Saturday, 17 August 2019


Madman Films

Through a seamless blend of actual audio recordings and in-the-moment footage, Apollo 11 captures history as it happens - that history being the 1969 moon landing.

Fifty years later, those images are, for the most part, as pristine as though they were shot on modern-day digital, while the conversations between mission control in Houston and the three astronauts - Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins - as they orbit the Earth and shoot for the moon, are enlightening and riveting. Indeed, the outcome is never in doubt but there's a level of suspense in Apollo 11 that makes its 93-minute run time just fly by.

Refreshingly void of voice over narration and talking head interviews, director Todd Douglas Miller, who also edited this documentary, lets events play out and speak for themselves.

A perfect companion piece to Damien Chazelle's most excellent First Man (2018), a biopic of sorts of Armstrong's life leading up to and culminating in his historic first steps on the lunar surface, Apollo 11 is an impressive way to mark the 50th anniversary of this most historic event.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019


Madman Films

The dark-souled cousin to Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters (2018), Bong Joon-ho's Cannes-winning Parasite takes the underclass family out of their impoverished hovel and into the home of the one-percenters; rubbing them up against each other to comic and discomfiting effect.

In what begins as a light-hearted con by the Kim family, who, one by one, inveigle themselves into the architecturally stylish yet austere home of the well-to-do Parks, Parasite gradually develops – or descends – into an excoriating satire of the divide between the haves and the have-nots in modern-day South Korea.

Of course, Bong's tale is universal: the gap between the rich and the poor continues apace in most late-stage capitalist economies, and Australian audiences cannot fail to see the unflattering similarities between both societies. (Jordan Peele served up a similarly tart humble pie to his fellow Americans with US earlier this year.)

Where Parasite goes beyond its initial set-up, however, is best left to be discovered by the audience. Needless to say, no one gets off – or out – unscathed.


Universal Pictures

What would a world without the music of The Beatles look like? Well, there'd be no Oasis for starters, and for some reason there wouldn't be any Coke or Harry Potter either.

That's the state of the world in director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis's Yesterday, in which struggling musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) awakens from a cycling accident and realises that no one – not even Google – has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. What to do? Cash in, of course.

Super-stardom beckons when fame – and Ed Sheeran – literally come knocking at the door of this nobody who is now, apparently, the greatest musical wordsmith of all-time. But guilt, impostor syndrome and matters of the heart – Jack can't decide if he's in love with his long-time best friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James) – keep Jack from grasping fame ("the poisoned chalice" as his new American manager, Debra Hammer (MVP Kate McKinnon), describes it) with both hands.

Not a jukebox musical of the Fab Four's greatest hits, nor a full-on romcom – indeed the romantic subplot is the film's least interesting and least successful element – Yesterday is everything a truly great Beatles song isn't: safe, bland, and forgettable.