Marriage Story (2019) Movie Review

Director: Noah Baumbach

Writer: Noah Baumbach (Screenplay)

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Merritt Wever, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Alan Alda

Plot: Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Powerful

Story: Marriage Story starts as we meet theatre director Charlie (Driver) and his wife actress Nicole (Johansson) they are about to go through a separation, with Nicole starting a new life in LA where she is trying to return to the television or film, moving away from the New York theatre lifestyle.

With the lives going on completely different directions, Nicole is pushed into getting a lawyer in Nora Fanshaw (Dern) which sees the two looking at a divorce, something neither thought would come their way, where they end up seeing the darker side of a break up even if they want to remain friends for their son.

Thoughts on Marriage Story

Characters – Nicole is an actress, mother and wife, she is given a chance to leave the theatre and return to television, while the couple are going through a separation and her moving to LA. She has given up a lot of her dreams for her marriage in the past, which is one of the reasons why she wants to get a divorce. Charlie is the theatre director, father and husband in New York, he wants to stay in New York running his theatre company. He is more stubborn that he wants to admit. Nora Fanshaw and Jay are both the lawyers hired to represent the divorcing couple, they show their ruthless sides whenever the two are trying to get the upper hand.

PerformancesAdam Driver gives us one of the best performances of the year, where he shows one that suddenly sees his whole life come crashing around him, showing the signs of his anger of everything happening. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic too where we see how she is escaping from a trapped life showing her character start a new life. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta are both great in the supporting roles usually getting the bigger and louder scenes.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that are going through a separation that turns into a messy divorce as they expose the problems, they both had through the years. The best way to describe this story is brilliant, when we break it down, it shows how relationships can break down and how two people want to end things calmly and for the right reasons, remaining friends for their son. It shows us how things can get out of hand when lawyers get involved and how everybody seems to know best apart from the two who are going through the breakup. We see how lives can change, people can move on and how holding on can be heart breaking. It is watching how both Nicole and Charlie are reacting to how everything is spirally out of hand which is easy for the highlight of the storytelling.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film is brilliant, it does get a perfectly laugh when needed, while staying straight when it doesn’t, the romance does show us how love can go from the heights to the end.

SettingsThe film uses the two main settings of cities, New York and LA, the locations are used to show how the lives will need to be changed, not just for Nicole and Charlie, but their son too.


Scene of the Movie – Let’s try and talk this through without a lawyer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The timeline isn’t the best.

Final Thoughts This is easily one of the best films of the year, it shows us how love can end and how a divorce can spirally out of control, the two lead performances are easily within the best of the year too.

Overall: Awards Guaranteed.

The Last Dance (2016)

Director: Amanda Sharp

Writer: Amanda Sharp (Screenplay)

Starring: Ray Liotta, Rose Leslie, Justin Bartha, Gina Rodriguez, Carmen Tonry

 

Plot: A story about love and loss. And maybe one day – love again.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dream Chasing Drama

 

Story: The Last Dance starts as we meet Athena (Leslie) a determined dancer still trying to prove herself in her field, she lets off steam with one-night-stands, with her latest one Bryan (Bartha) getting interrupted by her father Jack (Liotta) who announces he has cancer.

Jack calls Athena back to start his treatment with his 6-year-old daughter Honey Bunny (Tonry) which will lead to Athena needing to make the big decision about her future, right when her biggest opportunity comes his way.

 

Thoughts on The Last Dance

 

Characters – Athena has been working on her career in dancing, she is finally about to take the biggest chance of her career, until her father arrives barely bad news. She is left to decide whether to support her father or follow her dreams. Jack is the father who is set in his old ways in life, which sees his call his daughter back to help him through his cancer struggles, as he is left to see if she will stay with him to help him, while raising his 6-year-old daughter. Honey Bunny is the youngster daughter in of Jack’s she has an adventurous childhood, she has followed in his footsteps with what she has been taught. Bryan is the new guy that walks into Athena’s life for a one-night stand only to be one of the best friends through the struggles. Natalia is the oldest friend to Athena who is there for her when she returns home.

PerformancesRose Leslie is strong in the leading role showing that she does have a career after Game of Thrones. Ray Liotta gives one of his best modern day performances. Justin Bartha and Gina Rodriguez are solid when we see them, but sadly do see to have limited screen time.

StoryThe story follows a young lady who has been chasing her dreams only to see them come crashing down when her father is struck down with cancer, forcing her to care for him before ultimately needing to make the biggest decision of her life and learn to let people into her life once again. The story here does give us a wonderful family dynamic which shows the differences between the three generations that show how life has changed. This story however does have a major twist in the final act which turns a lot of what we have seen on its head, it also does confuse certain scenes though.

ComedyThe comedy in this film comes from how the three interact, it can get a laugh when needed to move the story and show how they can have inside jokes.

SettingsThe film uses too main settings, LA where the dreams are and Florida where Jack is, the two locations show the decision that Athena must make.


Scene of the Movie –
For my Honey Bunny.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t get enough from the supporting characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a drama that does hit home hard once we see the story of how the film ends, it shows how seeing a family member suffer will make life for anybody.

 

Overall: Hard Hitting drama.

Rating

 

 

The Game (1997)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: John Brancato, Michael Ferris (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina

Plot: After a wealthy banker is given an opportunity to participate in a mysterious game, his life is turned upside down when he becomes unable to distinguish between the game and reality.


Tagline – Players Wanted.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Twist Filled Thriller

Story: The Game starts as wealthy banker Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) has spent his life working forgetting to have fun, his rebellious brother Conrad (Penn) turns up to celebrate his birthday which sees him giving him a gift, one that would let him take part in a game that will change his life. Nicholas reluctantly decides to go through the process, finding himself involved in the game, which starts to fade his reality.

As the events continue, Nicholas does start to see his very controlled life start to get out of control with only a random waitress Christine (Unger) around for him to trust, can Nicholas unravel the mystery to save his career or will he lose the game.

Thoughts on The Game

Characters – Nicholas Van Orton is a banker that is in complete control of his life, he isn’t friendly to everybody he meets in life and is distant from most of his family, he is excellent at business, he gets a different present from his rebellious brother, which sees him break out of his controlling method of life to play along with an uncontrollable game where he doesn’t know what is or isn’t real, learning to navigate and try to stay one step ahead of the game. Conrad is the rebellious brother that has had personal problems in the past, he gives Nicholas a present, claiming it helped turn his own life around, only for this gift only make his brother’s life more difficult. Christine is a waitress that Nicholas gets fired, he must work with her even if she might in fact be involved in the game herself. Jim Feingold is the man behind the invitation, he has Nicholas give him plenty of information before unleashing everything to get into Nicholas life.

PerformancesMichael Douglas is wonderful in this leading role, he plays the controlling businessman with ease and watching him lose control of his life is a performance you feel was made for Douglas. Sean Penn is wonderful in the supporting role, where we see how his character’s life has been affected by the game. Deborah Kara Unger in her supporting role does shine, with the rest of the supporting cast all working very well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a controlling businessman that decides to step away from his routine to play a game bought to him as a present by his brother, once the game has started he sees his life start to fall apart as he tries to figure out what is real and what is part of the game. This is a story that does keep you on your toes through the film as it does just keep trying to spin on everything going on. We do have an overall message going on which does show the Nicholas needs to become more open in his life, which is the point of the game, trying to teach them how important life is too. The fact that this film just keeps us guessing is what is the most important part of the film, nothing seems like reality, but it could be real, which is why this is such an impressive story.

MysteryThe mystery in this film keeps us wondering whether this is a game or whether there is something more intense going on, the fact we can balance this so effortless makes this one of the best mystery films you will see.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which does show how a successful businessman will operate in a city know or think he knows all the shortcuts to make it through the difficult times.


Scene of the Movie – Rooftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Who took his kids at the zoo?

Final Thoughts This is one of the most intense mystery thrillers ever made, we are truly kept wondering just what will happen next balancing on whether this is real or not.

Overall: Brilliant thriller.

Rating

Mentally Apart (2019) Movie Review

Director: Joe Pomarico

Writer: Joe Pomarico (Screenplay) Joe Pomarico, Larry Bernardo, Christine James Walker (Story)

Starring: Christine James Walker, Larry Bernardo

Plot: A beatific couple are buried in a dream relationship, but when their love slowly descends into nightmares, strange things begin to happen in their apartment.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Thoughtful, Provoking Horror

Story: Mentally Apart starts when a young couple Luna (Walker) and Chuck (Bernardo) have their first date of a blossoming romance as we see how time continues to fly by in the relationship, leading up to wedding planning.

With Chuck busy writing his own book, he starts to notice strange things happening around the apartment, as it starts to put a strain on the couple relationship, leaving the mystery as to why everything is happening.

Thoughts on Mentally Apart

Characters – Luna is the woman with a past that can only be described as tragic, she sees hope in this new relationship. Chuck is the writer that is seen as a bad boy for Luna, he starts seeing the strange thing around the apartment. While we don’t learn much about the two outside their relationship, the two characters do show the highs and lows of the relationship.

PerformancesChristine James Walker and Larry Bernardo are our only two performers, they are both wonderful to watch, as they both show the chemistry a couple would have, they each get a solo moment or two to shine.

StoryThe story here follows a couple’s relationship as they first get to know each other along with the highs and lows, while not everything is what is seems for the couple. This is a story that will make you want to think about everything you are seeing, while certain parts might just be relationship conversations, be it long-term futures or who will take out trash, there is an uneasy feeling about how things are going, which will make you want to think about things more carefully.

HorrorThe horror in the film comes from certain visions that the characters are going through, they can come out of nowhere, which is a big plus, because at times the drama will make you forget we are in a horror film.

SettingsThe film is a singular location film, where everything takes place in the apartment the two decide to call home.


Scene of the Movie – Let’s dance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – A couple too many conversations about taking out the trash.

Final Thoughts This is a thought-provoking horror that shows how relationships can become a nightmare people aren’t willing to admit they are in, showing us how important each scene can be in a movie too.

Overall: Horror that Makes You Think.

The Irishman (2019) Movie Review

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Steven Zaillian (Screenplay) Charles Brandt (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Kathrine Narducci, Jack Huston

Plot: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.


Tagline – His story changed history.

Runtime: 3 Hours 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Just Another Gangster Movie

Story: The Irishman starts with Frank Sheeran (De Niro) recounting his time working under Russell Bufalino (Pesci) starting as a meat delivery man, a chance encounter with Russell brings them together. Russell was the guy that if anybody wanted something done, he would give the green light and expect it done.

Frank continued to rise working under the infamous Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) who was in battle with the Kennedy’s who were trying to find a way to take down his unions, which does see Frank become the president of his own region.

Thoughts on The Irishman

Characters – Frank Sheeran is the narrator who is looking back through his life as he started as delivery driver before finding himself joining the mobs in the Italian neighbourhood, rising up the ranks from the bottom becoming one of the closest members of Jimmy Hoffa go to man, one of the most trusted hitmen in the mob. Jimmy Hoffa is the man that runs the unions, he has the attention of the Kennedy’s who have never trusted his business, he will always find a way to get his side of the story through without ever getting his hands dirty. He expects respect from everybody he deals with and will give it back, before he runs for office. Russell Bufalino is the one that gives Frank enter into the criminal world, a chance meeting opens the door and he will give the instructions Frank to follow. Peggy is the daughter of Frank that has grown up seeing his action become worse over the years.

PerformancesThe performances here are almost flawless, we get three of the greatest gangster movie performers in De Niro, Pacino and Pesci, you simply wouldn’t expect anything less from the three. The supporting cast is also wonderful, where once again the acting isn’t the weak part of the film.

StoryThe story here follows Frank Sheeran’s rise from delivery man to hitman under one of the leaders of the mobs through the 60’s and 70’s America. Most of the story is Frank recounting his career in the mob, seeing how he often watched the biggest moments in the background, only getting his hands dirty when he needs to. We do need to talk about the length of the film because there is a huge problem here, we have so many scenes we don’t really need, we do also end up going through the routine that every single gangster movie does, which just makes it feel like something we have seen before. The timeline does fill in the random deaths with a headline on screen, even if that person is only in one scene.

Biopic/CrimeWe do get to learn the life’s story of a notorious hitman through his own eyes, we see how he isn’t completely good, but he is loyal and always tries to do the right thing in the middle of the criminal world.

SettingsThe settings takes us back to the eras we are going through, we have the glamorous locations for parties, the small street locations that show us where the dirty work gets done and a location which means everything to Frank, where it all started.


Scene of the Movie – The taxis.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is just too long.

Final Thoughts This is a gangster film that gets heavyweight performances in a story that we have seen before that does seem to drag along for way too long.

Overall: Long Drawn Out Gangster Film.