Maudie (2016) Movie Review

Director: Aisling Walsh

Writer: Sherry White (Screenplay)

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Kari Matchett, Gabrielle Rose, Zachary Bennett

Plot: An arthritic Nova Scotia woman works as a housekeeper while she hones her skills as an artist and eventually becomes a beloved figure in the community.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Wonderfully Acted

Story: Maudie starts when a shy woman Maud (Hawkins) who finds her house sold and she is left feeling worthless, until she finds employment under outsider Everett (Hawke), who is demanding when it comes to his standards, until wealthy woman Sandra (Matchett) learns of her artistic talents.

Maud ends up involved in a relationship with Everett, as the two find happiness together, while Maud’s new artwork starts to attract attention from people around, with her positive use of colours through her designs.

Thoughts on Maudie

Characters – Maud has had a lonely life, one where she is left on her own through most days, where she paints to keep herself happy, she decides to become a housekeeper, which will see her movie in with outsider Everett, here she finds an unusual love, that her talent is loved by people and that she is important in life, no matter how many times she has been hurt through it. Everett is the outside in the town, he has chance most of his housekeepers away with his demands and behaviour, not wanting to be involved with many people’s lives, he holds everything inside, even though he has so much more going on than he is will to let people know. Sandra is the wealthy woman that first sees Maud’s work and wants to show the world, she offers her a friendship, unlike anything she has received before.

PerformancesWe do have two of the best actors of a generation here, with Sally Hawkins taking the leading role shining once again, Ethan Hawke working wonders in the supporting role too, where they help increase the talents of each other through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the life of Maud, from the time she meets Everett and started making art which mad her famous with the community, as she see the struggles the couple had being outsiders in their own right. This does look at the struggles that Maud when through in her life, though however talented she was, her life didn’t seem to be eventful enough to get a feature length story out off. This is because she did keep herself to herself along with her husband, not getting herself into any trouble, just letting herself live a quiet life.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic side of this film does show us just how quiet Maud kept her life with a love life that was never flashy about their love.

SettingsThe film does show us just how away from the world the couple live, they are happy together and never look for more.

Scene of the Movie – The interview.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – However talented Maud was, her life doesn’t seem like enough for a feature film.

Final Thoughts This does show the quiet life the couple looked to live and how they found love with what kept them happy.

Overall: Biopic 101.

A Call to Spy (2019) Movie Review

Director: Lydia Dean Pilcher

Writer: Sarah Megan Thomas (Screenplay)

Starring: Sarah Megan Thomas, Stana Katic, Radhika Apte, Linus Roache, Rossif Sutherland, Andrew Richardson

Plot: In the beginning of WWII, with Britain becoming desperate, Churchill orders his new spy agency – SOE – to recruit and train women as spies.

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: A Call to Spy starts during World War II, The British have seen the German walk through Europe and with their latest attempts to create spies failing, Winston Churchill has decided to try bringing in women spies, with Vera Atkins (Katic) needing to select the first candidates, with American Virginia Hall (Thomas) and Noor Inayat Khan (Apte) being the ladies she turns too.

We see how the three women all played their part in the war effort, form different locations, one from guiding from home, another on the field, while the other using their communication skills to show that everyone is fighting for the same thing.

Thoughts on A Call to Spy

Characters – Vera Atkins is the woman that is painted to be like a secretary, but her work is much more than that, she helps recruit the first female spies, she knows how to pick the women that will not look the part, making them perfect for the selections, while running the operations from back home. Virginia Hall is an American that is trying to get into an diplomatic role for the country, only to be getting rejected, she is selected because of language skills and due to her injury, which makes her look even less spy like from the outside, she however is very smart, resourceful and always keeps her calm. Noor Inayat Khan is from a mixed background, she is an expect on the communication side of things, which sees her being selected to hide away from enemy and communicate back to England.

PerformancesThe performances from the three leading women are wonderful throughout, they show the strength they needed to bring the real life people to life, easily being the strongest part of the acting in this film.

StoryThe story here follows the idea that in World War II, Britain looked to women to become spies to try and outsmart the Germans, we follow the first recruits as they risked their lives in the war effort and made history for their efforts. This is a brilliant look at the history of spies, seeing once again how many different people came together fight with what would be right. We see how some of the men wouldn’t be interested in letting women into the field, but we don’t seem to spend too much time covering this side of things. The only the other weaker side to the story comes from the fact we don’t seem to see how much intensity to any of the trading of material or attempts to rescue people.

BiopicThis biopic side of the film shows the women that risked their lives to help the country during the war, it shows more of their mission over their personal lives.

SettingsThe film gives us the setting ideas to show us the secret places people would turn to for support in doing the right things.

Scene of the Movie – Recruitment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The spy side of things could be seen as routine, without many thrillers about it all.

Final Thoughts This is an important look at how women become spies and helped changed things during World War II.

Signature Entertainment presents A Call to Spy in Cinemas and on Digital HD 23 October 2020

Bigger (2018) Movie Review

Director: George Gallo

Writer: Andy Weiss, George Gallo, Brad Furman, Ellen Furman (Screenplay)

Starring: Tyler Hoechlin, Julianne Hough, Kevin Durand, Victoria Justice, DJ Qualls, Aneurin Barnard

Plot: The inspirational tale of the grandfathers of fitness as we now know it, Joe and Ben Weider. Facing anti-Semitism and extreme poverty, the brothers beat all odds to build an empire and inspire future generations.

Tagline – He Created Fitness As We Know It, Together They Changed the World

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Bigger starts as we learn how Joe Weider (Hoechlin) and his brother Ben (Barnard) have turned to learning about fitness, with Joe wanting to make his own magazine to help people have a healthy body, not just one that has muscles like magazine tycoon Bill Hauk (Durand) has been running for years.

As Joe continues to face Anti-Semitism from the rivals, he continues to build an empire, one that will see the pair become the most iconic names in the world of fitness.

Thoughts on Bigger

Characters – Joe Weider grew up with his brother in poverty, in his childhood he will find himself getting into trouble, before learning about fitness, looking to help create a healthy living not just for the naturally gifted, but for everyone who wants to improve their fitness. He creates a magazine, one that is meant to be looking for the positives, despite having competition that is looking to use dirty tactics to bring him down. Betty is the beautiful model that sees what Joe is trying to create, becoming his wife and muse with his creation. Bill Hauk is the rival muscles and fitness publisher, he does it for the wrong reason, looking to cash in on people’s looks over their fitness, he tries to use every trick in the book to bring down Joe. Ben is the brother of Joe, he will think more along the lines of making money from his ideas, often keeping his brother’s ideas grounded. We do get to meet different icons of the industry through the film too, which will help us understand how much Joe did to make it a bigger, more iconic event.

PerformancesTyler Hoechlin in the leading role is great, this is easily his strongest performance of his career to date, showing the uncomfortable social skills Joe had. Julianne Hough looks the part, not making her character fit into the brackets you might imagine, while Kevin Durand is great as the villainous rival.

StoryThe story here follows a poor boy that grew up loving and studying fitness, before coming up with his own ideas on how important it is, how anyone can do it, breaking ideas put in people’s heads to try and bring the art of bodybuilding to centre stage, while not looking down on people that just want to get into better shape. This is an interesting look at one man who wouldn’t stop looking into his dream, not for the stardom, but for the better of everyone else, with his theories now being part of the major culture, we get to see how two people would be against each other when it comes to being the most popular, and how one focuses on the work, over the greed. This will help prove how keep plugging away will be the thing that would help you achieve something more from your dreams.

BiopicJoe Weider helped shape fitness for the generations to come, this puts the spotlight on how hard he worked, how much he sacrificed and risked making his dream a reality.

SettingsThe film does take us over most of his professional life, which will see us taken to plenty of different settings, each one showed us the next step in his career.

Scene of the Movie – Meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could have seen more from Ben’s side of the rise.

Final Thoughts This is a movie that will put the spotlight on one of the more unknown genius behind making bodybuilding more popular and showing us it was for more than just his own gain.

Signature Entertainment presents Bigger on Digital HD 26th October

Red Joan (2018) Movie Review

Director: Trevor Nunn

Writer: Lindsay Shapero (Screenplay) Jennie Rooney (Novel)

Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Nina Sosanya, Laurence Spellman, Nicola Sloane, Tereza Srbova, Freddie Gaminara, Tom Hughes, Stephen Campbell Moore

Plot: The story of Joan Stanley (Dame Judi Dench), who was exposed as the K.G.B.’s longest-serving British spy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: So Dull

Story: Red Joan starts when elderly lady Joan (Dench) gets arrested with the suspicion of treason for release secrets over years, since 1939, to 2000. This takes Joan back to her younger self (Cookson) who met people in her time at Oxford, including Sonya (Srbova) and Leo (Hughes) who put her in connection with a KGB connection.

After university Joan starts working for Max (Campbell Moore) who has been development nuclear weapons, a role she must keep secret, despite the number of people that came looking to get secrets out of her including her love Leo and former student William.

Thoughts on Red Joan

Characters – Joan is an elderly lady arrested and charged with treason, she must remember her life which saw her working on England’s own nuclear defence, while being friends with Russians, making it appear like she might have been playing both side, she must tell her story to see if she is guilty or not. Leo is the Russian that Joan has fallen in love with, he only turns up when she needs something, making it clear that he is trying to learn more about her role, using his charm to get information. Max is the person that hires Joan, gives her a chance in a male world of science to show her own brilliance, he will push for her greatest to be seen by the world.

PerformancesJudi Dench does seem wasted in this role, she does her best with what little she has to work with, it just would have been nice to see more. When it comes to the rest of the cast, they all struggle to make any impact in the story.

StoryThe story here follows an elderly lady accused of treason and dive into her past to learn the truth. This sounds like it should be a very interesting thriller, but soon turns into a romantic based movie, which seems to imply that Joan only helped the people who she seems to love, it has so much potential to be a much more interesting story, only for it to come up very short and just being bland and forgettable.

BiopicThe biopic side of the film is meant to show what happened in Joan’s early life only for it to be more about her love life than anything else.

SettingsThe film does re-create the locations that you would have imagined seeing for the 40s and 50s timeline.

Scene of the Movie – Press Conference.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much pointless love.

Final Thoughts This is a really disappointing biopic thriller that just doesn’t get close to the levels it could do, leaving us feeling like we should be getting a lot more out of the material.

Overall: Disappointing.

JT LeRoy (2018) Movie Review

Director: Justin Kelly

Writer: Justin Kelly, Savannah Knoop (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Jim Sturgess, Diane Kruger, Kelvin Harrison Jr, James Jagger

Plot: A young woman named Savannah Knoop spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law.

Tagline – Based on the incredible true lie

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Quirky

Story: JT LeRoy starts when Savannah (Stewart) moves to San Francisco to move in with her brother Geoff (Sturgess) and his partner Laura (Dern), the couple have a band, with Laura having her own book written by her alter ego JT LeRoy, with the book starting to get a bigger following.

Laura wants to make more for JT, which sees her turn to Savannah to dress up in public for photoshoots before getting more involved with social occasion, right up to a movie being made about him, with Savannah struggling with the extra attentions of being somebody else.

Thoughts on JT LeRoy

Characters – Savannah moves to San Francisco to start a new life, with her brother giving her a place to start, she just wants a normal life there, but this doesn’t happen, when she gets talking into pretending to being the secret author of her sisters-in-law’s book, a man that the world wants to meet. She does struggle with this, but does enjoy the bigger social experience becoming more confident as the fake author. Laura is the real author that created a persona to be the real author, she has been the voice before for interviews, but never the person, pushing Savannah into become the author for her. Geoff is the brother to Savannah who offers her a place to live and introduces the two, he doesn’t want Savannah to feel pressure into doing anything she doesn’t want too. Eva is the celebrity that wants to meet JT, she host parties and gets closer to her.

PerformancesKristen Stewart is great in this leading role, she shows the confliction her character is caught up in during the film. Laura Dern shows us just how desperate for fame some people will be in life, while the rest of the cast do nothing wrong through the film, working well with the main two members of the cast.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman that gets talked into becoming a version of an author her sister-in-law created and how the world starts to spiral out of control. This does show us all about trying to make the most out of life, giving the audience what they want with the illusion of what they want in life to give them the happiness they need. Outside of the world the characters are trying to find their own identity in life, which is always good to see learning about one’s identity.

BiopicThe biopic shows how Savannah thought she was walking into one life, only to have the whole thing turned on its head for her, showing how she was stuck in the middle of helping people and being herself.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us different party environments that Savannah ends up attending, it shows us how her life was different and each trip was something new for her.

Scene of the Movie – The reading.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Laura is a mostly annoying character, not down to the performance though.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at how celebrity is created, how people will want their own versions of people no matter what the truth is.

Overall: Celebrity Illusions.