Month: September 2015

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

102 minutes, Drama, MA15+

Author and artist Phoebe Gloeckner first published her (rumoured to be) semi-autobiographical novel “The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures” in 2002. A story of sexual awakening, this graphic novel, now a motion picture, stars Alexander Skarsgard (TV Series “True Blood”), Kristen Wiig (BRIDESMAIDS) and up-and-comer, rising star Bel Powley (A ROYAL NIGHT OUT). In Marielle Heller’s feature film directional debut, we meet Minnie (Powley), a rather precocious and curious 15 year-old who considers herself unattractive and fat. As she prepares to lose her virginity, she soon discovers a mutual attraction is forming between her and Monroe (Skarsgard), her Mother’s boyfriend.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl - Film Poster

The dangerous places that this fatal attraction is bound to lead, individuals’ interpretation of situations that eventuate and an inevitable climax involving Minnie’s Mother Charlotte (Wiig) are this film’s staying power. And they need to be, for there are no sub-plots or side stories flowing throughout this provocative movie. To assist the film achieve that graphic nature captured in Gloeckner’s novel, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL has been produced with the addition of semi-abstract style animation which appears, sometimes less and sometimes in full, throughout a number of scenes. While offering some visual distraction, I’m not sure its intended use is made clear enough, nor does it have the same breathtaking effect of an Ari Folman (THE CONGRESS, WALTZ WITH BASHIR) film. The dry and dark brand of humour written into the script at sporadic times however does have a place and works very well. There are some very confronting parts to be covered in this erotic drama (See below if you’re a parent!) and the performances, particularly from Alexander Skarsgard and Bel Powley are quite brave and wholly convincing. By the end, so long as this movies’ storyline and a few of its themes (and some underlying themes) have their intended impact upon you, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL should hold your interest firmly enough, for long enough.

♥ ♥ ♥

Film Trailer – The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Footnote to Parents
THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL is not a film for kids, the shy or the prudes either. The dialogue spoken from all mouths, but mostly that from 15 year-old Minnie’s (Don’t worry, she’s 22-23 years of age in real-life!) is sexually explicit and vulgar. But honest! Not to mention the numerous sex scenes and nudity, quite confronting in nature, that have made the final cut.

Review by Moviedoc
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PAN

111 minutes, Adventure/Fantasy, PG

There have been numerous renditions of J.M. Barrie’s much-loved character Peter Pan brought to life on the big screen over the enduring course of close to 100 years, and now we have the latest take of the boy who never grows up, as told in PAN. Selected to play the adventurous 12-year-old at the completion of worldwide auditions is Levi Miller, a newcomer hailing from our very own homeland, Australia. An invented origin story for Peter Pan and Captain Hook, Peter is plucked from his Orphanage during World War II in London and whisked away into the fairytale kingdom of Neverland. There, he will encounter the fun and the dangers of this magical new world where he discovers his true fate – to be the boy who becomes Peter Pan.

PAN - Film Poster

Being a prequel (of sorts) to the legend of Peter Pan, PAN certainly ticks the boxes in bringing original ideas for a strongly utilised character, some of which have caused quite a stir. In case you’ve not heard, there has been some controversy surrounding the casting of the Caucasian Rooney Mara in a role only ever played by Native American’s, in Tiger Lily. However, this casting choice turns out to be less of a concern in comparison to a number of others plaguing PAN. After a promising opening sequence, PAN fails to execute those original ideas in a satisfying enough manner. The magical kingdom of Neverland is missing a vital component – the magic. Throughout a bloated, magic-free middle act it becomes evident this family film is truly lacking another required element in order to be a success – humour. Even Hugh Jackman, who is a magnificent Blackbeard, seems to be aware of the script’s lack for a laugh, making the most of every comical opportunity there could be. As PAN continues on, struggling to live up to its early promise, an irritating, inexplicably self-important portrayal of Captain Hook by Garrett Hedlund and an ineffectual, meek showing of Mr Smee from Adeel Akhtar further damage the films limited enjoyment. As for young Levi Miller, he deserved better, in a fierce showing as Peter Pan. A real let down from the usually classy filmmaker who brought us ATONEMENT and HANNA, Joe Wright has disappointingly got too much of PAN, so wrong.

♥ ♥ ½

PAN – Film Trailer


Footnote to Parents
Some scenes may scare a younger crowd. The violence and fantasy scenes should not be too intense or strong for ages above 8, or so. Some mild language to also mention, but it is very infrequent.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Village Roadshow and Village Cinemas, Jam Factory for the invitation to the media screening of PAN.

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Cut Snake

94 minutes, Drama/Thriller, MA15+

Merv has relocated to Melbourne, from Sydney, in an attempt to start a new life with his girlfriend, Paula. When an unexpected guest appears back in the life of Merv, a past he thought he’d left behind comes right back to haunt him.

Stars Sullivan Stapleton (GANGSTER SQUAD, ANIMAL KINGDOM), Alex Russell (CHRONICLE), and Jessica De Gouw (THESE FINAL HOURS).

Film Poster - Cut Snake
CUT SNAKE is a prime example of a movie that (almost) solely relies on its unpredictable twist to win over its audience. Unfortunately for CUT SNAKE, that twist is never given a chance to work. Opting to shock its audience, the screenplay leaves no opportunity to conceivably develop its secret throughout. Earlier scenes that establish the characteristics of Jim (a work of brute force from Stapleton that deserves recognition), and the ever-present past that’s beginning to forecast an ominous future for Merv (Russell) in each interaction shared by the men, evokes sheer suspense. Suspense however, that just isn’t sustained when CUT SNAKE cuts to any other scene not integral to its key story and the direction it’s heading. Once its big reveal is out in the open, CUT SNAKE swiftly descends into ridiculousness. And from here, the final 10-15 minutes of the film are its worst. Littered with clumsy editing, cluttered screenplay writing that inexplicably permits obvious inconsistencies through and some woeful acting (not Stapleton’s!) that results in an unintentionally funny, utter mess of a finale.

♥ ½

Film Trailer – Cut Snake

Footnote to Parents 
The MA rating will restrict those under 15 attending alone. 15 and above for parental discretion and contains violence, sexual content and offensive language.

Moviedoc wishes to thank eOne Entertainment, Claire Fromm and The Backlot Studios for the invitation to the media screening of CUT SNAKE.

Review by Moviedoc
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Sicario

121 minutes, Crime Thriller, MA15+

In SICARIO, you will immediately realise the value of a human life is equivalent to that of putting out a half-smoked cigarette. An incredibly tense opening sequence merely previews the inhumane brutality to unfold. From acclaimed filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, director of the superb Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal dramatic thriller PRISONERS comes SICARIO, a complex crime thriller set deep in the heart of an escalating war on drugs. FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) reluctantly volunteers to be transferred across the US/Mexican border to assist a government task force who has assigned Matt (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro (Benecio Del Toro) to lead the manhunt for the hidden and very dangerous boss of a thriving drug cartel.

Film Poster - Sicario

Don’t ask questions, just watch. That is a line taken from this heart-pounding drama, as spoken by one of the lead characters and as it turns out, is the best advice I can provide to you upon entry to seeing this excellent film. Many questions will surface, for we are placed into the same shoes as Blunt’s FBI Agent. Kate is obviously disturbed by the gruesome remains from the violent activity on show in her temporary homeland, presumably committed by the men she and her new team are chasing. But something more pressing is on Kate’s mind. She has questions that need answers, and needs them now. Those questions will be much the same as the questions you’re bound to have. In a remarkable first screenplay written by Taylor Sheridan, SICARIO brilliantly succeeds in alienating us from the integral and specific details, and it is a tantalising watch from beginning to end as a result.

Sicario - Film Still

In a role that was initially asked to be rewritten for a man, Emily Blunt is completely mesmerising in one of her more restrained performances. The slower and subtle development of her character makes Kate more vulnerable, and the film all the more suspenseful. Employing both his cinematographer (12 time Oscar-nominated Roger Deakins) and music composer (Johan Johannsson) from his previous film that was profoundly atmospheric, PRISONERS, Villeneuve ensures the shoot locations add another dimension of hostility (those aerial shots are sweeping and magnificent) for the viewer and his movie intensified by the powerful score. Later scenes bring a haunting creativity to the lens also. SICARIO takes us deep inside a fictional underworld that is too authentic to dismiss. But remember what I said, don’t ask questions, just watch.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

SICARIO – Film Trailer

Footnote to Parents
Strictly above the age of 15 only, and with a parent or adult guardian for under 18. Not a film for the faint of heart due to the strong nature of its violence and graphic images.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Village Roadshow, Alexandra Karolos and Village Cinemas Gold Class, Jam Factory for the invite to the media screening of SICARIO.

Review by Moviedoc
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The Visit

94 minutes, Comedy/Horror, M

M. Night Shyamalan
A name you know thanks to 1999’s ripping, gripping thriller THE SIXTH SENSE.
M. Night Shyamalan
Not a name you know for bringing comedy!
In fact, you gotta go right back before THE SIXTH SENSE to 1998’s WIDE AWAKE, which starred Rosie O’Donnell to find the Shyamalan name anywhere near a comedy as Writer & Director!
Well then, welcome to THE VISIT, an original comedy with the propensity to scare.
Bec and Tyler (Australia’s Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) are excited to meet their Nan and Pop for the first time. It isn’t before long though that they soon realise why they’re not allowed outside of their bedroom after 9 30pm!

The Visit - Film Poster
The greatest struggle THE VISIT will face is finding the right audience. Hopefully I can help with that, for this comedy/horror is the best Shyamalan film we’ve had for years. Maybe even since THE SIXTH SENSE. Everything achieved here, whether it be laughter or suspenseful moments, is very intentional. Much of this very entertaining films comedic tunes stem from the rather awkward, highly bizarre situations Bec & Tyler find themselves in, their interactions with Nana & Pop, and from Tyler himself. The suspenseful side of proceedings unfold gradually and continue to build with each strange sequence we witness with the kids’ throughout. THE VISIT may never become as sinister as horror aficionados will be hoping. Shyamalan even finds inventive ways to incorporate a comedic angle to most his more intense scenes, yet everyone ought to be impressed by an upcoming and unforeseen twist, which is a beauty!

The Visit - Film Still

Lastly, well worthy of a mention are its four key cast members. Of a theatrical background in acting come Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie as Nana and Pop are they’re terrific, applying just the right amounts of creepy and normality when called for. Ed Oxenbould (He was Alexander from ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY, PAPER PLANES and TV Series “Puberty Blues”) and Olivia DeJonge excel as Bec and Tyler. Being scared ain’t easy to do. These kids do scared, confused and show a real trust in the vision M. Night Shyamalan successfully transitions to screen.

♥ ♥ ♥ ½

THE VISIT – Film Trailer

Footnote to Parents
Not for those easily frightened or too young either. Consider it for ages above 13 and bear in mind some disturbing and violent thematic material, some language, nudity and terror.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Universal Pictures and The Astor Theatre for the invitation to the media screening of THE VISIT

Review by Moviedoc
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Everest

121 minutes, Drama/Adventure, M

There is a little bit of Oscar buzz circulating in the movie realm for EVEREST, a true story which stars half of Hollywood! No joke! How’s this for just some of the main cast list – Jason Clarke, Martin Henderson, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Debicki, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright. So what have they all to do here? The men (and one female) are mountain climbing while the women are either waiting anxiously at home to hear if their loved ones are still safe or they’re working at base camp on Everest. Based on various books about a major disaster that took place in 1996, EVEREST chronicles the extremely arduous and highly dangerous climb to the summit in an attempt to reach the highest point on Earth.

Film Poster - Everest

Despite the building hype and the fact it is based on real events, I had an avalanche of issues rushing to mind concerning this disaster/survival film after seeing it. The cast list, although undeniably appealing and impressive has resulted in the writers giving their audience a rather steep mountain to climb for themselves. With the narrative arc of the film barely there for almost the entire duration, forming a real fondness for any of our climbers before they take to the slopes isn’t really given much of a chance. And with so many team members trekking upwards in separate teams, there is a real lack of simplicity and clearness to aid the audience in differentiating one climber from another, thus making EVEREST a confusing and frustrating ordeal. Furthermore, a valid point to make at the risk of sounding insensitive, this movie is hoping to gain empathy from an audience who may not be willing to show any for a group of (rich) people who knowingly thrust themselves into a dangerous situation where Mother Nature calls the shots. Whilst my experience was not involving as I’d hoped it would be, EVEREST, courtesy of visual excellence (some scenes are borrowed from the 1998 IMAX film EVEREST) and its attention in detailing some physical complexities and ramifications together with its score does resonate when at its strongest peaks. And Keira Knightley can do the Kiwi accent very convincingly!

♥ ♥ ½

Film Trailer – EVEREST

Footnote to Parents 
The disaster scenes carry a medium to strong level of intensity and there are some disturbing images that give EVEREST its justified M rating and therefore is recommended for ages over 13. No violence and very little swearing to note.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Universal Pictures and Hoyts Melbourne Central for the invitation to the media screening of EVEREST.

Review by Moviedoc
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Oddball

95 minutes, Family/True Story, G

Warrnambool. The picturesque country town, just over 250 kilometers South West of Melbourne where I spent six years of my teenage life. It is also the place this gorgeous true story takes place. Named after the star of our show, Oddball is a gentle-natured canine of Maremma breed (shown in the below picture) who may very well be the town’s last resort and solution to saving the rapidly declining population of little penguins (who steal every scene they’re in) on Middle Island, whom are tragically being killed by wild foxes (who likes those!). Will ‘Swampy’ (Shane Jacobson from KENNY), a local chicken farmer and owner of Oddball, save the penguin colony?

Oddball - Film Poster

From a completely biased perspective firstly, Warrnambool is captured beautifully on camera throughout ODDBALL and how lovely it was to pay a visit. Locals especially will just love this production, the stars it has attracted and the telling of the true story they’ll already be very familiar with. A genuine all-ages film, this light-natured drama tells its story in an utterly pleasant manner, easily accessible for a younger audience. How ‘Swampy’ finds his idea and the motivations that drive him to use Oddball as a guardian of the penguins is entertainingly rendered. With so many animals and a good cast on set, it is evident all in on the project had a great time making ODDBALL. Also starring one of our countries biggest stars, Sarah Snook as Swampy’s daughter, Emily who works for the council trying to save what’s left of the penguin population, American actor Alan Tudyk – boyfriend of Emily and Deborah Mailman as the town Mayor, ODDBALL is a good choice for the family these school holidays.

♥ ♥ ♥

Footnote to Parents
Nothing of any concern for parents here. Suitable for all ages.
Moviedoc wishes to thank Village Roadshow and Village Cinemas Jam Factory for the invite to the media screening of Oddball.
Review by Moviedoc
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