Little (2019) Movie Review

Director: Tina Gordon

Writer: Tracy Oliver, Tina Gordon (Screenplay)

Starring: Regina Hall, Issa Rae, Marsai Martin, Justin Hartley, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tone Bell, Mikey Day, JD McCray

Plot: A woman is transformed into her younger self at a point in her life when the pressures of adulthood become too much to bear.

Tagline – She woke up like This.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Strong Performances, Weak Laughs

Story: Little starts as we meet strict boss Jordan Sanders (Hall) who treats everybody badly with her bossy mentality, which has grown in her since her time at school, she walks all over everybody in her business, with her assistant April (Rae) dealing with most of her abuse.

With Jordan’s biggest client about to walk away from the company and the pressure is cranked up and things only get worse for Jordan, when a little girl sees her ways, wishes she was little again, Jordan (Martin) now school kid age must return to school, leaving April to run company for her.

Thoughts on Little

Characters – Jordan Sanders is the strict boss that always looks down on people, bullying them into the work in her life, she has made plenty of enemies along the way and is about to lose her biggest client. Caught in the act of her bossy ways, she turns back to her teenage self, one that was bullied, never fitted in and here she must learn a lesson about herself and her future. April has been the assistant to Jordan for years now, she does want to be her own woman with her own ideas, which as always shot down by Jordan, when Jordan becomes little, she turns to April who gets her chance to step up in her life, proving to be a friend that Jordan never thought she would have.

PerformancesRegina Hall does well as the strict bossy figure, but it is Issa Rae and Marsai Martin that shine the most bringing their characters to full life in the position where they wouldn’t normally see themselves.

StoryThe story here follows a successful strict boss that gets turned back to her younger self, forcing her to let people do things for her, while trying to learn a lesson about letting people into her own life. We have seen the body swapping ideas before, while this isn’t a full body swap, it does show how damaged somebody can be, making them closed off from the rest of the world. While this story might have a deeper meaning about how to make the best decisions in life, certain pop culture references, don’t help everything and we do end up not spending enough time with the school side of little Jordan’s time, which is where she is meant to learn the most.

Comedy/Fantasy/RomanceThe comedy in the film doesn’t hit well enough for the most part, it all seems like everybody is trying to hard, rather than being naturally funny, the fantasy side of the film looks how a spell could change somebody, just like any fantasy body swapping film, with the romance being there, only not getting enough time to focus on.

SettingsThe film shows the successful selfish life Jordan has ended up living, it shows how Jordan is only interested in her own life.

Scene of the Movie – Little Jordan’s first day.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of the comedy doesn’t work.

Final Thoughts This is a basic comedy that does have a bigger message about treating people better in life, or you will end up finding themselves alone when they need help the most.

Overall: Simple Comedy.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – P – Pain and Glory (2019) Movie Review

Director: Pedro Almodovar

Writer: Pedro Almodovar (Screenplay)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, Cesar Vicente, Asier Flores

Plot: A film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as past and present come crashing down around him.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant Life Drama

Story: Pain and Glory starts as we meet film director Salvador Mallo (Banderas) whose most famous film ‘Sabor’ is being honoured, it is one of his films he never truly enjoyed until recently, which makes him start to look back at his life as a children in near poverty, where is mother Jacinta (Cruz) did everything she could to keep him happy and now Salvador must rebuild the bridge with the star of the movie Alberto (Etxeandia) after they fell out after the film was made.

Salvador’s latest work is must more personal story form his younger years, with his own former lover Federico (Sbaraglia) being the man that helped him become the star he would, understand why he was always more against the drug lifestyle that Alberto was involved in.

Thoughts on Pain and Glory

Characters – Salvador Mallo is a director who has lost his motivation, he is questioning the decisions he once made, even though his films are held in high regard, add in the illness and wear and tear his body is going through, he is wondering if his legacy is what he wants it to be, be it the relationship he once had with his lead, his mother and many other parts of his life. Alberto Crespo was the star of the hit movie, the two fell out because of his addiction, which caused the rift between the two, now he gets a chance to make up with Salvador who understand his own errors of the way. Federico is the former lover of Salvador, somebody who motivated him to create the work he has become famous for. Jacinta is Salvador’s mother that has always encouraged him to improve himself in life.

PerformancesAntonio Banderas is fantastic in the leading role and you can see why he got nominated for an Oscar. Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia and Penelope Cruz are excellent in the supporting roles too.

StoryThe story here follows an aging film director that is looking back at his own career and life, wondering if he made the right decisions, which sees him looking to write his own story. The idea that we jump between different moments in his life and the ones he sees being important from his childhood, to making up with his former co-star, shows how you can always reflect on certain moments in life. It does show us how an artist might not always be happy with his work too, which shows us just how you can often be your biggest critic in life.

SettingsThe film does show us just how far Salvador has come in life, from his poverty like raising to his celebrity status.

Scene of the Movie – Final shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Sometimes the time jumps happen too often.

Final Thoughts This is a brilliant drama that shows how difficult looking back on your life can always make you question what you did, despite not being able to change it.

Overall: Wonderful Drama.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – O – Richard Jewell (2019) Movie Review

This is under O because of star Olivia Wilde.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Billy Ray (Screenplay) Marie Brenner (Magazine Article)

Starring: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm

Plot: American security guard Richard Jewell saves thousands of lives from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Olympics, but is vilified by journalists and the press who falsely reported that he was a terrorist.

Tagline – The world will know his name and the truth.

Runtime: 2 Hours 11 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shocking Trial by Media

Story: Richard Jewell starts as we meet Richard Jewell (Hauser) a man that has always wanted to work in law enforcement, starting in a mailroom where he meets lawyer Watson Bryant (Rockwell) before moving into security just in time for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, while on duty he discovers a suspicious package, which turns out to be a bomb, saving thousands of lives.

With no idea who left the bomb, FBI agent Tom Shaw (Hamm) is leading the case, which starts to look into Richard, while ambitious ruthless reporter Kathy Scruggs (Wilde) is looking to get the story first, Richard turns to Watson to help him prove that he is innocent after the press turns on him.

Thoughts on Richard Jewell

Characters – Richard Jewell is a man that has always dreamed of working in law enforcement, he will always follow the law even too close to the line, never over it. He might rub people the wrong way, with his honest persona, which Watson is the only way to see through. He is always wary on his duty as a security guard, which is why he discovered the bomb, saving people, he wants to clear his name because he knows he hasn’t don’t anything wrong. Watson Bryant is the lawyer that represents Richard after the two have had friendship in a previous job. He sees that Richard is bring framed by a media trial and will do everything in his power to defend him. Tom Shaw is leading the investigation, he also leaks the idea they are looking at Richard, which puts his job on the line, with him needing to find the suspect fast. Kathy Scruggs is the reporter that is always looking for a juicier story, she gets the story about Richard out there being the one that leads the goose chase. Bobi is Richard’s mother that has raised him well, honest and to work hard, she is left distraught by the stories about him knowing just how honest he is to the world.

PerformancesPaul Walter Hauser is brilliant in this leading role, showing the calm the man shows despite the pressure thrown on his character. Sam Rockwell once again shows us to be a wonderful supporting actor, while Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde are strong throughout, Kathy Bates is fantastic too showing all the added stress and trauma placed on her character.

StoryThe story here shows the security guard that saves thousands of lives from a bombing that the media decides to turn into the prime suspect despite his innocence, where he needs to prove his own innocence before the case just gets framed onto him. This story is based on the real events, which saw thousands saved from certain death, only shows how the panic to solve the case saw one person accused of being guilty of the crime, even though he saved them. It shows how the media has become judge and jury at times, which can be more damaging than the crime itself. This does highlight just how sudden somebody can be turned from hero to villain, though it would have been interesting to see and learn a little bit more about the full investigation.

Biopic/CrimeThis film uses the real event to show Richard Jewell’s life just before and just after the bombing, showing us how the crime was focused on the wrong person, sadly, we don’t spend enough time trying to solve the crime.

SettingsThe film uses a few main settings, the bombing locations, which is the horrors of the events, the home which shows us the loss of privacy the Jewell family received and the offices where questioning takes place.

Scene of the Movie – The private hearing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not looking at solving the crime.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fascinating drama that showed us the shocking story of trial by media of an innocent man with impressive performances throughout.

Overall: Fascinating.

Goalie (2019) Movie Review

Director: Adriana Maggs

Writer: Adriana Maggs, Jane Maggs (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark O’Brien, Kevin Pollak, Georgina Reilly, Eric Bruneau, Steve Byers, Ted Atherton, Janine Theriault

Plot: Biopic of the life of legendary NHL goaltender Terry Sawchuk.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Surprising Look at Sports Conditioning

Story: Goalie starts as we see how Terry Sawchuk grew up under the shadow of his older brother who was waiting for scouts to give him a chance in the big time, only his father Louis (Atherton) needed him to work to keep a roof over the family. After his brother sudden death, Terry builds up his own reputation as an ice hockey goalie.

Terry gets signed by Detroit under coach Jack Adams (Pollak) while remaining humble in his new found fame, where his reputation continues to grow, as he continues to play through injuries to make history as one of the most legendary goaltenders in the game.

Thoughts on Goalie

Characters – Terry Sawchuk came from a struggling family, where he idolised his brother a young ice hockey goaltender who is meant to have a big future, after his brother’s death, Terry takes the role and builds himself a reputation which sees him signed to the big time after an injury to the current goaltender. Terry becomes the best tender in the league, though not a price, he plays through injuries that should be rested, which sees him going through addictions to cover up his own pain. Jack Adams is the Detroit coach that gives Terry the big break, he sees him as the star of his team, but also knows that he needs a goaltender fit and ready, whenever one gets injured, he searches for a replacement instead of a temp, which does create tension between the two when the injuries start catching up. Pat Morey is the woman Terry marries and starts a family with, she does deal with his problems that he is facing standing by him while keeping their children safe. We do see the players that all admire the goaltenders and have more fun during the season, because of the lower number of injuries they suffer from.

PerformancesMark O’Brien is wonderful in this leading role, he shows us every emotional problems Terry went through, the pain he feels through the season, in his head and the delight when things go his way. Kevin Pollak does bring some star power to the film, making a big impact in his scenes, while Georgina Reilly shows us how to do the supporting spouse who might not take everything that comes her way.

StoryThe story here follows the career of legendary ice hockey player Terry Sawchuk who was considered one of the greatest goaltenders the sport ever saw. The story does show more of the personal life, which showed how difficult being a goaltender was, with clubs only have one and an injury meant you were axed, this increased the pressure on the player who would have to work through injuries just to keep his job, way before the union was involved in the sport. We don’t seem to learn too much of the pure joy of success or how much he wins, which could have been made clearer, while it also doesn’t paint enough of the importance of the union being included, just how much it changed the later stages of Terry’s career. The focus is solely on his personal battle to stay in a team and giving up his own health, family and future to keep his role in the team, no matter how good he was considered in the sport.

BiopicThe biopic side of this film only shows the personal struggles that Terry went through, but not enough of the joy of success on the ice.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the era that we are going through, with the locker room being key to how Terry’s mind was going forward.

Scene of the Movie – Terry gets involved with banter.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not seeing or feeling the success felt by the players.

Final Thoughts This is a good look at how sport evolved after seeing a player suffer for so long with the effects it took on his body and his mind.

Overall: Biopic 101.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – H – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) Movie Review

We Have this film under H because Tom Hanks is considered a front runner for an Oscar this year.

Director: Marielle Heller

Writer: Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Christine Lahti, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Tammy Blanchard, Wendy Makkena, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Cooper

Plot: Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Enjoyable

Story: A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood starts as journalist Lloyd Vogel (Rhys) has built up his own reputation of being an aggressive journalist that will usually put together articles that don’t show the person in the best light, he has one last chance for his latest piece, with loved children’s host Fred Rogers (Hanks), who is the only person who agrees to be interviewed by him.

As Lloyd learns more about Mr Rogers, he starts to believe he is the nicest person in America, he shows incredible patience, while the people around him might panic, he remains calm, he starts to show Lloyd the values of life and what he could achieve by being that little bit calm, opening him up more to his relationship with his wife Andrea (Watson) and his estranged father Jerry (Cooper).

Thoughts on A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Characters – Lloyd Vogel is a journalist who has given himself a reputation of writing articles that don’t show the person in the best light, his reputation has made him unpopular with celebrities that are now refusing to talk to him, except one Mr Rogers. He grew up in a dysfunctional family after his mother’s death and his father’s behaviour which has made him cold to the world and with his own marriage hitting a few rocks because of his own distant relationship with his wife, his time with Mr Rogers opens up his eyes to his own mistakes in life and learns to take a step back to people. Fred Rogers is the loved children’s television host that has bought forward life lessons in his show, pushing children and adults to talk about their own feelings as they start to struggle with them, he is always calm, always polite and always finds time for people, including Lloyd who he sees is having his own problems. Jerry Vogel is the estranged father of Lloyd, he walked out on him when his mother was dying, which has always caused tension between them, he is trying his hardest to reconnect after years of mistakes. Andrea is the wife of Lloyd that is getting tired of the behaviour of Lloyd, she wants to support him in his achievements and wants him to improve his relationship with his father, to become the father, he didn’t think his own was to him.

PerformancesMatthew Rhys is in the leading role, he does a wonderful job with it being his character that needs to go through the biggest arc. Tom Hanks playing the nicest guy in America, while also being one of the nicest guys in the America is easy for him. Chris Cooper and Susan Kelechi Watson in the supporting roles all work well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a journalist on the verge of losing his career that gets a piece to work on that will let him explore his own troubles by meeting Mr Rogers, where he learns to tackle his own problems in his life. This is a story about self-discovery through meeting somebody who has a completely different look at the world. The story does put the highlight on family, forgiveness and futures, which is important for Lloyd to discover. Where the story can fall slightly short at times, would be not spending enough time with Mr Rogers, outside of America, he isn’t well-known, so it isn’t easy enough to connect with just how inflectional he was to the people he affects. We do also fall into the same tropes that we know will always need fixing in a relationship within a family.

BiopicThe biopic side of this film does show the time when the two meet, with Lloyd needing this chance encounter with Fred Rogers.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show everyday life for both characters as well as the iconic location used for Mr Rogers show.

Scene of the Movie – Christmas Dinner.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Mr Rogers isn’t well enough known outside of America.

Final Thoughts This is a pleasant viewing experience with wonderful performances that is all about finding your ability to embrace your feelings in life.

Overall: Pleasant Throughout.