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Trailer: Mrs America

Cate Blanchett stars as Phyllis Schlafly, an American conservative, in this FX series set during the heated '70s feminist movement. Rose Byrne plays Gloria Steinem, with Sarah Paulson, Elizabeth Banks, Uzo Aduba, Melanie Lynskey, Margo Martindale and Tracey Ullman also in the cast for showrunner Dahvi Waller (Mad Men).
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Short Film: Goldman v Silverman

As we wait with anticipation for Uncut Gems to drop on Netflix (Jan 31 people!), the Safdie Brothers have released this amusing short film featuring Adam Sandler and Benny Safdie and Times Square to keep us partly sated.
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Short Film of the Week: Miro

Victoria Wharfe McIntyre’s 24-minute indigenous themed film is unlike anything we have seen in this country, and with her feature film The Flood arriving in 2020, we thought that there is no better time to spotlight this unique talent.
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Cate Blanchett for President at Venice

The Australian actor, who made a huge impression leading the #MeToo protests while acting as President of the Cannes jury in 2018, has now been appointed the same job in Venice, presiding over a 2020 competition that is set to include major Oscar contenders.
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Trailer: The Lovebirds

Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) and Issa Rae (Insecure) are a couple on the run, looking for the bad guys and some well earned laughs.
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Bad Boys For Life

Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

It has been seventeen years since Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II exploded onto screens in a shower of broken glass, ricocheting bullets and a cheerful disregard for human life. And while you’d be hard pressed to find many people to say it was a ‘good’ movie, it was iconic and deeply unusual in fascinating ways. Even if you didn’t like the movie, it was hard to deny its impact on mainstream action cinema, best epitomised by Edgar Wright’s charming love letter to the genre, Hot Fuzz (2007). Well, since it’s 2020 and no film franchise gets to stay dead for long, here comes Bad Boys for Life and it’s… about what you’d expect, really.

Bad Boys for Life reintroduces our ageing buddy cops, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), with the latter becoming a grandfather in the opening minutes of the film. Marcus reckons this is a sign that the bad boys should slow down, but Mike is sticking with the mantra “we ride together, we die together”. He almost gets the chance to do so, after being gunned down by the mysterious Armando Armas Tapia (Jacob Scipio) at the behest of his bad arse mum, Isabel (Kate del Castillo). A few bullets can’t keep Mike down for long, so he needs to recover, get Marcus back on board and defeat this new threat that seems somehow familiar…

The biggest change from the usual Bad Boys formula is the lack of Michael Bay as director (although he does have a moderately amusing cameo). This time Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah take the helm and the result feels very in keeping with action movies in 2020. The script by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan also ticks a lot of modern action movie boxes: ageing protagonists, earnest monologues about the importance of family, extremely predictable plot twists and a bunch of disparate narrative threads that are clearly setting up potential future sequels and/or spin-off movies.

Will Smith is, as always, a charming and likable presence and his natural chemistry with Martin Lawrence (who is really trying hard here, bless his heart) is the highlight of the film. Less successful are the new mother and son villain team, whose motivations and behaviour are frequently baffling, and the movie somehow contains a worse one-liner than “you forgot your boarding pass” from the original Bad Boys (1995). The action, while certainly more coherent than pretty much anything Michael Bay has ever done, is also pretty lacklustre and devoid of inspiration. Which, honestly, is a statement that could be applied to the entire exercise.

Bad Boys for Life is a film no one was really asking for, but if you’re able to get over that hurdle, you might enjoy the cheerful camaraderie of the leads and the consistently adequate action scenes. If, however, you’d rather not sit through yet another attempt to reanimate an old franchise for future exploitation, you’re better off riding and dying somewhere else entirely.

 
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Dolittle

family film, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

With the world having just recovered from the disturbing hyper-sexualised feline imagery seen in Cats, there is a collective sigh of relief at the impressive visuals exhibited in CGI adventure-film Dolittle.

Unfortunately, that might be where the excitement stops for parents who endure this superficial retelling.

In an unexpected turn from director Stephen Gaghan, the filmmaker responsible for heavy dramas such as Traffic and Syriana, Dolittle offers a closer to the source material adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s beloved series of children’s novels.

Robert Downey Jr. takes the mantle of the titular physician who can walk, talk, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals.

When first on-screen, the audience is greeted by a dishevelled Dolittle rocking a mop of hair and beard so intense that he looks somewhere between a prehistoric caveman and an inner city barista.

Turning his back on humankind following a great tragedy, Dolittle finds solace in isolation. He retreats from the world by locking the doors of Dolittle manor; a picturesque animal sanctuary filled with gadgets, gizmos and giraffes.

Through Dolittle’s eyes, people pose the greatest threat to animals, with the gifted doctor taking umbrage with hunting, sharing his indignation with reformed-hunter and newly appointed apprentice Stubbins (Harry Collett), and forming a close-knit bond with a slew of animals which he can communicate with.

Forced into solving the case of the poisoned Queen of England (Jessie Buckley in a lifeless role), Downey Jr. and the menagerie of animals must trail the high seas and rescue an antidote from the mysterious Eden Tree; an artefact located somewhere in the ocean.

The gang faces many threats during their swashbuckling ship-trip, the likes of which include facing a gold tooth tiger with familial issues (Ralph Fiennes), the return of a jealous rival (Michael Sheen), and a rugged pirate with a score to settle (Antonio Banderas). Dolittle’s adventure may take place on the ocean, but (wait for it) the real journey starts from within, as Dolittle begins to connect back to humanity.

The camera momentarily shivers when transitioning from animal to English, making for a modestly smooth, albeit absurd, language changeover. Downey Jr. goes all-in on the horseplay. He wobbles through the film displaying a range of emotions that verges on space-headed to bittersweet. The retired Iron Man does all this while attempting to impersonate a Scottish accent; aiming for Mrs Doubtfire but winds up being a shakier British accent than the one he displayed in Sherlock Holmes.

The film’s high concept approach to storytelling remains considerate to the families that will be spending their holidays in the cinema. Gaghan risks not over-stirring the pot and uses the antics of these peculiar creatures – the likes including an anxious gorilla (Rami Malek), a sock wearing ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani), a dude-bro polar bear (John Cena), a no-nonsense parrot (Emma Thompson), and a spectacles-wearing pooch (Tom Holland) – to create a stream of mild chuckles throughout the film’s 100-minute length.

Alas, the spectacle required to keep Dolittle afloat is never fully realised. Gaghan proves unwilling to go over-the-top in the stakes department; a sign of a studio lacking confidence in a product whose ongoing release pushbacks now finds it setting sail into the doldrums of January cinema-going. The message of compassion at the centre of the film never fully forms. Instead, RDJ channels sad eyes through his emotive baby-blues before being interrupted by an animal making an unimaginative joke about doing animal things.

The VFX team do an impeccable job bringing the animals to life; however, the film’s lowbrow sense of humour reduces the elegance of the visuals. Outside of the occasional crack of laughter, probably delivered through a cringe-inducing pun that will have every father in the cinema reciting it back to his kids at home, Dolittle will do little for the adults in the room. That said, littlies should take to the variety of bumbling creatures and their monkey-business.