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Film Reviews

Glass Onion Non Spoiler Review: The Best Movie of 2022?

Knives Out was one of the best movies of the last 5 years. It is one of the most entertaining and rewatchable movies I have seen in a long time and will undoubtedly be considered a classic in 10 years. So… the question becomes how do you top this and more importantly is it even possible? Can Rian Johnson improve upon one of the most loved and successful movies of the last 5 years? Truthfully, yes… Read on for more.

(Since this movie is very easy to spoil and I understand how easy it is to ruin it, I will keep it very broad and simple.)

Before I watched this, I was trying to work out what Rian Johnson could do to keep the audience guessing and surprised. As a filmmaker, it is embarrassing for me to admit that I had no ideas. Despite this, Rian creates a new and compelling that story that will keep you glued to the screen from the beginning. It goes in directions I didn’t expect at all and plays upon the traditional narrative perfectly. Rian Johnson knows exactly what the audience is expecting and manipulates it from beginning to end.

One of the best parts about the first Knives Out is the characters. They each feel completely different to the other and are addicting to watch. I truly believe Knives Out A Glass Onion has better characters. Each one is a very clever and refreshing take on the modern celebrity.  But what’s even more important is that they feel like real people. They have multiple layers that are revealed as the movie progresses and while they have flaws, you understand where they are coming from.

On top of this, they are cast perfectly. Everyone in this movie brings these characters to life. With a different cast, this movie is nowhere near as gripping and entertaining. I think lately films just load up on huge casts only to get ticket sales. But with Knives Out 2, it feels like each actor was chosen for the character and not for their level of fame. Cough Cough Amsterdam cough.

Before I move on, I have to talk about Daniel Craig. This character that him and Rian Johnson have created is one of the best movie detectives I have ever seen. He is this weird mix of being an idiot while also a genius that I love. It is a unique and refreshing character that I could truly watch an entire season of. Also, he is just very funny. No matter how simple the line is, he manages to always deliver it perfectly.

While I loved this movie, there was definitely a slump. About halfway through, I just found myself a little bit bored. I think in moments it treats the audience a little stupid and takes too long explaining things. It isn’t terrible it’s more just feels like the run time could be cut down by about 10-15minutes. Also, I think some of the humour doesn’t really work. It occasionally just feels forced and never seemed to get many laughs in the cinema.

One of the most important parts of a murder mystery is the twist. Now in the first Knives Out, the reveal never felt surprising or satisfying to me. In the sequel, I kind of feel the same way. But I think that’s on purpose. There are so many other twists and turns in this movie that the killer or killers doesn’t seem important. Instead, I think Rian Johnson wanted to focus on creating twists as the movie progresses instead of in the last few moments.

Should you watch Knives Out A Glass Onion?

Definitely. This movie is a very entertaining and enjoyable watch that will keep you guessing from the beginning. While the cinema run is over, watch it as soon as it’s out on Netflix so it doesn’t get spoiled for you.

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Interview

Polyamorous – An Interview with showrunner Archie Waterson

At the beginning of this year, I interviewed Archie Waterson on a documentary he produced – The Diamond from Sierra Leone. Recently, the short doco was selected into the Heart of Gold Film Festival (a pretty big deal for a filmmaker so young). Once again, Archie is back with a brand new project he has been working tirelessly on. Polyamorous is a mockumentary web-series made in 8 weeks. After watching it once, I instantly went back and watched it again because I was amazed how much him and his team pulled off in such a short amount of time. It is funny, clever and most importantly, original. Read on for more.

Archie Waterson (right) on set with Hunter Smith

What is Polyamorous?

“It is a mockumentary story about 6 people in a polyamorous relationship and the highs and lows they go through trying to be free spirited. It follows the perspective of Mackenzie who is monogamous and is in denial who is following her partner who wants to join a polyamorous relationship to leave her.”

What inspired this story?

Tai Scott, Janice Devarakonda and Matthew Cieslar on set

“I was having a beer with my friend, and he told me he was in the dating game. He went on a tinder date and this girl who he got along well with and she said I’m in a polyamorous relationship. I didn’t know what this was and I kind of got obsessed with it and started watching a ton of documentaries. Through all these shows, I kind of discovered 6 architypes through it.”

What was the writing process and how did you go about it leading a writers’ room?

“The process came from fleshing out the story first. I wrote the character breakdowns, the log line, the pitch and all these characters so I knew who they were and what they would be like in this relationship. I wrote the pilot then I got all my writers and from there, each writer was linked to an episode, and we built this arch for Mackenzie, Jake and Tash and the rest of the relationship.”

How do you the test out the joke /comedy?

Lachlan Wormwell and Archie Waterson on set

“For me, it was weird because I never really wrote for the screen, comedy wise. I feel like if I’m in a social setting I am kind of funny and I make people laugh. I have always wanted to do comedy. What I found is that I try and give to people who I find funny and if they like it, I know I’m onto something.”

What has been the most challenging part of making a web series?

“Overall, it was an intense process we did in 8 weeks. The hardest part for me was finding confidence in myself at the start when I’m pitching it. The stress and anxiety of trying to appease 50 people was challenging. But other than that, it was a very smooth process and I didn’t find too many challenges.”

Are there any other plans to release it other than the festival run?

“Once this all ends, it will be released onto YouTube and Vimeo. I also want to take it to the ABC as a proof of concept to show them.

Do you ever have periods of self and lack of motivation and how do you combat that?

The crew of Polyamorous

“I have in my life. At this point, I feel weirdly motivated and confident which helped in the process. The pressure allowed me to always remain motivated. I feel like the way to get out of these slumps is to reassess why you do it and that creating is a blessing.”

Talking Movies

What movies and shows inspired Polyamorous?

“In terms of style, ‘’What We Do in the Shadows” and “The Office” were two big style guides. “Shameless (US)” for the dynamics between the characters and their chaos.”

What filmmakers do you look up to?

“I love Larry David. I just want to be one of those guys who seems effortless but really cares for the craft. I love Taika Waititi who is this creative inspiration, making stuff from a place similar to where we come from.”

What is the worst thing people do in the cinema?

“People chewing popcorn loudly. Some people are just loud chewers and it’s fucked.”

Tai Scott, Rowan Williams, Archie Waterson and Adelaide Lapere on set

The Future

Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?

“I want comedy to not be Australian cliches. I think people living in urban parts should have a voice because they are just as interesting as people in London and New York. I want there to be a blend where it’s not just tourism but beautiful Australian stories.”

Matthew Cieslar, Bianca Rapp, Janice Devarakonda, Abigal Waugh, Hunter Smith, Chris Nguyen and Archie

What is your one film wish?

“I would love to get coffee with Larry David. I would love to have a job comedy writing for a TV series.”

What is next for you?

“Probably the grad slate next year. Just writing again and getting back into the development phase again.

Anyone you want to shoutout?

“I want to shoutout Amy Lightbody, my producer on the show. She put in so much work and she just made the process super smooth for me.”

All photos taken by Sam Goldsmith and Felix Lovell.

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Interview

An Australian Revenge Horror – Interview with Hayden Teremoana

I first heard of Hayden when I was at a filmmaking bootcamp, and someone told me of a short film that was recently made. The film was called “Final Girl” and was about a girl being chased by a killer through the different eras of horror. An incredible idea that instantly made me jealous. Now over a year later, Hayden is in the final stages of creating a revenge horror film called Tommy. After watching this film, I can safely say it has one of the most unique and refreshing styles I have seen in a while. Hearing his passion and love for this project showed me how dedicated he was to filmmaking. Read on for more.

Hayden Teremoana on set

What is Tommy?

“It’s Kill Bill meets Carrie. It’s a 70s style revenge horror about a group of friends who are hunted by someone who they have done wrong. He hunts them down one by one, getting answers about what happened the night before.”

Jordan Stott, Leo Buzac, David Nicolau, Chloe Small

How did this idea come to you?

“I will give you the dark and light version. The dark version is that I thought of this idea about 2-3 years ago. My Mum had passed away when I was about 18. Originally, it was about Tommy going after a group of friends who had something to do with his mother’s death. I wanted to play on the idea of toxic friendships and grief. The idea stemmed from me dealing with the death of my mother and projecting my emotions.

There was also a song I liked called Tommy and there’s an outro where there is a girl screaming an outro. I loved it and combined the two.”

What has been the biggest challenge so far of making an Indie short film?

“The biggest thing for me personally was delegating the tasks to other people and not just doing all the work by myself. I have learnt this year to start trusting other people with my vision. I try to make what I want to do as a filmmaker known to everyone so they can work with me. Also, as a director differentiating your focus towards style and performances. I could have spent more time getting those performances as intense as I wanted them to be.”

When you’re on set is there a specific way you talk with actors?

“Leading up to shoots, I build more of a person relationship with them. I want to make sure they are comfortable with me because there is a big theme of the sexual assault. I am very collaborative in the way that I want the actors to feel like they have written the dialogue. I also like to put more emphasis on their personal experience in their past to come to an agreeance to bring this certain moment to life.”

When you were writing this script, what was your structure and plan writing it?

“The way that I worked through was that I focused on how I wanted each character to die. I had the grand death scene for each character written first and worked backwards from there. It had to feel like a fluid sequence of events.”

Chloe Small

TALKING MOVIES

I can see your love for horror in Final Girl and Tommy. So who are your favourite horror filmmakers and favourite horror films?

“Tommy is a Giallo inspired film. I love films like Suspiria, it is so over the top with colours and becomes this neon nightmare. Also, Mario Bava was a big horror Giallo director – Blood and Black Lace are amazing.  More modern horror directors are Mike Flannagan. He is great at making horrifying sequences without sound. Not necessarily a horror filmmaker but Nicholas Wendig Refn for the Neon Demon which is a stunning horror film. Gaspar Noe is a big influence, I have been watching his films a bunch recently. Before I started writing Tommy as well, I watched I Spit on Your Grave. I would also say Wes Craven as well.

“My favourite movie of all time is Brides Maids. I have watched it 100 times.”

The worst thing that people do in the cinema?

“Take off their shoes and socks and put their feet on the seat. It’s absolutely feral. Put the dogs away we don’t want to see it.”

The Future

Where do you want to see the Australian film scene move?

The Tommy Crew

“I love so many old Australian films and TV shows. I just watched the old Heartbreak High. The depiction of Australia was so real back then. We have just had a 20-year gap where we have been a little bit westernised. Our country has so much culture that people just aren’t exploring. We are rapidly modernising everything around us that we are forgetting the stories we need to tell.”

Is there an Australian horror movie that you think needs to be made?

“I would love to do Australian Horror Story. I have actually thought of at least four seasons that could be done and I want to focus on that once I’m finished. Especially the outback and how terrifying it is. Australian Horror Story needs to happen and I’m going to make it happen.”

If a film genie gave you one wish to do anything you want, what would it be?

“I would make a TV show based on Dead by Daylight. One thing it has is their lore. Especially about the characters and the killers. If you made this show it would outweigh all the old horror villains because there is so much depth to these killers.”

What is next for you?

“I am hoping to get into being a first AD to try and get some first-hand experience from directors and on bigger films. Also just writing a heap of shit and hopefully in the next five years I can make another couple of films. Hopefully try to establish Australia as a horror scene. My end goal is to be known as one of the best Australian horror directors.”

“I need to shoutout my entire crew and every other director of all the grad slates. I am so excited to see these new experimental films.” 

Jordan Stott as Tommy

Make sure to follow Tommy on Instagram and pay attention for it’s festival release!

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Interview

MAKING A WEB SERIES – AN INTERVIEW WITH CREATOR MACK STRUTHERS

Mack Struthers is a Brisbane based writer and director in his second year at QUT. Recently, he premiered his web series, Greenlit, at cinemas in Brisbane and Sydney. Mack has spent over a year working tirelessly on this series – writing, organising and funding this show. Read on for more.

Mack on set

Can you just introduce yourself and your roles in film?

“My name is Mack. I have been making films since I saw Interstellar and thought the soundtrack would go really well with some Lego stop motion. I primarily write and direct. As a young creative, I do all the other things so that I can write and direct more. “

What is Greenlit?

“Greenlit is a 6-episode comedy web series created by me and shot in January this year. It follows a team of writers trying to get their series off the ground into production. Over the course of a year, we have been making this series. I think a total of 50 people have been involved.”

What has been the biggest challenge as the creator?

Green Lit

“Being a good leader. I think there is a misconception that directing or creating what you want. I think there is better value in learning to bring the best out of people.”

How did you go about funding a web series?

“We had two primary sources of funding. Bonds’ reach out grant and a QUT grant. Myself and four other people decided we need money for this project and started researching underutilised grants. A lot of organisations want a tax write off for supporting the arts and will only get a couple hundred applications for these grants. If you apply to as much as you can, it is likely you will be able to get some money together.”

 What was the biggest thing you learnt from making Greenlit?

“It’s a marathon not a sprint. Realistically, me and 4 others worked every day on this show for at least an hour and sometimes up till 12 hours for a year. Finding the thing that can keep you going and going for a long time is of utmost importance. Another thing I learnt is compromise. Filmmaking is collaborative and restrictive. You will get your best work when you start compromising.”

The core cast of Greenlit

TALKING MOVIES

Do you have a favourite film, writer/ director and show?

“Synecdoche New York or Before Sunrise. Director is Andrei Tarkovsky and Dennis Villeunve. The show is a tie between Bojack Horseman and Mr Robot.

Ruby Shannon and Mack on Set

What writers, films and filmmakers inspired Greenlit and you in general?

“The Office, Community and a little bit of Mr Robot in terms of style. Avengers Endgame was also such a fun point of reference because all the tropes are so stupid and cheesy and fun.

Most annoying thing people do in the cinema?

“All the classic ones, being on your phone, talking. But I think the most annoying thing is when people nearby me are trying to be funny. If you are sitting on the couch at home, you can make jokes then.”

“When I saw the new Doctor Strange movie, there was this guy in the line who wouldn’t stop talking to me. During the movie, he was talking to me THE WHOLE MOVIE.”

The Future

MAck on set with Madelyn Leite

Where do you want to see the Brisbane and Australian film scene move in the next 5 years?

“I think people forget that what protects the film community the most is legislation. The Australian Writers Guild have been in battle to get all the streaming platforms to invest a percentage of what they make into Australian only content. In my ideal world, some of those things get passed and we stop having Marvel films exclusively and English TV cause the land is cheap. We start getting new Australian content.”

What is next for you?

“I am doing some corporate work which is always interesting… I will try to do a grad slate for QUT. I am currently planning on doing two web series. One will be a play that my friends are doing at the fringe Festival called Call Girls. And I am also not prepared to walk away from Greenlit.”

If a film genie came to you, and gave you one wish, what would it be?

“I think it would be this series I have been writing for over a year now. It is called Come Apart and it’s not a comedy but kind of experimental drama.”

Go watch Greenlit on Youtube right now!!!

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Film Reviews

A Complete Surprise: Thirteen Lives Review

Thirteen Lives is a survival drama based on the true story of the rescue divers that saved thirteen Thai boys’ lives. Directed by Ron Howard, the film stars Colin Farrell, Vigo Mortensen and Joel Edgerton. It is a movie that came out of nowhere. Maybe it’s because of Amazon’s horrible marketing strategy or because the documentary had already been released, but this film had absolutely no traction behind it. Despite this, it completely shocked me. Thirteen Lives was not what I expected in any way, let me explain.

Tense

I honestly cannot tell you if it is because this is based on a true story, but this movie is one of the most tense and nerve-racking cinematic (streaming) experiences I have had in a while. Every time that Colin and Viggo entered those caves I felt like I was right there with them. Even though I knew what was coming, it didn’t take away from how horrifying this film is. It doesn’t feel like a standard survival movie. Instead, it feels like I am watching a horror movie and that is an amazing thing.

Ron Howard and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom have crafted this film perfectly. Directing underwater sequences would be so challenging and they both did it for weeks on end. This practical work is so effective in making the audience feel as claustrophobic and tired as the divers were. Having a cinematographer who specialises in underwater photography is an excellent choice and one of the core reasons these sequences work. But perhaps what is most important is that it never feels like a Hollywood movie. Every underwater scene feels authentic and such a stark contrast to the CGI garbage that is being pumped out lately.

The Script

I think the script is going to divide a lot of film lovers. For me, it works perfectly. Thirteen Lives sticks to the events of the story and nothing more. It doesn’t dive into back story, character arcs or even the Thai boys. In a BTS interview, Ron Howard specifically says he wanted to be as “journalistic as possible.” I love this decision. We get to completely focus on this story and not get side-tracked with some forced backstory of our main characters.  It feels so procedural and realistic that it adds even more suspense to this already thrilling story.

Thirteen Lives has an incredible core theme. The film is about community. In particular, the Thai community. This golden thread of sacrificing yourself for others is weaved in so subtly you could almost miss it. Ron Howard does an excellent job of showing that when people come together great things happen. The divers, families, villagers all give up what is important to them for the greater good.

Acting

Everyone in this film is bringing their A game. There is not one person in Thirteen Lives who did not completely sell me on the stakes and danger of this mission. Obviously, Colin Farrell and Vigo Mortensen are excellent. I loved the chemistry between these two, it felt like they had known each other for years. Furthermore, Joel Edgerton comes in at just the right time. He is so talented at being afraid and scared that it added a whole new layer of pressure to the task at hand. These three actors don’t have much to work with and yet I completely understand them as people. I knew their motivations and fears as soon as they stepped on screen.

I also want to shoutout the actors playing the Thai boys. I think they did an excellent job of capturing how afraid and drained these kids would have been. Every time they were on screen, I completely believed their performance and consequently had this constant fear for their lives.

One Issue

There is only one problem with this film, and it bugged me as soon as it started – it wasn’t released in cinemas. Usually, I don’t give a fuck about where a movie comes out but when it is a film like this, it feels disrespectful to not see it on a big screen. It just would have been so much more captivating with proper speakers and a huge IMAX screen. I know it’s where cinema is moving but a movie like this will always make me want to see it in a cinema.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT?

Abso – fucking – lutely. Thirteen Lives is an excellent and well-crafted movie that kept me gripped from the moment it started. While the run time may seem long, it never drags or feels like the 147 minutes it is. Definitely go watch this film on Amazon Prime.