Kate Winslet Weekend – The Mountain Between Us (2017)

Director: Hany Abu-Assad

Writer: Chris Weitz, J Mills Goodloe (Screenplay) Charles Martin (Book)

Starring: Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Beau Bridges, Dermot Mulroney, Linda Sorensen, Vincent Gale

 

Plot: Stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow-covered mountain. When they realize help is not coming, they embark on a perilous journey across the wilderness.


Tagline – What if your life depended on a stranger?

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Performances, Over Dramatic Story

 

Story: The Mountain Between Us starts when Ben (Elba) and Alex (Winslet) are trying desperately to get home, but a storm has put a hold on those plans with the planes delayed for the day. The two make a deal to let pilot Walter (Bridges) fly them home, but mid-flight he suffers a stroke and the plane crash lands in the snow-covered mountain range.

Ben and Alex survive the crash and must learn to work together to survive against the harsh weather conditions and nature hidden in the mountains or face certain death.

 

Thoughts on The Mountain Between Us

 

Characters – Ben Bass is a surgeon, he needs to get back to New York to perform an operation, when the crash happens, he focuses on aiming to stay at the crash site believing he will get rescued, reluctant to follow Alex’s idea to find their own way out. His skills as a doctor are key to survive this one. Alex is a photographer heading home for her wedding, she does get hurt in the crash and wants to go in search of help rather than wait. These two are professionals that make decisions based on logic over panic which is why even if they are opposite, their discussions make sense.

PerformancesIdris Elba and Kate Winslet are the only ones that get any major screen time, they are both great in this film as we see them both playing to their strengths.

StoryThe story here follows two strangers who are involved in a plane crash in a mountain range and must put their differences a side to survive while searching and hoping for rescue. This is a survival movie at heart with a weak romance movie on the side, we go through the normal can they survive situations, each one becoming deadlier as they go along and leaving us guessing how rather than if they will get rescued, it seems to clear to say that they won’t make it because of it only being a two person. The fact that the dog is the most interesting character doesn’t help us out here and the timing we go through just seems weak when it comes to telling us how long they have been there, we get the odd scene, but learn nothing about moments inbetween.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action comes from the scene in which the plane crashed, it is shot well but is the only one we see. The adventure side of the film shows us just what the two must go through to survive their ordeal. The romance between them seems to just get tagged in for no particular reasons.

SettingsThe film puts us in the middle of nowhere in a mountain range, it looks stunning with views from the top, the biggest problem with the setting is we just don’t get the full scale of the situation.


Scene of the Movie –
The crash scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not explaining the time period there are lost for.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard movie with a simple story that gets everything it needs to in the film without being anything overly memorable.

 

Overall: Standard and safe.

Rating

 

 

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Buffalo ’66 (1998)

Director: Vincent Gallo

Writer: Vincent Gallo, Alison Bagnall (Screenplay)

Starring: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Ben Gazzara, Mickey Rourke, Rosanna Arquette, Jan-Michael Vincent, Anjelica Huston

 

Plot: After being released from prison, Billy is set to visit his parents with his wife, whom he does not actually have. This provokes Billy to act out, as he kidnaps a girl and forces her to act as his wife for the visit.


Tagline – Billy Brown just got out of jail. Now he’s going to serve some real time. He’s going home.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull

 

Story: Buffalo 66 starts when Billy Brown (Gallo) is released from prison, his parents never know that he has been to prison, he heads to town where he ends up kidnapping Layla (Ricci) forcing her to pretend to be his wife when he visits his parents.

As the two are spending more time together, we learn why Billy is acting this way, why he was in prison and just what his plan is now he is out of jail.

 

Thoughts on Buffalo 66

 

Characters – Billy Brown has just been released from prison, he has had his own problems which led to him being in prison and it isn’t long before he goes to the extremes to impress his family. He is painted as an aggressive man that believes that woman are just objects and has built his world in lies. Layla is the tap dancer that gets kidnapped, she starts to play along with what Billy wants and even enjoy his company the more time they spend together. Jimmy and Jan are his parents that have both been either distracted or strict in raising Billy, as he wants to impress them now. The Bookie is the man that put Billy in jail as a result of the debts he owed him, he gave him a choice with jail being the only one that didn’t hurt anyone.

PerformancesVincent Gallo doesn’t bring us a very interesting character, it isn’t written well or directed to make us interested in him, he just can’t make this character work. Christina Ricci was trying to break out of the child star roles by now, this is different to what we had seen before, though she does look bored through the film. the rest of the cast struggle too, it is just poorly written to give the actors a chance.

StoryThe story follows a gambler that had paid the price for his addiction and now is free, he wants revenge only he spends the time with his kidnap victim as we get to see the difficult life he has had which led him to the life of crime. Well I think that is what we are meant to be seeing, the story does drag along at an awfully slow pace with nothing much happening, trying to make us believe the two could be falling in love, though he is abusive with his actions and spends more time running around looking for a toilet than showing any sort of emotion.

Comedy/Crime/RomanceIf this is meant to be a comedy, the jokes miss big time as you will struggle to get a laugh out of this film, while the crime only seems to focus on the kidnapping, which she could have escaped from with ease plenty of times, so that never feels like a threat, the romance just feels awkward for the most part of the film because there is zero chemistry between the two.

SettingsThe film is set in the Buffalo area, which is meant to be about the passion of the locals, it could easily be any town with a big American football team.


Scene of the Movie –
The first look at the dinner table makes it a clever shot, until it gets boring.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We spend more time looking for a toilet.

Final ThoughtsThis is just a dreadfully dull movie that has no direction in anyway, it fails to capture any attention from the audience with a truly unlikeable main character.

 

Overall: Dreadfully boring.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – Q – The Shanghai Job (2017)

This movie has been selected for Q because of one of the stars of the movie Hannah Quinlivan.

Director: Charles Martin

Writer: Kevin Bernhardt (Screenplay) Terence M O’Keefe, Robby Hensen (Story)

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Lei Wu, Simon Yam, Hannah Quinlivan, Lynn Hung, Jing Liang

 

Plot: A washed-up private security agent has to escort a valuable Chinese antique out of Shanghai but is ambushed en route.


Tagline – Get in. Get out. Get even.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Action

 

Story: The Shanghai Job starts as we meet Danny Stratton (Bloom) a private security agent that escorts valuable property, he always had a wonderful reputation until one job went wrong. One-year-later still rebuilding his reputation, Danny with his team Ding Dong (Wu), Mach (Yam) and J.Jae (Quinlivan) are given a new opportunity to transfer a Chinese antique.

When this latest job goes wrong again when the say gang tries to steal the antique, Danny uses this as a chance to redeem himself and his crew to get his crew’s reputation back to the top.

 

Thoughts on The Shanghai Job

 

Characters – Danny Stratton runs an elite private security crew, he reputation and life is shattered when a job goes wrong, one-year later he must use his skills to prove himself again, he runs the team perfectly knowing how to use each members strength, though it will be his own weaknesses of self-doubt which could bring the job down. Ding Dong is the tech expert on the team, he will always be able to find an escape route for the crew whether they are in trouble. Mach Ren is the second in command, the oldest friend to Danny who sometimes goes too far with his action to make sure they get what they want. J.Jae is the youngest member and one that is happy to fight and be on the front line when it comes to the missions.

PerformancesOrlando Bloom is an actor which has happily gone out of his way to do films outside the Hollywood normal, he should be respected for going into a movie like this which has a target audience away from his Pirates one, he is solid in the lead role getting to show a gritty side to his acting. The rest of the cast are good in this film each getting their moment to have the highlighted part of the film.

StoryThe story here is simple to follow as we are watching one man go out of his way to rebuild his reputation after it is shattered with a robbery. We follow the traditional paths of the team will stick by his side no matter what his reputation in the world is, they know he is honest which is all they want from him. We don’t get truly challenged with the story and it is a check list of going from point A to B with point C only leading us astray. It does feel like an introduction to a television show following Danny has his exploits around the world transporting art, which is easily could be too.

Action/Crime/Mystery/RomanceThe action here is by the book, we get foot chases, car chase and sneaking around before fights, it is all easy to watch without being anything we haven’t seen before. The crime side of the film puts us in the world where Danny is protecting materials from, which works for the film as we see how both sides can operate either side of the law. There is a mystery to who is behind the first robbery as well as a romance angle with Danny needing to learn where he stands in his relationship after his year away from his best.

SettingsThe film is set in Shanghai, hence the title, this works for the film which gives a a felling of Danny being the outsider at times too.


Scene of the Movie –
Breaking in.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too formulaic

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple action crime film, one in the style we have seen before and one we will see again, it shows Bloom taking risks with his career choices and it is enough to show that it is working.

 

Overall: Action crime film 101.

Rating

 

 

El Dorado (1967)

Director: Howard Hawks

Writer: Leigh Brackett (Screenplay) Harry Brown (Novel)

Starring: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Paul Fix, Arthur Hunnicutt, Michele Carey

 

Plot: Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.


Tagline – Range War! A lawless time when no man dares turn his back… even to a friend!

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical Western

 

Story: El Dorado starts when Sheriff Harrah (Mitchum) turns to his former gunslinger partner Cole Thornton (Wayne) for assistance against a ruthless rancher Bart Jason (Asner) who wants to force another rancher off their land.

Cole meets a young man Mississippi (Caan) that proves he can handle himself in a fight, which sees him continue to build a team to take down Bart Jason once and for all.

 

Thoughts on El Dorado

 

Characters – Cole Thornton is the gunslinger for hire, he doesn’t mind which side of the law he works as long as he gets paid, his loyalty comes back to show that sometimes he doesn’t get bought, when his old friend comes asking for help, he will help people he does believe are getting into trouble for the right reasons and will fight for the people next to the people he trusts the most. Sheriff J.P. Harrah turns to his old friend for help, only to see him turn to the bottle after failing to help on the levels he most requires. Mississippi is the young bounty hunter that is deadly with a knife, he will need to use a gun if he is to work with Cole, who he wants to learn from.

PerformancesJohn Wayne is one of the most famous actors for westerns, he really is a commanding presence on screen even if he doesn’t always hit up the most realistic acting. Robert Mitchum gives us a performance that gets laughs at time and easily goes through the biggest arc through the film. James Caan does well when he gets his time to shine, though he does get overshadowed in places.

StoryThe story follows two men from either sides of the law that team up to take down a rancher and his men that are causing problems in the town. When it comes to westerns nearly every single story is the same, the law makers and reluctant gun for hire joins forces to take on a troublesome group of ranchers or outlaws or something, this is everything we have seen before without needing to offer anything new to the mix. We get a time jump which does come randomly which does disappoint too. We do have a mentor like position which ends up falling short in the way everything pans out.

Romance/WesternThere is meant to be a romance angle in this film which doesn’t seem very interesting in anyway, the western side of the film is everything you are expecting it to be without taking away any of the normal western traits.

SettingsThe film is set in the normal western towns which feels like the sets most likely were used in other films too.


Scene of the Movie –
Drunk J.P.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is just like every other western.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book western, it is easy to follow with stronger performances, but just offers nothing new to the genre.

 

Overall: Simple Western.

Rating

 

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – F – Frank & Lola (2016)

Director: Matthew Ross

Writer: Matthew Ross (Screenplay)

Starring: Imogen Poots, Michael Shannon, Justin Long, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Nyqvist, Emmanuelle Devos

 

Plot: A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption.


Tagline – Love Obsession Betrayal Revenge

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blank & Boring

 

Story:  Frank & Lola starts as we meet chef Frank (Shannon) who has started dating college graduate Lola (Poots) as they get involved in a strange relationship in Las Vegas, which sees her mother Patricia (Arquette) as questionable.

When Patricia brings her former partner to town, Lola wants Frank to help get revenge for something that happened between the two, as he has become more of a no nonsense type of person who gets offered a job by her new boss Keith (Long) which could solve his problems because of his brilliance in the kitchen.

 

Thoughts on Frank & Lola

 

Characters – Frank is a brilliant chef that has started dating the younger Lola, he gets jealous easily which makes him want to know who every man in Lola’s life is as he starts to look to solve her problems. Lola is a college graduate in fashion that is in Vegas, she is dating Frank and starts working for the charismatic Keith, she knows what will make Frank jealous as she starts to use him to get what she wants. Keith knows people in Vegas, he offers jobs to talent, which will see him follow a strict code of not trying to date them, he will always offer people job if he believes they deserve the change. Patricia is Lola’s mother that hasn’t always been as close with her daughter.

PerformancesWe have such a great cast here, Michael Shannon gives one of his most average performances of his career, Imogen Poots struggles to make an impact, Justin Long gets his moments, but not enough. Most of this comes from such dull characters they must try to bring to life.

StoryThe story is the hardest part to describe because it seems to follow a chef that is trying to do anything to clean up his girlfriends past, only to get caught up in the middle of just what might be true or not. The problem with the story comes from the poor dialogue which makes it hard to connect the story together, it seems to create scenes which put Frank’s mind in one direction only for the next one to change it, this happens too often and becomes annoying because we can’t get invested in his story. we did get some heavy themes which do just get glanced over which only confuses in the end.

Crime/RomanceThe crime side of the film comes from what Frank will do for Lola, he is driven by his love for her which shows him where to go with his actions.

SettingsThe film has two main settings, Las Vegas and Paris, both are used to show the busy side of the lives of the people we are follow.


Scene of the Movie –
Job offer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story is too heavy on changing direction too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dull romantic thriller that just drags along at a snails pace, never using the talent to its strengths.

 

Overall: Bitterly disappointing.

Rating