Anita & Me (2002) Movie Review

Director: Metin Huseyin

Writer: Meera Syal (Screenplay) Meera Syal (Novel)

Starring: Chandeep Uppal, Anna Brewster, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ayesha Dharker

Plot: Meena, a 12-year-old living in a mining village in the English Midlands in 1972, is the daughter of Indian parents who’ve come to England to give her a better life. This idyllic existence is upset by the arrival in the village of Anita Rutter and her dysfunctional family. Anita is 14, blonde and beautiful – exactly what Meena thinks she wants to be. She becomes part of Anita’s world, but events do not run smoothly. Meena’s growing up – and that brings plenty of changes.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Sweet Coming of Age Tale

Story: Anita & Me starts as we meet Meena Kumar (Uppal) who lives in a small Midlands town, the daily routine is starting to drive Meena crazy with her parents Papa (Bhaskar) and Daljeet (Dharker) trying to make the life for the future.

Meena’s life takes a change when a new girl Anita (Brewster) arrives in town, which sees her coming out of her shell more, but getting caught in the middle of following her family’s traditions or becoming her own woman.

Thoughts on Anita & Me

Characters – Meena is a young Indian girl living in the Midlands, getting close to reach teenager years, with her always feeling out of place until she meets a new girl in town, one that treats her like one of the friends, while her parents are still trying to keep her driven into the traditions, she is left feeling more out of place than ever as she is torn between the two worlds. Anita is the girl that moves to town, she becomes best friends with Meena, showing her a more English approach of different things in life, teach Meena habits her parents would never have approved off, all while having her own secret. Papa and Daljeet are the parents of Meena that are trying to push her into following the family traditions, not liking her being friends with anyone outside of the family circle.

PerformancesChandeep Uppal in the leading role is great, showing how difficult growing up was for somebody different in a town and never understanding. In the supporting cast we have Anna Brewster being the friend works very well, with the bigger known actors in the family roles showing the strength needing in the key scenes.

StoryThe story here follows a 12-year-old Indian girl living in the Midlands during the 1970s, as she becomes friends with a new girl in town, she is torn between following family traditions and wanting to be a growing teenager. This story does follow the traditions of a coming of age tale, we focus on an untapped market though, showing us how difficult being a young Indian girl, dealing with being different to the rest of the girls in the town, having to follow different traditions and dealing with racism without understanding just how series it is. We do only see the world through the eyes of Meera, who shows how an innocent point of view can see the more series issues in life, with everything coming together in a sweet style.

ComedyThe comedy in the film comes from seeing how Meera witnesses the world, we will laugh at certain things, while understand the pain bought on by others.

SettingsThe film is set in one small Midlands town that sees how one young soon to be teenager is trying to adapt to growing up.


Scene of the Movie – Meera’s letter reaction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Never getting to the true suffering in Anita’s life.

Final Thoughts This is a beautiful coming of age tale that shows us just how the British world changed with different cultures coming together in life, to give us a new look on life.

Overall: Coming Of Age with a Change.

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – O – Once Upon at Time in the Midlands (2002)

Director: Shane Meadows

Writer: Paul Fraser, Shane Meadows (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Shirley Henderson, Ricky Tomlinson, Kathy Burke, Rhys Ifans, Finn Atkins

 

Plot: After seeing his ex-girlfriend (Henderson) turn down a nationally televised marriage proposal, a small-time crook (Carlyle) returns to his hometown to try and win back her heart.


Tagline – A tinned spaghetti western

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little English Rom Com

 

Story: Once Upon a Time in the Midlands starts when a dysfunctional family Charlie (Tomlinson) and Carol (Burke) appear on a national TV show to try address their problems and are joined by her friend Shirley (Henderson), she gets a surprise when her boyfriend Dek (Ifans) proposes to her on national TV, leading to her saying no.

This appearance grabs the attention of her ex Jimmy (Carlyle) a criminal now living in Scotland to return to try and win her heart again. With Jimmy’s return the street is thrown into chaos with friendships being tested and relationships pushed to the limits.

 

Thoughts on Once Upon a Time in the Midlands

 

Characters – Jimmy is a criminal living in Scotland, when his latest job gives him a chance to return to the Midlands to try and win back his ex and his daughter, he has a reputation of being violent, but does he deserve another chance or not, is he a changed man or not. Shirley is the woman caught in the middle of everything, she is living with Dek, she had a child with Jimmy, she loves both men and isn’t sure where she wants her heart to go, even if Jimmy is wrong for her in every way. Dek is the new partner of Shirley who has helped raise her child, he has his own business and is always out to make sure they have everything they need in life, he becomes threatened by Jimmy’s return making him act out of character. Charlie and Carol are both caught in the middle of this knowing they have a past with Jimmy, but see the positives Dek has bought to the family for Shirley.

PerformancesRobert Carlyle as the bad boy criminal is a perfect casting choice, it is a role he made famous in Trainspotting and he does bring a calmer version to us here, which is everything needed for the film. Shirley Henderson is a delight to watch, we believe the hard times she has been through and the difficulties she has been facing in life. Rhys Ifans is funny to watch in his role, where he brings us a more clean cut father figure in Shirley’s life. The supporting cast is great to watch with plenty of laughs coming from them.

StoryThe story here follows an everyday group of friends including couples living in the midlands, whose lives get turned upside down by the return of the disruptive influence that wants to make up for his past mistakes. This does show us how the lives of the people in the working class Midlands is, they support each other, but will stay loyal to loved ones, only for this to put everybody in a difficult decision spot when Jimmy return. We do see how people can seem like they were always trying to do the right thing only for them to not have changed and been selfish. Everything flows nicely for the story to unfold, which does help connect everything together too.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy mostly comes from the supporting characters, we get plenty on how the people react to everything going on, the romance shows us just how difficult the life of Shirley has become with the man she once loved returning to compete against the man who has loved her and put her life in order.

SettingsThe film is set in the Midlands, this helps us understand how the people involved live and how they are making the most of their everyday lives.


Scene of the Movie –
The knockout punch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It seems to forget one part of the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun British comedy that has an excellent cast and a realistic look at how relationships can be complicated.

 

Overall: Funny moments throughout.

Rating

 

 

Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – Derailed (2002) Movie Review

Director: Bob Misiorowski

Writer: Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch (Screenplay) Boaz Davidson (Story)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tomas Arana, Laura Harring, Susan Gibney, Lucy Jenner, Jessica Bowman

Plot: On an out of control train holding hostages and high-tech bio-weapons agent Kristoff (Van Damme) becomes a one man army to derail the terrorists and save the lives of everyone on board!


Tagline – A deadly Virus… Only one way to stop it!

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Easy to Watch Action

Story: Derailed starts when special agent Jacques Kristoff (Van Damme) is assigned one more mission, he must escort highly trained thief Galina Konstantin (Harring) who has secrets America want, the two must travel from Austria across the border by train.

His wife Madeline (Gibney) brings the family on the train to surprise him for his birthday, only to bring tension between the two, just are the terrorist Mason Cole (Arana) plays to cause a biological disaster using the train as a weapon.

Thoughts on Derailed

Characters – Jacques Kristoff is a bio-weapons agent that gets sent on one more assignment to escort an asset across the boarder with a weapon, he must lie to his wife about his target, which he gets caught out on, then he must save the passengers on the train from terrorist that want to use the weapon. Mason Cole is the terrorist that has unleashed the bio-weapon knowing there is a vaccine for the right people, he wants the weapon for his own use and is willing to kill either side. Galina is the thief that needs to be escorted, she has her own set of skills which will be used to keep her ahead of any threats that come her way and she will do whatever to survive. Madeline is the wife of Jacques who decides to surprise him for his birthday with his family only to believe he is having an affair.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is an action star you can watch in nearly anything and he does nothing wrong in the film. Tomas Arana seems to be trying to doing a John Malkovich impression and not the best. Laura Harring does well enough for the seductive woman that needs escorting. While the rest of the cast are fine without doing much.

StoryThe story here follows a soldier that must protect a train after a terrorist releases a deadly bio-weapon on the passengers and nearby station. This does play out like any action story starring Van Damme, it shows him needing to overcome the odds to protect people or in this case loved ones from disaster. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it is easy to watch and plays into Van Damme’s strengths without being on the intensity level of most films from the same genre.

ActionThe action lets Van Damme show of his fighting skills like all of his films do, you won’t be watching this one randomly, only if you are a Van Damme fan.

SettingsMost of the film is set on a train showing that the problems being faced are within tight walls that don’t offer an easy out for anybody to get of.


Scene of the Movie – Train top chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Split scene action.

Final Thoughts This is a truly typical Van Damme action film, it does everything it needs to without being anything that is truly ground breaking.

Overall: Van Damme 101.

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – S – Solaris (2002)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Steven Soderbergh (Screenplay) Stanislaw Lem (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Ulrich Tukur, John Cho, Morgan Rusler

 

Plot: A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.


Tagline – There are no answers. Only Choices.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over-Complicated Sci-Fi

 

Story: Solaris starts when psychologist Chris Kelvin (Clooney) is sent to an isolated research station orbiting a planet after a distress call was sent asking for him. On board the station, Chris meets Gordon (Davis) and Snow (Davies) who have been suffering their own visions, it isn’t long before Chris has his own vision, his wife Rheya (McElhone).

Chris starts to relive the relationship he had with his wife, who shouldn’t be there, he turns to the other researchers that could help explain what is going on, where he is left with the decision on whether to try and bring her back.

 

Thoughts on Solaris

 

Characters – Chris Kelvin is a psychologist with his own personal problems, he is assigned to help on a research station in space to figure out what has happened to the crew. Chris experiences his own vision, which makes him face the reality of what happened with his own marriage, making him question every decision what happened between him and his wife. Rheya is the wife of Chris, she has appeared on the station giving Chris his chance to be with her again. We see her in the memories of Chris, while on the station she isn’t everything Chris remembers. Gordon is one of the researchers that has been dealing with the unexplained visions, she has figured out how to beat them, only she must now convince Chris what is real or not. Snow completes the research team with his cryptic messages to helps Chris understand everything involved.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is the standout of the cast here, he must deal with his character’s grief, while trying to use the scientific explanation for everything that is going on, he brings both sides of his emotional factor. Natascha McElhone does have the chemistry with Clooney for the character, she must also deal with two roles for her character. Viola Davis and Jeremy Davies both complete the supporting roles well without being tested to their full abilities.

StoryThe story here follows a psychologist that must travel to a remote space station to help the researchers, only for himself to become trapped with the similar visions they have suffered, with his being off his late wife. This does get to show how one man must deal with he grief of a lost love, facing his reality in a new way other than just talking it out, we see him come face to face with what is hurting him to learn just how to move on. We do get into a big scientific discussion about what could happen if you could get a second chance with somebody, to make up for a mistake. This does tend to get over complicated and fails to give us the support characters own visions as a major part of the story, which could show other experiences being suffered through. This does try to be interesting and does work very well, only it does try to become more than it offers.

Mystery/Romance/Sci-FiThe mystery involved in the film comes from how this planet is connecting to the station creating these visions, this plays into the sci-fi side of the film, as we can’t explain everything going on. The romance side of the film shows us just how one man can face his own romantic past in one moment.

SettingsThe film is mostly set on the station, this shows how Chris is looking back at his romance from a remote location, we do get to see where his life was once set.


Scene of the Movie –
The liquid oxygen moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t use the supporting character visions.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sci-fi romance mystery that does get over complicated when it doesn’t need to, it has strong performances, but fails to use the supporting characters well enough.

 

Overall: Sci-fi that makes you scratch your head.

Rating

 

 

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Director: Andy Tennant

Writer: C Jay Cox (Screenplay) Douglas J Eboch (Story)

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Candice Bergen, May Kay Place, Fred Ward, Jean Smart, Ethan Embry, Melanie Lynskey

 

Plot: A young woman who’s reinvented herself as a New York socialite must return home to Alabama to obtain a divorce from her husband, after seven years of separation.


Tagline – Sometimes What You’re Looking For Is Right Where You Left It.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sweet Rom Com

 

Story: Sweet Home Alabama starts as we see Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon) a rising fashion designer in New York, dating the Mayor (Bergen) son Andrew Hennings (Dempsey) who proposes to her. This becomes massive news in the city, But Melanie must return to Alabama to get a divorce from her first husband Jake (Lucas) her childhood sweetheart.

Returning home Melanie gets to see how the friends and family have been living their own lives without her, how the people have changed and just how many people she left behind.

 

Thoughts on Sweet Home Alabama

 

Characters – Melanie was a small-town girl, who moved to the big city making herself the hottest name in the fashion industry, she gets engaged, but has one problem, she is still married back in her small town. She must face the people she left behind who show her how the simple life can bring them happiness, facing her husband to get the divorce to carry on with her life becomes more difficult than she imagined as she walks down memory lane. Jake Perry is the husband back in Alabama, he refuses to sign the divorce papers because he knows what that will mean, he grew up as the sweetheart of Melanie believing she is the one, while trying to make something of his life. Andrew Hennings is the fiancée in New York that will go against his mother’s wishes to marry Melanie. The rest of the characters mostly include the members of the small-town that Melanie has left behind, they all have their quirks.

PerformancesReese Witherspoon was the queen of the rom com at the turn of the century, this film shows why this was because she fits the film perfectly. Josh Lucas is good in his role and we completely believe him being from the small town. Patrick Dempsey does have a supporting role which he is good in as you can see him as the higher society guy compared to the small-town people. The rest of the cast get the laughs when you need them and give us the serious moments too.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that recreated herself to be a success, her past comes back to stop her reaching all the potential in this new life, which means she must walk down memory lane before deciding where her future is. This does show us how the past will always be important to your future and you should never forget where you came from. For rom com genre we know how this will play out and we can see the arc Melanie must go through during the film, the story will fill out the check list for the fans of the genre.

Comedy/Romance The comedy in this film comes from how the typical small-town locals are portrayed, we don’t get many psychical comedy moments. The romance leaves one woman needing to face her past love to be with her future love.

SettingsThe film is set in two main locations, the New York one shows us the new life Melanie has, while returning to Alabama we see the slower life she left behind, but loves deep down.


Scene of the Movie –
The wedding.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The small-town characters are slightly too generic.

Final ThoughtsThis might well be generic for the most part, but this works for the rom com genre which shows Reese Witherspoon shinning at what she always did best at the turn of the century.

 

Overall: Rom Com 101.

Rating