Blue Ruin (2013)

blieDirector: Jeremy Saulnier

Writer: Jeremy Saulnier (Screenplay)

Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W Thompson

 

Plot: A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tension Filled Thriller

 

Story: Blue Ruin starts as we see homeless outside Dwight (Blair) doing all he can to get by breaking into houses for baths and searching bins for food while sleeping in his abandoned car. Dwight’s life is turned upside down when he learns about Wade Cleland release from prison, the man who killed his parents.

Dwight turns everything he has into a method of transport in his car to travel to get vengeance on Wade for what he did, leaving him dead in a bar bathroom.

When the murder isn’t reported on any news outlets Dwight must get his sister Sam’s (Hargreaves) family to safety as he waits for the Cleland family to come for their own form of justice against him. Dwight must use all his connection to stop the people who are after him and it isn’t long before we learn that Dwight is just as deadly as the men after him.

 

Thoughts on Blue Ruin

 

StoryThe story of vengeance shines through here where we get such a simplistic tale of one man’s quest to kill the man responsible for killing his parents. Each scene is filled with tension as we must see the whole story coming from the expression and action of Dwight. The story shows that you can have a simple revenge story that draws you in from start to finish.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime in this film is the path that Dwight leaves for in his vengeance mission and this helps the thrilling side of the story which is just full blown tension filled throughout.

Characters/PerformancesDwight is the strongest written character here and we see him in every single scene as he tells the story with next to no words. The rest of the cast only have a couple of scenes which doesn’t give us enough time to see these characters develop.

SettingsEach setting shows the bleaker side of America as we see the darker side to the country even if none of the locations can be clashed as memorable but they all look amazing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most intense crime thrillers that is carried by one of the best performances of the year of release.

 

Overall: Brilliantly tense thriller that is a must for the fans of the genre.

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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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Personal Shopper (2017)

Director: Olivier Assayas

Writer: Olivier Assayas (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Andres Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Benjamin Biolay

 

Plot: A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Almost Pointless Story

 

Story: Personal Shopper starts as Maureen Cartwright (Stewart) is bought into a home to communicate with the dead in France for Lara (Bouaziz) on her first night in the house she does feel the presence. Maureen also works for a high society personal shopper in Paris where she gets to handle the clothing people could only imagine affording.

We see how Maureen is tired with her role in Paris is staying solely to communicate with her dead twin brother because the two made a pledge to communicate if one died the other would communicate to prove he was a medium to the dead. Maureen finds her life turned upside when she witnesses a ghostly image within the house but it is when she receives random text messages from an unknown caller.

 

Thoughts on Personal Shopper

 

Characters/PerformanceMaureen is a personal shopper who is desperate to learn if she can still communicate with her dead twin brother. She finds herself not enjoying her career choice and being pushed around by an anonymous texter. The rest of the characters are only in a few scenes which show the life that Maureen is going through.

Performance wise, Stewart is great in the leading role needing to carry the film being in every single scene. The rest of the cast do well but are not involved too much with each scene.

StoryMy personal overall feelings for this film are pretty clear, I found most of the film almost pointless, now I say these words because we do have three odd stories going on. First we have the search for the dead brother’s spirit, this is fine, then we have the whole game about trying on the cloths, again fine, and thirdly we have the idea the Maureen is searching for her own identity, again fine but mixing them all together we never get enough focus on what was going on between each part of the story and left wondering just which part of the story we are going to be picking up next.

Mystery/ThrillerThere is a mystery and when it comes forward we are interested but it does get forgotten in places. We are not going to be kept on the edge of our sea through our experience of this film.

SettingsWe are in Paris for most of the film which should make for a great backdrop but the truth is we could have been anywhere for this film.

Final ThoughtsThere is so much potential in this film but the truth is that it doesn’t hit the marks it needs to.

 

Overall: Disappoints on many levels.

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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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Aftermath (2017)

Director: Elliott Lester

Writer: Javier Gullon (Screenplay)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maggie Grace, Kevin Zegers, Scoot McNairy, Hannah Ware, Mariana Klaveno, Glenn Morshower

 

Plot: Two strangers’ lives become inextricably bound together after a devastating plane crash.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Gut Punch of a Thriller

 

Story: Aftermath starts as construction worker Roman (Schwarzenegger) is looking forward to the arrival of his wife and pregnant daughter from Kiev for Christmas. Making himself extra smart with flowers at hand he arrives at the airport to find the flight delayed but there is no good news, the plane was involved in a tragic accident killing both his wife and daughter.

On the other side of the story flight controller Jake Bonaos (McNairy) leaves his wife and son to arrive at work that very same day, on a night shift where he finds the himself distracted trying to fix a phoneline as two planes collided mid-air, the same flights that had Roman’s family on.

Both men’s lives are completely shattered, Roman broken, alone and spending days and nights at the cemetery. While Jake is branded a murderer by the public finding it impossible to function or being the husband and father he needs to be.

With the airline company waving money in Roman’s face to stop them being sued and Jake on the verge of suicide brings us to one year later where both are still living in the tragedy but both are attempting to move on.

 

Thoughts on Aftermath

 

Characters/PerformanceRoman is a hard-working construction worker, he has work long hours to make sure his family can move to live with him in America, when he loses them his life is shattered but all he wants is an apologise not the airlines money. Jake is a flight controller who makes an honest mistake that cost the lives of everyone on the flights, his life is ruined, he loses his family, his job and must change his name and start again, living the rest of his life with regret.  

Performance wise, Schwarzenegger is brilliant in this role where is he no action hero, he is an everyday man that loses everything, this is by far one of his best acting performances of his career. Scoot McNairy is also fantastic in this role showing just how capable of an actor he is.

StoryThe story is based on a real incident that followed a mid-air collision but turned into an American story for it to unfold in. This story is very powerful because you are now left to wonder just what would happen if you were in either of these men’s shoes. The story also isn’t just a revenge film it follows these two men trying to rebuild their lives after what happened and mostly just wanting a human response from somebody involved.

ThrillerFrom the moment this film starts you are left to wonder from the edge of your seat to where this film will go.

SettingsThe settings used through the film focus on making both our main characters feel like everyday people whose lives have been ruined by the events which is all you need from the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best and most intense slow burning stories you will see this year. The performances are fantastic as well as being one of the most interesting stories out there.

 

Overall: One of the most powerful stories you will see this year.

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