Foreign

THE WOUND (INXEBA)

Director
John Trengove
(HOPEVILLE)

Stars
Nakhane Tourè, Niza Jay Ncoyini and Bongile Mantsai

The most internationally awarded film in South African history has been subject to plenty of controversy in the lead up to its cinematic release. Several screenings of THE WOUND have been forcibly cancelled in its homeland, due to threats of violence and damage to property. So what’s the cause for its controversy? 

In a double-whammy for protesters of this film, THE WOUND is exhibiting to the world the very private and traditional Xhosa initiation into manhood as it deals with the theme of sexuality led by gay male characters. 

Celebrated singer, songwriter and novelist, Nakhane Touré, makes his screen acting debut as Xolani, a factory worker living in Queenstown who is sent to the rural Eastern Cape to be the caregiver for a new initiate named Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini). The initiate’s father has a private word with Xolani, requesting him to be tough on his son, who he feels is becoming a softie due to the gentle treatment given by his mother. Throughout the course of the lengthy initiation process, Xolani struggles to mask his sexual identity from his observant initiate.

 Almost the entire hour and a half duration of THE WOUND is set throughout the several phases that consist of this traditional induction into manhood. As such and as very much intended, viewers will feel equally uncomfortable, fascinated and disturbed by the honest insights that have been bravely derived from the screenplay. Most of this footage is filmed with the use of handheld and effectively-controlled cinematography that truly captures a feeling of isolation within its confines its lead characters undoubtedly feel. What is also equally effective are the genuine performances from the main members of the cast, most of whom are first-time actors that had direct experiences of this initiation!

This incredibly courageous film not only accumulated a record-breaking nineteen award wins from worldwide film festivals it screened at, it was also shortlisted as one of nine films to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards. Though it was cut from the final list of nominees, THE WOUND has loudly, clearly and successfully utilised the power of cinema by giving a triumphant voice to a minority who are not only silenced but completely denounced. Until now.

4 stars 

See THE WOUND if you liked MOONLIGHT

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong themes and sex scenes)

Trailer
THE WOUND (INXEBA)

Moviedoc thanks In Character/Off Topic Entertainment 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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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 DESERT BRIDE (LA NOVIA DEL DESIERTO)

Directors
Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato
(Feature film debut)

Stars
Paulina García and Claudio Rissi

This Argentine-Chilean production set in Buenos Aires stars Chilean actress and theatre director Pauline Garcia (better known as Pali García) as Teresa, a house maid who has worked for the same family for several years.  When that family announces their plans to sell their home and move away from the Argentinian capital, Teresa’s life is faced with an uncertain future.


An Un Certain Regard Award and Golden Camera Nominee at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, THE DESERT BRIDE is a reasonably absorbing film by way of its seamless integration of subtle and heartfelt characterisation and a beautifully nuanced performance from Pali García. The screenplay earns appreciation from observing the simple interactions of Teresa that lets viewers see the kind, lonely and reticent woman that she is. Once this understanding has been garnered, the direction that Teresa’s life takes throughout THE DESERT BRIDE has its moments of genuine concern, joy and light poignancy that continue to engage. 

At just 78 minutes, THE DESERT BRIDE is a gradual paced minor film that isn’t without meaning and is worth seeing.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion
TBC

Trailer
THE DESERT BRIDE (LA NOVIA DEL DESIERTO)

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

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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THE MIDWIFE/SAGE FEMME

Writer & Director / Martin Provost (SERAPHINE, VIOLETTE)
Stars/ Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet and Quentin Dolmaire

Two great Catherine’s of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot, headline the absorbing drama, THE MIDWIFE.

Midwife Claire (Frot), a late forties single mother of adult son Simon (Dolmaire), returns home from work one night to a surprise voicemail left by her father’s former lover, Béatrice (Deneuve). Quite keen to keep the unwanted reunion a short-lived one, Claire discovers that letting go of Béatrice isn’t as straightforward as she may have hoped, after receiving some unexpected news.

TheMidwife_05_CatherineDeneuve_CatherineFrot.jpg

Boasting suitably splendid performances from its leading ladies and featuring excellent characterisation, THE MIDWIFE adds another healthy arrival to the French cinema world.

Before the revelation of that aforementioned unexpected news, THE MIDWIFE introduces the small number of activities and people that form the essential parts of Claire’s life. For a short time from Béatrice’s appearance, some mystery surrounding their connection in the past and the cause for their long separation is upheld. This segment of the film draws in enough curiosity to help maintain further investment once it is no longer concealing past secrets of its core characters. As it continues, the focus from writer/director Martin Provost shifts to the meaningful development and trajectory of the two women’s interactions. For viewers who may appreciate a little more, THE MIDWIFE has some extra depth in identifying the role that Claire and Béatrice are playing in one another’s lives. This is especially pivotal to comprehend when evaluating the concessions made by the sometimes inexplicably kind-hearted Claire.

Not every facet of their shared time together will be of equal interest to everyone, however, the most important moments are the ones that occupy the majority of screen time in this French drama that delivers the goods.

3 ½ stars

TheMidwife_02_CatherineDeneuve_CatherineFrot.jpg
Viewer Discretion/ PG (Mild themes and coarse language)

Trailer / THE MIDWIFE/SAGE FEMME

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

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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CHOCOLAT

Director / Roschdy Zem (OMAR KILLED ME/OMAR M’A TUER)
Stars/ Omar Sy, James Thierrée, Clotilde Hesme, Frédéric Pierrot and Noémie Lvovsky

In the late 1800’s, former Afro-Cuban slave turned circus performer Rafael Padilla, aka Chocolat (Omar Sy), entertains moderate sized audiences in the Northern parts of France. He earns his living playing a cannibal on stage, much to the amusement of a crowd who have never seen a man of colour before! During one of his routine yet lively performances, Chocolat is discovered by a reputable circus artist named Georges Footit (real-life circus performer and grandson of Charlie Chaplin, James Thierrée), who sees potential for success by forming a duo act to perform during the Belle Époque period in Paris.

2015 Mandarin Cinema - Gaumont-Photographe Julian Torres-257

There is both a triumph and a tragedy to be shared in this biographical film that chronicles the life story of the first-ever successful black circus artist in France. The true story of a man who broke a barrier that needed to be broken for generations to follow, even if it had to be at his own expense.

As an entertainer and a man of colour, Chocolat’s success always had its limitations. Given the time and place he is situated, the willingness to play the submissive half of a duo slapstick routine intended to be of comedic nature to its audience was the only option he had at making ends meet. Unfortunately, this shameful and derogatory treatment was not restricted to the stage alone. When not in character, Rafael’s vulnerabilities would subject him to manipulation by colleagues and employers. What must be emphasised to this point regarding this French drama is the fact it is not depressing to watch at all. Actually, it is often delightful viewing and the story is consistently engaging. This is largely due to the superb performance from Omar Sy and the characterisation of who he portrays. Chocolat, quite admirably, never truly succumbs to playing the victim. He adds value to his choice of employment that rewards him and even enjoys life by pursuing some romance. Therefore, witnessing Chocolat’s growth as a performer and as a person does bring a sense of joy, as does Omar Sy’s best role and performance since 2011’s THE INTOUCHABLES.

3 ½ stars


2015 Mandarin Cinema - Gaumont-Photographe Julian Torres-406

 
Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature themes, violence and coarse language) 

Trailer / CHOCOLAT

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

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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NERUDA

Director / Pablo Larraín (JACKIE, NO)
Stars/ Luis Gnecco, Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro and Mercedes Morán

The Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film is a fascinating pursuit story set in Chile during the 1948 Cold War that is narrated via poetically written dialogue.

The President of Chile, Gabriel González Videla (Castro) has just outlawed communism, which has forced famous poet, Pablo Neruda (Gnecco) and his wife Delia (Morán) to go into hiding. Using the situation to inspire further writing, Pablo becomes a wanted fugitive in his own country when President Videla assigns police inspector Óscar Peluchonneau (Bernal) to arrest him.

neruda_08-_Luis_Gnecco_28Pablo_Neruda29.jpg
In rather similar fashion to his previous work JACKIE, Pablo Larraín’s film renders a captivating story with a spotlight cast upon a real-life and famous personality that has a strong political connection to their position. Only here, the screenplay by Guillermo Caulderón is restrictive in its comprehension and therefore suited to more of an acquired taste.

Although much of the dialogue spoken in this film is heavily poetic in style, the plot developments made as Óscar Peluchonneau goes in search of the elusive Pablo Neruda remain clearly visible. In fact, the script gets extremely wordy at times during its narration. So as a tip, if you are struggling to keep up with the heavy reading of subtitles or deciphering the poetic wording, then keep your focus more on the visual storytelling. This aspect of the film is really beautiful to watch and features terrific acting from Luis Gnecco and Gael García Bernal. NERUDA really hits its peak during the final chapter as Peluchonneau seems to be closing in on his fugitive, but Neruda might just be writing another story that Peluchonneau is the subject of. These scenes also feature a stunning location to shoot, which the cinematography profoundly caresses.

NERUDA is quite an esteemed picture and a fitting retelling of a critical time in the life of the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet and political icon.

3 ½ stars

neruda_13_-_Gael_Garcia_Bernal_28Oscar_Peluchonneau29.jpg

 

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong sex scenes and nudity)

Trailer / NERUDA

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films and The Backlot Studios for the invite to the screening of this film.

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