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Anyone who watches this incredible film will probably have a hard time believing star Ben Affleck also directed it.
It’s such a well-produced, intense and polished film, and though I loved The Town and his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, I was floored by this Best Picture winner.
Affleck also stars as an agent pretending to be a Hollywood producer location scouting for a sci-fi film. His actual purpose? To rescue six Americans in Tehran during the hostage crisis of 1979 in Iran.
The make-up, look and feel are all top-notch, as is the pacing. Affleck himself gives a tonally perfect performance and loads his film with stars Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin.
It is a masterwork, and it’s impossible to just see Affleck as the guy from silly fare like Armageddon after witnessing his work here.
Strange But True
This Canadian film is eight shades of absolutely weird, but Rowan Athale brings a depth to the film that grounds it.
The story of a woman who visits her deceased boyfriend’s family five years following his death claiming to be carrying his child is a heartwrencher.
We stumble through this impeccably-built screenplay along with the characters, and that’s half the fun.
Nick Robinson, of Love, Simon fame, is fantastic here, and shows a nice dramatic range. Margaret Qualley is amazing as the ex-girlfriend. Parents to deceased son Ronnie – played in flashbacks by Canadian heartthrob Connor Jessup – are Greg Kinnear and Amy Ryan, who are both stellar.
But it’s Brian Cox and Blythe Danner who stun as the elderly couple who bring pregnant Melissa into their home when her parents ditch her.
This will go unexpected places. Strap in for the ride.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Feeling tired of staples Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story?
Maybe you just need something modern to liven your traditions up. Look absolutely no further than Jingle Jangle.
It is a beautiful musical Christmas extravaganza, with an incredible soundtrack, delightful stars and a sense of wonderment I’ve not seen in years.
The story of toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, who has his inventions stolen by a protégé, is just absolutely gorgeous. Years go by and Jeronicus has lost hope for a new invention, until his granddaughter comes into his life to show him some Christmas spirit.
Produced by John Legend, this film is a toe-tapping delight, and is so on-point. Writer-director David E. Talbert has put together a sensational film.
With fun performances from Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Madalen Mills and Phylicia Rashad, this is unforgettable.
I Am Woman
This story about feminist icon and unbelievable artist Helen Reddy really, truly surprised me.
It charts her rise to fame, as well as her subsequent issues as she tries to hold onto her happiness.
Director Unjoo Moon, despite keeping the biopic pretty by-the-numbers, does manage to infuse some nice style and wit here.
The lead performance from Tilda Cobham-Hervey is flawless, and she brings strength to her character. She is truly a huge credit to the film.
It was nice to see Evan Peters get a meaty supporting turn as her manager and husband, the wormy Jeff Wald.
It was a great 1970s-set film and an Australian triumph that deserves an audience.
I’m going to get all kinds of hate for this – but I absolutely love Peter Jackson’s version of King Kong.
Overlong and overstuffed at three hours, it’s still a magnificent, beautiful film that has endured in my mind for 15 years.
When a greedy film producer brings filmmakers to Skull Island to shoot camera roll of natives, they stumble upon the huge ape Kong.
From there, it’s an absolute gongshow, and I love a film that mixes insanity and grounded performances.
The entire cast is lovely, from Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody to an uncharacteristically fantastic more dramatic turn from Jack Black. Andy Serkis’ work as Kong is beautiful.
It’s a bit much to handle and it’s a huge endeavour, but this is a film with a lot of gorgeous things going for it.
Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows.