Mad to Be Normal (2017)

Director: Robert Mullan

Writer: Robert Mullan, Tracy Moreton (Screenplay)

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, David Tennant, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Gambon, David Bamber, Olivia Poulet, Trevor White

 

Plot: During the 1960s, a renegade Scottish psychiatrist courts controversy within his profession for his approach to the field, and for the unique community he creates for his patients to inhabit.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Average History Lesson

 

Story: Mad to Be Normal starts in the 1960’s R.D. Laing (Tennant) fills out lecture halls with his methods of battling the mentally impaired patients, with his methods refusing to give medication which strikes up an interest of fresh out of education Angie Wood (Moss).

R.D. offers a community home where the patients can be themselves asking for help when they require it, with his team of doctors ready to listen whether they need to be around, though when people start questioning his behaviour and methods he must prove with his results.

 

Thoughts on Mad to Be Normal

 

Characters – R.D. Laing was a psychologist in the 1960’s he tackles dealing patients problems in a different way compared to the electro therapy, he has them in an open house environment where he can support them as they are given a normal life. Angie Wood seems to be the one we follow as she enters his life at the start of this story and we follow their romance and respect. Jim is one of the patients that seems to be calmer than the rest even though he can be the closest to being a danger.

PerformancesDavid Tennant is easily the star attraction in this film, we get to see how he plays the laidback, while serious doctor searching for solutions to the problems people have. Elisabeth Moss does go toe to toe with Tennant for the most part with the supporting cast giving us good performances too.

StoryThe story here follows the experimental treatment that R.D. Laing in the mid-60’s. It showed how his vision was different to the rest of the people in his field which helped changed the ideas of treatment once it was complete. We do follow his personal life with his relationship with Angie Wood and get to see how his own tragedies in life may have affected his decision makings. While this is a history lesson on this man, we just don’t get sucked into everything that we go through as it does feel like we needed one big moment to happen.

Biopic/HistoryThe man R.D. Laing was a leading man in his field, we see his experiment which changed how treatment could be receiving, though this is a great moment from history we don’t get a chance to see just where everything could have been, how he got to this stage of his career and miss big parts of his career.

SettingsThe film shows us where the experiment took place which tries to give the patients everyday life over being locked away from the world.


Scene of the Movie –
The night it goes wrong.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t learn enough about how he got to the position he is in.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid biopic that doesn’t hit the high points it should have.

 

Overall: Biopic that does enough of a job.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Q – Queen of Katwe (2016)

Director: Mira Nair

Writer: William Wheeler (Screenplay) Tim Crothers (Article)

Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Kabanza, Taryn Kyaze, Ivan Jacobo

 

Plot: A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sports Drama

 

Story: Queen of Katwe starts as we meet Phiona (Nalwanga) a Ugandan girl from a family that struggles to put food on the table each day as she comes from a big family. On the other side of the town Robert Katende (Oyelowo) has been working on introducing sports to the kids and with his latest choice chess, he finds himself getting Phiona joining his class.

When Robert sees the potential in his students he must overcome discrimination in class to give them a chance against the students who can afford an education in a tournament for the school district, as well as overcoming problems that come from living in the slums.

 

Thoughts on Queen of Katwe

 

Characters – Phiona is from the slums of Uganda where she sells corn just to help support her family but when she learns she is chess prodigy she must learn how to balance the slum life and the success she might achieve from chess. Robert Katende is placed in the position of helping sports minister help the children of the slums learn a sport to give them a positive moment in life. He fights for the children to have a chance at competition. Nakku is the mother of Phiona that has struggled through keeping a roof over the head of the children and food on their table but it upsets her seeing how her children that could have a future they can’t afford.

PerformanceMadina Nalwanga comes from nowhere to give a powerful performance of the young woman that must learn to overcome her problems to achieve greatness, David Oyelowo is fast becoming one actor you know can always give us fantastic performances and this is no different, Lupita Nyong’o is once again great in her performance showing how she is one of the must underused actresses in Hollywood.

StoryThe story of one girl from a place no one would consider being one of the biggest prospects in chess is a success story we all like to hear about. We get to experience the ups and downs Phiona must face to become respected in field and the people that support her along her way. This might well be a film about chess

Biography/SportsThis might only be looking at a small part of Phiona’s life but it is the most important part, the part where we get to follow her learning curve of the sport that she loves.

SettingsSeeing the different backgrounds the children involved comes from is great to see, it shows that sport can bring people together regardless of their backgrounds.

Scene of the Movie – The first tournament.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There wasn’t anything.

Final ThoughtsSport that brings people together that is the point of this film which is what is great to enjoy, coming from a country you wouldn’t see as a chess champion also helps us enjoy the ride.

 

Overall: Hugely entertaining sports drama.

Rating

 

 

Brain on Fire (2016)

Director: Gerard Barrett

Writer: Gerard Barrett (Screenplay) Susannah Cahalan (Memoir)

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Richard Armitage, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jenny Slate, Tyler Perry

 

Plot: A young, capable professional cannot explain her newly erratic behavior.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Drama

 

Story: Brain on Fire starts as we meet 21-year-old Susannah Cahalan (Moretz) she has her dream job working for the New York Times and has a steady relationship with musician Stephen (Mann), but her life starts to turn upside when her mind starts getting out of control, filled with blanks spells and erratic behaviour.

When Susannah starts suffering seizures the doctors don’t seem to be able to find anything wrong with her and as the decline increases so does her behaviour. Her parents Tom (Armitage) and Rhona (Moss) do their best to get her the best help and the doctors can clearly see there is something wrong, but the answers remain even more difficult to find.

 

Thoughts on Brain on Fire

 

Characters – Susannah Cahalan is a 21-year-old with her whole life ahead of her with her dream career at such a young age. Her life however takes a dramatic turn when she starts suffering from paranoia episodes which puts the strain on her personal and professional life with the doctors running out of options, this is her true story. Stephen is her boyfriend that uses his music to try and help ease her pain. Tom and Rhona fill the parental roles that both have different ways of handling their helplessness through the illness, as well as the friends that support her.

PerformancesChloe Grace Moretz is a great and talent young actress, but for this role you can see she is too young to truly understand the subject in question, remember this was film when she was 18/19 and the story is being told from perspective of someone in their early 20s, so you did need someone who would understand that age. The rest of the cast are fine without getting anything overly different to deal with.

StoryThe story is an important message about understand an illness which can be difficult to diagnose, and one people have been suffering with, this is her story about how she survived. One of the big problems is that we have scenes without her, so this can’t be from her memory, but second-hand account. For the subject involved we kind of understand how these stories will go and this doesn’t offer too much new to the genre. If this is something you enjoy watching you won’t be complaining, but it won’t make any of the top lists.

BiopicThis is Susannah’s story, you really can’t say a bad thing about her story, it just doesn’t truly feel film worthy.

SettingsThe film is set in New York and in hospitals, it shows the everyday life Susannah would have been living in at the time.


Scene of the Movie –
Margo visits Susannah.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like an episode of House.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough biopic that doesn’t offer too much new, it is watchable but not one that will be talked about for years to come.

 

Overall: Standard biopic without the impact.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – M – The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Director: Walter Salles

Writer: Jose Rivera (Screenplay) Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Albertto Grando (Book)

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mia Maestro, Mercedes Moran, Jean Pierre Noher

 

Plot: The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life’s calling.


Tagline – Before he changed the world the world changed him

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Biopic

 

Story: The Motorcycle Diaries starts as Ernesto (Bernal) and Alberto (Serna) head off on their motorcycle journey across South America, starting in his native Argentina as they look for some self-discovery. As the journey continues they head through Chile and learn about a new culture as they use their skills to get supplies to continue their journey.

Using Ernesto’s medical training to help the poor that they have medical problems in exchange for supplies and rooms as they learn their purpose in life.

 

Thoughts on The Motorcycle Diaries

 

Characters – Ernesto is a medical student in Argentina, that goes on this journey of self-discovery before taking on his final year of studies. He gets to learn about life as he prepares for this next step in his life which will help him as he becomes the iconic figure Che. Alberto is the best friend joining him on the journey, he tries to push Ernesto to breaking the rules, being dishonest to get what they need supplies. Chichina is the woman that Ernesto falls in love with back in Argentina at the start of his journey, she gives him an extra reason to return.

PerformancesGael Garcia Bernal became a star after this performance, he has gone onto being one of the stars of Pixar’s new movie Coco, this shows the skills he must show the heart and kindness his character had towards helping the poor. The rest of the cast support his performance wonderfully as we do meet plenty of different people along the way.

StoryThe story here follows the two young men that travel across South America, learning different levels of poverty being experienced by people without access to medical supplies, they learn their purpose in the world which opens the eyes to one of the most iconic revolutionaries of all time Che. It does play out like an adventure like they would never be able to experience again and for that it must be praised, because any story which teaches life lessons is a must watch.

Adventure/BiopicThe adventure our two men go on takes them from their guaranteed future in science and medical to learning the troubles the people of South America are experiencing and learning different cultures. The fact this is based on Ernesto’s own story before becoming an icon of revolution only helps explain his decisions.

SettingsThe settings show us the different countries, the breath-taking views, the open roads and different weather conditions they must go through.


Scene of the Movie –
Peru party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me One part which could add something else would be to see where they have come from, money or poverty or whichever.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful biopic of an icon before he became the icon the world would know, this gives him motivation to follow his ideas.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – G – The Grandmaster (2013)

Director: Kar-Wai Wong

Writer: Kar-Wai Wong, Jingzhi Zou, Haofeng Xu (Screenplay) Kar-Wai Wong (Story

Starring: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Jin Zhang

 

Plot: The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.


Tagline –  In Martial Arts there is no right or wrong, only the last man standing.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Watch IP Man

 

Story: The Grandmaster starts as we learn how the 40-year-old IP Man (Leung) life of luxury is turned upside due to the war in China, he loses everything including daughters to the effects, he moves onto Hong Kong to try to rebuild his life will being the excellent martial artists, we do follow a large amount of time in his life to get to where we do in the film.

 

Thoughts on The Grandmaster

 

Characters – IP man is the legend, arguable the greatest martial artist of all time, he trained Bruce Lee as his most famous student. This follows his life from riches, to rags and the rise of his dojo of training. We also follow Gong Er who wants to break boundaries in protecting her family’s honour and Ma San the man who uses his martial arts for evil in the world.

PerformancesThe performances here are fine, the fights between the different stars all click well making moments feel like edge of your seat, but after watching the IP Man I found those performances easier to connect too.

StoryThe story follows the life and times of IP Man, a legend in the martial arts field, we follow decades of his life which is fine, but it has been told before in three films, which gave them more time to develop the story. it feels like we gloss over too many moments that are much bigger in this life. The story just isn’t as interesting when it gets trimmed down this much.

Action/Biopic/Romance/WarThe action sequences are great fight sequences which is good to see, and they do feel brutal in effect. The biopic side of the story does seem to gloss over too much for us now we have a longer focus in the IP man films.

SettingsThe settings are fine throughout the film, they do seem darker than they need to be and quite often include rain for some reason.


Scene of the Movie –
Any of the fight scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact is that I have seen IP man films and this is the same story trimmed down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic biopic on the IP man, you could watch the three and soon to be four films with Donnie Yen to get more in depth stories that this film covers in trimmed down time, the action won’t let you down though.

 

Overall: Solid enough, but not great.

Rating