JT LeRoy (2018) Movie Review

Director: Justin Kelly

Writer: Justin Kelly, Savannah Knoop (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Jim Sturgess, Diane Kruger, Kelvin Harrison Jr, James Jagger

Plot: A young woman named Savannah Knoop spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law.


Tagline – Based on the incredible true lie

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Quirky

Story: JT LeRoy starts when Savannah (Stewart) moves to San Francisco to move in with her brother Geoff (Sturgess) and his partner Laura (Dern), the couple have a band, with Laura having her own book written by her alter ego JT LeRoy, with the book starting to get a bigger following.

Laura wants to make more for JT, which sees her turn to Savannah to dress up in public for photoshoots before getting more involved with social occasion, right up to a movie being made about him, with Savannah struggling with the extra attentions of being somebody else.

Thoughts on JT LeRoy

Characters – Savannah moves to San Francisco to start a new life, with her brother giving her a place to start, she just wants a normal life there, but this doesn’t happen, when she gets talking into pretending to being the secret author of her sisters-in-law’s book, a man that the world wants to meet. She does struggle with this, but does enjoy the bigger social experience becoming more confident as the fake author. Laura is the real author that created a persona to be the real author, she has been the voice before for interviews, but never the person, pushing Savannah into become the author for her. Geoff is the brother to Savannah who offers her a place to live and introduces the two, he doesn’t want Savannah to feel pressure into doing anything she doesn’t want too. Eva is the celebrity that wants to meet JT, she host parties and gets closer to her.

PerformancesKristen Stewart is great in this leading role, she shows the confliction her character is caught up in during the film. Laura Dern shows us just how desperate for fame some people will be in life, while the rest of the cast do nothing wrong through the film, working well with the main two members of the cast.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman that gets talked into becoming a version of an author her sister-in-law created and how the world starts to spiral out of control. This does show us all about trying to make the most out of life, giving the audience what they want with the illusion of what they want in life to give them the happiness they need. Outside of the world the characters are trying to find their own identity in life, which is always good to see learning about one’s identity.

BiopicThe biopic shows how Savannah thought she was walking into one life, only to have the whole thing turned on its head for her, showing how she was stuck in the middle of helping people and being herself.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us different party environments that Savannah ends up attending, it shows us how her life was different and each trip was something new for her.


Scene of the Movie – The reading.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Laura is a mostly annoying character, not down to the performance though.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at how celebrity is created, how people will want their own versions of people no matter what the truth is.

Overall: Celebrity Illusions.

Jellyfish (2018) Movie Review

Director: James Gardner

Writer: James Gardner, Simon Lord (Screenplay)

Starring: Liv Hill, Sinead Matthews, Cyril Nri, Angus Barnett, Tomos Eames, Victoria Alcock, Helen Kennedy, Robbie White

Plot: A young carer discovers an unlikely talent for stand-up comedy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tragic & Heart Breaking

Story: Jellyfish starts as we meet school student Sarah Taylor (Hill) who is in struggling through her drama classes, taking care of her young siblings, while trying to work to give them any sort of extra money, her mother Karen (Matthews) is unemployed suffering from a mental illness.

When Sarah’s teacher Adam Hale (Nri) sees her talent for comedy, he pushes her into trying stand up comedy for a show, just when Sarah’s life starts to fall apart, with her losing her job and the family losing their benefits because of her mother not attending her meetings. Sarah is left needing to turn to darker sides of her life, to make sure her siblings stay with her and don’t get put into the foster system.

Thoughts on Jellyfish

Characters – Sarah is a 15-year-old girl that must look after her younger siblings, while her mother is struggling with her own mental illnesses, Sarah is trying to get through her GCSEs, working part time and being the only adult in her house, she is facing a future that isn’t going to happen unless things change quickly, everything is slowly piling up on her, with life situations she shouldn’t have put on her. Karen in the mother who has been suffering through depression making it difficult for her to even get out of the house to keep the benefits coming in. Adam Hale is the drama teacher that does see some potential in Sarah, he encourages her to find her talent for comedy, being supportive, where nobody else is. Vince is the boss that is trying to be strict, he gives Sarah chances unaware of her problems at home, even if he ends up being like any boss who hasn’t gotten more out of their own life.

PerformancesLiv Hill gives us one of the strongest performances you will ever see, from every expression of pain she is going through, to just holding in the explosion of emotion that wants to come out of her. Sinead Matthews does make her character look like she is struggling with life. The rest of the supporting cast are strong, they all let Liv take the centre stage.

StoryThe story here shows a 15-year-old that must take care of her younger siblings, manager school life and work life just to keep a roof over their heads. This is a story that will put a startling light on how some children will be living and just what they will need to do to get through each day, it shows the poverty line in England and how people will often not even give you the time of day to see what is wrong with somebody’s life, with only one person trying to offer support to Sarah. We see just how desperate she has become to make sure the family stays together even going against the law in her attempts. You will find yourself being incredibly moved by the struggles of Sarah and watching her slowly see her life unravel makes you want to help her.

SettingsThe film is set in Margate a small coast town that doesn’t have the luxury life many people living there would have, it shows that small towns don’t offer big futures for people.


Scene of the Movie – The routine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Is drama the only class Sarah takes?

Final Thoughts This is one of the most emotionally charged movies you will see, we have a truly brilliant performance that will leave you feeling heart broken by what Sarah goes through, a must watch.

Overall: Brilliant.

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – Y – James vs. His Future Self (2019) Movie Review

We are truly clutching at straws with Y, as we are focusing on James being visited by someone from yesterday, showing he needs to learn about yourself.

Director: Jeremy LaLonde

Writer: Jonas Chernick, Jeremy LaLonde (Screenplay)

Starring: Jonas Chernick, Daniel Stern, Cleopatra Coleman, Frances Conroy, Tara Spencer-Nairn

Plot: A scientist meets a version of himself from the future who has traveled back in time to stop himself from inventing time travel.


Tagline – It’s man versus himself. Literally.

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Interesting Idea

Story: James vs. His Future Self starts as scientist James (Chernick) is on the verge of his great breakthrough in time travel, only for him to get a visitor, Jimmy (Stern) an older version of himself, warning him to stop wasting his time on time travel.

James needs to listen to the warnings about his life, so he doesn’t follow the same mistakes his future self-made, including following his heart with best friend Courtney (Coleman) or just someone who wastes his time with time travel, being trapped in a cycle of isolation.

Thoughts on James vs. His Future Self

Characters – James is a young scientist who has been working on the possibilities of time travel for his whole life, he is giving up much of his personal life in this pursuit, which sees his relationship with his sister strained, the woman he loves is only a friend, only he gets visited by an older man, a man that claims to be him from the future. He needs to learn to stop and take a break in life to see what is in front of him before making the same mistakes again. Jimmy is the older version of James, he has been through time countless times, as part of the experiments, he doesn’t want to see James make the same mistakes again, he wants to fix everything in his life, teaching his younger self to enjoy life. Courtney is the co-worker, best friend and love of James life, she has a future beyond brilliance in her life and if James doesn’t learn about her importance to him, she will do it without him.

PerformancesJonas Chernick and Daniel Stern work well together in the film, we see how one has seen the mistakes and will look to learn from them, one shows the determination of a future, while the other shows the beaten down life of regret. Cleopatra Coleman works very well in the role, showing the person that is caught in the middle of a future with or without the person they love.

StoryThe story here follows a young scientist that is about to get a career making moment, only to get visited by his future self, to warn him about the decisions he will end up making in life, one that will have consequences he can’t imagine. This is a story about learning to make the most of the time you have in life and now missing the best moments of your life, the ones you can only make happen, by pausing in life more often. It warns about career being put before love and shows how extreme lengths an older version of yourself will always have regrets the younger ones make.

Comedy/Sci-FiThe comedy in the film comes from seeing what Jimmy does to try and stop James making the mistakes, while the sci-fi side of the film, does focus on time travel and what it could achieve for you in life.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the working environment, home environment, a location which is filled with tragedy and the secret location where Jimmy must spend his days, the locations do show how James hasn’t been able to make more of his own life, the way he would want to.


Scene of the Movie – The café meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain jokes don’t fit the tone of the film.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting idea for a film, it shows us how living with regret can haunt people, only this time we get to see the true meaning of this regret with time travel.

Overall: Interesting Idea.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – J – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2017)

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Itaru Era (Screenplay) Hirohiko Araki (Manga)

Starring: Kento Yamazaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nana Komatsu, Masaki Okada, Mackenyu, Kenji Mizuhashi

 

Plot: A teen gifted with supernatural power discovers the truth behind his cursed and bizarre bloodline, and the evil that lurks within his town.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wildly Imaginative

 

Story: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure starts with high school student Koichi Hirose (Kamiki) getting to learn the new surroundings which contains the mysterious slick cool Josuke ‘JoJo’ Higashikata (Yamazaki) who has the ability to defeat enemies with his unique abilities.

When JoJo learns about his bloodline with the appearance of a distant relative, he learns of a bigger battle going on, one that JoJo will finally learn the true powers that he possesses.

 

Thoughts on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

 

Characters – Josuke or JoJo for short is the high school student everyone wants to be friends with, the one that sticks up for the bully victims and has his own unique look that makes him stand out, he does possess an ability that he doesn’t know the true power of, until a distant relative arrives to teach him what he is capable off. JoJo takes his first steps into this world where he can be involved in supernatural battles. Koichi Hirose is the new kid in the school, he helps us understand JoJo’s place in the school, while trying to come to grip with what is going on around him. Yukako is the friend that Koichi has made at the school, there is something mysterious about her, though it remains a mystery even to Koichi. Keicho is the man with the strongest ability causing trouble around Japan, he has targeted JoJo after learning about his powers.

PerformancesKento Yamazaki in the leading role is an entertaining watch, he makes his character look the slick cool figure he needs to while showing a much more grounded figure behind that persona. Masaki Okada does make for a strong villain that fits this over the top world we have entered. The rest of the cast let the main two stars steal the show without looking out of place in the film.

StoryThe Story here follows a teenager that learns about his powers to use a ‘Stand’ which will give him additional strength when it comes to battling his enemies and here he must face his own biggest enemy in the world. This story is adapted from a manga, so you need to accept the over the top style the film is creating, it does have the themes of fitting in, loss and understand how to fight your own enemies running through the story. we get plenty of interesting ideas here which will see how the power can be misused and how it can be used for good. This does feel like a story that you do need to have some back story before stepping into though which can hold back the highest level of enjoyment from it.

Adventure/FantasyThe adventure side of this film takes us into a world where people can have the power to have ‘Stands’ which will fight for them to prove themselves in battle, each vision is different which does make this feel interesting as the fantasy side of the film comes through with this too.

SettingsThe film is set in one of the most popular cities in Japan, it shows how a fantasy war could be going on behind anybody’s back without them knowing.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are strong throughout, they bring to life the Stands which have their own unique look in every scene or fight.


Scene of the Movie –
That is your Stand?

That Moment That Annoyed Me This isn’t helpful for a gateway to the world we are entering.

Final ThoughtsThis is a highly ambitious live action version of a popular manga, the problem comes with it being difficult to walk into if you haven’t seen anything beforehand.

 

Overall: Ambitious fan service.

Rating

 

 

Rose Byrne Weekend – Juliet, Naked (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jesse Peretz

Writer: Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor, Tamara Jenkins (Screenplay) Nick Hornby (Novel)

Starring: Chris O’Dowd, Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Phil Davis, Lily Brazier, Denise Gough, Ayoola Smart

Plot: Juliet, Naked is the story of Annie (the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan) and her unlikely transatlantic romance with once revered, now faded, singer-songwriter, Tucker Crowe, who also happens to be the subject of Duncan’s musical obsession.


Tagline – What if you met the man of your man’s dreams?

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Charming & Delightful

Story: Juliet, Naked starts as we meet Annie Platt (Byrne) who had to give up her dreams to take over her family business of running the local museum, she is living with long-term boyfriend Duncan (O’Dowd) who is a teacher and has an obsession with musician Tucker Crowe, even running a fan site in his name. when Duncan receives a new unreleased album, Annie comments on his website, which sees her getting an email from Tucker (Hawke) himself.

When Tucker and Annie become long-term pen pals, Annie starts having telling new stories unlike before, just as Duncan starts becoming even more distant from her, putting her in a difficult position of being involved in a friendship with her partners idol.

Thoughts on Juliet, Naked

Characters – Annie Platt did study art history, but gave that up to take over the family business of running a small-town museum on a seaside town, she is dealing with her partner’s obsession with Tucker Crowe until she gets an email from Tucker starting a new friendship, giving her a chance to give up what she sees as a lonely life. Tucker Crowe is a one-hit wonder that has gathered a small cult like following, he has gone off the radar for years and emails Annie after her comment on a board about his album, he starts a friendship with Annie, while dealing with his past which sees him have children with different women and is facing the reality of becoming a grandfather soon. Duncan is Annie’s boyfriend, he is a teacher by day and by night he leads the Tucker Crowe fan club online, idolising him, his obsession with Tucker does make him distant from Annie at times. He does end up leaving Annie and ends up becoming instantly jealous of Annie’s new friendship with Tucker.

PerformancesRose Byrne is a delight to watch in this film, we see her bring to life this character in ways that make us understand her position in life. Ethan Hawke will always be great in roles which see him playing somebody who has been struggling with life choices, he knows how to make this character his own. Chris O’Dowd is great too completing the main cast with his ability to nail the comedy moments.

StoryThe story does follow a couple that are torn apart after one’s affair, leading to the other to start a relationship with his idol, opening her eyes to the bigger world out there. This is a story that is about how to find love in people and in life, figuring out what would be best for you and not letting everyone else in your life controlling you. We do get ideas of how difficult it could be to meet your idol and what would happen if you ex started hanging out with that idol too. We see how life can become easy to pass you by and how important it can be to make up for your own mistakes and spend the future making things right.

ComedyThe comedy in the film plays into the drama of everything going on, most of the laughs will come from Duncan’s obsession with Tucker.

SettingsThe film shows us the settings by use the quiet seaside town, where life can be safe and how the big city could be an escape you could on dream of having, or stay away from out of fear.


Scene of the Movie – Dinner scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The sister character seems to be here just for laughs, not for plot.

Final Thoughts This is a delightful comedy that will get laughs and will reflect the reality of how difficult life can be.

Overall: Sweet comedy drama.