Month: November 2015

LOVE THE COOPERS

107 minutes, Comedy, M

Arriving early this festive season is our annual Christmas-themed, ensemble comedy LOVE THE COOPERS. Starring Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Olivia Wilde, Jake Lacy, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, Anthony Mackie, Ed Helms, Marisa Tomei and June Squibb, they individually comprise each member of the Cooper family. Coming together from near and far to the residence of Charlotte and Sam (Keaton & Goodman) for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, the film chronicles their ups and downs en route to dinner where every unexpected revelations will turn the night upside down.

Christmas time is the most wonderful time of the year.
Christmas with the Coopers is the most horrendous time of the year!
Here is a rundown of who is who and what they do during a plot-less, plodding opening hour – Diane Keaton does what Diane Keaton has been doing for the best part of 20 years. Here, as Charlotte, she and husband Sam barely keep their 40 year marriage afloat. And struggle to keep it a secret too. Till death do them part seems a viable option now! Alan Arkin’s Bucky goes all weak at the knees, “I feel much younger inside” over waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried). Shoplifting shrink Emma (Marisa Tomei) gives Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie) an obligatory counselling session during the longest drive ever recorded in film to a local station. Olivia Wilde’s Eleanor, in an awfully predictable “met the perfect guy at the wrong but really right time” with the films best character, Joe (Jake Lacy). Then we have Ed Helms as Hank, whose wife Angie (Alex Borstein), has a bad habit of spitting food while she talks and they’re complimented by their son Charlie (Timothee Chalamet), a terrible kisser. Sound like fun to you? But wait, there’s more! The inexplicable need for a narrator (you’ll feel insulted when you discover at the very end just which character narrates the film!) is thrown in, because you know, it’s just all so complicated keeping up with such self-absorbed individuals mundane lives. Yeah, you do not want to spend your Christmas with the Coopers!

1 out of 5

LOVE THE COOPERS – Film Trailer

Footnote to Parents
Contains some sexual content and references, themes and moderate coarse language. At parents discretion for ages 13 and up.

 

Moviedoc wishes to thank Claire, eOne & The Backlot Studios for the invite to the Melbourne Media Screening of LOVE THE COOPERS.

 

Review by Moviedoc
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CREED

133 minutes, Drama, M

Rocky Balboa is back! Albeit, not inside the boxing ring this time around, as we’ve previously seen. Trust me, wise move! Unlike the unnecessary 2006 release ROCKY BALBOA, which if anything proved Stallone needed to remove the gloves at the end of 1990, the champ makes a welcomed return in CREED. Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan), son of former pro-boxer Apollo Creed (whom Rocky fought back in his day) wants to prove to the boxing world he is not just his Father’s son. Adonis approaches Rocky, who is well into retirement managing his Italian diner, to be his trainer and mentor. 

Creed (2015) Poster

This is the first film in the ROCKY series not written (or directed either) by Stallone. Showing wonderful sportsmanship and a respectful understanding of Rocky’s true role in CREED, Sly steps aside and allows the dynamic Jordan to take pro position. As a result, CREED does indeed pair together two talented artists for a mutually beneficial outcome. Having previously worked together as director & actor respectively in acclaimed drama FRUITVALE STATION, Ryan Coogler’s vintage representation, which serves as an ode to past ROCKY films, together with Jordan’s fierce, emotion-charged performance, collaboratively combine to a valuable degree in CREED. All the clichés for a boxing movie are well and truly in tact, yet it is the treatment applied to them which consistently elevates CREED well above your standard sport flick. Boasting outstanding cinematography in & out of the ring and warm characters easy to feel affection for, CREED truly is not bad at all!

3.5 out of 5

 

CREED – Film Trailer

 

Footnote to Parents
An M classification is in place for some bloody scenes during fight sequences, moderate violence that takes place outside of the ring, some coarse language and mature themes. There is also a scene or two of intimacy, but no nudity at all. My recommendation, from age 13 and up at parents’ discretion.

 

Moviedoc wishes to thank Roadshow Films and Village Cinema, Jam Factory for the invite to Melbourne Preview of CREED.

 

Review by Moviedoc
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The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2

137 Minutes, Action-Adventure/Drama, M

 

The wait is over. After four years, four films (from three books) and 548 minutes of movie watching, the saga following the plight of Katniss Everdeen, loved by many all around the world, comes to an end with this highly anticipated final instalment – MOCKINGJAY – PART 2. After a cliffhanger ending in PART 1, the war on Panem hits new destructive heights as each District is devastated by actions of the Capitol. It is up to Katniss, leader of the rebellion against the Capitol, to form an alliance that can finally put an end to the oppressive power of its leader – President Snow.

 

This is what is certain about MOCKINGJAY – PART 2; The quality of not only this film, but the entire franchise production, is always high. Even during its less potent moments, MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 is still a cut above all other blockbuster releases aimed at the same demographic. Although it’s not consistently at the fore in this final release, the entire series key theme grounds this film to easily be a hugely compelling watch. Jennifer Lawrence hasn’t even heard of the term “out of character” let alone being caught in that moment – she is enthralling to watch and makes Katniss a character to not only care about but be completely inspired by. Something else is certain about MOCKINGJAY – PART 2; there didn’t need to be a part 2!

 


Despite this final film in the HUNGER GAMES franchise still being a very good film, it isn’t epic. And it should have been. Visibly stretched to reach 260 minutes in two-parts, the understandable yet obvious decision to earn more than double the dollars one film would bring in has resulted in an inconsistent final chapter that loses its stranglehold over the audience too often, taking too much time getting us to the climax we’re all waiting for. Is the wait worthwhile at least? Absolutely! The thrills and chills generated not only during that climax, but throughout, courtesy of the reintroduction of some “Hunger Games”, bring you to the edge of your seat, but the tension and engrossing drama just cannot be sustained or as impacting as what one two and a half to three hour epic closing chapter surely would have been.

3.5 out of 5

THE HUNGER GAMES – MOCKINGJAY PART 2 Film Trailer

 Footnote to Parents
MOCKINGJAY – PART 2, is the most intense of the four films. It did enough to earn a “horror sequence” in its M classification. Nonetheless, the same crowd and age barrier that have seen the previous movies will be mostly fine (maybe except that horror sequence) in this. After all, you have to let them watch the final chapter in a four part series now! ;-P

Moviedoc wishes to thank Alex, Roadshow Films and Village Cinemas – Crown for the invitation to the Melbourne Premiere of THE HUNGER GAMES – MOCKINGJAY PART 2

 

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SECRET IN THEIR EYES

111 Minutes, Drama/Mystery, M

SECRET IN THEIR EYES is a remake of the 2009 Argentine crime/thriller EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS (THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES), which won the Best Foreign Film Oscar at the 82nd Academy Awards. As expected in a remake, certain adjustments have been manufactured in this 2015 redo, mostly to the professions of its main characters and to the time its harrowing events take place. Despite working in film since the 1980’s, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman have never acted in the same film, until now. They headline a highly appealing cast along with Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 YEARS A SLAVE), who portrays Ray, an investigator that cannot let go of one particular case that occurred 13 years ago. It tragically involved the brutal death of his colleague’s daughter and with a fresh lead on the case, Ray requests it now be re-opened.

SECRET IN THEIR EYES - Film Trailer

The case that is before us and the investigation that follows is completely and utterly compelling. No doubt about that. It was just as compelling in the 2009 original. When that case isn’t the screenplay’s priority, the focus shifts to a particular sub-plot involving District Attorney Supervisor, Claire (Kidman) that was (not so seemingly) dead and buried 13 years ago too. While there was most certainly potential for this distraction to offer another layer of intrigue to its premise, far too much screen time is devoted to this stagnant and dull add-on that unfortunately reduces the great, yet much-maligned Nicole Kidman to do little else other than perform awkward gazes and soft whispers. She deserves much better, reminding us in just one powerful and pivotal scene, the brilliance she’s capable of, in a heartbeat. The conclusion to SECRET IN THEIR EYES is memorable and will have your full attention, yet you may find a couple of the pieces just don’t quite fit the puzzle. So what value does this remake offer? At its best, an absorbing drama that is sometimes thought-provoking, yet never quite reaches the soaring dramatic heights or thrilling frights it was so capable of, as expertly demonstrated in similarly-themed Swedish and US THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO films.

3 out of 5

SECRET IN THEIR EYES – Film Trailer

Footnote to Parents
This premise, quite brutal in nature yet not too graphic, is aimed for an audience over 15 years of age. It contains mature thematic elements, some violent images which may disturb and some offensive language including sexual references.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Harriet, Roadshow Films and Village Cinemas, Jam Factory for the invite to the Melbourne Media Screening of SECRET IN THEIR EYES.

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99 HOMES

112 Minutes, Drama, M

Produced on a modest budget of $5.0m in 2014 and dedicated to the late film critic, Roger Ebert, is this resolutely hard-hitting American drama set in Florida, 99 HOMES. Starring Michael Shannon (FREEHELD), Andrew Garfield (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 1 & 2) and Laura Dern (WILD), a young Father – Dennis Nash (Garfield) is evicted from his family home along with his Mother (Dern) and son (Noah Lomax) for not being able to repay the bank for a loan taken out. Out of work and forced to live in surroundings that are dangerous for his young son, Dennis accepts an offer to work for the greedy real estate broker, Rick Carver (Shannon), who evicted him.

99 HOMES - Film Poster

While not credited to be based on an actual true to life story, this story is inspired by a real event and is often realistic in its presentation. The compelling subject matter, treated with a striking sense of urgency that it requires, is one that undoubtedly occurs in parts of America, and across the world, today. A tremendously prepared, structured and written screenplay gives the audience a comprehensive understanding of each lead characters situation, how they got there and the causes that lead to past & present actions. As such, 99 HOMES doesn’t just work solely as a completely convincing, situational suburban drama, but is also a fully functional character film. After a couple of stops by big blockbuster mainstream cinema, Andrew Garfield finds himself in career-best form to date, displaying a wide range of conflicting emotions in a truly raw way. Adding to the palpable tension already summoned up by a tightly written script is its heart-pounding score. The studious directional work from Ramin Bahrani always ensures the film’s key points and themes will be well and truly grasped in this gripping and heartfelt drama. Highly recommended.

4 out of 5

99 HOMES – Film Trailer

Footnote to Parents
Due mostly to its thematic content, 99 HOMES is best viewed to a mature teenage audience and up. Also contains offensive language including some sexual references and a violent image.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Tessa, Madman and Cinema NOVA for the invitation to the media screening of 99 HOMES.

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SPECTRE

148 minutes, Action/Adventure, M

You may have heard. SPECTRE is breaking records. And I’m not talking about Box Office records around the world alone either! This, the 24th film to be released under the James Bond franchise officially entered the Guinness World Records this week for claiming the largest film stunt explosion, ever! In his fourth outing as the world’s favourite spy is Daniel Craig. In SPECTRE, 007 receives a cryptic message which sends him on a dangerous globe-trotting chase after the leader of a secret and sinister organisation.

SPECTRE - Film Poster

You may have heard. There’s another headline currently circulating in the media regarding SPECTRE. At age 51, Italian veteran Monica Bellucci is the oldest ever Bond girl, and four years Daniel Craig’s senior. So how does this not-so-slight variation in age barrier for Mr Bond fare? Well, for the five minutes or so she’s given, much better than the (too much) screen time devoted to Bond’s standard of female, Madeleine Swann, played by French-born actress Lea Seydoux, who has to be one of the most less-appealing Bond girls in recent memory.

SPECTRE starts in spectacular style! An innovative, awe-inspiring opening act that is shot as one continuous take set deep in the heart of a Mexican festival known as “Day of the Dead” is simply breathtaking stuff and as close to perfection as any set-piece sequence could be! So if you go to SPECTRE, do not be late! However, raising the bar early before that bar takes a siesta becomes quite disappointingly habitual in SPECTRE. Want another example? Take the immediately appealing casting of INGLORIOUS BASTERDS & DJANGO UNCHAINED Oscar-winner star, Christoph Waltz. as the prime villain. After an early taste of the smooth-talking, calmly malicious presence of Waltz, in an excellent segment set in Rome, the script-writers decide to delay his re-appearance for so long, it would make the wait for the arrival of a cancelled Metro train service feel fast! Even Christoph Waltz himself seems unimpressed by this, somewhat underplaying his villainous role during the final act.

SPECTRE - Film Still

The true let down of SPECTRE is its screenplay. At two and a half hours in length, and yes it feels it too, the script writers keep their audience waiting far too long for the showdown it builds the climax for. In between that and the sensational opening, there are a number of exciting and well-staged action sequences shot in several locations around the world, which is usually when SPECTRE is at its most entertaining and its best. Yet once all the carnage has been packed up and put away, and apart from an interesting plot involving M (Ralph Fiennes) back at HQ, SPECTRE progresses in rather sluggish (and often too cheesy) style that truly lacks the sharpness and attentiveness Director Sam Mendes applied in his previous Bond film, the much more sophisticated SKYFALL.

3 out of 5

SPECTRE – Film Trailer

Footnote to Parents
If you’ve seen any previous Bond film, then you know what to expect – action violence and some scenes of sensuality. Nothing to shaken or stir those from 13 years and up.

Review by Moviedoc
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FREEHELD

103 Minutes, True Story/Drama, M

Earlier in the year, the film which landed a well-deserved, Best Actress Oscar into the crafty hands of acclaimed actress Julianne Moore, was released. Like she so flawlessly portrayed in STILL ALICE, Julianne Moore again occupies the role of a character that is devastatingly diagnosed with a life-ending illness. In FREEHELD, Moore is Detective Laurel Hester, a highly regarded and respected member of her police entourage. However, this terminal illness isn’t the only fight she will undertake. In the likely, and fast-progressing event of her death, Laurel wishes to leave everything she has to her life partner, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page – JUNO, INCEPTION). Current legislation stands in their way.

FREEHELD - Film Poster

As you would have easily ascertained from above, the subject matter explored throughout FREEHELD is not only one that is true to life, but also a very recent and completely relevant issue too. Seemingly sticking close to the facts, the film itself is a consistently engaging experience that’s at its best during a handful of beautifully articulated and soundly spoken speeches throughout. A serviceable 103 minute running time allows FREEHELD to establish and chronicle the fundamentals of Laurel & Stacie’s relationship, Laurel’s sickness and their battle for justice. The masterstroke of adding Steve Carrell (who replaced a busy Zach Galifianakis) to the talented cast list to portray a semi-flamboyant gay Jewish man, later into the running time undoubtedly elevates FREEHELD, right when needed too. Julianne Moore is reliably good and this is arguably Ellen Page’s best role and performance since 2007’s brilliant JUNO. Although it often feels as though FREEHELD could be better than what it is, there is no doubt its cause will be clearly conveyed by and resonate with its viewers.

3.5 out of 5

FREEHELD – Film Trailer

Footnote to Parents
Mature thematic material, some sexuality and language which make FREEHELD better suited to ages from 13-15 and up.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Claire Fromm, Entertainment One and Lido Cinema for the invitation to the preview screening of FREEHELD.

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