Maggie Gyllenhaal Weekend – Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

Director: Mike Newell

Writer: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ginnifer Goodwin, Dominic West, Juliet Stevenson, Marcia Gay Harden

Plot: A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 1950s Wellesley girls to question their traditional social roles.


Tagline – They had everything. She showed them more.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant

Story: Mona Lisa Smile starts when Katherine Ann Watson (Roberts) takes a teaching role at the prestigious Wellesley College, one with the social traditions taught to girls studying they’re from the upper-class families. Katherine learns that her class with includes Betty Warren (Dunst), Joan Brandwyn (Stiles), Giselle Levy (Gyllenhaal) and Connie Baker (Goodwin) know the whole textbook on the first day.

Katherine must learn to keep her head down, while trying to teach the young women about being thinking instead of following the traditions they have been raised to believe are the only way to go. With Katherine showing them a new look at life the pressure starts getting thrown back at her by the parent’s of the students, with some wanting to accept it, while others are happy to stay in the line they believe is right.

Thoughts on Mona Lisa Smile

Characters – Katherine Ann Watson is an arts history teacher that is known for her free-thinking ways that doesn’t follow the traditional ways of the school, she does want to teach the women they don’t have to just get married and become housewives, she must remain in a position which will see the higher ups in the school question her beliefs and methods. Katherine will help develop these young women to understand they can be more in life. Betty Warren is the daughter of the head of the school, she is engaged and ready to finish school and become a housewife, everything she has been taught is right for her, she isn’t afraid to report anyone going against the traditions and questions her own friends for trying to be different. Joan Brandwyn is one of the students who also believes she is meant to just get married, she did want to study law and Katherine pushes her to follow her dream an apply for law school, this puts Joan in a position of not knowing what she should do next. Giselle Levy has been having an affair with one of the professor, she pushes the other girls into trying to break the rules more which is the way she feels like she fits in.

PerformancesJulia Roberts is wonderful in this leading role, being the truly free-thinking which does seem to reflect her own acting career at times. Kirsten Dunst is great too showing that in the early 2000s, she was nearly untouchable in her acting. Julia Stiles is great to breaking away from the romantic comedies she had been doing. Maggie Gyllenhaal shows that she was going to go onto bigger projects with her wonderful supporting performance and Ginnifer Goodwin is wonderful in this film too.

StoryThe story here follow a free-thinking professor that takes a job in a prestigious women’s school where she wants to help the young women start to think for themselves instead of following the traditions set up for them to follow, her thinking does upset the normal in the beliefs, as she just wants to make a difference to these women’s lives. When you look back at the story and time it is set, it does show us just how frustrating the mentality was. You could compare this to ‘Dead Poets Society’ with a teaching trying to show students life can be different to what they have been raised to believe. The story does show us enough of a previous problem in life and does show how people would have changed if they were given a glimpse into the life they could have.

SettingsThe film is set around the school in which Katherine teaches, it shows how the rules are going to be difficult to follow or understand and how people will constantly be looking down on people trying to change thing.


Scene of the Movie – The flowers of goodbye.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain characters are too generic.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful look at how somebody wanted to help make a change to the normal which should never have been the normal, we have five excellent leading lady performances too.

Overall: Wonderful look at change.

Rating

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Bill Murray Weekend – Lost in Translation (2003)

Director: Sofia Coppola

Writer: Sofia Coppola (Screenplay)

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris

 

Plot: A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo.


Tagline – Sometimes you have to go halfway around the world to come full circle

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Life Drama

 

Story: Lost in Translation starts when faded movie star Bob Harris arrives in Tokyo to shoot a couple of commercials for a whisky, he is a fish out of water in this country, on the other side of the hotel, Charlotte (Johansson) is staying with her photographer husband John (Ribisi) who is always working, leaving Charlotte to try to find something to do in a country she isn’t used to being in.

When Charlotte and Bob meet in the hotel bar, they start to have a friendship that sums up their loneliness in the country and they support each other to have a good time in Tokyo.

 

Thoughts on Lost in Translation

 

Characters – Bob Harris is a faded movie star that can still gain a large pay check by starring in commercials, which is why he is in Tokyo, he is feeling lonely because his wife and children haven’t travelled once again, he does offer Charlotte advice about enjoying her life, but not rushing into anything. Charlotte is in Tokyo because of her husband’s work, this sees her feeling lonely as he is always work and she doesn’t know anybody else in the city, she makes friends with Bob as they start to experience the city together, she opens up about her struggle about finding her own calling in life. While Jon is the husband to Charlotte, we don’t really learn to much about him other than he is working.

PerformancesThe performance revolve around Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray, they are both wonderful to watch as they show us just how talent they pair can be either alone or as a pair on the screen.

StoryThe story follows two people from different worlds in America that are lost in Japan, only to find each other to keep each other company during their time in Tokyo. The story dives into the idea that being in a new country can be isolating and you will need to learn to find somebody new to help them enjoy their time in the country, it does show you can find somebody new could give you a conversation you aren’t able to with friends in your life.

SettingsThe film uses the setting of Tokyo which shows just how difficult it can be to find yourself in a country where you have never visited.


Scene of the Movie –
Karaoke

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is just slow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a life drama that shows us just how important communication is to the everyday life in a new country.

 

Overall: Just a life drama.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Jeepers Creepers II (2003)

Director: Victor Salva

Writer: Victor Salva (Screenplay)

Starring: Ray Wise, Jonathan Breck, Garikayi Mutambirwa, Eric Nenninger, Nicki Aycox, Travis Schiffner

 

Plot: Set a few days after the original, a championship basketball team’s bus is attacked by The Creeper, the winged, flesh-eating terror, on the last day of his 23-day feeding frenzy.


Tagline – The Creeper is back for more.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Fun Sequel

 

Story: Jeepers Creeper II starts as we see Jack Taggart Sr (Wise) lose a child to the Creeper (Breck), he has had to wait for the creature to returns and on the final day of his feeding frenzy a basketball team travelling home finds themselves becoming the next attraction of his menu.

Minxie (Aycox), Double D (Mutambirwa), Scotty (Nenninger), Izzy (Schiffner) are just a couple of the players who get standard as the Creeper starts to pick them off one by one. the team must work together to fight back, while Jack will finally get to have revenge on the Creeper.

 

Thoughts on Jeepers Creepers II

 

Characters – Jack Taggart Sr sees his youngest son taken by the creeper, he has been waiting for revenge and learning this is the final night of hunting, he looks to get the revenge he desires and stop the creeper once and for all. The Creeper is still hunting, it is on the last day of the 23rd day feeding frenzy, it will select its options and has the ability to regenerate damage done to it. Minxie is one of the cheerleaders that gets a message in her dreams from the previous victims warning her about the Creeper and the rules that apply to him. We have a string over different basketball players that have tension between each other as they show their true colours when trying to survive.

PerformancesRay Wise is the star of the movie, he makes us believe that he is the desperate and will do anything to get revenge. Jonathan Breck is great as the creeper which only makes us feel scared of this character. When we get to the high school students, the actors are fine, we have too many different ones for anyone to truly stand out from the rest.

StoryThe story continues the legacy of the Creeper, we know how it comes out every 23 years to eat for 23 days, we are on the final day which leaves our characters being picked off as the Creepers final few meals. Now, this does bring a couple o problems to the table, first off comes the fact we have too many characters, none of them get enough time to shine in anyway when it comes to facing off against the creeper, there doesn’t seem to be a true leading figure of the student. That is the weak, the strong side comes from seeing how one man has been hunting the Creeper to get revenge for what happened to his son, this is a side of the story I feel we could have seen a lot more time spent on, instead of the weak slasher side of the events.

HorrorThe horror in the film focuses on the Creeper hunting down its latest victims, now this turns the horror into a slasher style more often than not, stepping away from the gothic feel the first one created.

SettingsThe film is set on a random road in the middle of nowhere after the student get standard, they can’t run because the Creeper is outside, we then spend most of the film following them decide whether to run around fields or not.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects it would be fair to say they are solid for the most part, the practical ones do feel as brutal as they need to be which is what is important.


Scene of the Movie –
The field of screams.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The switch from gothic to slasher disappoints.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel which will continue the legacy of the Creeper for the fans of the original film, the style might well have changed, but overall we can have a good time watching.

 

Overall: Simple fun sequel.

Rating

 

 

The Station Agent (2003)

Director: Tom McCarthy

Writer: Tom McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, Michelle Williams, Josh Pais

 

Plot: When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to rural New Jersey to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.


Tagline – Loneliness is much better when you have got someone to share it with

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming

 

Story: The Station Agent starts when Finbar McBride (Dinklage) must relocate to rural new Jersey after his friend passes away, he wants a quiet solitude life, as he moves into an abandoned train station. He just so happens to be opposite a chatty hotdog vendor Joe (Cannavale). Finbar continues to meet the locals including the clumsy Olivia (Clarkson) and Emily (Williams).

Finbar, Joe and Olivia end up striking up an unlikely friendship as Fin learns to let people in to his life, Joe learns to open up more about life and Olivia reveals her own tragic story.

 

Thoughts on The Station Agent

 

Characters – Finbar has always worked and lived in the same location until his friend dies, Fin is forced to move out of the city where he wants to continue his life of isolation, only the overly welcoming locals want to be his friend. Finbar starts to learn about other people’s problems as loneliness isn’t the best thing in his life. Olivia nearly runs Finbar over, she is dealing with her own problems that she is covering up with a bubbly personality, she becomes one of the people that Fin wants to help. Joe runs a hot dog stand opposite Fin’s new home, he likes to chat and wants to become Fin’s friend, he has his own problems that he doesn’t want to talk to anybody else about.

PerformancesPeter Dinklage showed the whole world just how talented he is as an actor in this leading role, Patricia Clarkson is also wonderful in her role as we feel the pain her character is going through. Bobby Cannavale completes the main cast with an enjoyable performance

StoryThe story here follows one man that must relocate after his friend dies, he wants to be left in isolation only for the locals to just want to welcome him to the neighbourhood, even if they have their own problems. This is a story that teaches people that need to have a friend to get through your problems, even if the friend comes from the most unlikely location in your everyday life. It shows how people can live a life in pain without you knowing until you are willing to listen to them. It can show how life isn’t going to be easy and it can take you down dark paths and you will need people to help you.

ComedyThe film fits the comedy drama wonderfully, handling the serious nature of the events of the film, while getting the laughs when needed.

SettingsThe film is set in a small location of a town outside of New Jersey, the people are friendly and have problems, they want to stay strong in the eyes of the other members of the community.


Scene of the Movie –
The final shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do have too many dwarf jokes, which feel like they haven’t aged well.

Final ThoughtsThis is a charming comedy drama that shows the real struggles in life with friendship coming from the unlikely places.

 

Overall: Enjoyable comedy drama.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Daredevil (2003)

Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Writer: Mark Steven Johnson (Screenplay)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Scott Terra, Ellen Pompeo

 

Plot: A man blinded by toxic waste which also enhanced his remaining senses fights crime as an acrobatic martial arts superhero.


Tagline – A man without hope, is a man without… fear.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Origin Film

 

Story: Daredevil starts when young Matt Murdock becomes blind through a freak accident only to see his other sense bring him new life and after his father’s death, he dedicates his life to help fight for the ones who need it. Now an adult Matt (Affleck) he has become a lawyer to help people the mob victimise, if he doesn’t get justice in a courtroom, he puts on the mask to become Daredevil and eliminates the threat.

The Kingpin (Duncan) runs the town and he keeps everyone working for him under control, tired of Daredevil causing problems, he hires Bullseye (Farrell). With a new love interest in warrior Elektra (Garner) the daughter of a billionaire, the sides all come together to give Matt his toughest battle yet.

 

Thoughts on Daredevil

 

Characters – Matt Murdock was blinded as a child and saw his father killed by the mob. He dedicates his life to stopping the mob in a courtroom and if that fails, he will take justice into his own hands. A trained warrior who uses sound to visualise his enemies believing that revenge in the best way to solve the problems. Elektra is the daughter of a billionaire who grabs Matt’s attention, she is trained to protect herself and after her father is killed, she sets out on her own mission for revenge. Bullseye is an assassin for hire, he never misses, well that is his skill, he can turn anything into a weapon and enjoys the competition. The Kingpin is the man that runs the neighbourhood’s crime ring, he will kill anyone that gets in his way and doesn’t care who he kills.

PerformancesBen Affleck in the leading role is good for what he needs to do, there might be a few questions over the blind scenes, but for the fights he can handle himself well. Jennifer Garner has the look and experience in the combat roles, she doesn’t have much to do outside of this though. Michael Clarke Duncan in a villainous role where he is bigger than his opponent is an easy and good choice, while Colin Farrell seems to love playing this role.

StoryThe story shows us how Daredevil rose up to take on the biggest crime boss in the city of New York, he does have to question where he lays in the battle, will he cross the lines the villains do and get revenge for his father’s death. this might seem like a pretty safe origin story which is all we want at times. We do keep most of the story around human enhancements over superpowers which is good to see to because at times we are facing anything from Gods to aliens. The way this story is told does make it feel like an adult Spider-man though.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is entertaining, we have a couple of close combat sequences bringing in an Eastern fight style to the Western heroes mentality which was different at the time compared to what the other comic book films were giving us.

SettingsThe film is set in New York city which is always known for the high crime levels which would make a vigilante believable.

Special EffectsThe effects are interesting because we get the idea of how Matt can see being the main use of effects which does feel unique in style and does add that little something to the fights.


Scene of the Movie –
I never miss.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The blind scenes don’t look natural.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that gets a lot more stick that it deserves if we are being honest, it is a simple to watch comic book movie that gets what it needs to right and doesn’t go wildly over the top.

 

Overall: Entertaining and watchable comic book movie.

Rating