Episode 49! Stu and Billy are back at the flicks having attended the the second week of the Sydney Film Festival, and also managing to watch Transformers: The Last Knight.

Transformers: The Last Knight is the 5th installement of the live-action Transformers film series. The films sees Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime nowhere to be found after the events of the previous film. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

Now, it's up to the unlikely alliance of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee, an English lord (Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) to save the world.

Also in this weeks episode we also recap the films we've seen from the second and final week of the Sydney Film Festival.

These include: Mifune: The Last Samurai, Graduation, Barbecue, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, On Body and Soul, Kedi, A Fantastic Woman, Call Me By Your Name, The Promise, Porto, God's Own Country, It's Not Dark Yet, The Little Hours, The Farthest, The Beguiled, Okja, Blade Of The Immortal, Patti Cake$, The Party

We also have a special guest this week for our Transformers: The Last Knight discussion, Garth Franklin from the Dark Horizons website!

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!





                                      Get it from Podomatic here


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If you want to engage with Stu and Billy more you can do so at the following: 
Stu
Twitter - https://twitter.com/stu_watches
Letterboxd - https://letterboxd.com/stucoote/

Billy
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Aqualec
Letterboxd - https://letterboxd.com/aqualec/

Garth and Dark Horizons can be located at: 
Website - http://www.darkhorizons.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/darkhorizonscom
Twitter - https://twitter.com/darkhorizons





To say I've been excited for people to finally check out Get Even is somewhat underselling it. Smartly mixing psychological horror with Bourne-style action, it was something of an oddity which greatly enthused me during the time spent with its demo. Now the full thing's out, I can rave further, and hopefully some of you will now get where I'm coming from.

Be warned, though, that the biggest, most daring thing I loved about Get Even is something I absolutely refuse to talk about. But I'll get to that.


I first checked out Get Even many moons ago, so I'll borrow from myself in terms of outlining the plot:

"You play as Cole Black, a Sean Bean-accented mercenary who starts the game tracking down a kidnapped young woman in a dilapidated house filled with armed men. After seemingly setting off a bomb whilst rescuing her, Cole wakes up four years later outside an abandoned mental asylum, with no memory of the time in-between. A mysterious figure named Red informs Cole that he is here to relive some of his memories, in order to ascertain how he got to the asylum, what happened to the girl, and why one of his most recent contracts may have something to do with both."

During that First Impressions review, I said that the game had the hallmarks of a David Lynch work with "a bit more terra firma to it". Having now finished the whole story, I'd actually say it's closer to a Christopher Nolan head-trip; the memory-reliving Pandora headset which your character spends the entire game wearing adds a strong Inception-like spin to proceeding. It might make a few plot turns somewhat predictable - of course, your memories are not entirely reliable - but I can assure you that the story comes to a more complete conclusion. Or, at least, my story did.


Most of what I said in that First Impressions review still holds here. The game is good at creating psychological horror and somewhat poor at creating an engaging FPS experience. Though the heavy story focus and reliance on your trusty super-sleuth smartphone involves not firing your gun as often as you might in Deus Ex or Hitman, when combat does get going it feels somewhat unintuitive and fairly unpolished. The lack of a HUD makes the experience more realistic, but the somewhat inaccurate aiming and occasionally poor hit detection on enemies means your stealth kill headshot might turn into a cover-blowing neck graze with little to no warning, even at point blank range. When there are a plethora of enemies around, particularly in the later levels, the game oscillates between Cole being sturdier than a fridge with legs, and Cole only being able to take one or two bullets to the knee before keeling over and dying. Maybe the realism's at play again - a headshot or tag on a vital area won't let many people in the real world get up afterwards - but given that the game goes to great pains in explaining that you're inside a simulation, and thus are not strictly bounded by the rules of reality, it feels a little disingenuous.


The CornerGun is also not the most efficient of weapons. It's useful in one or two missions, and is handy at solving a couple of minor puzzles. Ultimately, though, it's a gimmick with some relevance to the story and little relevance to the gameplay. Its ability to host a variety of firearms is neat, but considering the game insists - and, in some cases, demands - that players don't shoot nearby enemies wherever possible, it all seems like so much effort for no real gain. The ability to stick an SMG onto the CornerGun frame is immediately countered by Red informing Cole that if he kills too many people, the memory will destabilise. Granted, I spent at least one level killing anyone I could find and the game didn't throw me out of the memory, which leads me to believe the no-kill insistence is solely in service of the story. But I'll come back to that in a moment.


The one big area Get Even's improved upon since my First Impressions is its visual design. I left the demo feeling that, while immersive to a point, the background details were quite sparse and lacked refinement. Here, though, the full game has a few more rings in its trees, with map aesthetics looking a lot more detailed. A warehouse you must infiltrate is richly drawn with its massive industrial crates sporting a used look, an open air part of the warehouse littered with uniquely designed rubbish, graffiti and newspapers. The asylum Cole navigates has a number of different rooms which are each individually delineated, with in-depth designs making each cell and level of the asylum look and feel unique. Though the NPCs themselves stumble around with somewhat janky movement physics, they still look deadly and come in a variety of facial and sartorial models.

And really, I have to emphasise that the story is just so very, very good. Despite any shortcomings I've noted above, Get Even tells a gripping, enthralling tale of innovation, memory manipulation and redemption. However, to do so, the game does something that almost alienated me from it entirely.


The story of rugged mercenary Cole Black doing his thing - reliving memories, finding out how he ended up in the asylum, dealing with lunatics who are trying to kill him - is pretty good, but it becomes somewhat off-putting when Cole is continuously robbed of agency throughout. With Red fully in control of Cole's experience while within the Pandora unit, he is able to extract Cole from memories at a whim, depositing him back in the asylum and ordering him to head to the next room full of colourful psychos. This invariably comes whenever Cole is on the cusp of learning something crucial about the plot. After eight hours of this back and forth, the game got a little tedious. I wasn't happy that the protagonist wasn't just adrift, but practically a plaything of the tides; Red was really in control, and Cole was not. It made it impossible for Cole to have any kind of real victory in the game, or to proceed to the truth through his own impetus. I got a little fed up.

But then, Get Even did something which I had sort of predicted it might, but in a very unexpected way, and all of that tedium quickly evaporated for the game's final stretch.


I might do a spoiler space post a little later on, because it really is a plot and gameplay development which deserves to be talked about. But I'm keen to see how some of you folks react to things when you play the game for the first time. I should say, actually, the first of many. One thing Get Even makes clear is that this is a game designed to be played multiple times, with the user interface constantly reminding you that your actions - including who and how many people you kill - have consequences. As to the nature of those consequences, I can't say; I only played the game through once, alternately killing and stealthing it up, but the ending was still quite satisfying for me.

As excited as I was for Get Even months ago, my excitement has only sharpened after going through it cover to cover. Its technical faults and occasional narrative shortcomings are balanced by a strong overarching story, some fantastic voice acting and a wonderfully creepy soundtrack from Olivier Deriviere. I suspect it's a bit of a Rorschach test for many players who may not have the patience for such a weird, off-kilter piece. For my money, I'm seeing something excellent.

- Chris


Get Even is due for release June 23 on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Review copy kindly supplied to Geek of Oz by Bandai Namco Entertainment.


Attention Aussie film fans! To celebrate the release of It Comes At Night on July 6th we're giving away 5 double passes, thanks to Roadshow. To find out how to win, just head over to our Facebook page and find the It Comes At Night post. It's seriously that simple!

The film is a psychological thriller written and directed by Trey Edwards Shults and stars Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Riley Keough.

Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order Paul (Joel Edgerton) has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer.















Episode 48! Stu and Billy are back at the flicks as they attempt to watch everything on offer at the Sydney Film Festival!

Running from the 7th till the 18th of June, the Sydney Film Festival has over 400 sessions and 288 films on offer.

Trying to pick a film can be a little overwhelming, so we have put together a top 20 list of the festival here

In this weeks podcast episode we delve into the films we've seen from the first week of the Festival so far.

These include: Ana, Mon Amour, The Ornithologist, Waiting for Giraffes, The Nile Hilton Incident, Manifesto, 78/52, Whitney: Can I be Me, Taste of Cherry, My Year with Helen, Happy End, Ingrid Goes West, The Wall, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Ama-San, I Am Not You Negro

As well as the films, Stu and I look over the latest in movie news.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!





                                      Get it from Podomatic here


                                            Get it from Itunes here



To celebrate the upcoming Supanova Comic-Con and Gaming exhibition in Sydney this weekend, I sat down for a phone chat with the cheerful and charming Ricky Whittle earlier this week. You may have seen him as Calvin Valentine on Hollyoaks, Lincoln in The 100, and as protagonist Shadow Moon in the new series based on Neil Gaiman's beloved book, American Gods (it has been blowing up just a tad lately).

Below we talk about Australian time zones, Ricky's fandom, some of the American Gods cast's interesting on-set pranks, and some hints about where Shadow might be headed next year for Season 2 of the acclaimed drama.



Chris: First of all, thank you so much for sitting down to talk with me. It's morning here, but I gather it's late night there for you in Los Angeles?

Ricky: It's just come into the evening, yeah. It's not too bad. I was just saying that the time difference isn't too bad when I come to Australia. Because you're so far ahead it's almost like a whole day for me, whereas when I go to Europe it's like seven or eight hours so it kind of really messes with your body clock, whereas I found this when I went to Australia, I was able to adapt to your timezone very quickly.


C: Well that's good, because most people sort of have the opposite approach, and say "Oh you guys are so far ahead, and when I get home my sleep schedule is so messed up." Nice to know someone likes it here.

R: [laughs] I love it, I can't wait to get back.


C: You're coming to Sydney for Supanova this weekend, after you did Brisbane and Adelaide last year - is this going to be your first time in Sydney?

R: This is gonna be my first time in Sydney. When I was in Brisbane and Adelaide I was really tempted to fly to Sydney because, I mean, it's such an important and incredible city. People still think it's the capitol of Australia. But we had so many fantastic things planned throughout the week that I wanted to stay and just enjoy my time in Brisbane and Adelaide - which I did. I had a fantastic time, I got the opportunity to take in the wildlife and those cities. And now I've again got the opportunity to come back to my bucket list country and really take in a lot more of the country.

Sydney is somewhere I've really wanted to go to, I want to take in all the sights. I've had a lot of friends from Sydney; my Dancing With The Stars partner Natalie Lowe was from Sydney, I've got a lot of friends I've acted with throughout my career from Sydney, and you guys are kind of world-renowned, having a great time and loving life. So I'm looking forward to getting there, and then Perth is the complete opposite end of the country. I've been told nothing is nearby, it's in the middle of nowhere, but I kinda like that, I love the fact that I'm just gonna be one with nature and the people of Perth. So I'm looking forward to taking in both cities.


C: How does it feel to play Shadow on American Gods so far? What's been your experience with that as we near the end of the first season?

R: It's been a lot of fun. A lot of fun. Very taxing, very intense, because Shadow is basically the universe's punchbag. He didn't get to know his father, his mother died when he was young, the one person, the one thing he had in this life - Laura, his wife - was taken from him. He was released from prison and fights a six foot five leprechaun, and gets strung up by a group of faceless goons in a tree. He's constantly being battered left right and centre, both physically and emotionally, and it's been a very taxing shoot for both myself and poor Shadow.

I'm looking forward, as he grows as a character and is awakened to everything in this world. His struggle in the first season was always "Is he going crazy, or is the world actually crazy, and there's magic in the world?" So now that he's slowly coming to terms with the fact that maybe there is another layer to this universe, I'm looking forward to kind of growing in confidence, earning that personality, because he was so broken after losing everything. I wanted to start him off as this kind of empty vessel, and as the show progresses we're going to see him grow and it's going to be a great journey that I kinda get to play as an actor.


C: Do you feel there's any pressure for your performance when it comes to fans of the show, and meeting expectations that book readers might have? Do those expectations factor into your performance?

R: For sure, yeah, without doubt. For me, this isn't just any role. This is a iconic character in an iconic book, you know? Neil Gaiman is a rockstar of the book world, and this is possibly his most famous
book, along with various others, but this is the lead character. This is a character that has been imagined for sixteen years, to the point where the fans have made this a biography. They know exactly how he should be and how he's supposed to look. So when I booked the role there was a huge pressure to kind of deliver this Shadow that they've imagined for sixteen years. The initial press was fantastic, all the fans were tweeting online and Instagramming me and saying, "You look perfect, you're exactly as I imagined, but don't fuck it up." [laughs] There was a huge amount of pressure, like, "Oh that's wonderful, great, I'm exactly as you imagined," and then they kinda hit you with that, it's like "Oh, yeah, there's a lot of pressure."

But yeah, the response has been fantastic. It's those fans of the book that realise those nuances I'm kinda making to Shadow as a character. New fans to the show, and to Neil Gaiman's work on Shadow Moon, will learn to appreciate the journey that I'm gonna try and get Shadow through. But yeah, it's those fans of the book that kinda see that I've kept that responsibility to the book, and it's always going to be their Shadow, because I felt that that's what they deserved. But the adaptation to screen had to be a little bit more. So they've really seen what I've done with it, and the compliments have been fantastic. I'm very proud of what we've achieved.


C: Speaking as a fan of the book, I'm quite keen on what you've done with the character so far, in how it's both in line with and very unique from the book version. So personally, I think you're doing a fantastic job.

R: I appreciate that, thank you!


C: Do you find that your fanbase is having a different reception to Shadow than they have to characters you've played on shows like Hollyoaks and The 100?

R: I've been very fortunate to have an incredible fanbase, and to be quite honest, I wouldn't be standing where I am today if it wasn't for the fans. They literally introduced this project to me. I didn't know about American Gods and I'd never heard of Neil Gaiman. I then learned that I did know of his work in Coraline, Sandman and Stardust, and I didn't realise it was him. But when Starz put out the search for casting Shadow, they asked the fans who they wanted to play their lead character in Shadow, and my name came forward a lot, and that's when it kind of popped up on my radar. So I owe this all to the fans, and I really appreciate the opportunities that they've given me, and the fact that they're enjoying my take on it is kind of a nice little pat on the back for me. There was great pressure, but things seemed to go well so far.


C: When you were here in Australia last year, it was for The 100, after you'd been cast as Shadow. You've said in a previous interview that fans came to you with American Gods paraphernalia and were getting you to sign things, having a pretty positive reaction before they'd even seen you in the show. Do you think the reaction of your fans in Australia this time around is going to be different to how it was last year?

R: I have a great connection with my fans, I owe my whole career to their support and love. I'm always very grateful to all my fans. Fortunately, a lot of them, especially in the sci-fi fandom, they're so fiercely passionate and loyal, that they've actually followed me from The 100 onto American Gods, so I'm probably planning on seeing a lot of fans of The 100 and American Gods. But what this opens me up to is a new group of fans in the book world, so I'm imagining a lot of fans coming along with books and wanting me to sign those, whereas in The 100 it was all posters. So yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing the difference in the people that attend the show, and hopefully I get to say thank you for all their support and love throughout this year.


C: Well watch out on Saturday, because I may be one of those fans lining up with a book for you to sign.

R: Oh really? That'd be great, buddy! It'd be good to see you - definitely pop by and say hi!


C: I will! Have there been any particularly funny or interesting stories from filming on the set?

R: Various, various stories. I think the most known one is my pranks of welcoming Pablo Schreiber and Kristin Chenoweth to the set by plastering their whole trailer with my headshots and pictures of myself. Literally in their microwaves, in their wardrobes, in their shower, under the toilet seat, so when they lift it up my face is there. I've literally covered their walls with my face. And they kept them up for the rest of the season, I felt very grateful. So that was a lot of fun. I put rotten eggs into Pablo's actor's chair. Ian McShane's a bit of a prankster too, always tells jokes and cracks me up, and then keeps a straight face so I get in trouble while I'm giggling like a schoolgirl.

And then there was the time where we thought the gods were against us; there were so many things that went wrong whilst we were filming, it was insane. We had a fire on set, we had two absolute freak thunderstorms that flooded our whole location, and we had to stop filming and come back another day. We had various cranes that would break, and it really did feel like the gods were against us, like maybe we upset them and they weren't happy with us making a show them and they were punishing us. So fortunately we got it finished, and hopefully Season 2 won't be that eventful.


C: I guess there's a funny little irony about the gods not liking a show about the gods.

R: [laughs] Right.


C: It's been said previously about the show that the first season finale, which airs next week, is kind of outside the scope of the book, and it's doing something that's gonna be surprising to both newer fans of the show and old-hand fans of the book. Can you give us a hint about where Shadow might be at the end of Season 1, and where he might start off in Season 2?

R: Everything that's in the book is going to be in the show, no need to worry about that. I think that's why it's been so well-received, is that they're getting everything that they loved in the book and then so much more. That's why I think the reception has been so fun and so great, with the fleshing out of sporadic characters like Mad Sweeney, Bilquis and Laura, with the scenarios they're given. It's been great. The finale's the same; what they've done is build a finale that's going to drag you headlong into Season 2. It's going to leave the audience both in awe and frustrated that they won't know what's happening next. Even if you have read the book, you don't know everything.

Bryan [Fuller] and Michael [Green] are very clever in weaving together both the new storyline and the old storyline, so we kinda find Shadow at the end of the season on the edge. He's kind of not believing. He's spent this whole season going to the logical answer of, "Maybe he was high, maybe he was imagining all these fantastical elements and things happening around him." He's always kind of trying to explain it, but Mr. Wednesday even said to him, "Are you crazy, or is the world crazy?" Finally Shadow has to make that decision in the season finale, as Mr. Wednesday reveals to him a very large secret. We're also going to see the culmination of Mad Sweeney and Laura's road trip, as they finally catch up to Shadow, and as we kind of see in the penultimate episode, there's more to that relationship than meets the eye. So it's all going to kick off, and it's all going to climax at the end of the season.

Unfortunately, you're probably going to have to wait a good year before Season 2. We're in the writers room at the moment, and we've not jumped onto set yet. So, fingers crossed you stay with us! [laughs]


C: I think it's safe to say that if people weren't excited before - which they were - then they definitely are now, and I think you won't have a problem with them waiting for when Season 2 drops. The quality is just been so outstanding; you've got a whole lot of fans who are going to stay with you right to the end.

R: Thank you, I appreciate it. It's almost frightening, you know. This is Season 1. It's already in my opinion the best ensemble cast I've ever seen, so I'm looking forward to seeing who joins that cast in Season 2. And I've never done a Season 1 that's had so much press, so much hype. Normally Season 2 is when shows start to blow up as people kind of get around to it, or Season 3 when people catch up on their various systems - which is gonna be Amazon Prime video in Australia - so it's gonna be exciting for Season 2, because I'm sure we're gonna blow up as people are gonna catch up and binge watch. I'm really looking forward to seeing where we go, and hopefully we can blow your minds again.


C: As you said before, American Gods is such an important book, and I think you and the ensemble, writers and production team are definitely doing it justice. I read the book several years ago and always wanted to see it on screen, and it's just exactly as I imagined. So I think it's definitely a credit to you and to Michael Green and Bryan Fuller, and it's just an amazing show. Just speaking quietly as a fan!

R: Oh wow. Oh that means a lot to me, thank you so much. I appreciate that. Thank you so much. It was definitely an intense shoot.



American Gods is available to stream in Australia on Amazon Prime now.

Supanova Sydney is on at Olympic Park this weekend, June 17-18. Tickets can be bought here.

It's that time of year. Where Sydney cinephiles maddeningly scratch their heads trying to fit as many movies into a day as possible, and go slightly mad trying.

That's right, it's Sydney Film Festival time!



The Festival runs from the 7th till the 18th of June and the full list of movies can be found here: http://www.sff.org.au/

To help you out Billy and Stu have put a list together of the 20 films they are keen to see over the festival.



1. The Beguiled by Sofia Coppola
Set during the American Civil War, the film follows a young girl who decides to take an injured soldier into her house after finding him. Once in the house, the dynamic of the house and it's all female residents changes as sexual rivalry and jealousy interjects.The film stars Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, and Colin Farrell.


2. 78/52 by Alexandre O. Philippe
An unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), the "man behind the curtain", and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.




3. Whitney 'Can I Be Me' by Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal
A gripping documentary on the all-too-short life of powerhouse performer Whitney Houston from UK documentarian Nick Broomfield and music video director Rudi Dolezal. Showing never-before-seen backstage footage, and intimate interviews with the star, friends and colleagues this documentary is an impressive recounting of a life so promising, and ultimately so tragic.


4. Happy End by Michael Haneke
A drama about a wealthy family set in Calais with the European refugee crisis as the backdrop. The film focuses on three generations of this clan and explores their generational difference in attitudes towards life and the world around them




5. Call Me By your Name by Luca Guadagnino
Summer of 1983, Northern Italy. An American-Italian is enamored by an American student who comes to study and live with his family. Together they share an unforgettable summer full of music, food, and romance that will forever change them.



6. Ingrid Goes West by Matt Spicer
Ingrid Thorburn is an unhinged social media stalker with a history of confusing "likes" for meaningful relationships. Taylor Sloane is an Instagram-famous "influencer" whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid's latest obsession. When Ingrid moves to LA and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star's life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF.


7. Manifesto by Julian Rosefeldt
The film integrates various types of artist manifestos from different time periods with contemporary scenarios. Manifestos are depicted by 13 different characters, among them a school teacher, factory worker, choreographer, punk, newsreader, scientist, puppeteer, widow, and a homeless man.



8. The Wall by Doug Liman
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals, Kick-Ass) and John Cena (Trainwreck) star as American soldiers, a sniper-spotter team, in a game of cat-and-mouse with a methodical Iraqi sharpshooter, with only an unsteady crumbling wall between them.




9. God's Own Country by Francis Lee
Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.




10. I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck
Narrated by Samuel L Jackson, this mesmerising Oscar-nominated film channels the impassioned words of writer James Baldwin as he tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.





11. A Fantastic Woman by Sebastián Lelio
Marina is a young transgender waitress and aspiring singer who is mourning the sudden loss of her older lover, Oralndo. After his death Marina sees herself forced to comfront Orlando´s family and fight again to show everyone what she is: a complex, strong, honest and fantastic woman.


12. Okja by Bong Joon-ho
Mija is a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend - a massive ‘Super Pig' named Okja.






13. A Ghost Story by David Lowery
In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.




14. The Little Hours by Jeff Baena
A young servant fleeing from his master takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns in the Middle Ages.






15. Patti Cake$ by Geremy Jasper
Patti Cake$ is centered on aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$ who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.





16. Ellipsis by David Wenham
Ellipsis is a slice-of-life film that follows Viv and Jasper as they accidentally meet and then as they roam through the city of Sydney, from bars, a park and a sex shop in Kings Cross, to Bondi.






17. Mountain by Jennifer Peedom
Jennifer Peedom's followup to Sherpa is an epic cinematic and musical collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and traces the modern day fascination with the dizzying heights while narrated beautifully by Willem Dafoe.




18. Graduation by Cristian Mungiu
A film about compromises and the implications of the parent's role in their desperate actions to protect their children.







19. The Forest of Lost Souls by José Pedro Lopes
The Forest of Lost Souls is a dense and remote forest, Portugal's most popular place for suicide. In a summer morning, two strangers meet within the woods - but one of them has no intention of dying.



20. The Square by Ruben Östlund
Christian is the curator of a contemporary art museum, which was once the Stockholm Palace before it was converted in the aftermath of the abolition of the Monarchy of Sweden. As he prepares for his next show "The Square", Christian finds his progressive world view shaken after his mobile phone and wallet are stolen. He decides on a course of revenge, leading him into a downward spiral of personal and professional mayhem.



As mentioned the Festival runs from the 7th till the 18th of June and the full list of movies can be found here: http://www.sff.org.au/

Tickets can be purchase from http://www.sff.org.au/, 1300 733 733, or the SFF 2017 iPhone, iPad, and Android Apps.

We will be covering the films we watch in the festival on our next few episodes of We Like To Watch.

Enjoy!





You may have noticed that my game reviews draw heavily on comparisons to past examples of other games. This isn't meant as a condemnation of quality or a signalling of the lack of originality in these newer experiences. When I say that Yooka-Laylee is heavily reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie or that Little Nightmares evokes Limbo, it's intended more to signpost that there is acknowledgement - and, in some cases, improvement - of previously published work in the game I'm reviewing.

This notion has its limits, though. For instance, when I talk about The Surge it is almost impossible to do so without drawing a parallel to Dark Souls (a parallel which, it's worth noting, the producers set out to make). That's not necessarily, in this case, a mark of quality.


Where Dark Souls was a tough-as-nails action-RPG set in an eldritch world bereft of cogent life and riddled with monsters the way Corrimal beach is riddled with bluebottle jellyfish, The Surge instead airlifts the first part of that equation and drops it into a futuristic vista infested with transhuman zombies and murderous machines. You play a hapless, paralysed future employee in the technological complex of the CREO organisation. While trying on a robotic exosuit that will allow you to walk again, the computer cracks a Hal-9000 and partially assimilates you into the exosuit. At the same time, the complex falls victim to the standard "robotic-technological apocalypse" scenario, causing a number of other exosuit-wearing victims - plus no shortage of robots and drones - to start roaming the ruins looking for people with squishy bits they can smack their heavy industrial weaponry into. You must traverse the complex and discover what caused all the sci-fi shenanigans to spiral out of control.


I will freely admit that I did not finish The Surge. I did sink a number of hours into it, and it played competently enough, but ultimately I was left with no impetus to fuel my journey deeper into the heart of the CREO complex. The game's homogeneity with Dark Souls and lack of verve to the story - a problem I've heard similarly plagues Deck13's Lords of the Fallen, another Souls clone - doesn't present a narrative worth unpacking or seeing through to the end. The dystopian wreck of CREO complex, detailed as it is, doesn't have the same triggers for exploration that the castles of Dark Souls III did, instead presenting as just another blandly-coloured, ruined technoscape along the lines of Gears of War or Mass Effect. The monsters - for lack of a better term - have a bit of visual memorability, especially in terms of the boss fights, but are mostly variations on a theme of some horrific transhuman nightmare attempting to cave your skull in with a chainsaw. Most of the game's mechanics are looted wholesale from the Souls games; Souls used for gaining levels are now Scrap, Estus Flasks are now an injection your exosuit delivers, bonfires are replaced by shelters, and so on.


However, fair credit where it's due to developers Deck13 Interactive for making some innovation. The combat system is fluid and intuitive, with your character levelling their skills up through Skyrim-esque constant use (using a one-handed chainsaw frequently will increase the potency of your One-Handed skill), and the actual fights can be a little faster and more engaging than the more methodical, tactical chess games of Dark Souls. This is aided by The Surge's unique form of combat, where you're able to target specific parts of the monster's body and hit weak areas for critical damage. Given the speed of the combat and the ability to target those areas, you're free to run in screaming with a chunk of rebar and smash the enemy's left leg into metal chunks, dodging out of the way fast enough to parry the blow of your enemy's buddy before it lands, evoking Bloodborne's swifter combat style. There's also quite a bit of detail in the armour, weapons and crafting systems, all of which follow a similar mold to Fallout 4 both in method and aesthetics. So in addition to being a Souls clone, The Surge does a decent job cherry-picking good elements from other genres as well.


But as I said, none of it gives the game much substance. The pieces are all there, and things gel together competently, but none of it feels fresh or gripping enough to entice me to place further. The experience I had with The Surge was ultimately hollow and superficially satisfying, a hollow Red Tulip easter egg compared to Dark Souls III's Darrel Lea rocky road. It more feels like an experience for streamers on Twitch and YouTube, something to be spectated rather than experienced in the more intimate fashion of the Souls games. Worth a look, but maybe only that.

- Chris




The Surge is available now for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Review copy kindly supplied to Geek of Oz by Five Star Games.

DC fans your champion has finally arrived! Huzzah! No longer will you lament what could've been. Wonder Woman breathes urgent life into a franchise which has withered like a slowly deflating balloon. I've got a few niggling complaints, but Wonder Woman is a tonne of fun.


Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was our introduction to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman; sadly her role was limited to a bit of banter and the climatic fight scene with Doomsday. For such an iconic character, it was an underwhelming debut. All is forgiven now that director Patty Jenkins (Monster) has delivered such an entertaining film. Mind you it's another origin story, and I’m almost done with origin stories, mostly because they follow rigid templates where seemingly minor details are substituted depending on the hero’s specific journey.


That being said in the case of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, she’s an Amazonian Princess from the mystical land of Themyscira, which is exclusively populated by women. Trained from a young age to be a great warrior, her life is forever changed when US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) comes crashing down requiring her to save his life. Nice little role reversal there. Unbeknownst to the ladies of Themyscira, World War 1 rages on around their hidden island. Fuelled by ancient mythology, Diana feels duty-bound to head into the realm of mortals and put an end to the Great War. With Steve and a band of merry-men in tow, she seeks justice in a war which is seldom just.


Having been burnt by DC films too many times, I entered this film with my guard well and truly up. Just like previous films, I’d heard the internet whispers about production problems but thankfully none of that was on display. In many ways it’s a merging of Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor; in that Diana is a ‘super-soldier’ kicking ass in a World War setting, but also a fish-out-of-water, much like Thor. There are plenty of laughs to be had about the different customs of Themyscira and the real world, which let’s be honest, that gag never gets old. But even with these similarities, Wonder Woman has a distinct look and unique tone. There’s freshness to it, despite the occasional generic plot development.


Performance wise Gal Gadot is fantastic as Wonder Woman. She manages to convey Diana’s strength of conviction and pursuit of justice, but also her naivety. Her physicality is  impressive, unlike the awkwardness of an actor like Finn Jones in Marvel’s Iron Fist; Gadot seems very comfortable with what’s asked of her in the fighting choreography department. Chris Pine is basically rehashing Captain Kirk from the recent Star Trek films. He's surviving on his charm and witty quips, but deep down you know he’s got a heart of gold. It works for him, the material and ultimately the film. His chemistry with Gadot is one of the highlights of the film.


Patty Jenkins takes us from the tranquillity of Themyscira to the horrors of the Western front, all the while imbuing the film with a sense of patience and restraint. Not exactly what you'd expect from a massive blockbuster. Whilst the iconography of war is everywhere, Jenkins still takes time to show the horrific realities of conflict. There’s a touching scene where early in their quest Diana and Co are crossing a bridge, a point of no return as it were. They walk through a group of badly wounded soldiers returning from the front. Diana is forced to witness the human cost of war. A sobering reminder of what is at stake. It's those lingering shots of missing limbs and bandaged heads which resonate well after the scene. I love these touches. Jenkins may not be the first name that pops into mind when considering directors for a film like this, but I’m so glad she got the gig. Plus let’s just take a moment to congratulate Jenkins for being the first female to direct a film with a $100 million budget. Hopefully this leads to real change in the industry.



Maybe I’m overthinking things, maybe I'm getting too old for this shit, but geez shoddy CGI work is infuriating. Nothing takes me out of film quicker than gaudy CGI. There's no excuse for the subpar CGI that plagues some of the bigger action sequences in Wonder Woman. Granted the same can be said for most of the Marvel films too. I’d prefer studios attempt more realistic set pieces and use CGI to shade in the edges, rather than go for the bombastic third act showdowns which evidently they can't resist. When Wonder Woman finally encounters her nemesis, their fight just echoed the weaker elements of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I'm over the tensionless rumble between to CGI Gods waiting for our hero to do something ‘extraordinary’. It’s all been done before and should be better.


Wonder Woman is probably the best DC film since Nolan’s The Dark Knight, although given the state of affairs at DC may seem like damning with faint praise. I emerged recharged and hopeful; a damn sight better state than Zack Snyder’s recent marathons-of-doom left me in. Patty Jenkins has delivered a rollicking adventure which I hope paves the way for other female directors to helm productions of this size.

8 out of 10

Stu


Feel free to follow my antics on Twitter @stu_watches

If you see Wonder Woman and agree or disagree with my thoughts, feel free to drop a comment below or come over and play on our Facebook page



Get Out reigns supreme at the end of May. Michael Winterbottom's Trip to Spain waltzes into the Top 10 thanks to the loveable bickering of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Sadly Alien: Covenant, Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 haven't been able to muscle their way in despite solid efforts. Next week sees Sydney Film Festival come to town, so hopefully my Top 10 hits some enjoyable/terrifying turbulence.

Also please check out my lists for January, February, March and April. Always happy to hear your feel back, so sound off in the comments below. 

Top 10 as of May

1. Get Out
2. Moonlight
3. Land of Mine
4. Loving
5. The Salesman
6. Trip to Spain
7. A Man Called Ove
8. Colossal
9. Jackie
10. Edge of Seventeen

Films watched this month:

Get Out
The Trip to Spain
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Alien: Covenant 
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Get Out
John Wick: Chapter 2 
The Mummy 
Wonder Woman 
Baywatch 

- Stu 


Episode 47! Stu and Billy are back at the flicks this week to watch Wonder Woman!

Directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster), Wonder Woman is 4th instalment in the DC Extended Universe, and tells the origin story of Wonder Woman.


Set in the early 20th century Diana (Gal Gadot), Princess of the Amazons, has been trained to be an unconquerable warrior on the hidden paradise island of Themyscira.

After American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on the island he tells Diana and the Amazons about the ongoing events of the first World War. Compelled by duty to help, Diana leaves her island home to travel with Steve to London and bring an early end to the war.

The film also stars Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewen, Bremner, and Eugene Brave Rock.

As well as the films, Stu and I discuss what else we've been watching this week, and look over the latest in movie news.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!





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