MOVIE REVIEWS

Reviewed by Marion and Frank Atkinson





Based on a very successful stage play, the cinematic version has the advantages of using the actual streets, parks, and even a lively choreographed scene of a swimming pool, in Washington.
The plot focuses on the dreams and aspirations of a close-knit community of migrants from South America who are trying to find their place in the States while maintaining their cultural heritage. There are various sub-plots on the same theme, but the scene stealer is bodega-owner, Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a genuinely charismatic, nice guy who narrates the story in rap style. He is ably supported by a talented cast of singers with beautiful voices and crowd scenes of exuberant dancing in the streets that you would expect in this type of musical.
In The Heights is almost 2.5 hours of music, dancing, colour, energy, and passion that is wonderful entertainment for lovers of musicals. The exuberance of the cast is infectious. Watch out for the very clever and seamless special effects of the dance scene that takes place on the side of a tenement building.





Hannah is a specialist firefighter, called a smoke jumper and a tough cookie. In this hazardous field of firefighting, she is always ready to mix it with the macho guys, both verbally and physically, to prove she is as competent and smart as they are.
Unfortunately, she recently made a crucial decision on a job and is now haunted by the tragic outcome. Consequently, she has been relegated to a solitary life in a watchtower in the mountainous Montana wilderness. Her resourcefulness, determination and her soft side prove vital when she encounters a skittish boy who is on the run from two callous hitmen.
Those Who Wish Me Dead, directed by Taylor Sheridan, is exciting and well-produced with amazing photography of fire storms, reminiscent of our own recent devastation.
Angelina Jolie is quite believable as Hannah who is determined to protect Connor, our own Aussie star Finn Little, who is well-suited to the role of a lad in desperate trouble.
Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen play the parts of the cold-blooded assassins in this well-constructed action drama which received appreciative applause at a recent theatre preview.





Derrick, with friend Rafe, has built up a very successful sports agency. He has a dream home, a beautiful wife and a lavish lifestyle. However, he is under pressure from his business partner to sell and also suspects his wife of infidelity. He meets Valerie at a disco, has a one-night fling, as you do, and suddenly his life starts to crumble in a spectacular fashion, especially after Valerie reappears on the scene. Meanwhile, in a parallel plot, we learn that Valerie is trying to gain access to her daughter from her ex-husband, with little hope of success.
Michael Ealy as Derrick, a rather weak character, plays the part well, and Hilary Swank as Valerie is awesome as a driven, resourceful detective. They both enhance a somewhat predictable plot and the fact that FEMME is missing from the title will not fool anyone and does not detract from the production.
Fatale is quite noisy with metallic clangs and a low continuous droning that may tend to annoy. (Even the lift to Val’s apartment sounds like a garbage truck). However, this latest effort from director Deon Taylor is very watchable, a slick, sleek, adult mystery thriller that will keep you in suspense with various twists and turns until the end.





In the second half of this century, a spaceship sets out on an epic journey to colonise a new planet. On board is a group of children, especially chosen for their intelligence and genetic inheritance, accompanied by their teacher. They study, work, eat and sleep in a sterile, unemotional world of bland, hard, white surfaces and set routines.
All is well, until as teenagers they discover a secret which will change them from little robots to human beings with personalities, curiosity, and desires. Knowing that they will die in space is a further catalyst to the dramatic change in their lives that will follow.
The similarity to the novel Lord of the Flies in which school children are forced to co-exist on a deserted island is obvious. However, Voyagers, explores a sci-fi update to that theme which is no less brutal and savage.
The plot is believable, the tension is palpable, and the characters are true-to-life in a film that will draw you in to the very end. Voyagers is a very real examination of human strengths and frailties under-pressure in extraordinary circumstances.
The scenes of their life in outer space are amazing and realistic.




For those fans of the two largest monsters on earth, this film will, much to their delight, continue the fantastic journey, with a massively destructive battle as the grand finale.
For the rest of us, the action is no less exciting, although perhaps the plot is a little harder to follow. Kong is stranded on Skull Island, safe but not content, longing to return to the Hollow Earth. Godzilla meanwhile, is very angry at everyone and everything, and is destroying all in his path.
To complicate matters, there is Kong’s team of carers, including the orphan girl Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) who can now communicate with him, and calm the savage beast, plus the CEO of a tech company, APEX, who wants to save the earth, and an APEX technician and two nerdy teenagers who want to stop the CEO.
However, the heroes are Godzilla and Kong, who provide all the visual action you could want. The special effects are absolutely spectacular from the very first scene which has Kong having a shower under a waterfall to the wholesale destruction of an Asian city.
At a cost of $170M (US) and a crew, that must run at least, to a thousand, this blockbuster will keep audiences enthralled.




In the 1970s, the Black Panther Movement was expanding rapidly, with branches in most states, protesting their people’s lack of human rights. The Illinois Chapter was led by Fred Hampton, a charismatic and forceful leader who preached active revolution and engendered hatred of the ‘pigs’. His troops were heavily armed and there is no doubt that there would inevitably be war and bloodshed.
Daniel Kaluuya is mesmerising as the Black Messiah who is prepared to sacrifice his life and even put that of his wife in danger for the cause. William O’Neal is his betrayer who, following felony charges and certain jail, keeps his freedom by passing on information to the FBI. LaKeith Stanfield is excellent as the false friend who wants to be a true follower but knows that to do so would mean certain torture and death.
Judas and the Black Messiah is a powerful, brutal drama that pulls no punches and apparently depicts the horrible truth of the corruption and vengeance of those terrible years. This documentary expose will remain with you for quite a while. It will be interesting to see if it garnishes the cinematic awards that you would expect from such outstanding performances and gritty production, especially given the recent BLM protests.




You have to feel sorry for Teddy (Rafe Spall). After meeting the love of his life Leanne (Zahra Newman) in an hilarious opening scene, then wooing and marrying her, disaster strikes.

Every few minutes, he loses a whole year of his life. Apparently, he is work-obsessive, so while his love for Leanne is still strong, his marriage is crumbling, and he only has a few precious moments to make amends before another year is lost. Suddenly Teddy, the procrastinator, must make every moment count.

Cleverly scripted and directed by Josh Lawson, this fantasy comedy is fast-paced fun of the time-warp variety. Spall and Newman work very well together as he is frenetic and frustrated as opposed to her quiet and stable personality, but it is Rafe Spall as the fast-talking, impetuous and totally confused Teddy who carries the movie. Teddy’s best friend Sam (Ronny Chieng) plays an important role as Teddy is in even more trouble with Leanne as he misses celebrating each wedding anniversary. There are a few emotional moments also that may bring a tear to the eye.

The audience at the preview of this Australian comedy showed their appreciation with sustained and well-deserved applause.




With this serial-killer thriller, set in LA in the 90’s, you may expect the old set piece, especially after viewing the scary opening scenes. However, director/writer John Lee Hancock concentrates on the personalities and interactions of the three main characters, rather than dwelling on gory scenes of mutilated women. There are no cardboard stereo types here.
Denzel Washington is Deke, a lowly deputy sheriff but with a good reputation who is in LA on an assignment. He is talked into staying on by a young, ambitious detective, Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malek). Some solid police work by Deke leads them to suspect Albert (Jared Leto), a creepy and devious weirdo who taunts them and cleverly frustrates them.
It is revealed by several flashbacks that Deke is mysteriously haunted by events from an earlier investigation of a similar case. Baxter is a sensitive family man who lacks the experience to handle his emotions. Albert seems to be always one jump ahead and enjoying the cat and mouse chase.
The ending, with a surprising twist or two is worth waiting for, leaving the question of guilt unresolved and the conviction that a cop’s life is not all black and white. It this case, in fact, a very dark shade of grey.
With three stars of the ability of Washington, Malek and Leto, (who has earned a Golden Globe nomination for his efforts here), you are assured of an absorbing movie.




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