The Keeping Room (2014)

Director: Daniel Barber

Writer: Julia Hart (Screenplay)

Starring: Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, Sam Worthington, Kyle Soller, Ned Dennehy

 

Plot: Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three women must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.


Tagline – Some things are worth fighting for

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow & Effective

 

Story: The Keeping Room starts as during the civil war, Augusta (Marling), Louise (Steinfeld) and their slave Mad (Otaru) must work together to look after their family home together, while the men are out at war, they are getting by with Louise wanting to do more than just work around the house.

The women soon become targets for the rogue soldiers Moses (Worthington) and Henry (Soller), without the normal support they must defend their home before the war comes to them.

 

Thoughts on The Keeping Room

 

Characters – Augusta is the lady of the house, keeping Louise in line, while making it fair for everyone under the roof, no matter what their status is. She will be the one that will go for help and risk her life to protect the rest. Louise is the younger of the two women, she doesn’t like being forced into work believing the slave should do it all, her failure to follow instructions only makes it difficult for Augusta. Mad is the slave that has been welcomed as part of the family, joining in the defence of the home too. Moses is one of the soldiers that is leaving a path of destruction as they run away from the war. He targets the women’s home and the women to make his own for the time being.

PerformancesBrit Marling is good in the leading role, we see strong performances from the three women if we are being honest, Hailee Steinfeld continues to show her ability, where as unknown Muna Otaru should be a name we pay more attention too. Sam Worthington does a fine job in the villainous role where we see him deliver lines in a disturbing manner.

StoryThe story follows three women that must put their classes a side during the American Civil War to protect their home from rogue soldiers that only want to do unthinkable things to them. We get to see how the women do have their own problems to deal without the soldier adding to them, the unsure feeling about whether they will have the men in their lives returning to them. Once the soldiers arrive it does become a survival story which is good, it shows how difficult and risky it would be for either side just to attack they must focus on defending. The pacing of the story seems solid with giving away too much too early before leading to the night of the event.

WesternThe film does use the western themes in the elements of the war time western not the wild west style it works well enough with the rogue soldiers trying to take a home.

SettingsThe film uses the lone settings of the house in the middle of nowhere and the paths leading to it, to show us how isolated people would become during the war time.


Scene of the Movie –
The night of the event.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts feel slow though.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow-moving western that shows the effects of the civil war on the women left behind that could face their own uncertain future as the men out at war. It has strong performances and a dark feeling about what could happen next.

 

Overall: darkly depressive look at the American Civil War.

Rating

 

 

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Donnie Yen Weekend – Iceman (2014)

Director: Wing-Cheong Law

Writer: Fung Lam, Mark Wu (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Baoqiang Wang, Shengyi Huang, Kang Yu, Simon Yam, Suet Lam

 

Plot: An imperial guard and his three traitorous childhood friends ordered to hunt him down get accidentally buried and kept frozen in time. 400 years later passes and they are defrosted continuing the battle they left behind.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Action, Weak Comedy

 

Story: Iceman starts when Ho Ying (Yen) gets awoken from a frozen sleep of 400-years in the modern time, he must look to adapt fast to a world different from his own. Ying isn’t the only one to make it to the modern time, his brothers Sao (Wang) and Niehu (Yu) arrive as they look to hunt him down after all these years after he is meant to of betrayed his emperor.

Ying must use the people willing to help him in May (Huang) to locate the Golden Wheel of Time, to prove that he is innocent to stop his brother’s from hunting him down.

 

Thoughts on Iceman

 

Characters – Ying was once one of the emperor’s most trusted imperial guards, he is betrayed and framed for treason before getting frozen in time. He gets defrosted in the modern time, where he must go in search for the Golden Wheel of Time to prove his true innocence and protect the world from his own brothers. Sao and San Ko are the two brothers that have also, they are causing more havoc in their hunt for Ying which has drawn more police presence. May is the young lady that takes Ying in, teaches him about the modern day unaware of the true danger that could come their direction. Cheung is running a military chase for Ying, he has learnt the power of the Golden Wheel of Time and believes that he can use it for his own good.

PerformancesDonnie Yen is the main attraction to this film, we know he can handle the action which is does with ease, it is when it needs to work on the comedy side of things when his performance goes downhill. Baoqiang Wang and Kang Yu are both entertaining enough in their roles, while Simon Yam brings much needed seriousness to the film. Shengyi Huang is the strongest part of the comedy in the film.

StoryThe story follows three brothers and former imperial guards in ancient China, find themselves waking up in the modern time, still at battle for the action that happened in the ancient times. This story is an ambitious idea and it does work for the idea of having the fish out of water situation created for the imperial guards. We do go through the idea of needing to figure out how survive in the new surrounding, which does work too and seeing the twists along the way with the flashbacks does fill in moments of blanks in the storyline. Parts of the storyline can come off confusing though because we do seem to have a lot going on and it does feel like if you blink you might miss something.

Action/ComedyThe action in this film is easily the highlight of it, we get to see Donnie Yen doing his fighting sequences which are always entertaining to watch. The comedy however falls flat resorting to fart jokes, May is the only one that gets proper laughs.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how the ancient men must adapt to the modern world with the different type of locations they visit.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good in places, but weak if others, when it comes to the roaring faces they particular look weak.


Scene of the Movie –
Bridge fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Fart Jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy watch action sci-fi film, if you want martial arts entertainment this will give you what you need.

 

Overall: Enjoyable action film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – W – We Still Kill the Old Way (2014)

Director: Sacha Bennett

Writer: Sacha Bennett, Dougie Brimson, Gary Lawrence, Colin Lomax, Rod Smith (Screenplay)

Starring: Ian Ogilvy, Alison Doody, Christopher Ellison, Danny-Boy Hatchard, Lysette Anthony, James Cosmo, Steven Berkoff

 

Plot: When retired East End villain Charlie Archer is murdered by a feral street gang, his brother Ritchie returns to London from Spain to investigate.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical British Gangster Film

 

Story: We Still Kill the Old Way starts as we see a new hooligan gang led by Aaron (Hatchered) causing havoc in the streets of London, they use their numbers to beat, harass or threaten their victims, which sees them clash with legendary Charlie Archer (Berkoff), killing him. Charlie’s brother Ritchie (Ogilvy) has been living away in Spain, with Susan Taylor (Doody) leading the investigation.

When Ritchie gets the news, he heads back to London in search for answers, which sees him bring back the old gang Roy (Ellison), Arthur (Cosmo) and Butch (Denham) to hunt down Aaron and his gang.

 

Thoughts on We Still Kill the Old Way

 

Characters – Ritchie is the respected former gangster of the streets of London, retired now, living in Spain, he returns after the murder of his brother, bring his old gang together to take on the younger gang that is running terror in the old neighbourhood. He remains in control of each situation knowing how to play each and everyone of the gang, police and neighbourhood to remain under the radar. Susan is the lead detective investigating the case, she wants a clean answer, though she does know what Ritchie is capable off. Roy is one of the gang, he enjoys helping Ritchie, missing the old ways the gang once had. Aaron is the leader of the gang of hooligans running chaos around London, his behaviour is complete disgrace, you will hate him from the opening scene, from the way he treats his girlfriend to the way he treats the elders.

PerformancesIan Ogilvy in the leading role gives us a proper cockney gangster figure we can believe in. Alison Doody makes for a solid local cop. Christopher Ellison will strike fear in anybody that crosses him, while Danny-Boy Hatchard makes his character truly disposable.

StoryThe story follows a retired gangster that returns to his old stamping ground after his brother is murdered by a young gang causing problems in his old neighbourhood. This is the basic revenge film in the way Ritchie conducts his business, while mixing the idea that the new generation isn’t respecting the old style of the people who ran the area before them, they have no rules or manners. It is good to see the whole gang being truly hated and how respected the old generation is around the area. There are certain side stories that are overly tagged in and with Lauren is one of the worst characters in the history of film.

Action/Crime/ComedyThe action is plenty of side ways pointed guns trying to be threatening, while having close up brutal punches being delivered. The crime side of the film uses the ideas of the two different generations of gangs in the underworld, this does give an element of comedy to how the older gang acts the town.

SettingsThe film is set in London’s east end which shows us how the gangs operate around the neighbourhood.


Scene of the Movie –
Hospital shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lauren’s decision-making.

Final ThoughtsThis is a proper gangster film set in London which does work well with everything it is trying to do with the clash of gangs in London.

 

Overall: Fun gangster film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – V – Veronica Mars (2014)

Director: Rob Thomas

Writer: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III

 

Plot: Years after walking away from her past as a young private eye, Veronica Mars gets pulled back to her hometown, just in time for her high school reunion, in order to help her old flame Logan Echolls, who’s embroiled in a murder mystery.


Tagline – She thought she was out

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Many Blanks From the Show

 

Story: Veronica Mars starts as Veronica Mars (Bell) fills the fans of the show in with the last few years of her life after the television show finished and gave us first time viewers a chance to get a basic grip of who the main characters are going to be.

Veronica is now about to take her bar exam, but when her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Dohring) is accused of killing his celebrity girlfriend, Veronica returns home to get to the bottom of the crime, re-living her private eye ways and catching up with old friends.

 

Thoughts on Veronica Mars

 

Characters – Veronica Mars is the former private eye that has moved on to study law only to learn a former friend has been accused of murder. The character gets to return to see old friends to see where they are in life now and how things have changed, in the biggest case of her life. Logan Echolls is the ex-boyfriend of Veronica that has been accused of murder, he needs her help to prove his innocence.

PerformancesKristen Bell made this role her own on television and now you can see her own enjoyment of returning to this role. Jason Bohring is solid enough in the role of the suspect. It would be fair to say the whole returning cast enjoyed coming back and it worked for the film.

StoryThe story plays into the hands of the fans of the show wonderfully, the problem comes if you never saw the show, you will never understand the moments between characters in this movie. This isn’t a film for people that never saw the show, but it does bring our character back to her old role to see where friends are which is always a nice touch for popular shows.

Crime/MysteryThe crime mystery tone is everything the TV show kept up with the light-hearted comic tone of the movie, with plenty of mystery moments to keep us guessing.

SettingsThe settings do help the fans of the original show that have returned to their favourite show, seeing all the places we saw their favourite characters.


Scene of the Movie –
Reunion.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing enough from the TV show.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful treat for the fans of the show, catching up with our favourite characters is something we all like to do and this is no different.

 

Overall: Good TV show to movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – W – Warsaw 44 (2014)

Director: Jan Komasa

Writer: Jan Komasa (Screenplay)

Starring: Jozef Pawlowski, Zofia Wichlacz, Anna Prochniak, Antoni Krolikowski, Maurycy Popiel

 

Plot: A story of love, friendship and the pursuit of adventure during the bloody and brutal reality of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong War Reality

 

Story: Warsaw 44 starts as we meet Stefan (Pawlowski) a young man living in Warsaw in 1944 during the war, he lives with his mother and younger brother bring the money back to the home, this changes when he meets a group of people similar to his age, they offer him a chance to go into the Polish army as they plan to fight back against the Germans.

As the Uprising starts to attack the Nazi’s Stefan learns the harsh reality of war up close and personal, with the love of his life Biedronka (Wichlacz) being the only one that will help him through the destruction.

 

Thoughts on Warsaw 44

 

Characters – Stefan is the honest hard working young man, he supports his family, protects his brother from the horrors of war, he is however led to join the Uprising in Warsaw against the Nazi’s, a move which will change his life, he will learn love and heartache as the war comes closer than he would imagine. Biedronka is the woman that Stefan falls for in the uprising, she fights alongside the men and will do everything to save lives. Kama is another woman in the uprising that shows love towards Stefan, we get plenty of characters in this film that are mostly following the ones in the uprising that will do anything to get their freedom back.

PerformancesJozef Pawlowski is good in the leading role, the charm he shows saying goodbye to his little brother could melt a heart and seeing his reaction to the war side of the film shows us how any young man would have been going through during the time. The rest of the cast is good, getting their moments to shine with the desperation needed through the war.

StoryThe story follows the young people of Poland setting up an uprising to take on the Nazis during World War II, it starts as a small fight and soon throws them into the true harsh reality of war. While seeing the realities of war isn’t anything new, we do know how destruction, devasting and brutal war is on the people involved and World War II could well have been the worse in modern history, these people didn’t have any hope and only wanted freedom, they were willing to lay die their lives to do so. The characters however are fictional which could hold back being truly connected to the real people that would have suffered through the events. The story isn’t an easy watch and does have parts we don’t need to see, mostly the romance.

History/Romance/WarThe history behind this film is true, we knew how bad the war was on the people and just how fighting back was the only way, these two parts of the film are shown near perfectly for what it could have cost people. The romance however just feels tacked on and unneeded for most of the film.

SettingsThe film makes us feel like we are there, feeling each explosion, moment of destruction with hauntingly created settings.


Scene of the Movie –
The graveyard battle, because it shows us what they will truly be battling.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The romance side of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard hitting war drama, it shows us just what people were willing to do through the war through the eyes of the young adults.

 

Overall: Hard-hitting war drama

Rating