Burden (2018) Movie Review

Director: Andrew Heckler

Writer: Andrew Heckler (Screenplay)

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Tom Wilkinson, Tess Harper, Crystal Fox, Usher Raymond

Plot: When a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan opens in a South Carolina town, the idealistic Reverend Kennedy strives to keep the peace even as he urges the group’s Grand Dragon to disavow his racist past.

Tagline – Only love can drive out hate.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Important Message

Story: Burden starts as we head to a small South Carolina town, a place where the Ku Klux Klan has been operating with Tom Griffin (Wilkinson) being the leader of the Klan, the town does have a black Reverend Kennedy (Whitaker) who has been trying to bring change to the mindset of the locals to be equal to everyone, only for his plans to become shattered when Tom opens a museum for the Klan.

When one of the klan members Mike Burden (Hedlund) starts dating local woman Judy (Riseborough), he finds him allegiance to the klan being questioned, with the tension between both sides rising in the town.

Thoughts on Burden

Characters – Mike Burden is a member of the KKK, he is involved in opening the museum, which does build up the tension between the groups in the town, he starts to date a local woman, which sees him needing to refocus and see the mistakes in his past, turning to a black reverend for help to live a better life, even though the KKK start to turn on him. Jude is the local mother that works in the local store to make sure her child gets food, she doesn’t get involved in the problems in the town, she will always treat everyone equal, which sees her wonder if Mike can change. Reverend Kennedy is the black man that is trying to bring equality to the town, he has been against the KKK actions for years and is left needing to overcome a new problem, while being willing to offer former members a chance to redeem themselves. Tom Griffin is the leader of the KKK chapter in the town, he lets and encourages the members to target black people for violence, looking to start up his own war in the town

PerformancesWe do have a strong cast with Forest Whitaker being the star of the cast, he brings us the character with the biggest struggle to go through, while Garrett Hedlund brings to life the redemption arc character. Andrea Riseborough does well in the supporting role, while Tom Wilkinson makes us hate his character with ease.

StoryThe story here follows a member of the KKK that learns the errors of his way and looks to correct his mistakes, even if it means he is left with nothing, with the only person that will help him, being a black reverend that he was once assigned to murder. This is based on the real person that went for a redemption, which is all fair enough to see somebody better themselves, only we don’t get into enough of the war between the two sides in the town, it almost seems like the more important part of the story only it ends up being on the backburner through the film. We do have the world created well, showing how everyone involved is struggling with everyday life and needs help, which is why they have created the groups we see both sides involved in.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us that both sides are struggling to make ends meet, they are all on the poverty line.

Scene of the Movie – The redemption.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough focus on the bigger issues going on here.

Final Thoughts This is a strong redemption storyline, only it fails to show the true battle between the KKK and the black members of the town who are always being the victims of their actions.

Overall: Redemption 101.

Signature Entertainment presents Burden on DVD & Digital HD from July 6th

Jellyfish (2018) Movie Review

Director: James Gardner

Writer: James Gardner, Simon Lord (Screenplay)

Starring: Liv Hill, Sinead Matthews, Cyril Nri, Angus Barnett, Tomos Eames, Victoria Alcock, Helen Kennedy, Robbie White

Plot: A young carer discovers an unlikely talent for stand-up comedy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tragic & Heart Breaking

Story: Jellyfish starts as we meet school student Sarah Taylor (Hill) who is in struggling through her drama classes, taking care of her young siblings, while trying to work to give them any sort of extra money, her mother Karen (Matthews) is unemployed suffering from a mental illness.

When Sarah’s teacher Adam Hale (Nri) sees her talent for comedy, he pushes her into trying stand up comedy for a show, just when Sarah’s life starts to fall apart, with her losing her job and the family losing their benefits because of her mother not attending her meetings. Sarah is left needing to turn to darker sides of her life, to make sure her siblings stay with her and don’t get put into the foster system.

Thoughts on Jellyfish

Characters – Sarah is a 15-year-old girl that must look after her younger siblings, while her mother is struggling with her own mental illnesses, Sarah is trying to get through her GCSEs, working part time and being the only adult in her house, she is facing a future that isn’t going to happen unless things change quickly, everything is slowly piling up on her, with life situations she shouldn’t have put on her. Karen in the mother who has been suffering through depression making it difficult for her to even get out of the house to keep the benefits coming in. Adam Hale is the drama teacher that does see some potential in Sarah, he encourages her to find her talent for comedy, being supportive, where nobody else is. Vince is the boss that is trying to be strict, he gives Sarah chances unaware of her problems at home, even if he ends up being like any boss who hasn’t gotten more out of their own life.

PerformancesLiv Hill gives us one of the strongest performances you will ever see, from every expression of pain she is going through, to just holding in the explosion of emotion that wants to come out of her. Sinead Matthews does make her character look like she is struggling with life. The rest of the supporting cast are strong, they all let Liv take the centre stage.

StoryThe story here shows a 15-year-old that must take care of her younger siblings, manager school life and work life just to keep a roof over their heads. This is a story that will put a startling light on how some children will be living and just what they will need to do to get through each day, it shows the poverty line in England and how people will often not even give you the time of day to see what is wrong with somebody’s life, with only one person trying to offer support to Sarah. We see just how desperate she has become to make sure the family stays together even going against the law in her attempts. You will find yourself being incredibly moved by the struggles of Sarah and watching her slowly see her life unravel makes you want to help her.

SettingsThe film is set in Margate a small coast town that doesn’t have the luxury life many people living there would have, it shows that small towns don’t offer big futures for people.

Scene of the Movie – The routine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Is drama the only class Sarah takes?

Final Thoughts This is one of the most emotionally charged movies you will see, we have a truly brilliant performance that will leave you feeling heart broken by what Sarah goes through, a must watch.

Overall: Brilliant.

Nicole Kidman Weekend – Boy Erased (2018) Movie Review

Director: Joel Edgerton

Writer: Joel Edgerton (Screenplay) Garrard Conley (Memoir)

Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Madelyn Cline, Victor McCay, David Joseph Craig

Plot: The son of a Baptist preacher is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents.

Tagline – The Truth Cannot Be Converted

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Stunningly Acted

Story: Boy Erased starts as Jared Eamons (Hedges) checks into the church-supported gay conversion program, the son a preacher Marshall (Crowe) and with his mother’s Nancy (Kidman) support, he starts to be taught about what could have caused him to be gay. We flashback to his high school life with his cheerleader girlfriend Chloe (Cline).

As Jared continues his therapy under Victor Sykes (Edgerton) he starts to question whether this is the right thing or not, with the whole class being disguised as an idea being homosexual is a sin and a choice, one God wouldn’t support. Will Jared make the conversation or accept that what is being forced on him is correct.

Thoughts on Boy Erased

Characters – Jared is a teenage boy just starting college where he gets outed which forces his parents to send him to a gay-conversation program. He looks back on his life where he struggled through high school with his own sexuality and tries to understand how the program is going to help him, learning that despite the lack of support in his life, it isn’t about choice, which he was led to believe. Jared shows us as a character based on the author of the book, that at that age, anyone going through the same situation where they don’t know how to tell people or whether parents would approve would become secretive and defensive when questioned. Victor Sykes runs the conversation program, he keeps drumming it into the group that it is a choice and God isn’t going to support them if they chose to be homosexual. Nancy is the mother of Jared, she thinks it is best for him to attend the program and does think that it would be right to go, though she will support him more than his father does. Marshall is the preacher father of Jared, he pushes him into the program demanding he be fix, never wanting to support this version of his own son, seeing it as some sort of embarrassment.

PerformancesLucas Hedges gives one of the best performances of the year, showing us just how difficult life has become, we see how he feel guilty for his sexuality, before showing how his character doesn’t care what people think. Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton all give wonderful supporting performance showing us just how their characters believe in their actions.

StoryThe story here follows a teenager who is sent to a gay-conversation program to fix the problems his family believe he has, here he learns that despite being told one thing, he doesn’t need to make a choice for who he is. This is a story based on the book by the real Garrard Conley who went through this experience, we do see how ignorant religious people are towards the LGBT community because they can’t accept and to show how the conversation programs still being used in this day and age is beyond baffling. Seeing how the program operates can be hard to watch at times, but it is there to show just how backwards thinking they are. We do have the family dynamic too which wants to support, but believe they are right.

BiopicThe biopic side of the film does show just how difficult this time of Jared’s life was, not just him discovering himself, but how people around him tried to change him.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, with the conversation program acting like a prison at times, even being next to everyday locations.

Scene of the Movie – Leaving.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Mainly that these programs are still real.

Final Thoughts This is a powerful eye-opener for people that proves that his horrible ideas still happen in our world when they shouldn’t with some of the best performance of the year.

Overall: Powerfully Acted, Storytelling and Important

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – U – UFO (2018) Movie Review

Director: Ryan Eslinger

Writer: Ryan Eslinger (Screenplay)

Starring: Alex Sharp, Gillian Anderson, Ella Purnell, Benjamin Beatty, Cece Abbey, David Strathairn

Plot: A college student, who sees a UFO, uses his exceptional math skills to investigate the sighting with his friends while the FBI follows closely behind.

Tagline – Sightings are never a coincidence. The cover-up ends here.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Deep Mystery

Story: UFO starts when a UFO sighting happens over an airport, the FBI look to get control of the situation with Franklin Ahls (Strathairn) leads the covering up process, which is going well until student Derek (Sharp) starts looking into the maths behind the sighting, trying to understand what it might have been and the size of it.

The more Derek dives into the study, the more attention he gathers from the FBI, putting his own life on the line, his studies under the brilliant Professor Hendricks (Anderson) and his lab partner Natalie (Purnell), all to uncover the truth.

Thoughts on UFO

Characters – Derek is a brilliant math student, he can always put together problems, always looking for something outside of the logic, which sees him challenge his professor, he gets caught up in wanting to study a UFO sighting, which he believes does have a deeper meaning, only he will see himself being put under pressure by the FBI. Professor Hendricks is the strict teacher of Derek’s she doesn’t take any arguments from her students but does believe they are ready for greatness, with Derek being one of her very best. Natalie is the lab partner of Derek’s she starts to be left feeling distant and doesn’t want to ruin her own chances of success. Franklin Ahls is running the FBI task force to cover up the event, he doesn’t need it spreading but will listen to theories about the truth.

PerformancesAlex Sharp is great as the student who will push the limits of his greatness, he shows how obsession can take over somebody’s life. Gillian Anderson makes for a great choice for the professor role, with Ella Purnell struggling to make an impact with her character showing the distance Derek is creating between his friends. David Strathairn is always going to be somebody who could be a military or government professional with ease.

StoryThe story here follows the aftermath of a UFO sighting, which sees a brilliant maths student put his studies on hold to try and uncover the mystery behind the signal that has been left from the visit, while the FBI are trying to cover everything up. This is a UFO based story unlike anything you have seen before, it looks more into the science behind everything that has come from the message we set into space and how if we got a reply, what might happen. We do have a lot of mathematical talk, which will go over plenty of people’s heads along with the astrophysics behind it all. It is nice not to have the biggest creation of a villain, a story that people are working towards the same thing.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery in this film comes from the message in a signal, which shows us how the sci-fi side of the film coming from the idea that we might have got a message back from the message we sent into space.

SettingsThe film does take place in Cincinnati, it shows the airport where the first incident happens and the university that Derek attends, it is all about creating an environment to study about the truth.

Scene of the Movie – The meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much technical talk.

Final Thoughts This is a sci-fi film that is trying to be very deep, which is achieves, though it does get too complicated for its own good at times.

Overall: Deep Sci-Fi Film.

Monsters and Men (2018) Movie Review

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Writer: Reinaldo Marcus Green (Screenplay)

Starring: John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Chante Adams, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Nicole Beharie, Rob Morgan

Plot: The aftermath of a police killing of a black man, told through the eyes of the bystander who filmed the act, an African-American police officer and a high-school baseball phenom inspired to take a stand.

Tagline – One moment can change everything

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Has a Point, Fails to Capture It

Story: Monsters and Men starts when Manny (Ramos) witnesses and records a police shooting on one of his street corners, he has just put his life back in order with a job, preparing to have everything ready for his girlfriend and daughter, only he gets framed for a crime he never commits. Officer Dennis (Washington) has been on the force for a while now, he sees this happening, while having questions against the cop that was involved in the shooting he doesn’t want to step in until he knows the truth, we finally meets Zyrick (Harrison Jr) a young baseball star of the future that ends up finding himself the latest target of the cops, this time Dennis is going to take a stand.

Thoughts on Monsters and Men

Characters – Dennis is a African American cop that has always kept his head down on the job, he has experienced the problems off duty, when he starts to think everything is going too far, he starts to question where he stand on what is going on. Manny is a young man that has just turned his life around, he films a wrongful killing and after he released the footage, becomes targeted by the cops himself, without standing a chance to fight back. Zyrick is going to become a mega star in baseball, he is caught in between trying to take a stand or follow his own future away from the troubles.

PerformancesWe do have three strong performances in the film with John David Washington, Anthony Ramos and Kelvin Harrison Jr all giving us everything we need from their performances in the film.

StoryThe story here follows three different point of views which have experienced police brutality from different backgrounds and how they are left feeling helpless about what is happening. This does show us the important problems going on with police action towards minorities in America, we get to see how even the people on the force can’t do anything without being seen as an enemy. The problem with the story comes with how the three stories don’t seem to have any true connections, with each one playing out just after the previous one finishes, instead of standing up, they are almost just three occurrences that have happened.

CrimeThe crime side of this film focuses on the action that are taken towards the innocent people and how that will affect their lives.

SettingsThe film is set in a city where you can see the clear divide between race, authorities and money, which will see different levels of discrimination going on towards people.

Scene of the Movie – Dennis argues his case to a family friend.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The stories are not connected enough.

Final Thoughts This is a film that wants to bring the message about police brutality towards minorities, only for it to not connect the stories well enough.

Overall: Unconnected Hate Crimes.