Love & Mercy (2014)

Director: Bill Pohlad

Writer: Oren Moverman, Michael A Lerner (Screenplay) Brian Wilson (Based on the life of)

Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Brett Davern

 

Plot: In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.


Tagline – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Look at a Great Musician

 

Story: Love & Mercy starts by taking us to two different stages of Brian Wilson’s life, first the 60’s (played by Dano) as he starts to isolate himself from the band as he works on the latest album for the band, one that gives them a different sound to what the Beach Boys were known for.

The second time is in the 80s where Brian has been struggling with his own health issues dealing with his psychosis, which makes him socially awkward at times, trying to start dating car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Banks) with the watchful eye from therapist Dr Eugene Landy (Giamatti). We follow both the struggling times Brian goes through and how he deals with them.

 

Thoughts on Love & Mercy

 

Characters – Brian Wilson was one of the greatest musical minds of all time, following two different stages of his life in this film. The 60s version of Brian shows how the success has been making the band one of the biggest in the world, how he wanted to stop touring to work on the next album with a different tone to the music. In this time, we see how the drugs start to take over his life and his obsession with trying to find a new sound risks the success of the band and we see the early moments of his psychosis coming through. In the 80s version we meet a broken man, one that has been through the worst part of his life, but needing guidance and medication to get through the day. He is trying to have a relationship with his disease controlling what he goes through, we see the darkness take over at times. Melinda is a car saleswoman that meets the older Brian and the two strike it off as we see how she tries to get involved in the relationship while dealing with the Eugene figure. Dr Eugene Landy is controlling Brian’s life in the 80s, he has helped him turn his life around after the problems he faced in the 70s, his methods seem extreme and what he puts Brian through are exposed by the end of the film.

PerformancesThe performances here are brilliant throughout, Paul Dano as the younger Brian shows just how wonderful a performer he is, by using certain scenes for his singing skills. John Cusack is great in the older version of Brian showing us that given the right material he can shine. Elizabeth Banks is great in the supporting role looking just as confused and concerned to everything going on in Brian’s life. Paul Giamatti is great too and we know he can always hit the marks in this type of role.

StoryThe story here follows two moments of Brian Wilson’s life, the first is the one where he is trying to change the music and starts to get the first signs on his psychosis, the other is how easily he could become exploited by having someone try and control his life. The first part is a story we could believe happening to a wonderful musician, the second is a story that is hard to believe that someone would do that to someone. This story is set so the stories run side by side showing us how he can be fully functional at times, but how he can become distant and isolated at others. I know this is more about the personal battle Brian goes through, but I would have liked a little bit more on the history of the musical side of his career.

Biopic/MusicThe two moments, well years that we follow in Brian’s life include the 60s and 80s, they are part of the most interesting as it shows the biggest change Brian goes through and the biggest battle he must come up against. We do have moments of the singing, if you don’t know the Beach Boys songs you might struggle to understand what the biggest songs are.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just which era we are going through, they show the lifestyles the characters would be going through without needing to throw in any main stream events.


Scene of the Movie –
Creating God Only Knows.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked to see how Brian ended up under the care of Eugene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful look at the musician Brian Wilson, follow two parts works too, instead of the full life moments. If you like the Beach Boys this is a must watch.

 

Overall: Beach Boys fans watch.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – S – Still Alice (2014)

Director: Wash Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer

Writer: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland (Screenplay) Lisa Genova (Novel)

Starring: Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae, Hunter Parrish, Alec Baldwin, Seth Gilliam, Kristen Stewart

 

Plot: A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Moore’s Powerhouse Performance

 

Story: Still Alice starts on linguistics professor Alice Howland (Moore) birthday, with her family, husband John (Baldwin), children Tom (Parrish) and Anna (Bosworth), the family is filled with college educations, successful careers and with distant daughter Lydia (Stewart) following her own dreams, we get our normal higher educated family.

With Alice noticing slight mistakes in her life, loss of knowing where she is, loss of words, she starts seeing a doctor who can gives her the news that she has early Alzheimer’s disease, but even worse her children could have the disease too.

 

Thoughts on Still Alice

 

Characters – Alice is a professor of linguistics, one of the most renowned in her field, she has the perfect family of grown-up children following their own careers. She notices her memory going before learning she has early onset Alzheimer’s, she must learn to live with this disease which will make everyday routine a challenge. John is Alice’s husband, he supports her through her tough times, never giving up on her. Anna, Tom and Lydia are her children that have been living their own lives, who come to support her too.

PerformancesJulianne Moore gives the performance of her career, you believe every struggler Alice goes through because of her performance. Alec Baldwin is great in the supporting role as are the rest of the cast, with this being one of the first films to help Kristen Stewart break out of the Twilight fame.

StoryThe story shows us what happens when a once successful professor Alice gets struck down with Alzheimer’s, the strain it can put on the family, her life and leave her helpless for the first time in her life. The idea that families will have to face this similar situation will come through and this shows how it can take away the delights they once had from life and shows how more will need to be done to help people. The support from the family helps, but you can’t help but wonder what it would be like for someone who is alone that is suffering from this.

SettingsThe film shows us the life that Alice and her family have, this brings us into a world of a real family that could be suffering through the same situation.


Scene of the Movie –
The Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Text talk should have been the first signal for a linguistics expert.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful performance heavy film that shows us the suffering the victim of the disease will go through. The struggle the family will be put through as they see a loved one disappear in front of them, something incredibly difficult.

 

Overall: This is one of the best performance heavy films.

Rating

 

 

Fighting with My Family (2019)

Director: Stephen Merchant

Writer: Stephen Merchant (Screenplay)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Stephen Merchant, Jack Lowden

 

Plot: A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.


Tagline – A Comedy About a Family That Fights a Little Differently

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny & Inspiring

 

Story: Fighting with My Family starts as we meet the Knight family, father Ricky (Frost), mother Julia (Headey), children Zak (Lowden) and Saraya (Pugh) who are wrestling family, they have their own gym where they put on the shows, train the children from the local area of Norwich. Zak and Saraya both have a dream, that dream is to become WWE superstars and champions.

When the WWE offer them both a tryout with coach Hutch (Vaughn) only Saraya gets offered a place in the developmental brand NXT. Saraya will need to move to Florida at the age of 18 to follow her dream, where she must learn the difficulties of the training and adapting to life in another country, while Zak starts to spiral out of control after seeing his own dream shattered. Can both put their lives back on track to be a supporting and successful family?

 

Thoughts on Fighting with My Family

 

Characters – This is based on the real Knight family, while certain performers and coaches tend to have their names changed. Saraya is the youngest member of a wrestling family, she has been in the ring for years and at 18 she gets her chance to try out for the WWE, getting the job, moving across the world, isolated and alone, she is different to the rest of the other women selected, she has a wrestling background, while they have an athletic or modelling background. We see how she must learn to grasp her chance to follow her dream, which would see her lead a revolution in women’s wrestling. Zak is her brother, he has been working in the ring longer, dreaming that he could make it, he has a child on the way and is the main teacher at the wrestling school, he is left shattered by the idea he can’t follow his dream, closing off from the world, ready to follow in his step-brothers violent reaction to not making the cut. He needs to learn to enjoy his sister’s success and live his own life where he is achieving amazing things nobody else is. Ricky and Julia are the parents that fell in love over wrestling, they turned their own lives around to make something of themselves and push their children to succeed in the ring. Hutch is the coach that selects the potential talents, he is strict with the candidates and knows his decisions will make or break dreams. Dwayne Johnson is playing himself in this film, he gives the speeches where needed and shows that he is the good guy we all know.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh has made a big impact in her short career and this showed her puling off another role that required a lot of physical training to go with the emotional side of the story. Jack Lowden impresses here too, his character deals with the lose of the dream and he shows us this in every scene as the look of disappoint grows as time goes by. Lena Headey and Nick Frost show wonderful chemistry through the comedy of the film, while Vince Vaughn is strong in the coach role, which must be the calming pushing presence. Dwayne Johnson is mainly playing himself and isn’t in too many scenes that you haven’t seen in the trailer.

StoryThe story follows the career of WWE superstar Paige, from her wrestling family in Norwich through the life changing opportunity to be part of the WWE developmental brand NXT, while her brother much deal with the fact he didn’t get selected and must focus on living a life where his dream doesn’t come true. This is based on the real family, the real journey, the real moment bought a tear to my eye watching it live. This does bottle down to the idea of t chasing the dream, taking the chance given to your movie, which is the Saraya side of the film. I did however think the Zak side of the story is handled well because seeing him dealing with losing his own dream and seeing his life feel like he is worthless, his hard work was for nothing shows just how hard the news can be. This does feel like a feel-good story of inspiration dreaming.

Biopic/ComedyThe biopic side of this film shows how hard the family has worked to be successful in the wrestling business, it shows the life changing decision being made. The comedy will have you laughing at every joke, with many being British humour.

SettingsThe film does show the different worlds, the small-town Norwich wrestling which could see people falling into the wrong side of the law, to the big glossy heights of the WWE, it shows how you can start at the bottom to reach the top.


Scene of the Movie –
Training.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Skipping the success Paige has in NXT.

Final ThoughtsThis is a feel-good inspirational story that will give you a smile, even if you do know how the story ends, both in the film and the years after.

 

Overall: Delightfully funny biopic.

Rating