First Match (2018)

Director: Olivia Newman

Writer: Olivia Newman (Screenplay)

Starring: Elvire Emanuelle, Jeanette Branch, Jimmy Gary Jr, Kim Ramirez, Colman Domingo, Jharrel Jerome, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

 

Plot: Hardened by years in foster care, a teenage girl from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood decides that joining the boys wrestling team is the only way back to her estranged father.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Power Drama

 

Story: First Match starts as we see troubled teenager Mo (Emanuelle) getting kicked out of her latest foster home, she turns tricks for money while trying settle in a new foster home waiting for a chance to return home to her recently released from prison father Darrel (Abdul-Mateen II).

Looking to get her life on track Mo joins the high school wrestling team to help with her discipline after her father used to teach before prison. As her skills increase so does the pressure from her father to make money from her to get rich quick, can Mo make the right decisions for her own life at this difficult moment in life.

 

Thoughts on First Match

 

Characters – Mo is a troubled teenager, she has been through the foster system making her defensive and aggressive to the world, out of her latest home she does find one that tries to care for her, she doesn’t let people into her life, but high school wrestling gets her focus back on track until her father returns leaving her to decide how to take on her life. Mo is a wonderful character to watch because she is an example to just how difficult the foster system can be in the wrong area. Omari is the oldest friend of Mo’s he has always tried to have her back through the hardship of her life. Darrel is Mo’s father, fresh out of prison and struggling to make ends meet who decides to push his daughter into a life of crime. We do get to see a new foster mother that is willing to look past Mo’s flaws and just care for her, the coach willing to give her a chance and the unlikely friend in the team.

PerformancesElvire Emanuelle is fantastic in this leading role, she gets the emotional decision making correct throughout the film and handles the wrestling well through the film, this is a true breakout performance for the young actress. The cast works well around Elvire with each performer letting her shine in each and every scene.

StoryWhen it comes to the story, we are given the traditional troubled teenager that learns discipline from a sport, wrestling, we see how they have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes until they are ready to admit their own problems. It could be argued that we have seen this performer, but it is a tried and tested formula. The story has little glimpses at certain parts of Mo’s life, the most notable one I enjoyed was the foster mother Lucila and just how much she wants to care for any child that comes in her life. The conflict Mo goes through is hard to see because we know the right decision, but family is harder to turn away from.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn which is known to be a rougher neighbourhood, which reflects just how the hard life would be for Mo.


Scene of the Movie –
The biggest decision.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The wrestling sequences are difficult to understand the scoring.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama about sport offering discipline to a misguided teenager that needs to get her life sorted before it is too late for her.

 

Overall: Sports drama that is a must.

Rating

 

 

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Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Featdotcom (2002)

Director: William Malone

Writer: Josephine Coyle (Screenplay) Moshe Diamant (Story)

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone, Stephen Rea, Udo Kier, Amelia Curtis, Jeffrey Combs

 

Plot: A New York City detective investigates mysterious deaths occurring 48 hours after users log onto a site named feardotcom.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fear Dot Wrong

 

Story: Feardotcom starts as New York detective Mike (Dorff) teams up with environmental health officer Terry (McElhone) to investigate a string of death which look like a viral outbreak but could just be murders, the first investigation takes them into a German metal couple fans that seem to have died mysteriously but soon the cases become more significate.

With three different victims, with three unrelated backgrounds the crime seems all unrelated until they look deeper into the computer history and that all three have visited a website called ‘feardotcom.com’ that blasts horrific images into the viewers face leaving the viewer 48 hours to live, but there is also a connection to serial killer Dr Alistair Pratt (Rea).

 

Thoughts on Feardotcom

 

Characters – Detective Mike is haunted by his failure to capture a serial killer, this doesn’t make him bad at his job but does show how he never gives up but he also can’t follow simple instructions. Terry, I believe worked for the environmental health and is called into be sure there isn’t a viral outbreak happening, she does seem to be the one that puts the pieces together within the puzzle. Dr Alistair Pratt is the serial killer Mike was never able to capture, he is still active tracking down new victims but just how much of a connection does he have to everything going on. In all honesty, the characters are written to be as dumb as they come, we have a lady working with the police who visits the site and just hides what has happened, and the main two characters both warn the other not to view the site and both run off within moments and watch the site.

PerformanceStephen Dorff is fine in this but he can’t do much with the character written, Natascha McElhone is also fine in this role and handles what she has better than the rest, Stephen Rea does pull of psychopathic well but we just don’t see us enough. Most of the performances are just ok without really doing anything special.

StoryThe story follows detectives needing to solve a mystery about a haunted website or a serial killer, I am not sure which as things just seem to get caught between the two. The idea of having the cops fail miserably to solve this or act rational only confuses things for the story, I could understand if it was a reporter like we had in The Ring but now this does just seem to be trying to rip that idea off using the internet over a video.

Crime/HorrorPeople are dying I guess that does offer up the crime mystery side of this story but in the end the that part turns into horror which is mostly just throwing images at the camera while shaking it a lot.

SettingsThe settings are mixed, we have the idea of New York having a serial killer so we get mixed cultures but otherwise we just have typical dark locations.

Special EffectsThe special effects do just feel like a lot of shaky cams being used to throw us around the horror happening. We do also have moments of dated CGI that don’t help.

Scene of the Movie – Dr Alistair’s first appearance because it adds the horror needed and is the only truly scary moment in this film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Decision making from the police officer characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a messy, hard to watch film that tries to capture the magic of horror that The Ring did, it grabbed itself 3 respected lead actors and tried to give us an investigation film but misses on nearly every single level.

 

Overall: Disappointing Horror Mystery.

Rating

 

 

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017)

Director: Paul McGuigan

Writer: Matt Greenhalgh (Screenplay) Peter Turner (Memoir)

Starring: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Graham

 

Plot: A romance sparks between a young actor and a Hollywood leading lady.


Tagline – A True Story of What Happens When a Hollywood Legend Discovers Romance

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Drama

 

Story: Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool starts as actress Gloria Graham (Bening) learns about being sick, turning to fellow actor Peter Turner (Bell) and old friend to care for her in Liverpool. We look back at how the two first met, shared a bond over movies as Gloria hasn’t had the same impact in Hollywood that she once did.

The two had a romance and with Gloria back in his life the 30-year-old Peter must deal with the memories he had with Gloria and the future that might not have her in.

 

Thoughts on Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool

 

Characters – Peter Turner is the aspiring actor in Liverpool, he meets the Hollywood elite in Gloria, he had a romance with the older woman and now he must look back on that time when she returns sick. He knows he has fallen in love, but knows in the long-term it just couldn’t happen. Gloria Grahame is the Hollywood elite, an Oscar winner that isn’t in the limelight like she once was. In Liverpool she meets Peter that brings new life to her life, which was famous for the number of husbands she has been through. We do have Peter’s family that support Gloria when she returns sick, questioning why Peter can’t be as supportive as he could be.

PerformancesAnnette Bening is fantastic in this leading role, this is one of the best acting performances of 2017 and was criminally under-appreciated when it came to awards season. Jamie Bell returns to an English based movie 17-years after Billy Elliott, he shows us that his talent was always there and can be one of the most reliable actors in Hollywood, given the right material. The supporting cast are all wonderful too.

StoryThe story is told in two parts, the first is when the sick Gloria returns to the life of Peter, this brings us the second part as we look back on their relationship, from both points of view when it comes to different moments that happen. This adds so much more to this story, because when certain moments happen you can understand both the characters reactions to what is happening and support them both. The idea of a normal up and coming actor getting into a romance with an older Hollywood legend plays out well two, because it shows how love can come from different places and with this being based on the real memoir of Peter it adds to the natural feel about it all.

Biopic/Romance This is based on the memoirs of Peter Turner, this will show what drove him to reach the next level of acting while being able to say he was the one that fell in love with the actress. The romance side of the film shows us just where these two people who came from different backgrounds could fall in love.

SettingsThe film shows us the harder life of an up and coming actor in Liverpool would be living in, the world that Gloria once was from and the one they could have together.


Scene of the Movie –
New York argument, from both points of view.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough people saw this one.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that all film fans should be going to see, it is a wonderful story about two people that fall in love, based in truth as the young actor meets Hollywood elite, where age was never a barrier for the two.

 

Overall: Film fans go and watch.

Rating

 

 

The Florida Project (2017)

Director: Sean Baker

Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch (Screenplay)

Starring: Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, Caleb Landry Jones

 

Plot: Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.


Tagline – Welcome to a magical kingdom

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: The Florida Project starts as we meet precocious 6-year olds Moonee (Prince), Scooty (Rivera) and Dicky (Malik) that cause problems in a motel next to the new Disney World, they go on their mixed adventures, while Halley (Vinaite) Moonee’s mother struggles to find herself a job.

Hotel manager Bobby (Dafoe) knows families like Halley’s don’t have anywhere else to go, so he allows the to stay long term, but the kids are starting to cause disruptions with the everyday business. We follow the summer vacation the kids have, needing to entertain themselves.

 

Thoughts on The Florida Project

 

Characters – Moonee is the 6-year-old girl that along with her friends is getting into mischief for the summer vacation where he mother lives in a motel. She must entertain herself and knows every guest in the motel, the good ones and the bad ones. Halley is the mother of Moonee, she struggles to get enough money to stay in the motel, but does everything she can to make sure that she can enjoy her childhood, letting her have the freedom. She is trying to find a job, but it isn’t as easy as it should be. Bobby is the manager at the hotel, he knows the kids are only keeping themselves entertained which gives them harmless with their behaviour, he supports the poor families that are staying there the best he can, while also making sure they don’t end up getting into illegal trouble.

PerformancesBrooklynn Prince is the Moonee and she gives one of the most genuine performances of the year filled with the innocence that her character is all about during this hard time. Bria Vinaite is fresh on the scene here and she is fantastic over the young mum trying her best while also not being prepared for the everyday job idea. Willem Dafoe is fantastic too being the biggest name in this movie you would expect this from the talent he and he plays this role so perfectly.

StoryThe story tells the struggles a mother and daughter are having to just keep a roof over their heads in Florida. It shows the mischievous adventures Moonee goes on while her mother does whatever it takes to make the money all over the summer vacation as the motel manager tries to do the best he can to support them. This is a story that shows us the struggles a single parent can have with money if they started with nothing, the kindness of people who try to support and the innocent adventures children can go on.

SettingsThe settings show the motel that Halley & Moonee must live in, not the best place to be raising a child, this is good, but the down side is not knowing just how much of a shadow Disney World has on this place without going into researching it ourselves.


Scene of the Movie –
Bobby deals with an unwanted guest.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing the full scale of the situation between the motel and Disney World

Final ThoughtsThis is such a sweet story that is shot lovely, with two unknowns in the leads that are fantastic and Willem Dafoe shines. This might not be the biggest flowing story, but it does sum up the difficulties of single parenthood.

 

Overall: Wonderful moving movie

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – F – The Foreigner (2017)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: David Marconi (Screenplay) Stephen Leather (Novel)

Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, David Pearse, Michael McElhatton, Katie Leung, Rufus Jones

 

Plot: A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities.


Tagline – Never push a good man too far

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Chan Shines in Political Action Thriller

 

Story: The Foreigner starts as Quan Mgoc Minh (Chan) is getting ready to buy his daughter Fan’s (Leung) graduation dress in London, but this peaceful moment is shattered when a bomb goes off killing many, including Fan, with UDI claiming responsibility. England is now in locked down searching for the people responsible, while Quan has lost everything, a broken man.

Deputy Irish Minister Liam Hennessy (Brosnan) looks to investigate what happened using his power with the Irish government to try to get a deal between the two countries done. Quan will not rest until he learns who killed his daughter, he turns up at the police station everyday for answer before turning to the former UDI member Hennessy.

Refusing to accept we don’t know as answer Quan takes matters into his own hands, sending a warning to Hennessy, which soon turns into a cat-n-mouse chase around Ireland as we learn the truth about the bombing.

 

                 Thoughts on The Foreigner

 

Characters – Quan Ngoc Minh is a humble restaurant owner in London, his only daughter is about to graduate after losing the rest of his family years before, she is killed in a bombing leaving him empty and broken. He just wants names to see justice for those responsible and will use the training he has to get those answers. Liam Hennessy is the deputy Irish Minister who does have ties with UDI, he remains the on the peaceful side of the battle trying to find a solution, but the question remains just whether he is truly involved or not. The rest of the characters are the British police trying to solve the crime, The UDI members that have been working towards re-igniting the war between the two.

PerformancesThis is easily Jackie Chan most serious English Language role, he never let’s on to have any comic timing which is refreshing to see, the emotionless performance is just what we wanted to see. Pierce Brosnan is great too, he shows us how we imagine politicians to be like during the tension being shown in the film.

StoryThe story is where the things get interesting, the trailers made us believe we are heading into an action heavy movie about one man’s revenge mission about his daughter’s death. What we get is a thriller that looks at the tension between the British government and the Irish who still show the tension because of the difference between the two sides. We do have the revenge angle don’t worry if you want action you will get it, just be aware we balance the two stories very well to make this a thriller you will want to see the next chapter of the story.

ActionThe action lets Chan show off his skills in what is mostly a more serious style and includes him using a gun, which is something we rarely see him do in the English Language movies.

SettingsThe two main settings are London, which in real life has been a target of bombings and is a location which would make the biggest statement for any terrorists and the Irish farm where Quan is picking off anyone who tries to stop him.


Scene of the Movie –
The takedown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does fizzle out in the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is a surprisingly entertaining action thriller, you will want to see everything unfold, while also getting rewarded by the action sequences that are only used sparely.

 

Overall: Strong action thriller.

Rating