Look Away (2018)

Director: Assaf Bernstein

Writer: Assaf Bernstein (Screenplay)

Starring: India Eisley, Jason Isaacs, Mira Sorvino, Penelope Mitchel, John C MacDonald, Harrison Gilbertson, Kristen Harris

 

Plot: LOOK AWAY is a psychological thriller that tells the story of Maria, an alienated high-school student whose life is turned upside down when she switches places with her sinister mirror image.


Tagline – Love/Fear. Passion/Seduction. Free/Trapped.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sinister Horror

 

Story: Look Away starts as we meet outsider school girl Maria (Eisley) who keeps to herself, with her one friend the popular Lily (Mitchell), her doctor father Dan (Isaacs) tries to let her be her own self, while her mother Amy (Sorvino) is constantly worrying about her daughter. When Maria starts talking to her reflection which uses the name Airam, she starts to come out of her shell more.

When Maria suffers one final humiliation, she turns to Airam to takeover her life, this sinister side soon starts turning heads and getting revenge for Maria in life, but can Maria return once she has finished.

 

Thoughts on Look Away

 

Characters – Maria is the shy high school student, an outsider who only has one real friend, that being Lily, she gets bullied by some of the students and has started talking to her reflection in the mirror. She gets pushed to far and her reflection Airam wants to get into the rea world, tricking Maria into swapping places with her. Maria is left helpless as Airam starts taking over her life. Dan is the doctor father of Maria, he is having affairs with his clients, while trying to encourage his daughter to come out of her shell. Amy is the mentally unwell mother of Maria, she is mostly housebound, until Airam comes out pushing her to learn the truth. Lily is the best friend of Maria, she is the popular girl at school with her reputation keeping Maria off the bottom of the pile, she does like her around even if she has her own reason for doing this.

PerformancesIndia Eisley takes on two roles here which she her play very different versions of her character, one is the shy timid one, while the other is the rebellious sinister natured one. being able to pull off both the roles shows off her skills as an actress. Jason Isaacs and Mira Sorvino both bring the experience to the film, even if their characters fall into the background at times.

StoryThe story follows a troubled high school student who meets her alter ego in the mirror who helps her take control of her life, only for this to figure to bring of a sinister side to her life. This does give the reflects of just how life has become difficult for an outside, while we do have a twist that does seem easy to see coming. We do have the high school bullying theme running through the film which shows how difficult life has become for Maria and how a home life that doesn’t feel connected works too. We could have had more sinister nature from Airam which is hinted heavily at, we do get a mix of Jennifer’s Body and Carrie though.

HorrorThe horror in the film comes from the action of Airam, be it how she seduces Maria into working with her or how she acts in the real world once she is released.

SettingsThe film is set in an everyday environment for Maria, we have the school, home and parent work life, but it is anything ice skating related which is the highlight of the film.

Special EffectsThe dual performances come with strong camera work and use of effects to make happen, we don’t get as much as we could, but we don’t need much more than we get.


Scene of the Movie –
Ice Skating improvement.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Airam could have gotten up to a lot more.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sinister styled horror, it does feel like it has borrowed from other films from the similar genre. Is has a strong leading performance from India Eisley that shows her talent as both shy and twisted figures.

 

Overall: Horror with strong leading performance.

Rating

 

 

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Oscar Isaac Weekend – Life Itself (2018)

Director: Dan Fogelman

Writer: Dan Fogelman (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin, Jean Smart, Olivia Cooke, Antonio Banderas

 

Plot: As a young New York City couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.


Tagline – We’re all part of a greater story

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Storytelling Done Wrong

 

Story: Life Itself starts as we meet Will (Isaac) a depressed man whose wife Abby (Wilde) has left him, he is going through therapy with Dr Cait Morris (Bening) who he is telling the story of how they met, got engaged and were expecting their first child, only for tragedy to strike.

Will’s father Irwin (Painkin) raises their daughter Dylan as she must live in the world like her mother did. Dylan (Cooke) now 21 and ready to experience the world herself, live her own life.

 

Thoughts on Life Itself

 

Characters – Will is the depressed writer, he is telling the story of how he met Abby, fell in love and planned to start a family, we see the positives from the relationship they had and see how he is now struggling with life without his wife. Abby is the woman Will meets and falls in love with, she has had a tragic life with Will be the highlight of it. Dr Cait Morris is trying to help Will through the problems he is facing, being left by his wife, she knows the truth and is planning to make his face it one day. Irwin is the father of Will that raises Dylan, he does everything he can to make sure she has a wonderful life. Dylan is the daughter that has lived a life of tragedy, now 21 she is ready for the next stage of her life. Mr Saccione runs a vineyard which has a connection the tragic events of the film.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are on the average level, mostly because none of the talent gets enough time to shine, we seem to waste the talents of Oscar Isaac who does start interesting only for his part of the story to end, while Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke and Antonio Banderas just get time to do anything else.

StoryThe story is easily the most confusing and overly trying one you will see, we try to connect many lives together over many different time periods to show how life can happen and you never know the connection you could have with people. It is the way this story is told which leads to most of the problems, it could have work in drawn together better, but it just feels like we had a weak story ad went, lets stick an extension on this one and we get this a couple of times which just makes us feel uninvested in any of the characters we are meeting. This just leave us feeling empty and mostly bored through the story telling process.

RomanceThe idea behind this film is about romance being found in the most unusual place, which is fine, though this is too on the face with it.

SettingsThe film uses New York as the central location for this film, it works for the most part only it can come up short in places.


Scene of the Movie –
Ummm pass.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story telling process.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak, boring and unconnectable story that tries too hard to give us something bigger, while the ambition could be praised, the craft fails.

 

Overall: Weak and dull.

Rating

 

 

Daniel Craig Weekend – Logan Lucky (2017)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Rebecca Blunt (Screenplay)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank

 

Plot: Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.


Tagline – See How The Other Half Steals

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Enough

 

Story: Logan Lucky starts as we follow Jimmy Logan (Tatum) as he loses his job and lets down his daughter, leaving his sister Mellie (Keough) getting him out of trouble, he loses his job and finds his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Holmes) is moving to the next state. Jimmy’s brother is a one-armed bar tender Clyde (Driver) after his service in Iraq, the three siblings work on a big plan in the life of crime.

Jimmy’s plan is to first break Joe Bang (Craig) out of prison to help rob the Nascar event in North Carolina, after Jimmy has learnt how the money is transferred, will this plan go through as expected?

 

Thoughts on Logan Lucky

 

Characters – Jimmy Logan has been a down on his luck when it comes to jobs, being a responsible father leving him to reach the end of his hope. Jimmy has a plan to rob the Nascar race track on race day after learning how the money is trasnffered, now he puts together his team. His is a good man just wanting the best for his family. Clyde is the brother of Jimmy, he has lost a hand in Iraq and joins his brother in the plan. Joe Bang is the best safe cracker in the south, but he is behind bars, he will work on the team with his own rules which means breaking him out and giving him explosives. Mellie is the sister of the family, she uses her looks to get out of trouble and likes to show off her knowledge of cars.

PerformancesChanning Tatum in the leading role works, he continues to show he can step away from the sex symbol he has created around himself to play the less desirable roles. Adam Drive also shows us another string to his talents in this dead pan comedy roles. Riley Keough is strong too through the film here she plays the typical redneck woman. Daniel Craig gives the best performance in the film, he gets the most laughs with his mad character that he doesn’t go over the top.

StoryThe story is a heist movie from the lower class of America, we have the characters that have fallen on hard times over the usual experienced heist going team. The story works for a heist film and follows the books as you would imagine without being anything overly original and feeling long in places. We have the scene which reveals the heist to finishes off the moments of the story we might not have picked up on earlier.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy feels dead pan for the most part and does keep the tone of the crime side of the story feeling light, which works for the style the film is going for.

SettingsThe settings work because it shows where the characters are from and how difficult their lives are.


Scene of the Movie –
Science time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It feels long.

Final ThoughtsSimple by the book heist film, it has moments of comedy but it ends up being nothing overly original but easily watchable.

 

Overall: Easy to watch and fun.

Rating

 

 

 

The Lady in the Van (2015)

Director: Nicholas Hytner

Writer: Alan Bennett (Screenplay)

Starring: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Francis De La Tour, Rufus Allam, Dominic Cooper

 

Plot: A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman living in her van that’s parked in his driveway.


Tagline – A mostly true story

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Comedy Drama

 

Story: The Lady in the Van starts as we meet Miss Shepherd (Smith) who lives in her van on a residential street in Camden, London. When Alan Bennett (Jennings) moves in to one of the houses, she sees how the residents accept her in places but he tries to be kind and friendly towards her.

When Miss Shepherd is about to need to find a new place to stay, Alan offers her a place in his drive way where he continues to learn more about her and her past where the mysterious Underwood (Broadbent) turns up as the two go through the ups and downs of a relationship.

 

Thoughts on The Lady in the Van

 

Characters – Miss Shepherd is the elderly woman who lives in her van, she is welcome in some places but in others she doesn’t get on with. She believes she knows the world which we are led to believe is being true. Alan Bennett is the playwriter that offers her a chance to live on his drive way and over time they build a strange relationship as he reflects his relationship with her to his own mother.

PerformancesMaggie Smith is fantastic in the role showing the vulnerable side the character has even though she is stronger than believed. Alex Jennings is great too, as he is telling us the story through his character.

StoryThe story shows how Alan opened his door to Miss Shepherd willing to listen to her stories that could easily be considered fake but as the time unfolds he learns the truth behind them. The story gives us a chance to see how we would react to a homeless person that has been left forgotten by the world. I do wish the timeline had been made clearer through the film and we would have seen more interaction between the two leads though.

Biopic/ComedySeeing these two almost random people does feel strange for a biopic, the comedy works in places but in mostly light-hearted material.

SettingsThe settings show us how residential streets could be used to show how people can come together to work together to help someone in need.


Scene of the Movie –
Lift.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The timeline seems strange and jumps too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good comedy drama about listening to people’s stories, but it doesn’t pull on the levels it could have,

 

Overall: Good solid comedy drama.

Rating

 

 

Love & Mercy (2014)

Director: Bill Pohlad

Writer: Oren Moverman, Michael A Lerner (Screenplay) Brian Wilson (Based on the life of)

Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Brett Davern

 

Plot: In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.


Tagline – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Look at a Great Musician

 

Story: Love & Mercy starts by taking us to two different stages of Brian Wilson’s life, first the 60’s (played by Dano) as he starts to isolate himself from the band as he works on the latest album for the band, one that gives them a different sound to what the Beach Boys were known for.

The second time is in the 80s where Brian has been struggling with his own health issues dealing with his psychosis, which makes him socially awkward at times, trying to start dating car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Banks) with the watchful eye from therapist Dr Eugene Landy (Giamatti). We follow both the struggling times Brian goes through and how he deals with them.

 

Thoughts on Love & Mercy

 

Characters – Brian Wilson was one of the greatest musical minds of all time, following two different stages of his life in this film. The 60s version of Brian shows how the success has been making the band one of the biggest in the world, how he wanted to stop touring to work on the next album with a different tone to the music. In this time, we see how the drugs start to take over his life and his obsession with trying to find a new sound risks the success of the band and we see the early moments of his psychosis coming through. In the 80s version we meet a broken man, one that has been through the worst part of his life, but needing guidance and medication to get through the day. He is trying to have a relationship with his disease controlling what he goes through, we see the darkness take over at times. Melinda is a car saleswoman that meets the older Brian and the two strike it off as we see how she tries to get involved in the relationship while dealing with the Eugene figure. Dr Eugene Landy is controlling Brian’s life in the 80s, he has helped him turn his life around after the problems he faced in the 70s, his methods seem extreme and what he puts Brian through are exposed by the end of the film.

PerformancesThe performances here are brilliant throughout, Paul Dano as the younger Brian shows just how wonderful a performer he is, by using certain scenes for his singing skills. John Cusack is great in the older version of Brian showing us that given the right material he can shine. Elizabeth Banks is great in the supporting role looking just as confused and concerned to everything going on in Brian’s life. Paul Giamatti is great too and we know he can always hit the marks in this type of role.

StoryThe story here follows two moments of Brian Wilson’s life, the first is the one where he is trying to change the music and starts to get the first signs on his psychosis, the other is how easily he could become exploited by having someone try and control his life. The first part is a story we could believe happening to a wonderful musician, the second is a story that is hard to believe that someone would do that to someone. This story is set so the stories run side by side showing us how he can be fully functional at times, but how he can become distant and isolated at others. I know this is more about the personal battle Brian goes through, but I would have liked a little bit more on the history of the musical side of his career.

Biopic/MusicThe two moments, well years that we follow in Brian’s life include the 60s and 80s, they are part of the most interesting as it shows the biggest change Brian goes through and the biggest battle he must come up against. We do have moments of the singing, if you don’t know the Beach Boys songs you might struggle to understand what the biggest songs are.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just which era we are going through, they show the lifestyles the characters would be going through without needing to throw in any main stream events.


Scene of the Movie –
Creating God Only Knows.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked to see how Brian ended up under the care of Eugene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful look at the musician Brian Wilson, follow two parts works too, instead of the full life moments. If you like the Beach Boys this is a must watch.

 

Overall: Beach Boys fans watch.

Rating