Oscars 2016: The Best Picture Contenders

Eight films are up for the big prize this year. How do they fare?

The Big Short
The Global Financial Crisis gets the big screen treatment with Adam McKay’s film about those on Wall Street who saw it coming. Strong performances from an all-star cast including Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt, who have all been ripped of their good looks to portray those in the financial world. McKay’s film takes a dig at the complicated jargon involved in finance, with some good-humoured attempts to tackle the audience’s confusion. Alas, for some (read: me) it was all just too confusing to fully appreciate. 3.5 stars Continue reading Oscars 2016: The Best Picture Contenders

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MUSICAL REVIEW: Ghost

Ghost (Melbourne, 2016)

Three years after it was first scheduled to arrive, Ghost the musical comes to Australia. To many its initial cancellation wasn’t a shock – out of all the shows we could get, Ghost?! The show that lasted only four months on Broadway? When we still hadn’t had Matilda, The Book of Mormon, or about twenty other superior musicals? Problems with transporting the intricate set were the official reason the show was cancelled back in 2013, and many probably thought it would never turn up. It did, and was it worth it? Maybe. Continue reading MUSICAL REVIEW: Ghost

FILM REVIEW: How to Be Single

How to Be Single (Christian Ditter, 2016)

He’s just not that into you. But who cares because the single life can be glam too! For a moment at least.

How to Be Single is based on a novel by Liz Tuccillo, occasional writer for Sex and the City and co-author of the revered He’s Just Not That Into You, also adapted for film in 2009. Co-screenwriters from that film, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (also co-writers for Valentine’s Day and The Vow) have adapted Tuccillo’s work once more, with Christian Ditter (Love, Rosie) in the director’s seat. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: How to Be Single

FILM REVIEW: Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2 (Ben Stiller, 2016)

It seems that good American comedies are hard to come by these days. In the last year, with the exception of a few female-driven vehicles (Spy, Trainwreck, Sisters), big screen comedies tend to rely on gross-out humour, are offensive, or just aren’t that funny. But every now and then you’ll find a gem. The original Zoolander (2001) remains to this day one of my favourite comedies. With an outrageous premise (a male model is brainwashed to assassinate the President of Malaysia) the film remains quote-worthy to this day (“What is this? A centre for ants?”). While fans of that movie were excited about its sequel, trepidation abounded – could it possibly be as good as the first one? Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Zoolander 2

FILM REVIEW: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle, 2015)

He might be a bit of a nob, but where would we be without Steve Jobs? Without the iPhone? Why, we might even have to talk to each other, heaven forbid. There’s no shortage of films about the man, with Joshua Michael Stern’s Jobs released only three years ago, starring Ashton Kutcher of all people (I mean, really? That’s the best you could do?) Thankfully Steve Jobs is a vast improvement, with Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) in the director’s seat, Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network) as screenwriter, and actor extraordinaire, Michael Fassbender in the title role. It’s certainly an improvement, but its focus may be frustratingly narrow for some. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Steve Jobs

FILM REVIEW: The Choice

The Choice (Ross Katz, 2016)

It’s that time again. Time for another Nicholas Sparks film adaptation. The tropes come out, women cry, money is made. With The Choice Ross Katz directs only his second feature film, though it still manages to look the same as all the other cloying Sparks films that have come before. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: The Choice

FILM REVIEW: Room

Room (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)

The inner workings of a child’s mind can be difficult for adults to conceptualise, even with all that is known of developmental psychology. This becomes all the more difficult when creating characters who are outside the developmental norm, whether this is due to genetic or environmental differences. And yet, a handful of authors have been able to successfully channel these young individuals, with Emma Donoghue, author of Room, among them. Her novel is written from the perspective of five-year old Jack, who lives with his Ma in what is simply named ‘Room’. Having never seen the outside world, his experience of his limited surroundings and his understanding of what is beyond them is fascinating subject matter. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Room