Romance

THE BIG SICK

Director / Michael Showalter (HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS, THE BAXTER)
Stars/ Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Aidy Bryant and Kurt Braunohler

Boy meets girls. Girl meets boy. You have seen it many times before. Though new comedy THE BIG SICK has a few big slick and unexpected developments in its story that cure it of all symptoms of being a clichéd affair.

The boy in the picture is Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), a Pakistan native living in the U.S who is a struggling stand-up comedian that politely rejects potential brides for his arranged marriage, as organised by his mother. The girl in the picture is Emily (Zoe Kazan, who was Ruby Sparks in RUBY SPARKS!), a white American who is working towards becoming a masters-level therapist and falls for the charms of Kumail during one of his stand-up routines.

As you may have cottoned on or already heard, THE BIG SICK is based on the real life story of how Emily V. Gordon (co-writer of this film) and her real-life husband Kumail Nanjiani (co-writer and star) meet and fall in love.


It is certainly refreshing and even reassuring to be in the presence of a genuine comedy that triggers laughter in such an unforced manner. Rather than concocting forced scenarios to base the remainder of the film around, THE BIG SICK derives much of its humour from the conception of its characters and the awkwardness of a developing romance. By doing so, THE BIG SICK rapidly becomes a broadly appealing and wholly accessible comedy that features wonderful acting performances and sharp writing that work together harmoniously.

With laughter occurring frequently and so naturally throughout, the husband/wife writing team behind THE BIG SICK are evidently aware that they never need to try harder than they do to generate tasteful humour. This is exemplified by the way they showcase the cultural differences that both lead characters are faced with. Earning further respectability are a few bravely, yet again tastefully written interjections of dialogue that centre on Kumail Nanjiani’s probable faith and extremism. Given Nanjiani’s origin and the world we live in today, our writers are clearly conscious of the elephant in the room and they address this with daring humour and honesty. Hats off! 

The latter half of the film introduces co-stars Ray Romano (TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond) and Oscar-winner Holly Hunter (THE PIANO), as Terry and Beth, the parents of Emily. The importance of their contributions cannot be underestimated as a minor bump in the plot earlier in the picture later becomes an essential development. Though it must be said that this significant segment of the story is somewhat solemn in nature, much of this film’s excellence comes to the fore here as it impressively never loses touch with its comedic roots. THE BIG SICK just keeps delivering humour that is truly meaningful and memorable.

An exceptional comedy. Definitely recommended!

4 stars


Viewer Discretion/ M (Coarse language and sexual references) 

Trailer / THE BIG SICK

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

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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PASSENGERS

Director / Morten Tyldum (THE IMITATION GAME, HEADHUNTERS)
Stars / Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen

Before it even begins, PASSENGERS is healthy in supplies to suggest a superior and original science-fiction filmmaking voyage is ready for take-off. Exciting and versatile Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum directs, who previously made my personal best film released in 2015 – THE IMITATION GAME and 2011’s ripper thriller HEADHUNTERS. Writer John Spaihts (screenplay writer behind DOCTOR STRANGE & PROMETHEUS) has penned this screenplay, which was featured in the 2007 Blacklist of “most liked” unmade scripts. Add to that, a quite original premise that has an open door to innovation, a $120 million dollar budget to support that innovation and the two headlining stars, who are both hot property right now.

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt (who replaced Keanu Reeves) play those titular PASSENGERS, who awaken 90 years before they’re due to arrive at their destination – a distant colony planet – after a spacecraft malfunction occurs.

The release of PASSENGERS in Australia, just one day into the New Year, may be remembered at years end as the one of the most disappointing films that has potential for so much more than what it settles for.

The opening is pretty much perfect and immediately takes audiences on an unexpected voyage that provokes some big questions. Especially worthy of praise is the script’s deliciously satirical attitude toward the advancements of computerised technology and its governance over human ways. Look out for this throughout the opening act of the film if you watch PASSENGERS!

Aside from one compelling theme which won’t be mentioned here, any further plot developments that travel to uncharted, yet accessible storytelling dimensions are fleeting at most. Instead, PASSENGERS merely mellows out and makes the error of judgement in believing that its digestible, yet unfulfilling themes pertaining to human connection are satisfying enough on their own. The script also avoids providing explanations to some obvious and logical questions that arise throughout. By the end, only a minuscule mark in cinematic scale is left by PASSENGERS, after it set itself up to be a game-changer for the science-fiction genre, similar to the recent and more superior ARRIVAL.

3 stars

 

Viewer Discretion / M (Mature Themes, also contains some action/peril, sexuality and nudity)


Trailer / PASSENGERS

 Moviedoc thanks Village Roadshow and Village Cinemas Jam Factory Gold Class for the screening invite to this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc 

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2016 – The Best Films, The Worst and More ! !

 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 the most productive and enjoyable year of film watching and reviewing yet! 

In total, I got to see & review 126 films released in 2016 alone! Of these, more than 30 received a 4 out of 5 rating from me, the most in any year since I first started reviewing! As such, I have compiled a ‘Top 30’ list this year and ‘Bottom 5’ only.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading my thoughts and verdict below. 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 2017!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Top 30 Movies of 2016

30

VICTORIA
(4 out of 5)

The star attraction of this German suspense/drama is its cinematography – VICTORIA is shot as one single continuous take. It’s a stunning feature of this arthouse film that continually impresses, especially when you consider the key events executed throughout. The titular character, a young Spanish woman in Berlin, meets a German man and his friends at a club. As the night out progresses and Victoria leaves the club with the men, she learns of some dangerous secrets. Watch VICTORIA and experience real-time suspense unlike any others. Unpredictable and hugely tense!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

29

ME BEFORE YOU 
(4 out of 5)

It may not be Moviedoc’s number one romantic drama of the year, but ME BEFORE YOU is easily the best “crying movie” of 2016. Some of its themes caused an unnecessary revolt during its cinematic run here in Melbourne. But this surprisingly quality romantic drama will be remembered for being heartbreaking on so many levels. Stars GOT’s Emilia Clarke too guys, just sayin’ 😉

Full Review – ME BEFORE YOU

28

HELL OR HIGH WATER
(4 out of 5)

In many film critics top 5, HELL OR HIGH WATER is a gritty and absorbing crime drama about two brothers who turn to crime in order to pay off a debt and the Texas ranger hunting them down, who is due for his retirement. Has depth, genuine tension and the best performance we’ve seen from Jeff Bridges since 2010’s TRUE GRIT. 

Full Review – HELL OR HIGH WATER


27

JULIETA 
(4 out of 5)

As mainstream as a Pedro Almódovar film gets. This Spanish drama, like any Almódovar film, features a layered story with full-bodied, richly-drawn characters. It is about how a chance encounter triggers a broken-hearted woman’s search for answers. An important lesson is unearthed during its excellent finale.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

26

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
(4 out of 5)

You wouldn’t pick it by the poster, but KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is an American production. The best animated film of 2016 has a very accessible plot for kids – a young boy named Kubo who must find a magical suit of armour to fight an evil spirit from the past – and exceptionally creative, dazzling animation that is guaranteed to immerse adults into the story. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

25

THE REVENANT
(4 out of 5)

A forgotten film of 2016, it seems. But how could anyone forget the movie that finally saw gold statuette in hand of Leonardo DiCaprio? What the poor guy has to go through in order to win his first Oscar brings out the most uncompromisingly tough performance we’ve seen from the star. The film is pretty darn good too! Brutal and slow-moving, yet an utterly engrossing and remarkable story of vengeance. The Academy Award winning cinematography is outstanding too.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦


24

HAIL, CAESAR! 
(4 out of 5)

This Coen-brothers film is an intelligent and original comedy that will especially appeal to fans of Wes Anderson. Set during the 1950’s at a Hollywood film production, a “fixer” addresses several complications and conundrums both on-set and in his personal life. Great cast and great fun! 

Full Review – HAIL, CAESAR


23

Microbe & Gasoline 
(4 out of 5)

One of the rare gems of 2016, and I bet you’ve never heard of it! This French feel-good comedy has an irresistible sense of adventure and is about two teenage guys who build a makeshift motorhome and take-off, fleeing their mundane and depressing suburban lives. An affectionate, heart-warming and crowd-pleasing journey not to be missed! 

Film Review – MICROBE & GASOLINE

22

ZERO DAYS 
(4 out of 5)

This documentary will easily be the most misjudged film of the year. What ostensibly begins as a film merely documenting a malicious computer superbug emphatically ends as one powerful cautionary tale. A film you would think has nothing to do with you, then by the end, has everything to do with you. ZERO DAYS is an awakening from master director Alex Gibney (GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF). 

Full Review – ZERO DAYS

21

BROOKLYN 
(4 out of 5)

This is an Oscar-nominated tale about an Irish immigrant that finds love in New York, then is left with a tough decision to make when her past catches up with her. A romantic drama told with real warmth and beauty led by a confident performance from its A-grade star, Saoirse Ronan. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

20

LA LA LAND
(4 out of 5)

Unlike so many others, LA LA LAND is not my best film of 2016. That does not mean it is a let down by any means either. This music-driven film released on Boxing Day throughout Australia is packed full of effortless and endless creativity & striking originality that is utterly delightful to be in the presence of. Go and enjoy Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling play lovers for a third time in a feature film! (Hook up in real-life already!)

Full Review – LA LA LAND

19

ELLE
(4 out of 5)


My personal runner-up for best foreign language film of 2016 is an utterly engrossing film consisting of several separate sub-plots, all of which are connected to the lead character of ELLE, Michèle (a brave performance in a demanding role from Isabelle Huppert) who hunts for a man who has physically assaulted her. Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven’s French language erotic drama/thriller is an unmissable film for viewers who appreciate a psychologically complex work of profound characterisation and layered storytelling.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

18

THE HATEFUL EIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

Like THE REVENANT, THE HATEFUL EIGHT feels forgotten about. Bound to test the patience of even the most ardent Tarantino fans, this ultra-violent Western flick earns its place well inside my Top 30, courtesy of a near-faultless screenplay as we experience the masterful work of our famed director unwrapping the layers of tension and mystery, one layer at a time, in a magnificently methodical and meticulous manner.

Full Review – THE HATEFUL EIGHT

17

I, DANIEL BLAKE
(4 out of 5)

The famous proverb “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” is honestly and realistically exemplified in a film about a 59 year-old carpenter who is forced to turn to welfare support, as a result of a workplace incident. This is one of those films that is so true to life, it’s as close to watching a documentary a feature film can get. A truly involving and utterly valuable Irish drama.

Full Review – I, DANIEL BLAKE

16

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
(4 out of 5)

Ricky Baker is a name you won’t be forgetting any time soon. Nor is Julian Dennison, the young actor playing Ricky, in a breakthrough performance. This clever and triumphant smash-hit Kiwi comedy proved a winner with critics and audiences alike earlier in the year. If you somehow missed it, get onto this “majestical” film pronto, bro. 

Full Review – HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

15

ARRIVAL 
(4 out of 5)

The mostly tired and often repetitive alien-invasion genre experiences an invasion of originality and innovation in ARRIVAL. This suspenseful drama is about an expert linguist who attempts to communicate with extra-terrestrial forces that have landed several spacecraft throughout the world. Watch this superior film over the upcoming PASSENGERS and ten times before you attempt INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. 

Full Review – ARRIVAL

14

EYE IN THE SKY 
(4 out of 5)

The opposite of escapism. That is what EYE IN THE SKY is, a gripping and strongly immersive motion picture about an operation to catch a group of terrorists in Kenya, before their next attack. But the team are about to be thrown their toughest conundrum yet when an unforeseen move takes place. EYE IN THE SKY gives the viewer a two-sided story that forces you to question what you would do in this scenario. A seriously compelling and thought-provoking dramatic thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Full Review – EYE IN THE SKY

13

SPOTLIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

This year’s Best Picture Oscar winner handles its controversial and sensitive subject matter (child molestation within the Catholic Church) with utmost professionalism and sincerity. As a production, SPOTLIGHT is unshowy, honest and never sensationalised. A very deserving winner at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Full review – SPOTLIGHT

12

TRUMBO 
(4 out of 5)

Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenplay writer during the 1940’s who is believed to be a communist by a US agency. Based on a true story, this highly engaging and exceedingly informative film is bolstered by its surprising humour and Cranston’s astonishing work in the lead role. 

Full Review – TRUMBO

11

MUSTANG
(4 out of 5)

A French, German & Turkish co-production which was nominated for best foreign language film at 2016’s Oscars is a most profound experience chronicling the lives of 5 orphaned, close-knit sisters. Growing up in ultra-conservative surroundings, their lives are changed forever after an innocent encounter. Based on the director’s real-life experiences, this foreign tale contains a message of utmost significance to anywhere in the world. This is the best foreign film of 2016.

Full review – MUSTANG


10

SING STREET
(4 out of 5)

Another rare gem of 2016. This small Irish comedy/drama with a big heart is viewed from the eyes of a teenage male who doesn’t know how to impress the girl he wants, so he starts his own rock band! Aside from its wonderfully endearing nature, this terrific movie features a stunning soundtrack as well as original music written and performed for the film. I guarantee you’ll have a great time watching SING STREET.

Full review – SING STREET

9

CHASING ASYLUM
(4.5 out of 5)

It is difficult to think of a more pertinent film to see right now than this. CHASING ASYLUM is a documentary that uses real footage secretly filmed to expose the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. A film which acknowledges that the Australian Government has succeeded in stopping the boats and claiming lives have been saved by doing so, but at what cost? A must watch, especially for people who value truth and humanity.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not review this film ;(

8

THE NEON DEMON 
(4.5 out of 5)

When I first watched THE NEON DEMON, I absolutely loved the first two-thirds, then hated the last third. Since then, this sick, twisted and absolutely brilliant film has grown and grown on me. So much so, it is the number one film of 2016 that I cannot stop thinking or talking about. This is Nicolas Winding Refn’s (DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES) deliciously exaggerated and darkly comical take on a group of supermodels who will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. You will either love or loathe what is the strangest film of 2016. But do be warned – Beauty doesn’t get uglier than this! Unforgettable and Unmissable for horror and arthouse cinema fans.

Full review – THE NEON DEMON

7

THE DANISH GIRL 
(4.5 out of 5)

THE DANISH GIRL is a deeply empathetic and stunningly rendered production about an artist couple living in 1920’s Copenhagen whose relationship together begins to evolve and be challenged when Einar (played beautifully by Eddie Redmayne) decides to become a woman. An open-minded audience will be rewarded with breathtaking acting, studious direction from Tom Hooper (THE KINGS SPEECH) and a beautifully told story of love, sexual identity and self-discovery. Has been one of this year’s best films all year. 

Full review – THE DANISH GIRL

6

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT 
(4.5 out of 5)

The most authentic movie of the year is also the first film in over 30 years to be filmed on location in the Amazonian jungle and Amazon River. Filmed in beautiful black and white, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT is the story of two Scientists searching for a rare flower known for its healing powers. For those of you who value a complete immersion into a foreign world, way of life and have a genuine appreciation towards culture in all its forms, one of the most memorable and grandest films of the year awaits.

Full review – EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT

5

ROOM 
(4.5 out of 5)

Based on the popular novel of the same name, this deceptively layered, subtly powerful and poignant drama is about a Mother (Oscar winner Brie Larson) and her young son (an astonishing Jacob Tremblay) who survive inside the tiny confines of what they refer to as “ROOM”. With their only visible access to the outside world coming via a skylight, curiosity and determination sees them hatch a dangerous plan to escape. The end result is a brilliantly bold, psychologically complex and a deeply rational film. 

Full review – ROOM

4

CAROL 
(4.5 out of 5)

CAROL, a wholly absorbing and completely transfixing film set in the 1950’s which focuses on an intimate relationship being formed between the titular character and a young aspiring photographer. The greatest romantic drama of 2016 is an outstanding production in every aspect (costume, set design, you name it) and is led by two truly immaculate acting performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. 

Full review – CAROL

3

HACKSAW RIDGE
(4.5 out of 5)

There haven’t been many Australian-made films this year that have pushed a three-star rating, sadly. Well then, aren’t we lucky that good old trusty Mel Gibson brought this American story to our shores for production! Desmond T. Doss, a medic who served in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, never used a weapon while on the front lines, saving many lives in the process. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest (anti) war films of the 21st Century. While you experience some of the most impacting scenes ever filmed on the battle grounds, Gibson’s superior handling of HACKSAW RIDGE and Andrew Garfield’s career-best performance ensure sight is never lost of why we’re even here. A stunning film.

Full review – HACKSAW RIDGE

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
(4.5 out of 5)

Not a superhero film, but it is a super film. Taken from the personal experiences of writer/director Matt Ross, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is about a Father who is raising his six children in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. This family live a very unorthodox and secluded life, so when the need to travel beyond arises, will they be ready for the confronting journey that lies ahead? Best described as an amalgamation of ROOM and the 2006 road movie LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, yet very much its own film. What truly stands-out about this comedy/drama is the humour which is extracted from the most unconventional of places and an extremely thought-provoking screenplay. A true highlight of 2016, don’t underestimate just how brilliant this movie is. It made second place for good reason 😉

Full review – CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

1

45 YEARS 
(4.5 out of 5)

Even I am surprised by my choice of number one ranking this year! Truth be told, no film came closer to receiving the perfect score in 2016 from me. And no film, as a whole, hit me harder than the story of an elderly couple, almost 45 years married to one another, who receive shattering news that threatens to change the rest of their lives. And maybe even everything before this day. There is a valuable life lesson to be learned for ears willing to listen. A subtle, yet powerful message from the older to the younger. The carefully considered writing, sophisticated handling of all proceedings and impeccable acting work from leads Charlotte Rampling (who was Oscar nominated earlier in the year) and Tom Courtenay catapult this extraordinary film to the top of my list

Full review – 45 YEARS

That was quite a read! Now, something short and sweet. Here are the worst movies of 2016!

Moviedoc’s Bottom 5 Movies of 2016

5

HIGH-RISE
(1.5 out of 5)

Life for residents in a tower block begins to run out of control. This dystopian dark comedy starring Tom Hiddleston certainly has appealing elements. But this highly obscure film remains a mystery to me above all else. It becomes too irritating and off-putting to continue caring about. See, I don’t like all weird movies!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

4

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 
(1.5 out of 5)

A magic film, without any magic. This sequel is a careless whisper of the intrigue and alluring mystery summoned from the previous outing. Do not bother.

Full review – NOW YOU SEE ME 2

3

BACKTRACK
(1.5 out of 5)

You have probably never heard of this misfiring Australian mystery drama/horror starring Sam Neill and Oscar-winner Adrian Brody, who plays a psychologist experiencing a few issues of his own. Good, let’s backtrack then and keep it that way!

Full review – BACKTRACK

2

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
(1 out of 5)

20 years. That is how long it has been since the original INDEPENDENCE DAY premiered on our big screens. 20 years on, and this sequel doesn’t just fail to bring something new to the alien invasion genre, it just fails. Miserably. It only has the film below to thank for not being named the worst movie of 2016.

Full Review – INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

1

BLAIR WITCH
(0.5 out of 5)

The most frightening aspect of BLAIR WITCH, is just how bad it actually is! Should only be shown to severely misbehaving children for disciplinary reasons by responsible adults. If you get through this once, as I somehow did, you’ll never want to see another minute of it again. 

Full review – BLAIR WITCH

While there have been countless acting performances of the highest quality, here are my top female and male performers of 2016

Actress of the Year
Alicia Vikander
(THE DANISH GIRL & THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS)

Actor of the Year
Bryan Cranston
(TRUMBO & THE INFILTRATOR)

And finally, to some additional bits and pieces. These films did not make my Top 30 or Bottom 5. 

Top 5 Most Underrated and/or Under the Radar Films

AMERICAN HONEY (4 out of 5)
ROSALIE BLUM (3.5 out of 5)
ANOMALISA (3.5 out of 5)
BRIDGET JONES’S BABY (3.5 out of 5)
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (3.5 out of 5)

Top 5 Most Overrated and/or Overly Hyped Films

SULLY (2.5 out of 5)
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE (2 out of 5)
THE LADY IN THE VAN (2 out of 5)
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2 out of 5)
THE BIG SHORT (2 out of 5)


Add These 5 Films To Your Watch List

A UNITED KINGDOM (3.5 out of 5)
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT 
(3.5 out of 5)
SWISS ARMY MAN 
(3.5 out of 5)
THE FENCER 
(3 out of 5)
NERVE 
(3 out of 5)

These are some films that deserve a mention and ought to be watched, depending on your taste

ALLIED (3.5 out of 5)
DEADPOOL (3.5 out of 5)
DOCTOR STRANGE (3.5 out of 5)
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (3.5 out of 5)
WAR DOGS (3.5 out of 5)
SON OF SAUL  (3.5 out of 5)
THE SHALLOWS (3 out of 5)
THE FOUNDER (3 out of 5)

Best Horror Film 
DON’T BREATHE 
(3.5 out of 5)

Best Prequel/Sequel
THE CONJURING 2 (3.5 out of 5)

Best Remake
THE JUNGLE BOOK (3.5 out of 5)

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide
FINDING DORY ($1.027 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia
FINDING DORY ($36.1 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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LA LA LAND

128 minutes, Romantic Comedy/Drama

Behind the curtains and beyond centre stage of the winsome and whimsical LA LA LAND, awaits so much more than the romantic musical you’re seated for.

Generating plenty of Oscar buzz and recent recipient of 7 Golden Globe nominations, including best motion picture (musical or comedy), LA LA LAND is Damien Chazelle’s third feature film after last year’s gripping Academy Award winning music-driven movie, WHIPLASH.

Starring Emma Stone as Mia, an aspiring actress, and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian, a struggling jazz pianist, who have both travelled to Los Angeles in pursuit of their dream careers. Their individual paths to success however will change when they eventually meet and fall in love.

 

 

Talent isn’t hard to come by in LA LA LAND, a music-driven film more so than an actual musical. No matter where you look and what you hear, talent is constantly on display and evident in all aspects of one of the most artistically complete productions you’ll see in a long time. And I am not referring to the singing and dancing sequences alone either.

The conception, writing and execution of LA LA LAND is packed full of effortless and endless creativity and striking originality that is utterly delightful to be in the presence of. Of particular note, is the timelessness of the film and its glorious retro design, with only subtle and occasional reminders you are watching a contemporary picture.

The film’s simple premise accumulates so much depth and meaning, inviting deep analysis and provoking plenty of thought from viewers. The screenplay is indeed rich. Impressively, even LA LA LAND’s weightier notes barely interfere with the lightness of touch consistently performing throughout much of its duration.

So then how, you may ask, does LA LA LAND fall short of the perfect score so many are labelling it with? Ultimately, my appreciation levels for LA LA LAND as a production sit higher than my true affection for its lead characters’ affections. As mentioned, it is written with more creativity than almost any other movie you’ll see in 2016, yet some of its more specific character and thematic writing isn’t as precisely recognised as its outstanding production values.

4 out of 5 

Trailer 
LA LA LAND

Viewer Discretion 
M – Coarse Language

Moviedoc wishes to thank Claire from Entertainment One, Entertainment One and Hoyts Melbourne Central for the invitation to the Media Screening of LA LA LAND.

Review by Moviedoc 
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A UNITED KINGDOM

 111 minutes, Biography Drama/Romance

Although the true events in this film occurred over 60 years ago, we sadly do not need to look very far to this very day, to identify similar examples of public political views and dictation superseding a person’s private rights and relationships. One of the most internationally known cases of this to have ever occurred is honestly rendered in BELLE director Amma Asante’s new film, A UNITED KINGDOM.

During the late 1940’s, Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo, from SELMA) of Botswana (known then as the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland) meets and falls in love with an English Clerk, Ruth Williams (GONE GIRL’s Rosamund Pike) while living in London for educational purposes. When he announces their intentions to marry, the interracial couple are met with instant disapproval by the government of both countries and their own families.

 

Key art for A United Kingdom


A UNITED KINGDOM has been told using a formulaic structure, which may be part of the reason why the storytelling is sometimes stilted and lacking in cohesion between scenes. Nevertheless, these minor and less polished aspects rarely interfere with the deeply engaging plight of its lead character.

Filmed in Botswana and the UK and written by Guy Hibbert (who wrote one of this year’s best films, EYE IN THE SKY), the very earnest nature of the storytelling warrants all of the deserved respect coming the way of its lead character, just as it should and is continually elevated by his rousing story. For those of you reading that don’t already know, I shall not divulge further into what those real-life pursuits, hurdles and accomplishments of Prince Seretse Khama are. However, I will say that A UNITED KINGDOM is capturing so much more than the story of forbidden love it is making apparent.

This clean and unshowy production is further rewarded by the gripping performance given by David Oyelowo. Recommended viewing.

3.5 out of 5 

Trailer 
A UNITED KINGDOM

Viewer Discretion 
PG – Mild themes, violence and coarse language 
The coarse language includes racial epithets and there is also a scene of sensuality

Moviedoc wishes to thank Alicia, Transmission Films and The Backlot Studios for the invitation to the preview screening of A UNITED KINGDOM. 

Review by Moviedoc 
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ALLIED

124 minutes, Romantic Drama/Thriller 

Coming off the back of a decent, yet disappointing run at the U.S. Box Office is Robert Zemeckis’s (FORREST GUMP, FLIGHT) ALLIED, which headlines Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in the lead roles. The story, which is set in Casablanca in French Morocco, takes place during the Second World War. Max Vatan (Pitt), a Canadian intelligence officer is about to meet French Resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour (Cotillard). The meeting is not by chance either, with the pair assigned to a joint mission of posing as a married couple within enemy territory. Already a dangerous mission that doesn’t carry a comforting rate of survival, Max & Marianne are further endangered when they begin to fall in love.



This well-structured and handsomely produced film is captivating all throughout, though an inconsistency or two does hinder it from reaching excellence. Involving the senses more so than the emotions, the opening section of ALLIED may take some time for the real operation being masqueraded by the arranged marriage to be fully grasped. Fulfilling the parts that chronicle a faux relationship that is inevitably developing into a genuine one, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard do convince and share undeniable chemistry. I will not divulge further into where the story travels to from here as Max & Marianne’s mission nears its end (you can rely on the overly-revealing trailer for that, if you so wish). What I will say though is that each key development in Steven Knight’s (writer of EASTERN PROMISES and BURNT) screenplay does occur at all the right times. The pacing of this romantic drama is very consistent and effectively works its way towards a compelling and intriguing final act.

3.5 out of 5

Trailer
ALLIED

Viewer Discretion
M – Mature themes, violence, sex, coarse language, nudity and drug use.

Moviedoc wishes to thank Paramount Pictures and Village Cinemas Crown for the invitation to the Melbourne Preview Screening of ALLIED.

Review by Moviedoc
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THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

133 minutes, Drama/Romance

The Australian book publication by M. L. Stedman, THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS is internationally co-produced for its adaptation to film. Her debut novel from 2012 is set off the coast of Western Australia during the aftermath of World War I and stars Michael Fassbender as Tom, a lighthouse keeper who has recently accepted a more solitary employment offer after fighting in Europe. It is here that Tom meets and falls in love with local girl Isabel (Alicia Vikander), whom he soon marries. One day during a routine shift, an adrift row boat washes up on their shores. Inside that row boat lies a newborn baby, which Tom & Isabel decide to keep and raise.

Despite attracting an international writer/director in Derek Cianfrance (THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, BLUE VALENTINE) and leading cast, the entire setting and even some of the shoot has remained in Australia, having been filmed in Tasmania and throughout parts of New Zealand. After a flat opening act that merely ticks jobs off its to-do list, as mentioned in the above synopsis, THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS almost instantaneously picks up and finds a place in the heart from the moment that baby is discovered, and in anticipation of the moral dilemmas you may feel are coming the way of Tom & Isabel. Suddenly, albeit finally, the screenplay develops into a multi-faceted and thought-challenging thematic exercise that reaches deep into viewers’ empathy and is compulsive to watch. Performances are very good in this wholly absorbing film, locations are certainly picturesque and this story which is ultimately about love and morality, the decisions we make for it and the consequences & sacrifices we suffer at the hands of it, will not be forgotten. 


3.5 out of 5

Trailer 
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

Viewer Discretion 
M- Mature Themes and a Sex Scene 

Moviedoc wishes to thank Claire from Entertainment One, Entertainment One and Cinema NOVA to the Screening invite of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS. 

Review by Moviedoc 
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