Joyeux Noel (2005)

Director: Christian Carion

Writer: Christian Carion (Screenplay)

Starring: Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canete, Daniel Bruhl, Gary Lewis, Dany Boon

 

Plot: In December 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front allows soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other’s way of life.


Tagline – France 1914. A moment of humanity that made history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stunning Christmas Story

 

Story: Joyeux Noel starts after World War I has broken out, each country believes it would be over by Christmas and we meet soldiers on three sides of the war. The German, Lieutenant Horstmayer (Bruhl) who has famous opera Nikolaus Sprink (Furmann) in his unit. We have the French side with Lieutenant Audebert (Canet) and the Scottish side with Pasteur Palmer (Lewis).

With Christmas Eve upon us Nikolaus gets a visit from his girlfriend Anna Sorensen (Kruger) bring her back to the trenches to performer which brings a response from the enemies, the three side agree and truce to celebrate Christmas which showed us the humanity behind the horrors of war, one of the most incredible stories you will hear about.

 

Thoughts on Joyeux Noel

 

Characters – Anna Sorensen is located in Germany and is one of the best opera singers in the country, her partner is in the trenches a fellow opera singer, she arranges to see him which leads her to the trenches with her performance helping bring the sides together for Christmas. She wants to spend the rest of the war with her partner and will take a drastic step to make it happen. Nikolaus Sprink is the famous opera singer on in trenches, his fame upset his lieutenant who doesn’t want celebrity figures in his unit, though his performance brings the sides together for a moment of truce. Lieutenant Audebert is the French leader that is missing his wife and will take part in the truce bonding with the fellow lieutenants. Lieutenant Horstmayer is the Germany one that reluctantly lets his men meet the enemy, he does want peace too which shows in how he is still strict with his men. Lieutenant Gordon is the Scottish one who is happy to see his team take peace for a day or two. Each of the lieutenants must face the consequences of what happened because putting the human factor ahead of the war isn’t accepted by the superiors.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are fantastic from start to finish, it also brings names we know from big Hollywood films to our attention with Diane Kruger and Daniel Bruhl, none of the actors put in a bad performance which makes us believe these could have been the real men involved in the war.

StoryThe story follows the famous story that during World War I both sides put down their guns to celebrate Christmas together. We see the German, French and Scottish who learn that they aren’t as different from the opposite sides, they are just men forced into battle. This shows us how the men who were put on the front line without being truly prepared for war and are dealing with the loss of friends during the war, this shows us just how things can be different and will change you mind on everything you thought about any enemy in war.

History/Romance/WarThe history about this story will be remembered forever because it showed how people were different during war where the innocent men were being killed.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the trenches during the First World War, it shows how close the different sides were when it came to the war which bought them together for this incredible moment.


Scene of the Movie –
The Christmas Eve meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The aftermath.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most important Christmas films you will ever see, it has such an important message and a heart-breaking truth behind it.

 

Overall: Must watching Christmas Movie.

Rating

 

 

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Max (2015)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Boaz Yakin, Sheldon Lettich (Screenplay)

Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali

 

Plot: A Malinois dog that helped American Marines in Afghanistan returns to the United States and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.


Tagline – Best Friend. Hero. Marine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Movie

 

Story: Max starts as we meet Kyle Wincott (Amell) an American Marine who works with a tracker dog Max, who helps locate dangers in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed in action, his family, Ray (Church), Pamela (Graham) and little brother Justin (Wiggins) who is a gamer high school student get to meet Max for the first time and only see his aggressive nature, apart from around Justin.

They take Max home as he is suffering PTSD and the only person he will listen to and remain calm around is Justin, with a new friend in Carmen (Xitlali), Justin learns to take responsibility for the first time in his life.

 

Thoughts on Max

 

Characters – Max is the loyal marine trained dog that has served in Afghanistan locating potential threats for his soldiers. He sees his handler killed in action leaving him suffering with PTSD and now he needs a new owner, and the brother of his handler is the only one he will listen to. Justin is the younger brother of Kyle, he has spent more time on video games and illegal deals, not having responsibility needed like his brother. When Max enters his life, he learns about taking responsibility and following in his brother’s path. Ray is the father of the boys, he served before which has made him patriotic towards the cause while dealing with the grief of losing his son too.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins as the younger brother is good in this movie, we do see this sort of character a lot and he handles it well. Thomas Hayden Church is good in the supporting role, but if we are honest it is the dog that is the star of the show here.

StoryThe story here shows the effects war can have on a dog that has been trained to locate threats, but the aftermath of losing that handler with their connection. We see the loyalty shown by the dog and how he can teach responsibility to the next generation of family. This is the strongest part of the movie, the rest does feel like a version of a home alone sort of thing because we follow a story about Max knowing right.

Adventure/Family This does show the family needing to come together after their own tragedy which will give their youngster member a chance for an adventure.

SettingsWe get a small look at the war scenario that Max has been and how he must adjust to normal life, which is where the struggle comes.


Scene of the Movie –
Max search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  I feel there was more to the Reyes story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie, that should be seen by dog owners that understand loyalty that could be given to the owner.

 

Overall: Dog Owners dream film.

Rating

 

 

1941 (1979)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale (Screenplay) Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, John Milius (Story)

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson

 

Plot: Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.


Tagline – As They Roared Into Battle, Only One Thing Was Missing…The Enemy!

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simply Not Good Enough

 

Story: 1941 starts in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, The Japanese are searching for Hollywood for their latest attack, while the army are planning to create a defence on the Californian coastline, Sgt Frank Tree (Aykroyd) leads his men in preparations while pilot Captain Wild Bill Kelso (Belushi) travels the country to support his troops.

The preparations bring us comical happenings which lead to what is going on between the Americans and the impending Japanese.

 

Thoughts on 1941

 

Characters – We have so many characters in this film it is hard to pick out the main ones, we will though, Sgt Frank Tree tries to keep peace between his soldiers and not letting them fight with the locals. Ward Douglas is the man that sees it has an honour to host the army for prime location for defence. Captain Wild Bill Kelso is a pilot that enjoys a drink, he heads across country to join the battle. Where we have too many characters it is hard to see which one we are meant to be follow the most.

PerformancesThe performances are affected by the mass cast because no one gets to show their best skills, we have the comical actors that want to joke, only for them to miss, then the serious actors not hitting their moments either.

StoryThe story follows the Americans as they plan for a potential next attack on America from the Japanese in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour attack. The problem I see with this story, it showing us how we make light of a devastating moment in history with the Pearl Harbour attack and shows how America did panic but didn’t seem to take the events serious, well that is what the film gives us.

Action/Comedy/WarThe action plays into the comedy which gets basic laughs but most of the laughs seem to have dated badly and even just give us toilet humour, all with the backdrop of World War II.

SettingsThe film puts us in LA for the events of the film which shows how Hollywoodland would react to the impending war.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane sex.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the biggest misses of Spielberg’s career, it has too many characters and doesn’t manage to balance out the comedy and action well enough.

 

Overall: Disappointing throughout.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – W – War Dogs (2016)

Director: Todd Phillips

Writer: Stephen Chin, Todd Phillips, Jason Smilovic (Screenplay) Guy Lawson (Article)

Starring: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas

 

Plot: Loosely based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a three hundred million dollar contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.


Tagline – Money, corruption and the American dream

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Crime Comedy

 

Story: War Dogs starts as we follow David Packouz’s (Teller) story, he was a massage therapist and lost his money in a bad investment, with his girlfriend Iz (Armas) pregnant, he is left with little ideas for money until his old friend Efraim (Hill) returns to town. Efraim is an arms dealer that has been finding a way to sell weapons in the war.

We follow the two young men as they find a way to get one of the biggest deals done, but is this going to take a toll on their personal lives.

 

Thoughts on War Dogs

 

Characters – David is a young man, he works hard with his massage therapist job while trying to make a business of his own. When this goes wrong he is saved by his old childhood friend that introduces him to the world of arms dealing, he is telling the story to us too. Efraim is the old school friend of David’s that brings him in as a partner, showing him the ropes and just how much money could be getting made in this industry. He has a reputation that doesn’t make him one to trust at the times, which could ruin deals and friendships.

PerformancesMiles Teller and Jonah Hill are both great in these roles, they have great chemistry between them and it shows in their moments together and gives them both the time in solo scenes to be their own characters.

StoryThe story shows the rise of two unlikely young men that became one of the biggest international arms dealers in recent American history and how the greed can take over even the strongest friendships. We are told this story through one of the two men involved, so we do only get to see their own point of view of everything, when you feel there might be more to certain moments in the film. This is an easy to watch film and plays out just like Lord of War which does feel slightly more entertaining though.

Comedy/Crime/WarThe comedy comes mostly from the idea of this feeling completely out of place watching these young men enter this world of crime during the war time of selling weapons.

SettingsThe settings show how the characters go from comfortable America to countries with less money that offer these men a chance of something massive, this is good for the clash of cultures idea.


Scene of the Movie –
The first deal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Only seeing it from one point of view.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good Todd Phillips style comedy that we all know how his style comes through, it does have good moments throughout and strong performances too.

 

Overall: Good crime comedy well worth watching.

Rating

 

 

Good Kill (2014)

Director: Andrew Niccol

Writer: Andrew Niccol (Screenplay)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood, Jake Abel

 

Plot: A family man begins to question the ethics of his job as a drone pilot.


Tagline – If you never face your enemy, how can you face yourself.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Look at the Side Effects of Modern War

 

Story: Good Kill starts as we meet our unit, Major Thomas Egan (Hawke) who leads the younger unit, Zimmer (Abel) Christie (Kenin) and new team member Airman Vera Suarez (Kravitz) who are drone pilot watching over Afghanistan taking out persons of interest that would be threats to America.

Thomas wanting to return to active duty must work with Colonel Jack Johns (Greenwood) with this plan, but when the CIA want to conduct operations with the unit, the whole unit must face difficult decision when follow orders.

 

Thoughts on Good Kill

 

Characters – Major Thomas Egan is a former active duty soldier, he served his time and now he works on drone unit, killing the enemy from a computer screen back in Vegas, he wants to return to active duty and soon his latest missions involve morally questionable decisions which only leaves him questioning his own role in the war and his personal life. Molly is Thomas’s wife, she like having her husband close to home and is finding her husband feeling distant from her. Airman Suarez is the newest member to the unit, she questions nearly every decision they must make, not sure whether they are doing the right thing at all.

PerformancesEthan Hawke is great in this leading role, he makes his character feel distant which helps us understand his mindset where things are not going the way he feels comfortable with. January Jones is fine in her role without being a complex with her performance. Zoe Kravitz continues to show she is coming along to become a major name in the acting world.

StoryThe story follows the life of a drone pilot who used to serve in active combat, we see how he wants to get back into this because he doesn’t enjoy having to do the kills from a distance. This shows us a new type of PTSD which soldiers will be facing when having to kill from their own land, it also shows how the soldiers will not open up about the horrors they are seeing and being involved in.

War/ThrillerThe war elements of this film shows us how the war can be fought from behind closed doors rather than the battlefield, it shows the effects of this too.

SettingsThe film is set in and around Vegas, showing the war is now being fought from the air being controlled back home.


Scene of the Movie –
Thomas final actions with the drone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While we see how Thomas is affected, I feel we had just as much time to focus on Suarez coming into this world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at the modern warfare, it shows how difficult the battle has become, but the effects will still haunt the people.

 

Overall: Good thriller on modern war.

Rating