The Furnace (2019 Movie Review

Director: Darrell Roodt

Writer: Darrell Roodt, P.G. de Jonge (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamie Bernadette, Luthuli Dlamini, Laura Linn, Thandi Puren, Armand Aucamp

Plot: Newlyweds Mary and Matt celebrate Christmas, and their passion for running, with two honeymoon tickets to Africa’s ultimate footrace, The Furnace. Their excitement to race together across the biggest animal reserve in the world has them inspired. Then in a horrific flash, everything’s gone including Mary’s purpose for living. A year later, Mary is grieving. Struggling to breathe with an oxygen tank, she cries out her anger at God. Standing nearby, a man sees her suffering, and shares his own story of loss. Once a doctor in Africa, he fled to America when civil war annihilated his town. Now known by the nickname, Coffin, he digs graves after losing his practice. Coffin urges Mary to keep on believing, push through and recover, offering his help as a doctor and friend. Over time Coffin’s dedicated support and intense training helps Mary grow strong, and live to run again. But what will it take to let go of her pain .

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Inspiring Faith Based Drama

Story: The Furnace starts on the first Christmas days after Mary (Bernadette) and Matt’s (Aucamp) wedding, who have plans to challenge themselves to a race known as The Furnace 150km across African wild reserve, tragedy strikes though, leaving Mary needing an oxygen mask to get through the days.

Spending her time at her husband’s grave Mary meets the gravedigger Coffin (Dlamini) who consoles her, telling her his own story, offering to try and help her recover to the levels of fitness she is used to, so she can use her new found faith to complete the Furnace herself.

Thoughts on The Furnace

Characters – Mary starts this film married and about to go on a honeymoon the pair had been dreaming off, this goes in an instant, leaving her needing an oxygen tank to get through the day, with any hopes of running dashed. Angry at the world, she starts to close off, finding any attempts at returning to her passion ending in hospital trips, until she meets Coffin, here she learns about faith and new technology to overcome her odds to compete in the race that was her honeymoon plan, one that is a test for even the toughest runners in the world. Coffin is a gravedigger in America, even though he is trained as a doctor back in Africa, he offers to help Mary get back to her former self, teaching her to pace herself, preparing her for the impossible sounding race. He must watch from the side lines, with hope that she will make it through each stage of the race. Raphaella is a fellow runner that Mary meets along the way, one to help support her over the course of the journey.

PerformancesJamie Bernadette steps away from the action horror roles we have seen her in recently for a much more serious role, one that does play into her strengths, she deals with the athletic demand of the performance with ease, while bringing the emotional impact of her character’s journey through the film. Luthuli Dlamini does a wonderful job in his role too bringing the calmness to help make Mary strong through the film.

StoryThe story here follows one woman that loses everything she had a dreamt off until she finds her faith and pushes herself to get back on the track and complete the race she was meant to do with her husband. This is a story that shows the inspiration of wanting to overcome tragedy and finding a way to achieve this in a world you wouldn’t normal consider. We do get a normal montage of training, while a large part of the story follows the race being competed in. we do get to see just how much needed to be overcome, though it could have given us more of a time frame and just what the injury Mary had, like how likely it is to overcome, or would it be something she was meant to be living with for the rest of her life.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just how her life changes in America, while it does get the beauty shots of the African wild reserve seeing the different animals around area.


Scene of the Movie – The race final leg.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not getting a full look at the time frame.

Final Thoughts This is an inspiring story of overcoming tragedy to get back to the former strength, with powerful performances throughout.

Overall: Inspiring Throughout.

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Kate Winslet Weekend – The Dressmaker (2015)

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Writer: Jocelyn Moorhouse, P.J. Hogan (Screenplay) Rosalie Ham (Novel)

Starring: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Julia Blake, Shane Bourne, Kerry Fox, Shane Bourne

 

Plot: A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.


Tagline – Revenge is back in fashion

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quirky & Dark

 

Story: The Dressmaker starts when Tilly Dunnage (Winslet) returns to her small home rural town to see her mother Molly (Davis), Tilly isn’t welcomed by all because of something that happened in the past resulting in the death of a child.

Tilly is out for revenge, only she starts turning heads and offering to design dresses for the local women in town, she grabs the attention of the town bachelor Teddy (Hemsworth) with her only friend being Sergeant Farrat (Weaving) who has his own eye for fashion.

 

Thoughts on The Dressmaker

 

Characters – Tilly Dunnage is a glamorous woman that has seen the world learning the fashion world, she has returned home for revenge after being forced to leave the town as a child, she helps the women of the town look gorgeous and extra special, while she convinces herself that she isn’t cursed. She knows how to turn heads using her cloths to make this happen. Molly is the mother of Tilly who has been living in isolation for years, she didn’t want her daughter to return, even though she doesn’t start to bond with her after all these years apart. Teddy is a young man in the town, he is one of the few people that looked after Molly while Tilly was away, he soon takes a shine to her, wanting to prove that she didn’t do anything in the first place. Sergeant Farrat is one of the people that is happy to welcome Tilly back to town, he does have his own secret which involves his cross dressing, making him easy to twist when Tilly wants information.

PerformancesKate Winslet is great in this leading role, bring us a character filled with guilt who is just as happy to show a positive confident side to the people in the town. Judy Davis is a scene stealer in this film, being able to get the laughs required to make her the most memorable part of nearly ever scene she is in. Liam Hemsworth is at the best he has ever been, which is great to see him breaking away from the roles that aren’t working for him. Hugo Weaving gets to have a lot of fun in his role too.

StoryThe story follows a woman who returns home to get revenge on the people that forced her to leave, only to learn that town has just as many secrets within the walls, that revenge is just about letting them out. We get to see how a town can turn enough heads to make everything seem like nothing is wrong, only for a curse to be waiting to be lifted if it isn’t inside somebody’s mind. We do get a lot of characters being introduced which can make things difficult to keep up with because we get plenty of little factors that do lead up to the personal conflict between the characters. this is a lot more fun of a story than I was expecting even though it is sprinkled with very dark moments.

ComedyThe comedy in the film does come the quirky nature of the events as they unfold, we have plenty of fashion related comical moments as well as small town gossip, which will get laugh along the way.

SettingsThe film is set in a small rural Australian town, where everybody does know everybody else, we are filled with gossip and instant reactions to anything that goes on in the town too.


Scene of the Movie –
Leaving town.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slightly too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a quirky dark comedy that is sprinkled by the elements of revenge, which does keep us wondering just what is the endgame of her decision making process.

 

Overall: Dark quirky comedy treat.

Rating

 

 

Joker (2019) Movie Review

Director: Todd Phillips

Writer: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Brian Tyree Henry

Plot: A gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society.


Tagline – Put on a happy face.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Twist on the Origin Story

Story: Joker starts as we meet want to be entertainer Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), he works as a clown through a range a roles, though he does have a reputation for being difficult, he lives in a rundown apartment with his mother Penny (Conroy), with dreams of making it as a stand up comedian, with his idol being Murray Franklin (De Niro) the host of a daily show.

As Arthur starts to see certain parts of his life fall apart, he sees a blossom relationship with his neighbour Sophie (Beetz) until he learns the truth about his past and learns to put on his happy face to become Joker.

Thoughts on Joker

Characters – Arthur Fleck is a loner that has been struggling for work, he wants to be an entertainer and is working on his own material to try his luck at stand-up comedy. He starts a new relationship and thinks his life is going in a new direction, until he learns the truth, becoming the icon we know. Murray Franklin is the host of his own talk show, he handles the comedy of the real events and is the man Arthur sees as an idol, he sees one of the clips of the stand up and puts it on his own show. Sophie is the neighbour and single mother that starts a relationship with Arthur, showing him in a better life. Penny is the mother of Arthur, she sees only the good in the richest man in the town and writes to him often waiting for a reply from her former employer. While most of the characters do have more about them, though most details will contain full spoilers.

PerformancesJoaquin Phoenix gives us a wonderful performance, showing his commitment to the role, which will be one people will talk about when award season hits. Robert De Niro is joy to watch as the charismatic talk show host. Zazie Beetz is good to watch, though she just doesn’t get enough screen time. Frances Conroy is strong to through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a man that has been failed by the society and the mental health system, which sees him struggle to deal with reality and begin his path to become one of the most iconic comic villains. This is much like Venom, a strange choice for a character to bring to the centre stage because we shouldn’t be backing a villainous character, but this time we do get everything connecting to why Joker became who he is. By stepping into how mental health can be brushed aside at times forcing people to fall through the cracks, not being treated the correct way to help them. If you are expecting any sort of comic book movie, you will be lost in this one because nothing we see has anything that couldn’t become a reality, which is what could make the film feel unsettling in places. This is also a story that could have been told without needing to throw a big character name like the Joker in around it and it might have been even better if it didn’t rely on the familiar name.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows how Arthur starts by being a victim, before he starts to try and show just how far he will go to stand up for himself.

SettingsThe film does use the settings brilliantly, showing how Arthur has come from the bottom, never been given a thing in life, which does reflect just how we would see a Batman figure born with wealth.


Scene of the Movie – Talk show time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I didn’t like the laughing stuff, it would include spoilers to why though.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting a dark spin on the world for one of the biggest names in comic book history, without making it feel like a comic book in anyway.

Overall: Dark and as Twisted as You Would Imagine.

Naomi Watts Weekend – The Book of Henry (2017)

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Writer: Gregg Hurwitz (Screenplay)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler

 

Plot: With instructions from her genius son’s carefully crafted notebook, a single mother sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather.


Tagline – Never leave things undone.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sweet Little Tale

 

Story: The Book of Henry starts as we meet 12-year-old Henry (Lieberher) who is the brains in the family with his little brother Peter (Tremblay) and single working mother Susan (Watts). Henry is a genius and knows how to support the family with his stock tips.

When Henry starts to suspect his neighbour Glenn Sickleman (Norris) of abusing his stepdaughter Christina (Ziegler) he wants to solve the problem, though none of the adults will listen to him. Henry writes a book on how to save Christina, which Susan finds and goes out to complete his work and save her.

 

Thoughts on The Book of Henry

 

Characters – Susan is the mother of the house, though she doesn’t have the full responsibility in the house as she lets her genius son Henry handle the finances in the home. She is a single working mother that does everything she can to help her kids, enjoys a drink with her best friend Sheila and videos to release the stress, she must go through a difficult process when Henry becomes sick and wants to follow his book to do the right thing. Henry is a genius 12-year-old boy, he keeps his family together while trying to leave his own legacy, he knows how to work the stock market which keeps the family a float and when he sees wrong in the world he wants to help change it, this brings him to write a book to stop the abuse of his neighbour by her stepfather. Peter is the younger brother to Henry, he always looks up to him and wants to help him with his innocent being the only thing that lets Henry have fun.  Sheila is the best friend and work colleague of Susan, she enjoys herself a drink and has great banter with Henry. Glenn is the neighbour and police chief living next door to the Carpenter family, he has a stepdaughter that he is abusing though he position of power makes it nearly impossible for him to get investigated. Dr Daniels is the man that must treat Henry, he must help the family through the difficult decision.

PerformancesNaomi Watts in the leading role is great through this film, we see how her character needs to develop after what happens to Henry. Jaeden continues to show us he is a fast-rising child star along with Jacob Tremblay who are both going to be talked about as a couple of the best of the current generations. Silverman, Morris and Pace give us good supporting performances throughout the film too.

StoryThe story here follows a genius son that helps run the family to help take the pressure of his single mother, he plans long term and wants to make the world a better place, though when sees abuse he wants to step in and help. He doesn’t expect the short term though, leaving his legacy to his mother to help solve the abuse he sees the neighbour going through. We do have moments that make the children feel like they are in ‘Pay it Forward’ which does have a better message about, doing something to make the world a better place, this story does get that message over and does make you want to help bring calm to the world. if I was being honest with the way the story is told, I feel it would have been nice to mix the planning Henry does with the actual plan rather than showing his plan before the incident.

CrimeThe film does have a crime base to everything going on, we get to see how Henry sees a crime being committed and the only way he can solve it is to have someone commit a crime for him.

SettingsThe film shows us the simple life the Carpenter family are currently living and how Henry is happy with this even though he can make them rich with a blink of an eye, he wants family over anything.


Scene of the Movie –
Take the shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The kids are way to talent in the talent contest.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that has taken a beating by the critics and sure there are a couple of weaknesses in this film, but the core of the story is one of the most interesting ways to show a child genius doing the right thing in life, well-acted and one people should be giving a chance too.

 

Overall: Nice story about leaving a legacy.

Rating

 

 

Hotel Mumbai (2018) Movie Review

Director: Anthony Maras

Writer: John Collee, Anthony Maras (Screenplay)

Starring: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs

Plot: The true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai. Hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families.

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense, Emotional and Heart-Breaking

Story: Hotel Mumbai starts on what was a normal demanding day at the luxury Taj Hotel in Mumbai, Arjun (Patel) is trying his hardest to keep his job with his wife due to have a baby any day now, the guest on this fateful day include Iranian-British heiress Zahra (Boniadi) and her husband David (Hammer) along with their new-born baby, Russian businessman Vasili (Isaacs).

This night is something nobody involved with ever remember, when a group of terrorists start causing mayhem through Mumbai, before getting into the Taj, to continue their rampage, leading to the staff needing to make sacrifices to try and keep the guest safe from the horrific action.

Thoughts on Hotel Mumbai

The Events in this film are based on the true events, any description given is solely on how the film presents the real people whose lives were affected by this tragic and horrific event.

Characters – Arjun is married with one child and another on the way, he is one of the many employees at the Taj hotel, he is portrayed as being a man that will work for anything to keep his family fed and safe, but one that could not always play by the rules at work, he begs for this shift and shows every of his guests and co-workers just how much he will risk for the right thing. Zahra is an Iranian Heiress that is considered one of the most important guests one who could make or break the reputation of the hotel. She is one person that gets trapped, waiting for her husband David to find their baby which was left with a nanny in the room, David will risk more by going out into the battlefield in a hope to get to the baby, where he becomes one of the top picks for a hostage, an American. Oberoi is head chef in the hotel, he does everything he can to keep the guests safe, letting the employees decide if they want to help or be with their own families. Vasili is a Russian businessman that seems like he will be loud and rude for most of his stay. He however proves to be one of the most important men during the hostage situation. We do get to meet the terrorists, who are doing this in the name of their God, they are young naïve and don’t seem to have any understanding just what they are doing, performing the acts with completely heartless manor.

PerformancesDev Patel, Nazanin Boniadi, Armie Hammer, Anupam Kher and Jason Isaacs are the biggest names in this film, their performances are faultless, we have one of the best all around cast performances too, from everyone involved.

StoryThe story here shows the guests and staffs point of view of the terrorist attack on the Taj hotel in Mumbai in 2008, it shows what they did to survive, how heartless the terrorists were and gives the many people who risked their lives a chance to show their story. There is no easy way to describe this story, it was one of the worst ground level terrorists in attacks in recent history, seeing how calculated the terrorists were in their actions in hard to watch, seeing how helpless the victims were, is heart breaking. We can see how horrific their actions were and just how heroic the staff at the hotel were, when it comes to helping the helpless.

History/ThrillerThe moment in history will always be one that shocked the world, it is one that you should have heard about and now you can hear the stories of the people involved. It is a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the film.

SettingsMost of the film is set within the walls of the Taj hotel, it showed us just how trapped the victims and survivors would have been.


Scene of the Movie – Lift sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – However hard this would be to portray everyone involved, it does feel like some of the characters and people don’t get enough of a story behind there events.

Final Thoughts This is easily one of the most intense films you will see and it shows just how horrific the events of the film were to the people involved.

Overall: Pure Intensity