Bob Fosse: It’s Showtime! (2019)

Director: Lucia Helenka

Writer: Lucia Helenka, Stephen Arnell (Screenplay)

 

Plot: A story about the 8 time Tony Award-winning director, choreographer, and cinematographer Bob Fosse which focuses on some of the gray areas of his life and his self-destructive side. It highlights his ability to adapt for each new decade moving from stage, to film, to TV filling the space with artistic genius. Including a specially recorded dance sequence “in the style of Fosse.”

 

Runtime: 1 Hour

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fascinating Look Behind the Glitz and Glamour

 

Story: Bob Fosse: It’ Showtime starts as we see how Bob wanted to work in Hollywood, not making it there first, he ends up diving in choreography on Broadway, it isn’t long before he becomes the most popular pick in town winning Tony Awards for his work, we see how he went onto movies, with only his second movie being Cabaret, before his success went to his head, seeing him turn to his addiction controlling his life, even if he went onto become a legend on the industry.

 

Thoughts on Bob Fosse: It’s Showtime

 

Final ThoughtsWe know the name Bob Fosse, because of his legacy, with his reputation in choreography, Oscar Winning movies and Tony Awards, but learning more about the man behind his legacy is interesting to learn like always. We get to see how film critics, modern British music talent who have performed in his creations before and dance experts that all get to talk about the influences that Bob gave them. We do spend a lot of time looking at his lifetime achievements, but one side that becomes even more fascinating is seeing how his work is still being used today to influence the modern creators and even used in modern culture terms. We do get to learn about another man that ended up going through difficult times away from the spotlight where everything seems so bright for them.

 

Overall: Documentary on an icon.

Rating

 

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Black Mirror – Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (2019)

Director: Anne Sewitsky

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Miley Cyrus, Angourie Rice, Madison Davenport

Plot: A lonely teenager yearns to connect with her favorite pop star – whose charmed existence isn’t quite as rosy it appears…


Runtime: 1 Hour

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Funny & Dark

Story: Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too starts as lonely teenager Rachel (Rice) is struggling to cope with her new school and family life, with older sister Jack (Davenport) not searching for the attention that Rachel is struggling in her own way. Rachel does have her own favourite pop star in Ashley O (Cyrus) who has been released a new interactive doll that Rachel is desperate to have and receives on her birthday, making a friend.

With Rachel turning more and more to the Ashley Too doll, to a level which starts to see her struggling to cope without it, while the real Ashley O is having her own crisis in the not so rosy world of pop music.

Thoughts on Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too

Characters – Ashley O is one of the biggest popstars in the world, she gives the world the cheesy numbers that the younger audience will flock too, which includes Rachel, Ashley however is being controlled by her manager, which sees her trying to break out of this world to be her own talent. Rachel is a lonely teenager that idolizes Ashley O, she lacks confidence in her new school becoming friends with the new doll called Ashley Too, she has been dealing in her own way with her grief of losing her mother. Jack is the older sister to Rachel, that has been dealing with her grief in her own music, she does show the most attention to Rachel as she tries to help her through her problems.

PerformancesMiley Cyrus is wonderful in this role, getting to play into how people might see her and runs with it. Angourie Rice is brilliant to watch once again, proving to be one of the hottest prospects in the business today. Madison Davenport completes the main cast showing us just how capable she fits in with the two leading stars of episode.

StoryThe story follows a world famous popstar that is being controlled by her family, but on the outside she is having the time of her life, while a superfan is trying to put her life back together her mother’s death using Ashley as her inspiration. The story uses the themes that comes from fandom, where people can see the life of somebody being all sunny, only that it isn’t what they think, we also tackle the ideas of loss and grief which shows us how people will deal with it in their own way. Mixing the themes together does help keep us entertained and when the Ashley Too doll gets unleashed, it is one of the funniest things Black Mirror has ever done.

Sci-Fi The world uses the sci-fi ideas of how technology is being used to create music and control people, which shows the advances are not too far ahead.

SettingsThe film shows the different lives both Rachel and Ashley O are living, which does show us just how they can be thinking the same.


Scene of the Movie – Ashley Too Doll.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t get enough focus on Jack.

Final Thoughts This is a very dark and very funny episode of Black Mirror, it does show how technology can be controlling and how grief can be difficult to deal with.

Overall: Funny throughout.

Rating

Black Mirror – Smithereens (2019)

Director: James Hawes

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Andrew Scott, Damson Idris, Topher Grace, Caitlin Innes Edwards, Ruibo Qian

 

Plot: A cab driver with an agenda becomes the centre of attention on a day that rapidly spirals out of control.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly Intense

 

Story: Smithereens starts as we meet Chris (Scott) a taxi driver that spends his time waiting outside one building waiting for clients, he does attend support groups for people who have experienced loss. Chris picks up his latest client Jayden (Idris) working for a company called Smithereen, Chris goes onto kidnap him in an attempt speak to the boss of the company Billy (Grace), the problem is that while the kidnapping gets the attention of the police and Chris finds himself surrounded by police in his race for this conversation.

 

Thoughts on Smithereens

 

Characters – Chris is a taxi driver that has been through a traumatic experience and has set out to get a message sent to the owner of a company known as Smithereen, he is on edge and kidnaps an employee of the company to get through to the man. We get to learn a lot about his life as the hostage situation unfolds. Jayden is the hostage who is just an intern within the company, he is scared for his life and will give any answers he can to help Chris get his answers. Billy is the owner of Smithereen that has a become the target of Chris’s actions.

PerformancesAndrew Scott is brilliant in the leading role, we can see just how on edge his character is through the film dealing with a range of emotions which makes his position in the story understandable. Damson Idris is great in his role which is as a hostage victim trying to stay composed. Topher Grace continues to prove himself as an actor breaking away from the sitcom figure.

StoryThe story here follows a depressed taxi driver that wants to speak to the owner of a social media network leading him to take a hostage while he waits for a conversation.  In this story we get to dive into the reality of loss, grief and depression, while showing how controlling social media has become to the world, add in the hostage situations we get one of the most intense stories you will ever see, as you just want to see what will unfold and just where the story will go next. We do have moments of humour too which does lighten the mood at times, while never taking away from the intensity the story is offering.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi involvement in this film comes from the social media aspects of the film, showing how a big firm has just as much ability to learn about a criminal situation at a faster pace than the police, showing that we are in a world where the world can be controlled by likes and comments.

SettingsThe film has an interesting mix of settings, firstly the hostage position is in the middle of a field in England, we deal with people in LA and in Utah all trying to resolve the situation, showing how quickly a global effort can work to search for answers.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me British snipers are terrible.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most intense episodes the series has ever put together, we have an outstanding leading performance and get to deal with the grief and suffering that people can experience.

 

Overall: One of the best episodes ever.

Rating

 

 

Black Mirror – Striking Vipers

Director: Owen Harris

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Pom Klementieff, Monique Cynthia Brown

 

Plot: Two estranged college friends reunite in later life, triggering a series of events that could alter their lives forever.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Largely Forgettable

 

Story: Striking Vipers starts as two former college friends Danny (Mackie) and Karl (Abdul-Mateen II) reunite at Danny’s birthday, even though they have gone in different directions, Danny is married with a family, while Karl is a womaniser. Karl buys Danny a birthday present called Striking Vipers which is a virtual reality game.

The game takes Danny and Karl into avatars of their favourite characters, where they can actually fight and experience other feelings that can be replicated from real life.

 

Thoughts on Striking Vipers

 

Characters – Danny is a happily married man who is looking to have his second child with his wife, he has grown up a lot since his wild college years which saw him party a lot, with this new game, he starts to see life differently starting to question his own views on life, which could start to put a strain on his marriage. Karl is the old best friend of Danny from college, he has become distant from Danny, only to return with a new game which could change their lives, he is still acting like he is in college despite the fact they are reaching 40, he is often seen as the bad influence on Danny. Theo is the wife of Danny, she starts to notice the change in him, which sees her wanting to connect with her husband once again before losing the marriage.

PerformancesAnthony Mackie is great in the leading role without struggle to balance his characters emotional dilemma through the film. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II continues to show he has continued to impress in the last year as an actor fast becoming a name to watch for years to come. Nicole Beharie shows us how to make a supporting character make an impact as we see how she bring us the wife that is losing it.

StoryThe story here follows two former college friends whose lives change when they start using a virtual reality video game, it reaches dangerous levels of obsession and offers up the questions of sexually desires. For the calibre of storytelling we are used to seeing from a Black Mirror story, we look at the reluctant behaviour in relationships and how people can become overly reliant on certain ways of finding love. The way this story flows does feel off for the most part leaving us like a moment of impact in missing.

Sci-FiFor the sci-fi elements used within this film, we get to see just how the world of virtual reality can be used to achieve things you can’t do in real life and shows us that not everybody will turn to needing to find help from this source.

SettingsThe settings in the film come from the idea that everyday life can need refreshing at times.

Special EffectsThe effects come from being inside the virtual reality world, which does show how they movements could be real, which is beautiful to see.


Scene of the Movie –
The first entry to the virtual world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does go way to slowly.

Final ThoughtsThis does just about become a forgettable story, it does want to examine real issues only to just pull out from them follow through.

 

Overall: Disappointing addition to the black mirror.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – B – Birth of the Dragon (2016)

Director: George Nolfi

Writer: Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson (Screenplay)

Starring: Philip Ng, Yu Xia, Billy Magnussen, Simon Win, Ron Yuan

 

Plot: Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between an up-and-coming Bruce Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man – a battle that gave birth to a legend.


Tagline – The Fight That Created The Legend

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not the Most Effective Biopic

 

Story: Birth of the Dragon starts in 1964 San Francisco, where Bruce Lee (Ng) has started his own kung-fu academy with students including Steve McKee (Madnussen) and Vinnie Wei (Yin), he has just started to move into filming his fight sequences and always looks after his student’s mental vices too.

When one of the masters from China Wong Jack Man (Xia) visits to see the how Kung Fu is being used in the western world, he is guided around town by student Steve who wants to learn off him too. The showdown between the two is going to go down in legend.

 

Thoughts on Birth of the Dragon

 

Characters – Bruce Lee is the legend we know, in this film he is only in the early stages of teaching kung-fu to Americans, not the most popular decision within the kung fu community. He is cocky, arrogant and will help his students through any problems. He is moving into movies, filming his fights, but first he must prove himself to a former master. He believes he can win any fight he is put in using the kung fu skills he has learnt through the years. Wong Jack Man is a master of kung fu, visiting from China to learn how the Americans are using his skill. He is also punishing himself for his action back home, putting himself back into a position of needing to learn the reason of using kung fu. Steve McKee is the American that has been training under Bruce, but he becomes fascinated by Wong Jack Man’s visit wanting to learn more from his skills, while trying to win the heart of a Chinese local woman.

PerformancesPhilip Ng is solid enough with the fighting side of the film, but he does make Bruce look like a terrible person. Yu Xia is the best of the performers, the calmness he brings to the characters makes us want to see more of his characters life. Billy Magnussen did have his role cut back, which doesn’t help his performance because he does feel like the main character in this film.

StoryThe story follows one of the masters of kung fu going to America to witness the new wave of kung fu being taught be Bruce Lee before they both get caught up in the middle of a gang war, needing to see just who is the best. This is meant to lead up to one of the most controversial fights every reported, only it makes Bruce Lee out to be an arrogant man and uses the stereotypes of gang mentality to give us a mostly traditional and dull story to follow. The story also gives up on its own main character getting completely lost in the story it is telling through the film.

Action/BiopicThe action involves the basic of kung fu which we have seen before, only feeling anti-climatic when it comes to the showdown between the legends.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which for the time would have been one of the locations the Asian community would have first been bring the kung fu teachings to America.


Scene of the Movie –
The club fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The showdown was billed to be more.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action biopic that doesn’t give us enough details of the iconic Bruce Lee, doesn’t deliver on what is being promised and fails to make us connect to the characters involved.

 

Overall: Disappointing biopic.

Rating