Drama

WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? (HVA VIL FOLK SI)

Writer & Director
Iram Haq
(I AM YOURS)

Stars
Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Ekavali Khanna and Sheeba Chaddha

Writer and director Iram Haq‘s semi-autobiographical drama WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is about a sixteen year-old girl named Nisha (feature film debut of lead actor Maria Mozhdah, pictured below) who is forced to live a double life. At her family home in Norway, she reluctantly honours the traditional values of her Pakistani emigrant parents, father Mirza (Adil Hussain from LIFE OF PI) and mother, Najma (VEERE DI WEDDING actress Ekavali Khanna). Socially, Nisha is herself, a regular Norwegian teen who enjoys the contemporary westernised lifestyle and the company of her friends, one of whom is showing an interest of a more intimate nature towards her. Nisha welcomes the advances of the young man, with the mutual flirtation soon leading to the chance of their first physical encounter. When Nisha’s father sees them together, his instant disapproval and exaggerated assumptions lead to drastic actions that will tragically change Nisha’s life forever.

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A co-production of Norway, Sweden and Germany and spoken in Norwegian and Urdu, WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? has something itself to powerfully say about people who forcibly trap and aim to control the actions of others, and the person they want them to be, yet will never become. And it’s not subtle in its representation of just that happening either! Taking into account the fact that this is a very personal film for writer & director Iram Haq to make, there is undoubtedly an inspirational story behind the heavy and heartbreaking one we see in WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? that ultimately could have led to this good film being a great one. Nonetheless, many who do watch this movie will have their own connecting personal experience and be immediately drawn into this mightily absorbing story and profoundly resonate with its lead character.

Before Nisha’s two worlds collide, the film importantly establishes the foundations of both lives, granting us an understanding of their stark contrasts so that we also know who the real Nisha is. Once Mirza has become aware of his daughter’s secret life, things are sadly about to go from bad to much worse for our female protagonist. This scene, and the several minutes that follow are absolutely gripping to watch. Now, heed the following as necessary viewing preparation, as this is not intended to deter your interest to this film. Without revealing any specific plot details, the remainder of WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is harrowing to watch. All of the emphasis is continuously placed onto the horribly oppressive actions of the films perpetrators and the consequential suffering of the victims. Though it is absolutely warranted, there must be a source of strength, discernible resilience and some form of hope present to encourage Nisha’s survival and to also enable viewers those same hopes. Other than the occasional distraction from the hardship endured and the sheer hopelessness that is cast, Iram Haq doesn’t make any of these pivotal characteristics evident. Furthermore, her young protagonist has had significant alterations made to her existence that surely would have a greater psychological affect than what the script contains. More depth and development in these areas could only have strengthened an already powerful story.

Again, without mentioning specifics and to give you necessary advanced awareness, the ending arrives quite abruptly and could definitely have added even just a few additional scenes to leave viewers feeling more assured and lift some of the anger, pity and sadness felt for much of its length. Nevertheless, this is one foreign film with universal themes that ought to appeal to the masses worldwide, and whose story is so convincingly acted and always remains utterly absorbing.

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
TBA 

Trailer
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? (HVA VIL FOLK SI)

Moviedoc thanks Palace, the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival and Asha Holmes Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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TWO IS A FAMILY (DEMAIN TOUT COMMENCE)

Director
Hugo Gélin

(JUST LIKE BROTHERS)

Stars
Omar Sy, Clémence Poésy, Antoine Bertrand and Gloria Colston

The crowds gathered from all around the world for this French adaptation of the 2013 Mexican film INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED. TWO IS A FAMILY not only sold more than three million tickets at the French box office but was also the most popular French language movie of 2017 worldwide.

Omar Sy (THE INTOUCHABLES) stars as Samuel, a charter boat pilot living and working at the gorgeous Côte d’Azur in the French Riviera. A true ladies’ man who can charm his way both into and out of just about anything, the hedonistic lifestyle of the hard-partying Samuel is given a rude awakening by way of a shock arrival one morning. A past summer fling, Kristin (Clémence Poésy), advises Samuel that he is the father of the baby girl that she is currently holding! Immediately after breaking the news to him, the troubled Kristin gets into a taxi and flees, abandoning her child and leaving the impromptu father to care for their daughter, Gloria.

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This French comedy/drama is a sweet-natured film that has its heart in the right place in spite of its misguided stumble to get to its ultimate message.

As his baptism by fire into fatherhood begins, Samuel is required to leave the clear blue waters and endless days of sunshine behind in pursuit of Kristin, who lives in London. This entire first act of TWO IS A FAMILY doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is fortunate for it is never genuinely convincing. Because he is not able to immediately locate Kristin, Samuel is required to make something of a life for himself in the English capital. The people that he meets here, which includes a French-speaking stranger that will become his friend, and the employment he gains give TWO IS A FAMILY extra comedic punch. Simultaneously, Samuel is becoming quite fond of his growing child and the film growing closer to the heart as a result. These individual elements begin to compliment the rather whimsical trajectory of the plot quite nicely throughout the middle stretches of the film.

While a good number of its unexpected developments to date are mostly a hit, there are more coming that don’t fit quite as comfortably. It eventually becomes obvious that we aren’t to take TWO IS A FAMILY so lightly after all, which poses a few problems. Not only have there been further less convincing developments made since the opening act, but the scale of drama occurring in the latter half has become quite weighty and high in volume. I’m not convinced that every layer added here is absolutely necessary. The only reliable and consistent ingredients of this movie are an engaging lead performance from Omar Sy, the remarkable feature film acting debut of Gloria Colston, and the touching and beautiful on-screen chemistry they share as father and daughter.

On a side note, the price of admission can (almost) be justified alone to see inside a home that is way beyond cool and may very well be every child’s dream house!

3 stars 

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Viewer Discretion
(Coarse language)

Trailer
TWO IS A FAMILY (DEMAIN TOUT COMMENCE)

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the in-season pass to watch this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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NETFLIX FILM REVIEW – THE BREADWINNER

Director
Nora Twomey

(THE SECRET OF KELLS)

Starring the voices of
Saara Chaudry, Ali Badshah, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Soma Chhaya and Kawa Ada

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie worked as executive producer for this English language animated drama that is set in 2001 during the Taliban-era in Afghanistan. An international co-production between Canada, Ireland and Luxembourg, THE BREADWINNER is based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis (first published in 2000) and was an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Film at this year’s Academy Awards.

Guru Studio’s first feature film project tells the story of an 11 year-old girl named Parvana (Saara Chaudry), who lives in Kabul with her father, Nurullah (Ali Badshah), mother, Fattema (Laara Sadiq) and three siblings. Like all women living under oppression there, Parvana is prohibited from being outdoors without a man right beside her and must keep almost every part of her skin covered. When Nurullah is wrongfully arrested and taken away to prison by Taliban soldiers, Parvana is forced to dangerously disguise herself as a boy in order to gain work and earn an income to provide for her family.

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I didn’t discover that the THE BREADWINNER is an English-spoken production that is not produced in the country it is set until moments before viewing it on Netflix. In an instant, I had doubts concerning just how authentic its story and factually correct the writing would be. Thankfully, the author of the novel this film is based upon spent several months interviewing women and girls in refugee camps in Pakistan as part of her research and uses these interviews as the basis of her depiction of life in Afghanistan. Though we can’t be certain just how much content documented from these interviews has been purely transitioned across to this film, there is no doubt that THE BREADWINNER is credibly and unsparingly revealing a condemning truth most succinctly to a much broader audience than any film ever before.

As it ought to be, the depiction of life for women and the views of many males towards them that they co-exist with is incisively devised and searingly written. Even though this story is set in a place so foreign to almost everyone who will see this film, the subject and damning fact that inequality and violence/abuse against women that THE BREADWINNER is focusing on, is sadly far from being foreign in our world right now. Despite its M classification, this animated movie can and certainly should be viewed by a younger crowd, albeit with due discretion, parental guidance and the pre-viewing knowledge to expect to see a small handful of confronting and violent scenes (some of which do show animated blood). On the flip side, a sub-plot that involves Parvana telling her youngest sibling fictional stories, which the film often visually demonstrates as a temporary deviation from its heavier content, will help to keep younger audience members engaged to the film throughout.

Recommended viewing. Especially considering its ease of accessibility on Netflix!

3 ½ stars

If THE BREADWINNER interests you (and I hope after reading this that it does!), then be sure to also watch 2003 drama OSAMA, a non-animated rendition of this exact story that is made and set in Afghanistan.

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Viewer Discretion
M (Mature themes, violence)

Trailer
THE BREADWINNER

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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FOXTROT

Writer & Director
Samuel Maoz
(LEBANON)

Stars
Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonathan Shiray and Shira Haas

This multi award-winning Hebrew-spoken drama has been described as a philosophical puzzle by its writer & director Samuel Maoz, whose stunning debut film LEBANON (2009) gave a claustrophobic and powerful account of war from within the confines of an army tank. It’s a puzzle in which particular pieces correspond to his very own life.

In modern day Tel Aviv, affluent but troubled married couple Michael and Daphna Feldmann (Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler) receive shocking news that shakes them to their very core. There has been a fatal incident at the distant military post that their son, Jonathan (Yonathan Shiray), an IDF soldier, is stationed at. As the Feldmanns come to terms with their tragic loss and deal with the grief, sadness and anger that follows, the whirlwind of emotions in their home triggers the revelation of long-buried secrets and unsaid feelings.

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When films such as the recently released Russian drama LOVELESS, and the courageous South African movie THE WOUND are subject to some form of public persecution at the hands of government officials, insight worthy of sharing is a guarantee. After it won the coveted Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival, FOXTROT was denounced by Israel’s Minister of Culture for its depiction of a single yet shocking event.

Israel’s submission for the foreign language film award at the 90th Academy Awards (where it made the December short list but did not receive a nomination) is rendered in three episodes. The first of these is centred on Michael, whose calmer exterior is harbouring signs of an implosion. It is clear that something significant was already on his mind prior to the arrival of military authorities at his home. What could this be? And how does the seemingly distant and cold relationship he has with his mother contribute to the suppression of his emotions? The second episode moves across to Jonathan’s story in the lead up to the incident. As you might expect, there is a near-constant presence of suspense during this passage. However, the humour that is derived during this segment of the film, as the young men who guard this checkpoint seek various avenues of interest and entertainment, is pleasantly unexpected.

These first two episodes, which occupy most of FOXTROT’s 108 minute length, are both strongly acted, well directed and keep its audience genuinely caring for its characters and about its trajectory, despite being slower to progress than necessary. I will not reveal anything at all regarding the third and final episode of FOXTROT, but I will say that this section of the film is where your appreciation for the crafty structure of the screenplay and its deceptively layered story is truly found.

Strongly recommended.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong sexualised imagery)

Trailer
FOXTROT

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

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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UPGRADE

Writer & Director
Leigh Whannell

(INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3)

Stars
Logan Marshall-Green, Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson, Betty Gabriel, Benedict Hardie, Linda Cropper and Simon Maiden

If you’ve never seen a film belonging to the body horror genre before, then now is the time and UPGRADE is the perfect film to first experience it. A sub-genre of horror, body horror movies intentionally show graphic or psychologically disturbing violations of the human body. Though at first that may not sound like highly appealing viewing, there are several reasons why this darkly comical Australian made film that’s set in the near-future will be an absolute hit with its target crowd, is addictive viewing for a broader audience and ought to be added to your watch list now!

Set in a dark world in which technology is an even more prominent aspect of our everyday lives than it is now, Leigh Whannell’s UPGRADE stars Logan Marshall-Green (PROMETHEUS) as Grey Trace, an old-school mechanic who hasn’t quite conformed to the reliance on modern technology as his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo from Aussie TV series, Winners & Losers) has, who’s employed by tech giant, Cobolt. A simple man, Grey prefers his vintage, self-driven automobile over the driver-less computer-driven cars mostly on the roads nowadays. When a tragic incident occurs that changes Grey’s life in an instant, his only hope of gaining some of that life back lies in the hands of STEM, an experimental and unreleased piece of technology to be implanted into his body, made by tech engineer Eron (NEED FOR SPEED’s Harrison Gilbertson).

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From production studio Blumhouse, who created fellow low-budget features GET OUT, WHIPLASH and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, and impressively filmed entirely in Melbourne, Australia, UPGRADE is a late-night special that’s a sure bet to gain a cult following. To give you an even clearer understanding of what to expect, this science-fiction crime thriller with bold strokes of humour can be likened to and isn’t too dissimilar to watching an (extended) episode of Netflix series Black Mirror on the big screen! 

After a super cool intro (don’t be running late!) and a run of the mill opening act that ticks the formalities boxes off, UPGRADE gets an infectious and unyielding energy into gear that becomes a driving and unstoppable force. The film exudes a profound sense of belonging that’s largely manufactured by its pumping music score, slick visual design, stylised action choreography, and the effective use of lighting and colour throughout. This is done in similar fashion to THE NEON DEMON and SIN CITY, only not quite to the same level of absolute all-round brilliance. Visually and aurally, UPGRADE is a self-assured film that knows exactly what it wants to be and what to deliver to its primary audience. 

While indisputably excellent in those aforementioned areas of filmmaking, the begging question must be asked: does the narrative hold up just as strongly? The reception to this from audiences is bound to be mixed. While watching in real-time, an unspecified number of loose ends become visible that lessen the credibility of the plot. Though most of these holes in the script are later patched up, UPGRADE still leaves some uncertainty in the air that will irk those who possess a higher attention to detail.

Even if the narrative component of UPGRADE isn’t able to elevate the film to a level of complete excellence, the mighty atmosphere concocted and its interest-arousing plot still give it plenty of uptick.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong science fiction themes and violence)

Trailer
UPGRADE

Moviedoc thanks Madman for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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HEREDITARY

Director
Ari Aster

(Feature film debut)

Stars
Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro and Ann Dowd

Yes, my fellow horror film enthusiasts, HEREDITARY is finally here. The film whose trailer was inadvertently shown to horrified PETER RABBIT audience members in Innaloo, Western Australia. The horror movie that has been the subject of much hype right from its Sundance premier in January to this very day where, one way or another, many critics have labelled it as one of the greatest and scariest horror flicks in recent years.

Time now to shred that hype and set the record straight! HEREDITARY is the master of deception more than it is the masterpiece many are making it out to be. As for being scary, I’ve been more frightened by what my bathroom mirror reflection has shown me first thing in the morning than anything experienced in this! Though guaranteed to rip you off in the scares department, one area that HEREDITARY certainly offers value for money is in its story. In fact, should you be seeing this rather lengthy, mysterious and supernatural domestic drama, it is best to attend with that exact mindset.

All happenings of the supernatural phenomena can be traced back to the recently deceased and very secretive mother of Annie Graham (Toni Collette). Though Annie’s mother is gone, she isn’t really and she’s left behind several signs and artefacts that will both guide and terrorise Annie, her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) to her legacy. 

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Loosely inspired by writer & director Ari Aster’s own family’s experiences with particular themes explored in his movie, HEREDITARY is an ambitious film that falls under the weight of its own lofty expectations and epitomises the phrase “what goes up, must come down.”

Making this eventual outcome even more disappointing is the fact that earlier on, HEREDITARY superbly executes and effortlessly achieves exactly what it intends to. Possible clues behind its growing mysteriousness appear to be strategically arranged and an endless number of questions are studiously provoked from the viewer. The intrinsically formed creative intellect and originality used to construct the tantalising (and comically unnerving) mystery at play in HEREDITARY are all reminiscent of last year’s ingenious mystery/thriller, GET OUT, only with the promise of an even more terrifying climax and unpredictable revelations soon to follow. Instead and by the end, HEREDITARY more resembles and sparks reactions similar to those experienced in Darren Aronovsky’s MOTHER!

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Ari Aster’s screenplay is abundant with ideas and his film does have some high quality fittings, but HEREDITARY’s separate parts don’t amalgamate into the coherent and consistent whole that we deserve it to be. Too often it has succumbed to committing a fright tactic that is less convincing and there are some noticeable inconsistencies that lessen its credibility. As patience is tested and frustrations mount at varying times during the disarraying and decaying second half of HEREDITARY, it is features such as the exquisite camerawork, its highly effective music score and an impressive job of the sound mixing that will all play a large part in keeping viewers as engrossed as possible. But maybe not to the same significant extent as the gripping and very brave performance from the terrific Toni Collette and the outstanding feature film acting debut from her young co-star, Milly Shapiro (pictured below).

Despite a decent three star rating from me, HEREDITARY is (so far) the greatest let down of 2018.

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong horror themes)

Trailer
HEREDITARY

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

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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THE BOOKSHOP

Director
Isabel Coixet

(MY LIFE WITHOUT ME, ELEGY, LA VIDA SECRETA DE LAS PALABRAS/THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS)

Stars
Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Patricia Clarkson, James Lance, Honor Kneafsey and Julie Christie

THE BOOKSHOP is the story of middle-aged widow Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), who starts her own business by opening the first-ever book store in the small seaside town of Hardborough, England in 1959. As word of the new shop begins to circulate among the locals, Florence is faced with a number of challenges. None more so than one by the name of Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), who firmly and instantly disapproves of Florence’s plans to inhabit and convert a historic building into a bookshop, for she has ambitions to turn it into an art centre.

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A mild-mannered and small-scale drama, THE BOOKSHOP ultimately satisfies and does boast an excellent finish, even though it could do without a few extra chapters that prolong its story along the way.

Spanish-born filmmaker Isabel Coixet’s award-winning screenplay, which is based on Penelope Fitzgerald‘s novel of the same name, is quite content to devote several of the film’s 113 minutes to many of its minor characters. The majority of this generously-allocated time is certainly time well spent. For instance, Florence‘s enthusiastic young employee, Christine (Honor Kneafey) and fellow book-lover who’s also her number one customer, local recluse Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy), both forge a genuine rapport with the lead character and significantly contribute towards the central story, in their separate ways. Strangely though, this light drama only includes an equally (if not more) important character in shorter scenes that are mostly dispersed throughout the film. THE BOOKSHOP would certainly benefit from widening its open doors to its wonderful actress Patricia Clarkson’s portrayal of Violet Gamart and closing them to certain others instead. Even if it is the same way in the novel, this character feels under-developed here and the skills of Clarkson are certainly under-utilised. 

Thankfully, the tender and tremendous lead performance from Emily Mortimer, an easily digestible central story and its aforementioned very fine finish do ensure that THE BOOKSHOP is worth borrowing someday.

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
PG (mild themes)

Trailer
THE BOOKSHOP

Moviedoc thanks Miranda Brown Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film

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

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Mortimer Emily_Lisbeth Salas5