ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – J – Julie & Julia (2009)

Director: Nora Ephron

Writer: Nora Ephron (Screenplay) Julie Powell, Julia Child, Alex Prud’homme (Book)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond, Helen Carey, Mary Lynn Rajskub

 

Plot: Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book.


Tagline – Passion. Ambition. Butter. Do You Have What It Takes?

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Inspirational and Sweet

 

Story: Julie & Julia starts as we follow Julia Child (Streep) and her husband Paul (Tucci) starting to find her place in the world in France, where she finds a new passion for cooking, meanwhile in 2002 Julie Powell (Adams) moves to Queens with her husband Eric (Messina) who is getting tired of her everyday life, decides to start a blog, challenging herself to cook all the recipes in Julia’s cook book within a year.

The two stories run next to each other with Julia studying cooking before getting a chance to teach and write the book that Julie is working from, while Julie starts to see a spike in interest for her blog, with people wanting to see just how far she gets into her challenge.

 

Thoughts on Julie & Julia

 

Characters – Julia Child is one of the most famous chefs from the 1950 and beyond, here we get to see how being a bored housewife that turned to cooking to keep her entertained, first studying it before writing the book that saw her take years to write with her co-workers. We only follow her time getting to the position of getting the book published. Julie Powell believed she had a bright future, now turning 30 she is stuck in a cubical job feeling out of place in life. Deciding to set herself a challenge, she wants to prepare every recipes in Julia Child’s book within a year. Julie does see the success of her blog skyrocket with people wanting to see how she experiences the dishes through the year. Paul Child and Eric Powell are the supportive husbands of both the women, they both let them get on with their projects, stepping in only when they are feeling down about moments in life.

PerformancesMeryl Streep and Amy Adams are both truly fantastic in their roles, they bring both real people to life by making both their characters filled with life in different generations. Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina both manage the supporting roles with ease, helping the two leads hold the spotlight, but stepping in when they need their characters to make impacts in the lives.

StoryThe story here follows the early days in the cooking world for Julia Child as she starts to use her hobby to bring a new joy to her life, we also follow a small time blogger looking for a challenge, using the book to make a name for herself in the world as a cook that enjoys the challenge. The story manages to balance the two ladies challenges to make an impact, with Julia Child needing to go against traditions of male chef to get her book released, while Julie wants to prove she can complete something in her life. The tone of the story is told in a way that keep everything feeling calm and enjoyable and seeing what both the women achieve is a delight to see.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic side of the film shows two different sides of the lady’s lives, seeing how they both had to overcome their own problems to achieve the challenge. The romance shows us just how the two women turned to their husbands to keep them strong.

SettingsThe film uses two main locations, one was Paris with Julia seeing how a new vision for cooking, while Julie is stuck in a small apartment, which does show us just the book could be achieved by anybody whatever size their kitchen.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chapter of the blog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not a thing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightful story about two women that used their passion for cooking to tell and bring new their stories to the people of the world.

 

Overall: Delightful

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – F – The Fighter (2010)

Director: David O. Russell

Writer: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson (Screenplay) Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington (Story)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter

Plot: Based on the story of Micky Ward, a fledgling boxer who tries to escape the shadow of his more famous but troubled older boxing brother and get his own shot at greatness.


Tagline – Every dream deserves a fighting chance.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant

Story: The Fighter starts as we meet Micky Ward (Wahlberg) as he is preparing to follow in his brother’s footsteps Dicky Eklund (Bale) with a camera crew following them around because this is meant to be Dicky’s big return to the boxing world after his famous win as Sugar Ray Leonard.

Micky is meant to have an easy win fight, but a surprise change leaves him defeated once again, he starts to date Charlene (Adams) a local bar maid, who pushes him into standing up to his pushy family of Dicky who is always at a crack house and his mother Alice (Leo) that always believes she knows what is right for Micky, can he still create his own chance or not.

Thoughts on The Fighter

Characters – Micky Ward is the uprising boxer who is preparing for a big fight, he is trained by his older brother who has his own addiction, Micky lets his family guide him, mostly down the wrong roads, he meets a new woman in Charlene that helps him push back to restore his family’s name. Dicky is the older brother and former boxer, he feel out of the spotlight with his drug addiction and is looking to bring his brother into the light by being his trainer, the problems start by the fact he can never arrive on time and is letting his drug addiction control his life, breaking the law to try and do the right thing. Charlene Fleming is barmaid that Micky falls in love with, she tries to help him go after his own path instead of letting his family hold him back. Alice Ward is the mother of the boxers, she is their manager, but doesn’t always have their best interest in mind

PerformancesMark Wahlberg gives one of his career best performances of his career here, he doesn’t turn to any of the wise cracking which is often his trademark either. Christian Bale once again proves he can adapt to any role which will see him do a body transformation. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo complete the brilliant performances in this film which shows us just how talented this cast truly is.

StoryThe story here follows Micky Ward the brother of a former professional boxer that is looking to make his way to the top in boxing too, he is being held back by his controlling mother and fame seeking crack addict brother, until his girlfriend comes along to help put him back on the right path. This is based on the real boxers from the mid-90s and how they had to overcome their own personal problems to make it in boxing, we do a follow more of the family drama behind everything, how Micky was torn between who to take help from and how Dicky was full of himself due to his addiction. This does show us just how family can take life in negative directions if you let them take over your own potential if you let them and finding your own path can make you a success.

Biopic/SportsThe biopic side of the film shows just how difficult it can be to live in the shadow of a former professional and follows the family who have been through a lot, meaning the fighting is now for family honour. The boxing is limited till the final fight which is the longest any fight last and shows just how realistic you can be on the body.

SettingsThe film uses the settings that the family is from a very close neighbourhood which idolises Dicky and want to be behind Micky on his rise, they help each other and support their local heroes.


Scene of the Movie – Title fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – You could have seen more from the recovery process for Dicky.

Final Thoughts This is an excellent fighting drama that shows how family can be the best and worst part of any boxer’s life when they are going to try and make history.

Overall: Brilliant drama.

Junebug (2005)

Director: Phil Morrison

Writer: Angus MacLachlan (Screenplay)

Starring: Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, Frank Hoyt Taylor, Scott Wilson, Celia Weston, Ben McKenzie

 

Plot: A dealer in “outsider” art travels from Chicago to North Carolina to meet her new in-laws, challenging the equilibrium of this middle class Southern home.


Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming

 

Story: Junebug starts as art dealer Madeleine (Davidtz) gets a promising piece of business near her husband’s George (Nivola) family, which give her a chance to finally meet them. George parents Eugene (Wilson) and Peg (Weston) have been waiting this for years and his brother Johnny (McKenzie) whose wife Ashely (Adams) is about to give birth open their doors to the loving couple.

With the time with the family Madeleine becomes friends with the overly talkative pregnant Ashley, while trying to strike up a deal with the artist before losing him to another gallery.

 

Thoughts on Junebug

 

Characters – Madeleine is an art dealer that gets to meet her husband’s family for the first time, where she must learn about the family while trying to find time for the deal she is about to make, making friends and being friendly is her role. George is Madeleine’s husband and he gets to return to his family home for the first time in years, where he must rebuild his relationship with his brother. Ashley is the pregnant wife of Johnny, she talks way too much for her own good, but it is in an innocent way as she wants to learn about Madeleine’s life.

PerformancesEmbeth Davidtz is god in the leading role, which can be said for the most part. Amy Adams completely steals this movie with her loveable character.

StoryThe story here is simple, it is a meeting the family of a loved one for the first time, having to deal with the pressure to not say anything inappropriate and get out the time being loved. It isn’t overly original, but it falls into the idea of if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. We get the idea of our main couple sometimes being considered looking down on others and needing to learn how to come together for a celebration.

ComedyThe comedy in the film is a nice balance between the drama, making us smile rather than laugh out loud.

SettingsThe small town settings helps show how Madeleine could be a fish out of water, with the idea that the family hasn’t gotten too far from the family home while she and George live an open world lifestyle.


Scene of the Movie –
The baby is coming.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We did need more focus on George.

Final ThoughtsThis is a charming comedy drama that gives us one of the best performances from Amy Adams.

 

Overall: Charming and Entertaining.

Rating

 

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – V – Vice (2018)

Director: Adam McKay

Writer: Adam McKay (Screenplay)

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Eddie Marsan, Tyler Perry, Jesse Plemons

 

Plot: The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.


Tagline – The Untold True Story That Changed the Course of History

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hugely Entertaining Biopic

 

Story: Vice starts in the 1960’s as Dick Cheney (Bale) is about to screw up his life with DUI after getting kicked out Yale, his wife Lynne (Adams) isn’t going to let him screw up her ambition to be involved in politics, a role a woman wouldn’t be able to do in this era. Dick sorts his life out and before long he is learning of Donald Rumsfeld (Carell) and after the Watergate scandal, he ends up landing the Chief of Staff role.

It isn’t long before this role disappears and Dick must rebuild his career, becoming a senator before the chair of the house, his political power is growing and when he meets George W Bush (Rockwell) he will get to a position he could never have imagined.

 

Thoughts on Vice

 

Characters – These characters are based on real people, only loosely though. Dick Cheney was involved in politics from the late 60s under President Nixon, until George W Bush, he took many different roles through the years, but it was his ability to stay out of the public eyes that made him one of the most powerful men in the history of America. Lynne is the wife of Dick, she pushes him into the political career, knowing it is something she would never be allowed to do. Once in his career, she supports him on every decision he makes. Donald Rumsfeld gives Dick his first chance in politics in the white house, the two do work together through the years as Donald sees just how blunt Dick has become. George W Bush is painted to be the President that can be controlled by Dick, put in a place of power which he simply isn’t ready for, he does pick Dick to be his Vice President though.

PerformancesChristian Bale is truly fantastic in this leading role, the transformation he goes through, from his almost natural look to the old bigger Dick Cheney is unbelievable and you can see why he will be up for most of the awards.  Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell in supporting roles are all wonderful and completely embrace their characters.

StoryThe story follows the life and times of Dick Cheney from his early political run, to his many different roles before being talked out of retirement to become Vice President to George W Bush. This story is told to show the many different accomplishments Dick Cheney had in life, whether he did the right thing in different roles is a different question. We might jump over a couple of issues, but we are mainly here to focus on the Vice Presidency role which is the one he will always be remembered for, this is one that will leave you surprised and not hating the guy as much as you think you will going into the film, which does feel strange. If anything, this will show us just how important moments in history will be when you look back on them.

Biopic/Comedy/HistoryDick Cheney is one of the most ambition men in American political history, this gets to show us just how far he went for his role and how much control he was able to take with little effort. This is told in a comedic tone which does work for the film, mostly because you can’t believe just what he got away with in these roles.

SettingsThe film shows us the different locations that Dick Cheney was in during different times of his life, the film uses them to make each be realistic no matter what was going on.


Scene of the Movie –
The mid film credits.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain moments are skipped over even if we get an introduction to certain roles.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most entertaining biopics of the year, you will want to watch each moment even if he isn’t the best man to be involved in human history, a place where people will look back at his actions with shock.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

Justice League (2017)

Director: Zack Snyder

Writer: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon (Screenplay) Bob Kane, Bill Finger, William Moulton Marston, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel (Characters)

Starring: Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Connie Nielsen, Henry Cavill, Amber Heard, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Ray Fisher

 

Plot: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.


Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Action Blast

 

Story: Justice League starts as a new unknown threat is attacking the world, with criminals committing acts of terror in the aftermath of Superman’s death. Bruce Wayne (Affleck) teams up with Diana Prince (Gadot) to stop this new threat Steppenwolf, who wants to destroy the world, yeah the usual villain stuff.

The team they recruit includes Barry Allen (Miller), Arthur Curry (Momoa) and Victor Stone (Fisher) as these three new recruits get a better introduction than we saw in the Batman v Superman movie. Using their skills they are left with an ultimate decision which could swing the battle in their favour or risk seeing the world destroyed by this ancient evil.

 

Thoughts on Justice League

 

Characters – Bruce Wayne, knows his weakness, uses his money to recruit the team, his technology to spy on the team and his human touch to connect to the characters. Diana Prince lives a quiet life after the event of Wonder Woman over 100 years ago, she still believes in the good in human and beings from different backgrounds. Barry Allen is a young man living off the grid trying to find a way to get his father out of prison, he gets excited to be able to work with a team and gets most of the laughs. Arthur Curry is a man of mystery, one with the ocean, he has left his past behind him which leads him down the Logan road. Victor Stone is a science experiment gone wrong, part human, part robot needing to learn to control his newly found abilities. Lois Lane is here, she doesn’t do much to be honest. Clark Kent is the heart of the characters drives to fight, he selfless actions last time out give hope to them all.

As for the alter-egos Batman looks so out of place in this film, we have Gods, experiments gone wrong and this random rich guy who is past his best, trying to pull the team together, he is ineffective in the combat scenes too. Wonder Woman gets the best moments in the fights, jumping on the beliefs of just how inspirational the character is. The Flash gets moments that will make you laugh, but you would rather be watching Quicksilver moments. Aquaman gets the awkward underwater scenes, which must be hard to shoot, he enjoys a good fight though. Cyborg is the brains of the team, solving the problems before they happen.

As for the villain, Steppenwolf he is a threat there is no doubt about that, he is ruthless too, but his desire for destruction does feel like it got ripped out of a Transformers movie.

PerformancesBen Affleck is a good Bruce Wayne but not a good Batman, you can believe his arrogance when trying to build the team. Gal Gadot is the star of the hero’s side of the story showing in the world of DC she is their trump card. Erza Miller does add the much-needed comedy to the serious film and hits more than he misses. Jason Momoa is good throughout too, his character feels like what Wonder Woman was in Batman v Superman, we just what more. Ray Fisher is strong too, he gives the character the darkness needed to make us want more from his backstory. The none Justice League performances are fine, but no one gets much time to do anything. Having a CGI villain means we only get the voice work which works for the film.

StoryThe origin of the Justice League, well Marvel did it with the Avengers so, why not. To be fair we got the first seeds of this in Batman v Superman and this continued the ideas to show how they could come together to fight an evil presence. My problems with the story come from the trailers, which show the team working together, much like Stephen King’s IT we follow the individual stories for a large amount of time trying to play the will they won’t they game about joining the team, but the trailer gave this away. If you want to see the story continue you strongly I will say DC’s storytelling for the bigger picture is going in the right direction and this is easy to follow and enjoy is this is your style of film.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is big, like you would expect for the superhero movie, sadly Batman doesn’t fit in the action sequences in my opinion. The ci-fi comes from Gods, aliens and experiments working together in battle be it with each other or against.

SettingsThe settings are all over the place, not in a bad way, we get the references to previous films and teases of locations for our new addition.

Special EffectsThe effects are complete mixed bag, we get certain moments which look great but then we get the weak moments that disappoint.


Scene of the Movie –
Rebirth

That Moment That Annoyed Me Batman feels very out of place in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun addition to the superhero collection, in a year of impressive films this doesn’t crack my top 3 in the genre but doesn’t take the spot of the worst, I could happily enjoy watching this again and I hope you do too.

 

Overall: Fun enjoyable superhero movie for everyone to enjoy.

Rating