Author: moviedocmelbourne

Leigh Farrugia, also known as 'Moviedoc', writes reviews that you can read before watching a film! You never need to worry about finding out what happens during a film, for Moviedoc believes that less is more! Furthermore, you can rely on Moviedoc's reviews to help guide you when deciding which films to see and where, and which to avoid, all tailored purely to your taste! For over five years, Moviedoc has been reviewing movies, most of which are seen by invitation from film distributors to attend their pre-release media screenings. Future aspirations include, but are not limited to, continuing to build a strong fan base, growing movie knowledge and enhancing creative writing skills to enter the world of online newspaper sources. Please feel free to leave feedback, comments and you can follow all posts and reviews by liking Moviedoc on Facebook as well as following this blog site.

JUST TO BE SURE (OTEZ-MOI D’UN DOUTE)

Director
Carine Tardieu
(THE DANDELIONS)

Stars
François Damiens, Guy Marchand, Alice De Lencquesaing, Cécile De France and André Wilms

In JUST TO BE SURE, forty-five year old widower, Erwan (François Damiens), takes his pregnant daughter, Juliette (Alice de Lencquesaing) to be tested for a potentially genetic illness that his Aunt had been diagnosed with. The results of the DNA test prove to be more alarming than they had both expected. After confirmation that Juliette is all-clear of the illness, Erwan is informed that he shares no genes in common with his father. Faced with the shocking fact that the man he’s called dad for his entire life is not his real one, Erwan goes in search for his biological father that sets-up an awkward chain of events to follow.

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Please don’t be mislead by a synopsis that may sound more serious in nature. A crowd-pleasing hit from the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, French comedy JUST TO BE SURE is sure to be the feel-good film showing in cinemas over the Christmas period.

A very creative and cleverly thought-out screenplay is more than enough to keep JUST TO BE SURE’s audience feeling entirely amused by the coincidental (and sometimes unfortunate) formation of the relations between the film’s primary characters. While its problematic and funny scenarios play out, a delightfully inventive script that is written with plenty of wit and quirk in characterisation amplifies the heartfelt entertainment continuously on offer. For instance, you just can’t disregard the smart and hilarious name of a particular canine and the ironic orders given to that dog. Or the very cheeky use of a certain item that is a substitute for a balloon. Such endearing writing works like these examples keep JUST TO BE SURE completely joyous to watch.

As a closing compliment, each of the acting performances from the well-known French cast are simply wonderful. 

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
(Coarse language)

Trailer
JUST TO BE SURE/OTEZ-MOI D’UN DOUTE

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

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THE SECRET SCRIPTURE

Director
Jim Sheridan
(IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, MY LEFT FOOT, IN AMERICA, THE BOXER, BROTHERS)

Stars
Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara, Eric Bana, Susan Lynch, Theo James, Jack Reynor and Aidan Turner

Based on the 2008 Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Sebastian Barry, THE SECRET SCRIPTURE stars Vanessa Redgrave as Lady Rose, a patient at a hospital for the mentally ill who has lived there for over forty years. When it is announced that the hospital is being demolished, Lady Rose is prepared for transfer by her nurse (Susan Lynch) and a psychiatrist, Dr William Grene (Eric Bana). As Dr Grene assesses Lady Rose, he questions the cause for her admittance to the facility all of those years ago as well as the reason for her lengthy stay. Told via flashbacks throughout the film, Lady Rose recounts her life throughout the 1930’s (now played by Rooney Mara) and the devastating, life-changing events that led to her medical confinement.

For the benefit of its viewers, I am going to reveal one of the secrets (not spoilers!) of THE SECRET SCRIPTURE. It is not until the second half of the film that the script begins to reveal its most important and dramatic detail mentioned in the synopsis. Until the development of such proceedings, please prepare yourselves for some serious drama that’s near-impossible to take seriously. The opening half of those flashback sequences is dominated by a strange love triangle (of sorts) that involves Rose, a war pilot named Michael (Jack Reynor) and….. are you ready for this? A Priest played by THE DIVERGENT SERIES pin up star, Theo James! Regardless, each of these men play a crucial part as to how Rose’s future will eventuate. A couple of other factors that also do not help THE SECRET SCRIPTURE to earn the involvement it is after include Eric Bana’s wonky accent that travels all across the globe and flat storytelling, which has a tendency to bore. Despite all of this, it may come as a surprise to learn that THE SECRET SCRIPTURE isn’t at all a challenge to sit through. The extremely picturesque photography, a beautifully composed score and Rooney Mara’s committed performance are all of a strong presence throughout this handsome production.

It is very likely that you will find THE SECRET SCRIPTURE’s contrived conclusion quite foreseeable. While its shortcomings do leave this film exposed to justifiable criticism and doubt, there is little doubt in its ability to still involve the large majority of more forgiving audiences who see this.

3 stars


Viewer Discretion
M
 (Mature themes, sex scene and coarse language)

Trailer
THE SECRET SCRIPTURE

Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the private screener link to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc
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WONDER WHEEL

Writer & Director
Woody Allen
(ANNIE HALL, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, CAFE SOCIETY)

Stars
Jim Belushi, Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake and Juno Temple

The main attraction at Coney Island amusement park during the 1950’s is the stormy relationship between carousel operator Humpty (Jim Belushi) and his neurotic, unhappy wife, Ginny (Kate Winslet), a former actress who now works as a waitress. There is also a young lifeguard and aspiring writer named Mickey (Justin Timberlake), who narrates this story while keeping the waters of Coney Island safe. When Humpty’s estranged daughter, Carolina (Juno Temple) arrives unannounced at Coney Island seeking refuge from some dangerous men, each of their lives intertwine and are turned upside down in unexpected ways.

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This intermittently interesting mild-mannered drama might keep the evergreen career of writer & director Woody Allen turning, however WONDER WHEEL regularly becomes stuck in its own attempts to be a wheel of good fortune.

There are only faint glimpses of the lofty standards that filmmaker Woody Allen can effortlessly reach sighted here. These are briefly spotted when the separate character relationships in the film deepen, as certain substantial developments in the plot are made and while depth is being added to Kate Winslet’s character, Ginny. Even the threat of forthcoming malice from the moment that Humpty’s daughter appears can sporadically add some much-needed edge to the film. But unfortunately, each of these components are short-lived due to several passages of lengthy exchanges of dialogue that rarely build to any part of the story. This is of course a trademark of Woody’s, however in WONDER WHEEL it is often a rotation of endless babble. Furthermore, this film’s later proceedings are disappointingly quite visible from early, which is not what one expects when attending a Woody Allen movie. A vital plot detail concerning the plight of character of Carolina (that won’t be mentioned here) is also inexplicably and unforgivably skipped over. From a production perspective, WONDER WHEEL also lets down. Aside from the opening scene and the occasional shot here and there, more use of such a gorgeous setting during the time depicted was begging to be made. Perhaps the crew were being kept too busy by the strange and unnecessarily distracting lighting cast over the films characters.

Die-hard fans of Woody Allen who will see WONDER WHEEL regardless will at least be somewhat rewarded by a top-notch performance from Kate Winslet. 

2 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
PG (Mild themes, sex scenes and coarse language)

Trailer
WONDER WHEEL

Moviedoc thanks entertainment one for the invite to the screening of this film.

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WONDER

Director
Stephen Chbosky
(THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER)

Stars
Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic and Noah Jupe

Most of you are aware that WONDER is based on the New York Times best seller of the same name by author Raquel Jaramillo (better known by her pen name, R. J. Palacio).  Less of you will know the source of her inspiration for writing the story that is told in WONDER. While out for ice cream with her young son one day, Raquel and her three year-old boy saw a young girl with facial defects, which immediately resulted with the author’s son bursting into tears. Sometime after this incident, R. J. Palacio heard the song “Wonder” by Natalie Merchant and recognised an opportunity to teach society a valuable lesson after listening closely to its lyrics.

Born with the extremely rare medical syndrome Mandibulofacial Dystosis (or Treacher Collins Syndrome), August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay from Oscar-winning film ROOM) has already undergone twenty-seven facial surgeries so far in his young life. This is the main reason for his delayed induction into elementary school, where he is about to commence fifth grade after being previously home-schooled by his mum, Isabel (Julia Roberts). With the additional support of his older sister Olivia (Izabela Vidovic) and father, Nate (Owen Wilson), Auggie embarks on the courageous and frightening journey of starting school and attempting to make friends.


A perfect family film in every way imaginable, WONDER is a beautiful movie that deserves all of the warm reviews, audience affection and box office success it’s currently the recipient of.

Upon grasping the story, it becomes instantaneously transparent what the intentions of WONDER are going to be. However, this wonderful story grows even closer to your heart and adds further meaning & significance by broadening its scope to sharing separate perspectives covering Auggie’s story. Aside from the greater depth given to its characterisation, each of these viewpoints permit the film’s narrative to both bring and build on less obvious themes covered in WONDER, such as peer pressure and neglect. On the subject of its themes, whether it is showing some of the repercussions of bullying, illustrating the importance of inclusion or asking us to change the way we see, WONDER always conveys its non-preachy message with decency, courage and integrity. Though he is the primary victim of that bullying, Auggie is an incredibly endearing character whose gorgeous sense of humour and inspiring resilience never allows the profound sympathies of his audience to turn to deep sorrow. Young actor Jacob Tremblay articulates this just perfectly. WONDER also features many immaculate performances from both its younger cast (Noah Jupe as Auggie’s friend, Jack, is a stand out) and its more experienced actors, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.

Working up a perfect balance of feel-good and heartfelt moments, WONDER is a wholly connecting film that is completely accessible to all ages. Highly recommended!

4 stars

Viewer Discretion
PG (Mild themes and coarse language)

Trailer
WONDER

Moviedoc thanks Roadshow Films for the in-season pass provided to watch and review this film.

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THE TEACHER (UCITELKA)

Director
Jan Hrebejk
(DIVIDED WE FALL, COSY DENS)

Stars
Zuzana Mauréry, Martin Havelka, Peter Bebjak, Tamara Fischer and Richard Labuda

From her very first day at a suburban school in Czechoslovakia during the early 1980’s, school teacher Mrs Drazdechová (Zuzana Mauréry) establishes her intentions to add an unorthodox subject to her curriculum. As class commences, Mrs Drazdechová orders every student to openly share what each of their parents do for a living. It is only the beginning of how the manipulative teacher, who is seeking personal gain, will cause division among fellow staff, her students and their parents.

Meanwhile, after some time, the school’s principal decides to organise a secret meeting with the parents of the controversial teacher’s pupils to have them sign a petition for the expulsion of Mrs Drazdechová, who has high connections within the Communist party.

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Inspired by a true story, THE TEACHER demonstrates its two scenarios simultaneously from start to end. Throughout the opening minutes, it can be troublesome trying to pinpoint the separate timelines depicted due to the unclear editing. Don’t let that be of any ongoing concern to you though for once the structure is properly formed, THE TEACHER is a fascinating lesson in the art of manipulation. The appalling behaviour and practices of Mrs Drazdechová and the significant toll that her unacceptable actions have on her students is strongly and appropriately recognised. Labelled as a black comedy, THE TEACHER does derive some humour (mostly) from the bickering of parents. You see, Mrs Drazdechová does have support from parents whose kids grades are (cough; enhanced thanks to duties being served to her) where they need to be. Thankfully, THE TEACHER doesn’t allow any inappropriate, out-of-place amusement to interfere with what is a story that ought to be taken just as seriously as the commanding display of acting from Zuzana Mauréry as Mrs Drazdechová. Her final scenes are especially a stand-out!

3 ½ stars

Click to view full size image

Viewer Discretion
(Mature themes, coarse language and brief nudity)

Trailer
THE TEACHER

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the preview screening pass provided to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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BETTER WATCH OUT

Director
Chris Peckover 
(Undocumented)

Stars
Levi Miller, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton

This Australian-American co-production, shot in Sydney, has been described as HOME ALONE meets THE STRANGERS. A psycho-thriller starring three internationally known young Australian stars – Levi Miller (PAN, RED DOG: TRUE BLUE), Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould (lead actors from M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VISIT), BETTER WATCH OUT won’t be forgotten in a hurry for those who are brave enough to persevere with it!

In the lead up to Christmas, Robert and Deandra Lerner (Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen) arrange for their regular babysitter, Ashley (DeJonge) to mind their son, Luke (Miller) while they attend an evening function. Despite being a number of years older than him and aged at just twelve himself, Luke possesses a sizable crush on Ashley and his plans to reveal that tonight, but has his intentions thwarted when an intruder breaks into his home. As Ashley protects herself and Luke during a snowy night in this quiet American suburb, it is soon discovered that this is no normal home invasion.


Before even considering adding BETTER WATCH OUT to your watch list, you ought to know that the faux plot synopsis as mentioned above only temporarily resides for the sole intention of leading us closer to its real premise, which is much more dark, daunting and disturbing. To tell you the truth, once it becomes clear what’s really going on, and just how far the script is prepared to go with this, that ultimate premise is a mightily tough sell. At times throughout, it can be difficult to discern what exact reaction BETTER WATCH OUT is aiming to provoke and what feelings it intends for its viewers to have. Especially if you enter the cinema with the incorrect impression that this film is categorised as a comedy/horror. This uncomfortable psycho-thriller is in dire need of either a sub-plot to offer the occasional distraction from its disconcerting trajectory and/or more pronounced psychological depth attributed to its antagonists in order for it to not be as tough a pill to swallow as it is.

In any case, the story written by Zack Kahn (TV series Mad) must be commended for venturing into territory that many others rarely dare to go. Special mention must also be made to the undoubtedly challenging acting roles filled by Olivia DeJonge and Levi Miller. Their strong and committed performances help to keep viewers glued to the screen, regardless of whether BETTER WATCH OUT is reprehensible or rewarding for you to watch.

2 ½ stars


Viewer Discretion

MA15+ (Strong themes, violence and coarse language, some disturbing scenes)

Trailer
BETTER WATCH OUT

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution and Ned & Co for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc
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THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

Director
Yorgos Lanthimos
(THE LOBSTER, DOGTOOTH)

Stars
Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic

Fresh from their impeccable appearances in Sofia Coppola’s excellent erotic drama THE BEGUILED, Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman star in this new psychological thriller/horror from the director of the 2015 arthouse hit THE LOBSTER, Yorgos Lanthimos. Coincidentally, both this film and THE BEGUILED were nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and each took away separate award wins, with THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER earning the Best Screenplay (a tie with YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE) prize.

Successful and renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) lives in a beautiful home with his ophthamologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two children, teenage daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and twelve year-old son Bob (Sunny Suljic). At work, Steven is occasionally visited by a fatherless teenage boy, named Martin (Barry Keoghan from DUNKIRK), who he acts as a mentor for. As Martin’s visits become more frequent and his behaviour turns rather menacing, Steven’s personal life simultaneously begins to fall apart.


The sublime execution from Lanthimos at creating a bizarre world that is built within the commonalities of everyday society brilliantly procures every ounce of darkly odd humour it can derive and is an easing brewing of masterful psychological intrigue. What makes this fascinating world so curiously bizarre are the vocal mannerisms and the often random, off-centre & unorthodox dialogue that is exchanged by every character that inhabits the film. Being in the presence of such unworldly people in a familiar world sure as heck succeeds at gaining 100% of your attention!

Once the background concerning these characters’ pasts is formed and their future trajectories become increasingly bleak, which unfold together, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER becomes an evermore transfixing experience. Now, that aforementioned psychological intrigue has assumed a much more ominous tone as the film evolves into the genre of true psychological horror. To this extent, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER is a near masterpiece. Though there is no decline to its boundless psychological and atmospheric properties, all that hinders this film from earning all-round genuine excellence are some major flaws (particularly during its finale) in consistency that are needed for the validation of what is ultimately being sold.

3 ½ stars


Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong themes)

Trailer
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

Moviedoc thanks Madman Entertainment for the in-season pass provided to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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