Robert De Niro Weekend – Hide and Seek (2005)

Director: John Polson

Writer: Ari Schlossberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Irving, Dylan Baker, Melissa Leo

 

Plot: As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife’s suicide, his daughter finds solace, at first, in her imaginary friend.


Tagline – If you want to know the secret, you have to play the game.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Confusing Horror

 

Story: Hide and Seek starts when psychologist David (De Niro) loses his wife to a sudden suicide, to help his daughter Emily (Fanning) through the trauma he decides to move to a more remote location upstate of New York.

David is trying to settle in with Emily, who soon starts to have her own imagine friend named Charlie, David does turn to colleague Katherine (Janssen) for advice, while trying to move on with both their lives, only Charlie starts to show an evil side.

 

Thoughts on Hide and Seek

 

Characters – David is a psychologist in the big city of New York, he has a wife and daughter, only all his skills can’t help him see the depression his own wife is suffering through, needing to put his life back together with his daughter, he needs to  make sure Emily doesn’t fall into needing more help, while navigating learning to live in a new town. Emily is the daughter that became traumatised after the death of her mother, she uses her imaginary friend to get away with doing evil things around the house. Emily is a character that you can understand the acting against the normal because dealing with loss can be difficult for a child. Katherine is the colleague that specialises in helping children, she is the one that David turns to for added advice for helping his daughter. Elizabeth is a local divorced woman with a child the same age as Emily, David tries to build a friendship for both himself and Emily with her, Elizabeth shows that people can be patient when searching for new friendship.

PerformancesRobert De Niro stepping into the horror genre is something refreshing, he does show how difficult it could be for a father to keep everything together after losing a wife. Dakota Fanning as the traumatised daughter brings the fear required, while also being creepy through the film. Famke Janssen and Elisabeth Shue are both solid enough supporting the film, without needing to make that big of an impact in what is going on.

StoryThe story follows a recently widowed father taking his daughter to start a new life in a quieter neighbourhood, only for her to get a new imaginary friend that doesn’t like the people in her life. Now this story could and does start by showing the effects of a trauma on a young girl, after she witnesses her mother’s suicide, this could explain the actions she ends up causing through the film, the problem with the story comes from the fact the film sets this up, only to go in a direction which makes zero sense for anything we have seen in the first act. It also doesn’t help the fact we have five yes FIVE different endings too. This is a story that completely derails because of a simple choice and ends up just being difficult to watch.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in the film is confusing too, mostly because it is weak dream sequences before anything being remotely scary happening until the final third of the film which, does have strong moments, just doesn’t make sense to what we knew before. The mystery in the film comes from trying to figure out who Charlie is, because we get suggestions it could be a person with the number of people that get introduced around the new home, add in that it could be supernatural, we are left to figure out who they are.

SettingsThe film is set in upstate New York where the father and daughter are trying to start a new life away from the busy life that could have caused added stress in life. It does give the family an isolation factor which adds to the potential suspense in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Not interested in new friends.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The third act twist just confuses everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that was going in a smooth direction to be interesting only to take a twist which makes it frustrating by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Weak ending horror.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Nanny McPhee (2005)

Director: Kirk Jones

Writer: Emma Thompson (Screenplay) Christianna Brand (Books)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kelly Macdonald, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Jennifer Rae Daykin, Raphael Coleman

 

Plot: A governess uses magic to rein in the behavior of seven ne’er-do-well children in her charge.


Tagline – You’ll Learn To Love Her. Warts And All. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Fantasy

 

Story: Nanny McPhee starts when widow Mr Brown (Firth) is struggling to keep a nanny to care for his seven children led by the oldest Simon (Brodie-Sangster) who has always planned to push the nanny away with schemes that will leave them in terror. Reaching the end of his potential candidates, Mr Brown is drawn to a mystical Nanny McPhee (Thompson).

Nanny McPhee uses different methods to get the children in order, using her magic, with the warning When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. Can the children be put into order before it is too late.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is a magical nanny that comes when families need her most, she uses the magic to push the children into following her rules, letting them learn from their mistakes unlike any previous nanny. Mr Brown is the widowed father of seven that runs a funeral parlour, he has become distant from his children because of the added pressure of needing to find a new wife as h is clearly stricken with the grief in his life. Evangeline is the help around the house, she is learning from the children in a way that sees her being one of the only adults that can get through to them. Simon is the oldest child that plans what the rest get up to, he needs to learn the biggest lessons as the others will look up to him most.

PerformancesEmma Thompson is wonderful choice as Nanny McPhee, she always has your attention on screen no matter what she is teaching. Colin Firth is a great choice in this role, he has the fatherly side down and a man that needs to find love. Kelly Macdonald works well in the maid role in the film bring a calm to the chaos the children usually have. Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the lead of the children stars shows that he was one of Britain’s best at the time.

StoryThe story follows a widow that must find a new wife within a month, but is struggle to make sure his children have a nanny after they have chased the rest out of town, a magical nanny comes along to save the day and teach the children a lesson. This story does tackle adult themes like grief and learning to communicate with your family after a tragic loss. We don’t overly focus on the serious side of the film because this is meant to be a kids movie, which is fine, which does pose the question just why would somebody have seven kids and not be able to control them. We do get to through the usual life lessons that the children must learn without being anything special.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy in the film usually falls into the slightly more immature level which is more for the children audience, the fantasy comes from just how Nanny McPhee operates.

SettingsThe film is set in the house that Mr Brown lives in with his children, it shows that he is in the upper class in the time they are living in.

Special EffectsThe effects come from how Nanny McPhee pulls her magic to make the life better for the children.


Scene of the Movie –
The wedding.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Overly childish jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple enjoyable family fantasy film that can be enjoyed by the whole family, it doesn’t bring anything new, but it doesn’t break anything too.

 

Overall: Fantasy film 101.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – F – Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)

Director: Dean Parisot

Writer: Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller (Screenplay) Gerald Gaiser, Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller (Story)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins, Angie Harmon, John Michael Higgins

 

Plot: When an affluent couple lose all their money following a series of blunders, they turn to a life of crime to make ends meet.


Tagline – Giving Big Businesses a Run For Their Money!

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Comedy Lacking That Spark

 

Story: Fun with Dick and Jane starts as we meet Dick (Carrey) who is about to get a promotion to vice president of the company he has worked for, for year. The problem comes that this promotion is designed to put the blame on the company’s problems on him instead of the men who really are involved, Jack (Baldwin) and Frank (Jenkins).

Dick loses his job and his wife Jane (Leoni) has quit her job, the two struggle to find new jobs and before long they are facing being evicted, which turns them to a life of crime to save their home.

 

Thoughts on Fun with Dick and Jane

 

Characters – Dick has been working for a company for his whole working career, he has been waiting for a chance to get to the next step which he gets only to see himself become the fall guy, making him unemployable in the field. He can’t get a job anywhere and out of pure desperation he turns to a life a crime to support his family. Jane is the wife of Dick who quits her job with his new promotion and can’t get a new job, she believes in Dick and ends up teaming up with Dick to commit crime. Jack and Frank are the CEOs that have taken advantage of Dick to get away clean after their illegal trading.

PerformancesJim Carrey gets to play into the full energy comedy that he is known for here, this isn’t the best he has given, but his fans will enjoy what he does, Tea Leoni does struggle with comedy and it is clear to see because she just doesn’t work with Carrey’s comedy. Alec Baldwin and Richard Jenkins get to enjoy their roles in the film playing into what they could be for these real people.

StoryThe story follows a couple that are forced into a life of crime after losing everything when a business they are employed with gets closed down with the CEOs leaving the employees broke. This is a remake which has been bought into the modern era of greedy businessman who have taken advantage of their employees only to be left nothing. The story does seem to be going in fast forward with the crime montage flashing over what is happening. This does have a good outcome for everyone involved, but just doesn’t engage for the audience.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film mostly revolves around Jim Carrey bringing in his routine which is enjoyed by people who are fans of his work, the crime side of the film shows just how CEOs can try and get away with things and how one couple looks to crime to survive.

SettingsThe film doesn’t give us any settings which feel overly iconic which the film could have had to make us become more invested in what is happening.


Scene of the Movie –
The first robbery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Crime montage.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book crime comedy that skips over too much of the interesting material only to leave us feeling like we blinked and missed too much.

 

Overall: Basic crime comedy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Jarhead (2005)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: William Broyles Jr (Screenplay) Anthony Swofford (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Scott MacDonald, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Ming Lo, Lucas Black

 

Plot: A psychological study of operations desert shield and desert storm during the gulf war; through the eyes of a U.S marine sniper who struggles to cope with the possibility his girlfriend may be cheating on him back home.


Tagline – Every man fights his own war.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Effective War Film

 

Story: Jarhead starts as we meet Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhaal) who joined the marines, it isn’t long before he gets taken by Staff Sgt Sykes (Foxx) to the US Marine Sniper division going through the training regime meeting his spotter Alan Troy (Sarsgaard).

When war breaks out the marines are set to the middle east, where they must adapt to the desert condition before going into to conflict, this will test their psychical shape and their mental health as the waiting is just part of the sniper’s game.

 

Thoughts on Jarhead

 

Characters – Anthony Swofford who wrote the book the film is based on, we see how he joined the military out of college and struggled at first through the training regime. Anthony soon discovered he was ready for this life as a sniper, but his time in the gulf sees him start to lose his mind. Alan Troy becomes the best friend of Anthony’s and his spotter, he seems to be the most level-headed marine in the unit. Staff Sgt Sykes is the one running the sniper unit, he demands respect and isn’t afraid to put the marines in their place.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is fantastic in the leading role, he shows everyone how he can play the calm soldier, the crazed soldier and the broken man through the scenes of the film which only increase what he is dealing with. Peter Sarsgaard give us a brilliant supporting performance which shows how the fear can be kept inside a calm outer layer. Jamie Foxx brings us the energy of a career military man.

StoryThe story follows the experiences of one soldier that joins the marines before being put in the sniper division when war breaks out, he must adapt to life in the desert during the waiting game before the conflict. This story does show us just how difficult adapting to war can be for the soldiers and just how the war can be fought without needing to fire a weapon. It shows us just how the mindset can change over a set amount of time which will see the soldiers make decisions they wouldn’t normally consider making. This does focus on the idea that the main soldier Anthony never truly feels like he was part of the war followed by the effects of returning back from war can have on the soldiers who have returned.

Biopic/WarThis film follows Anthony’s experience with war, it shows how war isn’t everything he was planning and how his mindset wasn’t in the right place for parts of his experience. The war side of the film shows us just how different war has become over the years, where the ground soldiers are not as required as once before.

SettingsThe film has some wonderful uses of settings with the march sequence showing us just how open the area in question will be for the soldiers.


Scene of the Movie –
Returning home.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slow start.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fascinating look at the modern war effort, how the biggest problem is now waiting for the war to begin rather than the fighting.

 

Overall: Modern war time.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Goal! The Dream Begins (2005)

Director: Danny Cannon

Writer: Mike Jefferies, Adrian Butchart, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais (Screenplay)

Starring: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane, Sean Pertwee

 

Plot: The extremely talented Santiago Munez is given a chance at professional football, after being spotted by a scout who has ties with Newcastle United.


Tagline – Every Dream Has A Beginning

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Excellent Sporting Drama

 

Story: Goal! The Dream Begins starts when Mexican immigrates move to LA to start a new life, Santiago (Becker) works for his father’s business, turning to football to relax, where he excels. When former scout Glen Foy (Dillane) sees him play, he believes he could make it professionally, turning to his old boss to give him a trial at Newcastle United.

Santiago makes the trip getting a one-month trial, here he must learn the more difficult side to football, to prove everybody including his father, who never wanted him to follow his dreams, while Newcastle have spent heavy on their new signing Gavin Harris (Nivola) a flashy player whose reputation of a playboy lifestyle follows him around.

 

Thoughts on Goal! The Dream Begins

 

Characters – Santiago Munez is an immigrate kid living in LA, grown up to work with his father to keep the family together, he is a brilliant young footballer though, which he plays in his free time. He gets spotted by a former player that wants him to travel to Newcastle for a trial, a moment which could change his life forever, first he must prove his worth, showing determination to go with his skills and learning how to handle the fame which fellow playboy player could show him the darker side. Glen Foy is the former Newcastle player and scout that see Santiago play football believing he could one day be a big star, he pushes Santiago into travelling, though he would make this happen for him. Gavin Harris is the playboy style footballer, a big money signing that is all flash on and off the pitch, he does show Santiago the wrong path, only to learn just as much from him. Roz is the nurse that Santiago falls for, she doesn’t like the celebrity status around footballers, which will see her have to question why she is interested in Santiago, only to see that he is different than most footballers.

PerformancesKuno Becker in the leading role is strong, while some of the footballing stuff isn’t great to watch, the determination his character needs to show through the difficult moment in his life. Alessandro Nivola as the playboy footballer is entertaining to watch through the film, in the supporting roles we see Stephen Dillane and Anna Friel both doing their roles with ease.

StoryWhen we look at the story, we have a cliched, but enjoyable rags to riches story of a young man whose life gets turned upside down when he gets offered a chance to play football for one of the biggest teams in the world. we see how he must learn to adapt to a new country and culture, be put in pressure situations of just new fame, while remaining grounded requiring the approval from his father. One of the key aspects that makes this story enjoyable is the fact we are not watching Santiago join a team about to win something, they are looking to achieve the next level of success. We know how this will end as a story because it does follow the trend of a sports drama without fail.

Romance/SportThe romance in the film comes from Santiago’s relationship with Roz, though it does take a backburner to the sports drama which is front and centre of this film.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different locations Santiago has come from, be it Mexico, the hot sunny street of LA or the cold muddy Newcastle, this will give him something to adapt too.


Scene of the Movie –
Making the squad.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why is Gavin Harris taking a penalty with Alan Shearer in the team?

Final ThoughtsThis is a football fans favourite type of sports drama, an unknown comes to save your team in their moment of need become an overnight legend in their eyes.

 

Overall: Fun football drama.

Rating