ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – H – Hustle & Flow (2005)

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer (Screenplay)

Starring: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P Henson, DJ Qualls, Ludacris, Paula Jai Parker

 

Plot: With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis attempts to become a successful hip-hop emcee.


Tagline – The music will inspire them. The dream will unite them. This summer get crunk.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Insight to the Hip-Hop World

 

Story: Hustle & Flow starts as we see the everyday pimping life of Djay (Howard) forcing his prostitutes to do there thing with Nola (Manning) being he most requested girl, he has girls in the strip club too which Lexus (Parker) being the one he is closest too, he also has a pregnant one in his home with Shug (Henson) waiting to give birth.

When Djay meets an old friend Key (Anderson) he starts to have a craving to try and become a hip-hop star as the two work together to make song where he learns that Shug is the real talent in his household.

 

Thoughts on Hustle & Flow

 

Characters – Djay is a pimp going through a mid-life crisis, he is tired of struggling to make his girls collect his money and wants to try and new career as a hip-hop star, he must first shake his old ways though and accept criticisms for his vision. Key is a music producer for a local church, he comes from a very different background to Djay and is willing to give this music venture a chance. Nola is one of the prostitutes that is still working the streets she is his go to girl at the moment with the others out of the picture at the moment, she does get frustrated about being the only one on the streets though. Shug is the pregnant girl working for Djay, she shows herself to have real talent when it comes to singing which only brings the music alive for Djay.

PerformancesTerrence Howard in the leading role is great because we see his character’s full evolution through the story trying to find himself in the world. Anthony Anderson continues to show everyone he can be an great supporting performer while Taryn Manning and Taraji P Henson both show us they were going to go onto bigger projects.

StoryThe story shows us how a mid-life crisis can drive somebody to go down unusual paths with his Djay wanting to become a hip-hop star getting out of the pimping business. The story does break up into a couple of acts with the pimping business playing out like you would imagine, while the middle part of the film focuses for a long time on the making of the song which does go on longer than it needs too. With the third acting showing us just how difficult the industry is to get into. The idea that we can dream helps this movie out big time because it is important to see, though seeing just how far people will go for the dreams is the bleak side to things.

Crime/MusicThe crime world we see is just how the pimping world operates and how close to the line certain hip-hop stars can go to the law, this blends nicely with the music side of the film.

SettingsThe film is set in Memphis which shows us the difficult neighbourhood that Djay is operating in, it shows he tensions can fly and how the special want to get out of the place.


Scene of the Movie –
The club drinks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too long spent recording the song.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story about dreams and just how far people will go to try and make dreams come true, whether you will go too far too.

 

Overall: Dreams Big or fail.

Rating

 

 

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Joyeux Noel (2005)

Director: Christian Carion

Writer: Christian Carion (Screenplay)

Starring: Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canete, Daniel Bruhl, Gary Lewis, Dany Boon

 

Plot: In December 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front allows soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other’s way of life.


Tagline – France 1914. A moment of humanity that made history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stunning Christmas Story

 

Story: Joyeux Noel starts after World War I has broken out, each country believes it would be over by Christmas and we meet soldiers on three sides of the war. The German, Lieutenant Horstmayer (Bruhl) who has famous opera Nikolaus Sprink (Furmann) in his unit. We have the French side with Lieutenant Audebert (Canet) and the Scottish side with Pasteur Palmer (Lewis).

With Christmas Eve upon us Nikolaus gets a visit from his girlfriend Anna Sorensen (Kruger) bring her back to the trenches to performer which brings a response from the enemies, the three side agree and truce to celebrate Christmas which showed us the humanity behind the horrors of war, one of the most incredible stories you will hear about.

 

Thoughts on Joyeux Noel

 

Characters – Anna Sorensen is located in Germany and is one of the best opera singers in the country, her partner is in the trenches a fellow opera singer, she arranges to see him which leads her to the trenches with her performance helping bring the sides together for Christmas. She wants to spend the rest of the war with her partner and will take a drastic step to make it happen. Nikolaus Sprink is the famous opera singer on in trenches, his fame upset his lieutenant who doesn’t want celebrity figures in his unit, though his performance brings the sides together for a moment of truce. Lieutenant Audebert is the French leader that is missing his wife and will take part in the truce bonding with the fellow lieutenants. Lieutenant Horstmayer is the Germany one that reluctantly lets his men meet the enemy, he does want peace too which shows in how he is still strict with his men. Lieutenant Gordon is the Scottish one who is happy to see his team take peace for a day or two. Each of the lieutenants must face the consequences of what happened because putting the human factor ahead of the war isn’t accepted by the superiors.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are fantastic from start to finish, it also brings names we know from big Hollywood films to our attention with Diane Kruger and Daniel Bruhl, none of the actors put in a bad performance which makes us believe these could have been the real men involved in the war.

StoryThe story follows the famous story that during World War I both sides put down their guns to celebrate Christmas together. We see the German, French and Scottish who learn that they aren’t as different from the opposite sides, they are just men forced into battle. This shows us how the men who were put on the front line without being truly prepared for war and are dealing with the loss of friends during the war, this shows us just how things can be different and will change you mind on everything you thought about any enemy in war.

History/Romance/WarThe history about this story will be remembered forever because it showed how people were different during war where the innocent men were being killed.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in the trenches during the First World War, it shows how close the different sides were when it came to the war which bought them together for this incredible moment.


Scene of the Movie –
The Christmas Eve meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The aftermath.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most important Christmas films you will ever see, it has such an important message and a heart-breaking truth behind it.

 

Overall: Must watching Christmas Movie.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005)

Director: Mary Lambert

Writer: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Mara, Robert Vito, Tina Lifford, Ed Marinaro, Michael Coe, Lillith Fields

 

Plot: On a prom-night dare, a trio of high school friends chant an incantation, unleashing an evil spirit from the past with deadly consequences.


Tagline – Mary’s Evil is Beyond Legend

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Better Than I Remembered

 

Story: Urban Legends: Bloody Mary starts as we follow three high school students including Samantha Owens (Mara) who are playing with the ideas of urban legends and the Bloody Mary myth, which sees them disappear for a couple of days.

When they return Samantha’s brother David (Vito) believes it had something to do with the football team that she exposed, but soon the Mary ghost starts putting the students through their own nightmares.

 

Thoughts on Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

 

Characters – Samantha Owens is on of the high school reporters, her latest story exposes the football team which leads to her being exiled from the school dance, victim of a prank she is put through the same ordeal that three student years before went through, which unleashes a vengeful spirit. She must figure out what is going on before too many people start dying. David is the brother of Samantha, he always watches over his sister and will stand by her to stop anything happening to her. Grace Taylor was one of the survivors that was involved in the first kidnapping that took place, she doesn’t remember who was involved and has spent her life avoiding the truth. Bill is the step father of Sam and David, thy have never been fond of him and we learn early on that he was around during the first incident.

PerformancesKata Mara is the lead in this film, this is one of her first leading roles and you can see she does have the little bit extra about her that will make her standout in the future. The rest of the cast is solid enough, certain smaller supporting roles do have weak performances, but once they are killed off it isn’t a problem.

StoryThe story here follows high school students that unleashes an urban Legend on the world only for them to get picked off, they need to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of the murdered teenager to bring about the end of the curse. This does use connection to the first two films, mostly by pointing out who the killer in the second one was, showing that people will use Urban Legends to kill. By using the students names we learn who the killer is too early which is a shame because it could have been a good twist, when it comes to the kills the idea they are based on Urban Legends once again ends up mixed because some are just crimes which take advantage of the situation over being a legend. This will also fail by the fact that it decided to go supernatural on us for no reason what so ever.

Horror/MysteryThe kills continue to use the Urban Legends which is fine, we have learnt about these in previous films, but the supernatural side of everything only lets things down, the mystery behind the film is easier to solve once we look at the people in the opening sequence.

SettingsHaving a high school setting does make this feel too big, it also leaves us to wide spread for the kills mostly taking place in homes.

Special EffectsThe effects the biggest weakness of the film, anything practical works fine, but those CGI moments mostly the spider scene look terrible.


Scene of the Movie –
The fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Those spiders.

Final ThoughtsFor the third in a franchise this is fine, it works and will make for a good late night movie we can enjoy as horror fans.

 

Overall: Late night viewing.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw II (2005)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Leigh Whannell, Darren Lynn Bousman (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Donnie Wahlberg, Erik Enudsen, Franky G, Glenn Plummer, Emmanuelle Vaugier

 

Plot: A detective and his team must rescue 8 people trapped in a factory by the twisted serial killer known as Jigsaw.


Tagline – We Dare You Again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Sequel

 

Story: Saw II starts as we meet Detective Eric Matthews (Wahlberg), the lead investigator into Jigsaw now, he has been struggling with his parental duties with his son Daniel (Knudsen) but when he gets called out by Jigsaw, the team get their first lead. Closing in on Jigsaw or as we know now John Kramer (Bell) he finds himself watching over his son inside the latest game.

We follow Daniel with the other victims including drug dealer Xavier (G), returning victim Amanda (Smith) and Jonas (Plummer) as they must navigate their way through this game as Daniel watching on hopelessly learning the motivation behind all of John’s ideas.

 

Thoughts on Saw II

 

Characters – John Kramer is the man we know as Jigsaw now, he hosts the games and this time he brings the detective to him, knowing he hasn’t got long left to live, he mocks them as he explains his actions and choices. Detective Eric Matthews has been tracking Jigsaw for a while now taking over from the previous case, he finds his son in the latest game and must listen to the motives behind the games. Daniel is Eric’s son that is in the game, his true identity could be his undoing as he is put in the game with the criminals. The criminals in the game all have been involved in Eric’s cases and all have their own problems.

PerformancesTobin Bell fast became the face of this franchise and you can see why in his calm performance throughout. Donnie Wahlberg is good as the detective but you feel he doesn’t get to the same level as Glover did in the previous film. Erik Knudsen is good as is Shawnee Smith, we have good performance from the whole cast.

StoryThe story continues in the hunt for Jigsaw, we know who he is now but the police still don’t know his identity. We follow how one detective gets put to the test to learn who the selection of new victims are that are with his son while we also get the first steps into the backstory for Jigsaw and what his goals with the games are. This does build a bigger world picture by the time we are done and just leaves you wanting more.

Horror/MysteryThe horror once more from the games being played by our victims, we get more graphic games here but that is because of the style of battle to survive, the mystery isn’t on the same level but we do have one as we wonder why these people have been selected.

SettingsThe settings keep us in dark warehouse rooms which show how low the people need to go to make it out alive and how easy the traps could be to create.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well to create the kills and games which look practical for the most part too.


Scene of the Movie –
Final reveal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Some of the cut editing is too flashy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sequel to the original, it continues to build the world and most importantly brings us a twist that is even bigger than before.

 

Overall: Good sequel, keep watching.

Rating

 

 

Viggo Mortensen Weekend – A History of Violence (2005)

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: Josh Olson (Screenplay) John Wagner, Vince Locke (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes, Peter MacNeill

 

Plot: A mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.


Tagline – Everyone has something to hide.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Unsettling Thriller

 

Story: A History of Violence starts as we meet mild-mannered Tom Stall (Mortensen) working in his local diner with his own family, wide Edie (Bello) and child Jack (Holmes) and Sarah. One evening two men arrive in his diner trying to rob and kill the people inside, Tom’s quick thinking kills the criminals making him a local hero.

The act of heroism brings gangster Carl Fogarty (Harris) to town who claims Tom is from the criminal underworld hiding out with his older brother Richie (Hurt) waiting for him to return back to the criminal world.

 

Thoughts on A History of Violence

 

Characters – Tom Stall is a quiet man, running a diner having a loving family, he steps up to protect his customers and friends makes him a local hero. Now he has drawn a target on his chest with his past coming back to haunt him. Edie is the wife of Tom, she works in law bring home the bigger pay checks, she supports Tom, until she learns the truth and must decide where she stands with him. Carl Fogarty is the mysterious stranger that arrives in town claiming to know Tom from a previous life, he brings the danger back into Tom’s life with the past he wanted to run away from. Richie is the crime boss and brother to Tom, he has been searching for his brother for years and now sees the chance for the connection.

PerformancesViggo Mortensen is outstanding in this leading role we see how he keeps his character perfectly calm in everyday life and how the switch can make him a deadly killer, this is an ability that not everyone can achieve. Maria Bello is strong in her role as a woman unsure who her husband really is. Ed Harris and William Hurt in the supporting role are fantastic both take over the screen with their presence adding much needed tension to everything.

StoryThe story here follows a mild-mannered man whose past comes back to haunt him after protect people he loves and cares about. This is almost like the story that follows up one of the gangster films where we see someone leave the life only to get drawn back years later against his will. The film like to use the idea of violence being the breaking point for relationships between husband & wife, father & son and two brothers which gets played out perfectly. There is an air of tension from start to finish in the film which leaves us only wanting to see where things would go next.

ThrillerThe film uses the tension to keep us feeling uneasy through nearly each moment in the film never knowing what would happen next.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town which Tom makes safe and happy, if would make sense for his character to be there too, it shows how media can expose anybody’s secret.


Scene of the Movie –
The first crime rescue.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bullying side which isn’t the most important thing we see.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern thrillers you will see, you have four stunning performances and shocks around each corner.

 

Overall: Stunning thriller

Rating