Abigail Breslin Weekend – Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Writer: Michael Arndt (Screenplay)

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell

 

Plot: A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.


Tagline – A family on the verge of a breakdown

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazingly Charming Movie

 

Story: Little Miss Sunshine starts as we meet our family, motivational speaker Richard (Kinnear), hardworking mother Sheryl (Collette), depressed teenage son Dwayne (Dano) who has taken a vow of silence, hyperactive young daughter Olive (Breslin), veteran grandfather Edwin (Arkin) and Uncle Frank (Carell) who is fresh out of a hospital after a failed suicide attempt.

The six go on a road trip across America to enter Olive into the Little Miss Sunshine competition and along the way the family must deal with their own ups and downs to help their youngster member fulfil her dream.

 

Thoughts on Little Miss Sunshine

 

Characters – Olive is the youngest member of the family, cute but never going to be able to truly compete in the beauty contests, but this is her dream and the family will come together to help her achieve her dream. Richard is the father of the family, a motivational speaker who believes he has the next big catch for a book, he always encourages his family to believe they will succeed over just trying. Dwayne is the eldest son in the family, taking a vow of silence until he can become a jet pilot, he hates everyone with the only one he will help is Olive. Grandpa Edwin has been kicked out of a retirement home and living with the family, he swears and enjoys a drug or two. Sheryl is the mother of the family who will do anything for her kids which involves taking Olive across country for the contest. Frank is the suicidal genius brother of Sheryl, released under her care in case he tries it again, he sees the family for their flaws and even takes Dwayne under his wing on the journey.

PerformancesWe have six fantastic performances here, we had the established stars, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin shining and the star making performances from Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano and Steve Carell who was the it star of 2006.

StoryThe story follows a dysfunctional family that must travel across America to enter their youngest member to a beauty contest. We get the characters with their flaws that can be worked on through the film which gives us a natural feeling about the family. It does have the idea that family will need to come together no matter what gets in their way. This is a fun enjoyable story that can be enjoyed by everyone.

ComedyThe comedy here is delightful it hits on every level and does mostly come from real life moments.

SettingsThe road trip moments give us the idea of how far the family will go and we see this in the settings.


Scene of the Movie –
The dance routine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The colour-blind test is fake because I am colour blind and I could see the test, when normally I haven’t been able to.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the greatest comedies of all time, it is just delightful on every account with wonderful performance from the whole cast.

 

Overall: Wonderful throughout.

Rating

 

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – G – Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Director: James Foley

Writer: David Mamet (Screenplay) David Mamet (Play)

Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce

 

Plot: An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.


Tagline – Lie. Cheat. Steal. All In A Day’s Work.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Drama

 

Story: Glengarry Glen Ross starts as we see how a real estate office is struggling to close deals, Blake (Baldwin) is hired to put down the firm law on the employees, office manager John Williamson (Spacey) tries to be strict with his staff as we see struggling aging expert Shelley (Lemmon), upcomer Dave Moss (Harris) the hot shot Ricky Roma (Pacino) and George (Arkin) that are given one week to make as many closes as possible.

As the pressure gets to the men things only get worse when the contracts are stolen which shows the true characters in the ruthless business.

 

Thoughts on Glengarry Glen Ross

 

Characters – Ricky Roma is the best estate agent in the office, he closes the biggest deals in the office which fills him with all the confidence in the world. Shelley Levene is the eldest member of the office, he has been down on his luck recently knowing this could be his last chance to keep his job. Dave Moss is the hot-head of the office that goes against the ultimatum about the jobs and comes up with a plan to make sure he gets the best leads. George is the timid member of the office but a fantastic salesman, he gets talked into Dave’s plan. John Williamson runs the office handing out the leads while making sure the teams get good sales. Blake is the man that puts the ultimatum down on the office, he is blunt when it comes to doing the deal.

PerformancesThe cast here is filled with award winners, the highest calibre of actor in the industry at that time. Pacino, Lemmon, Baldwin, Arkin, Harris, Spacey and Pryce are all fantastic it is unfair to single anyone out for more praise than any other.

StoryThe story follows 24-hours in life at the office of a real estate agents as the are pressured into improve their sales which includes dealing with a robbery that throws everything up in the air. This is a character driven story as we see how people can react under pressure as it comes from a play and you can feel that about the story all the way through. The story doesn’t get over complicated as we see how things unfold and it shows the desperation man will go for his own greed.

Crime/MysteryThe crime that takes place is partly how the deals get done and how the contracts get stolen which leads to the mystery to just who is the person behind everything.

SettingsThe settings are kept simple, the office, the bar and a house for discussions, this keeps everything grounded through the film from start to finish.


Scene of the Movie –
Truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Blake being in more scene would have been good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fantastic assembled cast that give powerful performances that just deliver from the first frame until the final frame, simple fantastic cinema.

 

Overall: Fantastic from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

sunshineDirector: Christine Jeffs

Writer: Megan Holley (Screenplay)

Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr

 

Plot: In order to raise the tuition to send her young son to private school, a mom starts an unusual business — a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service — with her unreliable sister.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charmingly Delightful Comedy Drama

 

Story: Sunshine Cleaning starts as we follow single mother Rose (Adams) who works as a cleaner just to make sure her son Oscar (Spevack) gets everything he needs while dealing with the teachers telling her he needs special attention.

Needing to put her son into a private school Rose works with police officer Mac (Zahn) who sets her up with a job cleaning up crime scenes with her slacker sister Norah (Blunt) and the two-start seeing the money fly in as Sunshine Cleaning business is born.

 

Thoughts on Sunshine Cleaning

 

StoryThe story being told here is a story that shows that people out there will work hard to make the life they want they may need to go through difficult stages of life to reach it. We see two sisters whose lives clearly haven’t gone the way they had planned them out both feeling like they are just grinding to make ends meet rather than having their chance to live. The story is put together perfectly to tell what is needed from the story that can be enjoyed by all.

Comedy/Drama The comedy drama mixes together to make light of the serious side of the story where we can get the laughs coming from everyday life rather than forced life situations. This story will make you laugh, smile and cry with the characters.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters of Rose and Norah are great examples of two sisters struggling through the whole story, we get good laughs from their father looking after Rose’s son but otherwise all the characters do end up feeling like they could all be everyday people. When you look at the performances Adams and Blunt are brilliant as the sister with chemistry to burn between them proving they are two of Hollywood’s heavyweights.

SettingsEach setting is a different crime scene in need of cleaning which is where our characters get to see just the different lives people have lived. The settings are just as important as the two relationship between the sisters which shows the struggles the girls are both going through.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the sweetest and nicest dramas you will see, it is filled with real life struggles everyday people go through.

 

Overall: Brilliant drama that people should go out there way to see.

Ratingcard

 

 

Million Dollar Arm (2014)

millionDirector: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Tom McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Joe Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Tzi Ma, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal

 

Plot: A sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What Sports is All About

 

Story: Million Dollar Arm starts JB (Hamm) a sports agent trying to make his own company reach new levels with his partner Aash (Mandvi) only to find himself stuck behind the higher-level competition. Losing the star client to the competition the two search for a new potential income as they search for new clients in new fields.

JB new idea is to bring over Indian cricket players and turn them into baseball pitchers within a year and recruiting pitching coach Tom House (Paxton) now he needs to find a scout to travel with him to find the best prospect.

JB must work with Vivek (Jariwala) to get his equipment retired scout Ray (Arkin) and Amit (Pitobash) a baseball coach in India who wants to work him for free. The search for the Million Dollar Arm is on sweeping through India. With the competition in full flow they find two players Rinku (Sharma) and Dinesh (Mittal) to take back to America.

As the two boys struggle with the new culture JB must keep the business together while the two players must learn to improve their skill in 6 months can it be done and the seemingly impossible risk can become sports new miracle.

 

Thoughts on Million Dollar Arm

 

StoryThe story follows the true story of how one sports agent takes the chance to bring Indian crickets to America to become baseball pitchers. On the surface this is a marketing campaign but the story itself gather heart because of the bond between JB and the boys. This is an underdog sports story with glimpses of the clash of culture between both sides of the world. This shows you can succeed with the effort and determination of the people who support you and that you could find success in any story.

Sports/DramaThe sports drama is very interesting because baseball isn’t a sport I have any interest in watching but the scouting and training in any sport do interest me a lot, this had my full attention as we see how it can be the personal life that cane make you a better athlete when it comes to competing because having the people supporting you can make you succeed.

Characters/PerformanceJon Hamm as the selfish sports agent that takes a risk with a new investment but his character never seems to support the boys he takes the risk on once they are back in America. Jon Hamm give us a great performance stepping up from television to the big screen. Sharman, Mittal, Pitobash, Mandvi and Jariwala all give great performances in their roles as we see the characters must deal with a new culture as well as new sport in what is a once in a life time opportunity. Alan Arkin has a small role but gets good laughs as the retired scout.

SettingsThe settings are used excellently with to show the different cultures being used through the film as we see the American fast forward glamorous lifestyle while India shows how together the people are with the religious beliefs going on there.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very interesting and compelling sports drama about showing how you can achieve what seems impossible to others by just take the chance, I feel everyone who likes a success story will enjoy this one even if you are not a baseball fan.

 

Overall: Delightful sports drama that can be enjoyed by all.

Ratingcard

 

 

Paul Bettany Weekend – Firewall (2006)

firewalDirector: Richard Loncraine

Writer: Joe Forte (Screenplay)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Carly Schroeder, Jimmy Bennett, Mary Lynn Raskub, Robert Patrick, Alan Arkin

 

Plot: A security specialist is forced into robbing the bank that he’s protecting, as a bid to pay off his family’s ransom.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Thriller

 

Story: Firewall starts as we see family man Jack (Ford), wife Beth (Madsen) and children Sarah (Schroeder) and Andy (Bennett). Jack works for a bank and prides himself on the software security. When Jack finds himself targeting first by online fraud he finds his late night meeting with Bill (Bettany) has alternative plans by taking his family hostage.

The plan is for Jack to go about his normal day while the kidnappers stay at Jack’s home to force him into helping them rob the bank. The problem comes with Jack as his bank is in the middle of a potential merger being handled by Gary (Patrick) who hasn’t taken too fondly of Jack.

While Jack tries to find a way to get his family safe he tests Bill’s patience while also trying to keep his career safe against the new take over can he make it all work out and save his family?

Firewall is a crime thriller that is a bank heist with a twist, yes we do get the idea where the bank worker has to do robbery, but what works here is the cyber side of the heist comes slightly original. The idea of having the family as bait also works but knowing the family will be killed means he has to fight back. The problem comes with a lot feelings of repetitive ideas which while solid easy to watch.

 

Actor Review

 

Harrison Ford: Jack has been working for a bank that he has helped grow from the ground up, on the verge of a merger that will have him and his partner having to make a difficult choice. With that going on Jack also finds himself being the victim of a plot to rob the bank where his family’s lives are put at risk. Harrison is good in this role but nothing we have seen it before from him.jack

Paul Bettany: Bill is the man holding Jack’s family hostage as he has carefully planned this, he comes of charming but equally as dangerous when it comes to tricks. He will kill his own men for being incompetent and will risk hurting Jack’s children to make sure he gets the money. Paul is good in this role where we get to see him take the role of British villain.bill

Virginia Madsen: Beth is the wife of Jack who has to spend the time with Bill’s men while protecting her children. Virginia is solid in this role without being too impactful.

Robert Patrick: Gary is the man planning the merger, he doesn’t like Jack after first impression which leaders to Jack having to impress him while protecting his family. Robert is good in this supporting role but I think we need a final scene with him.

Support Cast: Firewall has a supporting cast that you would expect to see in this type of film.

Director Review: Richard LoncraineRichard gives us an easy to thriller that doesn’t take enough risks.

 

Crime: Firewall enters us into the world of a bank heist that really shows both sides of the battle.

Thriller: Firewall keeps us one edge as we try to see how the Jack will solve the problem.

Settings: Firewall uses the settings to make everything simple for the story without making anything original.
Special Effects
: Firewall has a couple of solid effects when needed but doesn’t turn to them too often.

Suggestion: Firewall is one to try as it will tick all the basic ideas down correctly.  (Try It)

 

Best Part: Bill twisted message with the cookies.

Worst Part: Not much new.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Tagline: Everything He loves Is About To Be Used Against Him.

 

Overall: Enjoyable thriller that never really tested.

Ratingcard