Comedy

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

©

 

Advertisements

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

©

 

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
“LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

©

 

BAD MOMS 2

Writers & Directors
John Lucas, Scott Moore
(BAD MOMS, 21 & OVER)

Stars
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, Justin Hartley and Jay Hernandez

Just in case three misbehaving mothers didn’t bring enough mischief and mayhem to the big screen in last year’s smash-hit comedy BAD MOMS, we now have another generation of motherhood strolling down the hall of shame in sequel, BAD MOMS 2.

This time around it is Christmas. Rocking up unannounced on the doorsteps of Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) is the extravagant and pompous mother of Amy, Ruth (Christine Baranski – TV Series The Good Wife), Kiki’s overly needy mum Sandy (Cheryl Hines from TV Series Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Isis (I’m not kidding!), Carla’s gypsy, nonchalant mother (played by Oscar winner Susan Sarandon). This Christmas is guaranteed to be anything but the most wonderful time of the year!

After grossing $183.9 million worldwide off a $20 million budget, there was never going to be any doubt that the very mediocre comedy BAD MOMS would spawn an obligatory sequel so soon. BAD MOMS 2 or A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS, as it’s known in the U.S, may not have much to improve on, and yet is still the first pre-Christmas turkey this year to hatch on the big screen.

You see, BAD MOMS 2 has a predilection for taking its outrageous scenarios and absurd characters to often ridiculous extents. If you have no boundaries for its excess, then BAD MOMS 2 won’t have the same problem finding your funny bone that it did mine. The worst culprit and best example of this is supplied by the character Sandy, whose aforementioned and (wayyyyyy) over-the-top neediness exposes a complete lack of judgement and awareness in its comedic writing. There are times that the writing stoops to insensitive and even nasty new lows. Once again, Sandy is the worst culprit and best example of just that during a scene shared with her daughter Kiki that takes place at the psychology practice of Dr. Karl (Wanda Sykes). To show that I’m not picking on her, another scene to feature a group of Santa’s stripping on the bench of a bar has its fun severely reduced the moment that laughter is asked to come at the expense of a person that may not be classified as fit.

If BAD MOMS 2 does remain tolerable, it is largely thanks to the perfect delivery of dialogue and physical acting from the experienced hands of Christine Baranski, who manages to ground some of the over-cooked shenanigans surrounding her with real sharpness in her timing and tone.

2 stars


Viewer Discretion
 

MA15+ (Strong crude sexual humour)

Trailer
BAD MOMS 2

Moviedoc thanks Roadshow Films for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Moviedoc
“LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

©

 

THREE SUMMERS

Writer & Director / Ben Elton (MAYBE BABY)
Stars/ Rebecca Breeds, Robert Sheehan, John Waters, Kelton Pell, Magda Szubanski, Michael Caton, Kate Box and Deborah Mailman

Like fellow Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) release ALI’S WEDDING, THREE SUMMERS also has some important social issues it wishes to address during its comedic reception. Internationally known writer and director Ben Elton’s first Australian movie is definitely aiming to attract the same crowd that flocked to see the Aussie-made Muslim Rom-Com. Unlike ALI’S WEDDING, however, those social issues are integrated in a much less subtle manner, bound to be either loved or loathed.

Based on the real-life Fairbridge Music Festival in Western Australia, the Westival attracts several amateur and international artists as well as boasting much-loved local talents annually each summer. When one of those locals, a 26 year-old folk-music singer, tap-dancing violinist (played by Home and Away’s Rebecca Breeds) meets an Irish folk-music hating theremin player (Robert Sheehan from GEOSTORM, THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES), a heated and often awkward romance bonded by music begins to form.


The undeniable chemistry shared by THREE SUMMERS’ two lead actors and one movie-star making performance from Rebecca Breeds is enough to keep this scattered comedy in season, despite lacking polish and not quite fully blooming.

They are the core of a story in an ensemble film that features quite a number of side acts and sporadic contributors, all performed by a vast array of home-grown stars. Though THREE SUMMERS never amalgamates its various performers seamlessly into one movie, with execution in timing and uneven editing mostly the cause for this, most of its juggling acts do work as intended. One of the characters audiences will more strongly embrace is the grandfather played by Michael Caton. His character’s purpose is mightily foreseeable, but his interactions with an outspoken indigenous performer (Kelton Pell) and his granddaughter (feature film debutant Nichola Balestri, who can slightly resemble American actress Elle Fanning) builds a solid sub-plot. Another character that will give THREE SUMMERS’ viewers occasional hearty laughter is Kate Box’s (TV series Rake) over-zealous security guard. Especially when she faces off against Jacqueline McKenzie’s snobby, snooty character. But don’t expect to see much of McKenzie, who has just a few scenes despite her name appearing on the movie poster. My personal favourite belongs to the wannabe girl rock band and what transpires from the first summer shown to the last. It’s a hoot! Deborah Mailman and John Waters add separate and minor stories via their characters that are usually less humourous and predictably meet-up while Magda Szubanski’s community radio host is sassy yet falls victim to the sloppy editing a few too many times. And the character that audiences will be most divided upon is the one portrayed by well-known (in WA) stage actress Adriane Daff. Her alternate (and indisputably truthful) renditions of some classic Australian songs is too blunt for the mainstream in an otherwise cheerful film. But wait, where’s Bryan Brown!? You can’t make an ensemble Aussie movie without him! C’mon!

3 stars

Viewer Discretion/ M (Coarse language)

Trailer / THREE SUMMERS

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

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

©

 

SUBURBICON

Director / George Clooney (THE MONUMENTS MEN, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK)
Stars/ Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Glenn Fleshler, Alex Hassell and Oscar Isaac

Having previously appeared in four films written by Joel and Ethan Coen (THE BIG LEBOWSKI, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), this is George Clooney’s first time to direct a Coen Brothers script. And if there is just one guarantee that can be made by SUBURBICON, as per most Coen Brothers films, any initial assumptions from its audience regarding the trajectory of the storyline are deliberately destined to be wrong!

The synopsis in this darkened comedy will play much to your advantage if you keep any prior knowledge of it to a minimum. All that’s necessary for you to know at this point is that SUBURBICON nests itself in the 1950’s where a newer, yet settled town by the same name is home to many happy middle-class white American families. The peaceful and idyllic existence of the locals begins to crumble when Suburbicon’s first coloured family move to the neighbourhood which coincides with a violent home invasion at the residence of the Lodge family (played by Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and young rising star Noah Jupe). 


Even before the cataclysmic events occur, it is obvious that things are not as rosy as they appear from the outset in the town of Suburbicon. For only a brief, yet still a concerning duration of time quite early into SUBURBICON, the same is observed of the film. Before its irresistibly bewitching spell is cast over audiences, SUBURBICON has to surmount a noticeable mismatch between its music score, its objective tone and the flat execution of the scenes these aspects fulfil. Enough of that though – let’s get to the good stuff!

Fortunately, a devilish revelation that permanently changes the course of this film for the better is soon unveiled and suddenly slots every facet of filmmaking in their suitable place. For instance, the profound music score by legendary composer Alexandre Desplat, the trademark craftiness in writing from the Coen Brothers and some cunning directing work from George Clooney are now giving this Wisteria Lane-like hood injections of hysteria! Another stylish member to add to SUBURBICON’s rising population is an outstanding set and location design that goes to great lengths at emphasising very particular details that embed it in the era it’s set.

Though there does remain a flaw or two to still be spotted, some against-type casting and the delicious performances are more than enough to distract from any deficiencies. Especially Oscar Isaac – he completely steals the show in a minor but crucial part.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong themes and violence)

Trailer / SUBURBICON

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

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

©

 

INGRID GOES WEST

Director / Matt Spicer (Feature film debut)
Stars/ Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, Wyatt Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Billy Magnussen

According to statista.com, there are 2.46 billion social media users out of a world population of 7.5 billion people (as at August 2017). Many, if not all of you, are well aware of the ease in which your personal information is able to be obtained and your interests and activities followed. It’s fair to say that our generation has willingly succumbed to the simplicity in accessibility of the ever-evolving technological world, and the undeniable curiosity of others that is brought to our fingertips by various platforms of social media.

Therefore, heed the character of Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) in the darkened comedy INGRID GOES WEST as an exposé of just how far addiction and obsession can take a person. We first meet Ingrid during a brief stint at a mental hospital that she is compulsorily attending after rocking up unannounced at the wedding of a social media acquaintance she mistook for a friend. Shortly after her release from serving time for the unhealthy social media habits that sent her to rehab, Ingrid relocates herself to Los Angeles where she seeks a fresh start. It isn’t before long though that Ingrid, who is lonely without knowing anyone in her new home, turns to social media for company and stumbles across an Instagram star named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) that reignites her obsessive nature.


Not only does INGRID GOES WEST feature one of the best tag lines in a film this year (“She’ll Follow You”) that is #creepy, it is also an uncomfortably funny, dreadfully saddening and downright frightening film, all at once.

A Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award Winner at Sundance, INGRID GOES WEST is a smart, satirical and realistic observation of the fuel that social media can fire when in the hands of a person who misuses or overuses its capabilities. Endless in its potential to be both visionary and a deeper psychological film, writers Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith have kept the setting grounded to the present state of social media only. There is sufficient background incorporated as part of Ingrid’s character to also view the film as a limited introspection of the triggers and the drivers that surround her disturbing behaviour and drastic actions. Viewers that invest further after-thought to this compelling component of the storytelling will find themselves even more deeply immersed by the film.

Adding an exclamation mark to its non-preachy yet cautionary message is a totally unnerving and utterly brilliant performance from Aubrey Plaza, in a film that is much closer to being a true story than most of us wish to admit!

4 stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong coarse language)

Trailer / INGRID GOES WEST

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

©