Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: Peter Straughan (Screenplay) Rachel Boynton (Documentary)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan

 

Plot: A battle-hardened American political consultant is sent to help re-elect a controversial president in Bolivia, where she must compete with a long-term rival working for another candidate.


Tagline – May the best campaign win.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Unfunny Political Comedy

 

Story: Our Brand is Crisis starts when disgraced political consultant Jane (Bullock) gets recruited by Nell (Dowd) and Ben (Mackie) to help improve the approval rating of Bolivian presidential candidate Castillo (de Almeida).

Jane must go against her old enemy Pat Candy (Thornton) who has always beaten her in campaign battles, this is going to be the time she will not be prepared to lose as she will try new ideas he isn’t prepared for.

 

Thoughts on Our Brand is Crisis

 

Characters – Jane is nicknamed calamity Jane after her mistakes in previous campaigns, she is dragged into returning to the field in Bolivia going against her old enemy. She has bright ideas which will help, but her own personal problems could cause the downfall in the campaign. Pat Candy is the rival that has always beaten Jane, he knows all the dirty tricks and will use them to make sure he wins. Ben is the member of the campaign that wasn’t in full support of hiring Jane because of her history or lack of involvement in her early days on the campaign. Castillo is the senator that is running for the presidency of Bolivia, a role he once had, he needs to help turn his public image around in hopes of trying to win this election.

PerformancesSandra Bullock is good through the film, though she isn’t as strong as we know she can be. Billy Bob Thornton is solid in his role, he will always make for a good villainous figure even if he is just the other side of the law. Anthony Mackie gives us another solid supporting performance without being too involved in the main story.

StoryThe story here follows a political consultant that gets bought into Bolivia to help with the Presidential campaign that is losing quickly. She goes against her real enemy, the man that always beats her in a country that remains loyal to certain sides of everything. this is loosely based on a true story and for a story that we are meant to care about, we just don’t get sucked into knowing or caring about what happens with the campaign. None of the characters are overly likeable and by the end you won’t remember too many events of the story.

ComedyThe film tries to use comedy, though most of it misses, the only time it hits are on random scene which don’t have too much to do with the actual campaign.

SettingsThe film is set in Bolivia, this can be seen with the divide in the people, the different classes and reaction to each presidential candidate.


Scene of the Movie –
Bus time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It just isn’t overly interesting.

Final ThoughtsMostly forgettable political comedy, two words that shouldn’t go together when it comes to dealing with a real campaign.

 

Overall: Disappointing and boring.

Rating

 

 

American Animals (2018)

Director: Bart Layton

Writer: Bart Layton (Screenplay)

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Udo Kier

 

Plot: Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.


Tagline – Nobody wants to be ordinary

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Way Too Slow

 

Story: American Animals starts as we see the heist about to take place, rewinding us 18 months where we meet Spencer Reinhardt (Keoghan) an art student in Transylvania University, struggling with his identity, turning to his streetwise friend Warren Lipka (Peters) the two discuss the potential of stealing rare expensive books from the library.

As the idea turns into a plan they bring in Chas Allen (Jenner) and Eric Borsuk (Abrahamson), can they make this plan come off, well the answer is no because as we see the planning we meet the real thieves now in their 30s discussing what they remember about the idea.

 

Thoughts on American Animals

 

Characters – Warren is the streetwise student on a scholarship, not living up to his potential, he will always get things down however illegal they might be. He is the one that brings the team together to make this happen even if he is also the one that gets them in the most problems. Spencer is the art student that comes up with the idea because he is sick of not standing out in the art world, looking for the pain be believes artist require. He is all in with the planning but when it comes to following through he thinks they will need to go too far. Chas is the getaway driver, he has the most money which helps with the planning of the heist. Eric becomes the brains learning where things could and would go wrong if they do it in certain directions. We do also meet the adult versions of these characters in the real version that are looking back on the crime they committed.

PerformancesEvan Peters is the clear highlight in this film, he always comes off unpredictable which seeing the older versions of the characters you completely understand too. Barry Keoghan does play the stranger member of the crew well, he is the one that is happy to plan not commit a crime, he needs to be straighter faced than Peters character. When it comes to the rest of the cast they are fine without needing to do that much.

StoryThe story here is based on the real story of four university students that robbed the rare book collection in the library of their university. The way the story is told is interesting because it does both help and hinder the film, having a mix of the actors playing the younger versions and the real men talking about the events does give the story a documentary feel. Where this does hinder the story is by telling us that they failed early on and are now just remembering what happen which takes away any excitement or edge of your set moments towards anything going on. There are moments in the story which are good to watch, for example the scene where they are watching heist movies to learn how to pull it off and seeing the pitch perfect plan in Warren’s head. If we are being honest, the story is about 20 minutes too long because the opening hour just drags you along, once the heist gets underway things get more exciting but by then you might see the audience lose interest.

CrimeThe crime follows a real heist that happened at the same university, we get to see how it was planned, how things went down and seeing the consequences the boys felt.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in and around the university, this helps for any heist film, we do get moments where we step away, but that is for the plan which does work when you see how the boys are out of their depth at times.


Scene of the Movie –
Selecting the names.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The first hour.

Final ThoughtsThis is an overly long heist movie that drags along at a horribly slow pace, once things kick off we do get some interest, but the fact we have the real criminals involved in telling the story we know the outcome.

 

Overall: Just watch for Evan Peters being slightly crazy.

Rating

 

 

Hereditary (2018)

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)

Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel

 

Plot: When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited as it slowly destroys everything they know.


Tagline – Every family tree hides a secret.

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Take Time to Analysis

 

Story: Hereditary starts as the family Annie (Collette), Steve (Byrne) Peter (Wolff) and Charlie (Shapiro) are dealing with the death of Annie’s mother and the children grandmother, we go through the funeral and life seems to be going on for them. In their remote house Charlie the younger member of the family however still has a connection to her grandmother which sees her acting in strange ways.

After another tragedy in the family, Annie turns to the dark arts to try and communicate only to learn the truth about her family’s ancestry that has put them all in danger.

 

Thoughts on Hereditary

 

Characters – Annie is the mother of the house, she always had a distant relationship with her mother and works on miniature models for gallery showings. She tries to understand hr grief and when the next tragedy happens to wants to communicate which only shows her the truth about hr mother, this character is always on edge and has the most important scenes in the movie, some of which will leave you disturbed for a while. Steve is the father of the house, he tries to keep everything grounded through the grief, he tries to support, but will draw the lines at certain points. Peter is the eldest child, a slacker in school that enjoys drugs, he has also become distant from his mother (we do learn why) and he must suffer the most when it comes to the events of the film. Charlie is the youngest child, she is definitely the strangest member of the family and we see her do some very strange activities. She also have the closest bond with the later grandmother.

PerformancesWe have one of the best performance in horror, no scratch that, any film this year from Toni Collette, her character is on edge throughout the film and the confrontation scene with Peter is easily one of the best performed scenes of the year. Gabriel Byrne is great here, he does take a step back from reacting the way Toni does and that is by design, he needs to play the calmer, serious character and it shows. Alex Wolff who turned into Dwayne Johnson a few months back in Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, does a very good job here, the only part of his performance I wasn’t convinced by, was his sobbing didn’t feel real. Mill Shapiro is great to and has disturbing scenes to pull off effortlessly too. We have a fantastic family dynamic created by these actors.

StoryThe story here follows a family through the grief process, though it gets a supernatural twist on how they deal with it. While the pacing of the story is slow in the first half of the film, that sudden moment that changes everything ramps up the tension in the story and we don’t go the traditional route to get to the scenes you would expect after the incident. This is a story that is like a giant puzzle, I do feel every single long scene where seemingly nothing does happen, means something and this will be a film that could be analysed for years to come. The final third of the film’s story is where everything picks up and it will leave you shocked and disturbed.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film is built up moments, a mix of nightmares surrounding grief which can be shown in a mix of different ways. The mystery is just what is going on in the second half of the film because things get weird quickly.

SettingsMost of the important family related scenes happen in the house, that is where they are closest and issues come out, when we step away from the house, one character does have events happen to them away from the house, but otherwise the highlights happen at home.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are strong throughout, there was however one scene that stood out badly because it looked like some form of overlay couldn’t quite be put together correctly.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 20 minutes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is one scene that I could help but pick up on the CGI being used and it annoyed me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that is getting mixed opinions, I do think it is slow paced, but it is rewarding because of this pacing. This is one that will make you think and will leave you shocked by the credits.

 

Overall: One to think hard about.

Rating

 

 

Captain Fantastic (2016)

capDirector: Matt Ross

Writer: Matt Ross (Screenplay)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crook, Charlies Shotwell, Trin Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Ann Dowd, Frank Langella, Missi Pyle

 

Plot: In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Story

 

Story: Captain Fantastic starts as we meet Ben (Mortensen) who has been raising his six children Bo (MacKay), Kielyr (Isler), Vespyr (Basso), Rellian (Hamilton), Zaja (Crooks) and Nai (Shotwell) in the forest of Pacific Northwest away from society. Ben is teaching his children in his own way so they could be ready for the anything life be it, self-defence, educational material or just plain old music.

When Ben has to go back into the real world he takes the recently completed boy to man Bo but is only treated to tragic news about his wife. Ben reluctantly takes his children to his wife’s funeral against the orders of her family. Over this time, we get to see how Ben learns that everything he thought was correct might not actually be right for his children.

Captain Fantastic is a wonderful story that gives us the idea that we always know what is right for our own children might not actually be correct. We see how family wants to support any decision but there will always be that tension within. Viggo Mortensen gives a heavyweight performance that could easily being contention when Oscar season hits and all six of the children are brilliant in their roles. I will say this has moments of being slightly too slow but in the end each scene comes off fascinating to see where the characters will be going next.

 

Overall: Brilliant story, brilliantly acted and the real outside shot for the Oscars.

Rating93

 

 

Big Driver (2014)

bigDirector: Mikael Salomon

Writer: Richard Christian Matheson (Screenplay) Stephen King (Story)

Starring: Maria Bello, Ann Dowd, Will Harris, Joan Jett, Olympia Dukakis, Jennifer Kydd

 

Plot: A famous mystery writer sets out for revenge after a brutal attack.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: King’s Rape Revenge Tale

 

Story: Big Driver starts as author Tess (Bello) is off to meet with fans to promote her new book only to find herself stranded in the middle of nowhere. When stranger Lester (Harris) offers to help he starts off nice only turn nasty as he attacks and rapes Tess before dumping her body in a stream.

Surviving was only the beginning of her ordeal as she now must search for help but in her head she battles with the idea that what she wrote could have driven this man into doing this attack. Tess not wanting to admit the attack goes out on her own to get her revenge on the people involved in the attack.

Big Driver falls into the rape revenge story, let’s face it we have seen this before and this isn’t the most comfortable story to be watching. This has the typical Stephen King stamp on it where our leading character talks to her characters from her books which helps us understand her mind set. In all honesty this is very disappoint for what it could be, you don’t get as shocked as you should from the attack and the revenge just seems too easy because we meet everyone involved rather than few innocent suspects.

 

Actor Review

 

Maria Bello: Tess Thorne is a respected author that will on a journey for her latest book finds herself brutally attacked and raped. Not wanting to tell anyone about the attack in fear people think it is too much like one of her book characters she goes out for revenge on the man responsible. Maria is great in the performance in this role but is the only good one in the film.tess

Ann Dowd: Ramona Norvell is a close friend to Tess who suggests the shortcut making her involvement a prime suspect for helping the attack happen. Ann is only in a couple of roles and doesn’t get enough time to show her character’s colours.

Will Harris: Lester is the man who attacked and raped Tess known locally as The Big Driver, he dumps Tess with all his other victims but has no idea for finding out Tess isn’t dead. Will is the look but doesn’t really work for the role.

Joan Jett: Betsy Neal is a local bar owner that offers Tess advice about the locals which does include Lester, she has a history being abused by men too. Joan again is only in one main scene which doesn’t get enough time.

Support Cast: Big Driver doesn’t have enough time to give us supporting characters.

Director Review: Mikael SalomonMikael doesn’t go into the darkness that the story could end up going in.

 

Crime: Big Driver gives us the crime story of the being a rape victim getting revenge.

Mystery: Big Driver offers us a mystery to who is involved with the rape.

Thriller: Big Driver tries to keep us guessing to what is going on and where it could go.

Settings: Big Driver uses the isolated idea for the settings but without nothing too much special.
Special Effects
: Big Driver uses the effects to deal with the attack.

Suggestion: Big Driver is one to try but it isn’t going to be anything special for the King fans out there. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Bello is great.

Worst Part: Lacks that punch it really needs.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

Tagline: No bad deed goes unpunished

 

Overall: Lacklustre revenge film

Ratingcard