Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Director: Drew Goddard

Writer: Drew Goddard (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Caliee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Chris Hemsworth

 

Plot: Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell.


Tagline – All Roads Lead Here

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderfully Stylish Movie

 

Story: Bad Times at the El Royale starts as a priest Daniel Flynn (Bridges), a singer Darlene Sweet (Erivo), a vacuum salesman Laramie (Hamm) and a woman on the run Emily (Johnson) all arrive at the El Royale, a hotel that sits on the state lines of California and Nevada, the manager Miles Miller (Pullman) does every job at the hotel and not everything is as it seems.

As the night unfolds the guest turn out to have their own secrets with on bringing along the psychopathic cult leader Billy Lee (Hemsworth) who only makes this worse for the guests at the El Royale.

 

Thoughts on Bad Times as the El Royale

 

Characters – Father Daniel Flynn is an ageing man whose memory just isn’t what is once was, he has selected the El Royale for his own reasons, which will become clear, he comes off like the calm presence you would imagine any priest, with a dark past. Darlene is a singer that is dreaming of her own big break, she uses the hotel as her halfway point in her latest gig, she is easily the most innocent resident at the hotel this night. Emily comes speeding into the hotel, on the run from someone, she is trying to help somebody and will do everything in her power to save them. Laramie is a vacuum salesman that has a secret, one we learn early on, he ends up being the catalyst for everything that happens at the hotel. Billy Lee joins the hotel late, he is the psychopathic leader of a cult that enjoys to torture and put people through games for his own pleasure. Rose is Emily’s sister who has been sucked into the cult, she will following Billy to the ends of the Earth for her devotion to him. Miles Miller is the hotel manager, well the only member of staff here, he has the secrets which will only make his come off shady, though he past will be the thing that sets him free.

PerformancesWe have a wonderful cast here with Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm giving us the performance we know from them, Chris Hemsworth continues to prove himself in a different genre once again. Newcomers Lewis Pullman, Cailee Spaeny and especially Cynthia Erivo who easily steals the scenes.

StoryThe story follows the group of strangers that end up at the El Royale hotel for one night, when the secrets of the characters comes out as the night unfolds which only gets placed in the middle of the battle with a cult leader who wants his members back. This story does keep you guessing and uses the different perspective of different scenes only adds to the story. We don’t seem to have a wasted moment here either which is important because the clues will be there ready for the completion of the film.

Mystery The mystery in this comes from learn each character’s motives for being in the hotel, we learn from each new revelation that, they have a different reason that will make them stronger and be able to twist what we first thought of the character’s actions.

SettingsThe film keeps nearly all the action in and around the hotel, the only time we leave is when we look at flashbacks to where the characters have come from. The hotel does have a stylish look which adds to the creepy nature of events within the hotel.


Scene of the Movie –
The roulette gang.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Could I find one? no.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful stylistic movie that has wonderful performances throughout, a story that keeps you guessing and even feels unique for a cinematic experience this year.

 

Overall: Must watch mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – N – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

This is under N because of the writer Nicole Holofcener.

 

Director: Marielle Heller

Writer: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty (Screenplay)

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone, Gregory Korostishevsky, Jane Curtain

 

Plot: When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliantly Acted

 

Story: Can You Ever Forgive Me? Starts in 1991 when struggling author Lee Israel (McCarthy) finds herself out of a job and money is making her life difficult. Lee turns to drink where she meets Jack Hock (Grant) a fellow struggling writer as the two drink their problems away.

Lee discovers a personalised letter in one of her books and learn of the money it is worth, she starts to write her own letters claiming they are from the real authors and making plenty of money out of this plan, until the letters start getting questioned.

 

Thoughts on Can You Ever Forgive Me

 

Characters – Lee Israel is a middle-aged author that has been struggling for inspiration for a couple of years, with her latest books struggling to sell, she lives with her aging cat in a small apartment, turning to drink whenever times get hard. Jack Hock is an alcoholic con artist that turns into a drinking buddy for Lee, he pushes her to take more risks, while continuing his own reckless behaviour. Anna and Alan are two of the many dealers that are put in a position of becoming conned by Lee’s letters.

PerformancesMelissa McCarthy is an actress that goes to weak comedy films too often, this is a change for her in a serious role, we get to see that this actress has talent and this could be a career best. Richard E Grant shines in the supporting role giving one of the best supporting performances of the year. The supporting cast are great through the film where they don’t get as much screen time.

StoryThe story here follows the fraud that Lee Israel created with fake letters and stolen letters from famous authors, selling them to cover her own failures in life. We only focus on the time which caused her to start doing this action, until the moment she gets caught and the consequences of her actions. This does show us how desperate people can become when the reach the end of their means, how naïve the people who buy could be for buying letters just because people say they are real and just how important friends will be in your later years. This does play out in the way you would imagine which keeps it feeling realistic for everything that is going on with the criminal events.

Biopic/Comedy/CrimeThe biopic side of the film shows us just the scandal side of Lee Israel’s action which is all we need to see from her story, it does have moments of comedy which will make us chuckle without being a full blown comedy, it never needed to be this. The crime side of the film is the actions Lee was committing for money

SettingsThe film is set in New York which would be a prime location for authors from around the world would be located in the early 90s.


Scene of the Movie –
Courtroom.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While we do only focus on a small part of Lee’s life, it might have been nice to get a glimpse in the first 40 odd years to see where things might have gone wrong.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliantly acted movie that shows McCarthy is one of the strongest actresses in the business, it shows a true crime story and makes us want to see how far she gets.

 

Overall: Wonderfully acted and engaging story.

Rating