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The Nice Guys

‘The Nice Guys’ plays very much based on the cop buddy formula. ‘Lethal Weapon’ and other similar films have spawned countless sequels using the same template. There’s a mechanical nature to these with the opposite ways of seeking justice the gist of the action and humour. Having made a living writing films such as the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series, writer/director Shane Black spins a solid yarn with ‘The Nice Guys’ another feather in his action-orientated cap.

Making a living in 1977 Los Angeles, P.I. Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is tasked with investigating the death of ‘adult entertainer’ Misty Mountains. His search leads him to Amelia (Margaret Qualley), a young girl who is also hunted by enforcer Jackson Healey (Russel Crowe) whose unorthodox ways are the opposite to March’s. When Amelia disappears, the men are forced to unite as they face a gaggle of goons, porn stars and assorted wildlife in Hollywood’s crazy playground.

‘The Nice Guys’ is a very entertaining romp. Like any good action comedy, it relies heavily on the lead’s chemistry. Gosling and Crowe have that in spades, as their comic timing is as important as their action frolics. Both are seasoned acting pros and appear to enjoy the outlandish dialogue and script. Their co-stars throw themselves into the fray with equal gusto under Black’s measured direction.

The 1970’s setting of ‘The Nice Guys’ is put to good use. Everything about the era is lovingly recreated without overwhelming the story. It’s a gorgeous looking movie to look at making for consistently enjoyable viewing. The pacing rarely slows with enough character moments to allow you to invest in their mission and to marvel at the often exciting stunt-work.

‘The Nice Guys’ has a slick, rough charm to it and a solid balance of humour and action. Shane Black knows this genre well and has been wise to stick to it. If more films like these make a success of the cop buddy formula then it should last longer than the conga-line of sequels it has created.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX.

The Dressmaker

Based on Rosalie Ham’s novel, ‘The Dressmaker’ has been described as Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ with sewing machines. It’s perhaps not as rough as Clint’s rugged film but it has the same type of charm in terms of using a remote locale to its fullest. Guided by Jocelyn Moorhouse’s astute direction, ‘The Dressmaker’ is a reasonably strong comedy/drama full of tension and finely made attire.

Returning to the small rural town from which she was exiled years before, renowned dressmaker Tilly (Kate Winslet) arrives with vengeance in her heart. Re-connecting with her emotionally disturbed mother Molly (Judy Davis), Tilly aims to right grievous wrongs. Along the way she meets local footballer Teddy (Liam Hemsworth) and flamboyant Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving). Personal dramas soon arise with the slinky seamstress affecting the township in ways it couldn’t have imagined.

‘The Dressmaker’ has a captivating central performance from Winslet. She performs well opposite the equally amazing Davis who infuses genuine humanity in what could have been a one dimensional role. They are the best things about an uneven film. The tale of revenge and the eccentric locals who inhabit the town make for enticing ingredients. Occasionally it works perfectly while others it falls down flat. The problem lies in a script often losing focus with the mix of humour and drama not quite working.

That isn’t to say the look and feel of ‘The Dressmaker’ aren’t evident. The locales and dazzling dresses offer pure eye-candy as does the 1950’s setting. When concentrating on well-worn Western movies tropes, ‘The Dressmaker’ provides great viewing. It just never flies often enough with too many characters vying for attention. The pacing also drags with the story not executed as well as it should have been.

‘The Dressmaker’ is a decent enough movie that doesn’t skimp on the wonderful Australian outback locations or quirky characters. Winslet and Davis are always watchable and the clothes on display are a pleasure to see. More needed to be done on the screenplay to make ‘The Dressmaker’ fully work although it has enough spark to gain attention.

Rating out of 10: 6

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