Cruel Intention (1999)

Director: Roger Kumble

Writer: Roger Kumble (Screenplay) Choderlos de Laclos (Novel)

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Louise Fletcher, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius

 

Plot: Two vicious step-siblings of an elite Manhattan prep school make a wager: to deflower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term.


Tagline – What you can’t have, you can’t resist.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darkly Delicious

 

Story: Cruel Intentions starts as the elite prep school step siblings Kathryn (Gellar) and Sebastian (Phillippe) are planning their next conquests in making the fellow students or authority figures pay for going against them. Kathryn wants to destroy new student Cecile (Blair) for dating her ex-girlfriend, while Sebastian wants to break the new headmaster’s daughter Annette’s (Witherspoon) belief about waiting for sex before marriage.

We watch how the two navigate their way through the elite to achieve their goals only for Sebastian to start to change from his seductive ways.

 

Thoughts on Cruel Intentions

 

Characters – Kathryn is the two faced elite society girl, two the parents she is the good polite guide for their daughters through the prep school, with her brother and friends she plays people however she wants to get things done, she holds grudges and has power over her step-brother, to help her enjoy seeing people fall. Sebastian has a reputation that has seen him go through the girls at the school, he gets what he wants but is bored of the easy girls that can be pushed around. He sets his sights on the new headmaster’s daughter which will give him a new look on life. Annette is the headmaster’s daughter that has sworn off sex before marriage, she is determined not to let Sebastian take advantage of her and break her code, knowing the truth about his past.

PerformancesSarah Michelle Gellar was known for her bad ass Buffy the Vampire Slayer when this movie came out, this performance broke her typecast and showed that she could do a much darker role. Ryan Phillippe is wonderful in this role, you can see how he plans to get ahead at every step of the way believing his confident character. Reese Witherspoon bought us the innocent character we now know her for, we need her to be strong, she is and that look makes her look the part perfectly. This is easily one of he best cast movies of recent years.

StoryThe story takes us into the elite prep school life where the kids are free enough to be planning their next sexual conquest because money is no longer an issue for them. Seeing how the story plans out is interesting from early on to the finish as the plans between the characters and how the step-siblings manipulate the people in their lives is twisted. The pace of the story is great too, it never feels like it lets up from start to finish. It does however show how stupid rich kids can be because they have never learnt morals.

RomanceThe romance in this film is a complete mix, we get to see how romance can be used just for sex and how it can change people to become better people.

SettingsThe New York setting is perfect for this movie, it shows how the elite school kids can get up to the most pointless behaviour because of boredom and belief they have the power over anyone.


Scene of the Movie –
The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me These kids never go to school.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful dark romantic thriller, that uses the music perfectly, has brilliant performances and is easily one of the most watchable films out of the late 90s.

 

Overall: Special movie that hasn’t aged a day.

Rating

 

 

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Bennett’s Song (2018)

Director: Harley Wallen

Writer: Nancy Oeswein (Screenplay)

Starring: Tara Reid, Dennis Haskins, Harley Wallen, Calhoun Koenig, Aphrodite Nikolovski

 

Plot: Two very unique families on a collision course find laughs, music, and love, and a few answers about what it means to be an American family in the 21st century.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming, Sweet and Heartfelt

 

Story: Bennett’s Song starts when Cole (Wallen) takes his daughter to a dentist, the new dentist Susan Song (Nikolovski) only for a small spark between them which leads to few dates. Both have their own stories to why they are single and a secret they believe would scare most partners off, they both have 7 kids all adopted from different cultural backgrounds.

When the two decide to take a big step they must learn to cope with the problems modern day world has to offer, including the rule abiding neighbour Stevie Hawkins-White (Reid) all while we wait to see if ambitious young musician Pearl (Carlini) who dreams of heading to music camp.

 

Thoughts on Bennett’s Song

 

Characters – Cole Bennett is a former cage fighter, retired to be with his family, he lost his wife to cancer and opened a gym using his name to make an impact, he has seven of his own kids that he teaches the best things in life. When approaching dating he is nervous and stutters over all his worlds which only add to his good guy image. Susan Song is a specialist dentist with big reputation for her ability to deal with disabled children. She also has seven kids of her own always being worried any man wouldn’t want the baggage that comes with that. The two understand each other’s lives bringing them together to build a bigger family that knows how to support each other because of the love they want to share. Pearl is the daughter that we focus on the most, she is aiming for a big career in music needing to find a way to prove herself to a committee. We do have another 13 kids from a range of ages we could talk through here, each does get a moment in the film.

PerformancesHarley Wallen takes the lead role and directing duties on this film, he does give us a realistic approach to how each moment his caring character deals with each situation and the nervous behaviour for asking for a date seems like something we could all understand. Aphrodite Nikolovski in the leading lady role is great too we see how she makes her unsure about relationship comes through strong. With the kids they are good with Calhoun Koenig showing off her singing skills.

StoryThe story here focuses on two people that fall in love, only they have 7 kids each, each kid is from a different cultural background and has been raised to believe and follow dreams. The families become one and we get to see the problems life throws at them as they get used to the doubling of numbers. Now the story could easily have played out as a sitcom series because of the number of issues they go through and always find a positive way to learn life lessons, this does give us the only negative of the film, certain issues the family go through needed times to be looked at because they tackle true life issues a family like this would go through. If you do want to see a family dynamic that you would have never seen in such numbers, this is the one for you to be seeing.

Comedy/Family/RomanceThe comedy in this film comes from the different family laughs each different kid has a moment that makes them funny be it cuteness or trying to be overly confident. The romance shows how two people can just walk into each other’s lives and change it for the better even after heartache. The family side of the shows us just how people must learn to respect each other no matter where they have come from.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings feeling like an everyday situation this family could be living in, I do feel we could have learnt or seen more of the size of the new house together though.


Scene of the Movie –
The music performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is very hard to keep up with most of the kid’s name.

Final ThoughtsThis is one movie that shows us just how important teaching people life lessons the right way is, the get laughs and beautiful music performance that is the true highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Family film to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Love, Simon (2018)

Director: Greg Berlanti

Writer: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker (Screenplay) Becky Albertalli (Novel)

Starring: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Logan Miller, Keiynan Lonsdale

 

Plot: Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.


Tagline – Everyone deserves a great love story.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch Film of the Year

 

Story: Love, Simon starts as we meet Simon (Robinson) a normal high school kid, he isn’t the most popular, but has a close knit of friends in Leah (Langford), Abby (Shipp) and Nick (Lendeborg Jr), he acts like most high schoolers, only he has a secret, one he can’t tell anyone.

When he learns about another schoolmate has come out anonymously, he sees a friend he can talk to about his homosexuality, without the school learning his secret. As Simon tries to figure out who the mysterious Blue is even after getting blackmailed by a fellow student.

 

Thoughts on Love, Simon

 

Characters – Simon is the average high school student, he is holding in his own secret, he is gay, he doesn’t know how to come out because if the ridicule that could come his way. He connects with a fellow closest student and spends the year trying to figure out who the student is, until his secret becomes known he must try to keep it from coming out. Emily and Jack are the parents of Simon that have their own way to react to events with one being scientific and the other always trying to turn things into a joke. Leah, Abby and Nick are the three best friends that slowly become victims of the secret however hard Simon tries to keep things undercover, they would always support him.

PerformancesNick Robinson is fantastic in this role, this is a true breakout performance for the young actor, as we truly understand his characters mindset throughout. The rest of the cast know exactly how to bounce off Nick’s performance to make his and theirs better.

StoryThe story follows the graduation years for Simon as he battles to understand how to come out as gay to his friends, family and the school. Seeing how difficult this moment is for the young man is such an interesting story, watching how he wants to figure out who his romantic anonymous interest is from little moments of their conversations is fascinating to see unfold. The story shows us just how difficult this moment could be for anyone going through the same situation and wanting to see people act like nothing changed.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy blends perfectly with drama of high school life and the romance just makes you feel like you want to see the happy ending.

SettingsThe gives us the high school environment for the settings which shows us how the students act towards each part of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Ferris wheel.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How do these high school kids have time for coffee before school?

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most important movies of the year, because it shows that whichever sexuality you choose to be, be it, don’t be worried what people will think. The story is told in such a charming way that will only leave you with a smile on your face.

 

Overall: Beautiful and important film.

Rating

 

 

Summer of ’67 (2018)

Director: Sharon Wilharm

Writer: Sharon Wilharm (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel Schrey, Cameron Gilliam, Bethany Davenport, Christopher Dalton, Sam Brooks, Sharonne Lanier, Jerrold Edwards

 

Plot: Based on real life events, Summer of ’67 brings to life the turbulent times of the sixties and the struggles faced by the men and women impacted by the Vietnam War.


Tagline – Their lives will never be the same again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Touching Look at the Effects of War

 

Story: Summer of 67 starts as the war on Vietnam is starting, we head to a small-town where we meet recently married Milly (Schrey) and her sister Kate (Davenport), Milly’s husband Gerald (Gilliam) is hoping he doesn’t get drafted, facing the reality he can’t get another job until he has done his service, while Beth’s boyfriend Peter (Dalton) would rather enlist that head off to college.

With Gerald and Peter going on the same ship the USS Forrestal, Mill facing bring their second child into the world alone, waiting for his return, while Beth looks to start searching for her future with hippie Van (Brooks). We get to see the effects of the separation as we get to see one more couple Reggie (Edwards) and Ruby Mae (Lanier) who have final found each other, but are being separated too.

 

Thoughts on Summer of 67

 

Characters – Milly and Kate both witnesses a tragic event in the opening of the film, Milly the older sister gets married and starts a family, one hoping to have their own home, but watches how her husband must go to war to be given an opportunity at a better job. Kate young and more impressable at her college age, with a college sweetheart, that wants to go to war, she is against any war which leads her into the arms of a hippie who is against the war. The two both are left waiting to see if their loves will return. Gerald is the husband of Milly who has no other option but to go to war, to give his family a future of stability. Peter is the college aged man that must choose between war or college. Van is one of the hippies that starts to sway Kate’s opinion on war with his anti-war views. We do get to see Ruby Mae who is a maid for the family and her new love Reggie, which does take a back burner even though they are going through the same situation.

PerformancesRachel Schrey is great in her role, we see how she makes her character need to be the big sister, wife and mother to three different characters each showing the strength she used through the anxious times away from her love. Bethany Davenport is good in her role, we get to see how she makes her late-teenage character be so unsure how to think about the war situation. When it comes to the male performers, they are good, but do have less time on screen. Sharonne Lanier is also good in her role, even if we could have given her more screen time.

StoryThe story here follows the wives and girlfriends that are left together in small-town while their partners head off to Vietnam. We have three women who while are around the same age (Well within 10 years) who are at different love stages, one with kids, one at the crossroads and one just fallen, this helps understand the different feelings the characters would be going through. Seeing how they try to stay together through the unknown, not knowing other than short television updates gives us a reflection of the war genre. This does touch on a real event, which if you know your history you will know the direction things will go. The best part of this not taking us to the war side of the film because we don’t need just another war movie.

History/RomanceThe does give us a look at the people left behind during the Vietnam war, this will look at people watching at home. The romance side of the film shows us how the three women are left to continue their lives while being unsure of the safety of their own loved ones.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small-town setting which does show us the unity between the women who are left behind waiting.


Scene of the Movie –
The television report.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t get enough time to watch the Ruby Mae and Reggie side of the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that shows us just how damaging going to war can be on the people that are left behind, the waiting, the anxiety of not knowing and the bravery they must put on to remain strong around family and friends.

 

Overall: Touching, strong and impactful

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – X – X: Past is Present (2015)

Director: Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Sudhish Kamath, Nalan Kumarasamy, Anu Menon, Sandeep Mohan, Quashiq Mukherjee, Rajshree Ojha, Raja Sen, Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Suparn Verma

Writer: Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Sudhish Kamath, Nalan Kumarasamy, Anu Menon, Sandeep Mohan, Quashiq Mukherjee, Rajshree Ojha, Raja Sen, Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Suparn Verma (Screenplay)

Starring: Rajat Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Anshuman Jha, Piaa Bajpai, Sara Bhaskar, Neha Mahajan

 

Plot: A filmmaker with a mid-life crisis meets a mysterious young girl who reminds of every woman in his past.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Reminiscing Never Felt so True

 

Story: X: Past is Present starts as K (Kapoor) is at a party when he meets a young woman that reminds him of his former love, each moment he sees her through the night reminds him of previous women in his life and we follow the young K (Jha) through these relationships.

Each memory brings back a moment in his K’s life, one that he will never forget and one he can never live through again, these stories have made K the man he is now even the missed opportunities he went through.

 

Thoughts on X: Past is Present

 

Characters – K is the womanising filmmaker having a mid-life crisis, he meets a young lady at a party and starts to reminisce on the women that have help inspire his movies through the years. He is filled with happiness and sadness with memories that have made him and broken him in the past. The young woman likes the stories she is hearing and does have motivation for arriving in K’s life. Rija is the wife that K lost in his story of love, she wanted a normal life, something K never offered.

PerformancesRajat Kapoor is great in this leading role showing us the memories that K is having with the happiness and regrets like we all do. This does have strong performances from the whole case too.

StoryThe story follows the man having a mid-life crisis remembering the women that came into his life, some for the better, others for the worst, each one brings their own story and lesson he learned through life. While looking at the different stories is wonderful too, it does become difficult to understand the different times everything is happening for K because the jumps seem ransom for the different time eras. Away from that slight flaw the idea is something I could enjoy watching and is one that I feel people will understand.

Mystery/RomanceThe romance in this film comes from the different memories that K has been having the loves he once had for years and the small slings which lasted a lifetime. The mystery comes from who the mysterious girl is and even if she is real.

SettingsThe film takes us to plenty of different settings that K has been through his life they have helped him write his own movies.


Scene of the Movie –
How the flashbacks feel, because they feel like they are how memories would be.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Keeping up with the timeline in the flashbacks

Final ThoughtsThis is a very good look at how life can lead us down different paths, some that will show us the best and most memorable moments and others which will remind us of the mistakes in our life.

 

Overall: Lovely look at life’s best moments.

Rating