Amateur (2018)

Director: Ryan Koo

Writer: Ryan Koo (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Rainey Jr, Josh Charles, Brian White, Sharon Leal, Ashlee Brian

 

Plot: A young basketball player struggles to fit in with his new team.


Tagline – Every dream has a price.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Sports Drama

 

Story: Amateur starts as Terron Forte (Rainey Jr) an internet sensation basketball player that is destine to become an NBA star, the problem is he struggles in school to focus on numbers dyscalculia and is part of losing team, his dad Vince (White) brings in well-respected high school coach Gaines (Charles) to give him a chance only that he will need to move away from home.

Moving to the new school and home he must learn to be around high school age students and learn the game at the next level, but this is going to come at a cost, his education gets put on the back burner and the darker side of the sport is shown to the sport.

 

Thoughts on Amateur

 

Characters – Terron is a basketball prodigy that has been struggle with dyscalculia being unable to read numbers, he has always continued to keep his education up with the help of his mother and being the best player in his area he has turned heads. He gets signed to a high school team which improves him game but gives out false education promises. He must learn to play the game with his learning difficulties and being just a part of everyone else’s success. Coach Gaines has offered everything Terron would want for a future in the NBA even if he has been taking advantage of the players by bending the rules of the game to create the stars of tomorrow. Vince is Terron’s father that once had a chance of a sporting career and is trying everything to help his son even with his constant pain from his injuries.

PerformancesMichael Rainey Jr is the lead of this movie, he is brilliant in this role, handling the basketball side of things and the learning difficulties his character has been facing are shown well throughout. Josh Charles is good as the coach that will do anything to anything for his reputation of finding young players, while Brian White is good too.

StoryThe story here shows of a sporting prodigy can use social media to hype his reputation while stepping up levels others wouldn’t normally get. It shows how the sporting system needs to be balanced with education and breaking the rules could leave the potential ruined. We get to see the darker side of high school basketball and how far people will go to bring through the best players, the film does also display living with dyscalculia and how you can overcome the problem even if it takes time to reach the solution.

SportsThe basketball scenes look great, its not a sport I know too much about, but how the young player can excel against senior players.

SettingsThe film keeps everything around the school system showing how Terron must learn to become part of the team away from home and how he needs to be outside his comfort zone.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning the plays.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t learn enough about the education levels Terron was scoring before the move.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful sports drama that does show the best and worst parts of the high school basketball.

 

Overall: Must watch for sports fans.

Rating

 

 

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Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Downhill (2016)

Director: Patricio Valladares

Writer: Barry Keating (Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Burn, Ignacia Allamand, Bryce Draper, Ariel Levy, Luke Massy, Matias Lopez

 

Plot: After his best friend dies in a racing accident, biking star Joe agrees to go back on the wheels for an exhibition in Chile. On a test run with his girlfriend Stephanie, they stumble upon a badly injured man dying from a mysterious virus. That’s the start of a very bad day for them as they become the target of relentless killers ready to do anything to keep their secret to go out of the mountains.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Horror

 

Story: Downhill starts when downhill biker Joe (Draper) watches his best friend die in a competitive race, he closes off but when another professional and friend Pablo (Levy) talks him into going to Chile with his girlfriend Stephanie (Burn) for an exhibition race.

When Joe and Stephanie are on a practise run they find themselves saving a stranger only to find they are going to become the latest targets in a twisted hunting trip by the locals.

 

Thoughts on Downhill

 

Characters/PerformanceJoe is the former downhill cyclists who is talked out of his retirement for an exhibition, we find he is grieving for his best friend but we also learn that he isn’t as clean cut as he comes across. Stephanie is the girlfriend of Joe that pushes him out of retirement and general helps with the social media side of things. Magdalena is the girlfriend of Pablo the guy who gets Joe out of retirement, that is pretty much her character.

Performance wise, I think the two leads do suffer with a lack of chemistry which doesn’t help with their performances. I do feel we could have better through the film.

StoryThe story does start of routine, out of towners get trapped by locals who hunt down the tourists. We know the survival horror angle works and we get good shots with the cyclists but I feel the film saves the better angle until too late in the film with what is going on with the hunters. This could have and does become the best part of the movie.

Action/Horror/SportsThe action side of the movie does come from the race to survive which does also include the sports side of things. The horror comes with being hunted down and just the bigger picture.

SettingsThe settings put us in the Chilean countryside where the hunting can happen if there was nowhere to run for the characters, we don’t get any stunning views though.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well for the different horrors we are left to experience through the film, be it kills, torture or crash sequences.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror that does get dragged down by weaker performances.

 

Overall: Good horror, weak performances.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – W – The Wrestler (2008)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Robert D Siegel (Screenplay)

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens

 

Plot: A faded professional wrestler must retire, but finds his quest for a new life outside the ring a dispiriting struggle.


Tagline – Love. Pain. Glory.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Modern Great

 

Story: The Wrestler starts as we follow Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson (Rourke) a once icon of the wrestling business, still working small events where he is the star attraction but struggling to make ends meet on the payment for his own trailer park home. Randy is close with the everyday people in his life and has his own go to stripper Cassidy (Tomei).

One night after another show stealing performance Randy suffers a heart-attack where he is warned not to continue wrestling or it will kill him. Randy tries to rekindle his broken relationship with his daughter Stephanie (Wood) while balancing the idea that he could have one final big payday, a rematch against his biggest rival.

 

Thoughts on The Wrestler

 

Characters – Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson was once the biggest name in wrestling, now he is nearing retirement where he still performs in small venues. His life is turned upside down after a heart attack where he must decide whether to step away from the limelight or continue performing and risking his health. As a wrestling fan this is an interesting character as it shows just how far someone with go to perform for their fans. Cassidy is the stripper that Randy has become friends with over the years, she keeps her personal life away from the clients but when Randy wants to make their friendship more it turns into a pivotal moment in her life too. Stephanie is the daughter of Randy, he was a terrible father when she grew up, but can she forgive him to start a fresh now, that is the question.

PerformancesMickey Rourke does give the performance of his career here, he breaks away from anything we would know him to make us feel everything we see him go through. Marisa Tomei is great as the stripper with a heart and Evan Rachel Wood continued to show us just how talented she was in her growing career of the time.

StoryThe story follows an aging star of a sport needing to face his own mortality or face losing everything. This is a subject which has always been a popular subject because it is icons who are the ones feel could never finish but once they are gone we miss them. Seeing it from the performers point of view works too because we learn what drives them in the one skill they always believed they had.

SportsThe wrestling sequences do give away secrets of the sport which are well known by now but at the time they were lesser known skills outside the business, but the fights feel as brutal as they seem.

SettingsThe settings show us just how far the once star has fallen from grace, he is now not the man he once was living in trailer park, fighting in small events over the big events he once did.


Scene of the Movie –
Pre-Match Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the great movies of modern time, it shows the drive performers have to continue doing what they love when they shouldn’t anymore which is why this is a must watch for anyone who has a passion.

 

Overall: Must watch for all wrestling fans.

Rating

 

 

I, Tonya (2017)

Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Steven Rogers (Screenplay)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, Caitlin Carver, McKenna Grace, Julianna Nicholson

 

Plot: Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.


Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Uniquely Told Biopic

 

Story: I, Tonya starts as we have the interview set up so we can learn from Tonya Harding (Robbie), her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Stan), her mother LaVona Golden (Janney) and other people that were involved in the incident.

We flashback to learn how Tonya came from an abusive mother that pushed her to the limits in figure skating, her abusive relationship with her husband Jeff and how her dreams of ever being a gold medallist get thrown into turmoil after what happened with fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan (Carver).

 

Thoughts on I, Tonya

 

Characters – Tonya Harding was a natural born figure skater, she had talent from a young age, but came from a redneck family. Even after making it to national competitions she still gets looked down upon. It is her relationships with show her resilient side from her abusive mother to her husband and her involvement with the Nancy Kerrigan incident that could ruin her reputation. Jeff Gillooly is the man that Tonya married, they have a good spark, but his violent nature kept pushing her away and his charming nature could bring her back too. LaVona Golden is Tonya’s mother that sacrificed to make her daughter the best figure skater in the world, she does push her to the limits while not being afraid to physical harm Tonya to get the best out of her.

PerformancesMargot Robbie is fantastic in the leading role even as we follow her through mid-teens to early 40s and never not looking the part for the age. Sebastian Stan is great in the supporting role showing how quickly men like his character can change in the blink of an eye. Allison Janney one again comes into a supporting role and shows just how she can step into any role without looking out of place.

StoryThe story follows how Tonya Harding came from a redneck family to being involved in one of the most controversial moments in figure skating history. It shows how sports can become too much for certain people to handle, be it the pressure to perform or the friends and family going too far to help one succeed. The story is told in an interview format, which while is different to other films, it does take away from certain moments in the film.

Biopic/SportsSeeing the rise and fall of Tonya Harding a figure skater that’s career is one that never got ruined by injury, but by controversy. The skating sequences do all look great through the film though, as we see how it was a sport about where you came from not your talent.

SettingsThe settings show us the different times that our story takes place in, how the lesser known sports will rely on work to go with their talent.


Scene of the Movie –
Triple Axel.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Sometimes the interview style does become too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at how Tonya Harding’s career was a rollercoaster for anyone that followed her and even if they didn’t, they would have known where her career went.

 

Overall: Biopic for the fans of the genre.

Rating

 

 

Elizabeth Banks Weekend – Invincible (2006)

Director: Ericson Core

Writer: Brad Gann (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, Michael Rispoli

 

Plot: Based on the story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in 1976.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Sports Movie

 

Story: Invincible starts as substitute teach Vince Papale (Wahlberg) is struggling to make ends meet in Philadelphia in 1976, the American football team is considered the worst in the league. When Vince losses his teaching job he only has the bar work to fall back on, but when coach Dick Vermeil (Kinnear) has an open day Vince takes a chance even at the edge of 30.

Vince gets called into the final pool of potential new signings but he struggles to make a name for himself and starts to even question if it is worth it, but coach Vermeil doesn’t want to give up on him yet and this soon becomes a success story for the Eagles.

 

Thoughts on Invincible

 

Characters/PerformanceVince Papale is the struggling man in Philadelphia, he struggles to make ends meet and enjoys a drink with his friends watching the football team, he gets a chance to play for his team becoming a media sensation. Coach Dick Vermeil has been struggling to keep his team together after another terrible season, he takes a chance on Vince one that goes against his whole coaching staffs. Janet is a new bartender that works with Vince that does become a love interest after certain things in their lives work out.

Performance wise, Mark Wahlberg is solid in the leading role, he doesn’t turn to his trademarks we know he is can turn to. Greg Kinnear is good in his role while Elizabeth Banks proves to be a good love interest through the film.

StoryThe story here does down as one of the great success stories in sport, it shows us that if you were to dream you could get a chance even at a later age but it is all about the effort you put into achieving your dreams. This is a slow moving story and unless you care about American Football you might not enjoy this on the levels you would if it was a sport you understand.

Biography/SportsSeeing how the people involved in this season shows us just how sport can inspire people, create legends and most importantly bring hope to the people struggling through life, the football scenes are shot nicely but as I don’t watch I am not sure how accurate they are.

SettingsThe film looks like it is set in the 70’s and the settings help us feel like we are part of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow sports drama that doesn’t click if you don’t follow American Football.

 

Overall: Simple sports drama.

Rating