Coffee & Kareem (2020) – I’ll Have Decaf, Thanks

Released: 3rd April
Seen: 6th April

Dear Netflix

Look, I get it. You used to be the king of the mountain with all the films anyone could ever want and then the studios got greedy and realised that they could do it without a middle man and you lost a bunch of content so now you’re desperate to fill the empty space up. Sometimes you get desperate and you need to load up with content. I get it, you need content that they can’t take away from you and so you’re just greenlighting everything but may I suggest you try watching it before you upload it because maybe then you won’t unleash painful garbage like Coffee & Kareem onto the world.

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Tales From Six Feet Under (2020) – Visiting A Little Indie Short

Released: 15th April
Seen: 24th March (Screener)

Tales From Six Feet Under Info

Well, looks like the worldwide coronavirus lockdown extravaganza has finally hit Australian shores, shutting down the cinemas meaning I’m no longer going to be heading out to see films to review until they open again. Obviously, that’s going to mean some mild adjustments, I’m going to be reviewing a lot more Netflix things than I have been so far and might even bring back some reviews of classic films. I literally have a giant pile of recently bought classics nearby I can work through and hopefully, that’ll keep this blog going until they finally do that “releasing films that just came out in cinemas onto digital platforms” thing in Australia since it clearly is working well over in America. I also get to review things people send me, either short films or smaller studios that hit up my contact form and offer me screeners and we’re going to get to one of those today. As with a lot of screeners I tend to get, this is an independent film made on a limited budget. In fact, today we’re dealing with a 45-minute short film called Tales from Six Feet Under.

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Onward (2020) – Spellbinding

Released: 26th March
Seen: 21st March (Advance Screening Weekend)

Onward might go down as one of the unluckiest movies in recent Disney history since its release just happened to fall when the coronavirus pandemic basically shut down everything, including most theatres. Normally a Pixar film is basically guaranteed to make 100 million in the first week, get its budget covered in the second week and be on the way to one of the highest grossing films of the year. That’s now not happening, thanks to corona. If you want to be in genuine shock at just how suddenly this hit, go look at the box office of Onward. Onward is still technically the top grossing film in America and yet it’s barely cracking a thousand bucks a theatre. I bring this up because it explains why they made a pivot and released this one straight to VOD in the states and why it’ll be on Disney+ soon. So now the question becomes “Is this film worth a slightly higher than normal rental price to stream at home” and honestly? Yeah, because it’s a pretty great film.

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The Big Trip (2020) – Fall Over, Play Dead

Released: 5th March
Seen: 8th March

The Big Trip Info

So there seems to be this weird new trend going on at my local cinema and I don’t like it at all. For some reason over the last year, every few months an animated film is put on a big screen that clearly was meant to go direct to DVD. I’ve now seen so many awful animated films in a cinema that I thought I was numb to them. We’re not talking your generally bad animated films either, nothing that’s just bland or boring. No, we’re talking crap like Arctic Justice, Cats (not that one), Here Comes The Grump and Flying the Nest. Films that look like they were made in a month for the express purpose of being sold in bulk to video retailers to help them have filler on their shelves. These movies are not meant to turn up in actual cinemas, they’re not built to be presented there… but they keep on coming, and today we have the first animated abortion of 2020 and oh my god, I hope this is the worst one of this year because I can’t handle any more of this.

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Downhill (2020) – It’s A Disaster Alright

Released: 5th March
Seen: 8th March

Downhill Info

In 2014, the Swedish comedy-drama film Force Majeure told the story of a marriage going through a rough patch caused when an almost avalanche makes the wife and children fear for their lives while the patriarch of the family does a runner. Naturally, this leads to a feeling of “you left us to die, you colossal asshole” to go throughout the remaining family members and they must learn to deal with the knowledge that one of them is a giant hunk of shit. This film got rapturous praise, including a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign film so naturally would go through the same thing a lot of beloved foreign films does and receive a substandard American remake that removes any charm or wit and just makes it into one of the most painful things I’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting through. 

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Fantasy Island (2020) – Not My Fantasy

Released: 13th February
Seen: 16th February

There seem to be two main ways to adapt a TV series to film, as far as I can tell. The first is the straight forward continuation of the TV series into the new format, telling a story that’s just too big for the small screen. This kind of adaptation gave us El Camino, The Simpsons Movie and Charlie’s Angels, films that told stories in a similar vein to the series. Then there’s the riskier gamble, one that takes the series and comments on it by pushing it into a new genre, usually comedy. This lets us witness 21 Jump Street, Baywatch and the eternally baffling CHiPS movies in recent years. When you do this right, you can get gold… when you do it wrong you get Fantasy Island.

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Parasite (2019) – Everything You Heard Is Not Enough Praise!!

Released: 27th June 2019
Seen: 5th February

It was worldwide news when Australia decided to turn up the heat and set itself on fire. I don’t need to go into details of it all but suffice to say that it wasn’t exactly a good time to be in the land downunder. Air was awful, the heat was intense and our prime minister decided to go on holiday in Hawaii before coming back to force people to shake his hand for a series of photo ops that went wonderfully for him. A small (we’re talking beyond trivial, but I bring it up for context) side effect was that travelling from my home to Sydney was not going to happen under any circumstances since I had no guarantee the fire wouldn’t block the way and because the air quality was roughly the same as smoking 37 cigarettes a day. Because of that, any movie that was only being shown in Sydney was impossible for me to get to because I will do a lot to go see a good movie, but I won’t walk into an inferno.

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The Two Popes (2019) – Two Popes Are Holier Than One

Released: 27th November 2019
Seen: 3rd February

In 2017, Anthony McCarten wrote The Pope as a stage play. Sadly I don’t know who was in it originally (and god damn it’s impossible to find out any details of that 2017 production even though I know it existed!) but it was apparently clear to everyone from the jump that this little biographic play about the old pope and the new pope having a lengthy conversation was destined to become a movie. It was also pretty obvious to everyone that Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce were the guys who should take the lead. In Netflix’s bid to try and get an Oscar for Best Picture, they bought the rights and produced the movie version, probably figuring that the last three things Anthony McCarten wrote (Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour and Bohemian Rhapsody) all ended up with Best Picture nods so if they had him adapt his own stage play then it might happen again… it didn’t, cos this isn’t a best picture nominee, but the film is still pretty damn good.

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Like A Boss (2020) – You’re Fired

Released: 23rd January
Seen: 2nd February

The phrase ‘like a boss’ dates back to 1993 when rapper Ice Cube wrote the lyric into his song “Really Doe”, using the phrase to imply that something was being done with confidence. The lyrics “Out like a boss, with a half-pint of sauce” would create a phrase that would continue to be copied by rappers for years, until a bunch of white guys put it in a comedy song on a Saturday night program and the phrase ballooned in popularity because that’s what tends to happen when something originates in black culture and then the white people appropriate it. Now the phrase is so ubiquitous that it’s printed on mugs sold to bored people in discount stores who want to believe that one day they’ll actually be the boss when the reality is that they’ll probably be a worker drone until the day they die of liver failure from all the vodka they secretly slipped into their like a boss mug… I know, morbid and pointless opening, you try thinking of a way to open up a review on a movie like this. It’s either talk about the origin of the phrase that makes up the title or discuss various brands of paint that I’d like to see drying, pick one.

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Klaus (2019) – Happy Belated Holiday

Released: 15th November 2019
Seen: 1st February

Over the last year of this blog, I’ve done my best to see everything, in part so that when the time comes to do Oscar Predictions I’ll be able to say that I saw all the major films nominated. This was my intention from the start since I started reviewing specifically because I had somehow missed all the best picture nominees when La La Land won in 2017 (I turned it off after then, I’m sure they made a great acceptance speech). So now we’re a little over a week away and it turns out I missed a few films so I’m going to do my best to catch up on what I’m able to, starting with the animation nominees who I missed… and I now wish I had seen this one on its release so I could’ve started a Christmas tradition because it feels like the kind of movie that will be watched every single year by many people.

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