ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Z – Zoology (2016)

Director: Ivan I Tverdovskiy

Writer: Ivan I Tverdovskiy (Screenplay)

Starring: Masha Tokareva, Natalya Pavlenkova, Aleksandr Grochilin, Olga Ergina, Dmitriy Groshev, Irina Chipizhenko

 

Plot: Middle-aged zoo worker Natasha still lives with her mother in a small coastal town. She is stuck and it seems that life has no surprises for her until one day – she grows a tail and turns her life around

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Comedy Drama

 

Story: Zoology starts as we meet middle-aged Natasha (Pavlenkova) who works in the local zoo as an office worker and her life is turned upside down when she grows a tail. Already considered some what of an outsider her Mother (Chipizhenko) tries to help her, while the rest of the town sees her as a laugh stock.

While looking to find a way to have the tail removed she meets x-ray doctor Peter (Groshev) a man that doesn’t judge her in anyway and the two strike up a relationship giving her a new meaning in life.

 

Thoughts on Zoology

 

Characters – Natasha is the middle-aged woman that lives an ordinary life, she is an office worker at the zoo and gets bullied by her co-workers, one day she grows a tail which makes her the talk of the town, as she starts to date a doctor and learns to accept her imperfections. Peter is the doctor who never once judged Natasha for being different, he becomes the love interest and helps her come out of her shell. Natasha’s mother has always been keeping her in control and isn’t happy with the new freedom she is showing.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are good throughout, Natalya Pavelenkova is clearly the star of the show giving us a performance we feel her pain and happiness through.

StoryThe story follows an outsider that starts to come out of her shell once she learns she has a tail and falls in love with a doctor. We get to see how the small town life can be cruel on the people that are different, but also learn that you need to accept being different to stand out in the right way.

ComedyThe comedy in this film comes from the drama being told, we keep everything low key and you won’t be laughing out loud, just seeing the drama as light hearted.

SettingsThe film gives us a small town setting, this shows us just how the community reacts to the new body part Natasha gets and shows how being the outsider can be difficult.


Scene of the Movie –
Zoo talk.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It doesn’t play into the comedy enough to be a real comedy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice drama showing us how difficult life can be in a small community if you start looking different.

 

Overall: Smart character study of small communities.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – Z – The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

Director: Niki Caro

Writer: Angela Workman (Screenplay) Diane Ackerman (Book)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenberg, Daniel Bruhl, Timothy Radford, Efrat Dor, iddo Goldberg

 

Plot: The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Heartbreakingly Brilliant Drama

 

Story: The Zookeeper’s Wife starts in 1939 Warsaw, Poland as we meet Antonina (Chastain) and Jan (Heldenbergh) Zabinski the zoo keepers of the Warsaw zoo, both committed to giving their animals a good life and their customers an experience they could never imagine.

When the invasion in hits Warsaw, the zoo is hit hard with the animals running wild many are killed, German zoologist Lutz Heck (Bruhl) does offer to protect the remaining quality animals by moving them to a German zoo, but the rest end up getting killed.

When Lutz agrees to let the non-Jewish couple keep their zoo open as a pig farm, they start doing what they can to help as many Jews escape the ghetto they are being forced to survive in. How many people can they save, how long can they keep everything up before getting caught out by the German’s that is the questions we are left with.

 

Thoughts on The Zookeeper’s Wife

 

Characters/PerformanceAntonina is the animal lover, people lover that works with her husband to help protect as many Jews during the war as possible, she uses her status to help keep the remaining animals safe and people safe too. Jan is the husband of Antonina that takes the biggest risks by going into the ghetto housing the Jews but he becomes increasingly jealous of Antonina and Lutz working relationship. Lutz Heck is the German zoologist that uses the Warsaw zoo for his own desire to continue breeding animals and his attraction to Antonina keeps him returning.

Performance wise, Jessica Chastain is fantastic in the leading role show us once again we how she can become any part put on front of her. Daniel Bruhl does give us a great role in which we absolutely hate his character through the film even though he isn’t truly evil. Johan Heldenbergh is also great through the film standing tall next to the two bigger names of the acting world.

StoryWe have heard this horrific story before, we know what the Nazi’s did to the Jews and we know Schindler’s List is the most famous and well-respected film version of these events. While the plot giving is slightly miss-leading because we are expecting to see more about the animal saving, we do find ourselves looking at the incredible story of how the zookeeper’s risk their lives to save as many as Jews as possible during the war. We know how amazing the heroes of the war were and learning new stories of their heroics is always good to see. I do feel this film does have certain pacing issues because you can have your heart broken in the open 30 minutes as you would be looking to see something slightly different in the next chapters of the story.

Biography/History/WarSeeing the story of the Zabinska’s struggle during the war shows us how brave they were trying to save, the difficult decision they made and the part of history they were part of.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic putting us in the middle of the war in Warsaw showing us just how difficult everything was for the people involved.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most heart-breaking films you will see this year, but it does fall into another incredible story of how people risked their own lives to save Jews from the Nazis. I would say parts of the synopsis are miss-leading as I was expecting a lot more about how the animals were being saved but saying this we can seeing another incredible story from World War II.

 

Overall: Brilliant story of heroic actions.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – Z – Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Mark Boal (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong

 

Plot: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.


Tagline – For ten years one woman never stopped searching for the most wanted man in history

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Thriller

 

Story: Zero Dark Thirty starts as we see how Maya (Chastain) joins an interrogation unit ran by Dan (Clarke) who is looking for answers to the location of Osama Bin Laden, the man behind the 9/11 attacks.

As the information gathers, so does her desperation to catch and kill Osama, this shows on how she goes against any orders to follow leads, as well as risking her life to get to the moment in history where Osama Bin Laden was killed by a Navy SEAL team.

 

Thoughts on Zero Dark Thirty

 

Characters – Maya is the lady we are following through this whole film, she is determined to use the intelligence gathered to kill Osama Bin Laden, she stands up to authority and never backs down from a lead. We get to meet a whole host of other people that either taught, worked with or tried to stop Maya along the way.

PerformancesJessica Chastain is brilliant in the leading role, she once again shows us all the talent she has when it comes to being in a leading role. We have a host of actors that went onto become leading men here too including Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt showing that once again Bigelow knows how to select the next big things.

StoryThe story follows the manhunt for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, we follow the 10-year pursuit for the terrorist as we follow one lady who would never give up on finding the man, using the information gathered to bring this man down. This showed us just how many people took a part in the biggest manhunt known to man. The story unfolds in order as we see each lead set the people in the right direction they need to take to bring down the terrorist.

ThrillerThis does keep you on the edge of your seat as you see the mission unfold, even if we do know the end of this story.

SettingsThe settings take us to the events of the terrorist attacks, and the locations the mission would have taken place in.


Scene of the Movie –
Night mission.

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

Final ThoughtsThis is an excellent look at how Bin Laden was taken down, the people who gave up time in their own lives to bring down the terrorist.

 

Overall: A must watch for the thriller fans out there.

Rating

 

 

 

Elizabeth Banks Weekend – Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith (Screenplay)

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Katie Morgan, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords, Justin Long, Brandon Routh

 

Plot: Lifelong platonic friends Zack and Miri look to solve their respective cash-flow problems by making an adult film together. As the cameras roll, however, the duo begin to sense that they may have more feelings for each other than they previously thought.


Tagline – What would you do to get out of debt? 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Raunchy Comedy Fun

 

Story: Zack and Miri Make a Porno starts as we meet two friends Miri (Banks) and Zack (Rogen) from high school struggling to make ends meet in their apartment. When twos debts continue to rise they turn to one idea, to make a porno.

Zack, Miri and their friend Delaney (Robinson) set out for audiences and move forward with this idea hiring Lester (Mewes), Stacey (Morgan), Barry (Mabe) and Bubbles (Lords) and set off to make their own Star Wars porn parody, until things take a turn and they must come up with a new plan, but it works out better for them.

 

Thoughts on Zack and Miri Makes a Porno

 

Characters – Zack is a coffee barista that lives with Miri, he isn’t the most ambitious just wants to have a good simple life, he suggests making a porn movie to raise the money for bills, but this plays into his deeper feelings for Miri. Miri lives with Zack, she did want more from her life, but for now she is happy enough, she doesn’t believe she could have feelings for Zack which soon start changing when the two will need to have sex.  Delaney is the co-worker of Zack’s married since high school who jumps at the chance to produce the porn movie. The rest of the characters we meet are the stars of the porn movie they are making, but we don’t learn too much from them.

PerformancesSeth Rogen had this role written for him, you can see that in his performance where he might be typical funny Rogen which is what we wanted from this movie. Elizabeth Banks is good here, she is always good at comedy, but this is her raunchy side we hadn’t seen before and she delivers. The supporting cast get their laughs when needed which shows how comic timing works at certain times.

StoryThe story follows two close friends that need to find a way to make ends meet which turns into a porno, like you do. It plays into the idea that men and women would struggle to remain friends after sex when it was one of the only options to make ends meet after growing debt. The story doesn’t hit the heights it could but for the most part if you are going into a Seth Rogen comedy you know it isn’t going to be the deepest off films.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy does hit for the target audience it is on a raunchy level, which does take away from the romantic side of the film which doesn’t work to level it should for where the film aims to go.

SettingsThe settings show us how you could go around making your own home-made porn movie with a small group of friends. It shows you can make it in the right locations without having to pay extra.


Scene of the Movie –
Zack and Miri sex scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It goes too heavily into the raunchy side at times.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a raunchy comedy this will keep you happy, but if you don’t want to see a sex heavy comedy you will not enjoy and most likely being skipping this one.

 

Overall: Rogen Fans will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Crime Thriller Weekend – Zodiac (2007)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Robert Graysmith (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch

 

Plot: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.


Tagline – There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great But Too Long of a Thriller

 

Story: Zodiac starts as the infamous Zodiac killer strikes in San Francisco before demanding his code be printed in the newspaper, the Chronicle, where Paul Avery (Downey Jr) is getting the letters and works with cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) who has a knack for cracking codes. As the body count continues to grow Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards) investigate the crimes as the people of San Francisco start to panic throughout the spree.

With time passing by Avery uses the press the play with the Zodiac, making David’s job difficult as it draws out all the people who want to be known as the Zodiac, while Robert becomes obsessed with cracking the codes being left in letters and solving the case.

 

Thoughts on Zodiac

 

Characters – When looking at the characters you must remember these are based on real people, Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist working for the Chronicle newspaper that becomes obsessed with cracking the Zodiac codes while working with writer Paul Avery. Paul Avery is the writer at the Chronicle that is receiving the letters from the Zodiac killer, he is willing to take a risk to get the story and potentially making himself famous. Inspector David Toschi is the lead investigator working on the Zodiac case, he must overcome derestriction nightmares while tracking any clues, suspects or letters that come his way.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in this leading role showing how a man out of his field can become a conspiracy driven man. Mark Ruffalo shows here that he will always be a shining light in an ensembled cast. Robert Downey Jr was always skilled enough to be a great character actor and this one started to show he could return to the top of the industry. The supporting cast through the film are also great with their roles.

StoryThe mystery of the Zodiac killer is one of the most famous unsolved serial killings in history. Most of the film follows Robert’s spiral into conspiracy theorist that is searching for the Zodiac killer, which does work and become the most interesting part of the film. the problem I am facing looking at this movie is that the first half seems to mix who the main character is trying to solve the case while the enjoyable part is all Robert and of course we don’t know the complete truth on these murders either.

Crime/Mystery/ThrillerThe crime is one of the most famous in modern history, one that is unsolved which does play into the mystery side to everything we are watching too.

SettingsThe timelines we follow give us authentic settings for everything as the film does span over two decades.


Scene of the Movie –
Robert’s face to face with a potential suspect.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film itself is too long.

Budget: $65 Million

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the most interesting unsolved murder mysteries, it gives us a detailed look at three main men involved in investigating the crime all with different motives from different backgrounds.

 

Overall: Detailed but overly long look at the Zodiac case.

Rating