ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – V – Vice (2018)

Director: Adam McKay

Writer: Adam McKay (Screenplay)

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Eddie Marsan, Tyler Perry, Jesse Plemons

 

Plot: The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.


Tagline – The Untold True Story That Changed the Course of History

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hugely Entertaining Biopic

 

Story: Vice starts in the 1960’s as Dick Cheney (Bale) is about to screw up his life with DUI after getting kicked out Yale, his wife Lynne (Adams) isn’t going to let him screw up her ambition to be involved in politics, a role a woman wouldn’t be able to do in this era. Dick sorts his life out and before long he is learning of Donald Rumsfeld (Carell) and after the Watergate scandal, he ends up landing the Chief of Staff role.

It isn’t long before this role disappears and Dick must rebuild his career, becoming a senator before the chair of the house, his political power is growing and when he meets George W Bush (Rockwell) he will get to a position he could never have imagined.

 

Thoughts on Vice

 

Characters – These characters are based on real people, only loosely though. Dick Cheney was involved in politics from the late 60s under President Nixon, until George W Bush, he took many different roles through the years, but it was his ability to stay out of the public eyes that made him one of the most powerful men in the history of America. Lynne is the wife of Dick, she pushes him into the political career, knowing it is something she would never be allowed to do. Once in his career, she supports him on every decision he makes. Donald Rumsfeld gives Dick his first chance in politics in the white house, the two do work together through the years as Donald sees just how blunt Dick has become. George W Bush is painted to be the President that can be controlled by Dick, put in a place of power which he simply isn’t ready for, he does pick Dick to be his Vice President though.

PerformancesChristian Bale is truly fantastic in this leading role, the transformation he goes through, from his almost natural look to the old bigger Dick Cheney is unbelievable and you can see why he will be up for most of the awards.  Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell in supporting roles are all wonderful and completely embrace their characters.

StoryThe story follows the life and times of Dick Cheney from his early political run, to his many different roles before being talked out of retirement to become Vice President to George W Bush. This story is told to show the many different accomplishments Dick Cheney had in life, whether he did the right thing in different roles is a different question. We might jump over a couple of issues, but we are mainly here to focus on the Vice Presidency role which is the one he will always be remembered for, this is one that will leave you surprised and not hating the guy as much as you think you will going into the film, which does feel strange. If anything, this will show us just how important moments in history will be when you look back on them.

Biopic/Comedy/HistoryDick Cheney is one of the most ambition men in American political history, this gets to show us just how far he went for his role and how much control he was able to take with little effort. This is told in a comedic tone which does work for the film, mostly because you can’t believe just what he got away with in these roles.

SettingsThe film shows us the different locations that Dick Cheney was in during different times of his life, the film uses them to make each be realistic no matter what was going on.


Scene of the Movie –
The mid film credits.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain moments are skipped over even if we get an introduction to certain roles.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most entertaining biopics of the year, you will want to watch each moment even if he isn’t the best man to be involved in human history, a place where people will look back at his actions with shock.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

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Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Director: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy (Screenplay)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Billy Magnussen, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Natalia Dyer, Rene Russo, Daveed Diggs, Zawa Ashton

 

Plot: After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: First Great Horror of 2019

 

Story: Velvet Buzzsaw starts by taking us into the art world with critic Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal) being the man that can make or break an artist career, Rhodora Haze (Russo) runs the gallery with aspiring artists Josephina (Ashton), Coco (Dyer) and Bryson (Magnussen) working for her.

When one of Josephina’s neighbours dies suddenly, she learns of the number of breath-taking pieces of art, that soon gets the art world going into a frenzy, with Gretchen (Collette) the newly appointed consulate for the rich wanting to get the some of the work. This is only the beginning as the art work seems to have a supernatural force behind it that wants to consume the greed in the art world.

 

Thoughts on Velvet Buzzsaw

 

Characters – Morf Vandewalt is the biggest and most well-respect art critic in the business, he can make or break a career, which has given him enemies along the way. His friendship with Rhodora helps her collect and profit from the most amounts of work, he sees the brilliance in the new artwork, though he questions certain background towards them. Rhodora is the one of the most popular art curators, her gallery gives young artists a chance, while she knows which clients to accept or not, she wants this new work and makes a deal to make sure she makes the most money she can out of them. Josephina is the aspiring curator, she is learning of Rhodora and she is the one that finds the artwork, this gives her all the leverage required to finally make her name in the industry. Gretchen works in a gallery until she gets a job acquiring work for her clients, this shows us just how one person can go from small time to big time, while changing along the way. Jon Dondon is another curator, one that has become a rival to Rhodora, he clearly doesn’t understand the art world on the same level as her though, only requiring money to keep him happy. Piers is the famous artist that has been struggling with his latest work after giving up his addiction, he sees the brilliance, but is also scared of the work of the new artist.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is just as fantastic as we would expect, he plays the over the top figure that strangely feels grounded too. Rene Russo shines as the cut throat art curator that will put anybody who crosses her in their place. Toni Collette turns out an almost opposite performance to Hereditary, which see her become an ambitious lady that knows how to deal. It is Zawa Ashton that becomes a more influential performer in this film than you would expect, which surprises with the cast we have, she is equally as strong as the rest of the cast too.

StoryThe story takes us into the art world, we have the pivotal characters to make us complete accept being part of this world, as a new unknown artist gets discovered, only his work has a much more sinister side to it. The scale of the world created here is wonderful because within five minutes of the film, we are completely embraced into this world. The darker side of the film shows us just how easily people can become consumed by greed. This will leave you shocked with the events of the film and will leave you never wanting to be part of the art world.

HorrorThe horror comes from the sinister nature behind the art work, going hand in hand with just how Morf is slowly starting to lose his mind as the work is become bigger.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the art world for the settings, this shows us how the members of the art world will do whatever they want to become the biggest name in the industry.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the film are wonderful they play in with artistic world when it comes to the body count, we get to see.


Scene of the Movie –
The sinister side of the artwork.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The trailer gives too much away.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautiful horror film that will fully engross us into the artworld with the characters and gives us the twisted look at just what could happen when a spirit can spread so easily.

 

Overall: Visually beautiful horror film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – V – Van Wilder: Freshman Year (2009)

Director: Harvey Glazer

Writer: Todd McCullough (Screenplay) Brent Goldberg, David Wagner (Characters)

Starring: Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Kurt Fuller, Steve Talley, Nestor Aaron Absera, Nick Nicotera, Jerry Shea

 

Plot: Van Wilder starts his freshman year at Coolidge College and embarks on an adventure to land the campus hottie and liberate his school from sexual oppression and party dysfunction.


Tagline – The man. The myth. The beginning.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Forced Prequel

 

Story: Van Wilder: Freshman Year starts with Van (Bennett) heading off to Coolidge college to follow in his family’s footsteps before graduating to work with his father. Arrive at the college Van learns that Dean Charles Reardon (Fuller) has it in for the family, the guys have been pushed into a military plan and the girls are religious.

Van joined by stoner Farley (Absera) and Yu Dum Fok (Shea) to turn the college around to become what Van is expecting and we learn how he become the iconic legend of the Coolidge.

 

Thoughts on Van Wilder: Freshman Year

 

Characters – Van Wilder was a character we met in 2002, this time we learn how he did in his first year at college, we see how he was always the quick witty that was willing to put himself out there to help people find themselves. We can let him off certain mistakes and differences from the later version of Van, but this one never seems to have the true confidence the high school implies he has. Kaitlin is the daughter of a military man, who is trying to follow in her father’s footsteps, everything else about her is just a carbon copy of the Tara Reid character first time around, dating a bad guy Van teaches her there is more to life. Dean Charles Reardon has been waiting for a Wilder to join the college to get revenge, he wages war on Van along with LT Dirk Arnold who is the bad boyfriend out to keep his woman and believes he is the best part of the military college.

PerformancesJonathan Bennett just doesn’t have the same charisma as Ryan Reynolds, he doesn’t have the same ability to be quick witted and you just don’t believe that his filled with that same natural confidence. Kristin Cavallari is trying her best, but as the character is basically just meant to be Tara Reid again we lack giving her a chance to make herself anything original. Kurt Fuller does his best with the material and could well be the best performer in the film. we get typical college level character performances here.

StoryThe story here brings us Van Wilder’s first year at college, now we get a few winks at where he character will end up and certain lines he uses in everyday life. The problems with this come from the fact it is exactly the same story, Van meets girl that is dating a bad guy and spends his time trying to win her heart making a rival, we have the foreign student who wants to learn the way of love and the Dean who doesn’t like a Wilder. This lacks any originality to the story, just wants to do the winks about the original, like look here this is where we got that from. We get the same grossed out comedy moments that are mostly just trying to keep one step ahead of the rest.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film is mostly grossed out humour, for me personally it misses a lot, but if this is what you like you will enjoy this. The romance is rinse repeat from the original and not that important to what we see.

SettingsThe film is set at the same college Coolidge, only in the prequel it is a military college, which seems strange because it was always meant to be a basic college with parties and classes.


Scene of the Movie –
Massage time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me College is never going to be like this.

Final ThoughtsThis is a forced prequel we didn’t really ask for let alone need, it has poor versions of the characters we did enjoy in the first one and just repeats the jokes from the original.

 

Overall: Pointless prequel.

Rating

 

 

Valkyrie (2008)

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terrence Stamp

 

Plot: A dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Thriller

 

Story: Valkyrie starts in the middle of World War II, outspoken German Colonel Claus Stauffenberg (Cruise) is assigned duty in Tunisia where he gets injured. Back in German Major General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) has been working on a plan to assassinate Hitler and ending the war.

When Henning’s latest choice fails, he gets his fellow General Friedrich Olbricht (Nighy) to recruit a new member to this secret group and Claus is that man. We follow as the plan to assassinate Hitler comes together with espionage between the ranking officers, secret meetings and changes in potential candidates.  

 

Thoughts on Valkyrie

 

Characters/PerformanceColonel Claus von Stauffenberg is the soldier injured during the war and now he is the man with the plan to assassinate Hitler. Major General Henning von Tresckow is the officer that brings Claus into the circle as he wants to find the end of the war. General Friedrich Olbricht is the handler of Claus in the ranking side of things but off the books he must follow the instructions of Claus. The characters are all based on real people all involved in the real assassination attempt on Hitler.

Performance wise, well first we need to address that this is an English-speaking movie about what is happening within German during the war so we need to look past that when judging these performances of Tom Cruise who is good showing he can do serious movies over action sequences. Nighy, Branagh and Wilkinson are all great through the film as are the rest of the cast.

StoryThis is a look at a moment in history that many people don’t know about, we all know how World War II went and the bigger events, but looking at the story of a revolution within the German army to stop Hitler ending the war. The amount of people that would risk their lives to stop Hitler but the weak point here is we know the truth that it failed.

History/War Looking in the history of World War II we get to learn about a smaller detail which get covered up because they were failed missions to end the war and this gives us that story.

SettingsEach setting shows us the image of war time Germany with little issues with the look of the sets.

Final ThoughtsNice look into history about a moment that could have changed the end of the war forever.

 

Overall: Historical film that does show us a moment of great risk that ended in failure.

Rating

 

 

Vampires (1998)

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: Don Jakoby (Screenplay) John Steakley (Novel)

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell

 

Plot: Recovering from an ambush that killed his entire team, a vengeful vampire slayer must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to walk in sunlight.


Tagline – They’ve been around for 600 years…and they’re very, VERY thirsty.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable addition to the vampire genre

 

Story: Vampires starts as Jack Crow (Woods) and his gang of vampire hunters including Anthony Montoya (Baldwin) as they clean out a nest of vampires only they can’t find the master. Celebrating the success of the day the gang party but when the Master Jan Valek (Griffith) arrives looking for revenge he kills every member of the team except Jack and Anthony while turning Katrina (Lee).

Jack ordered to rebuild the team, must first regroup before he goes against his orders with a new priest Father Guiteau (Guinee) using Katrina as bait to locate Jan Valek who is in search for a legendary relic that would allow Valek to walk in the sunlight.

 

Thoughts on Vampires

 

Characters – Jack Crow is the leader of the vampire hunters, he has been hunting them his whole life, training other to aid in his quest to kill them all. He is ruthless in his action not accepting excuse from any man, woman or priest. Anthony is the only other member of the team that makes it out of the attack, he is a trusted second to Jack but keeps a secret from him during this story. Katrina is the young lady that gets bitten by Valek, Crow uses her to find him while she must battle the turning process. Jan Valek is the ancient vampire that has been terrorising for centuries, he isn’t getting killed as easily as others and now he targets immortality in the day light.

PerformancesJames Woods is great in this leading role, he takes the aggression needed to make us believe the vampire hunter is doing the right thing also showing the loyalty required in his performance. Daniel Baldwin is good but not to the level of Woods while Sheryl Lee does make for a good sexy vampire figure. Thomas Ian Griffith does make for a great vampire villain too being imposing in every single scene.

StoryThe story follows the old school vampire hunters hunting vampires but this time the enemy is stronger than they have ever faced. This film does move away from the gothic tones of previous film and takes us into a realistic setting for our characters to do battle with the vampires. This does work for the story because we now need to see a new less traditional style to vampires even if the story follows the normal it is a fun watch.

Action/HorrorThe action comes with the battles with the vampires, it is bigger than normal for the genre and we get plenty action. The horror comes from how we see the vampires disposed of along with how powerful Valek is

SettingsThe western settings make this feel like a race against time for gunslingers to stop an outlaw, which is what the idea was going for.

Special EffectsThe effects all seem practical with the fire behind the sunlight being some of the most horrific in the vampire genre.


Scene of the Movie –
Valek’s revenge is bloody.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was slightly confusing why stakes were used when they didn’t kill.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very enjoyable modern take on the vampire genre, it adds action and realism to a traditional gothic style of film which on one hand works but the other hand could get people not enjoying it.

 

Overall: Vampire fans must watch.

Rating