Robert Mammone

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Mystery Road Review


Good

This tightly wound drama evokes a strikingly inventive sense of the Wild West in the Australian Outback. Since filmmaker Ivan Sen refuses to crank up even a hint of suspense, he cleverly subverts the usual cliches, refusing to indulge in action-movie exaggeration. But this leaves the film feeling very sleepy, depending on audiences to connect with the central character's internal voyage rather than anything that happens on-screen.

The focus is on Jay (Aaron Pederson), a beefy police detective who moves back home to rural Queensland after several years as a cop in the big city. He's a local boy in this dusty Outback town, but now he's also considered an outsider. His first case involves the murder of a young Aboriginal girl who seems to have been part of a drugs and prostitution ring. This sparks an extra level of concern for Jay because his estranged teen daughter knew the victim. And as Jay digs into the case, he begins to understand that there's a dark criminal element woven right into the fabric of the community. It's so endemic that the last policeman who tried to investigate it turned up dead.

This is an exploration of the dark layers of bigotry and evil that worm their way into any group of people, often far beneath the seemingly peaceful surface. Intriguingly, the film isn't actually about the murder; it's about Jay's journey to discover his own personal history, how his past connects with a present he can barely bring himself to imagine. Pederson is a magnetic presence at the centre of the story as a man dealing with rather a lot of abuse while trying to help solve a nasty situation and understand his own place in this world. Around him the supporting cast add colour to each scene, with notable contributions from the superb Hugo Weaving, Aussie veteran Jack Thompson and True Blood's Ryan Kwanten.

Continue reading: Mystery Road Review

The Water Diviner - Featurette


Russell Crowe talks in depth about his brand new war drama 'The Water Diviner' in a featurette which also features interviews with other cast members such as Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney and Yilmaz Erdogan. The movie is about a man who travels from Australia to Turkey four years after the Battle of Gallipoli to find the graves of his three sons, but along the way makes a heartwarming discovery. It is Crowe's directorial debut and it has been written by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios.

Continue: The Water Diviner - Featurette

The Condemned Review


OK
When a movie features superstar wrestlers in leading roles, usually it's a glaring signal to drop everything and run from the multiplex. The Condemned is an exception to that rule; it has more merit than all of the previous WWE films combined... but when we're talking about The Scorpion King and See No Evil, that's not saying much.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin stars as Jack Conrad, an American on death row for murder in El Salvador. Without notice, he's flown to Papua New Guinea and dropped on a remote island along with nine other condemned prisoners. They're each wearing an explosive device on their ankles. If they tamper with it or pull the attached red tab, it will explode.

Continue reading: The Condemned Review

Heaven's Burning Review


Weak
What's that smell? It's heaven burning, and though Russell Crowe's ga-ga fan base will eat up his half love/half bloody revenge story, casual viewers will come away perplexed. Crowe and co-star Youki Kudoh are good enough here (she's a newlywed who's run away from her husband in a strange country, he's a getaway driver in a bank heist, you do the math), but this story plays out like the usual chase movie we've seen a zillion times before. Still, it's tragic... imagine if Thelma and Louise were lesbians.
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