Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023) – Net Positive

Released: 1st June
Seen: 1st June

It’s kind of wild to think about how different things were in December of 2018, both in terms of general worldwide issues and in the pop-culture landscape. Obviously, we didn’t know at the time that we were about a year away from experiencing one of the biggest worldwide events in human history, weren’t to know that the simmering of fascism that popped up in small places was going to become an overwhelming constant nightmare that would seemingly never end and in the world of pop culture we’d all just experienced the absolute shock that was Infinity War

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Chopin: I Am Not Afraid Of Darkness (2023) – Powerful

Chopin: I Am Not Afraid Of Darkness is available as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer in the 1800s who, by the time of his death at 39, had cemented his place as one of the true icons of classical music. His many assorted compositions have become staples that any person with even a mild interest in playing classical music is expected to learn, pieces of his like Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 (they did not have great names for songs in those days) are not only standards for people to learn but turn up in pop culture with some regularity because they are just the perfect pieces to set the mood. Chopin’s place in history and in music is so determined that his compositions have been played just about everywhere and the documentary Chopin: I Am Not Afraid of Darkness adds three interesting new locations to that list.

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Influencer (2023) – Under The Influence

Released: 26th May
Seen: 29th May

The age of digital media has created a plethora of new terminology that we have been quick to accept, from “Doomscrolling” to “Going Viral” we’ve just taken on these terms as a part of our regular lexicon. One of the most fascinating terms that’s been really jump started by the digital media age is “Influencer” where someone basically spruiks goods and services using an online persona for their audience. 

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Missing (2023) – Found It

Released: 23rd February
Seen: 28th May

In 2018 a little film called Searching was released to an unsuspecting public. Now at the time we had a few films that used the “it’s happening on a computer screen” gimmick (also known as Screenlife) but none had used it quite as effectively as Searching did in order to tell a truly intense story of a kidnapping from the POV of a worried father trying to use technology in order to find his daughter. It was an undeniable hit, raking in about 75 million on a budget that was basically just a few go-pros and a pair of fairly well-known actors but with its creative presentation and twist-filled story, it managed to get enough attention that a franchise sprung forth. This is how we get the film Missing, a follow-up that proves that there is a lot more life left in this concept that can hopefully be explored.

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Knock At The Cabin (2023) – Choices

Released: 17th May
Seen: 23rd May

There is a trope in fiction known as “Bury Your Gays” which has become somewhat of a problem in certain pieces of media. The idea is depressingly simple, the idea being that there is a disproportionate number of gay characters dying, normally as a way to expand a straight character’s storyline. Now this doesn’t mean that you can never kill off a gay character, far from it. However, if you do, it should be at the same proportion as straight characters and, preferably, not be completely pointless. Knock at the Cabin is a case study in how to do this correctly while also indulging in more than a few of M Night Shyamalan’s worst tendencies as a writer/director.

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The Little Mermaid (2023) – Part Of Our World

Released: 25th May
Seen: 25th May

When people talk about the Disney Renaissance, they are talking about a very specific period of time from 1989 to 1999 when Disney released hit after hit with stunning regularity. Ten films over a ten-year period that would revive the Disney brand in a way that basically set the stage for its eventual dominance over the industry today. It could be argued that without the Disney Renaissance, we wouldn’t have the MCU that dominates the landscape today.

Even the worst film in the Disney Renaissance is better than most other films from the same time period, it’s truly a remarkable time in cinema history and it all started with a simple film about a mermaid who wanted to be where the people were… and because Disney has decided exploiting it’s back catalog is a substitute for good film making, we now have a remake of The Little Mermaid, the film that started this Renaissance. In somewhat of a miracle, it’s not actually that bad.

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Still: A Michael J Fox Movie (2023) – Short and Sweet

Released: 12th May
Seen: 21st May

When it comes to stars of the 80s and 90s, it’s almost undeniable that one of the biggest names in the industry was Michael J Fox. He caught the world’s attention playing Alex P Keaton in the sitcom Family Ties (which would get him 3 consecutive Emmy awards, a rare feat in itself) and then cemented his place in film history with the iconic Back to the Future trilogy. Throughout the 80s and 90s you could not escape Michael J Fox, he was one of the biggest names around and was often the thing that was used to sell a movie to an audience. You weren’t going to go see Doc Hollywood because you were interested in films about surgeons, you were going because it was a Michael J Fox film and he was a big damn deal to pretty much everyone. Even his return to television in the late 90s was a big deal, with Spin City being a huge hit and netting him his fourth Emmy. The key point is that Michael was the original short king, someone who was considered unstoppable… and then his hand started to shake.

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Plane (2023) – Minimal Turbulance

Released: 13th January
Seen: 21st May

January tends to be known as a dump month for releases. Basically, a film that is released this month tends to be something that the studios don’t have faith in and throw out quickly and quietly with minimal expectations. There are obviously exceptions to this idea, truly spectacular movies can come out pretty much any time but a January release is usually the spot where films go to die. It takes something kind of special to break this rule and actually make a splash… or you can be mediocre enough in the exact right ways to make back a minuscule budget and be something more than just a quick write-off.

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Winnie The Pooh: Blood And Honey (2023) – Oh Bother

Released: 17th May
Seen: 20th May

On Jan 1st, 2022 the character of Winnie the Pooh entered the public domain. To be very specific, because this stuff is more needlessly complicated than it should be, the first book by A.A. Milne that was published in 1926 is now available for anyone to use however they like. The characters, plots, dialogue and everything in those pages can now be used in any way you like. Of course, you must be careful to avoid using the elements that Disney used for their adaptations (AKA, Winnie the Pooh can’t wear a red shirt because that’s a Disney thing) and you can’t use elements from any of the subsequent books (Aka Tigger won’t be public domain until 2024 because he doesn’t appear until the 1926 book “The House At Pooh Corner”) but if you stick with those rules you can do anything you want with the bear of very little brain.

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Fast X (2023) – Slow Down!

Released: 17th May
Seen: 20th May

Fast X Info

The Fast and the Furious franchise has developed something of a reputation over the years. At first, that reputation was that these were the films to see cool car tricks and hot women in skimpy outfits, maybe with a little bit of a heist thrown in for dramatic tension. Now the Fast and Furious movies are where you go to see physics be violently pegged by a souped-up automobile powered by the laws of “Fuck you, this looks cool”. It’s somewhat of a dramatic shift over the years but it’s honestly been for the best, the franchise was kind of dull and boring in the beginning and now it’s almost impossible not to salivate in anticipation for what insanely stupid thing is going to be done next behind the wheel of a car.

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