Every Secret Thing (2014) Movie Review

Director: Amy Berg

Writer: Nicole Holofcener (Screenplay) Laura Lippman (Novel)

Starring: Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Nate Parker, Common

Plot: A detective looks to unravel a mystery surrounding missing children and the prime suspects: two young women who, seven years ago, were put away for an infant’s death.


Tagline – Don’t look away for even a second.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Excellent Mystery Thriller

Story: Every Secret Thing starts when Alice and Ronnie a young girls kill a baby, now they are 18-years-old Alice (Macdonald) is living back with her teacher mother Helen (Lane) who is trying to help get her back into society, while Ronnie (Fanning) gets back into work. When another toddler goes missing Nancy Porter (Banks) and Kevin Jones (Parker) a leading the investigation.

As the disappearance starts becoming lengthy, the detectives turn to Alice and Ronnie for answers, believing they might have an answer, which leads to a look into the past event which left the girls in juvenile hall, will the past unlock the truth and save the missing child?

Thoughts on Every Secret Thing

Characters – Alice is one of two girls that was sent away for a baby’s death, she has always been an outside and social awkward child, now 18, she wants to be part of the world, only she finds herself being lonely, distant from her mother and still in belief that she wasn’t involved with original death. Ronnie is the other girl that was sent away, she does seem like somebody that would get in trouble more and takes the baby, she has put her life back in order, while still coming off shady and broken. Helen is Alice’s mother, she is a teacher that has always wanted to help young people develop, but she struggles to get through to her own daughter. Nancy Porter is leading the investigation, she was the detective that discovered the baby and now she wants to learn more about the truth, trying to uncover the years of damage both the girls have and is in a race against time to not find another dead child.

PerformancesDanielle Macdonald gives a star making performance in this leading role, we see such a range in her performance it will leave you mesmerised by her performance. Dakota Fanning is great too, we see how conflicted her character is with the events of the film, while Diane Lane, brings the distant mother to life with ease. Elizabeth Banks is wonderful too, giving us a performance that showed how determined she is get the case closed.

StoryThe story here follows two detectives that must find a missing child, with the two teenage girls who recently got released from juvenile hall becoming the prime suspects as they were locked up for killing a baby. This story shows us plenty, while keeping the truth from us for so long, the story does give us plenty of hints to the truth and by re-watching you will pick up on all of them. We do get to see how mistakes of the past can do two things, break people with guilt or make them embrace their problems becoming a threat to the world. We are left guessing to what the truth will be which is extremely great to see in any crime mystery and everything is played into stories from the past and how people remember them.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of this film is the investigation to the missing child, we see how the clues are uncovered which only dives further into the mystery of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town, which was rocked by the first crime and one that will come together to try and solve the new crime.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We get a strange first introduction to detective Jones, only for it to mean nothing.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that will keep you guessing, it has plenty of clues in the story that will give you the truth to everything that is happening in the film.

Overall: Must watch crime mystery.

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – J – Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) Movie Review

This is under J because of director Jay Oliva.

Director: Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding

Writer: Heath Corson (Screenplay) Bob Kane, Lew Schwartz, John Ostrander, John Byrne, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Len Wein, Luke McDonnell (Creators)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch, Matthew Gray Gubler, Troy Baker, Eric Bauza, Chris Cox

Plot: Batman works desperately to find a bomb planted by the Joker while Amanda Waller hires her newly formed Suicide Squad to break into Arkham Asylum to recover vital information stolen by the Riddler.


Tagline – Get ready to root for the bad guys.

Runtime: 1 Hour 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Bloated, But Great

Story: Batman: Assault on Arkham starts as Batman takes down the Riddler, interfering the arrest by Amanda Waller, which sees her turn to the Suicide Squad, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider and Killer Frost in an attempt to get their hands on the plans from Joker, who might be ready to take the city down once and for all.

The suicide squad must operate without attracting the Batman’s attention as they look to break into the asylum to break Joker and the Riddler out to make sure the bomb doesn’t become a threat.

Thoughts on Batman: Assault on Arkham

Characters – Batman will always be the central figure for a film set in Gotham, he is the hero that everybody who does something illegal is scared off, no matter what the bigger cause is going to be. He is hunting for the truth and is always trying to stop the squads plan. Deadshot and Harley Quinn are both members of the suicide squad who know they need to elude the Batman, while doing the job they could die doing just for their own freedom. Joker is the man that has planted a bomb in Gotham threatening to blow it up, with the Batman trying to get the truth. With the Riddler knowing the answers to everything, only keeping his answers secret in his riddles. Sadly, neither of the two biggest villains are used enough in the film, instead of us focusing on the suicide squad side of the characters.

StoryThe story here follows the suicide squad as they must elude Batman to go on a daring prison raid to capture the Riddler and stop the Joker. When it comes to comic book movies we like to have a lot going on, this one has so much going on, it makes it so enjoyable, we have countless numbers of iconic characters from the Batman universe here, we aren’t only following the cape crusader, we have the middle of the road characters, the twisted villains, it is like a whose who of characters from this universe and it was a true pleasure to see how everything unfolds, with the darkness and bloodshed not being held back.

Action/CrimeThe action is the big fight sequences, we get glimpse of what each villain or hero can do in combat which also leaves us feeling impressed with the crime riddled city that needs help.

SettingsThe film uses the Arkham Asylum as the main setting, a place that become massive because of the quality of the video game, that also explains why we have so many villainous characters around the place.

AnimationWhen it comes to the animation, nothing looks bad, we know we are going to have a style which isn’t on the par with Disney, but one we can get behind easily.


Scene of the Movie – Everyone Unleashed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t get enough from the massive cast of characters.

Final Thoughts This is like having every possible villain thrown into one film, only not getting enough time to enjoy their menacing ways.

Overall: Enjoyable.

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – I – Infinitely Polar Bear (2014)

Director: Maya Forbes

Writer: Maya Forbes (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide, Nekhebet Kim Juch, Manoah Angelo

Plot: A father struggling with bipolar disorder tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, spirited daughters, who don’t make the overwhelming task any easier.


Tagline – What it takes to keep a family together

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Mark Ruffalo is Fantastic

Story: Infinitely Polar Bear starts when Cam (Ruffalo) loses his job leading to him having another mental breakdown, his wife Maggie (Saldana) in an attempt to protect their children Amelia (Wolodarsky) and Faith (Aufderheide) forces him into an institute to help him overcome his struggles.

When Cam gets out of the home, Maggie has been struggling to make ends meet, which sees her needing to move from Boston to New York to study, the only thing is Cam must look after the children, working on his ability to get back into a routine, can Cam handle this responsibility for his family or not?

Thoughts on Infinitely Polar Bear

Characters – Cam is a bi-polar sufferer, when he is functional he is a brilliant man, but the pressure of his career brings out the depressive side of his nature, seeing hard to keep down a job and seeing his wife need to move his girls away from him during his darkest days. After seeking help, he must put his life back together which will see him take care of the girls, which sees him getting back into a routine he can handle. Maggie is Cam’s wife, she is trying to hold down a job, but needs to study to get to the next level of her career, she will have to move away for chance of an education, needing to let Cam raise their children, while she must decide whether to get back together with Cam. Amelia and Faith are the daughters of the couple, they both struggle to completely understand what their father is going through as they are being raised in a way, they don’t see their friends growing up in.

PerformancesMark Ruffalo is brilliant in the leading role, he shows how difficult like can be for a depressed to process each day, proving once again that he is one of the best actors around today. Zoe Saldana is wonderful too, giving the balance to show how difficult, but how much love can come from somebody that just wants to be there for somebody. Both the two child stars are great fun, giving us the genuine performance that you could see from youngster in the 1970s.

StoryThe story here follows a husband and father that suffers from bi-polar that can’t functional in everyday working life, which means his wife needs to get a career, while he raises the children, something that wasn’t wildly accepted in the 1970s. This story does look into how mental health wasn’t wildly understood in the 1970s and being in the relationship can be difficult for both sides too. We watch how Cam tries to get back into a functional way to life, while his family needs to face difficult decisions about life for their daughters. This is based on the director’s childhood, so you can see the story having realism in how everything unfolds, without anything being over played when it comes to the mental health side of the story.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy involved in the film, does come off lightly as we look to get a chuckle at times, the romance shows us just how difficult the relationship between Cam and Maggie was, be it the marriage or her attempts to make a career for herself.

SettingsThe settings in the film show the Boston lifestyle the family did have, it shows the quieter lifestyle is helpful for Cam.


Scene of the Movie – Give my wife a job.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It doesn’t show much of the actual treatment.

Final Thoughts This is a brilliant look at how mental health works with a family that didn’t fully understand the difficulties behind it, we get to see just how this family found a way to get through the toughest days in the 70s where Mark Ruffalo shines.

Overall: Brilliant look at mental health.

Rating

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – G – God Help the Girl (2014)

Director: Stuart Murdoch

Writer: Stuart Murdoch (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger, Cora Bisset, Sarah Swire

 

Plot: As Eve begins writing songs as a way to sort through some emotional problems, she meets James and Cassie, two musicians each at crossroads of their own.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict:

 

Story: God Help the Girl starts as we meet Eve (Browning) she is living in a mental home to help her deal with the emotional problems which have damaged her body. Eve isn’t happy here and when she can, she runs away to watch music, here she meets James (Alexander) who offers her friendship.

With the latest escape, Eve moves into the flat in the same building as James and the two-start helping each other and Cassie (Murray) to write songs, giving Eve the purpose she required in life, before they trio decide to start their own band.

 

Thoughts on God Help the Girl

 

Characters – Eve starts this film in a mental home because of her own personal problems, she needs to learn to rebuild her life after the problems which occurred, we don’t learn completely what the issue was early on. She writes songs to help her through the treatment, before escaping and meeting another musician, starting a band opening herself back up to the world. James is the one of the group who had been part of a band before, he offers Eve friendship as they both learn to enjoy the music once again. He doesn’t want to be a cliché when it comes to music, which only holds up the band from finding their own sound. Cassie is the girl from a rich family, she has always struggled to write her own songs, joining with the rest she can learn to perform to the world.

PerformancesEmily Browning in the leading role shows of the acting skills here with her character needing to deal with the largest amounts of emotional problems with her life. We understand each emotion she is going through and she does hit off the singing too. Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray both fill the supporting roles, where they both get their moments to shine.

StoryThe story is split between three people, the focus on Eve who has mental problems in her life, she is trying to help herself through music, we watch as she needs to put her life back together and see how much she is willing to risk to put herself back into the life she needs to be living, there are many important factors to understand what she is going through, which is the most important part of the story, learning to balance dreams and life can become difficult. The other two characters must learn this with their own reasons holding them back one not wanting to be cliché, the other needing to accept everybody for being the same in life. With the serious nature to the film, the randomness of the songs can sometimes take away the message, though most of the songs are here to express the emotions being felt through the film.

Musical/RomanceThe music in the film has plenty of songs that are showing the emotions that the characters are feeling, which is great, though they don’t feel catchy as they want to be. The romance shows how the lives of these three young people are trying to find love over a summer of music.

SettingsThe film is set in Scotland which gets to show the beauty in the busy streets and open country.


Scene of the Movie –
Final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The songs aren’t as catchy as you would imagine.

Final ThoughtsThis is a musical that tackles serious mental health issues, while teaching us the ideas of balancing dreams and reality.

 

Overall: Musical that teaches life lessons.

Rating

 

 

Tobey Maguire Weekend – Pawn Sacrifice (2014) Movie Review

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay) Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Steven Knight (Story)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Lily Rabe, Edward Zinoviev, Alexandre Gorchkov

Plot: Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.


Tagline – In 1972, Bobby Fischer faced the Soviet Union in the greatest chess match ever played. On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Chess Made Interesting

Story: Pawn Sacrifice starts as a young Bobby Fischer grows up learning chess, his reputation grows and before long he becomes the champion of America. Not happy with just winning in America Bobby (Maguire) wants to become the youngest world champion and take on the Russian players with the world champion Boris Spassky (Schreiber).

After learning how the Russians play, Bobby storms out of the game, knowing he wouldn’t get a chance to win, Paul Marshall (Stuhlbarg) and priest Father Bill Lombardy (Sarsgaard) agree to work with Bobby to put his name back on the map, to one get the showdown with the champion Boris.

Thoughts on Pawn Sacrifice

Characters – Bobby Fischer is an American chess prodigy, he has proven himself in America and wants to conquer the world, it doesn’t take long before he starts learning about the corruption within the game, which will hold him back, he does make himself difficult to work with, always believing he is being bugged by the Russians, storming out at certain moments, his determination to have thing done a certain done the right way, does make things more complicated for his future in the sport. It is clear that Bobby is dealing with a lot of mental issues, which don’t get dealt with properly. Boris Spassky is the Russian Grand Master, current World Champion, that like Bobby is being controlled by his handlers, he just wants to prove himself against the best, which means facing Bobby in whichever style of game possible. Paul Marshall is the man that brings Bobby back to the game, he becomes his manager, making thing happen for the player, however difficult Bobby is to work with.

PerformancesTobey Maguire is wonderful in the leading role, this is one of the movies which does seem to be one of the finally screen appearances in years, which is a shame because of how talented he is. Liev Schreiber is great to watch as the rival chess player, with the fellow supporting cast, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard both giving strong performances.

StoryThe story here follows the rise of chess genius Bobby Fischer as he deals with his own mental health when trying to break down the Russian dominance in the world of chess to become the new world champion. This is an interesting story because it does show how conflicted Bobby was when it came to the game of chess, he did want to become champion, but being in the middle of the cold war, only built up the tension between the nations playing the game too. If we were going to look to learn the full Bobby Fischer story, we will be left disappointed because his life because even more fascinating after the big championship match.

BiopicThe biopic side of this film only shows the build up to the big championship match, where the two heavyweights will come to face each other, instead of the more interesting later steps of his life.

SettingsThe film does show us just how many different locations that could be bugged that would cause the problems for Bobby.


Scene of the Movie – The chess matches.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could learn so much more about Bobby’s life after this big match.

Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable thriller about chess, who would have thought of this beforehand. Tobey Maguire is great to watch through the film.

Overall: Interesting Chess Thriller.