Jocelyn Moorhouse Movies
Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse first burst onto the international film scene with Proof, her 1991 directorial debut. A searching and refreshingly original black comedy about a blind photographer (Hugo Weaving) and his relationships with his obsessive housekeeper (Genevieve Picot) and a friendly dishwasher (Russell Crowe), the film earned instant critical acclaim in Australia and abroad. The winner of six Australian Film Institute Awards -- including Best Screenplay and Best Director for Moorhouse -- Proof also won numerous prizes at international film festivals from Cannes to Tokyo, effectively announcing its writer/director as a new and exciting talent.
A native of Melbourne, Moorhouse began making Proof in the mid-'80s. Fascinated all her life with blindness, photography, and in her words "having a reality without visual knowledge," she initially envisioned the film as a short, but decided to make it into a feature after being told that she wouldn't be able to secure funding for a short piece. It took five years before Proof went into production and when it did, it was with a 1.1 million dollar budget jointly provided by Film Victoria and the Australian Film Commission. Shot in Melbourne over six weeks in the winter of 1990, Proof was first seen by a Cannes Film Festival advisor who was surveying possible Australian entries for competition; the film was initially rejected but later accepted after Moorhouse made some cuts.
Proof's critical success -- it was screened at over 50 international film festivals -- opened any number of previously locked doors for Moorhouse. These new opportunities were amply reflected in Moorhouse's subsequent film, her first "big Hollywood picture," How to Make an American Quilt (1995). Featuring a hugely talented ensemble cast that included Anne Bancroft, Kate Nelligan, Winona Ryder, Dermot Mulroney, and Alfre Woodard, the film centered on a young graduate student (Ryder) who learns a bevy of life lessons from a group of older women over the course of one summer. Quilt met with starkly mixed reviews that ranged from vaguely approving to one reviewer's comment that the film could not have possibly been made by the woman responsible for Proof.
Undeterred, Moorhouse took on another "woman's film" for her next project, an adaptation of Jane Smiley's award-winning novel A Thousand Acres. Based on Shakespeare's King Lear, the film, which starred Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jason Robards, revolved around the dysfunctional family ties between an old man and his three daughters. Like Quilt before it, A Thousand Acres (1997) met with very mixed reviews and was not the success it was anticipated to be.
When Moorhouse next appeared, it was as the screenwriter for Unconditional Love (2001), her second project with her husband, director P.J. Hogan (the two had previously collaborated on Hogan's hit Muriel's Wedding (1994), which Moorhouse produced). A drama about a recently divorced woman who teams up with the lover of a dead pop star to find the pop star's murderer, it starred Rupert Everett, Kathy Bates, and Jonathan Pryce
~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi
His wife Shirley (Rebecca Gibney) institutionalized following a complete mental breakdown, philandering family patriarch Barry Moochmore (Anthony LaPaglia) impulsively hires eccentric vagabond Shaz (Toni Collette) to be a nanny to their five daughters. As Shaz instills the unpopular girls with a much-needed dose of self confidence, fearless shark hunter Trevor (Liev Schreiber) shows up unexpectedly, and throws a spanner in the works. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
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Director P.J. Hogan (Muriel's Wedding, My Best Friend's Wedding) helms this live-action retelling of J.M. Barrie's classic children's play Peter Pan. Starring Jeremy Sumpter (Frailty) in the title role, the film follows the adventures of the Darling children, Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood), John (Harry Newell), and Michael (Freddie Popplewell), as they are visited by the boy who never grows up and whisked away to Neverland, where they encounter The Lost Boys, Tinker Bell (Ludivine Sagnier), and the evil Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs). ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi
- Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, (more)
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What's a middle-aged woman to do when her husband walks out on her and her favorite pop star is murdered by a serial killer? Writer/director P.J. Hogan explores this and many other pressing questions in Unconditional Love, a comic murder-mystery he devised with his wife and co-screenwriter, Jocelyn Moorhouse. Their heroine, Grace Beasly (Kathy Bates), finds her placid Midwestern life turned upside down after she loses both of the aforementioned men in her life: her husband (Dan Aykroyd) and the Tom Jones-like, Welsh singing star Victor Fox (Jonathan Pryce), whom she unabashedly worships. After Fox's death, Grace impetuously flies to England for his funeral. Paying an uninvited visit to his countryside estate, she discovers Dirk Simpson (Rupert Everett), Fox's longtime, secret live-in lover, who's also in a state of shock following the senseless murder. Together, the two team up, traveling back to the Windy City to find the infamous "Crossbow Killer" who took Fox's life. After receiving a fall 2002 release in the U.K., Unconditional Love had its U.S. premiere on the Starz network in August 2003. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi
- Kathy Bates, Rupert Everett, (more)
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A feminist farm belt version of William Shakespeare's King Lear, this film is based on Jane Smiley's novel about an aging farmer and his three daughters. The Lear-like farmer, Larry Cook (Jason Robards), decides to divide up his thousand-acre farm among his three daughters, but he disinherits his youngest, Caroline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an attorney, when she expresses hesitancy. The other sisters, Ginny (Jessica Lange) and Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer), take up the offer, even though they were sexually abused by their father as children. They also take up romantically with the hippie son of a neighboring farmer, Jess Clark (Colin Firth), after their own drunken, demented father moves out to live with Clark's father Harold (Pat Hingle). When Rose's husband Peter (Kevin Anderson) learns of her betrayal, he gets drunk, crashes his truck, and dies. Ginny's husband Ty (Keith Carradine) enlists Caroline's help and sues Ginny and Rose on behalf of their father, whom he feels has been treated badly by the daughters. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi
- Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, (more)
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A young woman at a crossroads in her life finds herself receiving plenty of advice from her older and wiser counterparts in this drama. Finn Dodd (Winona Ryder) is a graduate student trying to finish up her doctoral thesis on women's folk art while deciding if she should marry her fiancé Sam (Dermot Mulroney); she's not sure if she's ready to settle down, and suspects that Sam is unfaithful to her. Needing time to sort things out, Finn chooses to spend the summer with her grandmother Hy (Ellen Burstyn) and great aunt Gladys Jo (Anne Bancroft). Hy and Gladys Jo are avid quilters, and with a group of their friends, they work on a special quilt for Finn's wedding; as the women work together, they share stories of their lives, and Finn finds herself learning as much from hearing them talk as she does from her schoolwork. Finn also receives a visit from her free-spirited mom Sally (Kate Capshaw) and finds herself infatuated with a good looking young man who lives nearby. Maya Angelou plays one of the quilters, as do Kate Nelligan, Jean Simmons, and Alfre Woodard. How to Make an American Quilt was the directorial debut of Jocelyn Moorhouse, and was based on a novel by Whitney Otto that itself began as a doctoral thesis. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
- Winona Ryder, Maya Angelou, (more)
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A socially inept young woman slowly learns to overcome her insecurities in this sleeper hit from Australia. The unconventional Muriel (Toni Collette) is deeply unsatisfied with her life, stuck in the nowhere town of Porpoise Spit and feeling rejected by her friends and family. Believing herself unattractive and worthless, she seeks meager solace in ABBA songs and fantasies of gorgeous weddings, with herself as the bride. Muriel's life takes a turn for the better, however, when she befriends the carefree Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths), who encourages her to take control of her life. Together, the two women travel to Sydney, where a series of liberating experiences help Muriel develop self-esteem and take the first steps towards maturity. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi
- Toni Collette, Bill Hunter, (more)
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Jocelyn Moorhouse's feature-film debut is a jet-black comedy starring Hugo Weaving as Martin, a paranoid blind man, made so because he is convinced that his mother, when he was a child, lied to him about the sights she described to him. As an adult, Martin is reclusive and ill-tempered. Perversely, Martin is also a photographer -- he takes the pictures, has them developed, asks friends to describe the pictures to him, and then labels them in Braille to make sure no one is tricking him. His housekeeper, Celia (Genevieve Picot), is also a photographer. Obsessed with Martin, she papers the walls of her home with pictures of him. But this obsession doesn't carry through to their relationship, which is a far from cordial one -- Celia torments Martin and Martin humiliates her. One day at a restaurant, after a nasty confrontation with a waitress who ignores him, Martin makes friends with the dishwasher, Andy (Russell Crowe). Martin invites him home to describe his photographs to him. Back at Martin's home, Andy meets Celia and he immediately falls in love with her. Jealous of Andy, Celia seduces him in an effort to discredit Andy with Martin and drive Martin into her arms. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
- Hugo Weaving, Genevieve Picot, (more)