Hamilton (2020) Movie Review

Director: Thomas Kail

Writer: Lin-Manuel Miranda (Screenplay)

Starring: Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Chris Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Plot: The real life of one of America’s foremost founding fathers and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Captured live on Broadway from the Richard Rodgers Theater with the original Broadway cast.

Runtime: 2 Hours 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Beautiful

Story: Hamilton starts as Alexander Hamilton (Miranda) arrives in the middle of the Revolutionary War, where he finds himself as the righthand man to George Washington (Jackson), as they look to gain their freedom from King George (Groff). Alexander is a fighter and finds it hard to step away from the conflict, despite his marriage to Eliza (Soo) and his growing family wanting him to leave the conflict behind.

After the war Alexander is assigned to join George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (Diggs) to try and find a solution to rebuild the country, which only brings more clashes between the men.

Thoughts on Hamilton

Final Thoughts This is a stage version of the largely popular musical Hamilton, one that brings a new look at home the independence of America happened, be it from escaping England’s hold and tries to build themselves are their own country, without the leadership in place. You will need to know the basics of American history before going in, even if this does bring spins to certain parts. When it comes to the music involved, we do get some brilliant songs, that do help cover the weaker songs involved, with the whole cast getting their moment to shine in the musical moments. This is one of the musical that does bring a full range of music, which does have the traditional styles, mixed with the modern music that makes you unsure on what each song will bring you. The opening song isn’t as hooking as many musicals, but once you are past that one, you could find yourself swept away in the play.

Overall: Magical Musical.

Tobey Maguire Weekend – Pawn Sacrifice (2014) Movie Review

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay) Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Steven Knight (Story)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Lily Rabe, Edward Zinoviev, Alexandre Gorchkov

Plot: Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.


Tagline – In 1972, Bobby Fischer faced the Soviet Union in the greatest chess match ever played. On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Chess Made Interesting

Story: Pawn Sacrifice starts as a young Bobby Fischer grows up learning chess, his reputation grows and before long he becomes the champion of America. Not happy with just winning in America Bobby (Maguire) wants to become the youngest world champion and take on the Russian players with the world champion Boris Spassky (Schreiber).

After learning how the Russians play, Bobby storms out of the game, knowing he wouldn’t get a chance to win, Paul Marshall (Stuhlbarg) and priest Father Bill Lombardy (Sarsgaard) agree to work with Bobby to put his name back on the map, to one get the showdown with the champion Boris.

Thoughts on Pawn Sacrifice

Characters – Bobby Fischer is an American chess prodigy, he has proven himself in America and wants to conquer the world, it doesn’t take long before he starts learning about the corruption within the game, which will hold him back, he does make himself difficult to work with, always believing he is being bugged by the Russians, storming out at certain moments, his determination to have thing done a certain done the right way, does make things more complicated for his future in the sport. It is clear that Bobby is dealing with a lot of mental issues, which don’t get dealt with properly. Boris Spassky is the Russian Grand Master, current World Champion, that like Bobby is being controlled by his handlers, he just wants to prove himself against the best, which means facing Bobby in whichever style of game possible. Paul Marshall is the man that brings Bobby back to the game, he becomes his manager, making thing happen for the player, however difficult Bobby is to work with.

PerformancesTobey Maguire is wonderful in the leading role, this is one of the movies which does seem to be one of the finally screen appearances in years, which is a shame because of how talented he is. Liev Schreiber is great to watch as the rival chess player, with the fellow supporting cast, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard both giving strong performances.

StoryThe story here follows the rise of chess genius Bobby Fischer as he deals with his own mental health when trying to break down the Russian dominance in the world of chess to become the new world champion. This is an interesting story because it does show how conflicted Bobby was when it came to the game of chess, he did want to become champion, but being in the middle of the cold war, only built up the tension between the nations playing the game too. If we were going to look to learn the full Bobby Fischer story, we will be left disappointed because his life because even more fascinating after the big championship match.

BiopicThe biopic side of this film only shows the build up to the big championship match, where the two heavyweights will come to face each other, instead of the more interesting later steps of his life.

SettingsThe film does show us just how many different locations that could be bugged that would cause the problems for Bobby.


Scene of the Movie – The chess matches.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could learn so much more about Bobby’s life after this big match.

Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable thriller about chess, who would have thought of this beforehand. Tobey Maguire is great to watch through the film.

Overall: Interesting Chess Thriller.

The Spy (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jens Jonsson

Writer: Harald Rosenlow-Eeg, Jan Trygve Royneland (Screenplay)

Starring: Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rolf Lassgard, Damien Chapelle, Alexander Scheer, Erik Hivju, Edvin Endre

Plot: Sonja Wigert is a diva and star in Stockholm when WW2 breaks out, rapidly getting attention from the Nazi officer Josef Terboven. She’s then recruited by Swedish intelligence as a spy, but Terboven makes her spy on the Swedes.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Spy Thriller 101

Story: The Spy starts as we see entertainer Sonja Wigert (Berdal) wow the crowds in Sweden, she has drawn the attention of new Nazi leader of the country Josef Terboven (Scheer). As it becomes clear the Andor Gellert (Chapelle) would like to keep Sonja around, the Swedish intelligence turn to her to start spying on him, giving them crucial information during the war.

As Sonja gets closer to Josef, she meets Hungarian officer Andor, she starts to find herself being torn between finding the secrets, giving away secret or just being with a man that she loves.

Thoughts on The Spy

Characters – Sonja Wigert is a star of the stage, a diva that turned heads across Scandinavia, performing in Sweden she grabs the attention on a Nazi leader and is drawn into getting close to him in an attempt to get information for the intelligence in Sweden, she is left in the middle of wanting to help the people or the feelings she is having for a man that is considered the enemy. Andor Gellert is the Nazi solider placed into a position of power in Sweden, he falls for Sonja, proving to her that not every Nazi is as evil as the stories have been made out. We od have the Swedish handler, trying to keep Sonja on the right path when it comes to learning the truth and collecting information.

PerformancesIngrid Bolso Berdal is great in the leading role, she brings the presence to the stage, the insecurity off the stage and what it means to show falling in love. Damien Chapelle is strong too, which is what we will see from the whole cast in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a star and diva that is drawn into the world of espionage during World War II as she is forced to spy on the Nazis, while falling in love with her mark and being left in a position of not knowing which side to help out the most. When it comes to seeing what people have achieved in history, this will give another glimpse into the life on one of those people. The idea we watch Sonja getting caught up in the middle of what she wants to do or what she is expected to do, does come through strongly through the film.

Biopic/WarThe biopic side of the film shows what Sonja did during the war, it shows what she was forced into, risked and changed over the time.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different environments that Sonja finds herself in, with it in the entertainment world and the shady underworld.


Scene of the Movie – The time away.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t seem to see many secrets exchanged.

Final ThoughtsThis is a romantic thriller that shows how somebody can be drawn into the world without knowing where to stand in the middle of the war.

Overall: Wartime thriller 101

Signature Entertainment release The Spy on DVD and Digital HD 29th June

Nicole Kidman Weekend – Boy Erased (2018) Movie Review

Director: Joel Edgerton

Writer: Joel Edgerton (Screenplay) Garrard Conley (Memoir)

Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Madelyn Cline, Victor McCay, David Joseph Craig

Plot: The son of a Baptist preacher is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents.


Tagline – The Truth Cannot Be Converted

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Stunningly Acted

Story: Boy Erased starts as Jared Eamons (Hedges) checks into the church-supported gay conversion program, the son a preacher Marshall (Crowe) and with his mother’s Nancy (Kidman) support, he starts to be taught about what could have caused him to be gay. We flashback to his high school life with his cheerleader girlfriend Chloe (Cline).

As Jared continues his therapy under Victor Sykes (Edgerton) he starts to question whether this is the right thing or not, with the whole class being disguised as an idea being homosexual is a sin and a choice, one God wouldn’t support. Will Jared make the conversation or accept that what is being forced on him is correct.

Thoughts on Boy Erased

Characters – Jared is a teenage boy just starting college where he gets outed which forces his parents to send him to a gay-conversation program. He looks back on his life where he struggled through high school with his own sexuality and tries to understand how the program is going to help him, learning that despite the lack of support in his life, it isn’t about choice, which he was led to believe. Jared shows us as a character based on the author of the book, that at that age, anyone going through the same situation where they don’t know how to tell people or whether parents would approve would become secretive and defensive when questioned. Victor Sykes runs the conversation program, he keeps drumming it into the group that it is a choice and God isn’t going to support them if they chose to be homosexual. Nancy is the mother of Jared, she thinks it is best for him to attend the program and does think that it would be right to go, though she will support him more than his father does. Marshall is the preacher father of Jared, he pushes him into the program demanding he be fix, never wanting to support this version of his own son, seeing it as some sort of embarrassment.

PerformancesLucas Hedges gives one of the best performances of the year, showing us just how difficult life has become, we see how he feel guilty for his sexuality, before showing how his character doesn’t care what people think. Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton all give wonderful supporting performance showing us just how their characters believe in their actions.

StoryThe story here follows a teenager who is sent to a gay-conversation program to fix the problems his family believe he has, here he learns that despite being told one thing, he doesn’t need to make a choice for who he is. This is a story based on the book by the real Garrard Conley who went through this experience, we do see how ignorant religious people are towards the LGBT community because they can’t accept and to show how the conversation programs still being used in this day and age is beyond baffling. Seeing how the program operates can be hard to watch at times, but it is there to show just how backwards thinking they are. We do have the family dynamic too which wants to support, but believe they are right.

BiopicThe biopic side of the film does show just how difficult this time of Jared’s life was, not just him discovering himself, but how people around him tried to change him.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, with the conversation program acting like a prison at times, even being next to everyday locations.


Scene of the Movie – Leaving.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Mainly that these programs are still real.

Final Thoughts This is a powerful eye-opener for people that proves that his horrible ideas still happen in our world when they shouldn’t with some of the best performance of the year.

Overall: Powerfully Acted, Storytelling and Important

Nicole Kidman Weekend – The Railway Man (2013)

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Andy Paterson (Screenplay) Eric Lomax (Book)

Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine

 

Plot: A former British Army officer, who was tortured as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him.


Tagline – Revenge is never a straight line.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful True Story

 

Story: The Railway Man starts in 1980 where Eric (Firth) a train enthusiast meets a stranger on the train, Patti (Kidman), the two fall in love getting married. It isn’t long before Eric starts having terrifying flashbacks to his time in World War II, where he is held prisoner by the Japanese, here he is tortured by Takeshi Nagase.

With Eric’s behaviour only getting worse, Patti turns to Finlay (Skarsgard) one of the fellow prisoner of wars, that is still a close friend of his, he fills in the experiences the men went through under the hands of Takeshi, which will leads the older version of Eric to want to confront Takeshi or his time in the P.O.W Camp.

 

Thoughts on The Railway Man

 

Characters – We meet Eric at two stages of his life, we have the one that was tortured during the war and tried to do something to give the fellow soldiers hop in their prisoner of war camp, we also meet an older version that has been left traumatised with his experiences of the war, it has closed him off from the world, including his wife, he gets a chance to confront the soldier that tortured him, in a hope it could bring him closure. Patti is the wife of Eric, they meet on a random train journey and it is her love for Eric that first starts to seek help for him. Finlay is the closest friend to Eric, he has remained in his life after the years they have suffered through together, he fills in the blanks for Patti, after Eric closes up to her. Takeshi Nagase was the solider that tortured Eric during the war, he has since gone onto be the tour guide for the railway that was forced to be built by the English, he is surprised to get the visit from him former captive.

PerformancesColin Firth is brilliant here because he shows us just how closed off a man can be when they are dealing with the consequences of war. Nicole Kidman fits her role with ease, she plays the sympathetic figure that will help open Eric up again, showing us just how hard to is working to make happen. Jeremy Irvine as the younger version of Eric shows us the horrors of war with the pain his character must go through. Stellan Skarsgard does fill in the story telling side of the story, he will join in helping make the most of the traumatised man returning from war. Hiroyuki Sanada completes the main cast and he gives us a character that is filled with the regret of his actions in his life.

StoryThe story here follows a former prisoner of war that is still haunted by what he went through during the war and after he learns that the man who tortured him is still alive, sets out to confront him. This is an incredible true story that shows how prisoners can still be getting nightmares about what happened during the war, it shows they could close themselves off from the world. this does show us how the two men met years after the events, both are filled with memories they would rather forget and this has taken its toll on their lives for decades. It does pose the question about what you would do if you could meet the person that tortured you and what you would do, especially if it had come from during the war. Knowing this is a true story does help make it more amazing to think what Eric went through and how he would react if he could find the person that did it to him.

Romance/WarThe romance side of this film shows how Eric’s wife was able to try and pushing him to talk about what happened to him, showing her love would be what finally gets him to open up about the horrors of his war experience, the war side focuses on what it was like to be a prisoner of war, how they were forced into labour and tortured if they didn’t comply.

SettingsThe film has a couple of main settings, first we get the English home of Eric which shows him in his comfort area, we do see the prisoner or war camps which does show us just how horrific the locations were for the soldiers of war.


Scene of the Movie –
The embrace.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The do gloss over the older versions trauma too much.

Final Thoughts – This is an incredible true story that does show us just how difficult Eric’s life became after his time at war, it shows just how he had become effected and a meeting with the man that did this to him could change everything.

 

Overall: Brilliant true story.

Rating