Calvary (2014)

Director: John Michael McDonagh

Writer: John Michael McDonagh (Screenplay)

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran

 

Plot: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Drama That Misses The Point at Times

 

Story: Calvary starts as mid-mannered priest Father James (Gleeson) gets a warning from one of his worshippers that he will kill him in one week on the beach during confession. Father James daughter Fiona (Reilly) comes to visit as we see how Father James goes about his normal routine with the locals.

As the week goes by we see how Father James deals atheist doctor Drank Harte (Gillen), butcher Jack Brennan (O’Dowd), rich member of the village Michael Fitzgerald (Moran) and many others, but he leads to the end of the week questioning his own existence and whether the man can go through with it.

 

Thoughts on Calvary

 

Characters – Father James is a well-liked priest that receives a threat during confession, but he doesn’t take it too seriously as he continues to show how respected he is around the village even with the people with no faith. Fiona Lavelle is Father James’ daughter from his time when he was married, she is having her own problems but know the two are all they have after her mother’s death. Jack is the local butcher that has gone through a separation with his wife but getting on with his life for the most part, he doesn’t have full faith but does have some faith.

PerformanceBrendan Gleeson is fantastic in this leading role as the priest who gets on with everyone and must face is own place in the world. Kelly Reilly is good in her role but like the rest of the cast they do all play second fiddle to Gleeson. Chris O’Dowd is good too but he does fall into the crowd of the supporting cast.

StoryShowing a week in the life of a priest in a small community is interesting through the story side of everything, we are left to see him learn about himself as he does question parts of his faith while staying strong for the people who need him. This story does keep you engaged throughout the film even if it feels like not much is happening.

ComedyThe comedy is all dark comedy take a darker look at a small village community as they get to question their faith.

SettingsThe small town community helps this movie shine as we are left to see how Father James deals with his potential impending death at the hands of one of the locals.

Scene of the Movie – Dr Frank’s scenes get the most laughs.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The idea could have been strong to the point of everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong dark comedy that does want to address a serious issue but doesn’t cover it in enough time, instead focusing on other parts of the community.

 

Overall: Good drama well worth watching.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – X – X+Y (2014)

 

Director: Morgan Matthews

Writer: James Graham (Screenplay)

Starring: Asa Buterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Jo Yang, Martin McCann

 

Plot: A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.


Tagline – True genius comes from opening your heart

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sweet Drama

 

Story: X+Y starts as we meet the social awkward Nathan (Butterfield) whose father is killed in a car crash when he is young, his mother Julie (Hawkins) has struggled raising him with his awkwardness but with former prodigy and now teacher Martin Humphreys (Spall) who helps develop his own skills in maths to get to the level to compete in the Olympiad.

Qualifying Nathan finds himself going to Taiwan to compete for Britain with fellow gifted children from around the UK, guided by Richard (Marsan) in the competition. To help with learning the new country the British team is paired with the Chinese team, this gives Nathan a chance to learn a new culture with a new friend Zhang Mei (Yang). The trip teaches Nathan to open up more in his life, while back home Martin learns to stop make the excuses about his failures to perform in the Olympiad that he failed in.

 

Thoughts on X+Y

 

Characters – Nathan is a social awkward teenager, he has autism which makes it difficult for him to interact and has a gift for numbers. When he gets invited to join the British Olympiad team he must learn a new culture, meet new people and come out of the shell he is in. Martin Humphreys is a teacher that mentors Nathan, he once competed in the Olympiad but didn’t succeed, Nathan gives him hope to carry on his depressed life with his own sickness. Julie is the mother of Nathan, she has struggled with his disability but does the best she can to give him the chances he deserves. Richard runs the British team, he expects to win sometimes putting too much pressure on his team. Zhang Mei is the Chinese competitor that befriends Nathan showing him even after the troubles he has people will open up to him, she also must deal with the pressure of competing for Uncle.

PerformancesAsa Butterfield is great in this leading role, not over playing his characters condition. Rafe Spall gives us a performance that is filled with the regret his character is feeling through the film. Sally Hawkins shines in the supporting role as the supportive mother desperate to connect with her son. Jo Yang connects with Asa’s character perfectly giving us a moving supporting performance too.

StoryThe story follows how one teenager must learn to open up when it gets a chance to compete in a maths Olympiad, he has always struggled with social sides of life but uses maths to escape. Watching a story that shows the struggles of a teenager to find his place while still dealing with his own grief of losing a parent, that gets that chance to meet new people to open the world up for him is something we all like to enjoy.

Drama/RomanceThe drama comes from the troubles Nathan has been through and must learn to move on from, the key comes from the romance side of the film opening his eyes to the world.

SettingsNathan has lived a closed life, when he opens up to more by the travelling he becomes more open to everything in life being able to see things from other people’s point of view.


Scene of the Movie –
The competition in Cambridge.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We focus on moments of problems the other British team have but we don’t see enough of them.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that surprised me a lot, I enjoyed nearly every moment of the film and believe it is one I would be recommending in the future.

 

Overall: Delightful little drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – W – Welcome to Me (2014)

Director: Shira Piven

Writer: Eliot Laurence (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, James Marsden

 

Plot: When Alice Klieg wins the Mega-Millions lottery, she immediately quits her psychiatric meds and buys her own talk show.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Good Drama

 

Story: Welcome to Me starts as we meet Alice Klieg (Wiig) who idolises Oprah studying all the tapes of her shows, she lives an isolated life but that is going to change when she wins the $86 million on the lottery. Believing the money has changed herself she drops her Dr Moffet (Robbins) who has been treating her for multiply personality disorder and heads off to Vegas with her best friend Gina (Cardellini).

When Alice meets studio team Rich Ruskin (Marsden), Gabe Ruskin (Bentley), Dawn Hurley (Cusack) and Deb Moseley (Leigh) wanting to create her own talk show which Rich sees this as a chance to save their studio. As the money being spend increases the show reaches new levels of popularity but can the studio continue to extort Alice’s mental issues to make money.

 

Thoughts on Welcome to Me

 

Characters/PerformanceAlice is a very unstable woman that has struggled through all her mental health problems for years, but after winning the lottery she gets her own show on television show where she can deal with all her problems, but can she deal with this new fame. Gabe is one of the studio producers that is willing to help Alice, but is one of the only ones that does want to help rather than use her. Gina is the best friend that gets left behind as Alice becomes obsessed with her own show. We also have the rest of the studio team that see this as a big payday.

Performance wise, Kristen Wiig is fantastic in this leading role showing she is capable of the serious performance away from the full comedy she is known for. Wes Bentley continues to turn his career around with another good performance. Linda Cardellini is also good throughout the film and the other highly respected stars also good great jobs with James Marsden being hugely memorable.

StoryThe story shows how people with mental health issues will find life difficult, but if you add money they can’t explain to themselves to the mix they will get taken advantage off by greedy people, but it also shows how money shouldn’t change friendships but it will. This is a film that has a story which is very important to show how difficult living with mental health issues can be.

Comedy/DramaThe comedy works in the limited moments because the story isn’t a full laughing matter. The drama shows the issues Alice must live with along with her new money.

SettingsThe settings are important because they show the world that Alice comes from to where she finds herself with all her money.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie that tells a very important message for the people who struggle with the mental health issues.

 

Overall: Very impressive film I feel people might not have heard off.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – T – This is Where I Leave You (2014)

Director: Shawn Levy

Writer: Jonathan Tropper (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant

 

Plot: When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch

 

Story: This is Where I Leave You starts as the father of the house passes away, his dying wish is that his family respect Shiva which means the family must spend the week under one roof. This brings Judd (Bateman), Wendy (Fey), Phillip (Driver) and Paul (Stoll) to live with their mother Hillary (Fonda).

As the family comes together memories of the childhood come out as tensions between the siblings come out, as we see the family dynamics come out, we also get to see how the lives they siblings have been living haven’t gone the way they had planned, but most importantly how much they need the family.

 

Thoughts on This is Where I Leave You

 

Characters/PerformanceJudd is a big city producer who earns his wife has been cheating on him, he must return to his home town to be with his family after his father’s death but now he must look at himself and wondering whether he should take more chances in his life. Wendy is the only sister of the siblings who has been married with children but we see the regret in her life as she always wondered what could have been. Phillip is the youngster sibling that has been the loose cannon mostly acting up about not being able to live up to his elder siblings. Paul is the eldest sibling that has been running the family business and trying to start his own family but having troubles. Hillary is their mother that brings the family back together for the funeral, she has always controlled them but also let them live their own life. We also see loved ones and lost loves coming the lives the siblings have lived or are living.

Performance wise, we do have an all-star cast here with Jason Bateman is in the leading role he shows just how capable of an actor he can be, Tina Fey even steps away from the comedy she is known for very well too, Jane Fonda shows us once again she can never be forgotten just how skilled she is, Adam Driver continues to grow his ever-growing body of work with Corey Stoll continuing to make his move up the film world. We also have wonderful performances from the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story of the family coming back together for their father’s or husband’s funeral is one we have seen before, we get to see the problems the family has been having too. This is one of the good ones that covers everything, sure it does seem to be slightly too much for one family but this is one of the most interesting dynamics between the siblings over the weeklong visit.

Comedy/DramaThe comedy used isn’t about a laugh a minute, it is more about the light-hearted moments in life and the drama involved around it shows the relationships the people have with each other.

SettingsThe hometown setting shows how the people of the world have to come back to where it all started to look at how lives went.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best bringing the family together for a funeral to look at life, the what could have been, the where things are going and is easily one of the most powerful and interesting ones I have seen.

 

Overall: Wonderful family reuniting drama.

Rating

 

 

A-Z Bonus Review Month – S – Search Party (2014)

Director: Scot Armstrong

Writer: Mike Gagerman, Andrew Waller, Scot Armstrong (Screenplay) Mike Gagerman, Andrew Waller (Story)

Starring: Adam Pally, T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Shannon Woodward, Alison Brie, J.B, Smoove

 

Plot: A pair of friends embark on a mission to reunite their pal with the woman he was going to marry.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Comedy Adventure

 

Story: Search Party starts when Nardo (Middleditch) is about to get married to Tracy (Woodward), a stoned stag party leads Nardo telling his best friends Evan (Pally) and Jason (Miller) he is having second thoughts. Come the wedding day Jason interrupts the wedding leading to Tracy storming and Nardo going after her.

With Evan about to get a promotion he must put his career on at risk to travel to Mexico with Jason to rescue him and reunite the couple. What follows is a serious of comical events through the next through days.

 

Thoughts on Search Party

 

Characters/PerformanceEvan is the friend about to get his career on path but his friendship with Jason finds himself in trouble. Nardo is the friend who is about to get married but ends ups stranded in Mexico trying to win his girlfriend back. Jason is the screw up of the friends who always puts his friends in problems, he needs to look at his own situation and learn to grow up with this adventure.

Performance wise, Adam, TJ and Thomas all give good performances showing their comedy abilities throughout.

StoryThe story shows how three best friends all going on different paths will stay there for each other no matter what happens even if their personal lives are going in different direction. The adventure across Mexico is fun throughout and the madness the characters go through make for to get back together.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure side is all fun as we get to see how far the friends would go to help each other with the comedy all coming off in the right places.

SettingsThe settings add to the comedy adventure the characters find themselves on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good comedy that does have plenty of laughs even if the laughs are slightly more risky in places.

 

Overall: Sit back and enjoy the comedy.

Rating