Tag Archives: Rachel Wilis

A Boy and His Dingo

Buckley’s Chance

by Rachel Willis

A lighthearted adventure tale about a boy and his dog – I mean, dingo – struggling to survive alone in the Australian outback, Tim Brown’s latest film, Buckley’s Chance, should delight viewers of a certain age (the under 10 crowd).

Tough kid Ridley (Milan Burch) finds his world upended when he and his mom, Gloria (Victoria Hill), move from New York City to live with his irascible grandfather (Bill Nighy) on a sheep farm in the rugged Outback.

There isn’t much explanation as to why Gloria and Ridley are moving around the world to live with a man neither of them has met. While this might not bother children, it is a bit of a head-scratcher. We get a bit more later to explain this sudden upheaval in Ridley’s life, but it’s only a tidbit of not entirely convincing information.

It takes decidedly too long to introduce the Adorable Dingo that befriends Ridley. But it’s worth the wait. From the moment the long-legged, golden-coated wild dog enters the story, he steals the show. Okay, not quite, but he does distract from the moments when Burch’s acting falters. The relationship between boy and dingo gives the movie its emotional center.

A children’s adventure film needs bumbling baddies, and this one adds a couple who have the right amount of menace and hilarity. A few laughs are hewn from these villainous hog farmers, and they’re easily the most entertaining part of the movie.

The film’s biggest weaknesses come when it forgets its target audience. There are a few scenes that center too much around the adults and their dramas. Without Ridley’s presence, these scenes are out of place. There isn’t much appeal for children in a woman and her father-in-law reminiscing. Throwing these moments into the film also leaves less time for the main adventure.

As the hardnosed grandfather, Nighy doesn’t bring his A-game. His Australian accent is bad, his performance a little wooden, but you can’t help but like him just the same. His exchanges with Burch provide some of the film’s finest moments (not including the dingo).

The Australian outback is one of the most distinctive locales on earth, and cinematographer Ben Nott knows how to draw both the beauty and the terror from it. It’s tough not to be impressed with the challenges Ridley faces against this uncompromising landscape with just his wits and a dingo.

If you need a movie to enjoy with your kids, this one is good enough for all ages.

God Save McQueen


by Rachel Willis

The life of iconic fashion designer Alexander McQueen is the subject of director Ian Bonhôte’s documentary, McQueen. With writer and co-director Peter Ettedgui, Bonhôte creates a richly artistic dive into the controversial designer’s life and art.

Dividing his portrait into sections, Bonhôte uses home videos, archival footage, interviews with family and friends, and scenes from the catwalk to highlight McQueen’s unique—and oftentimes controversial—work.

As Bonhôte highlights with sensitivity and warmth throughout the film, fashion is an expression of McQueen’s experiences. It’s clear McQueen puts his feelings into his designs, and his collections become deeply personal. “I would go to the far reaches of my dark side and pull these horrors out of my soul and put them on the catwalk,” he says of his art.

The fondness with which people speak of McQueen in the documentary’s many interviews offers a picture of someone who made an impact beyond his creative output. His friends, many of whom were part of his design team, speak of the dedication and drive behind his designs. There is a love for McQueen that shines throughout the film.

However, the darkness in McQueen, at first kept to the catwalk, begins to come through in his personal life. As his success grows, the energy behind his work grows darker. Some of his long-time collaborators end their working relationship with him, something he takes personally. For McQueen, there was no such thing as a work-life balance.

It’s clear through the course of the film that the world of haute couture is a stressful one, and no one seemed to take on more than McQueen. In an interview, he mentions assembling 14 collections a year. It’s a staggering number given how much time, energy, and effort must go into each piece of clothing, not to mention the hair, makeup, and set design that made up McQueen’s unique and stunning exhibitions. What’s unclear is if McQueen’s inner turmoil drove him to work nonstop or if it was the work that fueled his inner chaos.

Bonhôte and Ettedgui produce a mesmerizing narrative. From McQueen’s early apprenticeships with tailors to his meteoric rise as one of the most sought-after designers, the filmmakers cultivate an interest in a subject that many may be unfamiliar with. They highlight the art in fashion design, utilizing footage from many of McQueen’s collections to show this artistry.

Coupling the fashion world and McQueen’s creativity with a captivating score, the documentary pulls the viewer in from the first moment and never lets go. It’s a fascinating, compassionate portrait of an imaginative genius.