The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) Movie Review

Director: Mira Nair

Writer: Ami Boghani, William Wheller, Mohsin Hamid (Screenplay) Mohsin Hamid (Novel)

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi

Plot: A young Pakistani man is chasing corporate success on Wall Street. He finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family’s homeland.


Tagline – When one day changes the world forever.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Eye Opening Thriller

Story: The Reluctant Fundamentalist starts when a businessman is kidnapped in Pakistan, the American are using their information to search for him, while Changez (Ahmed) becomes one of the suspects, Changez is meeting with an American Bobby Lincoln (Schreiber) who is looking to tell him story.

Changez gives his story about his love for America and how he once worked his way up the ladder in wall street under Jim Cross (Sutherland) in 2001. This is only the beginning of his story, one that will show how he became somebody who wanted to lead change and one that saw the change firsthand.

Thoughts on The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Characters – Changez is a Pakistani man who was the first to leave the country to make something of himself in the modern world, he enters the world of wall street, where he looks to help business run smoother, seeing problems others can’t, he ends up becoming a target of hate after 9/11, now he is being interviewed to show his side of the aftermath from 9/11, where he is back in Pakistan becoming a target of the Americans who see him as a threat, he is smart, he knows how to remain calm and analyse the issues in the world, to show both sides of the views. Erica is the woman that Changez starts dating, she is a photographer and is open to seeing the world in the right way. Bobby Lincoln is a reporter that is interviewing Changez, he is open to hear his story, only he happens to have his own reason for the interview. Jim Cross is the man that offers Changez the job in New York, he sees all his potential to become one of the best in his business being somebody who never bothered about his background.

PerformancesRiz Ahmed is fantastic in this leading role showing everybody how big of a star he was always going to become. Kate Hudson is great to, bringing her style to a character that wouldn’t be normal in the traditional life of Changez life. Liev Schreiber is wonderful to see in the storytelling side of the film, listening and wanting to make an impact with her reasoning. Kiefer Sutherland is strong in his supporting role too, showing he can become the businessman in a film with ease.

StoryThe story here follows a Pakistan man who rose to success in New York, right around and in the aftermath of 9/11, dealing with racism put upon him, while trying to follow the traditions of his family back home, dealing with the idea that he has been placed on the watch list, despite not committing any crimes and trying to prove that anything can be spun to make anybody look guilty because people are blindly following panic. This is a try eye opening at how the world instantly sees certain ethnic backgrounds as bad, despite, never learning who they are or what they are doing in life. The one bad side of the story comes from seeing how we are going through his back story, even if this does offer twists in the story.

ThrillerThe thriller side of this film start heavily, when we see just how the kidnapping happens and the searching for the people responsible, we do drive into drama and seeing how the life can be turned upside down by panic of others.

SettingsThe film does use the key settings of Lahore to show when terrorists are believed to be, New York which sees people turn their heads towards people they don’t like and the world trips that show why Changez could have been seen as a threat, just because of his race.


Scene of the Movie – The moment that changed the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The attitudes instantly change no matter how wrong they are.

Final Thoughts This is a very insightful look at how the world changed on 9/11, seeing the people judging without understanding the truth about people is how we are seeing the world now.

Overall: Insightful thriller.

Killing Them Softly (2012)

Director: Andrew Dominik

Writer: Andrew Dominik (Screenplay) George V Higgins (Novel)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta

 

Plot: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.


Tagline – In America you’re on your own

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow & Uninspiring

 

Story: Killing Them Softly starts when Frankie (McNairy) and Russell (Mendelsohn) rob Markie’s (Liotta) mob protected card game, putting a bounty on themselves. With the men not happy with this incident, they hire Jackie (Pitt) to clean up the mess, he enjoys killing his victims, softly, with his Driver (Jenkins) filling in the information about the hit he will need to take out, while the  man Jackie wanted to help with the job, Mickey (Gandolfini) isn’t the man he used to know.

 

Thoughts on Killing Them Softly

 

Characters – Jackie is a hitman assigned to clean up a mod owned robbery, he has his own ways to get the job done which will see him slowly calculated kill his targets, but he will get the job done smoothly. Frankie is one of the thieves that commits the robbery, he has bought in his own friend to help with the latest job, he must try to stay low while he waits for the bounty to go away. Russell is the loose cannon that is bought in by Frankie, he isn’t liked by the boss, but is given the chance to help with the job. Mickey is the former hitman that just isn’t the man he once was, he can’t be seen in public which doesn’t help with his job. Driver fills in the information for Jackie, he shows him where the job could be done too. Markie is the host of the poker game who sees the money stolen, knowing what it will mean for him.

PerformancesBrad Pitt is the highlight of this film, which isn’t saying too much, he does keep the cool persona we know him for through the film, but isn’t as incredible as we could have seen from him. The supporting cast all struggle in this film without getting any moments that will make us want to support their characters.

StoryThe story follows a hitman hired to clean up a gangster robbery but unsuspecting thieves, only for him to see the people are not the same as they once were. This story goes at a slow pace which just doesn’t ever get going before ending without seemingly finishing. We have too many characters being introduced to enjoy this film which just seems to be a lot of talking and never hitting the criminal world style that you would be expecting from the gangster underworld.

CrimeThe criminal side of this film just seems to follow different people in the criminal world, they are at different levels and are force to be against each other.

SettingsThe film is set in a city which is filled with the chances to be a criminal without making any location feel iconic.


Scene of the Movie –
Frankie drive.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too much pointless talking.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow non-moving crime thriller that just drags along even with Brad Pitt trying his best to make something of nothing.

 

Overall: Slow and dull.

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – Skyfall (2012)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney

 

Plot: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Most Intense Bond Film

 

Story: Skyfall starts as James Bond (Craig) and Eve (Harris) working on the latest daring mission which ends in failure with James killed in action after an order from M (Dench). M finds herself being forced into early retirement by Gareth Mallory (Fiennes) with her wanting to clean up the failures of her last mission, which brings James out of his hiding to return to help M with the missing information which could expose every spy in every terrorist organisation.

James must travel to Shanghai and look into M’s past for answers as the identities have started to leak online targeting M for her past sins, James will come face to face with Silva (Bardem) a former agent hellbent on revenge for being abandoned.

 

Thoughts on Skyfall

 

Characters – James Bond has a different arc to the normal, this time he has semi-retired after being killed in action, he doesn’t stay retired for long as he needs to prove he is ready to return to action, as he will need to go face to face with a former agent who has gone rogue. This does continue the arc of learning who James can trust which keeps the character feeling like he has continued his own story, rather than just being on another mission. M is left to make the difficult decision which sees James killed in action, her actions put her in the firing line of the government who want her replaced, she isn’t going to leave her post without cleaning up her latest mission failure, but she doesn’t want any more innocent people killed, it is her past that is causing the actions of Silva, she knows she made the right call with him and now trust James to fix the problems caused. Silva is a vengeful former agent that has put together a plan to bring down M for what he believes was her abandoning him to be tortured by the enemy country. He has spent years putting this plan together and isn’t going to let James be the one to bring him down. Gareth Mallory is the man assigned to create the transition between M and her replacement, he understands the middle ground and isn’t going to accept what is best for the country. Eve is the field agent that has been working with James, only for her to be the connection to help from the headquarters. Severeine is the woman that James uses to get close to Silva, we really don’t get enough from this character though.

PerformancesDaniel Craig continues to grow into the James Bond character, he handles the action with ease, shows the determination required through the film. Judi Dench gets the biggest role for the character of M, she is fantastic in this role never looking out of place showing that a person of power can become vulnerable. Javier Bardem does make a delightfully evil villain that has his own plan for revenge. Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris both provide great supporting performance, only Berenice Marlohe doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond as he must work with M to bring down a man that is determined to get revenge against her and is always one step ahead of the two. This is easily the most personal and intense story we have seen in any James Bond story, this is refreshing because we don’t get a villain who want money or destruction, they want one person to pay for their own action. The idea to dive into James’s past is interesting, it shows how he was selected in the first place, only it isn’t the best idea when you think back to the idea that each actor could be a different agent with the same code name. This story does have moments that wink to the previous films which is enjoyable to pick up on them.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does take centre stage, the opening sequence is the best in the franchise, the rest are filled with high octane chases through cities where it feels like we are watching stakes on the line.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings on the simpler side, with most of the film being set in London which shows how personal this has become against M. when we hit the final act, we do get another unusual location that previous ones haven’t had before.


Scene of the Movie –
Was that meant for me?

That Moment That Annoyed Me Going too personal about James’s past.

Final ThoughtsThis is the most intense Bond film to date, it puts different stakes on the line which is refreshing to see and is easily the one that standouts from the rest in the franchise.

 

Overall: High Octane Action Film.

Rating

 

 

A Late Quartet (2012)

Director: Yaron Zilberman

Writer: Yaron Zilberman, Seth Grossman (Screenplay) Yaron Zilberman (Story)

Starring: Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots, Madhur Jaffrey

 

Plot: Members of a world-renowned string quartet struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos and insuppressible lust.


Tagline – No arrangement is more beautiful…or more complicated.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Performances

 

Story: A Late Quartet starts as we meet the world famous quartet, Juliette (Keener), Peter (Walken), Robert (Hoffman) and Daniel (Lerner) who are planning their next performance, as they like to bring their crowd something new each year.

When Peter is diagnosed with Parkinson’s he is left to make a difficult decision to face retirement, meaning he needs to find a replacement, which sees the rest of the quartet going in search for their own roles in the quartet, while deciding how they can carry on going.

 

Thoughts on A Late Quartet

 

Characters – Juliette is married to Robert and while being part of the quartet, she is going through her own problems after Robert cheats on her, she must figure out whether this choice of a musicians was worth it or not, as well as trying to reconnect with her daughter. Robert cheats on his wife Juliette as he must try to make amends of his error, while trying to improve his position within thee quartet. Peter is the one that becomes sick, he is thinking about retirement and while he is getting his treatment, he learns the rest are caught up in the middle of a relationship mess. Daniel is the most talented member of the quartet, he ends up making his own mistake in life which causes even more problems within the quartet.

PerformancesWe have a stunning cast here with two Oscar winners and another nominee, Keener, Walken, Hoffman all show why they are considered the best of the acting world, while Mark Ivanir and Imogen Poots brings us performances that can keep up with their successful cast mates.

StoryThe story here follows one of the most famous quartets in music, they have 25 years of history together, when the oldest member becomes sick, the remaining three must decide whether to find a new member, while dealing with their own personal problems which could bring about the downfall of the quartet. Sure, some of the relationship drama isn’t anything new, but knowing the couple must continue to work together shows how personal and professional lives can easily clash when it comes to being successful in this field. One side of the story we could have seen more from would be the music side.

SettingsThe film is set in New York a perfect choice for this quartet to be located and performing in.


Scene of the Movie –
The performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t get enough focus on Peter’s illness.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderfully acted drama that shows the lives of a quartet.

 

Overall: Beautifully acted drama.

Rating

 

 

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)

Director: Peter Hedges

Writer: Peter Hedges (Screenplay) Ahmet Zappa (Story)

Starring: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Odeya Rush, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rosemarie DeWitt, David Morse

 

Plot: A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. Soon, a child is born, though Timothy Green is not all that he appears.


Tagline – He’s a force of nature.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Fantasy

 

Story: The Odd Life of Timothy Green starts as Cindy (Garner) and Jim (Edgerton) a married couple learn they can’t have children, in one last night of accepting the truth, they write a list of ideas that would have been their dream child place it in a box and bury it in their garden.

That night something unexpected happens, when the couple learn that Timothy (Adams) comes to life and the couple must deal with being a parent for the first time. Timothy goes through the childhood problems where he meets Joni (Rush), but he is keeping a secret from everybody.

 

Thoughts on The Odd Life of Timothy Green

 

Characters – Cindy is the artistic wife that works in a gallery, she is devastated about not being able to have children, once Timothy turns up she wants to give him everything she wanted to for a child. Jim is a factory worker that sees Timothy as a chance to be a father he never had. Timothy is the boy that appears one night, he has all the good the parents want in their child and shows that he is going help the depressed parents that are facing a childless future, he inspires the people around him, while dealing with the everyday problem in life of a young boy. Joni is the girl that Timothy meets and accepts him for who he is because she knows she is just as different as him, they bring out the best in both.

PerformancesJennifer Garner has a reputation for being one of the best parental figures in acting today, she shows us just why she is always picked. Joel Edgerton is strong here too as we believe he is the one that is seeing his chance to be a father in his character. CJ Adams as Timothy is wonderful showing the innocence his character requires to make a difference in the world. Odeya Rush brings everything needed for the rebellious outcast character that has the heart of gold to give to the right person.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that believe they can never have a child only to get an unexpected surprise when one arrives, one they created, they are given new hope as they see new horizons in their lives and the ones he touches. This is a story I didn’t see coming, it felt original in the way everything was handled and shows just how anyone can walk into somebody’s life and change it forever. When it comes to the child learning aspects of a story, this is everything we have seen before, but the fantasy elements make the biggest impact on this story. the story does play into your feelings and will be one that you don’t forget easily.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy used in the film is standard material, you will get a laugh when you need to even if we are looking at the more serious moments often. The fantasy comes from Timothy as they learn more about his true presence in the world.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town which shows how close the community is when it comes to dealing with their own problems, this helps with the outcome of the film and helps us see how everyone knows each other.


Scene of the Movie –
The leaves.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The football match is poorly shot.

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightful fantasy film that will deliver on the feels, you will see the direction it is heading in, but you will want to be part of the journey.

 

Overall: Delightful.

Rating