‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’

Number three in the Ant-Man stand alone features – and sadly much of the irreverence and humour is lost in a dull, unengaging adventure narrative.

Turns out Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer – Hairspray, Dangerous Liaisons) wasn’t completely forthcoming in her time in the Quantum Realm. A whole convoluted universe (think Star Wars) exists where power struggles are fought – and Janet was a key member of the rebel forces against Kang (Jonathan Majors – Da 5 Bloods, Creed III). Dragged back into the realm, Scott (Paul Rudd – Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The Fundamentals of Caring)and now-teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton – Ben Is Back, TV’s Big Little Lies) find themselves separated from the Van Dynes. They need to find a way to come together and prevent Kang escaping the Quantum Realm into their real world.

Derivative storytelling and visuals, the third Ant-Man from director Peyton Reed is sadly lacking in any sense of excitement or urgency. Moving from scenario to scenario, there’s little in the way of connection between the combined saviours of the world. Dull.

Rating: 35%

‘Mrs Harris Goes to Paris’

It’s the frocks that shine in this cute but shallow remake of an earlier tv movie as Christan Dior beckons a cockney cleaning lady.

A regular cleaner for Lady Dant (Anna Chancellor – Crush, TV’s The Split) gains few benefits (and late wage payments) except exposure to Dior haute couture. On learning the current beauty hanging in the wardrobe cost a staggering £500, Mrs Harris (Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread, Maleficent) is determined to purchase her own in time for the 1957 annual local town hall social. Scrimping and saving follows, supported by best friend, Violet (Ellen Thomas – The Love Punch, TV’s Eastenders). Ada gets to Paris eventually where, in spite of the snobbish Madame Colbert (Isabelle Huppert – Elle, The Piano Teacher), she gets her way – and changes the lives of those she comes into contact with as well as the future of the House of Dior itself.

Charm incarnate as directed by Anthony Fabian (Skin, Louder Than Words), Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is the saccharine-sweet embodiment of a fairy-tale as the good-natured Ada (a delightful Lesley Manville) tires of being invisible.

Nominated for 2023 Best Costume Oscar (Jenny Beaven).

Rating: 64%


An intimate documentary on the life of legendary Tina Turner from her early years with Ike Turner through to happiness and 30 years of marriage living in Zurich, Switzerland.

As an icon of a woman redefining herself in her late 40s having escaped a violent and abusive marriage, Tina Turner has few equals. As the first woman to sell out concerts in huge football stadiums (including 180,000 in Rio, a then world-record attendance), Tina Turner has no equal. She is also one of the best-selling recording artists of all time (approximately 150 million records). All was achieved after a rancorous split from Ike Turner.

Tina is an up close and personal exploration divided into chapters. Inevitably, time is spent on those early years but the majority of the documentary as directed by Daniel Lindsay & TJ Martin (Undefeated, LA92) focuses on her phoenix-like emergence from Las Vegas cabaret to rock superstardom. With archive footage and interviews with the likes of husband Erwin Bach, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett, music critics alongside Tina herself, Tina may avoid recent health problems and some of the more personal controversies with the schism between her and four sons, but it remains a fascinating crowd pleaser of triumph over adversity.

Rating: 70%


Disappointing all star miniseries as eight interlinked separate stories explore climate change over the century and its impact on everyday lives.

Beginning in 2037, the first episode sets the foundations for the series with wildfires, floods, water shortage, mass migration and ecosystem collapse. Tel Aviv (COP37) and Antarctica are the settings with Bilton Industries (Kit Harington) set to be the corporate bad guys: Bilton has the technology to help the water shortage but profit and the shareholders are placed before environmental concerns. And that concept continues as the global temperatures continue to increase as the polar caps melt and the sea levels rise.

The science of climate change as the decades pass remains throughout the eight stories – but it’s the impact on the everyday that is prevalent. By 2046 it’s not safe to go outside for many without protective covering and breathing apparatus; in 2047, a synagogue in Miami looks to win the political battle to move premises as the rising water levels encroach on the building.

It’s a pretty bleak series exploring the cost of ignorance and ‘quick-fix’ policies as Bilton continues to be seen as a great leader in tech and innovation, yet at what cost? Kit Harington is one of the few characters present in more than one storyline – but how much of a saviour is his billions of dollars?

Extrapolations is a classy miniseries – but then boasting the likes of Meryl Streep, Marion Cotillard, Tahar Rahim, Edward Norton, Forest Whittaker et al , it’s exactly what you would expect. Sadly, quality may be there in bucketloads but consistency of narrative and storytelling is not. From the engaging episode 5 (2059) set in Mumbai and starring Adarsh Gourav and Gaz Choudhry as two small-time smugglers to the excess of episode 4 (also 2059) where brilliant inventor Indira Varma has created a pilotless, solar-powered plane, Extrapolations strives to deliver but generally falters when it moves outside the intimate of the everyday.

Rating: 54%


Hired to follow high-profile chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a tough talking private detective finds himself in deep water as corruption and murder bubble to the surface.

A straightforward cheating husband case seems easy money for J.J.Gittes (Jack Nicholson – Easy Rider, The Departed) as the wife of Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwerling – Grease, And Justice For All) hires the private detective. But things become more complicated when the real Mrs Mulwray (Faye Dunaway – Bonnie & Clyde, Network) appears at his office – and Mulwray turns up dead.

Blackmail, corruption and murder unspool in Gittes’ so-called easy money case as 1930s LA struggles through a drought in director Roman Polanski’s (The Pianist, Knife in the Water) sublime detective thriller full of brooding suspense.

Nominated for 11 Oscars in 1975 including best film, director, actor, actress, cinematography – won 1 for best original screenplay (Robert Towne)

Rating: 88%

‘The Devil’s Hour’

A mysterious criminal with a unique relationship with time: a woman who awakens every night at 3.33am having experienced terrifying nightmares: a young boy with an intense social disorder. The Devil’s Hour is a six part supernatural-tinged drama full of suspense and unexpected plot developments.

Lucy (Jessica Raine) is a social worker with a heavy caseload yet she herself visits a child psychologist – her own eight-year son Isaac (Benjamin Chivers) is cold, withdrawn and devoid of any emotion. So much so the boy’s father Mike (Phil Dunster) has left, unable to cope with the emotional vacuum. Inexplicably, Lucy. dogged by terrifying nightmares, finds herself linked to a serial killer, Gideon Shepherd (Peter Capaldi), who has seemingly been active for several decades.

Over six episodes, The Devil’s Hour is a confusion of engaging uncertainties where nothing is quite what it seems. Wallpaper in one house appears in another, homeowners interchangeable as Lucy tries to protect Isaac and understand what is going on. It’s the arrested Gideon who holds the key – and in the interrogation room, he will only talk to Lucy. DI Ravi Dhillon (Nikesh Patel), in charge of the case, is more than happy to include Lucy in the challenge of the outside the norm investigation.

There’s an inevitability to similarities of other psychological dramas. But, bolstered by an excellent determined yet vulnerable Raine, The Devil’s Hour expertly dips in and out of memory and time, creating an engrossing supernatural narrative.

Rating: 71%

‘Amnesty’ by Aravind Adiga

Danny (Dhananjaya Rajaratnam) is illegal. Having arrived in Australia from Sri Lanka on an education visa, he’s ducked out, gone underground and now hiding in plain sight in Sydney as a freelance cleaner. Life looks good with his regular clients paying him cash, he spends time with Sonja, his Vietnamese vegan girlfriend – and he’s even splashed out for blonde highlights. But, in the course of just 24 hours everything crashes around him when he recognises a murder victim as one of his clients.

Faced with a moral conundrum, Danny wrestles with inaction as he recalls time spent with Radha, the murder victim, and Prakash, her lover and ensconced in an apartment owned by her husband. Danny cleans both apartments. Both are gambling addicts and the two adopt Danny as a kind of non-participating companion on their Pokie-playing trips. But then Radha’s dead body is discovered – with Danny recognising the jacket in which the body is wrapped as belonging to Prakash. So now Danny must decide: come forward and risk being discovered as an illegal and deported – or keep quiet and risk Prakash getting away with it.

But even if the police believed you, and phoned [Prakash], he would guess at once you were the one who dobbed him in,
and in return, he would dob you in as an illegal. He would call the immigration dob-in number bout the Legendary Cleaner who was illegal, give his name, and what he looked like, and where he lived, because the dead woman had told him everything

Over the course of this single day, Danny’s routine is shot as he assesses and evaluates his life past, present and future: his dreams, his feelings for Sonja, the discombobulation of undocumented illegality of life in inner-suburban Sydney. But, most of all, he reflects on Radha and Prakash, whose very apartment is scheduled to be cleaned. As a non-resident does he, Dhananjaya Rajaratnam, a person without rights, still have responsibilities? It’s this dilemma that provides the scaffolding of Aravind Adiga’s third novel.

The strength of Amnesty is not the storyline which evolves into melodrama with text messages from Prakash himself adding to Danny’s fears and confusion. What separates Adiga’s novel from the spate of contemporary inner-city Sydney angst novels is his explorations of legal and illegal immigration and the fundamentals of Australian racism in spite of its proud boast of cultural diversity and heritage.

Easiest thing in the world, becoming invisible to white people, who don’t see you anyway; but the hardest thing is becoming invisible to brown people, who will see you no matter whatan archipelago of illegals, each isolated from each other and kept weak, and fearful, by this isolation.


Any synopsis of Volver creates the vision of a melodramatic multi-seasoned telenovela as Almodóvar’s interwoven fantasy with reality tale of mothers and daughters unfolds.

Having lost her mother in a fire years earlier, Raimunda (Penelope Cruz – Vanilla Sky, Parallel Mothers) is concerned about the mental state of Tía Paula, the aunt who raised her. Having recently visited her home village, it’s there Tía Paula claimed Irene (Carmen Maura – Oh Carmela! Cuernavaca), Raimunda’s dead mother, is living with her. But all is forgotten a few days later when daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo – Vidas pequeñas, 75 días) confesses she has murdered her unemployed father Paco, who tried to rape her whilst drunk.

That’s the first 20 or so minutes accounted for! In a true-to-form Almodóvar (Parallel Mothers, Talk to Her), Volver is a melodramatic comedic delight as superstitions, gossip, ghosts and murder seemingly conspire against Raimunda to make a success of a simple life as she hides a dead body and defrauds her neighbour’s restaurant business. With a lightness of touch and perfect timing (particularly from Cruz), Volver may push the boundaries of believability but it has a charm all of its own.

Nominated for best actress Oscar in 2007.

Rating: 73%


Raw and honest yet suffused with humour, Still is a moving portrayal of actor Michael J. Fox’s personal battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Diagnosed with the incurable ‘old person’s disease’ at the height of his fame and months shy of his 30th birthday, Michael J. Fox went public a decade later in 2000 and, in founding the Michael J. Fox Foundation, has raised more than $2 billion for research. But Still, as directed by Davis Guggenheim (He Named Me Malala, Waiting For Superman) is the story of the more personal battle as Fox, along with wife Tracy Pollan and their (now adult) kids, come to terms with the progressively debilitating effects of the disease.

The charm of Still is Fox himself. He matter-of-fact talks of pain management and the black eyes and broken limbs during the making of the documentary, the result of falling over in domestic places such as the kitchen. Through interviews and the interweaving of archival footage from early television and film hits with playing more recent television characters openly suffering from Parkinson’s, Still creates an unexpectedly warm tale of a quite and quietly extraordinary person.

Rating: 74%

‘Gosford Park’

An English country manor with the interwoven comings and goings of the upstairs gentry and downstairs staff. Sound familiar? An earlier (2001) script by a decade from Julian Fellowes predates the behemoth that was to become Downton Abbey.

Only there’s few of the niceties of the later series evident in Robert Altman’s (Nashville, M*A*S*H) delight of a feature. It’s a strained shooting weekend upstairs that’s reflected downstairs as the emnity between imperious housekeeper Mrs Wilson (Helen Mirren – The Queen, Hitchcock) and cook Mrs Croft (Eileen Atkins – Cold Mountain, TV’s Doc Martin) adds to the atmosphere. It’s all somewhat tense at Gosford Park. And to make matters worse, half way through the film, someone bumps off the wealthy, irascible host, William McCordle (Michael Gambon – Harry Potter, Judy).

Guests and staff come under suspicion. What had started as a series of related and unrelated storylines lay the foundation for a whodunnit as the earlier desperate financial manouverings of at least three of the family members come under scrutiny. But things are never that simple or that obvious.

It being an Altman film, the cast reads like a who’s who virtuoso ensemble piece with a sublime script from Fellowes that expertly provides drama, pathos, comedy and social commentary in its 137 minute running time.

Nominated for 7 Oscars in 2002 including best film, director, supporting actress (Helen Mirren), supporting actress (Maggie Smith), art direction – won 1 for original script.

Rating: 80%