crime

DEERSKIN (LE DAIM)

Writer and Director 
Quentin Dupieux

Starring
Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel

Are you someone who believes they’ve made some poor decisions in their life?
If so, I guarantee those decisions will be minuscule in scale when comparing to and witnessing the absurd and horrific actions of Deerskin’s protagonist.

Georges (The Artist’s Jean Dujardin) travels all alone to a small and sleepy French alpine village in the wake of a seemingly abrupt end to his marriage. One of his first stops is at the home of an elderly man who is selling a 100% deerskin jacket, which he buys for a large sum of money. Georges instantly falls in love with his new jacket and uncomfortably seeks recognition of his attire while paying a visit to the local pub that night. Fortunately for Denise, a bored waitress and aspiring film editor (played by Adèle Haenel from Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Georges might be the most interesting visitor she’s met in quite some time. But she isn’t privy to the strange and increasingly sinister hold Georges jacket is having over him.

Deerskin_1 (1)

Writer and director Quentin Dupieux’s comedic horror film does rely heavily on audiences to read between the lines and metaphorically interpret his screenplay in order for it to work as is surely intended. Thankfully, this critical component of the film was something that drew considerable interest from me. There’s no question that Georges’ unsettling behaviour and actions take the film to downright daring territory. For instance, the more unhinged Georges becomes, the grislier the comedic elements grow with it. When humour is to be derived from the unstable mind of a person with a propensity for violence, execution is absolutely vital in order to gain the intended reaction. These developments in the film not only make it even more of an acquired taste than it already was, but aren’t well executed either. I say this partially due to not being overly amused, but largely because the script rapidly accumulates a number of improbabilities that cannot be ignored. Admittedly and simultaneously, Deerskin does maintain and even builds curiosity pertaining to the trajectory of its other primary character, Denise, but leaves us with a finale that I found puzzling.

3 stars

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong comedic violence)

Trailer
DEERSKIN

Moviedoc thanks Umbrella Entertainment and Annette Smith: Ned & Co Marketing and Publicity for providing the screener link to watch and review this film.

Deerskin is showing in selected cinemas across Australia from August 6.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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EXTRACTION

Director
Sam Hargrave

Starring
Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda and Golshifteh Farahani

I suspect it’s no coincidence that by applying double usage to the letter ‘a’ in this film’s title, you spell extra action. We certainly are given just that!

The origin of Extraction’s plot is from graphic novel Ciudad by several writers, one of whom is Avengers co-director, Joe Russo, who is writer and producer here. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, Ovi Mahajan Jr. (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of India’s most powerful drug lord, is abducted. Ovi Mahajan Sr. is behind bars, so orders right-hand man, Saju (Randeep Hooda) to help rescue him. Enter Chris Hemsworth! He is Tyler Rake, an Australian mercenary with nothing to lose.

Extraction First-Look Photos: Chris Hemsworth Stars in New Netflix ...

Please don’t make the same mistake I did and devote more attention to Extraction’s plot than what is actually given to it. Or else, you’ll find yourself unnecessarily distracted by trying to figure out its inconsistent developments and loosely drawn character connections like I did. Some, maybe even most of these might become clearer later. But who really cares? Truth be told, in the end, it doesn’t really matter all that much. What does matter though is the effort put into and ability of Extraction’s numerous combat and chase sequences to distract, engage and occasionally thrill. It achieves just that courtesy of three things; firstly, the use of location for the shoot. Filming took place in Bangladesh, India and Thailand. The environment of its settings have been heavily incorporated into the imagery and action sequences of Extinction that do lend it a certain distinction. Secondly and speaking of which, there is an 11 minute and 30 seconds single-take sequence that is spectacular enough itself to warrant seeing the film on the big screen (if it were possible, of course). And finally, arguably foremost, the typically Brut and potent presence of our Aussie hunk, Chris Hemsworth.

3 stars

Extraction interview: Chris Hemsworth, director Sam Hargrave rave ...
Viewer Discretion
MA15+
(Strong themes, strong violence, strong blood and gore)

Trailer
EXTRACTION

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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The Socially Remote Antidote

Hello Readers,

Like myself, you’re probably frustrated and tired of being stuck at home so much. Having said that, the social distancing measures applied here in Australia have given me the opportunity to catch up on many previously unseen films. Though I’ve enjoyed seeing so many movies, I certainly do miss going out to the cinema and long for the day they safely re-open again. I, for one, will certainly never take for granted the simple pleasure of experiencing a movie on the big screen again! Until then, here’s a summary of the films I’ve watched since COVID-19 has kept us indoors so much, along with my rating of each.

I shall keep adding to this post on a weekly basis until cinemas re-open again. Enjoy 🙂

Let’s start with….

The Classics

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – 4 ½ stars
This is how you do horror! Mystery that’s almost too much to bear and a riveting finish. A genuine classic.
Gone With The Wind (1939) – 3 stars
Am I the only person on this planet that was so underwhelmed from watching what I expected to be a timeless and sweeping FOUR HOUR epic? 

The Sound of Music (1965) – 5 stars
I am terribly ashamed to admit I hadn’t watched The Sound of Music in its entirety, until recently! Well, I’m glad that’s changed (thank you to my co-writer, Jell)! Here’s a movie that definitely did not let down! An instant classic that (I think) is now officially my favourite musical feature film of all time! 

The Maltese Falcon (1941) – 3 stars
Good, but rather odd. I’m glad I ate pastizzis (no, not paparazzi’s, auto-correct) while watching it 🙂

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – 3 ½ stars
So, so different to what I expected. Not much plot driving the film, but it somehow really grounded me in the present and I liked it for what it was.

Now that I have that shocking confession regarding The Sound of Music out in the open, let’s check out what I’ve recently seen that’s…

For the Families

Missing Link – A very strong 3 ½ stars
This underrated Golden Globe Winner for Best Animated Picture was up against Toy Story 4 for the Oscar in the same category, and lost. In my opinion, Missing Link deserved to win the major award for its originality and story that is rich in humor and hugely entertaining.
Aladdin 3 ½ stars
Much like The Lion King (2019), Aladdin was the recipient of undue harsh critique from the critics. I thoroughly enjoyed this live-action rendition of the much-loved tale. It was what it needed to be and very unlike a typical Guy Ritchie film, which is a good thing in this case!
Toy Story 4 – 3 ½ stars
Easily holds its own and was a pleasure to reunite with several cherished characters, but doesn’t have ‘that magic’ the very first Toy Story film did or of some of Pixar’s finest works (Wall-e, Up etc).
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 3 stars
Ok, maybe this sequel isn’t so family-friendly, given its M classification. For most part, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and especially the performances from its stellar female cast. Although, a few rushed and untidy developments in its latter half can’t go unnoticed.
Frozen II – 3 stars
I’m probably the last person left on Earth to see this by now! Credit goes to Frozen II for inventing a new and worthwhile story to that of the first part, but like Frozen, I find my ability to be engaged by these movies always very limited. Easy to do, but limited.
Wreck-It Ralph – 4 stars
Ingenious ideas intelligently conceived and crafted that offer an abundance of fun for the whole family. Can’t wait to check out its sequel, Ralph Wrecks the Internet.
Ralph Breaks the Internet – 4 stars
And just like that, the very next evening, I watched the sequel! Very pleased to say that this sequel is equally as intelligent, creative and funny as its predecessor. There is so much to admire and be amused by in the ‘Ralph’ films, but arguably nothing more so than certain very special appearances and the voice cast behind them in this sequel! If you haven’t seen Wreck-It Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet, then I strongly suggest you change that now!
Onward – 3 ½ stars
On paper and visually, Onward’s appeal started on a downward trajectory for me. However, once its protagonist’s journey becomes the heart of the film, its sentimentality resonates and produces some truly beautiful moments.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon3 stars
There are plenty of cleverly thought-out sci-fi references laden throughout, but overall the humour is less broadly appealing than Shaun the Sheep’s first excellent movie outing. This is a likeable sequel, though it’s noticeably targeted far less for adults compared to the predecessor.

Now for some…

Drama

After the Wedding – 3 ½ stars
This underrated drama harbours several big secrets in its plot that have a big impact. Not much can go wrong either with the marvelous Julianne Moore leading the way.
Ford v Ferrari – 4 stars
An excellent all-round film that will more than satisfy motor enthusiasts and anyone else not so into cars, equally. There is plenty of appealing story and characterisation that fuel Ford v Ferrari to make it last the distance. Highly recommended!

Just Mercy – 4 ½ stars
Incites every bit of anger and heartbreak its harrowing true story ought to. This powerful film boasts a truly empathetic screenplay and outstanding performances from Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. A must watch.
All Is Lost – 4 ½ stars
All of what we witness in All Is Lost rests on the shoulders of a single actor – 77 year old Robert Redford. Arguably one of his finest and definitely most stoic performances in a film that is inescapably absorbing before it is terrifically gripping.
The Way Back – 3 ½ stars
Very solid sports drama that features a reliably very fine performance from Ben Affleck. The story and plot developments aren’t breaking any new ground, but it’s definitely worth watching.
Richard Jewell – 4 stars
In what is looking likely to be his final film as writer and director, Clint Eastwood’s biopic is his best movie in a decade and features a breakthrough performance from a most unlikely actor in Paul Walter Hauser. I’m impressed!
Sorry We Missed You – 4 ½ stars
The working collaboration between writer Paul Laverty and director Ken Loach started in 1996 and remains one of the most truest, earnest and powerful in cinema to this day. Sorry We Missed You is among the most pertinent and prominent yet, giving a voice to hard-working, yet vulnerable families subject to modern day labour exploitation in the United Kingdom. Has the exact immediate and lasting impact intended and it ought to have.
Beats – 3 ½ stars
There were two films with this title released in 2019, so as to not confuse the two, this Beats is the 2019 Scottish film about two young men who plan to attend a rave party just as the British government put a ban on them across the entire U.K. What emerges from a straightforward story is a deceptively beautiful friendship and an infectious attitude rebelling against social class and authority. Fans of dance/trance/tech music will be extra fond of Beats.
Red Joan – 3 stars
It’s flashback heavy, which results in the wonderful Judi Dench not being given much to do over shortened screen time. Although Red Joan is a rather dull film to watch consistently throughout, it never lasted long enough at once to completely erase my interest level in what is quite an incredible story.
1985 – 4 ½ stars
The trajectory of this story involving a closeted man returning to his religious parents home for Christmas after a three year absence begins to look like a foreseeable one. Right at that moment, writer and director Yen Tan adopts a much more subtle and tender approach to the secrets his central character is harbouring, resulting in a powerful and achingly beautiful film shot entirely in black and white. Reaches number 11 on my 2019 best film list!
The King – 3 ½ stars
If you can accept the questionable casting choices (especially Robert Pattinson, who plays the son of a French King!) and not be too distracted by his rendition of a French accent, director David Michõd’s (Animal Kingdom) historical drama is actually a really solid film. I felt intrigued by its story and enjoyed the very well written dialogue in particular. Available on Netflix.

Now add tension to that drama…

Dramatic Thriller

The Endless Trench – 4 stars
I have no right to ever complain about any self-isolation measures undertaken during COVID-19 after witnessing the forced hidden existence The Endless Trench’s lead character must endure to merely survive, beginning during the Spanish Civil War. This is one of the top, and certainly most tense, Netflix productions I’ve seen to date!

Antonio de la Torre and Belén Cuesta in La trinchera infinita (2019)

The Spy Gone North –
4 stars
An extraordinary story that is inspired by extraordinary real-life events. What starts out as a spy operation fascinatingly evolves into something far more complex, dangerous and compelling. It is a layered story full of depth and relies on this over any action it may contain. The Spy Gone North is an excellent and exciting dramatic thriller that notches up another high quality production from South Korea.

Some good ones above! But let’s see what’s on offer in the genre of…

Comedy/Horror with Zombies!!!

Little Monsters – 2 ½ stars
I was so excited to see Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o in an Australian film… with zombies!! At first, she is easily the best thing about this very hit-and-miss comedy. As it turns out by the end, she’s the only thing to like about Little Monsters. Hmm.

Zombieland: Double Tap – 3 stars
Starts off just as sharp and cleverly funny as 2009’s Zombieland, before it suddenly runs out of adventurous ideas! A strong cast who deliver some big laughs save it from becoming a waste of time.

Time for some…

Romance

The Keeper – 3 stars
A corny and predictable, but nonetheless likable biopic about German-born Manchester goal keeper Bert Trautmann.
Last Christmas – 3 stars
The chemistry between Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding is immediate and palpable, however, I can’t help but feel cheated by the unexpected developments that await us in Last Christmas. Throw on an extra half star to that rating if watching at Christmas time.
Sense and Sensibility 4 stars
Director Ang Lee’s first English-speaking film boasts a stellar cast who all give fine performances and an involving story that is wonderfully written by lead actress Emma Thompson. An utter pleasure to watch.

Or perhaps, time for some…

Action

Terminator: Dark Fate – 2 stars
Worth watching if appalling acting finds your funny bone. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton provide an abundance of it!
Angel Has Fallen – 3 stars
By now, you ought to know why and when to turn to the ‘Fallen’ films. Pick your need and timing for mindless action fluff just right, and Angel Has Fallen shall perfectly fulfill each and every one of them.
Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – 3 ½ stars
So much cool and so much sass in this stylish and hugely entertaining action film that features outstanding action choreography and stunt work. 
Bad Boys – 2 stars
I finally caught up with Bad Boys, largely before I watch the third installment released this year. I won’t even bother with the two and a half hour sequel after seeing this! Far too (vocally) noisy, boysy and to be frank… just plain sexist in its dialogue and depiction of women for me to be entertained by or appreciate.
The Gentlemen – 3 ½ stars
There’s plenty on offer to have fun with here; the vibe of the film, the characterisation of its very appealing ensemble cast, its playful and metaphorical manner of speech, and even its premise. I certainly enjoyed all of these aspects in The Gentlemen, but do understand its heavy use of strong coarse language and other offensive remarks made throughout has diminished or reduced that enjoyment.

A different form of escapism in…

Documentaries

The Edge of Democracy – 3 ½ stars
A very captivating and insightful Oscar-nominated Netflix production that is part personal memoir meets political documentary, which delves into the downfall of two Brazilian presidents. 
The Biggest Little Farm – 4 ½ stars
The biggest little surprise so far in 2020. On paper, it might sound like something you don’t need to see or would easily give a miss. But take my word for it – you do not want to miss this utterly engaging, involving and beautiful experience. To further compliment the film, it also boasts stunning cinematographic work and imagery that is just visually stunning. A hidden gem. 
Meeting Gorbachev – 3 stars
Offers just enough insight behind the upbringing and rise of former Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, but surprisingly fell short of my expectations. Also, the filming and presentation of Werner Herzog’s interviews are of made-for-television quality.
I Am Not Your Negro – 3 stars
A subject and content that is and sadly remains of undoubtedly high importance is unfortunately largely and broadly inaccessible. An incredibly intellectual narrative that’s mostly impenetrable and chaotic directing are its key undoings. 3 stars is being generous.
Becoming – 3 stars
Becoming isn’t in depth in any way. Rather, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares several insightful perspectives during the release of her autobiography, with honesty and great clarity. Her down to earth nature truly shines through. By the end of Becoming, I was left to wonder how on Earth the U.S, a seemingly progressive nation at the time, has gone so steeply and rapidly backwards since.

In case zombies weren’t enough…

Thriller/Horror

El Hoyo/The Platform – 3 stars
Another Netflix production. Has an intriguing concept that kept me guessing and interested throughout, but all seemed rather pointless once the finale had arrived.

Misery – 4 stars
I wouldn’t have minded an extra few layers of psychological depth added to the mercurial and menacing lead character, but its genuinely thrilling scenes and the uniqueness given to that lead character in an Oscar-winning performance from Kathy Bates still uphold Misery’s might as a bonafide thriller 30 years on.

Or, for something completely different…

Arthouse

Birds of Passage – 4 stars
The authenticity of Birds of Passage and the time committed to its setting, and lifestyle and practices of its characters is what sometimes makes it challenging to watch, but sets it apart from others before then elevating it above so many films that share an otherwise familiar story.

High Life – 2 stars
Maybe I misunderstood something and needed to be high to appreciate this? Unfortunately for French writer and director Claire Denis, her first English-language film is more memorable for the atrocities committed and its bizarre encounters throughout than it is for any themes or meaning meant to be derived from it all. 

The Last Black Man in San Francisco – 3 ½ stars
A somewhat (and seemingly) meandering narrative that takes considerable time to establish a discernible plot does initially make this drama a difficult one to penetrate. However, the originality of this semi-true tale and the bold and impressive directing debut of Joe Talbot garner the film a greater level of appreciation once the story does eventually come together.

The Lighthouse 2½ stars
Robert Pattinson and the arthouse film genre should just stay away from each other! If your film fetish gets a kick out of questions above and without answers, and being in a constant state of confusion by what transpires, all done intentionally, then The Lighthouse is a black and white masterpiece waiting for you. But it’s not without intriguing elements and a superb Willem Dafoe performance. 

Compiled by Leigh for Moviedoc

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QUEEN & SLIM

Director
Melina Matsoukas

Starring
Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya

Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) meet for a casual meal for the very first time one night. Their differences are apparent from the get-go; she is a lawyer, an atheist and claims to have no family or friends. He says grace before chomping down his meal, doesn’t drink and owns a vehicle that has ‘trust God’ as its number plate. Nonetheless, her refreshing honesty and his resolute pursuit of her seem to be enough for their date to continue beyond dinner. While in the car, Queen and Slim are pulled over by a police officer, who is male and white. The random stop quickly and dramatically escalates resulting with shots being fired. Their night began with a Tinder date, but will now end with Queen & Slim perpetually on the run.

 

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Last year, a mighty film called THE HATE U GIVE, which depicted a very similar scenario and derived important and contemporary themes from this, completely took my breath away. QUEEN & SLIM takes a narrative detour to that film. It’s less interested in driving the road towards greater thematic depth that’s certainly on offer and more keen instead to become a road movie that frequently arrests the senses more so than stir ones emotions. But that doesn’t mean this story is without substance or feeling. In fact, plenty of intrigue is summoned concerning the immediate trajectory of its protagonists and the inevitable aftermath of what’s just unfolded catching up with them. While it does maintain this intrigue throughout, the levels do vary courtesy of the film’s lengthier duration and some decision making and coincidences to occur that may lessen some credibility. Minor characters come and go throughout the film. Some of which do bring a little more depth to parts of the characterisation and story. Meanwhile, in the background, the screenplay uses its central incident to generate media attention and social unrest, and naturally affiliate itself more closely to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Image result for queen and slim social unrest images


First-time feature film director Melina Matsoukas has plenty of past experience directing video shorts for celebrities such as Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. Those heavy influences are evident here. In fact, Matsoukas even turned to Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles for advice on which composer could incorporate classical, hip-hop and current pop to the film’s score. Behind the camera, the cinematography makes effective use of several locations travelled to throughout this journey.
Finally, we’ve seen Daniel Kaluuya (WIDOWS, GET OUT, BLACK PANTHER) in a small handful of recent cinema releases to know what he’ll bring to this character. Therefore, his lesser seen co-star, Jodie Turner-Smith (Best known for a few TV series) is seriously top-notch and impresses.

 

3½ stars

Image result for queen and slim images

Viewer Discretion
MA15+
(Strong sex scene and violence)

Trailer
QUEEN & SLIM

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

QUEEN & SLIM is released in cinemas throughout Australia from the 12th of March, 2020.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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KNIVES OUT

Writer & Director
Rian Johnson
(STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI, LOOPER, BRICK)

Starring
Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Edi Patterson and LaKeith Stanfield

I’ll start by getting straight to the point – KNIVES OUT is an instant classic addition to the mystery movie family. 

On the night of his 85th birthday, the family of well-known and highly-regarded crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) gathers at his luxury residence to celebrate the milestone occasion. The very next morning, Harlan is found dead by his housekeeper (Edi Patterson). Many members of Harlan’s dysfunctional and greedy family quite easily accept his unfortunate passing to be self-inflicted, but not Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who is certain there is much more to this case than they care for him to know! Adding further mystery to this case, Detective Blanc doesn’t know the identity of the person who hired him to investigate the death of Harlan Thrombey, which further supports his suspicions of foul play having occurred. Treating each family member and acquaintance as a prime suspect, Detective Blanc uncovers their every secret and untangles the layers of lies concealing the truth behind Harlan’s demise.

MORNING BELL

How KNIVES OUT broadens its scope for clues, culprits and causes surrounding its whodunnit mystery is a work of genius that simply needs to be seen in order to be fully comprehended. These intelligently conceived and impeccably executed facets of the film are major players in it being one of the best and most enjoyable films of 2019. Take for instance the editing during the initial stages of the investigation, which cleverly cuts from one character to another and could very well be utilised for upcoming twists. Then there are several flashback scenarios that toyed around with my trust in solving this mystery as often as they appeared. Throughout all of this, almost every character is given a clear motive for the possible murder of Harlan Thrombey, making the process of elimination impossible to achieve! By provoking me to question everything and everyone, KNIVES OUT even forced me to consider characters without an obvious motive to the same extent as those with one. See what I mean? Genius!

MORNING BELL

In a way, you could say that KNIVES OUT is a good old-fashioned murder mystery. But rest assured, aside from providing the same (if not higher) level of enjoyment as some of your favourite mystery classics, there is nothing old-fashioned about this very modern film. In particular, I loved how writer and director Rian Johnson has shrewdly incorporated and ridiculed certain observational facts and themes into his very complete script. This bona fide mystery movie is driven by its plotting and characters much more so than set-piece sequences and thrills. As a result, KNIVES OUT is inherently funny and hugely engrossing, whose very appealing ensemble cast each make memorable contributions that do not disappoint. Do not miss this one!

4 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion
M (Mature themes and coarse language)

Trailer
KNIVES OUT

Moviedoc thanks Studiocanal for the invite to the screening of this film.

KNIVES OUT is released in cinemas throughout Australia from 28th of November, 2019.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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WATCH THE SUNSET

Directors
Tristan Barr and Michael Gosden
(Feature film debut together)

Stars
Tristan Barr, Chelsea Zeller, Annabelle Williamson and Aaron Walton

There is something very unique about WATCH THE SUNSET. This is Australia’s first full-length feature film that has been brave enough to tell its story by being shot in a single take! Well, crikey mate, this crime drama is dead set impressive!

Rehearsed over a five week period prior to its shoot date, the final cut seen here was accomplished on the fourth attempt and day of filming. Taking place in real time during one arvo (afternoon for those of you outside Australia!) in the regional Victorian town of Kerang, Danny (played by producer, editor, writer and director Tristan Barr) is a man in a desperate situation trying to outrun a crime-laden past that could be catching up with him quicker than he knows. Before it’s too late, Danny aims to right his wrongs with some folk who were once close to him, including Sally (Chelsea Zeller) and Joey (Annabelle Williamson). But the safety of every person that Danny comes into contact with is immediately placed in jeopardy.

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Upon reflection of this mightily ambitious production, I certainly believe that the true rewards for viewing this film are received without knowing any of its specifics prior to watching and is given by simply allowing the measured movement of the camerawork to gradually reveal one piece of detail at a time. I found myself completely immersed from the get-go because of this, but also owing to the smooth and inventive filming, tense score and the tension summoned by a script that continually provokes questions surrounding every current and upcoming move and motive of Danny’s. That is despite there being scarce dialogue spoken throughout the first act of the film.

Quite miraculously and intentionally, WATCH THE SUNSET generates equally as much anticipation as to how it will capture the next action of a character and that particular scene or scenario they’ll be in. I cannot remember the last time that I was this irresistibly curious and completely invested by this aspect of cinematography in any film! The use of and execution in timing and choreography in particular scenes is critical to ensure that what transpires continues to keep everything looking and feeling real. Even though these latter components of the film, and some of the acting, aren’t as polished or consistent as the rest of the production, they remain a minor imperfection only.

A deserving round of applause goes out to all of the filmmakers on board. In particular, to the duo of directors Tristan Barr and Michael Gosden, who could easily have opted for a more traditional and far less challenging method to convey this story. Yet, it is their innovative approach and commitment to their craft that both demands and derives the best out of them and their project.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
MA15+
 (Strong themes, violence, coarse language and drug use)

Trailer
WATCH THE SUNSET

Moviedoc thanks Fighting Chance Films and Cathy Gallagher for the preview link to watch and review this film.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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CRIME WAVE (OLA DE CRIMENES)

Director
Gracia Querejeta
(SIETE MESAS DE BILLAR FRANCÉS, HÉCTOR)

Stars
Maribel Verdú, Paula Echevarría, Asier Rikarte, Miguel Bernardeau, Antonio Resines, Raúl Peña, Juana Acosta, Raúl Arévalo, Luis Tosar, Montse Pla, Nora Navas and Javier Cámara

For the second consecutive year, the film I am reviewing for the Moro Spanish Film Festival (accompanied by the Cine Latino Film Festival this year) is a dark comedy whose premise unlocks the door for an overflow of outrageous humour to come. Though it may not become as ridiculous and macabre as last year’s film festival release ABRACADABRA, CRIME WAVE is further indication Spanish comedies really are an acquired taste that have barely tickled my taste buds to date.

Maribel Verdú (from ABRACADABRA) stars as Leyre, a divorced single mother who goes to desperate lengths to cover for her son, Asier (played by Asier Rikarte) after he kills her ex-husband and his father, Cosme (Luis Tosar). A conundrum whose secrecy only increases in difficulty to maintain when Cosme’s current wife, Vanesa (Paula Echevarría) and her lawyer, Susana (Juana Acosta) become suspicious of his disappearance. Soon enough and one way or another, several others become embroiled in the crime, including Asier’s best friend, Julen (Miguel Bernardeau), a taxi driver and wannabe actor (played by Raúl Arévalo), Leyre’s mother and her carer (Montse Pla and Nora Navas, respectively), two policemen (Antonio Resines and Raúl Peña) and a nonchalant Priest (Javier Cámara), whom Leyre confesses to as the film begins.

Maribel Verdú in Ola de crímenes (2018)

To put it straightforwardly, CRIME WAVE is not particularly a good film. Even after placing my own feelings towards it aside. At best, it is capable of moderately entertaining and its conclusion is less foreseeable courtesy of the individual involvements from so many supporting characters. But far too often throughout, the execution in comic timing and even in general filmmaking is noticeably quite poor and certainly not at a cinematic standard. As a result, a greater dependency is placed onto the script and the film’s brand of comedy to source enjoyment from. Unfortunately, the blacker areas of humour never really blend seamlessly with the rest of the picture. Furthermore, the plot developments become too farcical and contrived for me to appreciate and for a movie that has so many characters in it, such minor contributions have been derived from them. For instance, Leyre’s mother makes an impressionable first appearance, but is then virtually made redundant by having the same stale lines recycled over and over again. This missed opportunity to give these characters plenty more perk, which in turn would have surely sharpened this film’s premise and its unflattering conclusion, is where CRIME WAVE could have been a festival highlight rather than a festival blight.

2 stars

Viewer Discretion
TBA

Trailer
CRIME WAVE

Moviedoc thanks Asha Holmes Publicity, the Moro Spanish Film Festival and Palace Cinemas for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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EVERYBODY KNOWS (TODOS LO SABEN)

Writer & Director
Asghar Farhadi

(A SEPARATION, ABOUT ELLY, THE SALESMAN, THE PAST)

Stars
Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Carla Campra, Ricardo Darin, Inma Cuesta, Bárbara Lennie and Eduard Fernández

This eighth feature film to be directed by acclaimed Iranian-born filmmaker Asghar Farhadi isn’t his strongest, but has plenty of appeal and is the most accessible piece of foreign cinema he’s produced to a worldwide audience yet. The second movie directed by Farhadi that is set outside of his country of birth, EVERYBODY KNOWS stars Penelope Cruz as Laura, a married Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires with her husband, Alejandro (Ricardo Darin) and their two children, Irene (Carla Campra), a flirtatious teenager and young son Diego (Iván Chavero). Laura and the two children are travelling to her hometown near Madrid, Spain to attend the wedding of Laura’s sister, Ana (Inma Cuesta). As one night of celebrations unfolds, several years worth of family secrets are forced out into the open after Laura makes an unsettling discovery.

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On paper, this premise sounds tantalising. Especially when you consider the high standard of storytelling demonstrated in previous bodies of work by the Oscar-nominated writer and director of this Spanish language drama. Though no disaster by any stretch of the means, EVERYBODY KNOWS is never quite the gripping mystery it was destined to be and is rather stretched itself at 133 minutes in length.

Thankfully, the best of what EVERYBODY KNOWS has to offer is maintained throughout much of its duration. That all begins after the joyous wedding celebrations, which introduces every important family member in entertaining fashion, are abruptly brought to an end. During this period of time, EVERYBODY KNOWS studiously forms into an alluring and intelligently deceptive mystery film that constantly shifts the spotlight on who might be a suspect, and why. Many clues as to who the true antagonist(s) of this film could be are eliminated as quickly as they’re given. Even Laura is harbouring some damaging secrets, one of which involves Paco (played by real-life husband, Javier Bardem) that will provoke viewers to question the true nature of her character.

Unfortunately for this 2018 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or nominee, its greatest let down is sourced from its greatest asset. The revelations behind the mystery summoned over the past two hours deserved better explanation and execution than what Asghar Farhadi has accomplished. Nevertheless, this somewhat underwhelming and less convincing outcome isn’t major enough to undo the dramatic core of this film, let alone the film as a whole. A core that is anchored by the most exemplary performance Penelope Cruz has given in many years.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
M (Coarse Language)

Trailer
EVERYBODY KNOWS

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

Opens nationally on March 7

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter  Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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THE GUILTY

Director
Gustav Möller
(Feature film debut)

Stars
Jakob Cedergren

An American remake of this new release from Denmark is already in development and will star Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role. This prompt decision is easily comprehended once witnessing the fairly unique and craftily executed set-up here, and when considering its 27 (and counting) award wins Worldwide, including the Audience Award for World Cinema – Dramatic at Sundance last year.

In THE GUILTY, the camera remains fixed entirely inside a single location with our protagonist as we eavesdrop on his numerous conversations regarding a situation that is happening beyond the four walls of the emergency contact centre he is working at. For reasons that become apparent later into the film, police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren, who is in every scene) has been assigned desk and telephony duties. Shortly into his evening shift, Asger answers a call from a distressed woman named Iben, who has been abducted. Reduced to verbal communication as his only weapon, Asger faces a race against time, as well as some of his own personal demons, in his best efforts to locate and rescue Iben.

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What transpires from this tantalising premise is suffice on its own to satisfy the film as a whole. However, THE GUILTY is more than satisfactory and adds greater intrigue to its story by ensuring that everything being thought, said and done in front of the camera is just as pertinent and significant to all that unfolds over the phone and externally. The cleverly written screenplay and structure of this movie has Asger learning several alarming facts about the situation he’s in the middle of simultaneously as viewers become aware of certain concerning issues that are present in his own personal life right now. The background work added to this primary character, his deteriorating conduct and how his temperament may affect both the outcome of the abduction and another impending event in his life greatly heightens the drama and raises tension levels. Furthermore, THE GUILTY never feels burdened by the weight of verbally illustrating what almost every other similar type of film visually depicts. In fact, it unlocks our imaginations in a true example of where less can certainly mean more.

(A strong) 3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion
(Mature themes and coarse language)

Trailer
THE GUILTY

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution for the link to watch and review this film.

Opens in selected cinemas on Feb 28

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter –Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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COLD PURSUIT

Director
Hans Petter Moland

(IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, DEPARTMENT Q: A CONSPIRACY OF FAITH and A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN)

Stars
Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Laura Dern, Tom Jackson and Emmy Rossum

It isn’t often I find myself watching an American remake of a foreign film I’m yet to see. Yet, I somehow missed the release of recent Norwegian crime film KRAFTIDIOTEN (IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE), both of which (the original and the remake) have been directed by Hans Petter Moland. In COLD PURSUIT, Liam Neeson stars as Nels Coxman, a snowplow driver working at a resort town in the Rocky Mountains. A quiet man, who other than living with his wife (played by Laura Dern) and son (Micheál Richardson), mostly keeps to himself. When Nels’ son is murdered, he takes matters into his own hands and hunts down each person that he believes played a part in his son’s death.

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On paper, COLD PURSUIT sounds very much like a repeat of a routine Liam Neeson action movie. Throughout the first act, most proceedings unfold just that way. Only this time around, an irreverent brand of comedy has been regularly applied to this episodically violent revenge thriller. Soon after Nels has found the first person on his hit list, the film broadens its narrative to also be from the perspectives of other newly introduced characters. Those who consume greater screen time assume a more antagonistic role in the film while occasional appearances are made from the perspective of a police officer (played by Emmy Rossum) who can smell smoke where there is fire. 

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The development of the plot and the climax of this film are enough on their own to gain, then maintain, the investment it seeks from its viewers. But one of the greatest conundrums I had with COLD PURSUIT was feeling comfortable with the levity applied to this crime drama and in harmony with the overall mood being generated. That aforementioned irreverent humour felt more forced and awkwardly out of place than it managed to seamlessly fit in. Holistically, the film is just so uneven. Should COLD PURSUIT’s unevenness not be a bother to you, then the noticeably misjudged performance of Tom Bateman, who is imperfectly trying to perfect his villainous character, ought to. Nonetheless, COLD PURSUIT just scrapes in…

3 stars

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong themes and violence)

Trailer
COLD PURSUIT

Moviedoc thanks Studiocanal for the invite to the screening of this film.

Opens nationally on Feb 7

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter –Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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