Widows Walk (2019) – Walk On

Released: 16th December
Seen: 18th November (Lift-Off Film Festival)

When it comes to ghost stories, it’s very hard to get a truly great one. Ghosts are the kind of horror movie creature that can either be genuinely terrifying or goofy as hell with very little in between. I tend to like ghost movies more when the ghosts are used as some kind of metaphor, either for repressed emotions or for grief, because that lets these apparitions be used for something interesting instead of just “an excuse to make a closing door scary”. This movie used ghosts as a metaphor for grief, but it also needed to work a bit on its structure.

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Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story (2019) – Play Ball!

Released: 11th April
Seen: 22nd November (Lift Off Film Festival)

So, I’m not anything close to a sports guy. I don’t get them, I don’t understand them and I have just never enjoyed them. I don’t watch or play them, they do nothing for me. You ask me about Pooh, I’ll start talking about a little yellow bear who is all stuffed with fluff but if you ask a basketball fan about Pooh, they’ll start talking about a man named Derrick Rose who was a rising basketball star that signed on to the Chicago Bulls in 2008 where he was destined for greatness, being the youngest person to win the MVP award and a whole bunch of other sports titles that I do not understand… and then he tore his ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament) and all hell broke loose. Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story charts all of it, from Derrick’s days in Chicago learning to play through to today and it is a shocking tale, to say the least.

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No Turning Back (2019) – No, Turn Back!

Released: 12th April
Seen: 21st November (Lift Off Film Festival)

You know, I get no real joy out of writing a negative review. Sure, it can be cathartic to lay into a film that I felt was offensive or particularly bad but sometimes it feels like I’m kicking a puppy. Sometimes a first-time feature filmmaker makes a genuinely bad film and part of me wants to just ignore it, move on and pretend I didn’t see it… but I did see it and it would feel dishonest not to write about it especially when I have thoughts on it. Just know that this is not exactly fun for me right now, this one I feel bad because I was in the room when the director was asked “Is this a comedy?” and that question should tell you everything about how bad this drama film is.

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The Last Witness (2018) – Badgering The Witness

Released: 29th May (2018)
Seen: 21st November (Lift Off Film Festival)

Sometimes you can tell everything about a movie just by a basic description of its genre and the descriptive term “Your average”. For example, if I said to you that The Prowler was your average 80s Slasher then you would have a good idea of what to expect from that movie. You automatically picture certain visual style, acting choices and even setting and as long as the movie hits those notes it’s fine. It might not be great but it’s fine. Well, The Last Witness is your average post-WW2 movie set in Britain. It delivers what you expect, but that’s about it.

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The Addams Family (2019) – *Snap Snap*

Released: 5th December
Seen: 23rd November (Advance Screening)

In 1938 Charles Addams created a cartoon about a strange family for the New Yorker. It was a satirical take on the modern family that ran for 150 single-panel cartoons and gained a following. Enough of a following that in 1964 a TV series was greenlit and that series, though it only lasted for two seasons, would be responsible for giving every member of this family their names and set the tone that people would come to expect from these characters. The series would continue to be adapted into many forms from cartoons to new live-action series to the two 90s Addams Family movies everyone loves (Don’t deny it) and even a stage musical. Now it’s a big bold animated movie, another in the recent trend of “Franchises that refuse to die” and like a lot of films in that trend, you don’t need to see this one.

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Knives Out (2019) – It Murdered Me

Released: 28th November
Seen: 23rd November (Advance Screening)

One of my favourite films of all time is the immortal Clue, the camp murder mystery based on the board game of the same name… in the states, in Australia it was named Cluedo for reasons I don’t understand. Everything about it makes me so happy from its quotable dialogue to the crazy camp characters to the luscious set that just begs you to enjoy every element of it. The film is a cult classic but it contains one massive flaw… no way in hell could you actually solve that thing. It has three different endings and all of them rely on information the audience never gets until the moment Wadsworth starts running around and telling everyone who did it. For years I was waiting for a movie to come around with great dialogue, crazy fun characters and a murder mystery that actually feels solvable as the plot comes out… and Rian Johnson clearly heard my plea because he made that exact film and I love it so much.

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Morbid Stories (2019) – Story Time

Released: 22nd October
Seen: 19th November

Every now and then there’ll be an indie filmmaker who’ll send me a link to their film. It’s happened a few times so far, things like Hate Crime or Violence Voyager were little indie companies trying to spread the word about their film and I’m always happy to talk about them. Indie films do tend to get treated differently because we understand that these are films made usually by first time directors who are honing their craft and working on their skills. Allowances need to be made for a difference in budget and availability of resources so keep that in mind while we look at a new anthology film called Morbid Stories. Being an anthology film, the only real way to talk about it is by talking about each short film that makes up the anthology itself, because each one was made by a different crew and director with different visions and it’s unfair to paint them all with the same brush when they’re really different in quality and tone. I want you to remember one key thing… I was sent this, I wouldn’t have reviewed it if I wasn’t asked to.

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Charlie’s Angels (2019) – Don’t Call Me Average

Released: 14th November
Seen: 18th November

In 1976 the world was introduced to three female private detectives who worked for a mysterious man who they would never actually meet. That man was Charlie and they were his angels, the show Charlie’s Angels would become an instant smash hit, spending the first two seasons in the top 10 most-watched shows of the year and it became iconic almost instantly. 20 million viewers tuned in to watch a trio of strong women kick ass, it was a monster hit that even achieved the rare feat of creating an influential hairstyle trend. It lasted for 5 years and there were multiple attempts to revive the brand, eventually culminating in a pair of films in the early 2000s that did amazing business but badly with critics. Well, time for them to revive the brand again because we are never permitted to allow a brand to die even when no one wants it anymore (and judging by the box office… oh damn this brand should’ve died long ago)

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Ford v Ferrari (2019) – Zoom zoom

Released: 14th November
Seen: 14th November

In the early 1960s the Ford motor company was having a bit of a hard time. Sure they were financially successful, but Ferrari was still considered the better car even though Ferrari at the time was hemorrhaging money. After the head of Ford, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) was rejected and humiliated in his attempt to purchase a stake in Ferrari he decided on a new plan… humiliating Ferrari by beating them at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race which Ferrari had won for several years running. In order to accomplish this, Ford hires Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the only American who hadwon the Le Mans race but retired due to a heart condition. Since that heart condition means Shelby couldn’t handle the race, he hires his old friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to handle the driving. Catch is, Ken’s a bit of a hothead who doesn’t play well with others, especially the bosses at Ford who are almost pointedly trying to abuse and screw over the little guys working for them.

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Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story (2019) – Powerful

Released: 13th August
Seen: 13th November

On May 30th 2017, a photo was uploaded on the internet that would change Kathy Griffin’s life forever. The photo was of Kathy in a blue dress holding a mask with piss-yellow hair covered in ketchup, clearly a reference to a certain president whose name I won’t mention because it’s my review and I get to do stuff like that. The photo was immediately condemned on all sides and Kathy went through the standard cancellation procedure where she lost all her current gigs and had to do the apology tour we send comics on when they make a bad joke. None of this was asked of photographer, Tyler Shields, who not only never apologised, but who continues to work to this day (not saying he should’ve gone through it too, just pointing out that he seems to be doing fine while Kathy’s the one dealing with everything). Anyway, for Kathy this went far beyond your standard “Cancel culture” reaction, this was a steroid induced destruction of a life and career because of one photo. I want to state up front that I did not like the photo in question, I thought it went too far and wasn’t funny… I’m also aware that it was a joke referencing a comment the person depicted in it said and that, at least at the time, Kathy was apologetic for it. What followed was a reaction that even literal rapists don’t have to go through, and this year Kathy finally said “ENOUGH” and let the world know what happened in one of the best and most heart stopping concert films I’ve ever seen.

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