LUCKY

Directors
John Carroll Lynch
(Feature film debut)

Stars
Harry Dean Stanton, Ron Livingston, Beth Grant, Ed Begley Jr., Yvonne Huff, Barry Shabaka Henley, Tom Skerritt and David Lynch

The final role of respected character actor, the late Harry Dean Stanton, is partly written by Stanton’s real-life friend, Logan Sparks. A drama set at a remote desert town in the U.S, LUCKY features stories and behaviours that are derived from Harry’s own life.

Playing the titular character, Harry Dean Stanton is a ninety year-old atheist who might be at the tail end of his life but remains in relatively good health. He is more than content with living alone and fulfills his remaining days by committing to his personal and social daily routines, which includes specific yoga routines and regular visits to the local shop and pub. The various conversations and heated discussions that Lucky stirs up with some of the town’s locals causes Lucky to rethink some of his ways and beliefs. 

This minor in scale yet meaningful movie is the epitome of getting so much out of so little.

At times and especially during its wonderful beginning, just a single frame captured in LUCKY can illustrate strikingly specific detail and enriches the depth of this film. Even for viewers who may not classify themselves as ardent admirers of Harry Dean Stanton’s work, further appreciation can be gleaned from the infectious wittiness of the script. A fairly even distribution of this dialogue that’s exchanged between Lucky and various supporting characters, strongly compliment this film. Where LUCKY does become more selective in taste is in its nondescript and rather meandering narrative that’s intended to be a mild pondering into spirituality and human connection but is ultimately too esoterically written.

Regardless, if you’re a bonafide Harry Dean Stanton fan, then quite simply do not miss LUCKY.

3 stars

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong Coarse Language)

Trailer
LUCKY

Moviedoc thanks Umbrella Entertainment and Ned & Co for the private screener link to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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JUSTICE LEAGUE

Director
Zack Snyder
(BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, MAN OF STEEL, 300)

Stars
Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ciarán Hinds and Jeremy Irons

Many would agree that last year’s BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE was a felony committed to the superhero movie universe as well as our own senses. An undoubtedly apologetic continuation to the dull story told there, the reasonably improved JUSTICE LEAGUE is here to seek our pardon. Any admissions of forgiveness granted its way won’t be for its business-as-usual storyline basis, however.

The fifth instalment in DC’s extended universe film series is set not too long after the death of Superman (which you might recall occurred in YAWN OF JUSTICE, if you remained awake for long enough). Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) is seeking the assistance of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot; straight out of the pretty good WONDER WOMAN) to fight a new enemy named Steppenwolfe (Ciaran Hinds), who is searching for three energy-containing boxes that will give him an endless supply of power. Along the way, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince pursue Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to recruit them and form a team of superheroes known as the Justice League.


Benefiting from the shortest running time of any DC film so far at two-hours, which in turn enables the pacing to be more consistent, JUSTICE LEAGUE holds itself accountable to delivering solid entertainment that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  While its playful attitude keeps all of the moving parts of this film progressing along quite nicely, the plotting, storytelling and action sequences will not amaze its audience by any stretch. Most of its amusement comes from the wisecracking character Barry Allen/The Flash, with Ezra Miller’s rendition as one of this film’s novice superhero characters bound to be a fan favourite. Speaking of favourites, after a starring role in WONDER WOMAN that was physically great but emotionally grating, Gal Gadot fares much better courtesy of a more relaxed and far less wooden performanceShe blends right in among her combative colleagues. Regardless of the level of enjoyment you may derive from several characteristics that JUSTICE LEAGUE has to offer, Ben Affleck’s representation of Batman stands as make or break for many. Though I highly doubt that this is the film to be the turning point to changing many negative perceptions, the lesser reliance on the character and a more noticeable light-heartedness in Affleck’s portrayal could be the beginning of acceptance and reconciliation before THE BATMAN eventually arrives to the big screen.

3 stars

Viewer Discretion
M (Action violence)

Trailer
JUSTICE LEAGUE

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

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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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JIGSAW

Directors
Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
(PREDESTINATION, DAYBREAKERS)

Stars
Matt Passmore, Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Mandela Van Peebles, Paul Braunstein, Laura Vandervoort, Callum Keith Rennie and Tobin Bell

Like puzzles? Then have a crack at making these mismatched pieces fit together.

This is the first internationally produced feature film to be directed by two rising stars in the movie making business – German-born Australians and identical twin brothers, Michael and Peter Spierig. This film by the Spierig Brothers is an attempt to reboot the dead and buried SAW movie franchise. Speaking of dead and buried, the titular villain of this film did indeed die in SAW III, ten years ago.

In what is very much a new puzzle with the same old pieces applied, JIGSAW begins by connecting its opening police chase sequence to a group of five strangers who awake to discover they are being held captive in horrifying conditions. The quintet soon learn that their mysterious kidnapper wants to play sadistic games of torture and isn’t willing to yield unless they begin spilling the beans behind their secret that has upset the moral compass of their captor and landed them in this helpless position. As the game gruesomely unfolds, a working group of police, detectives and medical experts analyse clues and evidence found that leads them to one key suspect – the deceased killer known as Jigsaw.

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.

Scary, but not in any manner that horror-enthusiasts seek, JIGSAW‘s scriptwriters have made the alarming mistake of believing that their unoriginal, unintelligent and assumptive screenplay has the ability to surprise, and then some. With the exception of one particular twist that you may not see coming, purely due to blinding you with its stupidity, every single character and plot development is extremely predictable and often equally lame. The once creatively and disturbingly conceived games being played on the victims, then played on the mind of us as its viewers as per the original SAW movie, remains a win of the past. Whether intentional to conceal explanations that the writers know don’t make much sense or whether just due to poor sound mixing, the music and sound effects regularly overpower the films dialogue. All of those desirable features that draw horror fans to a movie such as this are rarely sighted. Furthermore, there are no genuine scares or seat-adjusting jumps, no thrills or chills and very little fun, if any at all. Had some thought and care been attributed to just some of the irksome characters that reside in JIGSAW, then you might be reading a slightly less negative review. Nevertheless, woeful characters and performances from an ensemble cast that mostly appear to have been randomly assembled from several seasons of America’s Next Top Model display a grade of acting that’s as bad as you’ll see on the big screen this year.

Well, hopefully not see. Avoid.

1 star

Viewer Discretion 
MA15+ (Strong themes and strong horror violence)

Trailer
JIGSAW

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

Review by Moviedoc
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BAD MOMS 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 stars


Viewer Discretion
 

MA15+ (Strong crude sexual humour)

Trailer
BAD MOMS 2

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

Review by Moviedoc
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LOVING VINCENT

Directors / Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (THE FLYING MACHINE and feature film debut, respectively)
Stars/ Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson and Chris O’Dowd

Almost every review of LOVING VINCENT you’ll read will begin by informing you that this is the first-ever oil painted feature film to be produced. This beautiful and befitting testament to the troubled yet supremely talented artist, Vincent van Gogh, was always going to be a unique film experience. Now, it is also certified brilliant.

Taking place one year after the death of van Gogh, Armand Roulin (Booth), the young son of a postman, is tasked by his father (O’Dowd) to personally deliver a letter to Theo van Gogh, brother of Vincent. Once Armand arrives in a small town outside of Paris, he begins to speak with several of the locals who share conflicting stories of their involvement and views of the famed artist. As Armand continues to learn about the truncated life and fascinating background of Vincent van Gogh, his curiosity to discover the truth behind the artist’s mysterious death deepens.

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Using the same technique as Vincent van Gogh himself, over 100 artists have contributed to the 65,000 frames of oil painting on canvas that have been captured in the final cut of this film. To say that LOVING VINCENT is worthy of our appreciation, as we sit down and absorb what must have been a most time-consuming and extremely meticulous method of movie making, is a gross understatement. It is deserving of utmost praise. First shot as a live-action film with actors then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils, LOVING VINCENT is striking to view with its dazzling paint job of a vast array of characters performed on-screen by a recognisable and predominantly UK cast.

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The extent of its guarantee to mesmerise is never solely limited to its visual capabilities. An utterly engrossing storyline prods and probes into the possible and probable contributors that may have caused the ultimate and untimely death of Vincent van Gogh. The clearly articulated screenplay, which questions the doubt that is exposed behind potentially false claims, holds every statement accountable to the truth. As its lead character searches for honesty, the writing offers precise education of biographical events with grounded reasoning in its examinations. Minimal but sufficient background concerning Vincent’s childhood and family members is shared and forms a critical part of comprehending the mystery behind his psychological imbalance and final decline. Furthermore, LOVING VINCENT emphatically closes all trains of thought it justifiably opens. A sublime film.

4 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature Themes)

Trailer / LOVING VINCENT

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

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THREE SUMMERS

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

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

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


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

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

3 stars

Viewer Discretion/ M (Coarse language)

Trailer / THREE SUMMERS

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

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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