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Animal Kingdom - 4/2/2011 4:13:41 PM   
Empire Admin


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best fim of 2011 - 4/2/2011 4:13:41 PM   
bill the butcher


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i saw this on australian dvd back in october
jacki weaver is oscar worthy
Ben Mendelsohn is beyond oscars astounding
the kind of performance gary oldman used to give...
was very happy to see it nominated for best supporting actress
scary brave shocking amazing film

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- 10/2/2011 1:11:47 AM   


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Searing crime-thriller. Fantastic performances all round. A breath of fresh air to the crime genre.

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- 13/2/2011 5:05:36 PM   


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the people are the animals; the men strutting and posturing , snarling and snapping and, most times, forgetting to leave their guns behind. The women are deceptive and lethal as snakes...........

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 26/2/2011 1:48:07 AM   
Dr Leo Marvin


Posts: 5
Joined: 24/1/2011
really? think this has been way over praised. Pretty standard cops and robbers fair, Jackie Weaver's character is just plain mental and difficult to understand. The Oscar nomination seems based on the oddness of the character. It's all very dull, bad guys die cops are useless/crooked. Why the hype? Because it's Australian and not complete shit?

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 26/2/2011 10:50:52 AM   


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A modern day Australian crime saga, Animal Kingdom follows Joshua Cody, a young man taken in by his estranged grandmother following the death of his heroin addict mother. Introduced to a world revolving around crime, drugs and violence, Joshua spirals deeper and deeper into trouble. As the story unfolds, and the police become more heavily involved, Joshua is given the opportunity to break away from his family, finding the boy caught in between justice and relative affiliation.

A wavering inevitability overshadows the whole of the picture, itself informed by the conventions of the genre. We know from the likes of Scorsese that no one can be trusted, we know from Coppola of the bond between familial membership, and we know from Audiard that conventions are made to be broken. This inevitability is not only transcendentally felt by the viewer, but by the characters on screen. The inevitability of the situation unfolds from the films opening moments, and maintains a presence right through to the films brutal closing shot. Never is the “inevitability” angle played more effectively than in the “Night In The Life Of A Dead Cop” sequence which closes the first act of the film. Full to the brim with tension, and played in a manner akin to a scene from a horror movie, the execution of the sequence embodies the tone of the movie wholly.

Everyone is expendable in director David Michod’s fiction directorial debut. While its a difficult area to discuss without fear of spoiling, Michod has a similar attitude towards certain characters to that of Alfred Hitchcock… A terrifying murder involving heroin forms the crux of the picture, lending a genuinely gut wrenching spin to a truly memorable moment. The intricate, weaving narrative, in which nobody can be trusted, sees the protagonist and his audience placed in a nightmarish scenario, with seemingly no way out.

A strong ensemble cast carries the picture, with James Frecheville’s Joshua at the centre of the group. Shaped by those who surround him, Joshua is the Michael Corleone of this tale, perfectly in place to be molded into the vision that those around him deem fit. Guy Pearce does his best Commissioner Gordon impression, his noble police officer the only bastion of hope within the picture. Sullivan Stapleton’s Darren, a coke fuelled paranoiac offers an insight into what Joshua could become, if he’s lucky, with Uncle Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), a “worst possible scenario” of sorts future Joshua. The grand scheme behind Jacki Weaver’s Janine “Smurf” Cody, the families matriarch truly comes comes into her own in the final act of the film, her overprotective mother providing one of the great on-screen maternal monsters. With the cut of a frame Weaver bounces between baking Grandmother to criminal mastermind. Her recent Academy Award nomination is richly deserved.

Stylistically, while generally fine, Michod does have a tendency to overuse slow motion. Aside from this slight issue, Animal Kingdom has an authentic, confident air about it, aping nicely, and reflectively, the work that inspired it. Objective camerawork encourages the unknown that lies behind every cut and every corner, blocking the mentioned inevitably. Accompanied by an omnipresent rumbling reverb, the uneasiness extends far beyond the visual image. Accompanying this is an effective pseudo-operatic soundtrack. The sprawling nature of many of the true masterpieces of the crime drama genre is somewhat lacking too, with, if anything, the relatively fleeting running time of just under two hours not actually large enough to contain the ambition of the story.

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 26/2/2011 4:24:16 PM   


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Director/Screenwriter: David Michôd
Starring: James Frecheville, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Jacki Weaver

Following the death of his mother, seventeen year-old J (Frecheville) navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective (Pearce) who thinks he can save him.

The most recent film that explored the criminality within the city of Melbourne, Australia was Geoffrey Wright’s modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in which its pack of Aussie gangsters with guns and mullets failed to live up to Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. In the case of Animal Kingdom, we see a more convincing and realistic depiction of a Melbourne crime family.

Partially inspired by the real life Pettingill family, the fictional Cody family are unlike the Corleones as they are not a mafia empire that is coordinated and strictly business, but a pack of middle-aged brothers with a kind-loving mother on charge whilst cleverly nicknamed as Smurf. Now with this young boy J moves in with his estranged grandmother, the family’s trouble with the law soon becomes his problem.

Despite an impressive opening premise in which we are introduced to the Codys through J’s eyes, the film doesn’t allow enough time to fully know his uncles who though well-played, but not fully realised. Also the protagonist himself is, for the first half, just a spectator in the action and though he becomes a more dependent character in the later stages, we don’t see a revolutionary change within his personality, which was a key element in last year’s French crime epic A Prophet.

However, despite the flaws as well as a very sombre tone throughout, there is dramatic tension, achieved by a lot of the sequences involving the criminal siblings which either fall into tragedy or bleakness.

Interestingly, if you have any expectations of where the story is going, you might be surprised that there is no big revelation or climaxing to any big shootout as director David Michôd retains its subtle tone even during the film’s violent moments. Some may be annoyed by the film’s slow pace, others will be impressed by the stunning landscapes and the beautifully musical score.

Out of the four brothers, the standout is the eldest played by Ben Mendelsohn whose sinister presence reminds you of those early villainous Gary Oldman performances. Playing the most challenging role as the kind-loving mother, Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver never falls into pantomime which it easily could’ve and although her character has a lot of love to bring, you realise a darkness within her which is scary.

While it is not the masterpiece a lot of people are saying, David Michôd’s debut is a supremely watchable drama about a crime family on the brink of collapse.       

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 27/2/2011 6:31:51 PM   

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Joined: 23/11/2005
This is heavy stuff. So heavy in fact that by the time the credits roll, you need to catch your breath and pause, just to soak up what just happened.

Superb filmmaking. A character movie with real poetry and depth, beautifully shot, beautifully paced. Guy Pearce plays a small but important role amongst a fantastic unknown (in the UK at least) cast. I loved how the story kept corkscrewing itself deeper and deeper into darkness, with the central character, 18 year old Jay, at the centre of the whirlwind.

Fans of crime thrillers must check this out, i'm off to buy the soundtrack..

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Blistering - 28/2/2011 1:02:51 PM   
Iago 1979


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Joined: 15/9/2007
A phenomenal debut from writer/director Michod. Incredible performances from a great ensemble, highlighted by Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver. Tense, taut and utterly compelling - The best crime drama in years!

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RE: Blistering - 1/3/2011 7:00:26 AM   

Posts: 26
Joined: 16/1/2007
From: Brisbane Australia

It's all very dull, bad guys die cops are useless/crooked. Why the hype? Because it's Australian and not complete shit?

Do we have to have Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme fans who are numpty idiots commenting on movies?

Fantastic movie with fantastic performances and the very fact it's Australian has probably meant it has gone unnoticed!!!

Goes to show a great script with superb acting can carry a movie.................grossly under rated

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Post #: 10
RE: Animal Kingdom - 1/3/2011 10:32:53 AM   

Posts: 485
Joined: 23/11/2005


ORIGINAL: Dr Leo Marvin

It's all very dull, bad guys die cops are useless/crooked. Why the hype? Because it's Australian and not complete shit?

Animal Kingdom is far worthier of its praise than this reviewer would suggest. Why the hype? Because it's a very well made film in all departments. I couldn't care less if it came from Timbuktoo. A brilliant film is a brilliant film, wherever it's from and whatever it's about.

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Post #: 11
RE: Animal Kingdom - 1/3/2011 12:57:05 PM   

Posts: 236
Joined: 23/8/2009
Okay, well, it appears my post about this film has been deleted. I was merely praising it, but okay.

Extrodinary film, though.


This Is The End - ***
Man Of Steel - ***
The Great Gatsby - ***
Iron Man 3 - ***
Evil Dead - ***

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Post #: 12
RE: Animal Kingdom - 26/3/2011 3:44:33 AM   
Qwerty Norris

Posts: 4011
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
Crime dramas on a whole tend to do the traditional thing of squeezing as much sensationalism as possible out of the events unfolding - whether it's theft, murder, betrayal or something in between these three factions. Consequently it's resulted in a genre of cinema that in recent times has flooded multiplexes and arthouses with tired, unremarkable fare ridden either with cliché or homage's to better works from a previous era. Whilst it doesn't necessarily reinvent the genre, Animal Kingdom in these sterile times is a breath of fresh air – giving a new lease of life to a rapidly fading method of story-telling.  

What is really impressive about the tale of a family of petty crooks in the suburbs of Melbourne is its restrained, no-nonsense approach to the grizzly and in some cases shocking incidents depicted in its story. Not one set-piece is played to exploitative or theatrical levels and everything that happens within has a conviction of complete believability – something which is universally problematic with even the very best from Scorsese to the very worst starring Danny Dyer.  

The performances by in large are also very impressive. Guy Pearce, easily the most recognizable of the Aussie assemble nails the world-weary detective determined to do the right thing in the best possible way. Jacki Weaver, nominated for an Oscar for her wolf in sheep's clothing persona of Janine, expertly portrays the motherly figure pulling the threads of all the lost souls around her. Yet despite her awards recognition, it's the performance of Ben Mendelsohn that runs away with the film. Having already done sterling work in last year's sublime but little seen Aussie drama Beautiful Kate, Mendelsohn is genuinely terrifying as gang ringleader Andrew 'Pope' Cody, giving a grounded humane believability to his outright dangerous insanity. 

However, it's a film not without its problems. The camera work frequently ventures too close to its subjects, making the spaces a little too tight and therefore resulting in something more televisual than cinematic. Whilst the leading protagonist played by newcomer James Frecheville doesn't always convince – his blank canvas approach results in a character difficult to map and as a consequence his performance is occasionally wooden. On the grand scheme of things though, these are relatively minor quibbles in what is undoubtedly a fine addition to both Australian cinema and the crime genre.


< Message edited by Qwerty Norris -- 26/3/2011 3:45:16 AM >


Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

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Post #: 13
RE: Animal Kingdom - 30/3/2011 6:09:36 AM   

Posts: 281
Joined: 26/10/2010
From: Sydney, Austraiia
Being Aussie () we are very proud to have this being labelled australian.
This is a crime classic
The vague period that it's set in (computer talk in one scene, looking 70's in another) suggests that this will be a timeless story.
Performances are amazing!!! Ben Mendohlson should have been nominated for oscars, Jacki Weaver is as amazing and the mummy 3 kid is very good as well.
Stand out scene???
Well I'd say where pope kills the kid's girlfriend by overdose and walks away with her body in the driveway.
All while the brother watches, shouting at him, but doing nothing as he is too afraid.
Aussie classic 5/5
For other countries less score but it is still a relevant movie.

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 30/3/2011 11:17:43 AM   

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Joined: 3/10/2005
From: Belfast
I think you should really ****SPOILER**** tag your review threshold

I agree with most on this thread.  Mendelhson was tremendous and it's a decent film.

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 30/3/2011 1:16:49 PM   

Posts: 24962
Joined: 2/6/2006
From: Enemies of Film HQ

ORIGINAL: Dr Leo Marvin
Why the hype? Because it's Australian and not complete shit?

And the Facepalm award for dumbest comment on Film Reviews goes to....



There are certainly times where calling a person a cunt is not only reasonable, it is a gross understatement.


ORIGINAL: elab49
I really wish I could go down to see Privates

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 30/3/2011 4:13:24 PM   
film man aidy


Posts: 350
Joined: 8/3/2007
Just seen this on region 1 dvd. A quality crime thriller, with superb acting lifting it into a **** rating. Jacki Weaver turned in a decent enough performance, but the film truely belongs to Ben Mendohlson as Pope. I havn't seen a villan played with such an unnerving presence in a long time...Should you bag yorself a copy, ignore the dvd sleeve - it touts Guy Pearce as one of the main characters, but as good as he is, the part barely registars. Shame most cinemas didn't bother to show - hence the dvd purchase.

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 9/4/2011 9:38:55 AM   
Dr Leo Marvin


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Joined: 24/1/2011


ORIGINAL: Deviation


ORIGINAL: Dr Leo Marvin
Why the hype? Because it's Australian and not complete shit?

And the Facepalm award for dumbest comment on Film Reviews goes to....

I understand completely

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- 11/8/2011 4:14:06 PM   
Gerard Lough


Posts: 37
Joined: 25/10/2007
One of the year's best.

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RE: - 17/8/2011 3:37:59 PM   

Posts: 907
Joined: 11/10/2005
Caught this on Blu Ray last night. I found it to be really subtle, measured film making. It has really stayed with me. I hope it gets a good following on DVD, as it is a marvellous film.

< Message edited by TrendMeUp -- 17/8/2011 3:39:00 PM >

_____________________________ - a film blog

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Animal Kingdom - 13/12/2011 2:31:33 PM   

Posts: 2854
Joined: 22/11/2006
Animal Kingdom delivers one of the most gritty, visceral and starkly realistic films of recent years. Every performance within is brutally honest, the soundtrack is impacting without drawing too much attention to itself, and a huge level of tension is built throughout, without the film having to actually do too much. The deaths are also shocking, taking me completely by surprise.

It's a harrowing watch, and you definitely need to be in the right mindset, but I guarantee once you've given it a go, it's worth every minute.

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Pretty average! - 12/1/2012 9:38:48 PM   

Posts: 658
Joined: 25/5/2008
From: Bromley
After all of the amazing reviews on how this compares to the likes of Goodfellas I had high hopes for this Ausie gangster flick. As it was I actually found myself quite bored in places and didn't really find anything in it that impressive or astonishing. It had a little bit of a TV movie feel to it, which I don't mind too much, but I felt like most of the time I was waiting for something to happen. I will probably watch it again at some point when I'm bored as I might not have been in the right frame of mind but to me it was just AVERAGE!

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 24/4/2012 11:09:03 PM   
Vitamin F


Posts: 563
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: Norn Ireland, so it is

Wow, what a winner this is, and I've put off watching it for months...must stop doing that.

Directed with style but not over-directed, paced to perfection (bar a slight dip in the final act, but not for long), fantasticly menacing soundtrack, and tension oozing out...and then there's Ben Mendelsohn giving an amazing performance that creates a character who comes across as docile, harmless and totally psychopathic all at once - not in the way that Gosling's Driver is the cute bloke next door one scene and full-on nutjob the next though, Mendelsohn's 'Pope' somehow displays all three traits at the same time....hard to convey, just watch it

Loved how we get such an instant introduction to Joshua's life and possible state of mind, through just a glance or two in the pre-credit scene involving Deal or No Deal (!). A later scene in a bathroom works in the same way, giving us much through very little. Superb story-telling moments.

Hard to fault, but not hard to watch at all despite the story it tells. Have to say though, I've seen countless movie murders but Animal Kingdom has at least one of the most unsettling and it's got absolutely nothing to do with gratuity or gore or anything graphic at all to be honest, it's all just down to great direction. Looking forward to more from David Michod.

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RE: Animal Kingdom - 17/6/2012 5:09:50 PM   

Posts: 734
Joined: 6/6/2006


ORIGINAL: jrewing1000

This is heavy stuff. So heavy in fact that by the time the credits roll, you need to catch your breath and pause, just to soak up what just happened.

Superb filmmaking. A character movie with real poetry and depth, beautifully shot, beautifully paced. Guy Pearce plays a small but important role amongst a fantastic unknown (in the UK at least) cast. I loved how the story kept corkscrewing itself deeper and deeper into darkness, with the central character, 18 year old Jay, at the centre of the whirlwind.

Fans of crime thrillers must check this out, i'm off to buy the soundtrack..

Agreed. I found the deaths rather shocking. A very tense and well acted film. While watching this i wondered why the actor who played Pope wasn't nominated. His performance was brilliant like one poster said he was pretending to be an ordinary man but was anything but.

I found the dilemma faced by J gripping and it kept me guessing until the end. Its not just a crime story but about family and one's boys journery to adulthood and being forced to grow up and make some tough choices.

I loved it.

It was helped by good direction, cinematography and a fantastic script.

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Post #: 24
Find it and rent it - 27/1/2013 8:28:35 PM   


Posts: 3
Joined: 17/1/2013
A PBS TV station here in NYC shows this from time to time and I will eventually buy a dvd copy. This is one of the more frightening presentations of criminal thinking and behavior with wonderful performances by the entire cast. Find it and rent it

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Bloody families - 2/7/2014 3:55:44 PM   


Posts: 253
Joined: 30/9/2005
While we’ve encountered films like this before – a family of criminals all start to implode with bloody consequences – newcomer director Michôd wrings a few interesting twists on his grim tale to keep it a bit more surprising. The fact that it’s Australian is the most obvious one, but it does feature an outstanding cast of some of the best Aussie actors. Young Frecheville makes for an interesting lead in that he’s virtually a blank canvas throughout who slowly starts to realise that the family that has embraced him is actually a snake pit. But, best of all, is Weaver as the matriarch, all smiles and sunshine but with the heart of a viper underneath it all.

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