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Boyz n the Hood



A somewhat coming of age movie about black youths growing up in the ghetto of LA. The movie mainly focuses Trey's journey from child to adult as he goes to live with his father in a neighbourhood riddled with crime and gang activity. Luckily for Trey, his father provides clarity and wisdom in his life, unlike his friends with no family structure, and ultimately heading in a different direction. This movie felt a little like the black version of Stand By Me, and afterwards I found out that the director was a fan of the movie. This wasn't as hard and gritty as I was hoping, such as Training Day, but I guess that's what made this movie stand out. It's more about family values and setting people on the right path than just portraying gang violence. I would rate it just above average.





The Short Game



A documentary about the lavish life of child golfers. The first thing that smacks you in the face is that this is a first-world sport for spoilt children, and that is certainly true. But once you get past that and have your whinge, it's actually a great documentary into a lifestyle that most people don't know about. The competition is broken up into age categories for each gender. Then the children play the game as normal, where the child with the least strokes win. Now just because these are pampered rich kids doesn't mean they can't play. Competition is fierce, along with controversy over some results. This was surprisingly entertaining the whole way through. I would definitely recommend this.





Safety Not Guaranteed



A fleshed out realisation of a joke published in a "rural living" magazine about time travel. I know, movie studios are officially out of ideas now. However this is actually done quite well considering the premise. Basically, a magazine is trying to make a story out of classified ad, asking for someone to accompany them to travel back in time. A senior writer, more interested in catching up with old flames, brings 2 interns to cover the story. When the cocky writer fails at convincing Ken, "the time traveller", that he is suitable, the intern Darius wins him over. I was a little disappointed that this took so long to get into any technical plot points, if at all. If there was ever a movie made for hipsters, it would be this. This movie spends so much time avoiding the mainstream approach to time travel, which kind of works, but in the end it's not very satisfying. There are some plots twists or paradoxes if you look hard enough, but this isn't the point of the movie. This movie is for a certain audience and I think you'll know if that's you.



Edited by steveP

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3:10 to Yuma



Being a fan of Westerns, I thought I was overdue for one. This is a remake of the 1950s' film, following the original story closely. The plot is about a crippled rancher hurting for money, who takes a job helping to escort a dangerous outlaw to prison. The group must fight off various hostile groups along the way, as well as the outlaw's gang. All the while the outlaw finds respect for the desperate rancher on a suicide mission. Despite the typical Hollywood production and big names in this, they pulled off a great movie. The bad guys are actually bad, and you don't know which way the story is going to go at each altercation. My only gripe is that Russell Crowe's character seemed too friendly from the beginning. As weird as it sounds, I would have liked to hate him before he tried to win me over. But this is a very good addition to the Western genre. I recommend it.








A documentary partly about the civil war within the Congo, and the team trying to protect the mountain gorillas and their natural resources. This has a similar feel to the documentary The Cove, where surveillance and undercover footage is used to expose the corruption plaguing the country. The Congolese army has set up a sanctuary for orphaned gorillas, and as you're introduced to the gorillas and the carers, the rebels start attacking the nearby town. In one of the most intense scenes I've seen in a documentary, you see the carers genuinely prepare to die as they guard the gorillas from the rebels and poachers. With documentaries like these, there is usually some type of closure or outcome at the end, but this is still and on-going issue in the Congo. This is a must watch for people who like these type of humanitarian docs.








A movie that had decent ratings, so I continued my search for a great horror movie I could tell everyone about. This is set in the near distant future where space debris has landed on Earth, along with another form of live. The space life landed on the American-Mexico border, and has thrived. There is now a quarantine zone built around the aliens, but every now and then they escape. A photo journalist has the task of getting a woman from Mexico to America, the only problem is that all transport is closed for 6 months, and guess where they have to trek? Right from the beginning I could tell this missed the mark. The woman, who is engaged, is more concerned about the partying this single dude does, and throws a hissy fit, causing them to get into this predicament. Then it takes a good 30 minutes before there's even a sighting of a "monster" (which are just giant squids that would structurally collapse being the size they are). The movie was more concerned about the emotional connection of these two nobodies than being and actual monster/horror movie. Saying I was disappointed would be putting it nicely. This was trash.



Edited by steveP

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Yeah I saw that when reading up on it. The original is basically a shitty made for TV movie. But seeing everything these days is a sequel or a reboot, I guess people gave it a go seeing it was a original idea.

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Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!



A documentary about the low-budget B grade Australian movies of the 70s and 80s. Being quite into movies, I was surprised at how rich Australian cinema was, and how little I knew about these movies. This documentary got off the ground partly due to and stars Quentin Tarantino, a fan of "ozploitation". As this shows you an overview of the more famous titles, you can see where Tarantino has drawn inspiration from. The majority of this documentary goes through the timeline of better known ozploitation films and interviews the actors. Their stories of reckless stunts, hostile filming locations and crazy story lines are quite entertaining. This was a great trip back in time to see what Australian film used to be. I've already added a few movies to my list after watching this. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Tarantino style films.





Paths of Glory



Another early Stanley Kubrick film, this time set during World War I, focusing on battle between the French and German army. Without ruining too much, it's nearing the end of WWI and each army has boarded up their trenches, so very little land has been gained by either side in a very long time. A General from the French army accepts a suicide mission to take a key location from the Germans to gain a promotion. It's estimated that 50% of the French troops will be killed, but the General merely sees this as statistics. When the attack goes ahead and it turns into a blood bath, the General order the artillery to fire on his own men or not leaving the trenches. Losing the battle, the General wants to execute some of the men to send a message. The rest of the movie is about a handful of men on death row, and their attempt for justice. I'm sure a premise such as this was far more relatable during the 50s, soon after the war. I guess we're all lucky to not have to live through such times, where human life was so invaluable, even within armed forces. If you're not into older movies, this might be a tedious watch, but powerful nonetheless.





La Haine



A French movie I've had on my list for a very long time. The title translates to "Hate" and follows 3 young men over a 24 hour period during civil unrest in France. The town they live in has turned into a police state, where walking down the street can turn into unprovoked interrogation and arrest. The 3 men, who have no jobs or clear future, navigate their city, running into drug dealers, Nazis, corrupt police and others similar to them trying to kill time. This is one of those movies where it sets up the premise quick and fast, so you're waiting for the main story to kick in, but it never does. The men don't do much other that get into arguments every 5 minutes with either each other or strangers. This is very highly rated, so maybe I'm not getting the French references or know about their civil war. People have said it gets better on repeat viewings though. For all the hype, I thought this was a bit average.



Edited by steveP

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Gran Torino



After not being that impressed by Eastwood's later work such as Blood Work and Unforgiven (call me crazy), I haven't really sought out any of his post 1990s films. This tells the story of a Korean War vet getting on in life. His wife has just died, the neighbourhood is being bought out by immigrant families, some bringing crime, and his family shows him no respect as they wait for him to die to inherit his house. Angry at the world with no one to turn to, he almost shoots dead a thief trying to steal his Gran Torino car. He later discovers it was a young Asian boy from next door being pressured by a gang. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and they both take on the gang threatening the neighbourhood. I don't know what I was expecting from this, but it really surprised me, especially the dry humour. Eastwood plays an elderly racist with a heart of gold really well. I remember thinking to myself half way through this movie that it's probably one of the best I've seen this year. It was entertaining, funny and meaningful. This is definitely a movie to add to your list.








After watching the documentary on Ozploitation, I thought I'd check out some of the movies featured. Roadgames is probably one of the better known films, starring a young Jamie Lee Curtis, and being one of Tarantino's favourite and most influential films. The story is not very clear, and I guess that's just a trait of B grade movies. A serial killer preys upon female hitchhikers, who he then murders, disembowels and scatters their remains. Pat, a truck driver, indirectly witnesses a body being disposed of. Then along his delivery route, he unintentionally crosses paths with the serial killer. As the serial killer realises that Pat has seen too much, he turns his attention towards Pat, in a cat and mouse game across the Australian outback. It's kind of hard to judge these movies; as they're a bit disjointed and are full of plot holes, but in a way, that's why you watch them. In terms of being entertaining, it certainly was, except for the end which dragged on a bit.





Death Proof



After watching the above movie that influenced Tarantino, it only made sense to watch his homage to exploitation/slasher films. This tells the story of a crazed stuntman who stalks and murders women with his (for him) "death proof" car. The movie is told in 2 parts; firstly as Stuntman Mike being the aggressor and secondly where Stuntman Mike is on the run after the tables have turned. It kind of reminded me of From Dusk Till Dawn, where the left turn in the plot knocks the movie down from a good movie to an above average movie. This is very Tarantino where he uses long takes with intense dialog mixed with very real action/stunt scenes. What annoyed me a little was the forced ageing or rough cutting of the actual film. The movie is meant to look like it's from the 70s, but it's a little on the nose and distracts you from the actual movie. If you're a Tarantino fan, this is still worth the watch.



Edited by steveP

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Room 237



A documentary I was really looking forward to as I like researching hidden meanings of films. The title of the documentary refers to the room number where the mysterious naked woman is seen during the movie The Shining. Ironically, the documentary explores a lot of theories or apparent hidden messages, except the woman in Room 237. The term "documentary" should be used loosely, as this is a collection voice overs from obsessed fans putting together the most abstract and nonsensical theories, usually based on continuity errors. You really have to reach far to even remotely see what these people are talking about, and it soon becomes clear these are just crazy people talking nonsense. This was confirmed by a producer who worked with Kubrick, stating that none of these theories were ever implemented in the movie. So in a way, this because a documentary/study on crazy people. This was a bit of a letdown and not worth seeing unless you're a massive Kubrick fan.





Winter's Bone



An early Jennifer Lawrence film where she plays a hillbilly teenager trying to keep her family from being homeless. Living in the sticks in an old farmhouse, Ree's mother has a mental disability, she has to look after two younger siblings and her father has gone missing. He worked with shady people in meth labs; the police locked him up, he was bailed out and has been missing for a while. Ree assumes the worst, that her father has been murdered. Accepting this fate as the townspeople try to sweep it under the rug, Ree must prove to authorities that her father is dead, so they don't take the family house under the bail conditions. This is a slow and nuanced movie, opposed to most of Lawrence's movies, which is a breath of fresh air, but I feel that a lot of the story, particularly the characters' back stories were glossed over and left unexplained. This would have been great as a TV mini-series.





The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2



Another Jennifer Lawrence movie, the latest and final Hunger Games instalment. I kind of tuned out and lost interest in these movies when they stopped actually doing the hunger game tournaments, hence the title. I know these are based on novels, but the last two movies shouldn't have been split. The plot moves along so slowly that I forgot what even happened at the beginning of the movie. The film series needed to be tighter in story telling so you're on the edge of your seat, not yawning and asking what just happened. In terms of the actual movie, it's definitely of the same quality of the others in the series and I'm sure fans will still enjoy it. For me the whole series took the wrong direction, where the story is about a brutal totalitarian government, yet it's PG rated so you never actually see blood. Save yourself 10 hours with all the instalments and just watch Battle Royale, which is far more memorable.



Edited by steveP

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Pulp Fiction



So I finally saw the movie that put Tarantino on the map, 21 years later. For those who haven't seen it, the plot revolves around a group of mobsters, some professional and some not so professional. Packed into a few days with intertwining character stories, there is a life threatening drug overdose of a mob boss' wife, abduction and sexual abuse of fellow gangsters, a fixed boxing match, a drug deal that goes wrong in the messiest way and a tense getaway from hit-men. I'd already heard that this movie was told in a non-linear narrative, so I was taking note carefully to not miss anything, like is the case with many similar movies. However I was surprised at how well this was told and everything made sense. I guess a lot of the non-linear genre is just a gimmick to confuse the viewer because the actual movie isn't that great to begin with. For me this movie had a lot of hype behind it, and it certainly lived up to it. It's definitely a must watch movie.





It Follows



A movie that took me by surprise in the horror genre, where every theme and sequel has been done to death. The concept is that there is some sort of ghost or spirit who follows the victim at a walking pace. So you can easily see it coming and flee; however it will eventually catch up to you, and when it does, it has supernatural powers and will beat you to death. The only way to cure yourself of it is to have sex with someone, and it will then follow that person. But if that person is killed, it will come back after you. Seeing this is an independent/low budget movie, the actual script is very good and they haven't relied on special effects to tell the story. It is a little slow as it certainly isn't an action or traditional horror movie. But it does what great horror movies do; it shows you just enough to be scared, and you mind does the rest. I found myself thinking about this days after watching it. This is a nice little movie that flew under the radar.





O Brother, Where Art Thou?



An early Coen brothers film starring George Clooney in his prime set in the American south during the 1930s. Three convict escape the chain gang in search of buried treasure, according to the leader of the group. Like all Coen brothers films, the story is in the detail and uniqueness of the characters, both main and the smaller roles. As the convicts flee across the country, they encounter bank robbers, the KKK, deceptive family members and even record a hit song at a radio station. The movie is always leading you down a predictable path and then takes a left turn, until you give on figuring it out and go along with the ride. This is already a great example of a dark comedy, as you'll find yourself laughing at the characters' quirks. If you've seen other Coen brothers' films, you'll know what to expect and this is up there with the best.



Edited by steveP

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The ABCs of Death



A bit of a unique movie where directors around the world were given a letter from A-Z, and then had to make a horror short about death. Most of the directors were not English, so a lot of these short films showcased some of the best story telling techniques you only see in foreign films. It's hard to talk about any of the shorts, as I'll probably ruin them, and there are so many. As you would expect, some are hit and miss, but as a whole, they were very entertaining. No doubt some will stick out as favourites; I really liked "S is for Speed". I was completely shocked by the negative reviews and only a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I would definitely recommend this as cool indie film that flew under the radar.





Star Wars: The Force Awakens



The latest blockbuster instalment to the Star Wars universe. I went into this assuming nothing. I saw the original trilogy as a kid and then skipped the trilogy from 10 years ago due to the sheer silliness of the characters. As I'm not really a fan, I never bothered to catch up on the movies I missed. Anywho this continues 30 years after the first trilogy, but it's almost like a stand-alone movie. So if you haven't seen any of the previous movies, you're good to go and you'll follow it just fine. The core plot is about a Stormtrooper who has a conscience and defects from the dark side. Naturally, the evil empire is hot on his heels. As he flees to nearby planets, he makes friends with characters who are yet to realise their role in the universe, as well as some familiar faces. As a pure action movie, it's quite good. As a non sci-fi fan, I was entertained throughout and everything made sense. I'm sure fans will get even more out of this, as a lot probably went over my head. My only criticism is with Carrie Fisher playing Princess Leia. All the other characters fit into the story and looked the part, but it's obvious that Fisher has had numerous face-lifts, and now can't display emotions. Every scene she was in, she just smirks. No doubt due to the surgeon setting her face like that. I think they could have re-cast her to someone who can still act.








Seeing I had just watched Star Wars, I thought I'd continue with the sci-fi genre and see Mel Brooks' parody. This loosely follows the original Star Wars film, with all the characters' names being a play on words and a lot of gag humour. Surprisingly, George Lucas was a fan of this parody and actually helped with some of the special effects. At the time this got decent reviews, but I don't think this has aged well. It got a few half-hearted laughs out of me, but overall the plot was pretty nonexistent, and there just wasn't enough material to make this a full length movie. I wouldn't bother hunting this down to watch.



Edited by steveP

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Milocrorze: A Love Story



A bit of a shoot in the dark with a Japanese film that was recommended. This tells the story of 3 main characters, each with their own story. However the stories barely interact; just enough to join the 3 acts together into a feature length movie. The first story is about a man/child (I'm still not sure which one) who is going through a relationship breakup, told via surreal narration. The second follows a relationship expert, giving advice to nerds who call into his show. His advice is heavily based on pick-up artist techniques though, very much outside of the comfort zone of the callers. And the third story, which could have been the entire movie if it was fleshed out more, is about a regular man turned ninja, seeking revenge for the kidnap of his wife. Overall this was an entertaining movie with many memorable scenes. But you need to go into this expecting something crazy, like a surreal painting. Many aspects won't make sense, and they're not meant to. I'd rate it above average.





The Revenant



One of my most anticipated movies for a while. I'm a sucker for westerns and survival movies, and this was both with an A-list cast. The movie is set in the early 1800s, where the colonisation of America is in its early stages. The Native Americans still occupy most of America, but are no strangers to the white man. There is a lot of hostility as the land the white settlements are on have been taken forcefully, usually by wiping out the native tribes. As a party of hunters and trappers gather pelts, they come under attack by a tribe looking for the chief's daughter. Only a handful manage to escape the ambush. On route to a main settlement with the natives at their heels, the men become their own worst enemy. Cutting to the chase, this didn't live up to expectations. There were some great scenes, particularly the opening; reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, but the middle of the film becomes tedious. It felt like the movie was just DiCaprio's character making a camp for the night on a loop. Some of this screen time could have been used to flesh out the background story of DiCaprio's character living with the natives. This isn't a bad movie, but it does become a chore to get to the end.





The Hateful Eight



From a 1800s western set during winter in mountainous terrain, to another in the exact same setting, released in 2015. It is weird that these two movies were released so close together. Obviously, this is Tarantino's latest film; with the premise being a group of bounty hunters are forced to make camp in a cabin during a blizzard. The only problem being a collection of misfits inhabiting the cabin, and the usual punctual owners are nowhere to be found. If you've heard that this is 3 hours of the characters being stuck in a cabin, you've heard right. With the well developed and unique characters you'd expect from a Tarantino film, you can tolerate it for a while, but eventually it does become frustrating. The characters are great and it's an interesting story, but there just needed to be more to look at. Seeing how great Django Unchained was, this felt a bit disappointing as a follow up film. If I had to pick either this or The Revenant as the best western set during the American winter film of 2015, I'd go The Revenant.



Edited by steveP

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Another John Wayne western that I didn't think I would put on here. This loosely tells the real life story of John Chisum, a proud rancher and large land owner in the American South. Even though he holds no official authority over the area, he's seen as the unofficial sheriff. A lawyer is trying to buy out the land by changing the laws to suit himself, and with such, will legally control the town. What ensues is a battle between good and evil, with the unlikely appearance of famous outlaws/lawmen as Billy The Kid and Pat Garrett. This is a bit of a mishmash of all story lines found in Westerns, but instead of coming out as a mess, they kind of pull it off with plenty of action and the characters are half developed. Reading about this afterwards, I was surprised that there has never been talk of the homosexual undertones. Chisum has a long term live-in male friend, he openly states he has no interest in women, has no children and his best friend is an eccentric old man who lives next door. Something was up.





Craigslist Joe



An experimental documentary where Joe, a user of Craigslist (our Gumtree) tries to live off the generosity of others for 30 days. All of his food, transport and sleeping arrangements must be provided for free from ads on Craigslist. Joe also undertakes free classes and does the advertised charity work to kill time during the day. The only person who Joe takes with him is a cameraman, who he also found on Craigslist. I found this really interesting and a cool concept. You feel the highs and lows when he scores a meal and makes a friend who allows him to spend the night. But each is short lived, as with a new day, the cycle starts again. People criticised this documentary as Joe is a middle-class white male, and they assume people wouldn't be as generous to minorities. But I beg to differ and think it's just people nitpicking. I think lots of people will enjoy this.





Raw Deal: A Question of Consent



The very first documentary by one of my favourite documentary film makers, Billy Corben. This is a rather hard film to find, and that's why it's taken me so long to track it down and watch it. It covers a famous rape case in Florida of 1999. A stripper claims she was raped by a group of fraternity guys after the strip show she performed. However, the events of the night were actually filmed, and once the police watch the tapes, they release the men accused and arrest the woman for making a false report. This is truly a polarizing film, where 2 people who watch it will have completely different views on what happened, even though they both watch the exact same footage. It's not uncommon to change your mind multiple times during the film whether this woman was raped or not. This is such a unique story, where there are many grey areas. I'm purposely being vague to not spoil this, but I hope more people see this so it can be discussed. There is a lot of discussion to be had after watching it.



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The latest blockbuster superhero movie, but with a twist. This is meant to be a parody on the superhero genre, where Deadpool breaks the forth wall and is self referential. And it is, but it's a bit of a one trick pony. I had high hopes for this as I'm starting to loath all the superhero spin-offs; they're a blatant money-grab. The premise for this movie is that Deadpool undergoes experimental surgery to cure his cancer, with unexpected results. Even though this movie is trying to make fun of the superhero genre, it becomes exactly what it's making fun of. The ending is predictable, and after the unique intro with a few one-liners, it devolves into the tried and true formula for all Hollywood movies. I was really disappointed that the jokes in this were just saying "hashtag" and shouting nonsense. Is that's what's funny now? I thought I was just being cynical about this movie, like most movies of this type. But no one else in the cinema was laughing either. I think we've all been tricked by the hype. The people talking this movie up are actual superhero fans that like anything and everything. I was very disappointed in this.





The Hunter



A movie that's been on my list for a while. Willem Dafoe stars as a secret agent for a biological company trying to track down a Tasmanian Tiger for research purposes. This seems like it could take a very Hollywood route, but thankfully it doesn't. It's a slow burn with a lot of screen time devoted to the Tasmanian wilderness. The premise seems pretty straight forward, but things are not what they seem. There are multiple agents working on the same case, unbeknownst to each other. Then throw in the local issues of disgruntled loggers and greenies. I'm not 100% sure on the political situation in Tasmania, but the aggressiveness and rudeness of the locals seemed a little extreme and unbelievable. I enjoyed the entire movie and it had me in, except for the end. It just lost its way and instead of wrapping up loose ends or creating suspense, it abruptly ended with little explanation. I suspect some budget or time constraints on filming. Either way, I'd recommend this as a worthy Australian film to put on your list.








The just released Sacha Baron Cohen film about a man from the poor side of England, still looking for his adopted out missing brother 28 years later. Like with most of Cohen's work, the story isn't the driving factor, but merely a theme and a way to string jokes together. With Cohen's previous scripted movies, the jokes are almost rapid fire, hoping to win you over with some, and this is no different. Some jokes fall flat, but the majority are genuinely funny. And I'm sure there were many England specific jokes I missed. The pacing was a little weird as the movie opens up as a full on action movie that most action directors would be jealous of. Then the movie stagnates in the middle with a lot of big name actors not being made use of, but it does finish strong. I don't want to give anything away, but there is an elephant scene that will get a laugh out of the toughest critic; this scene alone is the worth the price of admission. This is the best comedy film I've seen for a long time, so I was surprised to see it get such bad reviews. If you're a fan of Cohen's work, you won't be disappointed.



Edited by steveP

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A documentary I've had on my list for a very long time. Being somewhat of a motorsport fan, I knew who Ayrton Senna was, but my knowledge was patchy as he was before my time. This tells a brief history of his racing career, focusing mostly on his time in F1, his rivalry with Alain Prost, and what his success meant to Brazil. His early years and death isn't particularly focused on; I think due to his F1 career being so eventful. Like I've said before, all good documentaries take a subject you may have no interest in, and get you emotionally invested, and this does that to the extreme. I don't think it's possible to watch this and not be moved by the life of Senna. It's probably up there as one of the best documentaries of all time. Seeing Senna's death wasn't a major point in this, or wasn't a topic of investigation, I did my own research. There is a lot of controversy over his death as technically his body was kept alive for 4 hours after the deadly crash, even though he was brain dead with no chance of survival. Apparently this was done so the race wasn't cancelled and could resume. Not surprising seeing the corruption documented in this.





10 Cloverfield Lane



Being labelled a Cloverfield sequel, this is a spiritual successor currently in cinemas. The Cloverfield tie in may leave fans disappointed as there are only a few cross references that are easily missed. This movie is a total change in genre from the original. Where Cloverfield was an action movie with a slight horror feel, this is the definition of a thriller. This is an easy movie to spoil, so I'll try my best to avoid that. Michelle is involved in a car accident one night and wakes up in a cellar, chained to the wall. Fearing the worst, she is greeted by other survivors who tell her the apocalypse is here. Now she must figure out who is telling the truth and what is really above ground. I'm kind of two minds about this movie. If it was a standalone movie, I would have really enjoyed it. But because I knew it tied into Cloverfield, I was distracted, waiting for the action to pick up. However this definitely is a movie worth watching, and I've heard nothing but great reviews from everyone.





Tank Girl



An iconic movie most people have heard of, as had I, but never seen. This is a little hard to describe apart from calling it very 90s. Tank Girl, the character, is a bit of an accidental hero, air head and just generally out of touch with reality. In post apocalyptic Australia where water is an extremely scarce resource; there is a power struggle between a big corporation that controls the water and the rebels or scavengers who try to control their own wells. The plot is really a placeholder for Tank Girl to get into situations and act bipolar, to the frustration of the antagonists. Think of a female version of The Mask, but without a mask or actually being funny. Many parts of this movie were very hard to follow and felt disjointed. Researching afterwards, this was due to the production company totally butchering the script and deleting scenes that were much more sexual in nature and meaningful to Tank Girl's character. It's a shame, as if this was done properly, it would actually be a decent movie. But as it stands, it's a bit of a mess not worth digging up if you missed it.



Edited by steveP

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It's been hard lately to catch up on movies with all the prep/cardio I've been doing for the recent comp. I have been able to mow through a lot of podcasts though. I should be able to get back into movies now.



Million Dollar Baby



A 12 year old film that most people have probably seen. Boxing films are always way down my list as they nearly always tell the same story of someone fallen on hard times with no money, who then discover they have boxing talent they use to rise to become a champion despite being an underdog the entire way. And with that synopsis I've exactly described the plot in this film, leaving out one crucial twist. However the reason this movie has such rave reviews is because it does the boxing genre film perfectly. All the characters are well developed, you actually care about them, and you ride shotgun with them during their ups and downs. I had some issues with this such as Freeman's character not being used to his full potential and the back story of Eastwood's character would have been interesting to learn more about. I think what sets this movie apart from other similar films is the twist in the third act. I knew very little about this movie going in, and I think others should get that opportunity too. Because of the subject matter at the end, this goes from an above average movie to a must see.





The Sea Inside



A movie of the same year and dealing with a similar subject matter as Million Dollar Baby. I actually purposely watched these films back to back, as well as wanting to watch more Javier Bardem movies. This is a biographical film of Ramon Sampedro, a 25 year old Spanish man who broke his neck during a cliff diving accident. Having above average intelligence and being able to successfully debate others with ease, he is now a paraplegic resigned to a bed for the rest of his natural life. Understanding that he is not living live with dignity, he asks for euthanasia. However his family and friends are either against it or too worried they'll be prosecuted with his murder. So now living a hellish life both in body and mind, he must fight for his right to his own body in the courts, which goes on for 28 years. Undoubtedly a film like this won numerous awards, will definitely stay with you and will possibly have an impact on your morals.





The Boss



To break up the good movies I've seen, now some trash. I really don't get what others see in Melissa McCarthy films, as they are the perfect example of textbook Hollywood mush comedies for the masses. Gag humour with no lead up, throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks, and always follow the rom-com formula of "everything is great, oh no I did something wrong to offend someone, now we're made up". What annoys me with these movies are there are genuinely funny scenes and jokes, but then they have to add all this unnecessary drama and filler that makes it like all the other forgettable movies. The plot is about a self-made millionaire who loses it all. She then has to live with a previous employee and learn what it's like to be a commoner. I think this may still be in cinemas, but don't waste your time.



Edited by steveP

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The Hangover Part III



The final instalment in The Hangover series. The first movie was a surprise hit despite looking like a typical Hollywood comedy. The sequel was surprisingly good, living up to the high expectations even though it followed a similar plot in a different setting. So I don't know what happened here as the crew are mostly back to the Vegas setting, but with a totally different story structure, defying the name of the film. There is no partying or premise of forgotten memories apart from the last 2 minutes of the film, which consequently is the best part of the movie. Here the old gang/recurring characters are back together to track down gold and kidnapped friends. So basically the action of the previous movies without the clever story telling or comedy. This movie feels as if it was rushed into production to cash in on the name, and I think that's partially true reading about the film afterwards. This was disappointing and not worth checking out.





Prince of Darkness



A very 80s John Carpenter film following The Thing in the horror genre. I didn't know this at the time, but within the first 10 minutes I suspected someone had copied The Thing, so if you liked that movie, you'll like this. The premise has a lot of poorly thought out concepts rolled into one. The story follows a secret being/entity/liquid stored in an abandoned church, only to be discovered and analysed by a professor and his students. Mix in demonic possession, low level homeless zombies, time travel and even some acceptable college misogyny and you have this film wrapped up. There are some good and suspenseful scenes, but as a whole nothing is truly fleshed out or has much direction. The movie basically devolves into "who can survive the night". I guess this would be a good candidate if hosting an 80s movies night and wanted something a little out of left field.








A movie based on the letters of a young colonel during the American Civil War who lead the very first African American unit, providing an alternative to slavery. Obviously very loosely based on a true story as the only real character is the colonel, but with some big name actors such as Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, they did a good job with this. The first half of the movie shows the African Americans in training, willing to go to battle and die over a life in slavery. It soon becomes apparent they are just a publicity stunt and there is no intention of them actually fighting in the war. Seeing no purpose in their lives or being in the army without actually fighting, the colonel and his unit volunteer for an almost certain suicide mission. I found this movie quite good and above average for a war movie with a lot of notable and powerful scenes. No doubt Americans and especially African Americans would find this of more significance. I'd add this movie to your to-watch list.



Edited by steveP

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Foxy Brown



A classic 70s' blaxploitation film that was kind of ahead of its time. An undercover police investigator is murdered by gangsters, and his former partner vows to take revenge, even if it means getting her hands dirty and becoming a high-class prostitute. I say this is ahead of its time because Pam Grier play the lead role and really is the hero of the story, which was rare for not only a 70s' action film, but one starring predominately African Americans. Sort of like the black female version of a James Bond film. I like the direction this film took, being gritty and not being afraid to show Foxy beaten up or vulnerable. Surprisingly what I thought of as a strength, people criticised about the movie, saying this movie was just an excuse to beat up on women. These people completely missed the point of this film. This holds up really well and is worth watching.





Hollywood Shuffle



Another iconic African American film, this time a satire on the acting roles for blacks in Hollywood during the 80s. The loose plot, inner-cut with vignettes based on social commentary of the film industry, is about a wannabe actor trying to get his break in Hollywood. However he's mostly relegated to embarrassing stereotypical black roles. When watching this, it seemed like a below average comedy with hints clever writing within the skits, not part of the main story. Reading about this afterwards, it was universally praised as a pivotal movie addressing real issues African American actors faced at the time. So it's safe to say that a lot of the subplot was lost on me due to not really understanding the situation of the film industry 30 years ago. You can definitely see the roots of black comedy today in the skits, most obvious in Chappelle's Show. I'm sure actors or perhaps people who've faced racial prejudice will find this a worthwhile watch.





End of Watch



A movie I heard great things about when it came out, but never got around to seeing it. Feeling almost like a documentary, you follow two police officers in their day to day duties patrolling the bad parts of Los Angeles. The movie opens strong with the police officers being faced with shooting dead a criminal who pulls a gun on them. It soon becomes clear that this is just seen as another day on the job. Throughout the movie the officers encounter petty crimes along with mistakenly stepping on the toes of federal agents in a major sting operation. If you're a fan of prison shows or realistic police movies, you'll love this, as did I. Every moment had me on the edge of my seat, especially sensing that something tragic was impending. I think that feeling was intentional; to give a feel for what real police officers must face daily. This is one of the best movies I've seen this year.



Edited by steveP

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Trophy Kids



The follow up documentary from Chris Bell, who wrote and directed Bigger Stronger Faster*. This time the backwards cap enthusiast delves into the world of overbearing sporting parents within high school division sports. You follow 5 unique socially inept parents who control their kids to the extreme. Whether it is super strict training and nutrition, early morning practices, berating the child for having a social life or using school politics to get coaches fired, all for the benefit of their own child. The stuff you see in this is almost unbelievable and would be suspect if were seen in a movie. You experience many emotions watching this, starting with anger towards the parents, then being confused why the schools allow it, and finally simply hoping that the children are able to at least live normal lives after being emotionally scarred. Unlike Bigger Stronger Faster*, Chris takes a step back from the camera and is barely seen, focusing purely on these children and their insane parents.





Prescription Thugs



Chris Bell's latest documentary, this time turning the camera on himself, much more than his previous films. Much like a Michael Moore documentary, this focuses on the prescription drug industry in America, and what's wrong with it. I was surprised to learn that America is the only country in the world that's allowed to advertise medication through mainstream outlets. Where the rest of the world looks at medication as something to take when sick, the American medication culture is to up-sell as much as possible and to get people onto lifetime subscriptions, where the doctors and medicine producers profit. Much like their broken medical system, this is just another area that's exploited by corporations. There is somewhat of a twist towards the end that some people liked, but I felt by then I had heard enough and was getting bored of this. For me this is the weakest of all the Chris' docs, as I feel he was in front of the camera too much, dragging out interviews. Not to mention that some of his "experts" were people with a financial interest in alternative medicines. I'd rate this as average.





Paranoid Park



A Gus Van Sant film I've had on my list for a while. Being 10 years old, it feels very dated seeing it's sort of a skateboard movie, back when skateboard movies were a thing. This is about a group of high school skateboarders being questioned about a dead body found near their skatepark. You follow Alex before, during and after the incident, in the typical Van Sant way of lingering slow motion shots just out of focus. If you haven't seen one of his movies before it can be frustrating as it's the opposite of the typical Hollywood style of always having the maximum action on screen at a time. But if you let his movies take you on a ride, they're always memorable. Like his other movies this will leave you with unanswered questions and plot points you want to discuss. This isn't for everyone, but if you're into art house style movies, you'll enjoy it.



Edited by steveP

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Eden Lake



A British take on the "cabin in the woods" genre, but replace the cabin with a tent, and have the uncivilised children from dodgy welfare cheat parents as the antagonists. The basic premise is that a couple is camping for a weekend in the English countryside, expecting to have some quiet secluded time to themselves. Unfortunately a gang of uneducated youths from a nearby rural town cross paths with the couple, and their interactions soon turn ugly. Once figuring out the antagonists in this, I thought this was going to be quite campy in execution, but surprisingly the movie takes a rather extreme and gory turn at the midway point, turning this into a true horror film. However part of me just couldn't take these scumbag kids seriously as something people would be scared of. Afterwards I found that people criticised this movie for portraying uneducated youths from poor families in this manner, but I think it's pretty spot on with certain parts of society. If you haven't seen a decent horror movie in the while, this is definitely worth the watch.





The Conjuring



Keeping the horror theme going, I saw James Wan's next film after the disappointing Insidious. Hearing this was better, I gave it go, knowing the sequel is currently out in cinemas if I liked it. This is almost a carbon copy of Insidious, where a family moves into a haunted house and psychics must remove the demons. The lead actor is even the same in both movies. So is this a better movie? I'd say yes as this is partially based off a true story with real world history to base the story off. James Wan seems like he's learnt from the previous movie and the methods used here to scare the audience are more subtle. In a way this is a retelling of The Exorcist, so if you're over that trope, maybe give this a miss. I'd rate it as average in the horror genre. There's nothing offensively bad, but nothing memorable either.





Now You See Me 2



A movie about a group of selected magicians being tested to join a mysterious club. I hadn't seen the first movie, which I think was a mistake, as I was often asking who people were and why they are in the middle of an unexplained scenario. This is still a watchable movie on its own, but I think knowing the history of the first would have added to the story. This is a classic example of style over substance. The movie seemed like a sequence of set ups to show crazy camera angles of magic tricks/heists in real time, much like a poor man's Ocean 11. I know this is a movie about magic, but I just couldn't see the point of it to drive the story. I spent most of the movie wishing I was watching The Prestige instead. Clearly this movie wasn't meant for someone like me, but if you're impressed by magic, lots of CGI and cookie cutter characters, go see it.



Edited by steveP

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American History X



A movie most people have heard of, depicting neo-Nazis in modern day America. This tells the story of a white family with low level racial views that become strengthened as the father is murdered by African American gang bangers. The eldest son, Derek, becomes a leader of a local Nazi group, becoming too extreme and alienating him from the rest of his family. He ultimately goes to jail for a hate crime, and is slowly deradicalised, unbeknownst to his Nazi community on the outside. Derek now faces an internal struggle of being a role model for a movement he no longer supports. This has very good ratings; no doubt for tackling a sensitive subject and doing it justice. My only criticism is that this didn't go longer or had a sequel. There was still so much back story and "what ifs" that could've been explored. But for what for this movie set out to do, it nailed it and is definitely worth watching.





Welcome to Leith



Continuing the Nazi theme, this is a documentary about a small remote town with a population of 16 hard working, friendly residents. Due to the location and cheap land, a well known white supremacist moves into town and starts buying up the land, planning to turn the town into a KKK haven. The locals don't really know how to approach this, and try to discourage him from living in Leith before more racists move in and hold more power at the community meetings. Luckily what's going on makes headlines and more people come to help the townspeople. Although an interesting topic, the documentary felt a little under-cooked as there were some loose ends and pending court cases in the end. I had to do my own research to find out what actually happened. Like I said, an interesting topic, but not a must-watch.





We Are Legion



A documentary about the infamous group Anonymous. I thought this was going to be a "cleaned up for TV" talking heads doc only about the newsworthy incidents, and that is partly true. But there were glimpses of the true origin of this group; socially awkward perverted misfits with a collective superpower of internet hacking. This did touch on the roots of Anonymous, beginning in the cesspool of 4chan, but was mostly stepping through the chronological order of notable attacks, protests, trolling and defending themselves against counter attacks against the likes of Scientology, the US government and Sony. I think most of what Anonymous stands for is justice and the greater good that all of us can agree with, but personally I find their trolling and mischief the most entertaining; such as spamming gaming dating apps with MIB lookalike agents or pranking racist journalists. If you're someone who will like this, you'll already know who Anonymous is and have probably already seen it.



Edited by steveP

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Romper Stomper



An early 90s Australian movie starring Russell Crowe as a Nazi skinhead in a breakout role. A neo-Nazi group are violently attacking Asians who are gentrifying a heavily industrial area of Melbourne. The Asian groups band together and drive out the skinheads, leaving them to retreat and plot revenge. However the skinhead group eventually devolve as they question their lifestyle. This definitely has that raw crisp feel of an early Australian movie, but the pace of the plot wasn't thought out. The first act builds up a rivalry between the skinheads and Asians, then it abruptly comes to a head half way through the movie, leaving the second half to the skinheads licking their wounds and not much else. I think this is a case of being exposed to many great Nazi/racially motivated movies such as American History X, and this not holding up that well. I wouldn't recommend this if you need a strong story to pull you through a movie.





Murder Party



I finally got around to tracking down the directorial debut of Jeremy Saulnier, the director of one of my favourite movies, Blue Ruin. The story is about a socially awkward guy, Chris, with no plans on Halloween. He randomly finds an invitation to a "murder party", dresses up in a poorly constructed cardboard outfit and attends the party. Things firstly do not go as planned when the address directs Chris to an abandoned part of town. The party consists of others dressed in a costume, surprised that someone actually turned up. I don't want to say much else as it would ruin the plot, but things definitely don't go as expected for Chris. Many odd and memorable characters show up and the movie turns partly into a black comedy. This is a great cult film that flew under the radar if there ever was one. The story is well written and acted for what looks to be no budget at all. I was entertained throughout and would recommend to all horror or suspense film fans.





Green Room



To continue with the work of Jeremy Saulnier, this is his latest film that sadly got no realise here in Australia. Also relating to the first movie I posted, this is set around a Nazi community where a band desperate for work, plays a gig at a remote Nazi stronghold. After a nervous but successful set, the band plans to get paid and leave, but inadvertently witnesses a crime by some unsavoury people. Things go from bad to worse rather rapidly in the worst possible situation for the band. Again, this is all I can say without giving away too much of the movie. If there's one thing that this director does great, it's create suspense. Countless times I was biting my nails or holding my face, not knowing what was coming, which is incredibly rare for me. Surprisingly I found a bit of hate for this movie from people calling it boring. I guess this director and his story telling is either love or hate. I thought this was great one of the best movies I've seen all year.



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Marketed as a kids' holiday movie, but it had gotten rave reviews from critics, so I thought I'd check it out. The premise is very childlike in certain respects, as this is a world where animals live like people in cities, however they're all happily segregated to their own areas/climates. Think the Lego Movie but with animals. All seems well in Zootopia until random animals start to turn savage. An unlikely pairing of a rookie cop and a street hustler must team up to solve the case. I didn't think this was as good as the reviews, and personally I was a little under whelmed, but this is a notch above most generic kids' movies of this type. The writing is clever in places and there are some genuinely funny jokes. If you're looking for a movie to watch with a younger audience or just want to be lost in a Disney movie, I'd recommend it.





Star Trek Beyond



The latest Star Trek instalment, recently in cinemas. I have seen some of the previous movies, but I still had no idea what was going half the time and I'm sure most of the story arcs went over my head. It still works as a standalone movie, and that's how I went into this. The usual crew go on an adventure or "trek" I guess they call it to help a "space refugee" who claims her people are in danger. Being the pinnacle of white knights, the Star Trek people volunteer their lives to help a species they've known about for 5 minutes. As you'd expect, things don't go to plan and the crew must recollect and work together to get home. The story isn't offensively bad and these Star Trek movies seem to be a step up from the usual super hero garbage. My main problem was all the "shaky cam" used in a movie that was already confusing and hard to follow. I'm sure fans will love this, however I feel this will be just as forgettable as past movies though.





Meek's Cutoff



Randomly browsing Netflix, I came across a recently made western, which are rare these days. Seeing the hit-to-miss rate of westerns has been quite good, I gave it a shot. I'm sad to say that this totally skewed the hit-to-miss ratio. I'd go so far as to call this the worst western I've ever seen. I get what they tried to do here, but they totally missed the mark, in the most bland and tedious way. 90% of the dialogue is inaudible, which wouldn't be so bad if there was actually something interesting to focus on. Based on a true story, you follow 3 families crossing the American deserts. They get lost, hire an apparent guide, they are still lost, they hold a Native American hostage to show them the way, he's no use, then there is no ending. The story is meant to be viewed from the females' perspective, where they aren't privy to many of the conversations, but it's just a concept that doesn't work, which is why you don't see it in other movies. It really isn't worth discussing more than I just did.



Edited by steveP

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A David Lynch film I've had on my list for a long time, but wasn't that keen on as I'm not a fan of the genre and never hear it spoken of favourably. This reminded me of the early James Bond films where you're thrown into the deep end of the plot with no character development. The story is about three warring groups/planets, fighting over a scarce resource. Then some type of supernatural offspring/prophet must rise up and lead the good guys to victory. Where the Bond films eventually pull it together, this just goes deeper and deeper as less and less sinks in. This is obviously because it's based off a book where the whole premise is just too much to fit into a single movie. The movie was then taken out of the hands of Lynch and cut to fit a running time, resulting in a disjointed mess. I can't recommend this to anyone, even sci-fi or David Lynch fans.








A political caper movie based off the Iranian Hostage Crisis where the US embassy was overrun and six employees went into hiding at other embassies. As the Iranians were on the lookout for the missing Americans, the US government had to plan an elaborate scheme to get them out under the guise that they were a Canadian film making crew. This movie has rave reviews, won 3 Academy Awards, and I agree that it's a great and compelling movie, except for the last 10 minutes. There are just too many close calls and forced scenes for suspense that it took me out of the movie and somewhat spoiled an excellent story. Reading about this afterwards, there was a lot more wrong with the historical accuracy than I noticed. Nevertheless, these are minor gripes and this is a must-see movie.





30 Days of Night



It had been a while since I gave a horror movie a chance, and I vaguely remembered this as being ok. This is a vampire movie set in northern Alaska where the premise is that based on the Earth's axis, there are 30 days of no sunlight during winter, allowing vampires to run havoc. Much effort went into creating scary and realistic (as possible) vampires, and it worked, as these are not things you want to mess with. But they were almost too powerful, slaughtering nearly the entire town in a night. This started out ok, but then just devolved into senseless violence where I no longer cared who died or survived. The story was cut poorly as I had no idea what "day" they were meant to be in, where I just assumed the story took place in a single night. They had something decent here to start with, but the plot was just undercooked and didn't go anywhere. There are much better vampire movies out there if you like this genre.



Edited by steveP

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The Bad News Bears



A movie that I'd heard was a great classic, but damn, the remake dominates free-to-air screen time. After watching it, I can sort of understand why. This has got to be one of the most politically incorrect movies I've seen in a long time. An alcoholic driving around at least 8 primary school aged children in an open top convertible with no seat belts and possibly drunk, blatant racism towards children who don't speak English as a first language, emotionally blackmailing an 11 year old girl and then engaging in banter towards her sex life, and many more. The general premise is that an out of work baseball coach, who still can't let go of his professional past is hired to lead a team of misfits. Everybody, including the children are under no illusions that they suck, and they're only there for the experience. However they start to work together and climb the ranks. Including the examples listed, this movie certainly has charm, in terms of the actual story and nostalgia, back when things were simpler (people not held accountable). I wouldn't rush out to see it, but it's an enjoyable watch if you like these classic sporting/coming-of-age movies.





Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping



I was really looking forward to seeing this in the cinemas, as comedies are a genre enhanced by watching it with a crowd. But like many other movies this year, Australia was screwed and it didn't get a release here. This is a parody of the Justin Bieber movie, written and staring the Lonely Island crew. Generally a fan of mockumentaries, I really enjoyed this. I'm sure a lot of jokes went over my head as I never saw the Justin Bieber movie, and I got the feeling a lot of the jokes were mocking certain scenes, but the jokes and gags are pretty rapid fire. They don't all land, but you can forgive it, as the ones that do are great. There are endless cameos in this and the surprisingly the production value is very high, probably higher than most deal docs. It's really a shame that this didn't get much of a release, even inside the US, as critics loved this as well. If you hadn't heard of this, definitely put it on your list.





Fright Night



A cult horror film that I was aware of, but never actually knew what it was about. Disappointingly, it's a high school vampire film, meaning it's not completely 80s' camp, nor or a true horror film. Basically it's the old premise of a stranger/vampire moves in next door, but being a pimply-faced high school kid, no one believes you; so it's up to the unlikely hero to save the town. For the age of the movie, there were a few cool special effects, but I think most people have seen it all before and the story was very predictable. Not really a movie worth seeing.



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Finally back into watching movies. For one reason or another, been super busy the last few months. Got a big list to get through.






A Norwegian film following a socially awkward, porn-addicted virgin, Rino. He's secluded, yet in his comfort zone, living rent free in his parent's second house, with no responsibilities or job. He basically stays at home all day, watching porn, only to catch up with a friend; another social outcast with inflated self confidence, pretending to be god's gift to women. A spanner is thrown into the works when Rino's parents decide to rent out the house to pay the bills. A somewhat innocent, free-spirited girl moves in, seemingly looking past Rino's shortfalls and genuinely becomes his friend. Like most socially awkward people, they are their own worst enemy, over complicating situations in their head, and self sabotaging relationships. Overall, the story moves along at quite a good pace, getting to interesting confrontations without much filler. However the ending was quite odd, where you don't know what's real, but not in a good way. Possibly worth the watch if you see it playing, but I wouldn't go out looking for it.





Generation Iron



A documentary you'd think I would've seen when it came out, but I'm so saturated with gym and fitness stuff, that I let it slip. It was probably more interesting watching it a few years on, seeing some of the politics play out. This follows the 2013 Olympia, where reigning champ Phil Heath will defend his title against others pros hungry for the title, including the most promising prospect Kai Greene. They actually build up the rivalry quite a lot in this, but I suspect it's all manufactured to sell tickets. I was surprised this documentary didn't really go in depth with the bodybuilders' training or diet. I guess this only appeals to the hardcore followers, and focusing more on the drama and grandeur of the event potentially got more people to watch this. As a fan of these guys, a lot of what you see is not new and is pretty much what you'd expect. A follow up doc would be interesting as there has been a lot more drama and politics in the bodybuilding scene since this was filmed. Worth the watch if you're someone into fitness or bodybuilding.





Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children



The latest Tim Burton movie, this time about children with super powers who can time travel. Yes, a premise so outlandish that I went in expecting very little. In think because of this, I found the movie average instead of terrible. There is nothing wrong with this movie, I'm just not a fan of fantasy with no remote basis in reality. The story is about Jake, who has heard crazy stories from his grandfather as a child, about a remote English island with fantasy creatures. After the grandfather's death, Jake's parents feel it's best to take him to this island to help him find closure. However he soon finds that these stories were actually real. If you're a fan of Harry Potter and similar "young adult" films, this will be for you.



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