The WalkAnthony Macali
In 1974, French artist Philippe Petit dreams of walking a tightrope across the World Trade Centre.
"The Walk" is an amazing film that grants its audience a true appreciation of the outlandish imagination and endeavour of the feat at hand. Such simple conceit is extended to a marvellous story, revealing the outright madness of its artist and the elaborate logistics of suspending a cable 400m above the ground. The iconic Twin Towers are gloriously reconstructed, and the dizzying view from the top is both beautiful and terrifying. Spectacular visuals and brilliant 3D place you right on the wire, drawing you into a tense and deeply emotional experience. A coup to remember.
The GiftAnthony Macali
A man from the past comes back to haunt a couple, leaving wrapped presents at their doorstep.
"The Gift" is the gift that keeps on giving... the creeps. Hooked from the very first interaction between our lead characters, the suspense builds as their rich and sinister backstories are revealed. Largely set in a single house, this conspicuous setting brings even more unease, in its vulnerability and realism. Interest tends to wane towards the end as the conceit becomes a little monotonous. But the film's greatest achievement is its unpredictability. You don't know how it's going to end, which is a rare cinematic gift.
Straight Outta ComptonAnthony Macali
The story of hip-hop group NWA, who grew up on the streets of LA and revolutionized rap music.
"Straight Outer Compton" is a rags to riches story with a unique hip-hop twist. This fascinating portrayal chronicles the lifetime of NWA, and looks at the blatant racism, which inspired some of their music. The cast is remarkable, eliciting genuine empathy and support in their quest to simply produce dope beats. While the film might lose its way towards the end, unsure which character's story to narrow its gaze, it doesn't affect the overall entertainment and charisma. Straight Outer History.
We Are Your FriendsAnthony Macali
An aspiring DJ sets out to produce that one special track to mark his name and launch his career.
"We Are Your Friends" offers a little plastic sachet of party life. While it doesn't shy from the unavoidable sex and drugs associated with the scene, it does ultimately settle on a story about the music. With an acute focus on electronic dance music, this film explores the ambition of youth and the art of the deejay. In one particularly joyful sequence, we are treated to a lesson in syncing rhythm and beats to the human heart. The themes might not appeal to all, but it's certainly throwaway fun. A mashup of ideas.
99 HomesAnthony Macali
After being evicted from his home, a father starts working for the very real estate broker who facilitated his dispossession.
"99 Homes" is an emotionally charged story about the economic fallout of the US financial crisis, with a particular focus on the families who lose their homes. The intimate and close-up style, bolstered by the desperate and compelling performances, create a heartfelt and personal story, which is deeply empathetic. From the first eviction, the dramatic tension never lets up, and raises questions of morality at every turn. One good film.
City of GoldAnthony Macali
A documentary about famous LA food critic Johnathon Gold.
"City of Gold" is an admirable documentary about a wonderful writer, whose commentary on food transcends boundaries in multiple ways. Apart from his utterly brilliant style, and encyclopedic knowledge and passion for his hometown, he is famous for shining the spotlight on some of the smaller restaurants. Not one to discriminate, Mr. Gold values cooking as a service to a community, and provides a telling insight into multicultural society, where food can bring people together. This guy really likes tacos.
The WolfpackAnthony Macali
Not permitted outside of their apartment, the Angulo brothers only escape is their film collection.
"The Wolfpack" is an intimate look at a large family sadly confined to the boundaries of their apartment. Home-schooled by their devoid mother, the children's only view of the outside world is through the skewed reality of cinema, which could only contribute to their weird behaviour. It's hard to watch, especially as the young brothers gradually realise the misery of their imprisoned existence. Even more heartbreaking is their tethered creative talents, limited to charming re-enactments of famous movies. An agonising insight into social suppression.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Anthony Macali
In the 1960s, an American and Russian operative must join forces to stop a nuclear bomb.
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E." is all style and no substance. When these secret agents aren’t jumping and shooting at one another, they are delivering fashion advice. With this example you can appreciate the uncomplicated direction of this story. It starts off obnoxious, but slowly grows on you over the course of the mission. Everything is so nice to look at, and plot reveals are neatly constructed (and deconstructed) for the audience, leaving little to the imagination. Sleek and chic, and not so special.
The LobsterAnthony Macali
A man checks into a hotel and has 45 days to find a partner, or be transformed into an animal of his choosing.
The quirky premise of "The Lobster" certainly captures your attention, and for the first half at least, plays out with weirdly dark and terrific humour. The film is laden with allegory, especially in its almost cynical commentary on relationships and the brutal punishment for those who don't conform. Beautifully shot with a formidable supporting cast, it's a shame curiosity wavers towards the end of the story, as our apathy for the characters falters with the plot. The one that got away.
Deep WebAnthony Macali
A documentary about the 96 per cent of the internet that goes unindexed by search engines.
"Deep Web" is a highly informative and educational insight into the little known and hidden portion of the World Wide Web. The less you know beforehand, the more you will be astounded at 'Silk Road', the illicit drug marketplace at the centre of this investigation, and its equally fascinating libertine founder and administrator. Ultimately the film raises a discussion about privacy in a digital world, and neatly highlights the gaps in today’s Internet freedom. Can the good guys hack the bad guys?
Mr. HolmesAnthony Macali
An aged and weary Sherlock Holmes reflects back on his last unresolved case.
In this version of the famous detective, we are introduced to a much more reserved Mr. Holmes, and at the tender age of 93, he's rather dull. Exploring poignant themes of growing old, reflecting on some of life’s big decisions and regrets, this film is more of a human story than a who done it. Moving at a lethargic pace, apart from the odd detective moments and distinguished acting, the constant time shifts in the plot do little to perk our attention. Alas Mr. Holmes lacks vigour.
Recently released from prison, Scott Lang takes part in a safe heist, and stumbles upon an odd looking costume that can shrink its wearer down to size.
A character based on an insect may not be the most appealing of superheroes, but rest assured, Ant-Man's entry into the comic universe is just as endearing as his fellow kin. This film sticks rigidly to the formula, with a cleverly selected cast, cheerful humour and splendid visuals bringing this bug-size world to sumptuous life. It is action on a scale rarely seen, armies of ants crawling through pipes and darting under doors achieves a newfangled manner of fun. This little guy packs a punch.
Far from the Madding CrowdAnthony Macali
Bathsheba Everdene is an independent women, who inherits a farm and spends her days between her work and fending off potential suitors.
"Far from the Madding Crowd" is a literary adaptation and period piece, traditional in its story-telling and romance. The landscape has never looked so radiant, and the diligent and strongly developed characters are a breath of fresh country air. A variety of personalities are at play, the knowing glances and careful courtship a delight to watch. Farm life might not suit everyone, but this film is far from disappointing.
Magic Mike XXLAnthony Macali
Mike rejoins the crew to embark on a road trip to Myrtle Beach and attend the Annual Strippers Convention.
"Magic Mike XXL" does everything in its power to subvert all your expectations. Apart from the final hour, the plot is largely uneventful and bland, severely lacking the level of fun and frivolity from the first magic show. Despite the surprisingly pleasant motion picture visuals, this story of male-entertainers hitting the road on a journey of self-discovery unfortunately sticks too close to the straight and narrow. Put it away.
Terminator GenisysAnthony Macali
John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother Sarah Connor.
"Terminator Genisys" is a sequel/reboot/redux, which inspires you to track down and watch the far superior original films. Made primarily to serve the faithful fans, all the winks and nods to the previous instalments cannot overcome the lacklustre and somewhat confusing plot. While it's a thrill to see a classic cast member return as a T-800, the subdued action sequences, which rely heavily on CGI, deliver little threat when these remarkably durable robots fight one another. A franchise close to obsolete.
Inside OutAnthony Macali
When young Riley is forced to move house with her parents, she must reconcile the constantly changing emotions in her brain.
"Inside Out" is so comprehensive and creative in its depiction of what goes on inside our heads, you are almost convinced it is real. This remarkable animation is super clever in its colourful representation of human emotions and memories, creating an indelible, heartfelt and amusing cinematic experience. Exploring the imaginary world of the mind generates excitement at every turn, and its frantic pace and sharp wit will captivate onlookers of all ages. Pure joy.
Ted 2Anthony Macali
Ted and Tami-Lynn get married, but when they evaluate their options for having children, the government questions Ted's status as a person.
Ted returns alive and well in this sequel, with all of the crude vulgarity and boyish humour that accompanied his first outing into the world. While the story arch remains familiar, the jokes are fast and fresh. If you can handle elevated levels of weed inhalation and sperm deposits that feature in this film, then you may find similarly offensive material laugh-out-loud funny. An amusing piece of property.
Woman In GoldAnthony Macali
Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee exiled from her country during the war, fights a legal battle to restore ownership of paintings that were stolen from her family by the Nazis.
"Woman in Gold" tells an important story rich in history, but its retelling in this feature is bland and uninspired. Relying heavily on flashbacks to give the otherwise uneventful narrative some much-needed action, the chaos of the war is captured shrewdly, stirring the emotions. While the life of this restitution battle remains decidedly one-sided, the two leads show strong and engaging performances, which ultimately make this picture worthwhile. A court battle of pure gold.
Jurassic WorldAnthony Macali
The re-branded theme park "Jurassic World" is trying to introduce some new genetically engineered dinosaurs to the island in a attempt to attract new visitors.
"Jurassic World" might lack the awe and wonder of its original predecessor, but still delivers a thrilling, albeit superfluous experience. This exhibit is low on fresh ideas, reviving a franchise we thought was extinct and presenting it to a new generation, while cleverly feeding the nostalgia of previous visitors. Bolstered by a strong cast, the most impressive species in this film are the humans. The two leads are a highlight, breathing life and fun to this ride. A prehistoric rehash.
San AndreasAnthony Macali
A helicopter pilot embarks on a mission to save his daughter after the state of California is rocked by a series of devastating earthquakes.
"San Andreas" is an action extravaganza; a non-stop avalanche of shattered windows, twisted metal and edge of your seat thrills. This disaster film features all types of craft – land, sea and air – each piloted by our hulking hero, who provides a continuous tremor of suspense and peril. Relying heaving on some commendable special effects, this completely ridiculous story packs it all in. Hard to fault.
A CIA analyst is forced onto the field to recover a nuclear bomb after the identities of the organisations agents are compromised.
In this film, the style and sophistication of the spy genre is turned on its head, drawing plenty of laughs from the 'fish out of water' plot device. Agent Cooper, the aggressive and foul-mouthed analyst turned secret agent, is unequivocally the star of the show, cracking countless jokes, and making a mockery of the deliberately clichéd and amusing espionage setups. While the story is silly, the great supporting cast do a good job in complementing this one-woman show. License to farce.
Pitch Perfect 2Anthony Macali
In a bid to overturn their recent suspension, The Barden Bellas compete in the A Capella World Championships, where they meet their international rival Das Sound Machine.
"Pitch Perfect 2" will find it hard to rival the success of its first outing, but there are still plenty of witty jokes, crude slapstick and politically incorrect commentary to delight audiences. The weakest part of this sequel is the story, which invests more in the laughs, than the drama. While the strength of the original cast is bolstered by fresh additions, the film ultimately lacks the rhythm and catchy tunes of the predecessor. Corny, forgettable, yet still very funny. Das good.
Testament of YouthAnthony Macali
A young lady decides to become a nurse on the front-line after the involvement of her fiancée and brothers in the World War.
Based on a war memoir, "Testament of Youth" lacks the emotion and passion for such an important film. The slow pace of the story is akin to a pain-killer, over time it dulls the senses. While the setting and romance are beautifully shot, they also distract from the grim reality of life during the depression, and war. There's no question against the nobility and endeavour of the main character. Sadly her underlying message gets lost in the style of delivery. Testament of patience.
A Skype conversation within a group of high-school kids goes awry when an unknown person infiltrates their digital world.
For the entire length of its short-running time, "Unfriended" takes place on a computer screen. This high-concept setting is the best thing about this horror movie. A techie's wet dream, its brilliance lies in its detail, adeptly capturing modern-day communication and its various tools. You won't sympathise with a lot of the characters, and you aren't supposed to. The only exception is the young girl who forms the premise, and perpetuates the strong anti-cyberbullying message. Like.
Avengers: Age of UltronAnthony Macali
In his attempts to create an AI robot to protect the world, Tony Stark inadvertently triggers the birth of Ultron, a machine hellbent on destruction.
Want to see a group of costumed heroes smash a whole bunch of robots, with great humour and style? Then "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is for you. With unlimited state-of-the-art tech at their disposal, the film-makers have created a universe of gleaming special effects and relentless action. Rarely do you get the opportunity to take a breath, as a barrage of set pieces power through the less than modest running time. It's a fantastic age to save the world.