MONKEY MAN – Review by Susan Granger

Dev Patel makes his writing/directing/producing debut with Monkey Man, a grim action-packed revenge thriller set in the squalid (fictional) city of Yatana in India. Patel plays an unnamed Kid who grew up in the forest with Neela (Adithi Kalkunte), his hard-working single mom who kept him enthralled with Hindu stories from the Ramayama revolving around about the mythological monkey deity known as Lord Hanuman. Awkwardly scripted as an underdog story with nods to the obvious influence of the Bruce Lee/John Wick genres, it’s filled with so many graphic close-ups that narrative/political coherence is often discarded, despite energetic cinematographer Sharone Meir and rapid-fire editors David Janesso & Tim Murrell.

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MONKEY MAN – Review by T.J. Callahan

Monkey Man is an animal picture of a different kind. Dev Patel directs and stars in this dark and dingy, seedy and scheming, bloody and bombastic, knockdown, drag out fight fest filled with cultural and political undertones. Patel is Kid, a slumdog who’s out to infiltrate the millionaires of a make believe Mumbai to achieve revenge for family and his fellow CASTEaways. Monkey Man is inspired by the legend of Hanuman, a part human, part ape Hindu god who embodies strength and courage. Kid, who barely makes any money as a bare knuckle fighter in a monkey mask, takes beating after beating, finally realizing he needs to fight for a purpose instead of because of the pain of his past.

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF HENRY SUGAR – Review by Susan Granger

Netflix has quietly launched Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar and three additional Raoul Dahl short stories. This whimsical cinematic anthology is the creation of Wes Anderson, who became intrigued by the emotional truths in Roald Dahl’s work after adapting his novel into the Oscar-nominated, stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Each is a fanciful fable drawn from the extensive ‘idea’ files that eccentric, cardigan-clad, curmudgeonly storyteller Dahl (Ralph Fiennes) kept in Gipsy House, his isolated ‘writing hut’ adjacent to his home in Buckinghamshire, England. Stumped on how to translate Dahl’s jottings to the screen, Anderson decided to have the four principal actors (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel, Richard Ayoade), playing various characters, narrate the author’s adroit descriptions and their actions directly into the camera at a rapid pace with deadpan directness.

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THE GREEN KNIGHT – Review by Martha K Baker

The hero is King Arthur’s nephew, and the tale defines the chivalric romance with themes of honor and humility. The film is dark. Very, very dark. Also turgid and confusing. The Green Knight issues a challenge to all viewers: if you can sit through this thing without longing to have your own head lopped off, you deserve to be knighted. But don’t be greedy: once a knight’s enough.

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THE GREEN KNIGHT – Review by Susan Granger

Years ago, as an English major, I had to read a rather long, boring 14th century epic poem from the Arthurian legend called Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Now, visual storyteller David Lowery has revitalized and enhanced this chivalric romance. On the road to meet his destiny, Gawain must face a series of fearsome trials, tribulations and temptations as he gradually learns the true nature of chivalry.

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THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD -Review by Susan Granger

Intrigued by the title? I was too, particularly since 2020 marks the 150th year since the death of Charles Dickens, but it’s certainly not the semi-autobiographical tale that I remember. Scottish director Armando Iannucci’s revisionist version begins in 1850 in a London theater, where David Copperfield (Dev Patel) addresses the audience, speculating on whether he’ll turn out to be the hero of his own life.

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THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD – Brandy McDonnell reviews

The ever-versatile Oscar nominee Dev Patel leads a terrifically talented troupe selected through colorblind or nontraditional casting, a practice still more common in modern-day theater than filmmaking. It’s refreshingly lovely to see outstanding actors of color like Patel, Benedict Wong and Nikki Amuka-Bird bring the classic novel’s characters to life.

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THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD – Review by Martha K Baker

Director Iannucci and writer Simon Blackwell are known for cursing and biting satire. Here, however, they lean on Dickens. Cramming a beloved, 800-pp. novel into a 2-hour film does not work totally. The cast may have had fun exercising, but the audience will be left longing for a few of Iannucci’s signature F-bombs to spice up this interpretation.

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Sydney FF 2019 Review: THE WEDDING GUEST – by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

With a feature filmmaking career that has spanned almost 25 years, although Michael Winterbottom has had some are undeniable misfires, he has simultaneously illustrated time and time again that when he’s good, he’s very good. The Wedding Guest adds to Winterbottom’s oeuvre while donating to his experiments with the crime/thriller genre, joining previous projects such as The Face of an Angel and 2010’s controversial The Killer Inside Me.

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