The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Ignoring its truncated introduction – which dispatches Smaug, introduces Sauron and earns Cate Blanchett a paycheque – The Battle of the Five Armies is the most coherent chapter of The Hobbit. It’s also the least satisfactory, despite its character arcs and narrative consistency. I was entertained throughout, but that’s more a reflection of my fondness…

Spoiler Alert: The Top 8 Unadvertised Cameos of 2014

The wonderful folks at The Essential are doing something a little different with their inevitable end-of-year lists this year, and tasked me with hunting down the top unadvertised cameos of 2014. I obliged, and you can read on to find out who made the cut by following this link. (Yes, the picture above is a…

Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

I watched Grave of the Fireflies expecting a masterpiece. I’d never seen the film before, but its reputation preceded it – as Studio Ghibli’s second film (released simultaneously with the magnificent My Neighbour Totoro) and as a tear-jerking war drama. Based on the non-fiction novel by Nosaka Akiyuki, it tells the tale of teenage boy…

Scarlett Johansson in Lucy (2014)

Unpacking 2014’s Blockbusters

If you want to talk about the experience of the average moviegoer in 2014, you need to talk about blockbusters. Boyhood might be the recipient of cascades of praise from critics and award bodies alike at the moment, and stands a solid chance of picking up the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And yet,…

The Castle of Cagliostro

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

Have you ever wondered what you’d get if you asked Walt Disney to make a James Bond film? Well, wonder no more. The Castle of Cagliostro centres on Lupin the Third, a gentleman thief inspired in equal part by Bond and fictional French burglar Arsène Lupin. It’s fair to say that, in retrospect, the ever-whimsical…

Zero Motivation (2014)

BAPFF: Zero Motivation (2014)

It seems like it’s nigh-impossible to talk about Israeli ‘workplace’ dramedy Zero Motivation without referencing Office Space. Give or take a Jarhead, though, I’d argue that Talya Lavie’s feature-length debut more closely resembles The Office (the UK version). Both The Office and Zero Motivation make paperwork integral to their story, for example; the former takes…

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013)

Last Saturday I made a mid-morning visit to GOMA’s Cinémathèque for a couple documentaries by Hong-Joon Kim on the subject of Korean cinema. It was hardly an accessible double feature: as a fellow critic commented, it was “too niche for its audience of five people,” presenting interesting but opaque oral histories. I expected the same…

The Dead Lands

BAPFF: The Dead Lands (2014)

It’s safe to say that The Dead Lands’ sold-out sessions are an outlier at the sparsely-attended screenings that have so far defined Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival. Perhaps this lends some insight into the movie-going demographics of our city, where a Chekhovian Palme d’Or recipient is outshone by the Maori cultural heritage championed in New…