Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Director: James Mangold

Writer: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan (Screenplay) Susanna Kaysen (Book)

Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, Vanessa Redgrave

 

Plot: Based on writer Susanna Kaysen’s account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Drama

 

Story: Girl, Interrupted starts as Susanna (Ryder) reluctantly accepts an offer to head to a mental hospital to help her deal with her drinking and drug problems which leave her in a depressive state in the 60s. In the hospital Susanna meets the fellow patients Lisa (Jolie), Georgina (DuVall), Daisy (Murphy), Polly (Moss) Janet (Bettis) and others each with their own problems.

Over her 18-months in the hospital, Susanna experiences the ups and downs she is struggling with but see that people have worse problems than she does and doing the right thing to help people can be a cure for anyone.

 

Thoughts on Girl, Interrupted

 

Characters – Susanna has recently tried to kill herself which has put her inside a mental hospital, she must deal with her own personal depression but finds hope in a place filled with people with their own problems. Lisa is the loud patient that always becomes the centre of attention in the ward as well as becoming Susanna’s closest friend through the time, she is a bad example but is always trying to help in the long run. Georgina is the roommate of Susanna that comes off the most normal of all the women in the ward. Valerie is the nurse that tries to give the time to all the girls knowing the struggle she had to overcome to be where she is in the 60s but will try to guide them all. We have the string of different patients in the ward with their own problems.

PerformanceWinona Ryder is brilliant in the leading role here showing us just how she was on top of her game at this time. Angelina Jolie showed the world just what she can do with a performance that won her an Oscar and you can see why. Whoopi Goldberg is great in her supporting role and looking through the cast you get great performances from the whole cast including Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Jared Leto and Jeffrey Tambor and many more.

StoryThe story follows how one woman struggles with her own mentality issues over an 18-month period. We see how she needs to learn about herself, her strengths and weaknesses as well as not wanting to follow the traditional go to college route the high school friends did, her own decisions must be made to escape the world she finds herself in. This is an important story for people who do suffer from their own depressive issues to see because it will show the strength you can get from yourself.

BiographyThis 18-months of Susanna’s life helped pave the way for this story, they are personal moments that show how important this story can be.

SettingsMost of the film is set within the mental home which is what you need to see for the best moments of the film.

Scene of the Movie – Last night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There was nothing told about what happened to the rest of the women.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily on the par with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it shows the importance of understand mental illness.

 

Overall: A must watch for anyone that has suffered from mental illness.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – P – Payback (1999)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Donald E Westlake (Novel)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Kara Under, John Glover, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: After a successful heist, Porter is shot by his wife and his best friend. They leave him there to die but when he recovers, he seeks revenge and wants his share of the money.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Revenge Thriller

 

Story: Payback starts as Porter (Gibson) is left for dead by his partner Val (Henry) and wife Lynn (Unger), Porter explains everything he wants to go and why it happened as he tells us all his plan. We watch how Porter dives into the criminal underworld to get his hands-on Val first to get his money, then to kill him.

Porter’s mission is filled with twists and turns along the way as he deals with his former bosses, Bronson (Kristofferson), Carter (Devane), dirty cops and his only friend is old flame Rosie (Bello), can he get what is owned to him?

 

Thoughts on Payback

 

Characters – Porter is a streetwise criminal that does the small jobs in the underworld until he is betrayed, he only wants his money but ends up going after the whole organisation in his cold calculated way. Val is the man that betrayed Porter, he has a short temper and gets himself into trouble more often than not. Rosie is the one person Porter is willing to trust but mostly used to show Porter could have a life after this revenge mission. We also have the traditional crime characters that don’t seem to have anything overly original about them.

PerformanceMel Gibson was one of the hottest properties in the 90’s before any controversy and here you can see he knew how to be the star of the show. Gregg Henry is a good villain but we have three main villains that all get the limited amount of time. Maria Bello is also good in this film as the helper showing us she can pull off the sexy smart partner in crime.

StoryThe story is a by the book revenge story of a betrayed criminal that goes after the man who turned on his just to get the money back but ends up facing off against the how organisation. This is also a film which is known for how the editing changed the tone of the film which is something you can see through the story a lot, one minute it feels like a dark thriller the next it has a moment of what feels slightly comical. This does take part of the film out but the story still ends up going the same way.

Action/CrimeThe action is shoot ups which are a good watch throughout the film, each having bigger stakes and each trying to give us something original. The crime world shows us the world all the characters are from which helps us understand all the motivation they show.

SettingsNew York, my old friend and favourite for a crime setting, nothing can be flawed and staying away from some of the bigger iconic monuments or structures helps us enjoy the gritty underworld.

Scene of the Movie – Pearl in a jam.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would agree with the people who say the edit doesn’t click for the tone.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good by the book crime thriller but the tonal problems stops it reaching the highlights of everything it could have from what I hear of the director’s cut.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – H – The Hurricane (1999)

Director: Norman Jewison

Writer: Armyan Bernstein, Dan Gordon (Screenplay) Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, Sam Chaiton Terry Swinton (Book)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Dan Hedaya, Debbi Morgan

 

Plot: The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.


Tagline – Based on the inspirational true story of a champion.

Runtime: 2 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Incredible Battle for Freedom

 

Story: The Hurricane starts as we see Rubin Carter (Washington) win his first boxing title, but not he is in prison for what he claims is a crime he never committed, a murder. In prison he has written a book to tell his side of the story and his life. When his book is published it goes through the system until 7-years later Lesra (Shannon) picks it up with his home tutors Sam (Schreiber), Terry (Hannah) and Lisa (Unger).

As Lesra reads more of the book he learns how hard the life of Rubin had been with a white cop constantly targeting him including the framing of the murders. Lesra becomes the one young man that will try to defend Rubin and over turn the charges given to him with a new case and a fair jury.

 

Thoughts on The Hurricane

 

Characters – Rubin ‘The Hurricane’ Carter was a champion boxer, he had to overcome the race discrimination that was still flowing through America, targeted by one cop who wants him behind bars. Found guilty of a murder he never committed having given up hope of ever getting released his book sheds new light on the case. When he becomes friends with Lesra and his guardians his hope of freedom is restored. Lesra is a young man that gets taken in by three Canadians who want to give him an education, he gets inspired by Rubin’s book and wants to help him become free for his wrongful imprisonment. Lisa, Sam and Terry are the three guardians of Lesra who end up investigating the case trying to shed new light on the evidence that has been put in the trials before. These characters are all based on real people, they show us just how hard the people worked to clear one man’s name when other wouldn’t or couldn’t.

PerformancesDenzel Washington received one of his Oscar nominations for this role, you can see why because he is fantastic in this leading role, having to go through a body transformation for only limited boxing time too, which shows his dedication to the role. Vicellous Shannon is the least known of this cast and he shows the enthusiasm to help his character see the bright future. Unger, Schreiber and Hannah are actors you know you will always get great performances from and this is no difference even if Hannah’s accent is questionable at times.

StoryThe story focuses on the real case of Rubin Carter, a wrongfully committed prisoner who is running low on options to find his freedom until young man and his guardians come to help with the case. This story shows the racial problems that America had during the 60’s and 70’s in a time where times were changing we still had victims to the old guard that didn’t want to change. It shows how hope could help guide one man to his freedom even after people had almost given up on him.

Biopic/SportsThe sports side of this film is a well-constructed boxing match, but this is only used once because it ruined the career of the fighter. The biopic shows how the life was changed by a wrongful conviction and needing to find a way to get out of prison.

SettingsThe settings show the different locations Rubin would be in out of prison, how confined he felt in jail and where the Lesra and his family have come from to help free him.


Scene of the Movie –
The trial.

That Moment That Annoyed Me John Hannah’s accent doesn’t work.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that is very strong, it has brilliant performances from the whole cast, a story that is almost unbelievable to think it true becomes a reality for Rubin Carter.

 

Overall: Must watch for Biopic fans.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999)

Director: Turi Meyer

Writer: Al Septien, Turi Meyer (Screenplay) Clive Barker (Characters)

Starring: Tony Todd, Donna D’Errico, Jsu Garcia, Wade Williams, Alexia Robinson, Lupe Ontiveros, Mark Adair-Rios

 

Plot: The Candyman is back, trying to convince his descendent, an artist, to join him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What Happened?

 

Story: Candyman: Day of the Dead starts with a random bathroom scene, a big ass bathroom a normal person would never have when a random girl gets a visit from the Candyman without saying his name, I feel like I am not going to like this film.

Ok turns out the random girl is our leading character Caroline (D’Errico) the great, great granddaughter of Daniel Robitaille (Todd) who is all grown up now and is honouring his art in a gallery back in LA. This time we get the backstory once again changing the time of the death of Daniel and the rise of the Candyman.

After Caroline gets pushed into calling the Candyman five times she starts finding herself haunted by him as he has returned to continue his bloody trail of horror. Caroline must work with David (Garcia) to stop the Candyman after the first murders happen, can she put her descendant to rest once and for all?

 

Thoughts on Candyman: Day of the Dead

 

Characters/PerformanceCandyman is back, don’t ask me how he is back but he is, he still continues to be creepy throughout the film which is what we want and willing to kill anyone in the most brutal way. Caroline is the daughter of last leading lady Annie that works to help remember her great great grandfather. David is also involved but turns into bait.

Performance wise, Tony Todd does the best he can with this awful script but the person that stands out as awful all around is Donna D’Errico, a former playboy girl taking over the leading role from much better actress, in this performance here you could easily see in porn. The acting all around is pretty bad to be honest.

StoryThe story here continues to confuse because it was made clear the curse was over but No, it is still happening and the time jump to the adult version of the child in the end scene doesn’t help either. We do have mostly more of the same Candyman wants to swap souls with his selected woman killing anyone else. The story is filled with painful stereotypes and instead of growing the story we just get boobs this time around.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy side of this story is nearly all but gone now with the only horror in this film being the acting.

SettingsWe are back in LA now, because what the hell and the Candyman legend is even celebrated in this town now, sure why not it doesn’t help the film in anyway though.

Special EffectsI don’t think there was much of a budget for special effect because they all come off badly in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis was a dreadful third instalment of the franchise which I did enjoy until now, the acting is so bad, the director just gave up on storytelling and went with boobs as we end up with nearly every female cast member topless at some point.

 

Overall: Terrible ending to this franchise.

Rating

 

 

Jeffrey Combs Weekend – House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Director: William Malone

Writer: Dick Beebe (Screenplay) Robb White (Story)

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Jeffrey Combs

 

Plot: An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Creepy Mysterious Horror

 

Story: House on Haunted Hill starts as we see the horrors that took place in the Vannacutt institute, where the inmates escaped the torture the Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt (Combs) was performing on them with everyone dying within the fire.

Move to present day which is 1999 where Evelyn Stockard-Price (Janssen) wants her husband Stephen Price (Rush) an amusement park mogul to host her birthday inside the abandoned institute. The guest list includes Eddie Baker (Diggs), Donald Blackburn (Gallagher), Sara Wolfe (Larter) and Melissa Marr (Wilson) but the problem is neither of the Price’s know them and they have no idea why they have been invited.

When the guests along with the caretaker Watson Pritchett (Kattan) find themselves locked in the prize Stephen is offering of $1 Million becomes a draw for them all but the house has a history of coming alive at night, can these guests survive a night with Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt and the other victims of the mental institute?

 

Thoughts on House on Haunted Hill

 

Characters/PerformanceStephen Price is a man who has made his money in amusement parks, he has a strained relationship with his wife becoming the suspect in who is behind the goings on within the house. Evelyn believes that this whole party is a game by her husband but is happy to play the game her own way. The guests are all what you would expect, the ambitious celebrity driven, the kind hearted, the one trying to prove themselves and the doctor. The highlight comes from the creepy doctor haunting the hallways.

Performance wise, Geoffrey Rush gets to have a lot of fun in this leading role where he shows his class whereas Famke Janssen adds the dominate leading lady with a plan. Diggs and Larter both do well filling in blanks of the story with Jeffrey Combs being the doctor we all know and love.

StoryThe story is easy to follow and does explain the reasons for everything to be happening well. We do have slightly too much focus on the marriage between the Price’s and just how much they hate each other but otherwise this is a classic haunted asylum movie where it is who will survive the horrors of the house.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is all good and if you watch too young you can see just how scary certain moments are, when you look at the mystery which does get solved but is surrounding why these people got invited to the house in the first place.

SettingsAfter the introduction to the Price’s the rest of the movie is set within the house on haunted hill and that is great for everything which unfolds.

Special EffectsThe special effects do all go well until the final act where the special effects have dated being it nearly 20 years old now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film I do enjoy, it is short, easy to watch and has plenty of good horror moments involved.

 

Overall: Easy to watch fun horror film.

Rating