, Hathaway manages to find a sweet, relatable side to her character that makes it convincing that people would want to be around her as well as the audience wanting to root for her. It also helps that Hathaway still has her comedic chops (evident in The Princess Diaries that made her a star in the first place) and the film gives her ample opportunities to utilize them.

As for Dan Stevens (whom I like to call the new Cary Elwes), he isn’t in the film that much (probably due to being in Legion and Beauty and the Beast) but he does show a panicky wide-eyed side to his character that did make me laugh, like when his character confronts Sudekis‘ character.

Speaking of Sudekis, his performance is one of the most surprising things in the film. Without spoiling anything, his character is charming, if a little clingy. He is also quite generous, if a little intrusive and he is very laid-back, if a little uninitiated. But it is these “ifs” and many more that makes his character compelling and when he gradually reveals who he really is, that is when Sudekis shows he is more than just his comic persona.

As for flaws, there are scenes where you can nitpick logical errors (like how can one character forget or repress such an event) and abrupt tone shifts (which is quite befitting considering the drunk state of Gloria), but neither is enough to knock down the solid, yet unorthodox foundations that are surprisingly down-to-earth: seeing the humanity within the monster and how one’s self-empowerment can be the greatest gift one’s self can give.

Colossal is one of the best movies of the year and for those who are complaining that we do not see original films in the cinema lately; well this is one of them. I really do hope that a lot of people see it, just so we can have more films like this. The very fact that this film exists is fantastic enough, but for it to work as effectively as it does, it just seems miraculous to me.

Like a fellow film critic of mine once said: If we don’t see the movies that deserve it, we get the movies that we deserve.


Quickie Review


Fantastic acting

Thematically sound story

Constantly surprises and keeps the audience off-guard

Incredibly satisfying ending


Tone shifts and logical errors

SCORE: 9/10


This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Screenwriter: Nacho Vigalondo