Starring: Jamie Insalaco, Dan Conrad, Greg Vorob, Katie Weigl, Marc Seidenstein
Plot: Friends reunite to join their buddy’s widow in searching the house for money he hid from the IRS.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Laughs Bordering Poking Fun at Twist Bait Thrillers
Story: Will Reading starts as Wendy (Weigl) prepares dinner for her widowed twin brother Wayne (Insalaco) and his close friends Dave (Conrad), Steve (Vorob) and Tom (Seidenstein) to read his final will. The dinner leads to the five re-living the moments they had with Will along with all the different feelings about his death.
Will’s will turns out to be a treasure hunt for the friends to work together to discover what is really in the will as he was covering any money he had from the IRS. As the search continues the truth about Will’s death comes out.
Thoughts on Will Reading
Characters/Performance – The characters are all filled with their unique characteristics, Wendy is the widow that has been struggling with the death of her husband, Dan is the one that doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, Wayne is the laid-back brother, Tom is a doctor and easily fills the calming the storms situation with Steve being the one who spent his life wishing he could have been with Wendy. The five all mix together very well to add to the situation of dealing with the loss and family or friend.
Performance wise everybody is good with their roles reaching the levels of quirky they all need to have to make the characters work.
Story – What starts out as a look into friendship turns into a search and battle to find the money left in the will, this all makes for a good story that is easy to follow, taking a comic look at the twist bait thrillers. We do get a group of friends that are all easy to understand their motives which helps along the story.
Comedy– We all know by now comedy is very much a hit or miss for me, so any film that gives me a couple of laughs is a success, this film uses plenty of humour I enjoy watching, references to other forms of entertainment with Tom’s solo outside scenes making me laugh the most.
Settings – The whole film is set inside the home which works for the low budget side of the film and also keeps the events of the movie being over the one night.
Final Thoughts – You want to see a comedy that has moments of quirkiness, pop culture references and a story that brings friends together this one is for you.
Overall: Fun comedy that has laughs through the film.
Least Favourite Oscar Winning Performance from an Actor in Leading or Supporting Role
The Oscars are around the corner and we all know that people either love or hate the Oscars committee decisions. We have had the best or the best winning Oscars and after looking at our Favourite we need to look at our Least Favourite this time around.
If you want to join in Opinion Battles our next round will be Favourite Video Game Adaption. Send you choices to firstname.lastname@example.org 5th March 2017.
Darren – Movie Reviews 101
Michael Caine– The Cider House Rules
Dr Wilbur Larch is a performance I do enjoy but when you see the performance it beat you have to question the decision for his choice as a win, Michael Clarke Duncan (Green Mile), Tom Cruise (Magnolia) and Jude Law (Talent Mr Ripley) who could all have been winning performances. As I said I have nothing against Michael Caine because he is a brilliant actor but this year I can’t help but question the winning decisions.
This is a tough one & I have to admit that my choices are very much influenced by not liking the “real life” person involved. I considered Christian Bale in The Fighter just because I don’t like him (but, yeah – the performance is fine). I also considered Timothy Hutton simply because Ordinary People is overrated & shouldn’t have won so many awards (no idea what he’s like in real life). Again, not fair I suppose. Well, another person I don’t like and have never liked or even seen the appeal of is Marlon Brando. I apologize to any fans! But, especially considering recent revelations involving the actress in Last Tango In Paris, my opinion is extremely unlikely to change. So my choice is Marlon Brando in The Godfather (even though he didn’t accept the award anyway, right?). If it helps, I do love that movie & think Pacino is fantastic…
This is another hard choice since there were no performances that I actively dislike but I’m going for McConaughey, mostly because he was sooooo much better in his very brief role in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, released in the very same year.
I know that “Dallas Buyers Club” essentially kicked off “the McConaissance” but his performance here isn’t particularly memorable and I wouldn’t include it on any best performances list.
Also, I could just have easily have gone for Jared Leto for the very same film.
My least favorite would have to be DiCaprio. He did a great job in “Revenant.” Isn’t he the poster child for “Oscar Bait” though? He is one of those characters I have to get used to in a role because he has done so many roles that are household names. The other winners are slightly better and more interesting to me. This is a tough and peculiar Opinion Battles topic, don’t you agree out there?
I am feeling mighty controversial today (evil laugh). What an awful thing to say and yes I can hear your jaws hitting the floor before this has even been posted. But wait, let me explain. I have reasons:
1. Okay firstly this was a REALLY hard round. I trawled the ‘best actor / supporting actor’ Oscar lists and nothing jumped out at me. So it was either ‘get creative’ or forfeit entirely. And if I forfeited everyone would just think I was being lazy again.
2. Tom Cruise hasn’t won an Oscar. Which is unfortunate because this would have been SO EASY if he had.
3. To be honest I’ve never really felt Ledger truly won the Oscar because of an amazing performance, but more because he died and it was a well timed tribute. Similarly, people always say how “amazing” his performance was as the Joker but who wouldn’t be amazing as the Joker? The Joker is a fun, dark, outlandish character – probably the type of character that most actors would enjoy playing. I imagine it would bring out the best out in anyone with a bit of talent.
4. And going against popular opinion I don’t really like the ‘Christopher Nolan’ Batman films. Sorry and all that. Maybe it’s just me but I still have fond memories of the good old days (AKA – Michael Keaton!).
6. But don’t take this too seriously. I loved Heath and his acting in The Dark Knight was just like the rest of his acting – bloody great. Though being totally honest I think he was better at playing good guys – he always came across like a genuine, good guy in real life (which is probably the most important thing anyway).
And you can tell Chris Nolan from me that none of his films beat 10 Things I Hate About You. Fact.
I may be hated for saying this, but I really did not think Leonardo DiCaprio’s award-winning performance as Hugh Glass in The Revenant was all that spectacular. He has certainly had better roles in my eyes – can we just take a moment to appreciate him as Bill Costigan in The Departed? I’m not saying he didn’t do a good job, just that it was slightly underwhelming to hear mainly grunts and heavy breathing from a character that would finally win him that long sought-after Oscar. Plus, it ended all of those wonderful memes..
Ok, I know this is going to ruffle some feathers. I have no issue with Al Pacino as an actor, and he has turned in some incredible performances over the years. His portrayal of Michael Corleone in The Godfather films is, quite rightly, legendary, and the fact that he was not recognized by the Academy for those films is unfortunate. But the understated acting that Pacino brings to that role (at least in the first two Godfather films) gives way to an over the top, hammy performance in Scent of a Woman that has all the tropes of every bad Al Pacino impression done in Hollywood. Pacino does more acting doing almost nothing in the classic Italian restaurant scene in The Godfather than he does chewing the scenery in Scent of a Woman. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Denzel Washington’s incredible performance in Malcolm X and Clint Eastwood’s turn in Unforgiven both lost out to Pacino that year. Chalk this one up to the Academy saying “Al, we know we’ve missed many of your great performances, so here is a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award this time around.”
It was hard enough picking a favorite, but looking over the list of Best Actors and Best Supporting Actors, I can’t really find a bad or undeserving performance. I did however find one I didn’t like at all: Kevin Kline as the shamelessly despicable thief Otto West in A Fish Called Wanda. Now I like Kevin Kline a lot; it’s hard not to. But when he spends an entire movie mocking Michael Palin’s speech handicap, it’s easy to hate him too. It’s even easier when his most notable scene is torturing Palin and swallowing his pet fish. I know it’s meant to be shockingly comedic, but it also felt cruel and mean-spirited. I love Kevin Kline and don’t have anything against his acting ability. He plays a spiteful jerk exceptionally well in A Fish Called Wanda, so well that I can’t stand to see him in it again.
Going through all the Oscar winning actors for best actor and best supporting actor, I couldn’t really point out anyone that I particularly disliked. I’m going with Mark Rylance simply because there were at least 4 other performances that were better…two of those weren’t even nominated. I felt like Idris Elba, Steve Carell, Sylvester Stallone and Christian Bale gave markedly better performances, and Rylance sort of paled in comparison. I liked him in Bridge Of Spies, I just don’t think he deserves the win
I know this might be controversial but for me my least favorite Oscar Winning Actor has to be Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. To begin with I find the movie wildly overrated pretentious nonsense. If it was a horror movie than Spacey’s Lester Burnham might work but as the protagonist it fails in creating anything but a creepy gross character. The attempts to soften him and make him more human just turn me off even more. The movie is supposedly an enlightening take down of suburban values but I’ve seen that done better many times (nearly any Todd Haynes film for example) and it didn’t need a floating grocery sack to ram home how profound it is supposed to be. Groan…
I get that not every character needs to be ‘likable’ but when you are dealing with someone like Lester the film wants us to care for him and I just didn’t. So good job Kevin Spacey in being creepy but bad job in creating a character that I felt for or cared about.
Starring: John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, Tye Sheridan, Abigail Spencer, Anson Mount, Marcus Thomas, Jennifer Ehle
Plot: A thief works with his father and son to forge a painting by Monet and steal the original. Together, they plan the heist of their lives.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Easy to Watch
Story: The Forger starts as Raymond Cutter (Travolta) puts together a deal to get out of prison early, returning to his father’s Joseph’s (Plummer) home who has been looking after his son Will (Sheridan). Raymond makes a deal with Keegan (Mount) to help him get out early but the deal is that Raymond must use his skills to forge a painting or he will put Raymond back in jail.
Raymond is also having to deal with the tragic story of his son’s cancer treatment explaining why he would risk everything to get out of jail early. Raymond must keep everything together as he works on the highly risky job but also trying to help his son fulfill his dying wishes.
Thoughts on The Forger
Story – The story going on through this story is very interesting, I have only heard bad things about this film and I found the story between Raymond and Will touching as we see how Raymond knows what is coming to his own son and posing a question to us all, how much would we give up for the final weeks/months of our son’s life. The crime story while is key to his release is just in the way of what could be a very impressive story, but the two do end up working well in parallel to each other.
Crime/Thriller – The crime thriller side of this film all feels very generic and if you look past that to the personal side of the story you will find this interesting but the crime story is just there really.
Characters/Performance – The three generations of Cutter family all make for good characters with each member giving a good performance but the crime characters all end up feeling like we have seen them all before with the plucky cop background only making it hard to judge the performance.
Settings – The settings are all what you would call generic for the style of film without being anything special or iconic for any of the scenes.
Final Thoughts – This is a film that I only ever heard bad things so going in I wasn’t expecting too much, but in the end I found myself enjoying the personal element of the film between the family but struggled to enjoy the crime side of the film.
Overall: Solid but forgettable movie about family.
Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin
Plot:A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Great Horror Mystery Thriller
Story: Blow Out starts with Jack Terry (Travolta) a sound engineer that has been working on his latest film, a low budget horror film. While working on finding the latest sound effects Jack witnesses a car accident saving Sally (Allen) from drowning. Learning that the potential future President was killed in the accident Jack is ask to forget about saving the girl for the Governors family.
Learning this was no accident Jack sets out to prove he recorded the murder only to find himself and Sally in danger from the people responsible for the murder and cover up. Jack finds himself being tracked down by hitman Burke (Lithgow) who is out to clean up any loose ends with the cover up.
Blow Out is a conspiracy thriller that was showing just how easy it could have been to cover up a crime for the time it was made. We get a scandal that can ruin a Presidential campaign which is just the beginning of the story but when he is killed we get the next chapter as one man must prove this was no accident. The film is filled with tension from early on which drives us to want to see what will happen to our characters.
Travolta is great in the leading role show he was still at the top of his game in the early 80s, while Nancy Allen does well with what is a very weak female character written to be very naïve and not used to the world. John Lithgow is fabulous as this cold-hearted killer which we do get to see much later in his career with performance in Raising Cain and Dexter. The rest of the supporting cast ends up being very generic not making too much of an impact on the final film. This is easily one of the most underrated films of the 80s and can still be watched today as if it was a fresh release.
Overall: One of the most underrated films I have seen, tense from start to finish.
Writer: Andrew C Erin, Daniel Farrands (Screenplay)
Starring: Julie Benz, Belle Shouse, Josh Stamberg, Danielle Harris, Douglas Tait, Matt Lasky, Dendrie Taylor, Fionnula Flanagan
Plot: A troubled young woman takes up residence in a gothic apartment building where she must confront a terrifying evil.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: New Horror Franchise?
Story: Havenhurst starts when Jackie (Benz) is released from rehab for alcoholism where she gets a chance to move into the Havenhurst apartment for people needing a place to stay after rehab, a place where her good friend Danielle (Harris) had been staying. The one rule here is if you fall off the wagon your contract is terminated otherwise you can stay till you die thanks to the manager Eleanor (Flanagan).
When fellow residents start going missing Jackie befriends young girl Sarah (Shouse) who has been living in the building with her foster parents for a while now and with the help of Jackie’s police detective friend Tim (Stamberg) they investigate the goings on within the Havenhurst apartments.
Thoughts on Havenhurst
Characters/Performance – Jackie is a reforming alcoholic who has dealt with personal loss by her own hand which makes for a great leading character for this film. the innocent character of Sarah works for this film because it gives Jackie an extra reason to fight for in her redemption story. Eleanor makes for a great mother figure in this film with the killers being strength in the fight making them a difficult enemy to overcome.
Performances we have good leading lady performance from Julie Benz, with Flanagan being full of all the menace without getting her hands dirty in this film. I do question what feels like the wasted use of horror icon Danielle Harris though.
Story – With most of my breakdown going to be positive I have to question certain parts of the story, while I did like the idea of a giant apartment for people fresh out of rehab getting a chance to live unless they lapse making them the victims. What I didn’t like was the fact the film wants to set up for a sequel more than finish the story it was telling in the first place.
Horror/Mystery – The horror elements of the film are where we get the mix of scares, blood and gore mixing together nicely, the mystery is all about what is going on within the apartment which does make for the questions we need to see unfolding through the film.
Settings – All the horror elements of the film are from within this apartment complex which does make for a good setting with the gothic look and hidden passages. When the horror remains in the one location it is always better for the audience.
Special Effects – The special effects all come off looking bloody and gory which is all we want when it comes to horror, this saves these moments up to not to go for the overkill too.
Final Thoughts – This is an enjoyable horror that could easily be the beginning of a bigger franchise because it has opened doors to plenty of ideas for the future, be it through the kills or how easy it would be to collect victims, so I hope we see where this can go.
Overall: Short and sweet horror that can be enjoyed by the casual horror fans out there.