ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – M – Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Director: John Schlesinger

Writer: Waldo Salt (Screenplay) James Leo Herlihy (Novel)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Barnard Hughes

 

Plot: A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York City to seek personal fortune but, in the process, finds himself a new friend.


Tagline – Whatever you hear about Midnight Cowboy is true.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerhouse Performances Classic

 

Story: Midnight Cowboy starts as naïve Texan hustler Joe Buck (Voight) heads to New York City to try his act. Arriving in the big apple things don’t start the way he had planned and after meeting local hustler Ratso (Hoffman) he learns a hard lesson on who to trust.

When the two end up becoming friends they work their act in New York with Ratso trying to save for a trip for Florida, where he see the dream to be. The two on finding a way to get rich and what they gained is a friendship.

 

Thoughts on Midnight Cowboy

 

Characters – Joe Buck is the cowboy from Texas, he has worked the area dry, well he seemed to have had an honest job there, wanting more in the big city he heads to New York, an overly friendly young man gets eaten up in the city to start with before making a friend that tries to teach him how to hustler the big city. Ratso is the New York hustler, he is disabled which makes his role better in the management role which he takes to guide Joe through the situations, though he isn’t well and now needs Joe more than anyone ever in his life. We only focus on these two with their clients that come into the situations they find themselves in.

PerformancesJon Voight in the leading role is fantastic, we see he bring the naivety through in his character that is mostly harmless man trying to find his way in the world. Dustin Hoffman also excels in his role which went against everything people knew about him at the time of the release, showing he was always going to be one of the generations best actors.

StoryThe story here follows a naïve cowboy hustler in the big apple where he learns about trust, friendship and how survive the world of a gigolo. This does show how people will need guidance to understand the world even if it meant giving up everything for that chance. the two friendship is the most important part of the film because we see how Ratso is sick and needs Joe Buck to help him too. We see how the friendship keeps both moving forward in life and that is the important factor in the story.

SettingsWe have the coach journey which heads to New York city which of course is a brilliant because the scale of the city is something Joe Buck wasn’t ready for.


Scene of the Movie –
Coach journey together.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There wasn’t anything.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the true classics in cinema, we have two stunning performances from the leads and a story that teaches us about friendship.

 

Overall: Brilliant must watch film.

Rating

 

 

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Mum’s List (2016)

Director: Niall Johnson

Writer: St John Greene (Screenplay)

Starring: Rafe Spall, Emilia Fox, Elaine Cassidy, William Stagg, Matthew Stagg, Richard Cordery

 

Plot: A dying mother’s life lessons to the husband and sons she left behind. Based on the best-selling novel by St John (Singe) Greene, the film is the story of Singe and Kate, a couple from North Somerset, whose lives were turned upside down when Kate was diagnosed with an incurable breast cancer. Over her last few days, she created her list: writing her thoughts and memories down, to help the man she loved create the best life possible for their two sons, after she was gone.


Tagline – One of the most memorable, uplifting and beautiful stories of recent years, Mum’s List is a romance for all ages.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Shattering

 

Story: Mum’s List starts with Singe (Spall) trying to continue his life with his boys Reef (William Stagg) and Finn (Matthew Stagg) after the death of his wife, their mother. We flashback to when Kate (Fox) first discovered a lump and how her treatment started with less to worry about with a high percentage of survival.

We follow Singe as he remembers when he first fell in love with Kate, how the treatment didn’t go as planned and how she left Singe a list to follow on life lessons for the boys, Singe and loved ones.

 

Thoughts on Mum’s List

 

Characters – Singe is the man re-living the moments, he has lost his wife, but must stay strong for their children, seeing how he experiences the grief is the difficult part, he has moments with friends where he can let it all out, both through the treatment and after the death. he remembers meeting her and how they fell in love to focus on how to be the father the children need. Kate is the wife and mother that is stricken with cancer, she does remain positive through the first bout knowing she can beat it like her son did, but when it turns worse she must battle an unwinnable fight, deciding to leave Singe a list of what she wants from her husband when raising their boys. Rachel is the close friend to the couple, Kate’s best friend and the one that will be there for Singe to help with any parenting issues he might have.

PerformancesRafe Spall in the leading role is wonderful, he must go through a range of emotions where he shows his ability to handle each and every one of those. Emilia Fox shows us the different levels of her treatment as we do believe the suffering she is going through while remaining strong. The rest of the cast prove to be the supporting characters the family need through the film.

StoryThe story here is based on the true story as told by the Singe character from his book, this does make certain moments feel like captures of real family moments through the struggles, adding a personal touch to the story telling process. We do jump around the timeline a lot which can get difficult to keep up with as even if the transitions feel smooth. The idea is a reality that people do face everyday (with one item on the list being one that I have seen someone go through) as the rawness of this comes through strong.

SettingsThe film keeps everything in everyday settings, the locations these characters would have been too and had a memory from being the important ones for the characters.


Scene of the Movie –
The list speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The time jumps are too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is an emotionally powerful film that does tell the heart breaking story of losing someone to cancer, when husband must remain strong in the eyes of his children and how she helps from beyond the gave with a list of instructions.

 

Overall: Emotionally moving movie.

Rating

 

 

Max (2015)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Boaz Yakin, Sheldon Lettich (Screenplay)

Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali

 

Plot: A Malinois dog that helped American Marines in Afghanistan returns to the United States and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.


Tagline – Best Friend. Hero. Marine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Movie

 

Story: Max starts as we meet Kyle Wincott (Amell) an American Marine who works with a tracker dog Max, who helps locate dangers in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed in action, his family, Ray (Church), Pamela (Graham) and little brother Justin (Wiggins) who is a gamer high school student get to meet Max for the first time and only see his aggressive nature, apart from around Justin.

They take Max home as he is suffering PTSD and the only person he will listen to and remain calm around is Justin, with a new friend in Carmen (Xitlali), Justin learns to take responsibility for the first time in his life.

 

Thoughts on Max

 

Characters – Max is the loyal marine trained dog that has served in Afghanistan locating potential threats for his soldiers. He sees his handler killed in action leaving him suffering with PTSD and now he needs a new owner, and the brother of his handler is the only one he will listen to. Justin is the younger brother of Kyle, he has spent more time on video games and illegal deals, not having responsibility needed like his brother. When Max enters his life, he learns about taking responsibility and following in his brother’s path. Ray is the father of the boys, he served before which has made him patriotic towards the cause while dealing with the grief of losing his son too.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins as the younger brother is good in this movie, we do see this sort of character a lot and he handles it well. Thomas Hayden Church is good in the supporting role, but if we are honest it is the dog that is the star of the show here.

StoryThe story here shows the effects war can have on a dog that has been trained to locate threats, but the aftermath of losing that handler with their connection. We see the loyalty shown by the dog and how he can teach responsibility to the next generation of family. This is the strongest part of the movie, the rest does feel like a version of a home alone sort of thing because we follow a story about Max knowing right.

Adventure/Family This does show the family needing to come together after their own tragedy which will give their youngster member a chance for an adventure.

SettingsWe get a small look at the war scenario that Max has been and how he must adjust to normal life, which is where the struggle comes.


Scene of the Movie –
Max search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  I feel there was more to the Reyes story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie, that should be seen by dog owners that understand loyalty that could be given to the owner.

 

Overall: Dog Owners dream film.

Rating

 

 

Mrs. Claus (2018)

Director: Troy Escamilla

Writer: Troy Escamilla (Screenplay)

Starring: Helene Udy, Brinke Stevens, Kaylee Williams, Ryan Poole, Billy Brannigan, Alexandra Brents, Mel Heflin, Hailey Strader

 

Plot: A group of college students attending a Christmas party at a sorority house that has a sinister past are stalked by a bloodthirsty killer disguised as Mrs. Claus.


Tagline – You won’t be going home for Christmas!

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Late Night Christmas Fun

 

Story: Mrs. Claus starts as we see how a murder suicide happened during intense hazing in a sorority house, 10-years-later Danielle (Strader) returns to the same home which saw her sister murdered to honour her sister. Danielle still being harassed by the mother Mrs Werner (Udy) of the other victim faces a difficult Christmas.

With the girls hosting a party with most of the campus going home for Christmas the friends find themselves getting picked off by a masked killer dressed like Mrs Claus, can they figure out who is behind the mask.

 

Thoughts on Mrs. Claus

 

Characters – Danielle is the younger sister of a murder victim, she decides to attend the same sorority in respect for her sister, she starts seeing her friends go missing while feeling uneasy in the house, she is the only one that truly questions what is going on. Mrs Werner is the mother of the suicide victim, she blames Danielle and her family for her sister’s action, though her grieving process is mostly about finding blame. Julie Cornell is the campus security officer that is searching first for a missing girl and watches over the party. Grant is the cocky guy that thinks he is God’s gift to women which does get the laughs needed in the film.

PerformancesHailey Strader is the best of the cast, she is good in the role of the sister wanting to prove something. The rest of the cast are solid they get to have fun with certain things that happen in the film and make the most of their screen time.

StoryThe story follows a sorority that has a past that gets a mysterious killer picking off the residents during a Christmas party. This does follow the slasher genre which is simple enough and does give us a backstory needing, though it gets carried away with the conclusion which becomes over the top and unnecessary. When we dive into the depth of the story, there isn’t much because it just follows student doing the basics without doing anything with most of the kills coming from the typical horror mistakes.

HorrorThe horror in the film is full blown slasher which is fine, you can enjoy a drink to get the most out of this film.

SettingsThe film is meant to be set in a sorority house, though it never feels like anything bigger than just a normal small family home.

Special EffectsThe effects are good enough for the slasher genre which is all we want, with the wounds being bloody throughout.


Scene of the Movie –
Tyler’s time out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Over kill finish to the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun Christmas horror which can be enjoyed by the horror community that like late night horror movies which can just be enjoyed for the slasher side of them being all they want.

 

Overall: The Slasher fans Christmas film this year.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge Comedy – M – Moonwalkers (2015)

Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet

Writer: Dean Craig (Screenplay) Antoine Bardou-Jacquet (Story)

Starring: Rupert Grint, Ron Perlman, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Campbell Moore, Eric Lampaert

 

Plot: After failing to locate the legendary Stanley Kubrick, an unstable CIA agent must instead team up with a seedy rock band manager to develop the biggest con of all time-staging the moon landing.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Comedy

 

Story: Moonwalkers starts we follow the unstable CIA agent Kidman (Perlman) travel to the England in an attempt to track down legendary film director Stanley Kubrick to help the American film the moon landing in case the Apollo 11 mission goes wrong. While in England quick talking band manager Jonny (Grint) who is in desperate need of money.

When the two clash through mistaken identity Jonny pretends to know Kubrick, he gets his friend Leon (Sheehan) to get a deal done. When Kidman catches up with Jonny and learns he was conned, the two must team up to film the fake moon landing with artistic director Renatus (Audenaert).

 

Thoughts on Moonwalkers

 

Characters – Jonny is the quick talking manager of a small band who is in need of money, he will cut any corner to get money which includes crossing paths with CIA agent, we see his drive through the film as he is a man who just wants to get rich quick. Kidman is the CIA agent that will kill anyone that gets in his way, but he is unstable because of his time in Vietnam, he is assigned to get the film made and ends up dealing with the drug scene on 60’s England. Leon is the friend of Jonny that is stoned through the whole film, he claims to be an actor and gets his chance with the film being made.

PerformanceRupert Grint is good in this leading role and it is good to see him doing leading roles post Harry Potter. Ron Perlman is the star here because we don’t normally see him in a comedic role and he does nail this with his performance here. Robert Sheehan is a lot of fun to watch here too.

StoryIt was always a conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked and this film shows the comedic attempts to have a backup in case the landing didn’t happen. The story does follow an if it could go wrong it did go wrong formula which does for the film. it is a fun watch but don’t take too much seriously in this story.

ComedyThe comedy is mostly stonner comedy which is fine, it has its market out there and this will reach that market.

SettingsThe late 60s England makes for a great setting because of the drug culture that seemed to be running rampant during the time comes off well.

Scene of the Movie – Kidman’s trip.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many just stoned jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple comedy that will have the market that will enjoy this movie, it pokes fun at a conspiracy in the fake moon landing too.

 

Overall: Good background comedy.

Rating