Héliø Leønardø's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Where am I Going? (Quo vado?)
½

A box office hit in its native Italy, this slapstick comedy of stereotypes is extremely politically incorrect but gets away with it because it spares no self deprecating humour to portray its own national culture. To be more specific, it's all about the posto fisso, the public servant life of perks many Italians dream of. If Adam Sandler were Italian maybe he'd be Checco Zalone. I am afraid I am not a fan of either but intermittent laughs were had! Though I was more impressed by the excellent special effects and the production design. Watch if you are on your third glass of wine?

They Will Have to Kill Us First
½

Pauline Hanson needs to watch this! It might heal her racist heart because music has that kind of power and Johanna Schwartz is here to prove it. The beautiful and irresistible sound of Mali won't ever be silenced! There's a lot of girl power on display both in front of the camera with the legendaries Khaira Arby and Fadimata 'Disco' Walet Oumar as subjects and behind the camera under Schwartz's helm and Karelle Walker's cinematography. It's screening as part of the Australian Festival of African Film in Geelong's Pivotonian Cinema on October 28th. Take all the Islamophobics you know so they can learn how human we all are. I'm getting the soundtrack and will play at loud volume because freedom should never be taken for granted. Those looking for a clear geopolitical explanation about the situation in Mali should look elsewhere... At 105 minutes, it's not really achievable though Schwartz did the best she could.

Hell or High Water
½

In David Mackenzie's witty update to the ol' wild west many things may have changed but women are still either victims or whores and the only token character that is not a white male meets a very predictable end once his purpose is served. Jeff Bridges' performance is worthy of an Academy Award nomination. Music by Nick Cave helps proceedings. New West ain't starting to trend just yet though and that's probably a good thing because I have had enough of boys, guns and violence even when there's some beautiful political subtext.

Ida
Ida(2014)
½

Two women star in a film about the consequences of violence and war (among a plethora of other great themes) but there are no gun shots heard or any blood dripping to add to the devastation. The cinematography is flawless and absolutely stunning. Go Lukasz Zal (who got to replace the original cinematographer early on)! Polish cinema is such a gift and here is one of its finest offerings.

12 Years a Slave
½

It sure took a while but here's a rare and important reminder of how the world we are living in was built. Here's a taste of what happens when black people get to tell their own stories. It's all the more poignant because slavery still exists (even if it has taken different forms and races). Based on the true story of Solomon Northup this is a tremendously uncomfortable lesson about freedom. Teachers should take note that a study guide is available (through the film's website) and try to make the most out of it while there's still time to build a better future. McQueen, as always, can do no wrong! It should be compulsory viewing really.

He Named Me Malala
½

Created for educational purposes this may inspire lots of ordinary kids around the world to stand up for their rights and show the adults how it's done. For the cameras, Malala refused to waste any time capitalising on her own suffering. Animation is used to tone down the violent past that shaped her family's activism at Pakistan's Swat Valley. Teachers should take note this comes with free curriculum and discussion guides for your classrooms available online. It is not Davis Guggenheim's best work but he understands Malala's voice is something we desperately need right now and his track record with highest-grossing documentaries has certainly helped getting the message out there.

Banksy Does New York

Banksy's Better Out Than In gets a cheeky cinematic record courtesy of HBO. Urban art theorists will find themselves in heaven with the perfect provocateur and body of work to get the now famous 31-day social experiment exploding through NYC. Cool teachers will be playing this at art class for many years to come. It won't disappoint fans of Banksy's own Exit Through the Gift Shop either.

Jupiter Ascending
½

Only the production design really impresses as Cinderella takes a trip to outer space. I suppose children and young adults might enjoy this space rock opera a bit more than most.

Midnight Special

A serious candidate for most underrated sci-fi of the year, Jeff Nichols' first big studio film keeps it real with poignant themes such as fatherhood and faith getting more screen time than visual sfx. Lead child star Jaeden Lieberher is certainly rising fast while muse Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver are equally stellar with subtler than usual performances. A great throwback to the fine days of classics such as E.T., Starman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind that should please schooled fans of the genre. Fans of cute talking alien creatures and successive explosions should stay away... This is a slow burn inspired by the experience of becoming a father and the lack of similarities to Star Wars is no coincidence.

Iris
Iris(2015)

An Iris Apfel doco by Albert Maysles is the type of sophisticated and unsurprising collaboration that might as well have been made in heaven. The eccentric, the colourful and the unique have always been under the gaze of the Maysles brothers so it is fitting that one of NYC's greatest style icons was to be one of their very last subject matters, and that she'd outlive them. While the creative spirit of "the lady with the glasses" is on film, anyone expecting a straight-forward biography affair or some narrative structure might be disappointed. But the Big Apfel is hard to resist, for this "rare bird of fashion" it is happiness that matters and not what one's wearing. My kind of trend.

American Hustle

David O. Russell's American Hustle gets bonus points for its honest opening credits that state some of this actually happened as opposed to milking it as a true story. I'm always on the lookout for directors who repeatedly work with the same cast because there's a certain magic to it and this film is good evidence of the feat. Jennifer Lawrence steals the show but even the extras here display finely tuned performances. PD clearly went to town and perfectly revived the 70s (I'm still impressed by the accuracy of the simplest prop in that famous first scene) in a genuinely entertaining effort that shouldn't disappoint most viewers. Is it me or is Louis C.K. having the most fun out of everyone in this? If you have a problem with tits and hair (fake or real) stay away, otherwise it's totally worth your while.

The Great Beauty

Stupendous channeling of Federico Fellini for millenials this is full of unforgettable moments. Welcome to bourgeois Rome on a first class ticket but good luck trying to beat Bigazzi's cinematography and Sorrentino's imagination. A true Italian masterpiece that even the whiteys at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences couldn't resist! Watch before you die!

Network
Network(1976)

Aaron Sorkin clearly owes a lot to Paddy Chayefsky. Possibly Sidney Lumet's best work, this masterpiece is reportedly Paul Thomas Anderson's favourite film. It aged like really fine wine and as far as commentary on the media and entertainment goes, it's still hard to find another film that nails it so madly as hell. Absolutely loved that it was initially snubbed by a bunch of A-lister actors in Hollywood who then had to watch the film win three of the four possible acting awards at the Oscars, something that hasn't happened again since.

The Tunnel Movie
½

Challenging current distribution models and taking advantage of the found-footage horror movie fever, The Tunnel is a perfect date movie because it won't cost you a thing and it's likely to make you jump and brace up to the person sitting/laying down next to you. While it's another Australian mockumentary filled with cliches and stereotypes it does really boil if you have the patience to endure all the simmering. Watch if you're poor and wanna Netflix and chill without having to sign up for anything.

The Conjuring
½

The Conjuring is old school, well made and very entertaining but it should be ashamed of riding high on its based on a true story tagline. As it turns out, there's very little truth to any stories told by hoaxers Ed and Lorraine Warren who have made a fortune with their real life ghostbuster bullshit. Previous Hollywood hits based on their files include The Amityville Horror and A Haunting as well as a string of telefilms and TV shows. The Conjuring portrays the couple as heroes (played by the talented Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) but I am not entirely sure people who take money to perform exorcisms on the schizophrenic and mentally ill deserve the favourable treatment they get if this is meant to be a true story affair. Not that this is ever mentioned in the film that sometimes seems to have been made to order by the Catholic Church. Definitely and elegantly creepy stuff with a tagline based on profitable made up events would be more like it but I get there would be no market appeal. If you ever have the time please search for the one-hour-long YouTube rant of the current resident of the real house in the film who is suing the producers and has had her life turned upside down after her property became a tourist attraction drawing tons of fans of the film. It's better than the movie.

That Sugar Film

Australia's number one documentary of all time at the local box office is a sugar-coated Super Size Me faithful devotee that will do wonders for your children with its telling of truths you probably already knew of. But the suggestions that sugar will make Aboriginal communities extinct and that the sweet stuff may very well be the source of runaway consumer capitalism are a little too far-fetched for a film that mashes up dad jokes with the comments of its experts, some of them quite questionable. Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry take up a few seconds of screen time to help sweeten this silly educational exercise that also includes a comic That Sugar Song music video and a strangely haunting scene of very happy kids eating fruit only and drinking water only at a party. Exaggerations aside, this is a nice addition to the food-doc shelf and one that appeals to the whole family with its fine use of graphics and animation. Too many anecdotes and not enough facts, but this sort of propaganda is welcome considering my colossal appetite for red velvet cupcakes. Director Damon Gameau has become a popular militant for the cause raising funds for the Mai Wiru community depicted in the film, selling healthy recipe books and producing free educational videos for schools. Avoid consuming any food or drink while watching this, trust me.

Death in Brunswick (Nothing to Lose)

Margaret and David gave this 4.5 stars when it was released in 1990 and Stratton called Sam Neill's performance his best to date ( though it's a bit of a miscast really). This marks the first time I find myself baffled by the expertise of two of my favourite critics but I assume there weren't many indie black comedies going around Australian screens at the time, so fair enough. In fact, some say this was the very first one of them so I guess they had to welcome it! It's really cool to see old Brunswick on the big screen but maybe the novel is better than the film? Initially, it failed to get funding from the big agencies but it ended up clearing over $4M in box office sales. You would have thought this feat would have opened a few doors for more multicultural films since then, right? Oh, wait...

X-Men: Days of Future Past

An absolute blast with a climax that most definitely pays off to any X-men fans out there. It has been a while since I've seen this many heavyweight actors together in the one film too. I am really bummed I missed the chance to catch this while it was out in theatres, not only because it's the best film of the series so far, but also because it was actually (finally!) shot in native 3D and when it takes 12 studios to create your special effects you know they're fucking serious about it. Stuck around after credits for the teaser preview of what's coming next and can safely say I can hardly wait for the Apocalypse!

Grey Gardens
Grey Gardens(2009)
½

Fans of the insanely amazing documentary are probably not going to be too disappointed by this HBO Films effort. Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore (in her best on screen performance to date) make up for the shortcomings of the teleplay. Worth staying for a sweet final credits surprise, especially if you love animals.

Freeheld
Freeheld(2015)
½

Nice of Ellen Page to wear a producer hat to tell this important true story, which had already gotten some attention when it won the Oscar for short documentary in 2008. But now it has the potential to reach even bigger audiences in fiction format with its very solid cast, which cleverly includes the great American sweetheart Steve Carell (the audience gushed in unison when he first appeared on screen). Sadly, proceedings start to reminisce and revive the bad days of television when the screenplay tries to wrap things up too fast and exploits the terminal disease box of cliches. But all is forgiveable because Julianne Moore and Michael Shannon. There's also Miley Cyrus singing a tune written by Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes through the final credits to help you dry your tears. I also feel I should give props to director Peter Sollett for abstaining from unnecessary mundane lesbian sex scenes, it must be the first time in decades a straight male director hasn't succumbed to the trend when there was room for it.

The September Issue
½

Glad Grace Coddington kinda stole the show from her curator, the Wintour. I can't take people who treat others like shit seriously and, sorry, but I do like to wear black. When you treat your Asian assistant like a dog giving the rudest possible tone to your 'excuse me' and demand a coffee from your black servant like this isn't a new millennium your talents as an editor and your visionary trendsetting ways don't look like success much to me. Thank you R.J. Cutler for kindly trying to let us know just who tells the devil to wear Prada, especially when it is so hard to get through what really hides behind those sunglasses.

Frances Ha
Frances Ha(2013)

Baumbach and Gerwig's dive into late twenties melancholy will probably put a smile on your face at some point. Thankful (and surprised) Brazil's RT Features was compelled to fund it. Its ROI is guaranteed.

Tom at the Farm

Adele's (and mine) favourite hipster puts his self indulgence behind him to show us just why marriage equality is so very important and urgent. In this super heteronormative world, repressed and oppressed sexualities are the real boogeyman that keeps both characters and audiences on edge while highly improbable events unfold. This queer thriller could have easily been a silly family comedy if only all people were allowed to love who they really love. Don't leave in a rush because what happens after the credits roll does leave you hoping that future generations, once given the green light, won't have to endure so much destruction. The soundtrack, as usual, is a bloody killer!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Should have done it in 3D at 48fps to pet the dragon...

Gerontophilia
½

Always audacious and amateurish, provocateur Bruce La Bruce gets cookie points for his intriguing (and very timely) choice of themes but it is tough to swallow all the cross-generational provocations found here when what is meant to be a very unconventional story ends up feeling just like your everyday rom com. The performances are excruciatingly bad with actors obviously being cast on looks. Still, for all of its imperfections, it is one of the director's less explicit films and certainly the one that benefited from his highest budget to date. Do not watch it with your grandparents but force it on twinks that are already lining up for their Botox. Love is blind, my dears!

Nebraska
Nebraska(2013)
½

Thank you Alexander Payne, I could gush about a million perfect things in this movie but mostly it made me happy because it is so rare to see this many veteran actors on the big screen. What a fantastic collection of characters and how refreshing to find beauty in wrinkles and wisdom in simplicity. Bravo!

Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work
½

The life of a comic is tough as it is for any comedienne but this is the perfect example of how ruthless the entertainment industry is on ageing women, no matter how legendary or how much they have already achieved. A pretty honest account of a year in the life of Rivers that plays too safely with her personal life. Was she hungry for work or was it the fame? No mercy from the film makers as they show her unquenchable thirst and dedication for one, the other, or maybe both. RIP darling!

Forbidden Zone
½

Up there with one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen, this is composer Danny Elfman's very first score for a film. Danny also appears as Satan and the film is directed by his brother Richard Elfman. Essentially this is a musical theatre performance by the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Bongo mixed with animation by John Muto (who went on to become a popular Hollywood production designer) and starring the unforgettable Susan Tyrrell and Hervé Villechaize. I'm pretty sure Tim Burton and John Waters have this one in their collections and that Andy Warhol would too if he were still alive.

The Bling Ring

I am not sure why this fun pop film was given so much grief as it's likely to be one of the very films future generations will turn to for a real grasp of what privileged western youngsters of the noughties were up to. Hopefully, by then, the whole obsession with celebrity, high end fashion brands and personal marketing will come across as more ridiculous and vacuous than it does here. It's impressive how accurately Sofia Coppola depicts the real events, especially because it is hard to believe this actually happened. I guess so many consultants (including two gang members and a cop who worked the case) really paid off. No wonder this made Paris Hilton cry at Cannes. Keeping up with her tradition, Coppola's soundtrack is awesome with no shortage of cool tunes. The film is dedicated to one of my favourite North American cinematographers, Harris Savides, who became ill during the shoot and passed away before its release. RIP buddy! Also see if you can spot Nicolas Cage's older brother as supporting cast.

Lagerfeld Confidential

Can I sue for worst title ever? There is absolutely nothing confidential to be seen in this amateur doco that would probably have been more acceptable had it been titled Lagerfeld In Transit. A wasted opportunity as superficial as the world it attempts to depict. Recommended for die-hard Lagerfeld fans only. Zero insight but lots of car and aeroplane rides, pop a champagne and pretend you are there?

Stranger by the Lake
½

Shot entirely outdoors on a single location by a crew of only 20 peeps, Guiraudie's masterful thriller features no music at all (not even in the background), but plenty of willies instead. Audiences who are able to stomach a couple of homo hardcore shots (not at all gratuitous, I promise!) may find themselves a little perplexed but very pleased by the Hitchcockian vibes in this film that examines how far we are willing to go for our desires. Pleasure and death, pleasure and pain, you know the deal! It's hard not to be impressed by the richness of themes and by how simple and well executed everything is. A great example of how much filmmakers can do with so little. The four-minute scene that is at the centre of the plot is a masterpiece in itself. One of the best thrillers of recent times and likely to make a lot of gay men put a condom on (even if it is subconsciously).

Fill the Void
½

Rama Burshtein's beautiful film is an insider's insightful look at an Orthodox Hassidic community that had me second-guessing my own thoughts and misconceptions about arranged marriages. It's always great to dive into unknown worlds and different cultures and Burshtein is the perfect guide. She does it with so much respect for what it is ultimately a largely misunderstood and marginalised community. It is not about religion, most definitely not about secularism, but it's about the human heart and as nearly every critic pointed out Jane Austen fans should enjoy it immensely. The cinematography by Asaf Sudri is particularly stunning, to the point I had to pause frames to admire them! A breathtaking debut feature film and hopefully not the last we'll see from Burshtein.

I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman)

Meir Zarchi says he was compelled to make this softcore rape revenge flick after assisting a female victim of sexual abuse who emerged from the side of the road while he was driving to a park with his daughter one night in 1974. Almost forty years on ( it was shot in 76), there is still controversy surrounding this visceral work that does not turn the camera away from the sexual violence inflicted upon its female protagonist during a 45-minute sequence that makes Gaspar Noe's Irreversible look like child's play. It is a tough watch indeed, and it must have been a tough shoot too - some crew members had to call it quits along the way because they simply couldn't handle it. But then we watch the victim turn the game around in spectacular fashion, and what at first seemed like the most mysoginist exploitation film ever made suddenly becomes some kind of female power triumph. Its original title - Day of the Woman - was not commercially viable but it does help to set the record straight. What is really more torturous about the whole experience is the awful acting (though Camille Keaton deserves kudos for her courage), cheap special effects and rough-as-fuck, sometimes inaudible sound. The lack of a music score only helps by adding some extra realism to scenes that aren't always well executed. This is possibly one of the world's most misunderstood and notorious cult classics. Forget general critical consensus and experience it for yourself though I'd definitely stay away from its remake and sequel. Enough is enough!

Amy
Amy(2015)

Asif Kapadia reminds our voyeuristic, celebrity-obsessed society that Amy Winehouse was much more than a trainwreck and that fame won't save anyone, in fact, it can be lethal. Extensive unseen archival footage will delight fans (and possibly earn her a few more, Winehouse's Spanish maid home tour being one of my favourite moments!) while the timely use of on-screen lyrics with real-life parallel imagery highlights just how extremely personal and ruthless is her music. Her father and ex-husband emerge as supposed villains but, unfortunately, they are not the only ones to fail her. By the time the credits roll, we will have learnt we were all complicit. As usual, Kapadia masterfully avoids talking heads and narration, overloading the screen with intimate footage of one of the world's greatest jazz singers instead; from her childhood through to her battles with depression, bulimia and addiction. This touching documentary brings Amy back from the dead to redeem her life and legacy, and as it deservedly breaks box-office records, it is also set to take home a lot of gold come awards season.

Upstream Color

Undefinable and incomprehensible on a single watch, Carruth's lyrical film tells the tale of two people caught in a worm-pig-orchid life cycle, all courtesy of a mind controlling parasite. Odd?Complex? We haven't even talked about The Thief or The Sampler! Inspired by the concepts of transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, this is really visionary and original filmmaking that doesn't take audiences for granted as it questions whether we control our identity or we let our identity control us. Hypnotic editing and heightened sound design are heavily favoured over the verbal and help make the experience as intriguing as the greatest mysteries of life. Watch if you are not afraid of the unknown!

L'écume des jours (Mood Indigo)

Boris Vian's classic, extravagant and surreal love story gets an overwhelming screen adaptation by Gondry who spares no displays of expert stop-motion and intricate special effects. If sensory overload is your thing then look no further because plot and characters seem secondary here.

Carnal Knowledge
½

Mike Nichols dives into the sexually dysfunctional world of men post-World War II and Vietnam very frankly capturing their ever present inability to see the opposite sex as anything but receptacles. Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel star alongside Candice Bergen and show stealer Ann Margret in what is also the first film in the history of cinema to ever feature a condom on screen. Banned in a few territories when it was released (mainly for its explicit dialogue), the only shocking aspect that remains from the experience is the fact that the curdled, cruel masculinity seen here is not only limited to these generations. Let's hope time can help shape manhood a little better. Possibly one of Nichols' most underrated films, this is filled with long, intimate and complex shots that aren't easy to forget and really do deserve to be seen.

While We're Young
½

Baumbach's most accessible film to date is a cute, entertaining tribute to old school marriage comedies. The jokes don't always work (that whole ayahuasca business feels like such a wasted opportunity!) but I really dig the final scene. Watts and Stiller look like they're having fun. May offend hipsters but will do good to those going through middle age crisis.

Mad Max: Fury Road
½

In the same world where Fast and Furious gets seven instalments it's extremely safe to say that this Fury Road is more than welcome. An absolute pleasure to be immersed in George Miller's wild Wasteland because the man has been gifted with a rather vivid imagination and this two-hour long car chase is evidence of that. It's only a bit of a shame that not many non-white folk seem to have survived the end of this particular world, but at least feminists can find a pal in Miller ( I love that his wife is the film's editor and that The Vagina Monologues author was a consultant on set). Fury Road also gets extra props for not wasting its 3D conversion. There's nothing better than mechanical parts and post-apocalyptic survivors flying over one's face! If someone told you this is the best blockbuster of recent times they weren't kidding. It really is. Word on the street is there may be at least three more sequels coming... Yes, please! Always a plus to watch blood being washed off with mother's milk in a multiplex reboot.

Kink
Kink(2014)

This journey into the underground world of BDSM comes courtesy of producer James Franco and would have benefited greatly if it branched out of the studios of the largest producer of online bondage and S&M porn in the world for a little more insight. It all feels a bit biased and too friendly when no real tough questions are ever asked. Audiences are likely to be surprised by the artistic dedication and camaraderie going on in this highly unusual workplace. (It is also likely they'll want to stick to their current jobs!) A few misconceptions and stigmas about this taboo subject may also be broken, but in the end I was still left wondering why would having a giant phallic drill going inside anyone so violently would be apparently the fantasy of so many millions of people and the driver of so many millions of dollars. A curious and quite entertaining doco that is not for the faint of genitalia. Yes, humans were hurt in the making of this, but remember they liked it. Just don't expect to understand why.

Sid and Nancy

While this ain't doing Johnny Rotten any favours (and he has been vocal about how much he hates it and how inaccurate it actually is), Sid and Nancy is definitely one of the best films ever made about the punk movement (certainly the best I've ever seen!). To his credit, Cox doesn't exploit the chaotic relationship of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen nor the mysterious circumstances surrounding Nancy's death and that's an achievement in itself. Some of the sequences play as a beautiful homage to punk and Gary Oldman's breakthrough performance definitely deserves a watch! A young Courtney Love (before all the plastic surgery) may have missed out on the leading role but had a small part written specifically for her so she would not be left out entirely. That she would, unpredictably become some kind of Nancy Spungen herself only adds to the film's cult status.

Maleficent
Maleficent(2014)

A formulaic, unimaginative retelling of Sleeping Beauty that won't put you to sleep because of its magnificent production design and incessant special effects. Put it on to distract and possibly traumatise kids you need a break from.

The Salt of the Earth
½

Sebastiao Salgado and Wim Wenders is a combination that could never go wrong. Seeing Salgado's stunning photography enlarged on the big screen is quite the privilege too. I'm thankful that Salgado can still have some hope left in him for the human condition and our planet after seeing and documenting so much horror. A truly inspiring journey and one hell of an eye opener! Really good for your soul!

O Céu de Suely

Brazilian neorealism at its best. Karim Aïnouz, my absolute favourite contemporary Brazilian director, once again does not disappoint with this mix of documentary and fiction shot without the aid of artificial lighting. Don't be intimidated by the pace or the horrible English title, there are great lessons about anonimity and our longing for affection to be learnt here.

The Beach
The Beach(2000)
½

Amazing beaches were damaged in the making of this, they've also become hugely popular with Western tourists to this day. Lots of creative compromises had to be made when Ewan McGregor got the boot to make way for Leonardo DiCaprio; as a result audiences are largely taken for granted in a film that plays safe for the sake of its teenage market segment. But there's Tilda Swinton and a classic big beat soundtrack to almost make up for it all. My least favourite Danny Boyle film to date and certainly his most hypocritical piece of work.

This Must Be The Place
½

Incredibly odd and very human just like most of Sorrentino's work. I would pay a fortune for a workshop on how the gravity-defying live concert scene featuring David Byrne (who also plays himself and scores the film) was shot. Not entirely sure a road movie in which the Holocaust clashes with pop culture on a quest for maturity is for everyone but there are plenty of reasons to give into it - whether it's the lush and diverse camera work or Sean Penn's magnetism. Compulsory viewing if you are a sucker for father and son stories.

All the Way
All the Way(2004)
½

An uninteresting if technically accomplished account of Frank Sinatra's controversial Australian tour in 1974. A stellar cast led by Dennis Hopper as Sinatra and heavy production design can't really save the day because it is too obvious an attempt to please audiences at the expense of comic subplots that aren't much fun at all. Can only seriously recommend this to Hopper fans but be warned he wasn't doing the singing either.

Compliance
Compliance(2012)
½

It's hard to believe this is in fact based on a true story. But here's a movie that isn't exploiting that title card, not even when I thought it took things too far. An absurd indie thriller that puts the power of authority and our inability to question it in check. Ann Dowd is a definite show stealer and worth the price of admission for her performance alone.

Nymphomaniac: Volume I
½

Loneliness has never been so explicit. An orgy of darkness, humour and high brow artistic and philosophical references told in eight chapters. My least favourite von Trier film, mostly because it is too scholarly. But that doesn't stop me from still wanting to see his 5.5-hour cut. Also, I am very confused about the Uma Thurman scene and I don't think I will know if I love it or hate it til the day I die!

The Squid and the Whale

Academics getting divorced would always provide excellent material for a quirky film. It helps that Baumbach lived through it all and didn't mind getting so personal in what is regarded by many as his best film yet. If the absurdity of the situations depicted here ends up feeling just like your usual first world problem - and a bit too much - then again, remember it's going to be hard to find a film that captures the moment when we discover our parents aren't perfect so perfectly. I have a feeling people of low socioeconomic backgrounds and those with no academic aspirations will absolutely hate this. And so they should. It's definitely wanky stuff like you would spread at school lockers or public library books if you were 12 and a character in this eccentric family saga. It would probably have been way cooler if Bill Murray was cast for the leading role as originally intended!

Wetlands
Wetlands(2014)

Based on German TV personality Charlotte Roche's semi-autobiographical bestselling novel of the same name, this screen adaptation helmed by David Wnendt has earned instant cult status as possibly the filthiest coming of age movie ever made. It stars Helen, an 18yo female who very much owns her sexuality, so much, in fact, that it is difficult to find a human being who would not be repulsed by just how much. Aimed at young adults ( which kind of justifies the simplistic plot), this is really cheeky, incredibly gross and dirty but it somehow feels right. A breakthrough performance by multilingual goddess Carla Juri leads the way in a film that should never be consumed on a first date or whilst eating pizza. Do not watch it with your parents! If you can't stomach its first 5 minutes, do not proceed (as it will get worse)! Otherwise, you're in for something quite original and unforgettable, and where some of the bodily fluids featured are real. Congrats millennials, you've raised the bar again! Fifty Shades of what?

Phil Spector
Phil Spector(2013)
½

Controversies on what's fact and fiction aside, the Mamet, Pacino and Mirren combo is definitely an interesting one to watch. Featuring excellent performances and an even better collection of wigs, this is one of HBO Films most controversial releases to date even if it's not one of their most compelling. Great use of the music Spector has made his fortune on too!

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
½

Can illusions be better than medicine? In this case, dear Woody Allen, I would definitely rather stick with my pharmacist. Cute though, we'll give you that.

Cool World
Cool World(1992)
½

This poor man's version of Roger Rabbit is clearly on bad acid as it tells the tale of doodles that cannot sex noids (yes, that is the plot). It features early Brad Pitt, an extremelly awful performance by Kim Basinger and a possibly too-short-for-cash Gabriel Byrne. Shit movie with an awesome soundtrack including a David Bowie and Nile Rodgers collaboration for the title song.

Wuthering Heights

In what must have been the most difficult film set in the world, Arnold has not only succeeded getting through all that mud but she has also brought classic back to a story that has already seen its fair share of screen adaptations. Bronte would have been proud, this seems rightly real and brutal. It is also definitely a bonus to finally see a director casting non-Caucasian actors to play Heathcliff! That only took dozens of years... Warning: very little dialogue and striking atmospheric visual storytelling may displease slaves to the Hollywood movie machine.

Ex Machina
Ex Machina(2015)
½

It's always good to stumble upon sci-fi with brains (existential philosophy being the brains in this case). It's even better when it's well executed and its production design far from falling short of extraordinary. It's very unfortunate, however, to feel we have seen it all too many times before, or at least enough times to keep guessing what will happen next and finally leave the theatre wishing you were a robot because, quite frankly, most humans suck.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

"When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me lying around in invisible pieces. When I look too hard, it goes away. And when it all goes quiet, I see they are right here. I see that I'm a little piece in a big, big universe. And that makes things right. When I die, the scientists of the future, they're gonna find it all. They gonna know, once there was a Hushpuppy, and she live with her daddy in the Bathtub." - Hushpuppy (my new favourite protagonist starring in my latest favourite film).

Sex, Lies, and Videotape

This kickstarter of all things indie (and Andie McDowell) hasn't aged a bit. Technology now more than ever facilitates relationships in a world where sex is only a swipe away but conversation seems to be very difficult and not high on most people's list. One of the most impressive debuts in the history of cinema. Bravo Soderbergh!

Django Unchained
½

Still sticking to revenge as a theme, Tarantino's southern spaghetti is served with extra blaxploitation sauce on the side. It is a nice meal for fans of the cook! I love how he manages to rip off all the masters of cinema so greatly, chuck loads of smart-arse dialogue and break the linear narrative so smoothly every time (and it is all very entertaining)! Now pop culture has a new black superhero to worship and Lord knows we need as many of them as we can get! But brownie points are lost for a little too much self indulgence, most noticeably Tarantino's awful cameo appearance, which was meant to be a sweet tribute to Aussie legends John Jarratt, Steve Bisley and "all of those cool Aussie guys from the 70s" but turned out pretty useless and too bloody silly in the first movie where he actually bothered to be a bit more concerned with political and social issues as all that blood is spilt.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)
½

As the future of cinema is looking more and more like a 360 degree immersive virtual reality experience, this fine homage shows that not even the lack of colours and sound can take away the magic from moving images and human stories. Irresistible!

Mommy
Mommy(2015)
½

The most self indulgent Instagram feed on ADHD I have ever seen. Thanks again, Xavier Dolan. Still love you!

Winter Sleep
Winter Sleep(2014)
½

Beautiful and difficult, Ceylan's film is for grown ups only. Just over three hours it demands your full attention and it sucks you in with its stunning cinematography and complex characters. It won't be everyone's cup of tea but it surely kept me warm.

The House Bunny

An immediate and most definite entry into the list of worst movies I have ever seen. This planet does not need this kind of rubbish. Burn every copy, please.

Trash
Trash(2015)
½

It's a bit of a shame Daldry exaggerates on the sentimental here because the cast is truly excellent, the kids especially. This fine mix of adventure, thriller, comedy and drama celebrates a new generation of Brazilians who vow to stand up against corruption and police brutality by doing what is right. Hopefully it will inspire many to really do so as it entertains in equal measure. The soundtrack is intentionally gringo-friendly and phenomenal. This really works best as a family film but may be too shocking for the lucky kids living in the developed world. Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen deserve props for their excellent Portuguese!

Wild Tales
Wild Tales(2015)
½

The most entertaining piece of cinema I've seen in a while. An absolute riot! We are all animals... Never forget!

St. Vincent
St. Vincent(2014)
½

Absolutely irresistible sentimental bullshit that definitely had me sobbing on the plane. Recommended to alcoholics who wish to feel better about themselves while still enjoying their whiskey.

Young Adult
Young Adult(2011)
½

High school haunts Hollywood again... Highly predictable and extremely unlikely for real life but possibly still fun if you were jealous of the popular kids at your school. Otherwise, there is always an inspired performance by Theron and trendy scriptwriting by Cody. Watch if you have an anatomically weird penis for a little motivation, encouragement and hope.

Fish Tank
Fish Tank(2010)

This is a great example of why we need to see more films about women made by women. Go Andrea Arnold, the queen of 4:3 aspect ratio!

Ted
Ted(2012)
½

Ugh! Seth McFarlane definitely not my cup of tea... Why is this a chick flick disguised as a Heteronormativity Manual for Teenage Boys?

Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee's masterpiece will soon be celebrating its 25th anniversary and it is still one of the best movies ever made on the issues surrounding racism, multiculturalism and tolerance. Shame we are still living in the days of #icantbreathe and #blacklivesmatter quarter of a century later. This gem also helped launch the careers of many non-white actors, including Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito, who some may have trouble recognising.

What We Do In The Shadows
½

I loathe mockumentaries but have a made an exception here. Maybe it's the kiwi sense of humour saving the day! Bloody funny for anyone with 86 minutes to spare. If you don't like it, make sure you stay until the very end of final credits, can't tell you why!

Danger: Diabolik
½

Incredible sex scene under tons of dollar notes, outrageous production design and chic shots make this well worth anybody's while even if everything else about it disappoints.

Protagonist
Protagonist(2007)
½

We're all just living a Greek tragedy and Jessica Yu knows it.

Battle in Seattle
½

Unconvincing great intentions for a worthy cause. I just wish it were to WTO what Blackfish was to Sea World.

Mother (Madeo)

The most fascinating first and last shots honouring motherhood ever made? I think so... And what an in-between!

Do Começo ao Fim (From Beginning to End)

Meant to be a taboo and extremely controversial love story, this just turns out to be a very unconvincing affair. Taking incest as his premise, Abranches seems to be more concerned with the exploitation of his theme. The dialogue is uninspired, there are too many sudden deaths for the convenience of narrative and all the melodrama seems straight out of a late night telenovela. It is really up to the two hunks in question, the excessive music score and luscious cinematography to save the day but that's a very big ask when it's a day worth forgetting. However, I would love to tie Putin to a chair and force him to see this so two stars from me!

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret)

Just another Danish thriller quite competently riding the recent Scandi-noir wave. Couldn't help but feel I'd seen it a million times before though. Yawn!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Predictable and mindless for its entire length but fun enough to watch at IMAX. Kids, please watch again when you're adults to understand why exactly adults at the theatre were (hopefully) the only ones laughing at that Pollock joke. Yeah, kinda gross... but remember that a machine this expensive has to make all segments of the market laugh. Hell, even I did. Left the theatre wanting to be Vin Diesel, easiest money anyone could ever make. Lucky dude! Stay after credits or, just YouTube the extra scene if you really cbf.

I Am Love
I Am Love(2010)

Just added to the list of my most favourite films ever. Bravissimo! It's melodrama done right and it features one of the best sex scenes ever made. Also, Tilda, what a wowser!

The Lunchbox
The Lunchbox(2014)

Whoever claimed romcoms were dead should rush to the cinema, watch this and shut up!

Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer(2014)

What a train ride! "And so it is!" Anyone else think Ed Harris was an awkward casting choice? Watch it at the movies, the sound mix is divine! And dear Tilda, I love you even harder now!

Jimmy's Hall
Jimmy's Hall(2015)

â??Dissidence and countering the prevailing consciousness is a huge issue.â?? - Ken Loach, still one of my favourite British people.

Predestination
½

Great to see Melbourne on screen and all, but Predestination was definitely not my cup of tea. There should be a limit to plot twists in a film, especially when they are so obvious and exhausting. And the horrid music was not at all helpful. Thankfully I did not have to pay for it and will soon forget. This one does not deserve the hype.

Under the Skin

Every frame of this is cosmic and unforgettable; the most rewarding sci-fi I've seen in a long time. When I grow up I want to be Jonathan Glazer, or this Scarlett Johansson.

Somewhere
Somewhere(2010)

In a hashtag: #Hollywoodproblems Don't watch if you want to be famous.

Boyhood
Boyhood(2014)
½

Linklater's coming of age 12-year epic stunt has so much heart I thought mine was going to explode. I might have been scared by hearing some Coldplay at the start and still wondering how such an awkward pair of siblings get supermodel looking people to fall in love with them so quickly and uncomplicatedly - but make no mistake, it is a very welcome addition to the endless list of films about growing up. Also it may offend Hispanics and Republicans but otherwise belly laughs are guaranteed! Despite Coldplay, the soundtrack is amazing featuring Yo La Tengo and Moreno Veloso! Please let me know of the whereabouts of the characters the screenplay left behind, I fear for their safety.

Take This Waltz

Sarah Polley doing it for all the women on Earth since 1979. Not recommended for brides to be!

Godzilla
Godzilla(2014)
½

From its opening title sequence onwards Godzilla is quite a fun ride borrowing unashamedly from Jaws, Jurassic Park, Michael Bay ventures and several other blockbusters, it almost feels like too sophisticated a homage to Tokusatsu flicks. 9/11 and the recent tsunamis also seemed to have inspired some of its emotional punches. The creatures created by Weta Digital are a definite highlight and won't let fans of kaiju down. I was initially surprised to see such a high calibre cast involved but then I took notice of their on-screen times and quickly reali$ed I wanna be Juliette Binoche for a living. Some sequences are incredibly beautiful so definitely worth a look on a big ass screen and do wear 3D glasses for this one!

Elvis & Madona
½

This love story between mtf transgender Madona (yes, only one n!) and her lesbian girlfriend Elvis is definitely not something we see on the big screen every day. While the material is welcome (and necessary even), it would have really helped if the film was not so hugely influenced by the telenovela format and treated its characters with a bit more dignity and its plot with a little less hurry. The cast does not always convince and Maitê Proença's guest appearance is indeed funny but only because it is so awful. The soundtrack is spot on and almost saves the day. Almost.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Just when I thought the vampire genre was suffering from an impossible case of oversaturation, very unexpectedly, Jim Jarmusch, out of all people, proves me very wrong. Although Jeffrey Wright screws proceedings up a little, Only Lovers Left Alive is superb in every aspect. Even Yasmine Hamdan makes an appearance (tears were almost had)! How funny, clever and romantic! Somebody please get me the soundtrack? Also, vampires of the world, feel free to turn me... It'll be delicious!

Blue Is The Warmest Color

MIA at the Academy Awards because it failed to qualify due to its distribution date, I would not trade Blue Is the Warmest Colour for any of the films that are actually in the race. 3 hours of the best close ups cinema can produce with performances so faultless they'd put Meryl Streep to shame (Not that I think Streep would have ever been involved considering all the graphic sex). Perhaps the most explicit first love tale to have ever graced mainstream silver screens and one that is not going to be easily forgotten, much like your first heartbreak. It certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea either but I loved it so much I might even give oysters a go.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Did not find the eagles realistic enough. Not sure if some of the over the top dramatic arcs and dramatic orcs were actually meant to be that comic. Vaginal thrushes aside, I shall watch the sequels. Especially if the company is as entertaining and the Pannacotta actually works.

Iron Sky
Iron Sky(2012)

I am not sure why critics gave this one such a hard time. I had loads of fun ( even laughed outloud) and appreciated the terrific special effects and hilarious political satire. If you are ever in the mood for something silly you can't go wrong with this.

The Iron Lady

Inspired by the success of The Queen, the producers of The Iron Lady quickly acted to make a buck. They owe every cent made to Meryl Streep who is the only reason why anyone should ever see this shallow, uninspired and politically correct biopic of one of the most politically incorrect politicians that have ever lived. Props for the make up team as well! I'm still feeling sorry for Jim Broadbent and hope he got paid shitloads to waste his talent on the dull, two dimensional Denis Thatcher he got stuck with.

2010
2010(1984)
½

Following the footsteps of Kubrick's 2001 was never going to be an easy task... But this sequel goes as far as spoiling the original. If 2061 and 3001 never see the light of day in Hollywood (Tom Hanks was keen to produce), 2010 might be the reason why. Die-hard fans of the books and the sci-fi genre will probably appreciate it, but ultimately this is rather disappointing and its ending is up there with the tackiest you'll ever see on screen.

Dallas Buyers Club

An important true story that may not seem as timely to those who leave the theatre after an important reminder hits the screen once final credits have rolled. Matthew McConaughey's fans won't be disappointed with what it is, unarguably, his best performance to date. Jared Leto is also remarkable and deserving of all accolades being thrown at him. Anti-homophobia movements could not have asked for a better cinematic ally either. It's so good I was too stunned to cry.

Candy
Candy(2006)

Heroin is a little more complicated than this, mate. Can white upper class Australia please stop exploiting "junkies" to be eligible for grants from the government? Thank you.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Nuri Bilge Ceylan has officially earnt a spot in my heart and is quite clearly one of the most talented filmmakers alive. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for cinema like this.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Scorsese's first big studio gig came courtesy of Ellen Burstyn, who in turn got her first (and only) Oscar (Scorsese lost his to Stanley Kubrick). The film features a tribute sequence to the Wizard of Oz, a very young Harvey Keitel and an even younger Jodie Foster (who could have been easily mistaken for a boy) and a kid Laura Dern as an extra enjoying some ice cream. If not for his name in big pink letters, contemporary audiences would have trouble guessing Marty was at the helm of this chick flick, his first and last - for now...

Vinicius
Vinicius(2005)

One of the men responsible for "The Girl from Ipanema" and arguably the most important figure in Brazilian music surely deserved a more inspired doco. Educational, but not sensational... Mostly due to its dreadful performance readings of De Moraes' poetry which clearly belong on a theatre stage.

Falling in Love

Who would've thought Meryl and De Niro could ever do wrong? Excuse me while I vomit. At least Frances Conroy has moved on to much greater things since...

In the Realm of the Senses
½

Deserving of its reputation as one of the best porn films ever made. No CGIng of actors genitals either, Mr Lars Von Trier!

Gravity
Gravity(2013)
½

If you ever wanted to go to space, Cuáron's latest film will take you there. Get a 1st class seat, nice 3D glasses and make sure you have the biggest screen in your local area in front of you. The ride will be gripping and bumpy at places thanks to some disappointing dialogue, but I dare you to forget the experience and to not enjoy it... Truly spectacular filmmaking that made me really appreciate keeping my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds.

I'm So Excited!
½

Almodóvar's escapist comedy seems to take Buñuel for a plane ride. The director's gayest film to date is an attack on heteronormativity, the Spanish monarchy and the complacency of society as European economies clash. Not a masterpiece but worth the trip!

Searching for Sugar Man
½

Perhaps the most competent and successful exaggeration of facts seen in a recent documentary but whether fiction gets in the way of facts - or not - Rodriguez is something to be celebrated indeed and there's no harm in omissions if they can get the the world to open their eyes (and ears) to this legendary, humble artist. Right?!

JCVD (Van Dammage)

Best Van Damme film ever...

Stoker
Stoker(2013)
½

Movies on a plane #7 - By far the most chic and warped coming of age flick I have ever experienced on a plane, Chan Wook Park's first Hollywood incursion is all his own. It won't please all passengers with its bizarre and unique mix of murder and sexual repression but will seduce with all its accomplished technical aspects, superb performances and Jacki Weaver.

Mama
Mama(2013)
½

Movies on a plane #6 - Who would have thought of Jessica Chastain as an unconvincing actor, right?! The little girls here are also almost as creepy as seeing Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau playing a good guy. Although Mama is never quite scary enough and the CGI in it is laughable, there is a touching message about the importance of family in there somewhere. Don't expect to scream or jump on the plane though (and that can be a good thing)!

Hitchcock
Hitchcock(2012)
½

Movies on a plane #5 - A somewhat satisfying homage to Hitchcock due mostly to a sensible and competent cast. This fictionalised behind the scenes of Psycho never gets quite as exciting as the real thing would have been as the screenplay seems busy trying to please crowds with subplots that simply aren't worthy of one of the greatest directors of all time. Perfect to go with plane food and a whiskey, of course!

Blancanieves
Blancanieves(2013)
½

Movies on a plane #4 - Riding on the silent-cinema homage wave previously surfed by The Artist, this very Spanish adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is extremely entertaining and Maribel Verdú is at her best. The Brothers Grimm would be proud! Perfect for any plane ride, especially if you're landing in Spain!

The Impossible
½

Movies on a plane #3 - If you are a sook DO NOT watch this on a plane as you will cry like a desperate motherfucker for most of it. If you're sitting next to a child, you will scare said child with your crying and have them offer you their toy because they feel so sorry for you. Their mother will feel proud and this will only add to the emotional ride that has been watching Naomi Watts almost die over and over again. Quite beautiful at times if not a sophisticated (and perhaps a little exploitative) true story TV drama.

Silver Linings Playbook

Movies on a plane #2 - Perhaps the greatest feel good flick of yesteryear, this one can get a little awkward during the major dance scene and its brief quasi-cunnilingus moment if the passenger next to you can't get their eyes off your screen. Hard to resist to its many charms and our graceful Jacki Weaver. Did not appreciate censored language and blurred sexy bits... But it's a plane...

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
½

Movies on a plane #1 - Creepy, warped and fabulous this is a good one to freak out the person sitting next to you as they wonder why the fuck you're the only person not watching The Hobbit or Parker. A must-see for Davis and Crawford's performances alone.

Zoolander
Zoolander(2001)

Finally got around to watching this after learning it's one of Terrence Malick's favourite films to unwind to. Every time I got distracted there would be a cameo to wake me up - seeing Bowie and Donatella joining the fun was pretty amusing. Will Ferrell's Mugatu made me lol the most and the chemistry between Wilson and Stiller is undeniably wonderful. Not too bad, but don't ask me to sit through a sequel! 89 minutes is about all I could have wasted on it and I don't even read that good!

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas(2012)
½

Thumbs up for the Wachowskis and Tykwer for their phenomenal vision and ambition but Cloud Atlas' many profound themes do get a bit lost amid their spectacular visual assault. I struggled to ponder about the legacy of my soul through time or about eternal love during futuristic motorbike chases or wonderfully choreographed fight scenes. Then, a Korean Hugo Weaving looking more like an ET or in just plain awful drag AND a Tom Hanks being repeatedly shite no matter how great his fake nose looked were also hard to stomach. But thanks to team Matrix and Run Lola Run for trying! While I am sure the book might be better, I must admit much worse has already been served with my popcorn!

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

Err... Wow...Hahaha...Pow...Paw...Awww...Hahahaha... Bang... Poing... Hahaha... Pow... Bang... Stay for after final credits hilarious (?) scene. As indulgent as dull blockbusters get but fully exploiting the charisma of Robert Downey Jr whose name is totally predicted by my phone keyboard!

The Hunt (Jagten)

Vinterberg revisits child abuse sans Dogma 95 politics in a psychological thriller that - very refreshingly - doesn't exploit such a horrific theme for cheap thrills. "The Hunt" is almost suffocating for its faithful depiction of the highly volatile nature of humans (and tight brotherhoods) and also very likely to upset radical animal lovers (1 walk out and 1 emotional patron as evidence at my screening). Mads Mikkelsen is superb and really breathes life into the excellent screenplay by Vinterberg and Lindholm. Expect laughs, tears and plenty of food for thought after the credits roll. A very timely film in a world where parents are more and more unhealthily obsessed with their kids, and it is left to poor teachers to put up with it all.

True Grit
True Grit(1969)

This fine Hollywood western gave John Wayne his only Oscar, broke Mia Farrow's heart (she refused to be the lead), cemented Robert Duvall's method actor reputation, featured a very young Dennis Hopper (in a shockingly awful performance) and inspired the Coens to have their own go at it many years later... A classic about men who got 'true grit' that is still great fun to watch - all credit goes to 'The Duke' as the charismatic one-eyed fat man perfectly cast by Hathaway on what has deservedly become one of the most memorable westerns of all time.

The Last Metro (Le Dernier Métro)
½

Truffaut's most popular flick features the German-occupied Paris from his childhood and the theatre world that kept its residents warm and hopeful. Depardieu and Deneuve featured together on the big screen for the first time here and the film scooped no less than 10 César Awards. No Nouvelle Vague traces contained... The nostalgia here is so cute you'd easily mistake it for a Hollywood classic. Subtle and skilled performances save the day, Deneuve is possibly at her very best and most certainly steals the show.

Trance
Trance(2013)
½

Danny Boyle might be doing wonders for Brazilian wax businesses and forgotten trance beats but not much else to see here.The luscious production design doesn't cut it either...

Midnight in Paris

The best thing Allen has done in ages and I am not saying that because he included Djalma Ferreira and Luiz Antônio in the soundtrack. Darius Khondji's cinematography is to die for and Allen's screenplay wittiness makes me jealous. As always the casting is superb even if Dalí and Hemingway are pure caricatures. Finally, there's Paris... Rain or sunshine, past, present or future. .. What a lovely place on Earth!

Once Were Warriors

Lee Tamahori's one hit wonder is visceral and owes a lot to actors Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison. There's something deliciously exciting about the fact it beat Jurassic Park at the time of its release in NZ too. Should I watch the sequel?

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy

Despite some truly appalling special effects and a cringe worthy performance by Mary Steenburgen ( replacing Diane Keaton), there are a few lols to be had here. Interestingly enough it is also the first time Mia stars in a Woody film, yes, she picked the only Woody Allen film ever nominated for a Razzie!

Top Hat
Top Hat(1935)

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire at their best!

White Material

Enjoy your exotic fair trade African coffee? Claire Denis knows exactly where it comes from and at what cost... Here she teams up with Isabelle Huppert to explore the darkness and the madness colonialism has inflicted in Africa, beautifully. Fingers ain't pointed and nobody is innocent. Patriarchalism? Change? Hope? Great food for thought and a worthy subject at your local...café.

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)

Finally got around to this one and yes, the world still welcomes lovers! It is truly irresistible and for all its flaws and clichés still a masterpiece... And a lot of time went by!

The Imposter
The Imposter(2012)
½

The Imposter tells an incredible true story but it is terribly uninspired, even in the way it depicts Spain. Worth seeing it on telly but it is a bit of a waste on a big silver screen.

Weekend
Weekend(2011)
½

For a motherfucker that hates romantic films I was surprised and dehydrated from the tears shed during this. An unlikely love story, Weekend depicts the complexities of queer love through a 48-hour rendezvous that will leave even the most homophobic of idiots feeling great next time they see two men kissing at a train station. Sorry, Brokeback Mountain but this goes places you were really scared to...

Amour
Amour(2012)

Amour is the most romantic film ever made. It is a tale of true love like it really should be, like we've been told to forget. The perfect antidote for centuries of crap Hollywood romantic comedies and saccarine soapy classics, Haneke once again delivers the life changing kind of spectacle you'd expect of him, and he has lightened up, a lot. While it can hardly be described as a feel-good flick, it has restored my faith in love, and cinema. Go see it when it's out!

Zero Dark Thirty

Bigelow's riveting Hollywood popcorn thriller must not be confused with a documentary, ever. Shame that it will, and that it has already been... A disturbing ode to the CIA, ZD30 turns the death of Bin Laden into a very exciting spectacle led by a very determined female agent (my Oscar vote is Chastain's btw), a superhero that in real life doesn't sound so super ( apparently she tortured the wrong guy once). As the action film it strives to be, ZD30 succeeds in every level. It'll be talked about for years, it will also strengthen the debate about public access to classified information and do Julian Assange many many favours. When was the last time a blockbuster caused so much controversy? I like that it has left so many people asking a lot of important questions. For a first-cut of one of recent history's most important events it may have come too soon, but as it entertains, it is also opening up doors... Ok, I think I am suffering from an acute case of guilty pleasure!

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)

Is it Malick? Is it Spielberg? Is it Cameron? No, it is Ang Lee... and this is 3D that matters (and works). There is no pretension, it is far from the tear-jerker it could easily be and it very respectfully trusts its audiences and their intelligence. It deserves to be seen at a cinema, where its magic will work best. Take the kids... It is a dive they won't forget.

Disgrace
Disgrace(2008)

I am yet to see a better film about the aftermath of South Africa's apartheid. John Malkovich is absolutely incredible and leading an ensemble that never falls short. Strongly recommended. Dog lovers will be traumatised, you've been warned!

Once Upon A Time in Rio (Era Uma Vez...)

Another exploit of the Brazilian slum wave, Breno Silveira's film keeps forgetting it is not a soap opera. There is little point in believing and following these characters when the screenplay's pathetic twists and turns have no respect for them. It also features the worst (and most infuriating) end I have seen in a film for quite sometime. The music is most excellent though. Buy me the soundtrack now!

The Claim
The Claim(2000)

As versatile as ever, Winterbottom's western is one of his most underappreciated films. Milla Jovovich singing the fado? Yes, please.

Go Now
Go Now(1998)

A liitle too much love if you ask me but worth a look. Tricky makes a funny cameo and great catching Alison Goldfrapp in her early days.Also recommend for people suffering from MS.

On the Road
On the Road(2012)
½

Road movie expert Walter Salles spent 8 years working hard on this one and it shows. Salles' most divisive film to date might not resonate as strongly in our times, when sex, fast cars and drugs are just backdrop elements of the latest music video on telly, but it helps (and it is also rather unfortunate) that the American dream isn't entirely dead. Technically superb and featuring a cast that is both stellar and extremely committed, 'On the Road' is worth the trip. Can hardly wait for the documentary about the Beats made during pre-production to come out...

Splice
Splice(2010)

A grotesquely entertaining affair, 'Splice' does more than just follow the current (and bizarre) trend of sci-fi films that feature aliens copulating through their tails. It keeps things smart and slightly unpredictable for most of its running time too. Oh... It also stars Sarah Polley! Tempted to see a sequel, but we know how that usually goes...

Argo
Argo(2012)
½

Definitely this year's most hyped thriller, but also one of the best on offer, even if Mr Goodman and Mr Arkin may have been typecast again and the film's most suspenseful sequences stick to the classic predictable formula. Good on Affleck for coming out the big hero, both on and off screen.

Samsara
Samsara(2012)

Don't think I will be eating chicken any time soon! Samsara is quite an experience and a profound, revealing meditation session about the current state of the world. Hopefully it is the kind of film our grandkids will play for their kids at school so they can see how wrong we've been all along. The most stunning 70mm footage you'll see this year! If you can't afford a round the world trip then get yourself a ticket to this. Your soul will be very grateful.

Welcome to Sarajevo
½

The atrocities in Sarajevo are not an easy or popular subject to take on but serve as the perfect backdrop for Winterbottom who seems more focused in exposing the disgusting side of journalism in a world that is now so used to watching shit hit the fan for entertainment. I just wish it were compulsory viewing for media vultures...

The ABCs of Death

What could be said about a compilation of 26 shorts featuring death? Obviously there is good, bad and ugly but some of the horror on offer here is incredibly inventive. Ask Harvey Weinstein... Perfect for a midnight session or a cinema filled with the right crowd. A perfect choice for the Opening of Monster Fest, a really passionate bunch of genre film lovers that is just as inspiring as the films they love and ask the right questions at Q&As.

L'Enfer
L'Enfer(2005)

The second instalment of Kieslowski Purgatory trilogy only leaves you wishing the Polish master were still alive and kicking with an annoying score that might still have him turning on his grave. RIP Kieslowski, you are still missed!

Hail
Hail(2011)
½

Good luck finding a better Australian film this year (or decade!).

The Dark Knight Rises
½

For its familiar twists and turns and a somewhat intrusive 'experimental' score by Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises is a blast worth sitting through. Nolan meticulously honours the legacy of one of DC Comics most beloved superheroes with little details that only the most dedicated die-hard fans could pick out. Shame Bale has ruled out ever playing the Batman alongside Robin, because some more of this franchise wouldn't hurt. Deshi Basara! Deshi Basara! Deshi Basara!

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
½

Sadly narrated by Tom Cruise, Kubrick's made for TV doco seems a little rushed, even at 142 minutes. There are some interesting insights and curious interviews (Woody Allen not liking 2001 at first viewing, for instance) but rare behind the scenes and personal footage as well as family interviews make this compulsory viewing for Kubrick's fans.

Holy Motors
Holy Motors(2012)

For a society increasingly caught up in a virtual world, Carax's strange new feature feels like a slap in the face of the collective subconscious. To unravel this surrealist capture of the world wide web is quite the exercise, but like the best of dreams, unforgettable. Much stranger than Eva Mendes in a burqa or a Francophile suicidal Kylie Minogue, Holy Motors will have audiences whatthefucking for many years to come. Bravo!

The Horseman
The Horseman(2008)

How many litres of blood can a tradie toolkit splatter? After 103 minutes, I kinda lost count... Aptly re-titled "Animal Revenge" in Brazil, Steven Kastrissios' guerrilla debut has struck a chord with revenge thriller fans and features an impressive performance from Peter Marshall, but it's essentially uncompromising torture porn with the tagline "He can't bring his daughter back, but he can send her killers to hell!"

My Life as a Dog (Mitt Liv som Hund)

To think this comes from the same dude behind Dear John... It is evident Hollywood is a disease. Famous for his ABBA music videos or even films like Chocolat or What's Eating Gilbert Grape; My Life As a Dog remains Hallström's masterpiece and your kids should watch it!

Masculin Feminin

Godard's hip 60s in Paris seem to predict our future a little too well. The only difference being Marx has been dropped but Coca Cola survived... While I'm not his biggest fan, I must admit he really was onto something here. The Miss 19 interview, mentioning Iraq while Vietnam was still on... Definitely, my favourite of his films to date. Although, most people will stick with Bergman on this one and I wouldn't blame them!

Vamp
Vamp(1986)

Why watch this? Because Grace Jones does a "striptease" number covered in body paint by Keith Haring with a little help from Andy Warhol... Otherwise, there is always Michelle Pfeiffer's kid sister demonstrating some truly terrible acting skills. The pink and green lighting colouring every frame is still hurting my eyes.

Hysteria
Hysteria(2012)
½

The history of the vibrator deserved better. Hysteria suffers from a predictable case of premature ejaculation... Stimulating at first, mostly due to a fine cast and lush production values, it suddenly wraps up very neatly and unconvincingly at 95 minutes. It left me as unsatisfied as Mrs Castellari (Kim Criswell) when Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) failed at her "pelvic massage". All I wanted was a little orgasm, for the sake of female sexuality and for the world's most popular sex toy. But a few laughs were had including during the insightful after credits.