We are only on Day Two of the ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ countdown and already we are at ‘Best Supporting Actor’. You know that magical time of year where once again, I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories- who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ.


The Florida Project
As much as I do love most of Dafoe’s work – and did like this movie – it just wasn’t a ‘love’ for me.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Woody was good in this film. It was a classic, good Woody and I wouldn’t be mad if he won.

The Shape of Water
I was give or take here.

All the Money in the World
Unfortunately I’ve not seen this film, so have missed the performance. It happens.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
And of course you knew if you follow me anywhere how much I loved this performance. While Rockwell’s career has probably had more misses than hits, McDonagh definitely knows how to bring out the hits in him.




Well here we are! The ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ are back. You know that magical time of year where once again, I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories- who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. This year I’m starting off gently with the writing categories or “Best Adapted Screenplay” & “Best Original Screenplay”


Screenplay by James Ivory
I think I would be best served by reading the book on this one, as I didn’t love the film.

Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
A fun romp this was, but not a winner for me.

Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold
I really enjoyed this movie and it would be very nice to see the last film of this franchise win something like this. But it won’t.

Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
We all know Aaron Sorkin can write TV – and now I know he can write a film also.

Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
Not my favourite film nor can I imagine if it follows suit of the book, would I care for it either. The parts about the U.S = real, the parts about Europe = not so much.


Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Cute script/movie

Written by Jordan Peele
While I commend this first write of a decent film, it just wouldn’t be my pick, but it’s a very possible winner.

Written by Greta Gerwig
Another decently done script. But I can only give it a like.

Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro
Completely stunning story. Where these ideas come from is from a truly brilliant mind.

Written by Martin McDonagh
McDonagh said in his interview that years ago, was driving somewhere in rural US and saw a billboard that while he can’t remember what it said, noted that it stuck in his mind to the point where he wrote a story about it.

REVIEW: “RED SPARROW” (2018) 20th Century Fox


So with my media screening confirmation for “RED SPARROW” we received this note from Director Francis Lawrence. I much appreciated this as I hate spoilers and always try to avoid them in reviews. However, after the screening, I’m thinking he doesn’t want anyone to reveal his ‘plot points’ and ‘ending’ because they are downright ridiculous.

To sum this up quickly and make this review as painless and short as possible the basics of this story is Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), a Bolshoi Ballet dancer – yes, if you eyerolled here, you are not alone – who sees her career go down the tubes when her dance partner makes a bad move and breaks her leg. It’s a horrible break which would take months to heal let alone walk in heels – and yet there she is three miraculous months later – running around in heels. Not just that, but she finds out of a conspiracy on the part of the aforementioned partner and her replacement. This is all thanks to the fact that her uncle Vanya Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts), who is nothing less than one of the heads of the secret service of the “mother country” has given her secret tape on this. Dominika exacts a revenge that can only been seen to be believed, in other words yes, again ridiculous. She is then faced with the need to keep her home and medical care for her sick mother, Nina (Joely Richardson), both of which have been provided by the Bolshoi. Well weclome back Uncle Vanya who offers her a job because you know..she has been so intuitive as a child even. YAWN! Well, sweet Uncle Vanya sends her to ‘Sparrow School’ or as JLaw puts it in her ridiculously bad Russian accent, Whore School. You know that place we all want to go to because they train you to have sex and use your body as a weapon to overcome the enemy. After watching some of the weirdest, most uncomfortable sex scenes to grace the screen in a long time, we go to part duex. Sigh.

Dominika has to approach Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), a CIA agent who had been working for years with a mole in Moscow and who eventually had to leave the country when he unmasked himself when he mistook some police officers for secret service agents. Nash and Dominika immediately begin a relationship because of course they do – and of course the physical attraction will prove to be a bond to guarantee a “mutual benefit”.

Honestly, that’s all I can give and it’s even more than planned. Red Sparrow is just plain ridiculous and bad. There is no chance anyone is EVER going to believe Jennifer Lawrences’ performance here as not only a ballerina, but a Russian Agent to boot. EVER! Nor Joel Edgerton as a spy – I mean when is this guy ever going to speak his native Aussie again? He really tries with his accents, but never really gets it right. Not even my go to guy, Matthias Schoenaerts or the great Jeremy Irons can save this film. It’s almost like if Fifty Shades of Grey met Die Hard in the worst way possible. With Domenika’s line “They gave me a choice: die or become a sparrow.” I wish I could have chose for her and saved myself from watching this.

Grade: D-

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, Febraury 20, 2018 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
RED SPARROW will be in theatres worldwide on Friday, March 2, 2018

REVIEW: “ANNIHILATION” (2018) Paramount Pictures


Sometimes I have to step out of the box of basic reviewing. This came to me all at once as I was waking up this morning after viewing “ANNIHILATION” last night – which by and by I really enjoyed. Sure it started off a bit slow, and I could nit-pick over a few things, but by and far it was a fascinating film – until the ending for me. The last 10 minutes took everything I had previously so enjoyed and threw it out the window. What can I say to that? Well I decided to snap it up and make the review like the movie – completely different than the norm.

There once was a lighthouse which started to glimmer,
None could figure out what made it shimmer.
All who went in, never came out,
Save for one, but he can’t recount.


So send in the troops , five brave souls and women to boot.
Into the ‘shimmer’ they went, where suspense and chills met them at each turn,
the gene cycle seemingly constantly to spurn.
Nothing set us up for the finale to come, disappointment was most surely to be done.
While beautifully filmed and fairly well acted, there were a few who could be redacted.

And that here sums up my review – for as surely I loved it all the way through,
the ending left me more than feeling a bit blue.
Before I forget to mention – I adored the group of women in this film – from the anthropologist Cass (Tuva Novotny), nerdy physicist Josie (Tessa Thompson), to Natalie Portmans’ ex-Army, biologist role of Lena. But my two favourites were defintiely the gung-ho beefy, butched up Gina Rodriguez as Anya, a paramedic who takes her ‘Jane the Virgin’ role and throws it right out the door – to the magnificently almost scary, creepy Jennifer Jason Leigh whose cagey psychologist role of Dr. Ventress takes this performance to a very different level.

Grade: C+

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
‘ANNIHILATION’ is out in theaters nationwide on Friday, February 23, 2018 // International release starting March 2018

REVIEW: “THE PARTY” (2018) Roadside Attractions


This opening scene and the closing scene of Director Sally Potter’s new black & white shot film “The Party” are exactly the same. What lies between those two shots is a thankfull scant 71 minutes of a rather abysmal ‘dark comedy’ that didn’t really bring me any laughs, though in all fairness – I did hear a scant few on the other side of the screening.

While the film was not outright dreadful, it does go to show that one should never be taken in by a slickly made trailer or a stellar cast-list. Kristen Scott Thomas as Janet and a really craggy old looking version of Timothy Spall as her husband Bill, lead as the couple having ‘The Party’ to celebrate Janet’s promotion in the political arena. Guests: April (Patricia Clarkson), her seemingly always annoying partner Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), lesbian couple Martha (Cherry Jones) and the much younger, newly preggers with triplets Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and lastly we have Tom (Cillian Murphy) a wound up, coked out financier of some sorts.

Let’s start off with the script to which the statement huh? might apply for me. As truly no attempt was seemingly made to write anything approaching natural conversation. Dialogue was jagged and disjointed, lacking any genuine motivational flow. Sorry, but real people just DON’T interact like this and yes, I get that’s it’s a movie and not everything needs to be exact but whoa! this was just ridiculous in a manner of speaking. And as for it being a comedy, I was definitely fooled into thinking this might be, yet I think I laughed three times total and two of them were little more than polite ha!’s to be sure. Now again, I did hear some others laughing more than this – but no one near me.

Pacing: what pacing? I’m just going to roll with – there really wasn’t any. At one point I caught myself yawning and for a film that last only 71 minutes – well it says a lot.

Lastly the characterisation: seven characters flapping about on screen and not a single one of them believable. Just 2-dimensional assemblages of what I can only call over-the-top histrionics. Consequently I never felt any sympathy (or even antipathy) toward any of them, so couldn’t engage with any of the supposed crises they were experiencing.

Performances: almost uniformly muggy and overdone – an effect made even worse by the habit of shooting an awful lot of exchanges in tight close-up.

Oh yes… I said “short”, didn’t I? Well let’s say this, when the end credits appeared there was an audible “Uh?” of surprise from the audience and a sigh of relief from myself. The film had lasted barely over an hour and on second thought, this was probably a blessing: not sure I could have withstood another 30 minutes of such nonsense.

Wrapping it all up: There isn’t ONE person in this cast of seven whom the audience can really sympathise or relate with. The seven characters call themselves ‘friends’ but treat each other with hostility, dishonesty etc. Too me it felt more like an unreal vacuum of lovelessness than a real group of people. Even the super-talented Cillian Murphy comes across as one-sided and overacting. The ‘twist’ at the end is also not very interesting and a bit of a cliché. I’ve seen much better work from Sally Potter!

Grade: D+

Review Screening: Thursday, February 15, 2018 ~ Courtesy of Film Independent at LACMA
THE PARTY is now playing in select theaters worldwide

REVIEW: “PADDINGTON 2” (2018) Warner Bros.


Growing up, we didn’t have the adorable Paddington Bear as he was mostly a British ‘bear’. It was only later that I was made aware of his wonderful adventures. So I was hugely surprised at just how good the first film was and was tentatively cautious when this sequel was green-lighted that perhaps it might cheapen Michael Bond’s beloved family friendly creation.

However, fear not, for this sequel is absolutely terrific on all levels. Firstly it is as funny and witty and as brilliantly animated as the first film. The excellent cast from the first film is also enhanced by a superb turn from Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan. Grant, who hasn’t been as good as he is here in a long time, is even nominated for a BAFTA for his role here as the villian, and rightfully so I say. In fact it is quite clear to the viewer that Grant is thoroughly enjoying himself by playing against type and sending himself up as a faded egotistical actor and total cad who sets Paddington up to be the fall guy (or should that be Bear? 🙂 ) for a dastardly deed. There is a touch of the pantomime villain to his performance, but it works splendidly and it fits his character perfectly.

All the wit and heart of the first film is still evident here and in some ways, built upon. Brendan Gleeson is superb as the ‘nasty’ Knuckles, an old lag and prison cook who loses his angry nature when he succumbs to Paddington’s charms and talents in the kitchen who warms up to Paddington quickly..maybe too quickly. The whole film shows and plays scenes as a child might imagine things to be – for example how the prison works and especially the lovely idea that the warden reads the inmates a bedtime story to help them all get to sleep. There are also loads of great jokes too, some pitched at younger children and some deliberately aimed at the more adult viewer. I took a 4 1/2 yr old and she definitely laughed at different parts than the adults at the screening did and there was a good 10-15 lag time where I was glad they had so nicely given us an adorable Paddington Bear backpack with our own Paddington Beach & storytime book as she started to look through that. It is a bit lengthy of a film for children at 1 hour 45min run time.

All in all this is a worthy sequel and a great memorial to Paddingtons creator, Michael Bond, who sadly passed while this sequel was still being filmed. It is full of laughs, thrills, action sequences, great characters, some wonderful animation and you would have to have a hard heart indeed to not burst into a smile at the end. Also, don’t leave the film before the credits start to roll and you will surely miss Hugh Grant gloriously send himself up with a musical song and dance act as the end credits roll.

Thoroughly recommended to anybody who wants to see film of family friendly fun that isn’t either sickly sweet or too dark for youngsters and still thoroughly watchable to adults too. Great fun and a worthy sequel to the first Paddington.

Grade: B

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, January 10, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.

REVIEW: “DOWNSIZING” (2017) Paramount Pictures


Welp. we’ve got a strike three for Matt Damon on his 2017 films with “DOWNSIZING”. This movie takes an interesting premise, “What if we could make ourselves smaller to use up fewer resources and save the planet?” and really just does nothing with it. Having heard little about the film aside from its concept, I went into the screening fairly cold. Sadly, the film doesn’t have a whole lot more to offer than its brilliant concept and exceptional first act. I must admit that I left feeling disappointed, thinking they could’ve made this a better movie in many ways. When a film has so much promise and doesn’t exactly deliver on much of it, I feel as though many people would be let down by that.

In this dramedy, which also in part a social satire of its own genre, Downsizing follows a couple Paul (Matt Damon) & Audrey (Kristen Wiig) Safranek, who believe their lives would be better if they were to shrink themselves and be transferred to a new world called Leisureland. This place exists to conserve the Earth and save the environment, as let’s face it, smaller people need much fewer resources. With multiple meanings to the title, this is a concept that sounds incredible on paper but doesn’t exactly translate into that great of a movie. Throughout the first act, I found myself immersed in this world and couldn’t wait to be taken on its journey, but I soon found myself losing interest when political and religious elements began to take over and it started to go very sloooowww. And it’s sad as this is a movie that could’ve done so much more with its premise.

Without giving anything away, there are many characters such as Niecy Nash playing a Leisureworld salesperson, or that of Dusan Mirkovic (Christof Waltz), The Lonowski’s, Jeff (Neil Patrick Harris) & Laura (Laura Dern) or Paul’s good friend Dave (Jason Sudeikis), that come in and out of this film in a heartbeat, pretty much leaving them in the dust, when in reality they were actually interesting and added a layer to the overall story. It felt as though Director Alexander Payne wanted to focus so much on the idea of the Downsizing concept, that he sidelined quite a few characters along the way. His films have always been about characters, and while Paul and Ngoc (Hong Chau) share some great chemistry throughout this film, it’s hard not to wish that all of the characters throughout the first act were present throughout the entire film. This was a very curious issue I had while watching and definitely upon reflection.

As soon as you’re brought into this other world that has been built for those who shrunk themselves over the years, you will find yourself kind of transfixed at how interesting the visuals are and how lackluster the comedy is, but what you don’t expect is for the film to take a dramatic turn and really have you thinking hard about the world we live in and whether or not certain lines of dialogue are true about society in general. This is an eye-opening film in that regard and the third act is incredibly ambitious, but I just don’t think it really sticks the landing that it strives to achieve.

In the end, this is one of the most original ideas I can recall in recent memory, but an idea doesn’t make a film great. It’s the film itself that needs to win you over as a whole, and Downsizing just didn’t do that for me. On many accounts, this is a very impressive movie from a technical standpoint and it takes risks that I didn’t expect it to, but the risks it takes will only work for a few audiences members that can relate to it.

This is a movie that promises a lot and tries to deliver on all of those promises, while also shoving in side plots that make this film too emotionally complex to really be invested in the satirical aspects by the end. I wish this film went through a few more rewrites, because there is a satirical masterpiece of a movie in here somewhere, but it’s just not the product that you’ll be seeing in theatres soon. Downsizing might be worth your time in terms of originality, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up on it being a favorite.

Grade: C-

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, December 5, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
DOWNSIZING is now playing in theaters nationwide. To be released Worldwide in January 2018