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Isn’t it Romantic review : Wilson & DeVine a dynamite duo (again)!

Mike checks out the new rom-com, appropriate for valentine’s day

Mike Smith

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Director:

Todd Strauss-Shulson

Cast:

Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine, Liam Hemsworth, Priyamnka Chopra

Run time:

1 hr 26 mins

Rating:

Natalie (Wilson) isn’t sure about a lot of things. A skilled architect, she is treated more as a gopher by others in her office instead of a valuable asset. One thing she is sure about? She hates romantic comedies, which her assistant (Betty Gilpin) constantly watches at her desk. One night, while battling a mugger, Natalie is knocked unconscious. When she comes to, she discovers that her life has changed. And she’s not happy.

A winning comedy built around the chemistry of its stars, “Isn’t it Romantic” is a fun time at the movies. Much of the fun comes from trying to pick out all of the rom-com tropes that Natalie dislikes yet is now experiencing. Handsome suitor? Check. Overly-gay best buddy? Check. Killer karaoke chops? Yes, sir. The more she learns the more frustrated Natalie gets. And when she learns that every time she tries to use the “F” word she is overridden by the sound of a honking horn, she is horrified that the world she is now living in is only rated PG 13.

With two of the “Pitch Perfect” films behind them, Wilson and Adam DeVine have built an amazing rapport, and it shows on the screen. Hemsworth is quite charming and Bollywood star Priyamnka Chopra is both funny and beautiful! The story moves quickly (the film is less than 90 minutes long) and makes a nice Valentines gift for that special someone. Unless, of course, they hate romantic comedies!

Film Reviews

Ad Astra Review : Will reaffirm your faith in cinema

Brad Pitt in a Lunar-Apocalypse Now that offers commentary, thought, stunning visuals.

Caffeinated Clint

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A capsule comprising of Joseph Conrad, Carl Jung, Christopher Nolan, Arthur C.Clarke and Paul Verhoeven can only orbit to one place — and an intellect’s sci-fi paradise is indeed where James Gray’s “Ad Astra” docks.

A love letter to science fiction, and a reassuring reminder that the big screen needs to remain a permanent fixture in our filmgoing future, this curiously titled film – don’t be fooled car lovers, it’s not a documentary on the Holden Motor Company’s marketing tactics – combines supersymmetric smarts with the best Eyeon Fusion has to offer. The result is a patient, thought-provoking trek through the stars that’s not so much concerned with MTV Movie Award noms as it is playing therapist to the many of us wrestling with a constant feeling of disconnect or, as it may also be, daddy issues.

A sort-of Lunar-Apocalypse Now with the visual template of more recent space-set stunners like “Interstellar” and “Gravity”, “Ad Astra” tells the dyed-in-the-wool yarn of a lone warrior entering uncharted territory in search of a long lost, possibly stir crazy protege.

In this case, astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is travelling to the outer edges of the solar system to find his long missing pop (Tommy Lee Jones), a man who might also know how to thwart a mysterious threat that has started to slowly destroy Earth.

Despite what’s on offer in the film’s first half-hour – a fun assemblage of futuristic sci-fun moments that wouldn’t have been out of place in “Total Recall” or “Blade Runner” – there’s a much headier, and more intellectual offering at play here. Yes, there’s several brilliant, white-knuckle action sequences (the first, taking place within the film’s opening moments) and the plot does stop-off in Philip K.Dick territory here and there, but Gray and co-writer Ethan Gross’s main motivation here isn’t so much to thrill as it is to offer each audience a respective psychological check-up.

Pitt, hot off a somewhat welcomingly wired turn in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”, is the most restrained he’s been – perhaps since Terry Malick’s “Tree of Life”, of which the film has many similarities actually- as our hero, freshly scarring by the minute from the physical and emotional test he’s enlisted in.

The supporting cast – Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and a brief Liv Tyler the biggest names on the credit block – are all solid too, but nothing can quite compete with the captivating, all-encompassing performance William Bradley Pitt gives.

The heavy themes, heady plot and real-world commentary combined with the outstanding visuals and poppy postcard from a possible future results in a wonderful “Star Trek” meets “Interstellar” hybrid. But don’t be fooled, “Ad Astra” is no homage to what’s come before, nor is it a patchwork of opposing genres, but in fact Gray’s film is such a refreshingly unique and skilled film – and the cheapest psychotherapy session you’ll get – that it might just reaffirm your love of cinema.

And for the unversed, the title is Latin “per ardua ad astra” which means “through struggle to the stars”.

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Film Reviews

Ride Like A Girl Review : Glorious, Incredible…

Teresa Palmer plays Michelle Payne, winner of the 2015 Melbourne Cup

Caffeinated Clint

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The trick to winning the race, advises a wise Paddy Payne to daughter Michelle, is to go a steady pace until finding safe passage to make a triumphant gallop to victory at the end of the end. Rachel Griffiths, here bringing Michelle Payne’s legendary and inspiring 2015 Melbourne Cup win to the screen, has wisely applied the same tactic to “Ride Like A Girl”. With a measured, grounded pace and welcome restraint, the first-time feature director crafts the ultimate love letter to the Payne family, horse racing and the single-parent household.

With a script as delicately handled as the horses would’ve been on set, Griffiths trots out a warm, effortlessly-inspiring and extremely moving film that is bereft of much of the gloss and Parmesan films of a similar ilk usually encompass. The “Muriel’s Wedding” and “Hacksaw Ridge” actress, having spent enough time on effective television dramas and features, is smart enough to know a winning story, with capable actors, is enough to both compel and touch. Here, she lets the story and structure work the audience alone, and it’s a winning move.

Against all odds, and despite physical and emotional battles that would likely cancel-out the grand plans of most, Michelle Payne (Teresa Palmer) went on to not only snare a place in the horse race that stops the nation, but win it. Flashback we do, to see how she did it…

The youngest of ten, the gutsy and ambitious Victorian defied all – even her concerned widow father (Sam Neill), at one stage – to keep her dream on track.

In a lesser filmmaker’s mitts, the libretto for “Ride Like The Girl” could’ve easily been turned into an overblown, not at all affecting hour-and-half history-lesson saved only by pop-enthused montages and slick choreography, in Griffith’s hands, it’s a glorious thing that gets the heart pumping, the eyes watering and the mouth curving.

Under ostensible direction to play it both true and grounded, sometimes letting a lack of words say more than too many, Griffiths produces top-notch performances from a wonderfully picked cast. Teresa Palmer, in a career-skyrocketing turn, is a revelation here as she emotionally and physically embodies the part of Payne. So too is the always-dependable Sam Neill, in what’s unarguably one of his most immersive and touching performances in screen in quite some time. And while Sullivan Stapleton, Genevieve Morris, and Sophia Forrest, to name but a few, offer weighty support, it’s Stevie Payne – playing himself – who gives the most impressive turn of the support cast – this is more than an admirable turn, it’s an award worthy performance.

Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie deserve equal praise, penning less a screenplay and more a time machine – one that transplants the audience into the most significant periods of Michelle Payne’s life.

“Ride Like A Girl” isn’t just up there with John G.Avildsen’s “Rocky” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Color of Money” as a winning sports drama that ticks all the boxes, but an incredible film in its own right – a feature deserving of unshackling from any genre, worthy instead of being categorized as, quite simply, one of the best Australian films in decades.

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Film Reviews

Good Boys review : yes, it’s better than the trailer

Consistent laughs, believable laughs and a strong third act makes “Good Boys” more than just “good”.

K.T Simpson

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Thanks to a lot of marketing showing pre-teens acting in a completely inappropriate and somewhat filthy manner, “Good Boys” has become the comedy of the year that everyone wants to see (particularly the aforementioned pre-teens, ironically not old enough to see the film, as producer Seth Rogan has pointed out). The problem with a trailer that highlights a menagerie of hilarious moments is the risk that you’re seeing every funny moment the film has to offer. “Good Boys” inherently suffers from this curse, but only for the first half of the movie.

Director Gene Stupnitsky, who is more known for his writing credits on TV show “The Office”, makes his directorial debut with “Good Boys” and proves that he is not afraid of pushing the boundaries of comedy, toeing the line between what’s appropriate for a kid to say or do, and what they really want to say or do.

Self-declared ‘tweens’ Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) are in the 6th grade, and are on a quest to prove how grown up they are – by skipping school, finding out how to kiss girls and preparing for an upcoming party at the cool kids’ house – all in one day. The plot is fairly basic, and is essentially “Superbad” with younger characters. The joke here is the 12-year old kids confronting issues in the mindset that they are much older than they really are – but in a manner that’s appropriate to their age. While it sounds confusing, it comes off brilliantly and delivers some gut-busting laughs.

Of course, you can’t put a movie down for all the good material being in the trailer, especially when those scenes are quite funny. In saying that, there’s only so many times you can see a boy hit himself in the face with anal beads or kids trying to cross a busy highway before it feels overdone. The criticism more-so comes from the script being a tad over the top, perhaps in an effort to shock the audience by the vulgarity of the conversations and actions of a kid who shouldn’t even know what porn really is, nor want to search for it on the internet.

In saying that, it’s the third act that pulls “Good Boys” out of a self-digging hole, and ends the film on quite a high note. It’s rare to see the second half of a movie really shine, as often this is where they fall apart. However, “Good Boys” is the exception, and the heart-warming narrative in amongst a tongue-in-cheek coming-of-age spinoff is quite brilliant. The three boys are all cast very well, and bounce off each other really well in the unlikely friendship they all share – but strangely just works.

If you’re a parent of a pre-teen in the millennial years, the dialogue and themes in “Good Boys” will ring so true, you’ll forget you’re not watching your own kids on the screen. Dropping current lingo like “lit” and all those other turns of phrase that you hear the kids saying (but aren’t really sure what they mean) is gut-busting hilarity at its finest – but ironically will also make you feel old AF.

“Good Boys” had the potential to become no more than a few laughs due to the token Seth Rogen humour – which if the characters were older, you’d likely have seen James Franco in the role – but thanks to a strong and unique third act it rises to be more than just what you see in the trailer. The kids deliver consistent laughs and believable performances, cementing the film as being more than just “good”.

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