Movie Review – Downsizing

By no means a small feat.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Josip Knezevic 

Downsizing is one of those films that’s built on a strong premise, but fails to live up to its full potential. While its overall narrative falls short, it’s still an enjoyable watch thanks to the fascinating world created by writer/director Alexander Payne (Nebraska).

The issue of overpopulation has rarely been committed to film, which in itself makes Downsizing refreshing to watch, but even better is Payne’s proposed solution to this problem, being to shrink a chunk of society to a height of five inches.

Much like how Zootopia looks into animals co-existing in a human environment, Downsizing explores how normal sized humans would live alongside those of tiny stature, and this is where Payne’s film excels. He adapts our world to accommodate for the minuscule, with small compartments on trains designed specifically for those only five inches tall, and looks at the divides that could arise between these two factions. Hot topics include whether the small should be allowed voting rights, tax exclusions and income changes, and while I would have enjoyed more insight into these hypothetical issues, I appreciate that Downsizing isn’t really about the rights of the little people.

At the end of the day, it’s about Paul Safranek (Matt Damon); a small man looking to find himself in a world that’s too big for him. In focusing on Paul’s plight rather than the challenges of a society segregated by size, Downsizing has copped a bit of criticism, but with such a great concept in play, it’s difficult for any protagonist to be equally engaging. In a way, Payne’s creativity is his own downfall; his premise outshines his story and its characters.

Having said that, I was still able to empathise with Paul and the person he became throughout the process of being shrunk. He’s also surrounded by strong supporting characters, with Christoph Waltz offering a lot of fun as his loud and crazy neighbour.

While polarising, I think the positives outweigh the negatives in Downsizing. It’s no Academy Award winner, but by golly is it fun to watch. Go see it.

Downsizing is available in Australian cinemas from Boxing Day 

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

 

 

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Movie Review – Pitch Perfect 3

The Pitch Perfect series goes out on a bum note in this staggeringly dumb threequel.

 

⭐ ⭐
Rhys Graeme-Drury

After the second film surpassed School of Rock as the highest-grossing music comedy of all-time in 2015, it became all but assured that the Barden Bellas would take to the stage for a third time. Pitch Perfect 3, which is billed as the final film in the series, is something of a victory lap for Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld and the rest of the crew. Congratulatory and coasting along, this farewell fails to live up to its predecessors by stretching its premise a little too far.

The hoops the film has to jump through to put the Bellas back on stage is where things start to get a little shaky. We’re just supposed to brush it off and enjoy that they’re back, not ask boring questions about how the plot actually works. Thanks to some iffy explanation, the Bellas jet across to Europe on some kind of audition tour for guest star DJ Khaled, who plays himself (pun intended). Supposedly they’ll score an opening slot on his tour if they impress DJ Khaled – or something. It’s not hugely important.

Pitch Perfect 3 shines when it sticks to what it does best; a capella. The music, which includes renditions of Britney Spears’ Toxic, DNCE’s Cake By The Ocean and Sia’s Cheap Thrills, is polished and enjoyable, however, the soundtrack doesn’t sport a knock-out track akin to ‘Cups’ or ‘Flashlight’ from the first two entries.

Conversely, the romantic subplots fail to hit the right notes; with their former love interests ditched, Kendrick and Snow are paired off with new vanilla hunks. Rather than focusing purely on the music, screenwriters Kay Cannon and Mike White tack on a ridiculous aside that sees Wilson reunited with her international arms dealer father (John Lithgow, sporting one of the worst Australian accents committed to film). Their rocky relationship hits a speed bump towards the final act, where it is revealed Lithgow is actually after Fat Amy’s secret Cayman Islands fortune, so he kidnaps the Bellas and holds them hostage aboard his yacht on the French Riviera (no, I am not making this up). It’s like a Comedy Central crossover spoof, and not in a good way.

Not lacking in energy, Pitch Perfect 3 unfortunately can’t translate its earnestness into anything that feels harmonious with the first two. The lazy screenplay isn’t enough to sustain the film, especially during the sillier subplots. The finale is suitably heartfelt for fans – you just have to wade through lots of dumb stuff to get there.

Pitch Perfect 3 is available in Australian cinemas from January 1

Image (c) Universal Pictures 2018 

Movie Review – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri offers a strong start to 2018, combining wit and sensitivity in a gritty story about one woman’s mission to find her daughter’s killer.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Elle Cahill

What would you do if seven months have passed since your daughter was raped and murdered, but the police have all but given up on finding the culprit? You rent three billboards and put up inciting messages, of course.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an explosive first offering to 2018 about one mother’s determination to bring justice to her daughter’s killer. Frances McDormand completely owns this film as the no-nonsense mother Mildred Hayes, who begins to act recklessly in order to remind the town that her daughter’s case is still unsolved. McDormand’s talent lies not only in her ability to deliver her foul-mouthed, dry-witted tirades, but also in her ability to portray a complicated woman who has deep regrets, and for the first time is at a loss as to how to fix her situation. Her acknowledgement that she and her family aren’t invincible is the most tragic, and her use of wit to mask her awful situation reminds us that often not everything is as it seems on the surface.

Woody Harrelson plays Police Chief Bill Willoughby, who Mildred personally calls out in her billboards, and despite being embarrassed by her accusations, Sheriff Willoughby is sympathetic and humbled, perhaps because he understands what’s it like to realise your own morality. But its Sam Rockwell’s performance as the deeply disturbed Deputy Dixon that stays with you. In these tumultuous times in America, where the people who are supposed to be protecting the public are instead being put under a microscope for being inherently racist and trigger-happy, Deputy Dixon is the embodiment of this current societal issue. He’s a drunk racist, blinded by his own authority and his belief that his actions don’t have consequences.

The only let down of this film is that it could afford to be half an hour shorter. There are moments when it takes unnecessary pauses, maybe to provide a moment of reflection, which completely slows down the pace of the film. The struggle to then get it back on track takes up time that could have been used to hone the film’s overall impact instead.

Surrounded by such a strong cast, Abbie Cornish seems out of place as Sheriff Willoughby’s wife. She looks too young to be married to Woody Harrelson and be the mother of two pre-teen daughters. Her accent is also a sore point, often flickering between the Missouri drawl and her natural Australian tone.

Director and writer Martin McDonagh has delivered a deeply human telling of the parent-revenge story that’s relatable and grounded. Unlike the absurdity of recent parent-revenge films such as the Taken franchise or The Foreigner, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri wrenches at the soul as the story unfolds slowly and painfully. Each character is horrifically flawed, which makes them somewhat refreshing and extremely vulnerable. Ultimately, the film asks what would you do if you were in Mildred’s position, and how far would you go to make people listen to you?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is available in Australian cinemas from January 4 

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox 

Movie Review – Just To Be Sure

In a classic comedy of errors, this little French film proves that a great cast and a well-written story is all you really need to make an enjoyable movie.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

A trip to the obstetrician with his pregnant daughter leads Erwan (François Damiens) to discover he is not related to the man he believed to be his father, and so he sets out to find his real biological parent. His need to prove a point to his pregnant daughter Juliette (Alice de Lencquesaing) – who refuses to find the father of her unborn child – drives him to establish a connection with Joseph (André Wilms), a man who knew his now-deceased mother, and who Erwan believes must be his real father. Drama ensues when Joseph realises the woman he is falling for is Joseph’s daughter, and thereby potentially his half-sister. Erwan is left to try and navigate the various lies and half-truths he’s told as he tries to determine whether this man is in fact his father or not…

Despite its seemingly complicated plot, Just To Be Sure (Ôtez-moi D’un Doute) is a genuinely funny, tongue-in-cheek comedy of errors that has an uncanny ability to be hilarious, yet deeply moving at the same time. There are no frills in this film, other than a carefully constructed story that is carried beautifully by its cast.

Damiens plays Erwan with an intensity that rapidly turns to softness when he’s in the presence of love interest Anna (Cécile de France), and his need to connect with his biological father is so earnest that you can’t help but root for him.

Both de France and de Lencquesaing steal the show as Anna and Juliette respectively, especially the former, who is an absolute powerhouse. She gives Anna a quiet strength that plays wonderfully off Erwan’s faltering façade of strength, and her quick-wit provides a lot of relief that keeps Erwan on his toes. Despite Erwan struggling to see Juliette as more than the little girl he raised, she is the true hero in this story as she cuts through the bullshit and lays everything on the table so that the family can heal and move forward.

Just To Be Sure is purely an exploration of ordinary characters operating in extraordinary circumstances. All members of the cast put in strong performances, and while the filmmaking is simple and straightforward, anything more would serve as a distraction to the story being told. It is frank and unapologetic, and its careful balance of humour makes it a really smart little film that left me in fits of laughter.

Just To Be Sure is available in Australian cinemas from December 26 

Image courtesy of Palace Films

Movie Review – All The Money In The World

Ridley Scott’s first feature since Alien: Covenant is a confident reminder that the filmmaker can do a lot more than science-fiction.

 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan

All the Money in the World speaks a universal truth; that all the money in the world cannot, and will not, buy you love. It could buy you happiness, sure. Build several mansions and fill them with whatever your heart desires. Even Ebenezer Scrooge would invert his scowl. But love, that requires work, and according to All the Money in the World, Jean Paul Getty just didn’t have the time.

Getty is played by Christopher Plummer, who had to replace Kevin Spacey less than a month before the movie’s release, but it looks like the role was always meant to be his. Plummer, who was 87 when he was dragged onto set, can surely endorse the fountain of youth. His scenes were reshot in nine days, and he is so comfortable playing a miserly billionaire you’d expect him to have been one his whole life.

The film follows Getty as he tries (or doesn’t try) to negotiate the $17 million ransom for his grandson’s life. Abducted by members of ‘Ndrangheta in 1973, John Getty III (Charlie Plummer) was a boy lost among monsters. The experience traumatised him so badly he became addicted to drugs and alcohol and eventually died in 2011 from complications of both. Getty could’ve easily paid up and saved his grandson’s life if he hadn’t valued things more than family.

All the Money is about that divide between what is valuable to someone and inconsequential to someone else. John Getty III’s mother, Gail (Michelle Williams), is expectedly frantic, and some of the film’s best scenes are about Gail’s futile battles with Getty and his mob of attorneys. It’s hard to imagine someone being so nonchalant about their family’s wellbeing, and yet some of the arguments Getty makes seem to be sensible. “I have fourteen grandchildren”, he explains, “If I paid the ransom I’d soon have to pay thirteen others”.

All the Money in the World is directed by Ridley Scott, whose films tend to be hit-or-miss when they’re not science-fiction. This is much better than some of his grounded dramas (2013’s The Counsellor was particularly horrendous) perhaps because it’s about real people, real emergencies and real selfishness. It demonstrates precisely what money can and cannot do. I thought the writers had taken liberties with Getty’s meticulous accounting, but then I did some reading after the film, and to my surprise, they’re not far off at all. My goodness.

All The Money In The World is available in Australian cinemas from January 4

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 

Best Films of 2017

Let’s kick off 2018 on a high! After squabbling over which films were the most terrible of all, the HOF team has now come together to select the most outstanding films of last year. Here’s our top picks!

10. Call Me By Your Name

“Let it be known that there is happiness in this movie, and love, and the way they are shared makes this not only one of the greatest love stories about two men, but one of the greatest love stories, period” — Zachary Cruz-Tan

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Call Me By Your Name December 2017



9. Baby Driver 

“Baby Driver is a slam-bam roller-coaster ride filled with pop tunes, screeching tyres, machine guns and, of course, lots of kisses. This is a crazy, thoroughly enjoyable movie by a director who’s in full command of his craft and totally revelling in it” — Zachary Cruz-Tan

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07 July - Baby Driver


8. Silence

“Yes, Silence may be too long for many viewers and not gory enough for Scorsese’s diehard fanatics, but it enters a place few of his films do: the soul. And with any good movie, it’s not always about what you see on screen, but about the discussions you have with yourself as you leave the cinema” — Zachary Cruz-Tan

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7. mother!

“What the fuck?!” is something you’ll no doubt be exclaiming, or at least thinking a number of times throughout Darren Aronofsky’s mother! That’s right, the master of stressfully intense character dramas is back, and well and truly on form again after the disappointment of Noah” — Corey Hogan

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September 2017 Mother_00000


6. Wind River

“It’s best to enter Wind River with as little knowledge of what’s going to unravel as possible. It’s a slow burner, big on suspense and utterly eruptive when it does reach the boiling point at its conclusion” — Corey Hogan

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08 August 2017 - Wind River



5. Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is the kind of film you can write entire theses about; it’s that big. One viewing just doesn’t feel adequate to understand its complexities; there’s too much information demanding to be absorbed. It’s a miracle, really, but Villeneuve has delivered the best film we could have hoped for” — Michael Philp

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10 October 2017 - Blade Runner 2049



4. Dunkirk

“Nolan’s slavish pursuit of authenticity in Dunkirk is just one in long list of commendable aspects. It is undoubtedly his most haunting and his most visceral, and you owe it to yourself to seek out the largest screen possible to soak it in” — Rhys Graeme-Drury

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07 July 2017 - Dunkirk



3. Get Out 

“Even when it dips into other territory, like biting black comedy or Hitchcockian suspense, it stays true to its central idea and executes it with aplomb. I honestly can’t praise this film enough; it’s meticulous and meaningful and feels watertight” — Rhys Graeme-Drury

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05 May - Get Out


2. Moonlight 

“A film of true beauty is what best defines Moonlight. It’s a visual beauty to behold… even more beautiful is the acting; it’s impossible to single out one incarnation of Chiron as all three make the man, each forming a personal part of a massively complex and thought-out character” — Corey Hogan

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03-march-moonlight-oscars-recap



1. The Disaster Artist

“The best thing about The Disaster Artist wasn’t that it’s hilarious and ingeniously referential – which, of course, it is – it’s that the film melds elements of parody perfectly with shades of sincerity, in the process forming a well-rounded package that is captivating, strange, emotional and uplifting, sometimes all in the same scene,” — Rhys Graeme-Drury

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Images courtesy of Sony Pictures, Transmission Films, Paramount Pictures, Icon Film Distribution, Roadshow Films and Universal Pictures 

Worst Films of 2017

The votes are in! The HOF writers have each had their say on the most horrendous films of 2017 and here’s the results:

10. Ghost In The Shell 

“I wish I could say that Hollywood has done justice to the original anime series of Ghost in the Shell, but if I could describe the motion picture version in one word, it would be lacklustre” — Josip Knezevic

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04 April - Ghost in the Shell



9. Kong: Skull Island 

“If its marketing campaign is anything to go by, it should be a wild, thoroughly satisfying ride. But let me just say – it’s really, really not. This is a dumb old movie, quite possibly the Jurassic World of 2017″ — Zachary Cruz-Tan

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03 March - Kong Skull Island



8. Power Rangers

“None of the characters are as charismatic or charming as our beloved Marvel superheroes. Instead, we’re given a team of Power Rangers who are generic, unfunny, confusing and just downright annoying” — Josip Knezevic

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03 March - Power Rangers



7. Baywatch 

Let me say this straight up; Baywatch is not a good movie in any quantifiable sense. It’s really dumb, aggressively stupid and a blatant attempt to cash-in on the same vein of ‘90s nostalgia that prompted Hollywood to think a gritty reboot of Power Rangers was a good idea” — Rhys Graeme-Drury

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05 May - Baywatch



6. CHIPS

“I want you to close your eyes and picture the least funny film you can imagine, where each scene is a joyless, jumbled mess of disjointed editing, harried plot details and distasteful, putrid humour. That movie you’re picturing in your head doesn’t even come close to how offensively bad Chips is” — Rhys Graeme-Drury

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04 April - CHIPS



5. The Snowman

The Snowman is undeniably gory and macabre, with limbs and decapitations left, right and centre. What it clearly lacks is polish, with the cinematography feeling flat and pallid, the editing disjointed and the overall execution sorely lacking across the board” — Rhys Graeme-Drury

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10 October 2017 - Snowman



4. Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed is too grim and violent for kids, and too ragingly dumb for adults. And for a summer blockbuster based on a video game, it’s amazingly joyless in both content and execution” — Charlie Lewis

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assassins-creed



3. The Mummy

The Mummy is one of the worst movies of the year. It is a colossal miscalculation; a foolhardy idea that somehow degenerates down the evolution ladder till it resembles a pile of gooey protoplasm no living being would dare go near” — Zachary Cruz-Tan

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05 June - Mummy


2. Collateral Beauty

“Collateral Beauty is such a tortured soul. It’s a movie that desperately tries to mean well, despite having the most pea-brained premise I’ve ever come across. This is an unintentionally hilarious movie about serious issues, with a closing scene that’s nothing short of infuriating” — Zachary Cruz-Tan

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1. The Emoji Movie

“It’s time to confirm what you knew was inevitable from the moment it was announced – The Emoji Movie is bad. Sony Pictures has hit a new low with a truly shameless consumerist brainwashing disguised as a children’s film. It could very possibly be the worst widely released animated film of all time” — Corey Hogan

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09 September 2017 - Emoji

Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures, Roadshow Films, Universal Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Pictures 

Unusual Christmas Films

‘Tis the season of busy queues, deadlock traffic and awkward family gatherings! But amongst all the red and green noise comes the return of everyone’s favourite thing. No, not Michael Bublé.  I’m talking about Christmas movies.

Josip Knezevic 

While many have grown to love the popular hits, let’s delve into the films that often get overlooked this time of year. Even though they might not exactly be about Christmas, they’re sure to get you into the holiday mood… or sometimes, scare you into it…

The Dead Zone (1983)

I wasn’t kidding when I said these films might scare you. Much like fellow, unintentional Christmas movie Die Hard, The Dead Zone is set during the Christmas holidays, and it also deserves to be put in the spotlight. Following a tragic accident, high school teacher Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) awakens from a coma to discover he can foresee future events, most of which relate to death. Soon, he comes across a difficult choice, sort of like if you had the knowledge of Hitler’s atrocities before he was elected… what would you do…?

It’s one of many rich and suspenseful plot points that David Cronenberg faithfully brings to life from Stephen King’s masterpiece novel, and thanks to Walken’s lead performance, it might just leave a lasting impression on you. Check it out!

Christmas Movies The Dead Zone Christmas 2017


Lethal Weapon (1987)

It’s hard to tell that this buddy cop classic is set during Christmas, mainly because it’s Los Angeles location lends it to zero snow, but also because it’s about investigating a homicide with ties to drugs, prostitution and pornography… Ho ho ho?

Nevertheless, throughout the chaos there’s many seasonal gems hidden in the background. Call it subliminal messaging if you will, but if you pay attention you should notice things like a Bugs Bunny holiday special on TV while Riggs (Mel Gibson) contemplates killing himself. Plus, there’s the more obvious Christmas celebration at the home of his new partner, Murtaugh (Danny Glover). It’s moments like these that justify Lethal Weapon’s presence on this list, because at the end of the day, this film is all about family and giving.

Christmas Movies Lethal Weapon December 2017


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Robert Downey Jr features here in one of his most underappreciated roles as a quirky thief masquerading as an actor to solve a murder mystery. Once again, it’s not really about Christmas, but thanks to Shane Black’s irreverent style of comedy, there’s enough jokes related to the timing of these murder’s taking place during the Christmas holidays that make it a hilarious and festive watch.

Instead of exploring family and giving to others, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang focuses more on the absolute madness of this time of year. It’s probably not one for the kids, it can get a little bit raunchy and it is a murder mystery after all.

Christmas Movies Kiss Kiss Bang Bang December 2017


Images courtesy of Infogrames Asia Pacific/Hoyts Distribution, Warner Bros. and Roadshow Films 

Movie Review – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

With a top notch cast as well as lots of fun and games, the new Jumanji film has everything you need this summer holidays.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Rhys Graeme-Drury

Move over 80s nostalgia; now it’s time for the 90s to get in on the action. And what better way to evoke the feeling of the 90s than with a sequel to a Robin Williams classic?

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle swaps the spooky board game for a dusty videogame cartridge, and sees a quartet of youths transported from high school detention to the sweaty jungles of Jumanji, with each inhabiting the body of the playable character of their choosing.

Nerdy gamer Spencer (Alex Wolff) becomes the muscly Dr Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson); resident jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) becomes pint-sized zoologist Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart); shy bookworm Martha (Morgan Turner) transforms into karate commando Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan); and snobbish cheerleader Bethany (Madison Iseman) is lumped with rotund cartographer Shelley Oberon (Jack Black). Their only hope of escaping the game is to return a magical jewel to its resting place atop a towering jaguar mountain, working together to evade the clutches of the evil Hardin (Bobby Cannavale).

Although reviving such a beloved family film at first seems like heresy, this sequel is actually well worth your time. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that its entertainment value came as a very welcome surprise. Fun, brash and inventive, Welcome to the Jungle is way better than it has any right to be, and a lot of this value can be attributed to its stellar casting.

Watching the core cast play against type is great fun – whether it’s Johnson willing himself not to cry, or Hart acting tough whilst wearing a bucket hat and carting around a huge backpack. Superficial and obsessed with Snapchat, Black, in particular, steals the show; dealt a character that could’ve gone either way, he makes pretty much every gag land.

Much like its forebear, Welcome to the Jungle is playing to the family crowd. There is a lot of humour in here that appeals to teens and young adults as much as it does it kids, which will be music to the ears of parents who are starved for  ideas during the upcoming summer holidays. Even though it might be a tad scary for really small sprogs, the videogame tropes and the Breakfast Club-esque first act will be the perfect two-hour distraction for those who have grown up with the GameCube.

It’s a little shaggy, and the final act could’ve done with a trim, but you’ll regularly find yourself laughing aloud or staring in disbelief at the silliness up on the screen during Welcome to the Jungle. In a year dominated by remakes and reboots that do the bare minimum (we’re looking at you, The Mummy), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a surprising breath of fresh air that leans on a familiar conceit and does something different with it. The cast goes off like a house on fire and the clever integration of videogame motifs lends the film a new angle for a new generation of kids.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is available in Australian cinemas from Boxing Day 

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

High Concept Films

Josip Knezevic 

Consider this: to help reduce overpopulation, you’re given the option to shrink yourself to five inches tall and join others like you. In return, you’ll live in a miniature society that can accommodate your every want and need… would you take the plunge?

This is the premise for upcoming Boxing Day film Downsizing starring Matt Damon, and it makes me wonder; what other obscure film concepts are out there for us to consume? Here’s a list of high concept films for your to contemplate and enjoy.

The Lobster (2015)

For anyone who’s single right now, this might not be the film for you… unless you’re really into animals. In the world of The Lobster, if you’re not married or in a committed relationship, then you’ve got 45 days to find a faithful partner who loves you completely, otherwise you’ll be turned into an animal. But hey, at least you get to choose what you turn into.

It’s a disturbing yet incredibly well-written film from the mind of Yorgos Lanthimos who also brought us this year’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Featuring a powerful lead performance from Colin Farrell, The Lobster is a film that takes a unique concept and extrapolates a range of horrifying outcomes, but by golly is it ever interesting to watch.

But ending up an animal wouldn’t be so bad… would it?

High Concept The Lobster December 2017


Circle (2015)

Let’s move to something simpler.

Here’s how things go down in Circle: you wake up in a room with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, and every few minutes someone dies. Now, what do you do…?

Circle comes from the minds of Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione, who terrorise 50 strangers for 90 minutes. Watching a whole film play out in a single room never becomes dull, thanks to the interactions between the 50 different characters. Think 12 Angry Men, but on a much larger scale.

While never boring, Circle is not without its flaws. Given its small budget, some of the performances are a little lacking, and the overall concept does have some plot holes, but if you’re open to an above average B-movie, look no further. It’s still better than a lot of the fodder Hollywood is churning out these days.

High Concept Circle December 2017


The Matrix (1999)

You can’t talk about high concept films without mentioning The Matrix. While it’s probably the most well-known film on the list, let’s dive in anyway.

What if I told you everything about your life is a lie? Your friends, family and all your memories are a complete lie. A computer coded lie – to be exact, because you’re in the matrix: a highly sophisticated, simulation model that uses individuals as fuel sources for a race of machines that have enslaved most of humanity. Shit just went to 100 real quick.

The Matrix is the Wachowski brother’s masterpiece and it changed the game of cinema. From extreme slow motion action scenes, to sci-fi dystopian concepts that have been replicated and referenced in countless films to date, The Matrix is an absolute watch for anyone.

high Concept The Matrix December 2017


The Truman Show (1998)

Speaking of game changing films, The Truman Show revolutionised TV through its scarily accurate prediction of the future. If you hate the reality show Big Brother, you have this film to thank for its conception.

Imagine waking up, having breakfast, going to work, enjoying your hobbies in the evening, then capping it off with a late-night movie before sleep. Basically, living a normal life, right? Except, throw in a thousand different cameras watching your every movement on a 24/7 live broadcast to the entire world.

Andrew Niccol’s genius (that is, before he made horrible pieces of crap like The Host and In Time), takes you into a world that’s filled with a cast of extras pretending to be everyday people you know and love, while everything built around you is a fabricated lie.

Although it contains similar themes to The Matrix, The Truman Show is far more light-hearted, offering Jim Carey a great opportunity to showcase his brand of humour. It’s far better than any Big Brother episode. Check it out if you haven’t already.

High Concept The Truman Show December 2017


Exam (2009)

Exam may be the silliest film on this list.

You’ve been selected to attend a job interview for a powerful company. You enter a room with five others and sit down at a table with only a blank piece of paper and pen. An instructor comes in and says there’s only one question to answer. You must only write on your piece of paper and you mustn’t ruin it in any way by tearing it to pieces or folding. Any questions?

And that’s it. That’s how simple Exam is, but it leaves the characters wondering… what are they supposed to write? Was there something they missed? There’s five other people in the same boat as them, but how far will they go to figure it out before the others do? This is where Exam shines; it relies heavily on the dialogue between this small group of characters. It’s a far from perfect, low-budget movie, and the ending may leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth, but it’s definitely worth seeing and talking about.

High Concept Exam December 2017


Enemy (2013)

Last, but not least, from the mind of the man who brought us Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, comes Enemy. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Jake Gyllenhaal in yet another fantastic performance, Enemy follows a man who discovers his doppelganger while watching a movie. Overcome with curiosity, he begins to follow his lookalike, only to find out more about himself than he ever bargained for.

Without giving too much away, this thought-provoking, psychological thriller takes the basic concept of a doppelganger and turns it into something so much more. You’ll probably need to view it a couple of times to get your head around it, as it’s one of those films that will leave you questioning its meaning at every turn.

High Concept Enemy December 2017


Images courtesy of Sony Pictures, Netflix Inc., Roadshow Films, United International Pictures/Paramount Home Entertainment, 21st Century Pictures and Madman Entertainment.