Snowden (2016)

“Traitor, or hero?” is the question posed by Snowden’s poster, though Oliver Stone’s retelling of its titular characters story is so firmly in the Hero camp that you wonder why they bothered asking at all.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Halfway into Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Joseph Gordon-Levitt – battered and bloodied – ascends a fire escape, consumed by trepidation. We know this because he continues to grimly intone his fears on the narration track, and because there’s a woman waiting for him in the hotel room at the top of the…

12 Years a Slave - Chiwetel Ejiofor picking cotton

On Festivals

Today heralded the end of a great Australian festival that has lasted over two decades. I’m not referring to the Big Day Out, whose cultural capital was irrevocably eroded by the influx of teenage, Australian-flag-wearing bogans a decade ago and has limped its way to extinction ever since. No, I’m talking about the Brisbane International…

The Wind Rises (2013)

The Wind Rises (2013)

“Airplanes are beautiful dreams. Cursed dreams, waiting for the sky to swallow them up.” It’s hard to separate The Wind Rises from its creator, Hayao Miyazaki, iconic anime director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Barring a Jay Z-esque change of heart, The Wind Rises represents his last feature length film, and with this in mind…

Manic (2001)

Over a decade later, Manic feels too familiar for its own good. An indie with an impressive cast – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle – it spends its time in the walls of a psychiatric institution. Handheld, Dogme 95-style camerawork indicates the film’s insistence on naturalism, but the institution itself feels filmic, like any…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon (2013)

Brisbane International Film Festival: Don Jon (2013)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon, demonstrates sparks of clever filmmaking. The film’s construction is deliberately repetitive, using recurring rituals (church, Sunday lunch, gym, jackin’ it to internet porn) that change to highlight the growth of its (unlikable) characters. It also mines humour from these subtle variations – generally at the expense of its Jersey-Shore-esque…

Double Feature: Paprika (2006) and Inception (2010)

(Double Feature is a series of “double length” (400-word) posts where I’ll discuss two related pop culture artifacts) Inception was a critical and commercial success, a cerebral blockbuster nonetheless filled with action. It’s unique in that it’s successful, high budget film from the last decade that’s based on an original idea. The film has even…

Brick (2005)

A friend commented last year that Rian Johnson’s Looper made her feel “stupid” for having to read a plot synopsis to understand a sci-fi action film. Of course, Looper was an astoundingly complex film (to its benefit), and the same attributes are found in Johnson’s directorial debut, Brick. But where Looper’s complexities held audience attention…