Elizabeth Olsen Weekend – Liberal Arts (2012)

Director: Josh Radnor

Writer: Josh Radnor (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Elizabeth Reaser, John Magaro, Kate Burton

 

Plot: When 30-something Jesse returns to his alma mater for a professor’s retirement party, he falls for Zibby, a college student, and is faced with a powerful attraction that springs up between them.


Tagline – Sometimes students make the best teachers.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly High-Brow

 

Story: Liberal Arts starts when 30-something Jesse Fisher (Radnor) gets invited back to his college by his retiring professor Peter Hoberg (Jenkins) party. While returning he loved going down memory lane and gets to meet student Zibby (Olsen) who strikes up a friendship with him, before he returns home to New York.

When the two stay in contact a romance starts to blossom between the two, however difficult Jesse feels about the age difference between the two.

 

Thoughts on Liberal Arts

 

Characters – Jesse Fisher is a 30-something living in New York, reading his way through life, he gets invited back to his college for a retirement party, where he meets Zibby falling for her, seeing a future he couldn’t have in his current life, though he also sees a chance to help a brilliant student who is struggling through college. Zibby is a student in at the college studying drama, she sees something different in Jesse, a mature man in her life away from the usual college student, she likes to let things be and let them unfold. Professor Peter Hoberg is the retiring professor that invites Jesse back, only he doesn’t want to go through with his retirement. The rest of the character include the professors Jesse once studied under and the students he sees his own troubles in.

PerformancesJosh Radnor takes up a few roles in this film, director, writer and his performance is solid enough for the leading role, even though he is might be the weakest performer from his own hit sitcom, this performance feels like what Zach Braff did with Garden State. Elizabeth Olsen is good in her role, while Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney are going to give strength to the supporting roles.

StoryThe story here follows a former college student return to his old college where he gets caught up in wondering why the students don’t understand what life will bring them, be it love and understand underachieving. Now this should be an interesting story, Jesse is a character that tries to explain how life can change in the future and not wanting to waste it, only this is what he is doing himself. The problems mount up as we don’t address the problems strongly enough, where Jesse does get involved, only he doesn’t show any signs of knowing what is going on, we never learn what he does for a living which doesn’t help certain thought processes he could come up with. The story also feels like it is trying to look down on people in places.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy mostly doesn’t get many laughs, the light toned seriousness behind the story doesn’t come off clear enough which also disappoints. The romance is mostly looking at how love can be strange for all those involved in it

SettingsThe film does use two main settings with one being New York, well that is where all Americans seem to want to live, and the college which brings back memories for Jesse.


Scene of the Movie –
Helping Dean.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not giving the Dean side of the story enough focus.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story that tries to take things too seriously which sucks most of the comedy out of the film. The film has a lot to say only to skip over too much of the importance in the messages being talked about.

 

Overall: Frustrating overly intelligent movie.

Rating

 

 

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Oliver Platt Weekend – The Oranges (2011)

Director: Julian Farino

Writer: Ian Helfer, Jay Reiss (Screenplay)

Starring: Alia Shawkat, Hugh Laurie, Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Catherine Keener, Leighton Meester, Adam Brody

 

Plot: The enduring friendship between the Walling and Ostroff families is tested when Nina, the prodigal Ostroff daughter, returns home for the holidays after a five-year absence and enters into an affair with David, head of the Walling family.


Tagline – Sex. Betrayal. Scandal. Make yourself at home.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny Family Drama

 

Story: The Oranges starts as we meet two neighbouring families, the Walling and Ostroff who are best friends, husbands David (Laurie) and Terry (Platt), wives Cathy (Janney) and Paige (Keener) and children Vanessa (Shawkat), Nina (Meester) and Toby (Brody) who all come back together for the first time in years for Thanksgiving.

This weekend goes wrong when David starts having an affair well a kiss with Nina which causes problems as each side when everyone finds out breaking all the relationships between everyone involved.

 

Thoughts on The Oranges

 

Characters – David is the head of one of the two families, he is in a falling apart marriage that sees him staying in the pool house, he is best friends with Terry which sees him jogging plenty of times a week. He gets involved with Terry’s daughter which sees his wife leave him, his friendship shattered and his daughter wanting to turn on him. Nina is the wild child daughter of Terry that has spent years away from home, she used to be Vanessa’s best friend and has spent her time exploring the world. she returns home after a bad break up and gets involved in an affair of sorts with David, this is partly because it is something new and partly to get at her mother. Vanessa is our narrator that is recalling the events, she is the daughter of David that has always planned for a future that hasn’t happened yet, she is the opposite to Nina with her life, not taking the chances she always thought would come her way, she does struggle to deal with new relationship mostly because her life hasn’t taken off. Terry is the father of Nina that is struggling to deal with the new relationship, not only because it is his best friend and his daughter, but ends up finding a new lease for life himself. Paige is the wife that moves out after David’s affair which sees her book up a full bed and breakfast as part of her plan to get back at him. Cathy is the interfering mother of Nina’s that always wanted to see her daughter happy and ends up trying to set her up more than she should.

PerformancesHugh Laurie stepped away from House with his role, he gets to continue to show that he is a talent actor in the leading role and once again showed that he does work very well with Leighton Meester who is also very good in her role. Oliver Platt, Allison Janney and Catherine Keener are staples of any ensembled cast showing they can get their moments in smaller moments in any film and Alia Shawkat gives us a performance which many people can relate to.

StoryThe story here shows us how mid-life crisis happen, they show us what would happen if a father started dating his best friends daughter. It sparks changes in everyone’s life showing how much the parents are getting older and not taking the chances they once thought they had and the young adults learn to take the chances they hadn’t found themselves doing. The story does pose the question about love and whether age should be a problem. We also get to play into the idea of the holiday period being chaos in America with the secrets of family can come out as the strain between them becomes more apparent. It is interesting seeing the effects on the affair on everybody which makes this movie more interesting to watch.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film fits in nicely, it isn’t designed to be a laugh out loud comedy, but have moments that will make you laugh. The romance shows us how an affair between a father and daughter of best friend can be nice to start with and soon show the truth about real feelings.

SettingsThe settings are New Jersey with two houses opposite each other showing us just how close the connection is between the two families.


Scene of the Movie –
Christmas drive.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nearly every character gets development with what happens apart from Cathy which is the only disappointment.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun romantic comedy that shows how one moment between an unlikely couple can easily change lives to go in directions nobody involved could see happening.

 

Overall: Happy relationship comedy drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – R – The Rewrite (2014)

Director: Marc Lawrence

Writer: Marc Lawrence (Screenplay)

Starring: Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei, Bella Heathcote, JK Simmons, Chris Elliott, Allison Janney

 

Plot: An Oscar-winning writer in a slump leaves Hollywood to teach screenwriting at a college on the East Coast, where he falls for a single mom taking classes there.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Romantic Comedy

 

Story: The Rewrite starts as Oscar-Winning screenwriter Keith Michaels (Grant) has been struggling to get his new ideas to sale, in need of money he travels across the country to Binghampton to work as a teacher at a university teaching screenwriting.

Arriving in the dead-end town Keith instantly wants to get away but his charm helps him make an impact with the fellow teacher’s Dr Leaner (Simmons), Jim Harper (Elliott) and his rival Professor Weldon (Janney).

Keith doesn’t want to do much teaching early on because he believes you can’t teach the skills but he soon learns to love guiding his students including Karen (Heathcote) and elder student Holly (Tomei) as he learns and finds inspiration for his own writing woes.

 

Thoughts on The Rewrite

 

Characters/PerformanceKeith Michaels is a down on his luck screenwriter whose can’t find any work in Hollywood and must take a teaching job, this job gives Keith the chance to refocus on his own life, career and learn from his mistakes, Keith is self-centred character that evolves as the story unfolds. Holly is the elder student wanting to improve herself, she offers the friendship Keith needs as she has a different worldly experience. Karen is the student that Keith starts dating and ends up learning the hard way how she can get what she wants. Dr Learner, Professor Weldon and Jim Harper all offer us up different kinds of teachers you would find in a university.

Performance wise, Hugh Grant gives the performance he is known for, slightly smug full of himself but he does this so well. Marisa Tomei is good in her role to showing how she can be a glimmer of light in any role she plays. The rest of the cast are all good with their roles with the students all being unique and elder cast members all being good mix for Hugh Grant performance.

StoryThe story focuses on one man that has lost his spark creatively and must turn to teaching and he goes on a journey to discover how he can help guide the next generation of screenwriters. This shows us how people can always teach and learn from life and guide people. This is an enjoyable story to follow.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy comes with plenty of references to movies but isn’t a laugh a minute. The romance side of the film is what mostly gets Keith into trouble and ends up not working the way it should do.

SettingsThe idea of putting a ‘celebrity’ figure into a small town setting is a tried and tested formula and one that works here to help the story flow.

Final ThoughtsThis is a true Hugh Grant rom com, he plays the character we know and love to watch in a new setting with the same results. This is enjoyable though because we do get to learn life lessons.

 

Overall: Solid and enjoyable story to learn from.

Rating

 

 

I, Tonya (2017)

Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Steven Rogers (Screenplay)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, Caitlin Carver, McKenna Grace, Julianna Nicholson

 

Plot: Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.


Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Uniquely Told Biopic

 

Story: I, Tonya starts as we have the interview set up so we can learn from Tonya Harding (Robbie), her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Stan), her mother LaVona Golden (Janney) and other people that were involved in the incident.

We flashback to learn how Tonya came from an abusive mother that pushed her to the limits in figure skating, her abusive relationship with her husband Jeff and how her dreams of ever being a gold medallist get thrown into turmoil after what happened with fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan (Carver).

 

Thoughts on I, Tonya

 

Characters – Tonya Harding was a natural born figure skater, she had talent from a young age, but came from a redneck family. Even after making it to national competitions she still gets looked down upon. It is her relationships with show her resilient side from her abusive mother to her husband and her involvement with the Nancy Kerrigan incident that could ruin her reputation. Jeff Gillooly is the man that Tonya married, they have a good spark, but his violent nature kept pushing her away and his charming nature could bring her back too. LaVona Golden is Tonya’s mother that sacrificed to make her daughter the best figure skater in the world, she does push her to the limits while not being afraid to physical harm Tonya to get the best out of her.

PerformancesMargot Robbie is fantastic in the leading role even as we follow her through mid-teens to early 40s and never not looking the part for the age. Sebastian Stan is great in the supporting role showing how quickly men like his character can change in the blink of an eye. Allison Janney one again comes into a supporting role and shows just how she can step into any role without looking out of place.

StoryThe story follows how Tonya Harding came from a redneck family to being involved in one of the most controversial moments in figure skating history. It shows how sports can become too much for certain people to handle, be it the pressure to perform or the friends and family going too far to help one succeed. The story is told in an interview format, which while is different to other films, it does take away from certain moments in the film.

Biopic/SportsSeeing the rise and fall of Tonya Harding a figure skater that’s career is one that never got ruined by injury, but by controversy. The skating sequences do all look great through the film though, as we see how it was a sport about where you came from not your talent.

SettingsThe settings show us the different times that our story takes place in, how the lesser known sports will rely on work to go with their talent.


Scene of the Movie –
Triple Axel.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Sometimes the interview style does become too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at how Tonya Harding’s career was a rollercoaster for anyone that followed her and even if they didn’t, they would have known where her career went.

 

Overall: Biopic for the fans of the genre.

Rating

 

 

The Girl on the Train (2016)

girlDirector: Tate Taylor

Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (Screenplay) Paula Hawkins (Novel)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney

 

Plot: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burner Thriller

 

Story: The Girl on the Train starts as Rachel (Blunt) travels by train to and from work watching the lives on the people the train bypasses with her favourite being Megan (Bennett) and Scott (Evans) who are living the life she had wished for from the failed marriage. We go onto meet Megan who is tired of her life and her job as the nanny for Anna (Ferguson) the new wife to Tom (Theroux) Rachel’s ex-husband.

When Megan goes missing Rachel becomes one of the suspects where she can’t remember her past with her drunken behaviour and it isn’t long before she finds herself getting personally involved with the lives. It is only time until we look to find the truth to what has really been happening.

 

Thoughts on The Girl on the Train

 

StoryWhen you look at the story you will find yourself wondering when Desperate Housewives got its own movie because the three women characters are filled with baggage you wouldn’t expect to see come together. The story jumps between these women with Rachel looking at what she wanted, Anna being paranoid about Rachel and Megan being slightly unstable when it comes to where she wants to be in her life. These characters are filled with way too much money to be taken seriously by the average person and the missing person case is just there and hard to follow.

Mystery/ThrillerThe mystery in this film comes from what happened to Megan with the thriller side of the story we are left to guess what will happen next.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters all feel like the cast of Desperate Housewives all have too much money to be considered everyday people, all liars and cheaters hugely flawed human beings. When we look at the performances they are all solid but due to the lack of interest in any of the characters it is hard for the stars to shine through to the levels they should.

SettingsThe settings show just how upper class the people involved seem to be in the story you sometimes just get taken away from the story being told.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very slow over complicated mystery thriller that just doesn’t reach the levels it could.

 

Overall: This was just hard work and incredibly boring.

Ratingcard