ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – R – Ray (2004)

Director: Taylor Hackford

Writer: Taylor Hackford, James L White (Screenplay) James L White (Story)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine

 

Plot: The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s


Tagline – The extraordinary life story of Ray Charles.

Runtime: 2 Hours 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Biopic

 

Story: Ray starts as Ray Robinson (Foxx) leaves his hometown to make it in the music industry, it doesn’t take long for him to make an impact in the industry, he does get walked over by managers who take advantage of the fact that he is blind, Ray also learns bad habits which includes his drug abuse.

When Ray finally gets his solo chance, he becomes Ray Charles, marries Della Bea (Washington) and his rise to stardom is in full flow. Ray continued to bring new sound in his music, though his addiction and women including backup singer Margie Hendricks (King) start making his life very difficult.

 

Thoughts on Ray

 

Characters – Ray Charles is the blind jazz musician, we see how he became blind at a young age, learned to use his ears to pick up music which made him know how to mimic the stars of the era. Ray starts out as part of a band and soon wants to become a solo star, which he does, only with his rise in fame, comes his addiction to heroin and the women, which leads to him nearly throwing away his marriage on the way to the legendary status we know him as today. Della Bea is the woman Ray fell in love with, she becomes his wife, though stays away from his musical career, she helps him when he needs it most and never leaves his side. Margie Hendricks is one of the backup singers that Ray has an affair with, she becomes his on tour girlfriend and what happens to her helps Ray learn about the chance he needs to make with his own life. Jeff Brown is one of the most loyal man that handles Ray’s money through his career.

PerformancesJamie Foxx is fantastic in the leading role he does give the performance of his career here. Kerry Washington and Regina King bring us wonderful supporting role that show two very different women in Ray’s life. If we look further into the cast we have great performances from everybody in the film.

StoryThe story here shows the rise of Ray Charles, one of the most famous musicians of the 1950s and 60s, we see how his talent made him the star, his ability to mimic the stars showed the world what he was capable of despite being blind, we get to see his own vices which nearly saw his career come crashing down before him. If you want to see how to make a biopic story that will show both the good and bad of a life this is one of the most important because Ray did make mistakes which could have derailed his career. We do also get a glimpse into how he helped with the end of the segregation laws in America which made him get banned in one state. The way the story is told gives us the information we need to learn about each moment of his career too.

Biopic/MusicThe biopic for musicians is always one of the most talked about things in the movie community, some only show the good, this was brave enough to show both sides of this man Ray Charles career. The music involved in a string of the hits the fans will enjoy watching being performed.

SettingsThe film recreates the settings for some of the most iconic performances of Ray’s career, to make us feel like audience member, while away from the stage we see how his life felt like it was separate with his wife at home and his on the road events.


Scene of the Movie –
The song performances.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning the truth about what happened between two friends.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best musical biopics you will see, the performances are brilliant, the ability to capture the moments through the career help move the story along feeling like we are learning the behind stories of Ray.

 

Overall: Biopic masterpiece.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – L – La Vie en Rose (2007)

Director: Olivier Dahan

Writer: Isabelle Sobelman, Olivier Dahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Emmanuelle, Gerard Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Martins

 

Plot: Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf’s life was filled with tragedy.


Tagline – The passionate life of Edith Piaf

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cotillard is Outstanding

 

Story: La Vie en Rose starts when young Edith is left in her grandmother’s care in her brothel where prostitute Titine (Seigner) becomes her best friend, she suffers here after becoming sick and newly losing her sight. Taken to the circus by her father, it isn’t long before the two find themselves alone with Edith showing signs of her singing ability.

At the age of 20 Edith (Cotillard) is singing on the street corners with her friend Momone (Testud) before she gets noticed by Louise Leplee (Depardieu) who offers her a chance to sing in his clubs, this is just the beginning of her career as a performer. Edith’s life never went a smoothly as many others because behind the scenes we had plenty of problems.

 

Thoughts on La Vie en Rose

 

Characters – Edith Piaf is the famous French singer, she didn’t start on the top, we learn the struggles she faced, with her upbringing in a brothel and circus, before turning to the streets as a singer. Given the chance to perform on stage she never looked back when it came to performing, but she did enjoy partying which catches up with her as people try to control her rise to the top. Through the film we meet people that are important in Edith’s life, though one thing becomes clear, she doesn’t seem to stay around many people for too long.

PerformancesMarion Cotillard won an Oscar for this performance, you can see why, she is fantastic cover multiply different years of the singer making each age seem realistic for the audience to understand the struggles she is facing next. Everyone else in the film is great, though most struggle to reach the complete level Cotillard achieves in this film.

StoryThe story follows the life and career of performer Edith Piaf one of the most famous French singers of all time, we see how her life started with the battles to get out of the brothel and off the streets, to be where she belonged, on the stage, however many tragic events came her way. The story is told with plenty of time jumps between different ages which at times can be frustrating because this style of movie is often better to watch in the linear process, even if it is somebody looking back on life. Away from that little nit-pick, we see how amazing the story of Edith was with her final performance being the most iconic of all her songs.

Biopic/RomanceWe get to see most of the important moments in Edith’s life with this story, the performances and the tragic moments.

SettingsEach setting used in the film shows us just how the film was able to recreate the location that would have been used for the real moments in the life of the singer, with the performances feeling like they would be where they would really have taken place.


Scene of the Movie –
The final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The time jumps are off putting at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant biopic that shows just how talents Cotillard is and teaches us about a brilliant singer that will never be forgotten.

 

Overall: Brilliant Biopic.

Rating

 

 

Cabaret (1972)

Director: Bob Fosse

Writer: Jay Presson Allen (Screenplay) John Van Druten, Joe Masteroff, Christopher Isherwood (Play/Novel)

Starring: Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Joel Grey, Fritz Wepper, Marisa Berenson

Plot: A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them.


Tagline – Come to the Cabaret 

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Delightfully Entertaining

Story: Cabaret starts when British man Brian Roberts (York) moves to Berlin into a spare room of female entertainer Sally Bowles (Minnelli), the two become friends as Brian is trying to become an actress, while Brian teaches English.

Both Brian and Sally offer advice to a German friend Fritz (Wepper) who is trying to start a romance with Natalia (Berenson), as we continue to see Sally open world experience being used to help people learn about the world as she is waiting for her love Maximilian von Heune (Griem), we dive into how the tough life of a dreamer in Berlin can be right as the Nazi party is starting to rise to power.

Thoughts on Cabaret

Characters – Sally Bowles is an entertainer from America working in Berlin, she knows how to use body to get men interested in her dancing and off stage, she has dreams of being an actress, but for now she must just entertain a crowd, she isn’t like most women being more open to relationship, which sees her become a bad example to Natalia and her love for two different men will make her life more complicated. Brian Roberts is an English man who has come to Berlin to teach, he rents one of the rooms in the same apartment as Sally, as the two become friends, he has his secret which during the era of this film could see him ruined, but his unconventional friendship with Sally shows the opposites can be friends. Maximilian von Heune is the German love interest for Sally, he is rich and turns her head to a better future, only not everything will be what it seems through his actions.

PerformancesLiza Minnelli is fantastic in the leading role showing her skills in music and in acting to make her character feel way before her time. Michael York is brilliant too, bringing a character to 1930s Germany that wouldn’t be welcomed in this era, bring his conflicted character to life with ease. Helmut Griem brings us a strong character through the film and Joel Grey gets the entertaining parts of the film down with ease.

StoryThe story here follows an American entertainer, an English teacher who are living in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party, trying to navigate the socially acceptable behaviour, while remain their individual selves. Where this story truly shines is not hiding away from looking at the socially acceptable parts of characters for the era the film is set in, be is homosexuality or un-lady like behaviour through the eyes of a locals of Sally. This is tackling these themes head on and shows just how nervous the Germans would be getting with the Nazi party gaining power.

MusicalThe songs and dance in this film are just as big as you would imagine, though I was expecting to see a few more if I am being honest.

SettingsThe film being set in Berlin shows us just how the mindset of the characters are during the rise of the Nazi party, it shows us just how people from different backgrounds could become friends or more.


Scene of the Movie – The songs.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I was expecting more songs.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful classic, that isn’t scared to hide from the difficult themes for the era and gives us some of the biggest musical numbers in film.

Overall: Classic all around.

Rating

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – Y – Yesterday (2019) Movie Review

Director: Danny Boyle

Writer: Jack Barth, Richard Curtis (Screenplay)

Starring: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell, Meera Syal, Harry Michell, Vincent Franklin, Ed Sheeran, Joel Fry

Plot: A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.


Tagline – Everyone in the World Has Forgotten the Beatles. Everyone Except Jack

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Enjoyable Throughout

Story: Yesterday starts as we meet musician Jack Malik (Patel) who when he isn’t performing, works a dead-end job in a cash-n-carry. Jack gets his first festival in Latitude Festival thanks to his manager Ellie Appleton (James), which makes Jack realise he might walk away from music, until on his way home a shocking event around the world sees all power down for 12 seconds and Jack gets hit by a bus, waking up in a world where The Beatles never existed.

Jack uses the ideas that The Beatles never existed to start singing the songs, which sudden thrusts the spotlight onto the young singer, who sudden burst into international stardom, only can he live with the knowledge of the music he is singing is from the most famous band in the world.

Thoughts on Yesterday

Characters – Jack Malik is a small-time musician who only performs in his own free time, while trying to balance a part-time job in a warehouse. He does have talent, only he hasn’t been discovered yet, he is about to give up when he gets hit by a bus in a freak event around the world. He wakes up to discover he is the only person to have heard of The Beatles and decides to use this knowledge to give music on more crack, where his rise to super stardom is sudden and he must learn to adapt to this new career. Ellie Appleton has been the best friend, manager, rodeo and driver for his music career, secretly in love with him, unable to give up her teaching career to follow his new success. Rocky has been involved in music only he tends to let people down, he is however the only person that Jack can turn to for help for his new stardom. We get to meet Jack’s parents who have always supported him, Ed Sheeran playing himself discovering the new talent in Jack and the manager who takes Jack to the next level with his debut album.

PerformancesHimesh Patel is brilliant in the leading role where he handles the singing with ease as well as the troubles that his character goes through in his sudden rise to fame. Lily James as the girl next door figure is wonderful to watch to, never looking out of place in the manager role. The rest of the cast do nothing wrong, you might see a couple of weakness in some of the performances in the film though.

StoryThe story follows a musician that is involved in an accident only to discover that when he wakes up, The Beatles don’t exist, using this knowledge to make himself a mega star, while dealing with his own love problems. This is a story that does work if things are kept just around the idea of The Beatles not being around, where the story does seem to use as a little joke, other major products or bands also haven’t existed either, they are only used for jokes rather than being proper points in the story. Away from that weak point we do get to see the struggling to deal with sudden fame and the guilt for using the songs of somebody he idolises. This story is one that can be enjoyed even if you are not a Beatles fan too.

Comedy/Musical/RomanceThe comedy in the film will get laughs where it needs to, we aren’t given constant jokes either, with the music side of the film playing into the strengths of all Beatles fans who will get to enjoy their favourites. The romance in the film does take centre stage, with how the two are left to wonder what if through their lives, showing how people are tempted to let people go or not for stardom.

SettingsThe film uses the small town where Jack is from, which shows the struggle of a small town musician, LA where things move so fast and Liverpool where the inspiration can be found.


Scene of the Movie – Wembley.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The other random disappearing products, just being a joke, rather than a point in the story.

Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable comedy musical, that will show the importance of love in the world, how music can make people famous and just how far people will go for a chance of stardom.

Overall: Enjoyable

ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2019 – L – The Lion King (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Brenda Chapman (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Donald Glover, Beyonce

Plot: After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.


Tagline – Be Prepared.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Animation is Fantastic, the Rest is Terrible

Story: The Lion King starts as a young lion cub Simba learns about the kingdom his father Mufasa rules, he learns his place in the pride and just what he will need to do to be prepared to take over one day. As Simba continues to want to learn about his place, he only gets himself into more trouble, forcing him to leave.

As Simba grows up under the guidance of Timon and Pumbaa, he learns to take life more laidback until Nala finds him, getting Simba to return to end Scar’s reign of terror on the kingdom.

Thoughts on The Lion King

Characters – Simba is the young king to be, he is starts as a cub that is exploring his future kingdom, already wanting to break the rules, as a cub he attitude towards Scar doesn’t make their bond get any better. After he is forced to run and hide after his father’s death, he sees a new lifestyle, until he learns that he must learn his rightful place in pride rock. Scar is the brother to Mufasa, he was next in line to be king before Simba and he wants his chance of being king of the pride, he has always been planning his own ideas to take over, breaking the rules, close to be exiled. Mufasa is the king of pride rock, every animal looks up to him and he protects the land fairly. Zazu is very annoying, it sad that they decide to make more bout the voice actors stand up than an actual character. Timon and Pumbaa are the unlikely partnership of a warthog and a meerkat that helps Simba see life in a different way and want to use him as protection for their own life, they do have excellent chemistry though.

StoryThe story here follows a young lion cub that sees his father killed and must learn his place in the world to reclaim his rightful place as king. This is a remake of the 1994 version of the film, with the story offering little to nothing new to what we saw back then in storytelling, it does seem to make more out of the villainous ways of Scar, with him always holding a grudge against Mufasa, knowing he could never replace him. Simba however is made to feel a lot more annoying as the cub, he is an entitled character who only seems to care about himself. If you want to see the same story, it is a lot easier and more reward to watch the 1994 version.

Adventure/MusicalThe adventure is showing how Simba must learn about his future even after running from his past., the musical side of the film, well we are going to go through the songs comparing them to the originals,

  • The Circle of Life – Weak

  • I Just Can’t Wait to be King – Lacks the Sparkle

  • Be Prepared – Serious what was this?

  • Hakuna Matata – Passable, the best of the songs so far, but still not on the level of magic as the original.

  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Cut too short.

  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Oh, Boy this was bad.

  • Spirit is a new song and is the only one that seems to fit this film.

SettingsThe film does recreate the original settings, well but this is more about just how good the animation really is.

AnimationHowever much we can talk about the weaknesses in this film, the one true standout part of the film is the animation which looks beautiful and the team involved should get all the praise in the world.


Scene of the Movie – Timon and Pumbaa’s entrance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Simba is more annoying this time around.

Final Thoughts This is such a pointless remake that only gets the praise for the pure quality of the animation being used, otherwise it just does nothing.

Overall: Just Terribly weak outside of the Animation team.