Writer: Mike Birbiglia (Screenplay)
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher, Keegan-Michael Key, Emily Skeggs, Chris Gethard
Plot: When a member of a popular New York City improv troupe gets a huge break, the rest of the group – all best friends – start to realize that not everyone is going to make it after all.
Tagline – The spotlight’s not for everyone.
Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Life Lesson 101
Story: Don’t Think Twice starts as we meet the Commune, an improv group with Samantha (Jacobs), Miles (Birbiglia), Allison (Micucci), Lindsay (Sagher), Jack (Key) and Bill (Gethard), the group have been working up the field while working daily jobs.
When part of the group gets an audition with Weekend Live, they can’t skip the chance and we get to see how the group adapts to the realities of life.
Thoughts on Don’t Think Twice
Characters – Samantha is one of the group, that gets the chance to audition for the Weekend Live show, we see how she isn’t the most confident about going to the next level even with her boyfriend being excited about this chance. Jack is the one that gets the big break, he has had a reputation of trying to become centre stage and even though he wants to support his friend, he can’t risk his new job for the writers. Miles has been training people in improv for years, Jack is one of his students, he hasn’t ever grown up where it seems like he is about to have a mid-life crisis. The remaining three just are going through their own issues in hopes of getting a break, while enjoying the comedy as a relief from life.
Performances – When we look at the six cast members we see how they have great chemistry, we do get more scene time for certain stars because of the relationship side of the story. I don’t think anyone stands out more than anyone else which is the whole point of the group.
Story – The story here follows an improv group that has great chemistry, but will need to focus on staying together when one of the group gets a chance at stardom. This shows how any close-knit group could be affected by change which will disrupt the reputation of the rest, while also showing how hard work for any comedy act the industry would can be, while trying to live normal lives where ends need to be met. This does have the moments that we like to see in film where we get to see how hard life can be when you hit 30 and haven’t made it following the dreams you wanted to see. Showing us the harsh reality of showbiz is important for anyone who wants to take that step in the industry. It is a shame we don’t get to see the life goals from a couple of the support characters.
Comedy – The comedy comes from the improv scenes, they easily get the best lines, the rest of the film does seem slightly too serious, though this does help the real-world problems.
Settings – The film does have New York setting which gives us the glimpse at how hard the small-time comedies will be facing in the city.
Final Thoughts – This is an enjoyable comedy showing how real-life can be difficult for any aspiring comedians.
Overall: Nice look at life.
“A truce is merely the seed for an even bigger battle, nothing is worse! ” – Sanjuro
Number of Times Seen – 1 (21 Jun 2019)
Brief Synopsis – A Japanese warrior arrives in a town being run by two different warring gangs and decides to try and put a stop to the fighting.
My Take on it – This is a film that I heard about years ago, but due to my dislike for foreign language films, I stayed far away from it until now.
I have seen numerous adaptations of this film including A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and Last Man Standing (1996), but was still curious to see how Akira Kurosawa’s original stands up against the remakes.
This is an excellent film and is quite gripping throughout.
It’s amazing to think about the fact that this film started a whole genre of films that became so part of the mainstream of movies in the nearly 60 years since this was made.
Kurosawa does an amazing job with this film’s story and it’s breathtaking to watch how the character is able to seamlessly move back and forth between the warring sides without either side getting too suspicious of him.
The fact that this film largely deals with sword fighting, its great seeing the close quarter combat between the various characters throughout.
The brilliance of this film is the way that things move along so swiftly since the protagonist is able to use his talent, cunning and experience as a warrior to slowly deplete the numbers on both sides.
As great as this film is, Leone’s version with Clint Eastwood will always be the best version of the story largely due to the language barrier issue.
Nevertheless, the essence of this film remains wholly intact throughout and even if one is familiar with the various adaptations that have been made over the years, the story here still feels very unique in the methods that it utilizes throughout.
Bottom Line – Excellent film that started the idea of this kind of genre. Kurosawa does a wonderful job with this story as we get to see how the character seamlessly moves from side to side without either of the warring sides to get too suspicious of him The brilliance of this film is in the way that things move along so swiftly and we get to constantly see how talented, cunning and experienced this warrior is as he slowly lowers the number of adversaries one by one. Leone’s version of this film will always be slightly better in my eyes due to the language barrier, but the essence of this film still remains intact even if one is familiar with the various adaptations that have been filmed over the years. Highly Recommended!
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Sergio Leone was inspired by this film and made the famous “spaghetti western” A Fistful of Dollars (1964) with a similar plot. However, because Leone did not officially get permission to remake this film, which was copyrighted, Akira Kurosawa sued him. Leone paid him a sum plus 15% of the profits. (From IMDB)
Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)
Writer: Chris Chow, Chi-long To (Screenplay)
Starring: Jet Li, Li Sun, Yong Dong, Yun Qu, Ailiing Xu, Collin Chou, Hee Ching Paw
Plot: A biography of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia, who is the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation.
Tagline – “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself makes you fearless.”
Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Action Packed Biopic
Story: Fearless starts in Shanghai 1910, four countries have bought their best fighters for one tournament, Huo Yuanjia (Li) is the Chinese representative. We see how he went from small child wanting to learn, to become the best in his town, proving himself against every single competitor.
Master Huo became the best until he lost everything putting him in a lost state where he finds himself in a small farming community living with a blind woman Moon (Sun) as he looks to find his love for life again before returning to prove himself in combat.
Thoughts on Fearless
Characters – Huo Yuanjia is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest fighter of all time in China, he didn’t have it easy though, he fought to become the best before losing everything, being talked into proving himself once again to be the best in the world. Moon is the lady that helps Huo turn his life around, a blind woman that has no judgement on his action only his work. Anno is the biggest rival to Huo one that is also a friend too, the two have learnt to fight together and soon become the best of enemies.
Performances – Jet Li is the complete star of this film, he is involved in the different time periods we follow and we get to see just how deadly he is in the combat with anybody that gets in his way, he keeps the character feeling grounded which is needed for the story being told. As for the supporting cast everyone makes their impact when required too.
Story – The story follows the life of Huo Yuanjia as he started in a fighting school at a young age became the best before losing everything only to return with a new lust for life to become one of the mot respected fighters the world has ever seen giving Jin Wu Sport Federation something to stand for. This is a by the books redemption story for the character, he doesn’t break the law, he just becomes over confident which is why he lost everything, he continued to prove himself to the top of his game despite creating enemies. Where this film does fall slightly short is in the number of different times we follow with some not getting enough time to show the events with the bet impact.
Action/Biopic – The action is fights, Jet Li is one of the best in the world at the fight sequences, this was no different as he shows us just how to make fights feel edge of your seat. The biopic side of the film does show the like of Huo only it doesn’t give each chapter the time required.
Settings – The film uses the settings to represent the different positions that Huo finds himself in life, we see how he has risen, fallen and fought his way through the different locations he finds himself in.
Final Thoughts – This is an action packed biopic that does show the life of one of the greatest fighters the world ever saw.
Overall: Action heavy biopic.