Hot Film Reviews 2020

The year 2020 will be remembered forever as the year everything stopped and work from home arrangements became the norm, thanks to the coronavirus. Who would have thought in 2019 that track-pants and active wear would become ‘classic work attire.’ While the world crumbled on the nightly news reports due to COVID-19, we cooked up big in air fryers, stocked up on toilet paper and streamed movies like there was no tomorrow. So here are my twelve best movie reviews of 2020, every film here I streamed direct to my 55 inch flatscreen TV. I hope you enjoy reading these film reviews, I certainly enjoyed watching them in lockdown. 😊

TRUE STORY OF THE KELLY GANG – Who would have thought Ned Kelly’s father was a cross dresser? Not me! What brave filmmakers to take on the legend of Ned Kelly and turn it on it’s f$@king head. The legend is still alive in this well acted, punk rock, cross dressing film on Ned and the Kelly gang. What could have been a boring old bio pic or tired western is transformed into a progressive thinking film with top notch performances, particularly Essie Davis and an actor I am becoming very fond of watching, Nicholas Hoult. George Mackay is also terrific as Ned Kelly in an Old Tote pub kinda way and Russell Crowe lends a hand for good measure. It’s gets a little jumbled here and there but the scenery and the pure Aussie originality keeps you engaged for the full 124 minutes. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿

MARRIAGE STORY is a film about the theatre of divorce, where everyone has a role to play, good or bad. Supremely well acted, often mimicking the stage in tone and dialogue. Marriage Story looks honestly at American divorce laws from both sides of a separation. A really nice touch are two songs from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company (a show about the pitfalls of marriage). They sum up pain associated with love and coupledom brilliantly! Note: Laura Dern won an Oscar for her performance in a supporting role. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

PARASITE is the Oscar winning film from Boon Joon Ho. Set in Seoul it’s basically a fable about the haves and the have-nots with more than a nod to the importance of family in modern life. It is probably best viewed knowing very little about its narrative as it is the twists and turns in this beautifully shot film that keeps you glued to it. While I enjoyed the journey and the characters, I was a little let down by the ending. Not a prude when it comes to violence on screen, I didn’t totally buy the motivation of some of the characters and their use of violence at end, so consequently the film left me wanting more. Still, Parasite is better than most of the films I saw last year, that says something about its power. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿

THE INVISIBLE MAN is an Australian production where Sydney doubles as San Francisco. It’s handsomely shot on small budget, and it stars Elizabeth Moss. Moss plays Cecilia a victim of domestic violence who out smarts her husband, and escapes from his clutches. He of course comes after her, creating havoc and (no surprise here) he’s invisible. The scene is set for a showdown and for most of its running time The Invisible Man delivers. The film borrows a lot from the 1982 flick The Entity and works best in its quieter moments, when the camera lingers on Moss. Let’s face it, the premise is a little silly but the production is top notch. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿

I missed GOLDFINCH when it was released in 2019 but I’m glad I caught up with it on Netflix. The film was universally panned by critics, heavens knows why… because there is a lot to like here. If it’s great acting you want, then it delivers. If you are looking for an original story (it only occasionally slips) then for the most part it nails it. I was held spell bound from the beginning to the end. There are a few pacing issues (it’s a long film) but don’t let that put you off. Goldfinch like a great piece of art is worth discovering. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a classic movie! I was stuck at home due to the pandemic and was feeling crook! I flicked past Netflix, Stan, and landed on Amazon Prime clutching a jar of Eno! What should I watch to cheer myself up and help settle my tummy? Maybe something more old school Hollywood? To kill a Mockingbird won three Academy Awards including best actor for Gregory Peck, given the Black Lives Matter movement recently the film seemed worth another look, and somewhat topical! The film is based on a novel of the same name and is just as powerful now as it would have been back in 1962. It tells the story of racism in a small southern town in America during the depression. The story is told from the view point of two white children, Jam and Scout. The children learn quickly that life isn’t always as tasty as fudge and that the world is divided into…black vs white. Sure, it doesn’t move fast by today’s standards and probably spends too long with the children at the start, before we move to the courthouse, where Gregory Peck is assigned to defend a Negro falsely accused of raping a white woman. But it’s honest, skilfully performed, and a timely reminder that we’ve still a long way to go when it comes to respecting our differences. Definitely worth watching again, even if you are feeling unwell. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿

DIRTY JOHN (Season 2) – Betty Broderick Story – Well, I’m trapped inside my flat, stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, so what am I going to do on Saturday night? Right! I’m going to binge watch Season 2 of Dirty John on Netflix. I really enjoyed the first season of Dirty John with Eric Bana, however season 2 really steps up the drama. Hats off to the producers, for having the guts to tell a terrifying story of marital abuse and divorce, where the man is also a victim. Amanda Peet is mesmerising as Betty! You’ll cry for her, love her, hate her, want to kill her…but you won’t be able to take your eyes off of her, she is that bloody good in the lead role. The series looks at the ugly side of married life particularly divorce, and it pulls no punches. Although it does show separation/divorce from both sides of the argument, Betty’s behaviour is so extreme you can’t help but feel sorry for her ex-husband, and her unhappy children. Christian Slater is also strong as Betty’s husband, particularly in the second half of the series, but make no mistake this is Amanda’s Peet’s show and she seizes the opportunity in the meatiest role for a woman I’ve seen in a series for a long time. I really loved it. And guys, remember to get your damn prenup signed before you marry the cute girl from college! My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA – Social media is an addictive tool, this is why tech giants refer to us, their customers, as users. Meaning they’ve got us hooked, just like a drug! Who hasn’t spent hours on their iPhone looking at Instagram or Facebook. Is this accidental or a calculation by the tech companies? This frightening documentary on Netflix had me pondering the positive changes social media has brought to society… and also the over abundance of fake news, believed by so many, and distributed using social media platforms. Think 5G towers, all conspiracy theories, possible cures for the coronavirus, and let’s not forget the rise of youth suicide and the anti vaxxer movement. Ultimately this Netflix film along with the many ex-social media executives interviewed, are calling for regulation and accountability on social media platforms. If they win, it would mean that we would be reading the same thing online, no matter where you live in the world…and what we read is truthful and not influenced by companies, governments or the very rich! I don’t think that’s not too much to ask for! In fact after watching this doco I’m convinced we should be calling for the ‘truth to be heard’ and spread online. Did Russia influence the American election using social media as a tool? I think…maybe. Perhaps today is a good time for us to at least look at regulation online. With teen suicide on the rise, civil unrest across the world, maybe demanding accountability from these highly paid companies is the right thing to do. Does it interfere with our freedom of speech? Well, that’s a debate for another documentary. Interesting fact, all the executives (from all major social media platforms) interviewed for the film, won’t let their children use social media. Now, that says something! Tristan Harris, formerly a design ethicist at Google. “When you look around you it feels like the world is going crazy. Is this normal or have we all fallen under some spell?” The Social Dilemma put a spell on me, definitely recommended viewing for the socially minded. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿

WEST – Far from the glamorous lights of Sydney Harbour is the western suburbs, portrayed here as a series of canals, burger joints, back lanes, cement pavements, and the setting of Daniel Krige’s ‘West’. This 2007 film which I first saw on the big screen, is like a fine wine, and has gotten better with age. It is held together by exceptional performances from the entire ensemble, especially Khan Chittenden, Michael Dorman and Wolf Creek star, Nathan Phillips. It was born out of a time where every Aussie film was gloomy, violent, depressing, and about the drug trade, West is no different. However, West stands taller than the other films mainly due to the strength of its script, direction and the skill of its young cast. Make no mistake, I’m a fan of Australian cinema, it breaks rules and does it often, West is no exception. But with streaming services like Stan around today offering such a variety of cinema going experiences, maybe West will find a new audience, it certainly deserves to be seen. Btw the digital transfer is terrific but be warned it has several violent scenes. I highly recommend West. I wasn’t expecting to love watching it again, but I did! I even shed a tear towards the end. Highly recommended. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

Who is she? Who was she? Who does she hope to be?’

Set in New York late 1960’s, THE BOYS IN THE BAND written by Mart Crowley, was a game changer in writing confronting and honest theatre. Updated a little for this film version, it tells the story of nine gay men who gather in a Greenwich Village apartment to celebrate the birthday of a mean spirited, acne scarred fag called Harold. Like most parties held on roof tops with lashings of alcohol and drugs, it’s all fun and games and cheap sexual innuendo until someone loses an eye…or at least gets their feelings very badly hurt. This Netflix film uses the 2018 Broadway cast to tell this boozy, sometimes funny, psychological drama. While not as edgy as the 1970 film by director William Friedkin, there’s enough high drama happening between the men to hold you glued to your flatscreen for its full two hour running time. My rating – 🍿🍿🍿

The first film is a nice little horror spin on the fairytale ‘Hansel and Gretel’ called THE VISIT. While the PG rating keeps director M. Night Shyamalan from getting too carried away with gore, there is something appealing about mad grandpa pooping himself and old grandma running around naked in front of the two lead kids, that I found amusing. Aussie Ed Oxenbould turns in a terrific performance as Tyler, a young white-kid rapper who tries desperately to warn his sister that something is seriously wrong with dear old nana, and maybe they should cut their visit short! My rating – 🍿🍿🍿

‘BOMBSHELL’ is a film about systemic misogyny and sexual harassment in America’s gigantic Fox News corporation run by Aussie Rupert Murdoch, played in the film by Malcolm McDowell. It stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow as the lecherous Rodger Ailes. Every actor in this production is in top form, with Theron almost unrecognisable under prosthetics, which turn her into real life anchor, Megyn Kelly. Bold and audacious, this docudrama will have you reaching for some brownies and floating in a hot bathtub of sex and politics. My Rating – 🍿🍿🍿🍿