Cruel Intention (1999)

Director: Roger Kumble

Writer: Roger Kumble (Screenplay) Choderlos de Laclos (Novel)

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Louise Fletcher, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius

 

Plot: Two vicious step-siblings of an elite Manhattan prep school make a wager: to deflower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term.


Tagline – What you can’t have, you can’t resist.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darkly Delicious

 

Story: Cruel Intentions starts as the elite prep school step siblings Kathryn (Gellar) and Sebastian (Phillippe) are planning their next conquests in making the fellow students or authority figures pay for going against them. Kathryn wants to destroy new student Cecile (Blair) for dating her ex-girlfriend, while Sebastian wants to break the new headmaster’s daughter Annette’s (Witherspoon) belief about waiting for sex before marriage.

We watch how the two navigate their way through the elite to achieve their goals only for Sebastian to start to change from his seductive ways.

 

Thoughts on Cruel Intentions

 

Characters – Kathryn is the two faced elite society girl, two the parents she is the good polite guide for their daughters through the prep school, with her brother and friends she plays people however she wants to get things done, she holds grudges and has power over her step-brother, to help her enjoy seeing people fall. Sebastian has a reputation that has seen him go through the girls at the school, he gets what he wants but is bored of the easy girls that can be pushed around. He sets his sights on the new headmaster’s daughter which will give him a new look on life. Annette is the headmaster’s daughter that has sworn off sex before marriage, she is determined not to let Sebastian take advantage of her and break her code, knowing the truth about his past.

PerformancesSarah Michelle Gellar was known for her bad ass Buffy the Vampire Slayer when this movie came out, this performance broke her typecast and showed that she could do a much darker role. Ryan Phillippe is wonderful in this role, you can see how he plans to get ahead at every step of the way believing his confident character. Reese Witherspoon bought us the innocent character we now know her for, we need her to be strong, she is and that look makes her look the part perfectly. This is easily one of he best cast movies of recent years.

StoryThe story takes us into the elite prep school life where the kids are free enough to be planning their next sexual conquest because money is no longer an issue for them. Seeing how the story plans out is interesting from early on to the finish as the plans between the characters and how the step-siblings manipulate the people in their lives is twisted. The pace of the story is great too, it never feels like it lets up from start to finish. It does however show how stupid rich kids can be because they have never learnt morals.

RomanceThe romance in this film is a complete mix, we get to see how romance can be used just for sex and how it can change people to become better people.

SettingsThe New York setting is perfect for this movie, it shows how the elite school kids can get up to the most pointless behaviour because of boredom and belief they have the power over anyone.


Scene of the Movie –
The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me These kids never go to school.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful dark romantic thriller, that uses the music perfectly, has brilliant performances and is easily one of the most watchable films out of the late 90s.

 

Overall: Special movie that hasn’t aged a day.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: John Logan, Oliver Stone (Screenplay) Daniel Pyne, John Logan (Story)

Starring: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jams Woods, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine

 

Plot: A behind-the-scenes look at the life-and-death struggles of modern-day gladiators and those who lead them.


Tagline – that women would eat her own children

Runtime: 2 Hours 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Football Movie

 

Story: Any Given Sunday starts as we follow a Miami franchise American Football team going through a losing streak, coach Tony D’Amato (Pacino) is now considered old school and after losing his star quarterback Jack ‘Cap’ Rooney (Quaid) to injury he is facing the pressure coming from the owner Christina Pagniacci (Diaz).

Turning to his third-choice quarterback Willie Beamen (Foxx) who struggles at first but soon becomes an overnight sensation as he changes his mind set when it comes to the fame. With the team’s form turned around, Tony is left with the difficult decision as the play-offs approach on whether to have his leader Rooney or the loose cannon Willie, along with the rest of the difficult decisions that goes around being a coach.

 

Thoughts on Any Given Sunday

 

Characters – Tony D’Amato is the coach of the Miami Sharks, he has been for years and has won plenty of trophies, now he is being tested and questioned about his ability as the game continues to evolve. He is given difficult decisions like any coach to make it through the season, the one which could be his last. Christina Pagniacci is the owner of the club, she has gained power after her father’s death and is determined to make her team great again, she is ruthless in business and challenges Tony unlike her father did. Jack Rooney is the legendary quarterback of the team, he does get injured which leaves him questioning his own decision to stay in the game. Dr Mandrake has been keeping injuries quiet from Tony putting the players heath and even lives at risk. Willie becomes the overnight sensation as the replacement quarterback, he starts as the hard working nervous player but thrown into the limelight he thinks he is the real deal turning his back on his loved ones not being able to handle the fame. Julian is a known mercenary player, he will work for the money but not harder than he needs to. We have such a big cast, we can’t go into all of them though, the characters all fit into the American Football world.

PerformancesAl Pacino was already an Oscar winner here so we know he is one of the best in the business, here he shows us why as he is brilliant in the desperate aging coach role. Cameron Diaz shows us all that she is a talent actress in this role where she gives us a dominate performance as the owner. Dennis Quaid is good in his role as the aging star. James Woods plays the role you could imagine him playing in this film style. Foxx makes for a great egotistical player that struggles to handle the fame. The whole cast looks like the person they are aiming to play in the film.

StoryThe story follows a fictional American Football team as they are aiming for the play-offs to regain the status as one of the elite teams in the league. We have the small details about what has been going on in the club, the coach questioning where he stands in the game, the new owner desperate to become a powerhouse in the game, the cocky player the aging veteran and even the medical question marks about what has been putting players lives in danger. This is a unique way of telling the story, it is one man changing the team, but instead we see how the team must come together to become legends in their own right.

SportsThe American Football sequences are the heart and soul of the action in the film, they are as brutal as the game is led to believe to be.

SettingsThe film takes us around the high life of the American Football scene, seeing how they go from quiet moments and the wild parties.


Scene of the Movie –
Pre-Game Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many cuts.

Final ThoughtsIf you want to see how American Football world operates, this could easily be one of the most important version of the world.

 

Overall: A Must watch American Football Movie.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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