ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – J – Just Before I Go (2014)

Director: Courteney Cox

Writer: David Flebotte (Screenplay)

Starring: Seann William Scott, Olivia Thirlby, Garret Dillahunt, Kate Walsh, Kyle Gallner, Mackenzie Marsh

 

Plot: On the verge of giving up on life, a guy travels to his hometown to make amends.


Tagline – Ending it all was only the beginning.
Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Moving Story

 

Story: Just Before I Go starts as Ted Morgan (Scott) fills in the reasons why he returned home to kill himself, the average life he has been living and the recent break up, first he wants to return home to confront the people that pushed him back in his hometown, before he goes.

Staying with his brother Lucky (Dillahunt) and his family, he sets his plan in motion until he meets Greta (Thirlby) who wants to document this situation.

 

Thoughts on Just Before I Go

 

Characters – Ted Morgan was a dreamer in high school, but he was bullied and as soon as he was old enough he left town, he lived a normal life, in a normal employment role, but after his wife cheats on him, he decides he wants to confront his past before killing himself. Ted is the average man that never became the guy he thought he would, middle-aged and alone facing a reality he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Greta is a stranger to Ted, she wants to record document the motivation behind Ted’s choice and to try and help him find a direction. Lucky is the older brother that never put his arm around his younger brother when he was younger. This movie has wonderful characters that have affected Ted’s life in different ways.

PerformancesSeann William Scott is an actor I grew up watching his comedies, but he seemed to fade away, this performance seems to be a career highlight for him, he keeps everything calm through the film which is something that is important for this role and something new for him. Olivia Thirlby is great in the supporting role too which is the type of role we can see her doing a lot. Garret is an actor you can always find in good supporting roles and this is no different.

StoryThe story here follows one man who sees his life going nowhere and wants to face his past before killing himself, this is a simple side to everything, we end up dealing with a lot of everyday issues about treating people equally, dealing with the fine line between loneliness and emptiness, as well as showing that other people close to you will have their own problems. For me this is one of the most underrated stories I have seen and having been through elements of these issues I could relate to as well.

ComedyThe movie has moments of comedy, but doesn’t rely on the comedy which is something I was happy with, the drama was the main part of the film.

SettingsThe film takes our character back to his own home town which shows how many people might not leave and still make a life for themselves, the settings work for the going down memory lane.


Scene of the Movie –
On top of the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The sister-in-law is difficult to talk seriously and we don’t need her weakness.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that hit home hard for me, I can understand Ted’s mentality and difficulties which makes this a film I wish more people could see.

 

Overall: Must watch for anyone that has had a hard time.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Horror – J – Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word (2016)

Director: Simon Rumley

Writer: Ben Katai, Marc Haimes (Screenplay) Tony Giglio, Ben Ketai (Story)

Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Erin Cummings, Mike Doyle, Dodge Prince, Mike Gassaway, Sue Rock

 

Plot: When a young man is executed for committing murder, he leaves behind a curse letter, promising vengeance for all those connected to his unfair trial.


Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Revenge Horror

 

Story: Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word starts with the trial of Johnny that leads to a guilty verdict, which leads to his execution, where his final words are ‘Kiss my ever-loving ass’.

Soon after his execution the people involved in the trial start getting visions, strange feelings and the feeling they are being watched by a spirit that seems to be out for revenge from beyond the grave. This leads Adam Redman (Doyle) one of the jurors to investigate what happened with the crime.

 

Thoughts on Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word

 

Characters – Adam Redman is one of the jurors on the trial, he is the only one that wasn’t going with an instant guilty verdict, but had to fold to the pressure of the rest of the jury. After the execution his son gets targeted by the spirit and he goes to investigate who really committed the crime. Danny Hill is the district attorney that took the case, getting the result, he wanted a guilty verdict.

PerformancesMike Doyle takes the leading role in this film, he is the best of the performers as you believe he descent into madness as he finds himself haunted. The rest of the cast are fine, but just don’t get a chance to shine on the levels they can reach.

StoryThe story follows a wrongfully committed man that is executed for a crime he never committed, coming back from the head to haunt the people who were involved in the trial to get his own revenge. Everything plays into the ideas that the execution might not be the best thing because not all crimes are as clear cut as they need to be to go through with it, but only following one man trying to solve the case doesn’t seem to be the most entertaining as we only see a couple of people from the trial face the wrath of Johnny.

Crime/HorrorThe idea behind the crime shows how the justice system can be flawed, the horror plays into the idea that a spirit can come back and get revenge for the crime he gets executed for.

SettingsThe settings show that certain states in America still use the death penalty in a time where it is no longer considered an option.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine when needed but never get overused when it comes to the scares.


Scene of the Movie –
Teacher time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We only follow a couple of potential victims when a lot more people were involved.

Final ThoughtsThis plays well into the idea of person coming back from dead to get revenge for a crime they never committed, it has by the book scares, jumpy vision sequences, but never reaches any peek levels of tension, suspense or conclusion.

 

Overall: Not strong enough.

Rating

 

 

Jakob the Liar (1999)

Director: Peter Kassovitz

Writer: Peter Kassovitz, Didier Decoin (Screenplay) Jurek Becker (Novel)

Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Liev Schreiber

 

Plot: In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from “his secret radio.” Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life.


Tagline –  He will make you believe.

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong, but Not Impactful Enough

 

Story: Jakob the Liar starts in Poland and the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Jakob (Williams) a pancake salesman is trying to avoid the curfew and while being accused of failing to follow the instruction he over hears the radio announcing the Russians are coming, he saves a young girl Lina (Gordon) the world spreads around the ghetto that the Russians are coming with Jakob giving them hope.

As the stories continue to grow Jakob learns he can no longer tell the truth because it will only leave the people with no hope and if he continues his lies he will give them false hope which might put the lives of fellow residents at risk.

 

Thoughts on Jakob the Liar

 

Characters – Jakob is one of the Jews confined the ghettos in Poland during World War II, he keeps his head down with his connection, until one day he makes the story up of hearing the Russians are coming which lifts the moral in the ghetto, only for everyone there wanting to listen to his radio, the one he doesn’t have, but he can’t tell the truth because it will bring back the suicides in the ghetto. The rest of the character we meet are the residents of the ghetto and a young girl Lina that has escaped the transport trains, they all see hope in Jakob’s stories.

PerformancesRobin Williams in the leading role does nail the accent, get his moments of humour and heart, but sadly it is hard to take the film seriously when you are waiting for a laugh even for the sensitive subject. The rest of the cast are good even if we are turning to Robin slightly too much through the film.

StoryThe story is a difficult one to watch with a humorous tone because it was a horrendous time in history, we know what happened to the Jews and how they were forced to live. Now saying this, how the Jews were given hope from the stories of Jakob does help the hellish life they were living through, but watching things get out of control does play into the what makes the story interesting to watch. This is a story that doesn’t balance the sensitive subject very well though which disappoints.

WarThe film is set in the war time, we get to see the conditions Jews were forced to live through for the most part, but not the conflict.

SettingsThe settings do make us believe we are there with the victims of the time which can be hard to watch like always.


Scene of the Movie –
Battling what to do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too humorous in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting idea for the how Jews would try to improve moral in a difficult time, but end sup being too humorous for the subject matter.

 

Overall: Not on the leave of the best holocaust movies.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – J – Just One Day (2013)

Director: Adam Rodgers

Writer: Glenn German, Adam Rodgers (Screenplay)

Starring: Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga, Taissa Farmiga, Spencer Rocco Lofranco, Nicholas Braun, Tom Skerritt

 

Plot: Two parents fall in love over the course of a single day while playing hooky from their children’s college tour.


Tagline – You never know what you’ll discover on your first day at college.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Drama

 

Story: Just One Day starts as we meet father George (Garcia) who is taking his son Conrad (Lofranco) to Middleton and mother Edith (Vera Farmiga) who is taking her daughter Audrey (Taissa Farmiga) on the tour too. Starting off clashing over little things, soon George and Edith spend the day touring the campus together as they both must deal with the parenting issues they are facing with their children’s choice in college.

As the day goes by George and Edith get to show their personal frustrations as they see what they could have had, while their children start learning about what they will be stepping into when going to college.

 

Thoughts on Just One Day

 

Characters – George Hartman is a surgeon that is taking his ambitious son on a college tour, he tries to come off tidy and organised, but it is Edith that helps him open up and express himself. Edith is taking her daughter on the tour, she comes off strong minded, but after spending time with George, we start to see how she really feels about her life. Audrey is the daughter of Edith, she only wants to go to Middleton even though she is attached to her phone most of the time, even though she is piling on the pressure at a way too early age. We also have Conrad who is George’s son that wants to make his own decision on where to attend college, he does try to help Audrey with her decisions on this day.

PerformancesAndy Garcia isn’t an actor you would know for romantic comedies, but here he nails it perfectly, giving us a likeable character with his own troubles. Vera Farmiga is great to in her leading role and between the two they have great chemistry. Taissa Farmiga is good too showing us just how obsessed parents can become when heading to college.

StoryThe story follows just one day in the life of to adults who are about to send their children to college, we see how important this day is for the children and how the parents can see a moment of freedom away from responsibility, but also see where things could have gone to make them happy.  This story is sweet when it needs to be, serious when it needs to be, but never sticking to just one, showing us just how to reflect life on the viewer who can connect with any of the four main characters.

Romantic/ComedyThe romantic and comedy genres do mix together nicely, we have two maybe romantic storylines, one between two married people and one between two potential students, the comedy comes into the film as we see how things go through the day, it isn’t laugh out loud funny, but funny that will leave a smile on your face.

SettingsThe whole film is set on the college campus, this helps the one day feel to the story and shows how big of a step college is for any teenager about to make it to the world.


Scene of the Movie –
Acting class, we get a real moment for both the characters who are also teaching the class with this moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ruining everything with a drug storyline.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that came out of nowhere for me, I couldn’t help but love how sweet it felt, even if I couldn’t connect with the college tour idea, it shows how certain moments show you something in life that will change how you see it.

 

Overall: Charming and sweet from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Director: Joseph Sargent

Writer: Michael De Guzman (Screenplay)

Starring: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Karen Young, Michael Caine

 

Plot: Chief Brody’s widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge.


Tagline – On Friday June 17, man’s deepest fear will rise again

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Bad

 

Story: Jaws 4 The Revenge starts as we head back to Amity Bay, as Sean (Anderson) now works on the police department with Ellen (Gary) carrying on her life after Chief’s death (off camera), when Sean is killed in a shark attack, Michael (Gust) returns to offer as much comfort as he can.

Michael takes his mother of Barbados for a change of scenery with his family wife Carla (Young) and daughter Thea (Barsi), with an island full of characters including pilot Hoagie (Caine) and local Jake (Van Peebles), when a great white appears in research area, Ellen believe the shark is following and hunting down the family.

 

Thoughts on Jaws 4 The Revenge

 

Characters – Ellen Brody has lost her husband and now she has lost her youngest son to a shark attack, she believes the shark is now tracking down the family in an act of revenge, wanting Michael to give up his job in the ocean. She also starts a relationship with pilot Hoagie that shows her a new look on life. Michael is the eldest son of Ellen, he works in the ocean and has his own family in Barbados, he uses the opportunity to study the shark which has never been located in the waters around Barbados. Hoagie is the pilot and gambler living on the island, that starts a relationship with Ellen.

PerformancesLorraine Gary isn’t the strongest in her role, she had been a weaker part of the previous films and making her the lead doesn’t work for the film. Lance Guest is a forgettable with his performance because we don’t see anything fresh. Michael Caine enjoyed his payday here.

StoryThe story plays out like the shark is now following the family and hunting them down in an act of revenge, the family move to Barbados to escape, but it follow them. This is a low key story, that turns funny for the most part of the movie, it has the typical peril moments but never becomes the film you expect it to be.

Adventure/HorrorThe adventure takes us to a new setting, which is fine, but the horror comes from sitting through the film.

SettingsThe Barbados settings was popular for Michael Caine, it does just end up being more water related location which is all you need.

Special EffectsThe effects are terrible and we even see the failure to remove the use of props for the shark.


Scene of the Movie –
Caine the pilot introduction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The rest.

Final ThoughtsThis was a pointless sequel in an era where any movie that made money should only be made cheap so they can be funny bad, rather than big budget disaster.

 

Overall: Bad is being nice.

Rating