The Killing Fields (1984)

killingDirector: Roland Joffe

Writer: Bruce Robinson (Screenplay)

Starring: Sam Waterston, Haing S Ngor, John Malkovich, Julian Sands, Craig T Nelson, Spalding Gray

 

Plot: A journalist is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot’s bloody “Year Zero” cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million “undesirable” civilians.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important Moment in History

 

Story: The Killing Fields starts in Cambodia 1973 when New York reporter Sydney Schanberg (Waterston) arrives in the war-torn country to meet his representative and friend Dith Pran (Ngor) who shows him around the country. When the war gets to a new level of danger the American’s are leaving the country but Sydney wants to stay to cover the atrocities going on in the country but Dith refuses to leave his side even after Sydney gets his family out of the warzone.

Staying behind Sydney, Dith, Al Rockoff (Malkovich) and Jon Swain (Sands) continue to report the atrocities around Cambodia for the news around the world where they will end up having to experience things no one on Earth should ever have to get through.

 

Thoughts on The Killing Fields

 

StoryThe story mostly shows how on local had to survive to get out of the Cambodia before he becomes a victim of the war between Cambodia and Vietnam. We do also have a look at how the reporters are seeing what is going on but they get safe leading to the American’s wanting to help their friends while he survives what is going on. This is shocking story that will leave you in shock, fear and moments of tears in the final outcome.

Biography/History/WarThis film is very important because of what happened in Cambodia and how the people were treated, with this we get to see a time in history which will need to be seen to understand what they went through.

Characters/PerformanceWith each character based on the real people it is hard to look at what we think of the character’s action they take and experiences they must go through. Looking at the performances you can see just how brilliant they all were through the film with Ngor stealing the show.

SettingsEach setting shows us just how horrific the situation in Cambodia was and how if effected anyone involved in the devastation of the war.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard film to get through because of the subject matter and I can see plenty of people not wanting to see it but this is also essential viewing for any historical film fans.

 

Overall: One of the hardest films to watch but also one of the greatest films to see.

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The Founder (2016)

founderDirector: John Lee Hancock

Writer: Robert Siegel (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson

 

Plot: The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ innovative fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: McDonalds Advert

 

Story: The Founder starts in 1954 as milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc (Keaton) is performing his sales pitch around the diner scene. His luck is about to change when Dick (Offerman) and Mac (Lynch) the McDonald brothers order eight machines which grabs Ray’s attention as he visits to hear the story of the first ever McDonald’s and how the service revolutionary idea behind 30 seconds’ food service.

Seeing the operation Ray wants to franchise the idea against the brother’s wishes. When Ray finally gets his way he makes McDonalds the fastest growing business in America but the backlash falls when the brother’s want their share of the business they created leading to a law case getting everything messy between the two sides.

 

Thoughts on The Founder

 

StoryThis is an interesting story of where McDonalds came from which is fine but my issue is the lack of a real-time scale of the events, I also didn’t like how the end credits show certain important elements of the story which barely get touched on in the film. in the end the story is just another story about a ruthless business man who took advantage of the real brains behind the idea.

Biography/HistoryThis is a good look back at how McDonald’s is founded and it shows part of the history where a business man took advantage of the real workers.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all based on real people with Ray Kroc coming off as the ruthless businessman who just doesn’t give up, while thee brother’s being portrayed as the suckers who wouldn’t believe his business mind. The rest of the characters are all only bit parts in the film with them only being part of Ray’s life.

Performance wise Keaton does shine with Offerman and Lynch both being great as brother’s, it is hard to say a bad thing about any of the performances in this film.

SettingsThe settings used all reflect the time the film is set in, with the iconic McDonald’s logo being the most iconic moment in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is could easily have been just a documentary that would have been a lot more interesting as an all-round story.

 

Overall: We have seen this before and in the end it brings very little new.

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Million Dollar Arm (2014)

millionDirector: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Tom McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Joe Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Tzi Ma, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal

 

Plot: A sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What Sports is All About

 

Story: Million Dollar Arm starts JB (Hamm) a sports agent trying to make his own company reach new levels with his partner Aash (Mandvi) only to find himself stuck behind the higher-level competition. Losing the star client to the competition the two search for a new potential income as they search for new clients in new fields.

JB new idea is to bring over Indian cricket players and turn them into baseball pitchers within a year and recruiting pitching coach Tom House (Paxton) now he needs to find a scout to travel with him to find the best prospect.

JB must work with Vivek (Jariwala) to get his equipment retired scout Ray (Arkin) and Amit (Pitobash) a baseball coach in India who wants to work him for free. The search for the Million Dollar Arm is on sweeping through India. With the competition in full flow they find two players Rinku (Sharma) and Dinesh (Mittal) to take back to America.

As the two boys struggle with the new culture JB must keep the business together while the two players must learn to improve their skill in 6 months can it be done and the seemingly impossible risk can become sports new miracle.

 

Thoughts on Million Dollar Arm

 

StoryThe story follows the true story of how one sports agent takes the chance to bring Indian crickets to America to become baseball pitchers. On the surface this is a marketing campaign but the story itself gather heart because of the bond between JB and the boys. This is an underdog sports story with glimpses of the clash of culture between both sides of the world. This shows you can succeed with the effort and determination of the people who support you and that you could find success in any story.

Sports/DramaThe sports drama is very interesting because baseball isn’t a sport I have any interest in watching but the scouting and training in any sport do interest me a lot, this had my full attention as we see how it can be the personal life that cane make you a better athlete when it comes to competing because having the people supporting you can make you succeed.

Characters/PerformanceJon Hamm as the selfish sports agent that takes a risk with a new investment but his character never seems to support the boys he takes the risk on once they are back in America. Jon Hamm give us a great performance stepping up from television to the big screen. Sharman, Mittal, Pitobash, Mandvi and Jariwala all give great performances in their roles as we see the characters must deal with a new culture as well as new sport in what is a once in a life time opportunity. Alan Arkin has a small role but gets good laughs as the retired scout.

SettingsThe settings are used excellently with to show the different cultures being used through the film as we see the American fast forward glamorous lifestyle while India shows how together the people are with the religious beliefs going on there.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very interesting and compelling sports drama about showing how you can achieve what seems impossible to others by just take the chance, I feel everyone who likes a success story will enjoy this one even if you are not a baseball fan.

 

Overall: Delightful sports drama that can be enjoyed by all.

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Soul Surfer (2011)

soulDirector: Sean McNamara

Writer: Sean McNamara, Deborah Schwartz, Douglas Schwartz, Michael Berk, Matt Allen, Caleb Wilson, Brad Gann (Screenplay) Bethany Hamilton, Sheryl Berk, Rick Bundschuh (Book)

Starring: AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Carrie Underwood, Keven Sorbo, Ross Thomas, Chris Brochu

 

Plot: Teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton overcomes the odds and her own fears of returning to the water after losing her left arm in a shark attack.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Inspiring Film

 

Story: Soul Surfer starts as Bethany Hamilton (Robb) born in Hawaii to surfer parents Cheri (Hunt) and Tom (Quaid) to grown into a teenage surfer wanting to make herself a true professional along with her older brothers Noah (Thomas) and Timmy (Brochu). When Bethany gets her first sponsorship deal on the verge of national championships even against the religious beliefs under Sarah Hill (Underwood). When Bethany stays to continue her training, disaster strikes when she has her arm torn off by a shark.

With her life changed forever the island makes Bethany a celebrity because of the story of how brave she was during the attack. Her own life is what is going to be difficult though as she must learn to live with just one arm, but her biggest desire is to get back in the water and do the thing she loves the most, surf. This is the incredible story of how Bethany never gave up on her dreams despite what happened to her.

Soul Surfer is the amazing true story of the bravery of teenager Bethany Hamilton as she has to show all the courage to not only survive the shark attack with such calm but never wanting to give up on her own dreams and desires to be a professional surfer. Myself knowing nothing about surfing other than it is done in the water, I found myself on edge through every single surfing scene wanting to see just what could be pulled off through one of these waves.

AnnaSophia is brilliant in this leading role showing us all that Freddy Highmore wasn’t the only star out of the children in Charlie and Chocolate Factory. Quaid and Hunt are great as the parents feeling natural throughout the whole film with their concern to their support of Bethany’s decisions. Using Hawaii as a back drop for this film also isn’t disappointing because it is always a stunning vision to witness. This film would inspire all the underachievers out there who know they are capable of anything with the hard work needed to achieve it.

 

Overall: Easily one of the top inspirational sports and human stories out there.

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Genius (2016)

geniusDirector: Michael Grandage

Writer: John Logan (Screenplay) A Scott Berg (Book)

Starring: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Dominic West, Vanessa Kirby, Mark Arnold

 

Plot: A chronicle of Max Perkins’s time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas WolfeErnest HemingwayF. Scott Fitzgerald and others.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid History Lesson

 

Story: Genius starts in New York 1929 where Maxwell Perkins (Firth) an editor for Scribner who is considered the best in his office that others come to with work they believe need to be appreciated. The latest work is from Thomas Wolfe (Law) and it has taken his breath away even though it has been reject by all the rest of the publicist around New York.

Seeing the greatness in the novel Max works with Thomas to trim the work so the mass audience will go out of their way to read the next American classic. We continue to see how Max worked with best minds including F Scott Fitzgerald (Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (West) as we see how Maxwell was the man behind who made some of the biggest books happen. We do focus on the Maxwell and Thomas relationship as they spend years working on the latest work which will become one of the biggest in American history but will also test the men’s personal relationships.

Genius falls into yet another history lesson of a great mind that didn’t get everything out before he was taken from this world. This time we focus on author Thomas Wolfe and the unique style he went to make sure he could get out his stories. We get to see the relationship with the man behind the work who helped make it the legendary book he could tell. The film is slightly slow in places and we don’t get a full extent of the time period it is all set over which disappoints in places. It was nice to learn more about certain men in history but it is also a film that I wouldn’t be re-watching any time in the future.

 

Overall: Solid history lesson but disappointing with how much detail it does into everything.

Rating51