Comedy

LADY BIRD

Writer & Director
Greta Gerwig
(NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS)

Stars
Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalfe, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein, Timothée Chalamet, Odeya Rush and Jordan Rodrigues

The solo feature film directional debut of actress Greta Gerwig (FRANCES HA, MISTRESS AMERICA), LADY BIRD made headlines late last year by breaking a record on Rotten Tomatoes to become the best reviewed film of all time, maintaining a perfect score of 100% from 185 reviews. Now at 99% with five Oscar nominations and two Golden Globe wins, including the award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy to its name, LADY BIRD chronicles a fractured relationship between a mother and her daughter

Featuring several young and talented personalities led by American-born, Irish-raised star Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson, this coming-of-age comedy-drama is set firmly in the heart of Sacramento, California (the birthplace of Gerwig). First beginning in the year 2002, Lady Bird (as she prefers to be called) is a student at a Catholic high school who has an interest in the field of dramatic arts and auditions for the school’s next performance. It is here she also gains a new interest; fellow pupil, Danny (Lucas Hedges). As Lady Bird continues to grow into the young woman she’s becoming and begins to build a future for herself, the further away she is drifting from meeting the higher standards that her perfectionist mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalfe), expects of her.

The magnificent Saoirse Ronan, who at just twenty-three years of age already boasts an impressive acting resume that has earned her three Oscar Nominations (including a Golden Globe win for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for this film), soars in LADY BIRD. And the film is pretty darn good itself.

Despite having some parallels to her own life, Gerwig has stated that while there is a “core of truth” to this film, none of the events depicted here actually took place in her life. Nevertheless, the sharp wit and piercing honesty that drive the discourse of Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated screenplay are among some of the true highlights of LADY BIRD. There is a fair amount of emphasis on the faults of each character (and there are several of them), yet the goodness extracted from their hearts constantly outweighs their numerous imperfections. This is critical to the overall feeling you will walk away with from watching LADY BIRD. Had the writing and potently defined characterisation not been as studiously precise as they are, then your invited cynicism would likely result in a gross disconnection to the characters and a complete misunderstanding of the film. Adding to the healthy pulse of the film’s humour is its engagingly whimsical tone and some very blunt dialogue. On the flip side, the latter stretches of Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother and Laurie Metcalfe’s excellent Oscar-nominated performance is bound to tug onto a few heart strings. A generally bittersweet film, LADY BIRD beautifully realises the various ways in which people never stop learning and growing.

As director, Greta Gerwig has employed a steady pacing that is deceptively fast-moving, courtesy of its briefly captured scenes paired with the prompt editing work. This is a highly original and rather impressive first shot at directing solo from Gerwig that has not just earned her a well-deserved Academy Award nomination but will keep her audience attentive and entertained. Job well done!

3 ½ stars

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

Trailer
LADY BIRD

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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PITCH PERFECT 3

Director
Trish Sie
(STEP UP ALL IN)

Stars
Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hana Mae Lee, John Lithgow and Ruby Rose

This third and final instalment of the PITCH PERFECT trilogy has been handed the largest budget (a whopping $65 million) of all three films after PITCH PERFECT 2 (a $29 million budget) grossed a total of $287 million at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing music comedy film of all-time. In case you’re in need of a reminder, this movie’s predecessor, which was directed by star Elizabeth Banks, ended with the Bellas claiming the championship at the World Finals in Copenhagen. As PITCH PERFECT 3 begins, the Bellas are working ordinary jobs having gone their separate ways after their a cappella group came to its end. An opportunity to reunite arises when they enter a competition for the United Services Organisation (USO) tour, which will return them to a few countries throughout Europe. Standing in their way are a group who use instruments, led by Calamity (Ruby Rose), and Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) estranged father (John Lithgow), who has other plans for his own personal reunion.

Most of that inflated budget has been unwisely invested into a sub-plot that is not only completely out of place and belongs to an entirely different genre of film, it also gatecrashes the Bellas’ reunion by taking centre stage. Introducing Fat Amy’s villainous father and his completely inconceivable mission was never going to work, regardless of how much screen time it would consume. Casting a non-Australian actor in the great John Lithgow (TV Series The Crown, BEATRIZ AT DINNER), who can evidently do just about everything except for an Aussie accent, is another bad misstep made by PITCH PERFECT 3. It actually hurt my ears listening to this horrible attempt at our difficult way of speaking! You have been warned.

Already far from perfection, the girl power that’s kept this franchise alive begins to turn rather sour in PITCH PERFECT 3. The novelties that the original film brought that remained reasonably enjoyable in its sequel really wear off here. Certain idiosyncrasies belonging to the various characters just don’t have the wit or the sharpness they once had. Some of the roles, such as commentators (who turn to documenting the Bellas journey) played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, feel as though they are there by obligation only. Even the performance sequences, which were reliably enjoyable in past films, don’t arouse the same pleasure third time round. Only the grounding presence of Anna Kendrick and the liveliness of Rebel Wilson prevents PITCH PERFECT 3 from being entirely rePITCHulous.

2 stars

Viewer Discretion
(Sexual references)

Trailer
PITCH PERFECT 3

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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BEST & WORST MOVIES OF 2017 including the highlights and some low-lights

Hello everyone

Firstly, a huge thank you for every review you have read, liked, shared, commented on and even chatted to me about in person. Thanks to you and your incredible support, I had a very productive year of film watching and reviewing!

In total, I got to see and review 141 films officially released in 2017 alone, which is 15 more than I was able to see at this same time in 2016! Of these, more than 25 movies received a 4 star rating from me, so I have compiled a ‘Best 25’ list this year as well as a ‘Worst 5’.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading this post. I also hope you take away a handful of films to see that you’ve never previously heard of or watched!
As always, please get in touch to share your views and best & worst movies.

I look forward to your continued support and interaction in what will be an even bigger and busier year of film watching & reviewing in 2018, where I hope to review a monthly classic and bring a review or two fresh from my attendance at film festivals!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Best 25 Movies of 2017

25
WONDER
4 stars

A beautiful and meaningful story featuring a great cast that will make you cry a little but feel plenty of joy

24
PADDINGTON 2
4 stars

As sweet as marmalade itself and a sequel that’s every bit as good, if not better, than the first film. Paddington is no one-trick teddy bear!

23
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
4 stars

Arguably and in my opinion, this is the best rendition of Batman, ever! Utterly hilarious at times and scores Moviedoc’s #1 spot (just!) for best family film of 2017!

22
INGRID GOES WEST 
4 stars

All at once, this is an uncomfortably funny, dreadfully saddening and downright frightening exposé of just how far a social media addiction and obsession can take a person. Highly recommended!

21
GIFTED
4 stars

A splendid drama! One of the most underrated films of 2017! If you haven’t already, it is time to unwrap this true gift of a film.

20
THE BIG SICK
4 stars

A broadly appealing and wholly accessible romantic comedy-drama that’s not only based on a true story but even stars one of the real-life subjects; stand-up comedian, actor and writer, Kumail Nanjiani

19
BABY DRIVER
4 stars

It’s been a solid year for heist movies and this is the best of them. Flawless car chase sequences and an outstanding music score drive this slick and unique heist film. Hopefully BABY DRIVER won’t lose popularity due to co-starring Kevin Spacey, for it absolutely deserves to be seen.

18
MISS SLOANE
4 stars

Enthralling! I’ve been told those who are into TV Series “House of Cards” will want to see this. Sorry for making another connection to Kevin Spacey!

17
FENCES

4 stars

Can be a challenge to watch, especially during the first half. However, Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated performance playing a character he’s portrayed on Broadway 114 times before and Viola Davis’s Oscar-winning acting are so stellar in a movie that becomes absolutely riveting

16
THE BEGUILED
4 stars

Beautifully filmed and impeccably acted by one of the stand-out ensemble casts of the year. An excellent film from director Sofia Coppola.

15
MOONLIGHT
4 stars

You haven’t seen a story quite like the one told in MOONLIGHT before. This is the Best Picture Winner at the 2017 Academy Awards earlier this year. Brave and heartfelt storytelling.

14
MOUNTAIN
4 stars

A majestic and breathtaking cinematic experience. The Australian-made MOUNTAIN is 2017’s best documentary feature.

13
THE SALESMAN
4 stars

This is acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s (THE PAST, A SEPARATION) latest feature film. An immaculately devised and strongly executed domestic drama with a gripping finale.

12
DUNKIRK
4 stars

A minimalist war film that draws maximum anxiety and exacts a claustrophobic stranglehold over its viewers from start to end thanks largely to the ever-present score by Oscar-winning film composer, Hans Zimmer

11
HOUNDS OF LOVE
4 stars

A similar breed of film to 2011’s SNOWTOWN, HOUNDS OF LOVE is an unnerving and tense dramatic thriller that showcases an outstanding music score, cinematography and acting. The best Australian film of 2017.

10
LAND OF MINE
4 stars

An Oscar-nominated foreign film taking place after WWII, which depicts a group of very young German POWs sent to Denmark to clear thousands of hidden land mines. Stomach-turning tension is guaranteed.

9
LOVING VINCENT
4½ stars

The first-ever oil painted feature film about Vincent van Gogh is never solely limited to its visual capabilities. A sublime film.

8
SILENCE
4½ stars

Martin Scorsese’s passion project and three-hour epic is a bravely written piece that is expertly penned toward the most religiously devout. A near-masterpiece.

7
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
4½ stars

The PLANET OF THE APES film series is now officially one of my favourites, if not my absolute favourite film franchise. Combines mesmerising CGI and cinematography with a powerful and relevant story that has a strong message for humankind. I just love it!

6
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
4½ stars

The storytelling structure, its well-studied account of key themes and the honesty of its writing and character depiction achieves MANCHESTER BY THE SEA A-grade status.

5
PERFECT STRANGERS
4½ stars

What happens when a close-knit group of friends meet for dinner and share every text message, email and phone call received with one another? You will want to find out! Italian comedy PERFECT STRANGERS features one of the most cleverly conceived and carefully-considered screenplay’s of the year.

4
GET OUT
4½ stars

Movies as genius as this are few and far between. Masterfully and studiously crafted, intelligently written and flawlessly executed, GET OUT is a broadly appealing and accessible horror film at heart that functions as a menacing mystery invite to all. If you haven’t already, please accept your invitation, pronto! You will not regret it.

3
LADY MACBETH
4½ stars

Witness one of the most conceivably written, daring and exciting character transitions seen in recent years. This fierce, fearless and electrifying film turns the period drama genre on its head in near flawless fashion and is the breakout film for its star, Florence Pugh, who is scintillating. Unmissable!

2
DOWNSIZING
5 stars

The last film to receive 5 stars from me was THE HUNT in 2013! Well, it had to take something very special to break that lengthy drought. Simply put, you have never seen a film quite like DOWNSIZING before. It is extraordinary. I admired its continual refusal to yield to any form of mainstream cinema convention, despite being a mainstream-friendly release. It also unearths one of the truest & most beautifully conceived and written characters I’ve seen in any film. Hong Chau (from acclaimed TV Series Big Little Lies) is just superb as Ngoc Lan Tran, in what is one of this year’s acting highlights. Absolutely amazing in every way imaginable.

THE BEST MOVIE OF 2017

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 
5 Stars

It took me until February, 2018 to see this sensual and picturesque masterpiece. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME not only met my high expectations, it by far exceeded them. This slow-building drama set in northern Italy during a hot summer in 1983 is so precise and honest yet powerfully subtle in its articulation of the complex emotions and sensitive scenarios involving its characters. It takes some time for the forthcoming relationship to develop, yet does so organically and in complete avoidance of all stereotypes. By the time its extraordinarily moving and meaningful finale arrives, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME simply overwhelms. The ultimate meaning and key themes of this beautifully produced film earn an equal amount of appreciation as the stunning production, stand-out score and immaculate performances achieve.

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Moviedoc’s Worst 5 Movies of 2017

5
BAYWATCH
1 ½ stars

Not even the charismatic Dwayne Johnson can save BAYWATCH from drowning in its own dump.


4
CHIPS
1 ½ stars

Unfunny. Sexist. Nasty. Avoid!


3
JIGSAW
1 star

Jigsaw may do a Jesus by way of his resurrection, however he is certainly no saviour to the eternal damnation sentenced upon the viewer in this dreadful reboot. Now, please stay dead.

2
SNATCHED
1 star

Goldie Hawn should have remained in her fifteen-year movie hibernation. Terrible movie.

THE WORST MOVIE OF 2017

T H E  M U M M Y
1 star

An unacceptable first instalment in Universal’s rather forced Dark Universe film series that seemingly exists purely to rival Marvel and the like. Yet sadly, THE MUMMY still grossed $409.1 million worldwide, which means there’ll probably be more to come. A score of just 5.5 on IMDB and 16% on Rotten Tomatoes more than justifies why this utterly dreadful reboot is the worst of the 141 movies released this year I have seen.

Still with me? Good! Now we go to some highlights and low-lights of 2017

The acting stand-outs of 2017

Timothée Chalamet in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Hong Chau – DOWNSIZING
Florence Pugh – LADY MACBETH
Emma Booth and Stephen Curry – HOUNDS OF LOVE
Naomie Harris – MOONLIGHT
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis – FENCES
Aubrey Plaza – INGRID GOES WEST
Teresa Palmer – BERLIN SYNDROME
Barry Keoghan – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
Sonia Braga – AQUARIUS
Oscar Isaac – SUBURBICON
Hugh Grant – PADDINGTON 2
John Lithgow and Salma Hayek – BEATRIZ AT DINNER
Nicole Kidman – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER & THE BEGUILED
Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar – LION
Pierre Niney and Paula Beer – FRANTZ
Brian Cox – CHURCHILL
Jessica Rothe – HAPPY DEATH DAY
Tiffany Haddish – GIRLS TRIP
Sally Hawkins – MAUDIE
Hugo Weaving – JASPER JONES

Films to add to your watch list not in my Best 25 from 2017

PATRIOT’S DAY
LIFE
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
THEIR FINEST
A MONSTER CALLS
COLOSSAL
LION
COLLATERAL BEAUTY
SUBURBICON
THE BOSS BABY
BERLIN SYNDROME
LOGAN

Most over-rated and/or most disappointing films from 2017

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
JACKIE
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
VICTORIA & ABDUL
THINGS TO COME
THE SNOWMAN
A CURE FOR WELLNESS
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
LOVING
A SILENT VOICE
ALONE IN BERLIN
TRESPASS AGAINST US
GOLD

The highlights in films from 2017

Hong Chau’s character in DOWNSIZING
The uniquely hand-painted visual experience in LOVING VINCENT
The extreme slo-mo’s in HOUNDS OF LOVE
The development of the relationship and the first intimate scene between Elio and Oliver in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
The atmosphere and the battle sequences staged in DUNKIRK
The real footage of a tightrope walk between two mountain peaks in MOUNTAIN
The final dinner table scene in THE BEGUILED
The car chase sequences and the music score in BABY DRIVER
A reaction from a particular water monster in THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
The birthday party sequence & guest arrivals in TONI ERDMANN
The visual and aural experience in GHOST IN THE SHELL
The dialogue and its delivery from Tiffany Haddish in GIRLS TRIP
The final action sequence on the ice in Iceland in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

Best horror film

GET OUT
(A clear stand-out, however if that’s not scary enough for you, then try out IT COMES AT NIGHT, HAPPY DEATH DAY and IT. None of these films managed to scare me though!)

Best crying film
A MONSTER CALLS
(Even though its title suggests this belongs in the above category! Not the first time director J.A. Bayona has claimed this spot at the end of the year. THE IMPOSSIBLE was his previous movie)

Best lol film

PERFECT STRANGERS
(However, if you want something more mainstream, then try GIRLS TRIP)

Best love story or romantic film

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Most unique/strange films

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
MOTHER!

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
($1.26 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 
($36.3 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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DOWNSIZING

Director
Alexander Payne
(The Descendants, Sideways, About Schmidt)

Stars
Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Udo Kier, Hong Chau and Rolf Lassgård

You have never seen a film quite like DOWNSIZING before. Perhaps it can be described as another previous Boxing Day release, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY meets HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS, but for a more adult audience (thank goodness they didn’t name this film Honey, I shrunk the bits!). Oh, and far more extraordinary too!

As the film commences, an incredible scientific breakthrough is achieved that will change the future existence of humanity. Norwegian scientist, Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen has successfully performed a procedure that will come to be known as downsizing, which reduces the height of that person to just 13 centimetres. Those who choose to “get small” are then relocated to their own specially designed miniature world, called Leisureland. With the groundbreaking, life-changing transition to shrinking gaining immense popularity, as life inside the idyllic world of Leisureland receives glowing reviews from its rapidly-growing citizenry, Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) decide to undergo the irreversible procedure. However, life remains full of surprises and fate cannot be changed, regardless of where you decide to live, as the Safranek’s are about to discover.


People may be shrinking, but DOWNSIZING enlarges its scale of utter brilliance at every spontaneous and consequential turn that is taken. This breathtaking adventure that you are about to embark on over the next two plus hours isn’t anything…ehm…short of being absolutely amazing. 

First and foremost, the premise that catapults the journey that is coursing throughout DOWNSIZING is internally consistent and conceivable. So too are all the capabilities and characteristics that are immaculately presented as well as the trigger that propels the very invention of downsizing and Leisureland. This entire section of the film, right up until it is time for our lead characters to bid farewell to their height, is hugely and broadly engrossing. Any hint as to where this incredible story ventures to from here ought to be kept privy to the advantage of its (hopefully sell-out) crowd. What can be safely said is that a vast array of colourful characters will acquaint you for the rest of DOWNSIZING’s duration. Many of whom are acted by recognisable Hollywood faces. Some appearances are fleeting only. Others remain more long-term. This is where DOWNSIZING unearths one of the truest & most beautifully conceived and written characters in any film of 2017. You will never forget Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau, from acclaimed TV Series Big Little Lies) who is just superb in what is one of this year’s acting highlights.

There are brief and sporadic moments in DOWNSIZING where the film appears to be in some kind of limbo. My advice – embrace the curiosity that this draws in and let go of any initial concern that this movie’s brilliance has finally come to a halt, for Oscar-winning writers Jim Taylor (SIDEWAYS) and writer/director Alexander Payne refuse to yield to any form of convention. Vanquishing all doubts that a drop in its high degree of filmmaking and entertainment is imminent, their combined writing works continually heighten the magnificent sense of adventure and rarely-achieved wonder that embodies this film.

The all-important conclusion to what’s been a most mesmerising expedition understandably amasses a considerable level of anticipation. Some may feel underwhelmed, or not even be sure how to feel, by the finale of DOWNSIZING. If that is you, then I say look to and reflect over the infectious love of life that is bursting from the screen and open your mind to the beautiful & wild ride that living life can whisk us away on. Adopting this perception, handed to you by the film, will prove that the final moments are as perfect as the film itself is.

5 stars

Viewer Discretion
(Sexual references, coarse language, drug use and nudity)

Trailer
DOWNSIZING

Moviedoc thanks Paramount Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc
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PADDINGTON 2

Director
Paul King

(PADDINGTON)

Stars
The voice of Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent

In his first-ever feature-film outing, Paddington bear was a huge success. At home in the United Kingdom, PADDINGTON was the second highest family film debut of 2014 and it received two nominations at the British Academy Film Awards for Best British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay. Worldwide, the family film grossed $265.3 million from its $50-$55 million budget including $76.3 million in the United States. In his first-ever feature film sequel, Paddington proves that he is no one-trick teddy bear.

For the past few years, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has lived with and become part of the Brown family in London, as illustrated by the opening of this sequel. Though far apart, Paddington has not forgotten his real family from the Peruvian jungle where his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) is soon to turn one-hundred years old. When Paddington visits an antique store owned by Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), he comes across an old book that features several of London’s landmarks and decides to get a job in order to save the cash needed to purchase the perfect gift for his Aunt. Little does he know, this book is also being sought after by former TV star and wannabe solo stage performer, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), who manages to steal the book before Paddington can purchase it.


Rest assured, this premise, which might not sound particularly enticing on paper (or screen, for that matter), serves to be a mere springboard for the adventure, excitement and laughter this fun-filled live-action sequel is guaranteed to give the entire family! Without revealing the specifics, Paddington’s desperate pursuit of the antique book and the masked burglar who took it will introduce him to a whole new array of colourful characters and cast him in a starring role in the numerous inventive scenarios to follow. Yes, this does mean that Paddington is away from the Brown family for most of this film’s duration, however they still play a very important role in fulfilling Paddington’s mission. So not only are all past and present characters such wonderful company all throughout, they are also each creatively conceived and contribute meaningfully to all proceedings. A perfect example of just that revolves around what Paddington aspires to and indeed does achieve at a particular facility. Classic stuff!


Thank goodness that FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS and Meryl Streep wooed Hugh Grant out of his premature retirement. He is in as dashing form here, portraying a narcissistic and flamboyant villain, as he was in any film from his heyday. It is an act worth the price of admission alone. Another fan favourite among adults and children alike will be Brendan Gleeson’s extremely likable outing as an unapproachable and irascible head chef named “Nuckles”. Having detected a softness in Nuckles’ heart that was understood to be non-existent, the brave and utterly endearing manner in which Paddington attempts to extract it is as sweet as marmalade itself. The reactions from Paddington’s audience who witness this risky business and the hilarious shenanigans they get up to produces family comedy at its finest.

Director Paul King left WONDER to direct this sequel and has repeated the original’s excellence whilst reinventing the all-ages adventure and story. Don’t miss it!

4 stars

Viewer Discretion
(Very mild themes and violence)

Trailer
PADDINGTON 2

Moviedoc thanks Asha Holmes Publicity and Studiocanal for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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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.

JTBS_PRESS_01_FrancoisDamiens_AlicedeLencquesaing.jpg
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

JTBS_PRESS_12_FrancoisDamiens.jpg
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.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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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.

Click to view full size image

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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