Al Pacino Weekend – Pirates of Somalia (2017) Movie Review

Director: Bryan Buckley

Writer: Bryan Buckley (Screenplay) Jay Bahadur (Book)

Starring: Al Pacino, Evan Peters, Melanie Griffith, Barkhad Abdi, Philip Ettinger, Coral Pena, Russell Posner

Plot: In 2008, rookie journalist Jay Bahadur forms a half-baked plan to embed himself with the pirates of Somalia. He ultimately succeeds in providing the first close-up look into who these men are, how they live, and the forces that drive them.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Pirates of Somalia starts as we meet struggling journalist Jay Bahadur (Peters) who believes he has his path set after graduating with nothing planning on the way he had hoped. Jay ends up having a chance meeting with retired journalist Seymour Tolbin (Pacino) who teaches him the new wave of journalism.

Jay sees the story in Somalia, taking a chance, he ends up getting a chance to work under the president’s son to learn about the pirates of Somalia and how they operate, with his translator Abdi (Abdi) who is still torn between the new ways and the old.

Thoughts on Pirates of Somalia

Characters – Jay Bahadur is the narrator, this is his story of finishing college in 2008 and realizing there isn’t the job opportunities he believed in his field of journalism, the highlight of his life in rejection letters and trying to do research on the napkin placement on shelves, back living in his parent’s basement with his high school sweetheart moved on with her own life. He meets one of his idols who advise him on the new form of journalism, which sees Jay putting his life on the line by going to Somalia to write a book about the pirates of the land and prove there is a lot more to the new developing country than the media shows. Seymour Tolbin is a retired journalist who offers Jay advice and connections to increase his chances of getting a story together. Abdi is the translator that shows Jay around Somalia teaching him about the culture keeping him safe during his time there. We do get to meet the different people who are considered pirates by the outside world, but live a different life once you are there.

PerformancesEvan Peters is front a centre of this film, he is the strongest part of the performances, because the fear he shows would be what was real, though he must show it while remaining strong. Barkhad Abdi is great once again as a Somalian guide this time, even with the previous role as one of the pirates under his belt. Al Pacino is more of a cameo like performance, by strong enough in the supporting role in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a journalist graduate that isn’t finding work in the US and ends up traveling to Somalia to see if he can learn more about the idea of pirates running the country and show the world the truth about the country. This story is based on the book the journalist wrote after returning, it does show how the culture shock wasn’t as big as he once thought, as well as the alarming lack of jobs for graduates in America. While nearly all the film focuses on his learning experiences in Somalia, it does show how the media and the outside world can always see a country before learning more about it before judging.

BiopicThe biopic side of the film shows how Jay couldn’t get much out of his life until he took a big chance with his story in Somalia, it is his journey, his encounters, his life, though it does only show that this was his last resort, with no backup plan for somebody who graduated with a journalism degree.

SettingsSomalia is the setting for most of the film, it does highlight how the country is still developing and has evolved to maintain itself.


Scene of the Movie – Meeting the pirates.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does highlight how reckless Jay was, with his life choice, no plans after graduating seems naïve.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at just how hard life can be once you graduate, but if you can tell a big story, you can make yourself a star.

Overall: Interesting Biopic.

Heath Ledger Weekend – Ned Kelly (2003) Movie Review

Director: Gregor Jordan

Writer: John Michael McDonagh (Screenplay) Robert Drewe (Novel)

Starring: Heath Ledger, Orland Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton, Laurence Kinlan

Plot: An innocent man becomes one of the most wanted criminals the world has ever known.


Tagline – When the law tried to silence him a legend was born.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Ned Kelly starts in 1871 Australia where an Irish family the Kelly’s have settled in with the eldest son Ned (Ledger) ends up getting into trouble with the law, that has always targeted his family, seeing him placed in prison for a couple of years. Once out Ned does start to try and turn his family’s luck around with his friends Joseph Byrne (Bloom) and Aaron Sherritt (Edgerton), while working for an English family where Ned falls for Julia (Watts).

When Ned gets framed for assault by the constable that has always been out for his blood, his family gets targeted, but not the police are not going to stop until they have his head, forcing Ned to go on the run to protect his family, making him one of the most wanted criminals in the world.

Thoughts on Ned Kelly

Characters – Ned Kelly is a young Irish man that has always seen his family targeted by the law, he has gotten himself in trouble because of this, which sees him falsely accused and becoming a target. Ned refused to back down from the law needing to go on the run, leading to him becoming an outlaw taking from the rich inspiring the poor as he fights for what is right and his family’s pride. Joseph Byrne is Ned’s best friend, he will stand by his side through his battles, needing to do the right thing. Superintendent Francis Hare is the man charged with capturing the Kelly gang, he doesn’t want to hear the story, he just wants them gone. Julia Cook is an English woman that Ned was working for, she is one of the few that will help him seeing the good in his nature, but being held back by her own family.

PerformancesHeath Ledger does a great job here showing how he wanted to break his pretty boy image, this performance makes this happen with ease. Orlando Bloom in the supporting role is strong without being truly great, while Geoffrey Rush feels wasted, with him being involved but not getting too much screen time, same goes for Naomi Watts, she just doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows the innocent man that gets forced into become an outlaw who becomes the most wanted man in Australia. This story shows how settlers in other countries would always be unfairly targeted by the locals who saw them as threats, how people’s words could create outlaws because nobody would listen or understand the truths within a world. The story is only really told from Ned’s which will always make him look like the innocent man he was, but we do hear and see that most of the group have served time, so they might not be as innocent as they look (this is only from what the film shows, not what I know about the truth).

Action/Biopic/WesternThe action is everything you would expect from a western, we have seen the shooting like always. The biopic does only show one side of the story and it does feel like there is more to tell.

SettingsThe film utilises the location to show how Ned Kelly has to go into hiding and including the showdown.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does seem one sided.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book biopic that showed one of the most famous outlaws in Australia, though it doesn’t seem to reach an intensity level that it could have.

Overall: Nice biopic.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – K – The Keeper (2018) Movie Review

Director: Marcus H Rosenmuller

Writer: Marcus H Rosenmuller, Nicholas J Schofield (Screenplay)

Starring: David Kross, Freya Mavor, John Henshaw, Harry Melling, Michael Socha, Dave Johns, Barbara Young

Plot: The Keeper tells the extraordinary love story between a young English woman and a German PoW, who together overcome prejudice, public hostility, and personal tragedy. While visiting a PoW camp near Manchester at the end of WWII, Margaret Friar, the daughter of the manager of the local football team, notices young German soldier Bert Trautmann. 


Tagline – He came as an enemy… And became their hero.

Runtime: 2 Hours

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Outstanding

Story: The Keeper starts with the war ending, the English are putting their lives back together and the German Prisoners of war are helping with the rebuilding process. Jack Friar (Henshaw) a local shopkeeper who wheels and deals with the soldiers, while noticing one of the prisoners, paratrooper Bert Trautmann (Kross) has goalkeeping skills.

Jack offers Bert a place in his shop and being the goalkeeper for his local struggling football team, soon the teams fortunes turn around and suddenly the locals including his daughter Margaret (Mavor) learn that just because he is German, he didn’t have a choice but to fight. Bert builds a reputation which will make him one of the greatest goalkeepers of an era, one whose story will change football in England forever.

Thoughts on The Keeper

Characters – The characters in this film are based on the real people, Bert Trautmann was a paratrooper for the Germans in World War II, he was captured by the English becoming a prisoner of war, waiting for his chance to return home, he must serve around the village where his goalkeeping skills are discovered seeing him sign for Manchester City. Outside of football he must prove that he was a solider with little choice, but to fight for the Germans, he must overcome all the hate that is thrown his way, while falling in love with an English woman, breaking the boundaries of post war feelings. Margaret is the local woman that isn’t happy about having a German around the village, but slowly gets to learn that he didn’t have a choice, as the two slowly start to fall in love, showing how people need to learn to forgive, instead of holding on the hate. Jack Friar is the man who gives the Bert a chance to go in goal for a local team, a place to work away from the camp and lets him into his life, he is a typical wheeler and dealer. Jock Thompson is the Manchester City manager who offers Bert a chance at a major team, he has a bigger job at bringing a city together to support a man that could change the team’s fortunes.

PerformancesDavid Kross is brilliant as the solider turned goalkeeper, he shows us the pain a war soldier would have been through, just showing the hope he wants a new life after it. Freya Mavor is wonderful too in her role, which shows us how somebody would stand up for a change. In the support roles we have strong work from everybody through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the life and career of former prisoner of war, turned professional goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, how he found love and had to build bridges after the war to make history. Before watching this story, I only knew one major part of Bert’s career, the FA Cup final he won with a broken neck, this is shown and is very scary to watch, when you think about the safety in sport now. Outside of this we get to dive into how the English must learn to forgive the Germans for what happened in the war, something that was never going to be easy, but it was the only way to move forward, this is show through the different levels of acceptance Bert must achieve, his personal life is also very interesting to see, with the ups and downs which could have broken any man, showing the horrors war did to him too. This story is a must watch for any of the sports fans out there, it is told in a way that does show people can be good, not everyone is considered to be bad.

Biopic/Sport/WarWe do follow Bert’s time from his POW days to his return to football after his own personal tragedy, seeing this shows how the war can create a divide that needs to be broken and with sport, it gave him a chance to build the bridges.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, they are kept simple for the most part, with it being focused on the small village and the football stadiums.


Scene of the Movie – The cup final.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain hate filled characters, are just basic with why they are created, a little bit more about them would have given them more reason to hate.

Final Thoughts This is a brilliant biopic about one of the most iconic men to every play football, we see his life which was filled with so much to overcome, he still managed to make history.

Overall: Brilliant Biopic.

Rachel Weisz Weekend – Denial (2016) Movie Review

Director: Mick Jackson

Writer: David Hare (Screenplay) Deborah Lipstadt (Book)

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius, Alex Jennings

Plot: Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel.


Tagline – The whole world knows the Holocaust happened. Now she needs to prove it. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Interesting Courtroom Drama

Story: Denial starts when acclaimed writer and historian Deborah Lipstadt (Weisz) has her latest book about the horrors of the Holocaust being released, only her in her book to slams historian and renowned denier David Irving (Spall). David Irving has built up a reputation for being able to fight his case and decides to sue Deborah for libel.

After the years or preparation Deborah watches how Anthony Julius (Scott) and Richard Rampton (Wilkinson) look to make a trial where Deborah will win, without having to put the holocaust on trial, they want to keep it together for argument, with the case being about proving David’s research, rather than whether the holocaust happened.

Thoughts on Denial

Characters – Deborah Lipstadt is an acclaimed author that has made her career out of writing about the horrors around the holocaust, this has created an enemy in David Irving, that she has always been denying the holocaust happened. She must defend her own accusation against him, putting her trust in a group of lawyers to fight the case, despite the fact she would like to put the spotlight on the events, over the facts being disputed. Richard Rampton is the lawyer that is running the case in the courtroom, he has methods that Deborah doesn’t like, until she sees how he has truly been planning the case. Anthony Julius runs the case behind the scenes, he has a huge reputation with his previous work which made headlines and must be strict towards Deborah over what she wants to happen in the case. David Irving is the famous Holocaust denier, he has made a career out of his theories, which has given him a huge following, he decides to sue Deborah for criticising his beliefs, where he uses his natural charisma to get people behind him, despite his anti-Semitic behaviour being clear to see.

PerformancesRachel Weisz in the leading role is great to see, she shows just how helpless Deborah looks during the case, that puts her own reputation on the line. Timothy Spall steals the show with his depiction of David Irving, showing how he is the more colourful character in the case. Tom Wilkinson shows he will always be able to bring a quiet character to life in the moments he needs to shine, while Andrew Scott proves that his rising star will get involved in the major performances.

StoryThe story here follows Deborah Lipstadt who has her own book sued for libel by holocaust denier David Irving, forcing them into a court case, which will be about whether he has been making up the truth for his own benefit or whether she had the right to question his beliefs. The story is an interesting one to follow, seeing an conspiracy theorist being put in a courtroom to prove his fictional story about the truth is fascinating to see, having a court case just about whether something as horrific as the holocaust is bad enough, but seeing how everybody seemed to have a fine balance between who could win, was also interesting. The story does struggling to start with, because of the large number of time jumps, with it starting in 1994, before the case happening in 2000, with small scenes in the build up to the case, through the years, but once we get into the courtroom, we are grasp by the story.

BiopicThe biopic side of the story focuses more on the case, rather than the people involved, which could take away just how much the case did take out of the people involved.

SettingsThe film does use the courtroom as the main location for the story to move forward, with most of the external locations being ideas of where the story could end up going, with most being office, apart from the haunting trip to Auschwitz.


Scene of the Movie – The court case.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The early time jumps, we seem to have one scene, then jump two more years down the line.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting courtroom drama, that shows how the truth managed to get all the way to a courtroom, when it was clear it happened, showing even conspiracy theorist could challenge the truth.

Overall: Interesting, but not Intense drama.

Emma Stone Weekend – Battle of the Sexes (2017) Movie Review

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Writer: Simon Beaufoy (Screenplay)

Starring: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming

Plot: The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs.


Tagline – He made a bet. She made history.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Great Look at History Making

Story: Battle of the Sexes starts when women’s tennis champion Billie Jean King (Stone) decides to boycott the Lawn Association Tournaments run by Jack Kramer (Pullman) who isn’t offering equal pay to the women’s games to start her own tournament for the women. Bobby Riggs (Carell) a former grand-slam winner has been dealing with his gambling addiction which is costing him his marriage.

When Billie Jean’s tournaments start taking off, they are excluding from the Grand Slam events, Bobby Riggs comes up with the idea to challenge Billie Jean to an exhibition game which would get the press interested in both the players, putting the spotlight on the women players in the way they deserve.

Thoughts on Battle of the Sexes

Characters – The characters here are based on the real people, I have no idea how accurate they are. Billie Jean King is the number one tennis player in the world, she wants to earn the same prize money as the men and after not getting it she starts her own competition for the women in the game and beating Bobby would change everything for her, off the court she is dealing with her own feelings towards another woman despite being happily married. Bobby Riggs is a hustler and former grand-slam winner, he has a gambling problem which has cost him his marriage and has come up with an idea to challenge one of the top women’s players, defeating the current number one, Billie Jean steps up with the press turning the match into major deal. Bobby does play this like the exhibition that it was, knowing he is taking the bad guy role in this game, not truly caring about the outcome, more focused on the show around it. Marilyn is a hairdresser that does start an affair with Billie Jean, her role leaves Billie losing part of her game being involved in what was considered a forbidden romance. Rosie is one of the women players that joins Billie in her new league, one of many that just wants to be treated equal.

PerformancesEmma Stone and Steve Carell are both fantastic in the leading roles, we see just how much Emma makes Billie look like a player that wants to change the game, while Carell makes us love to hate his cocky arrogant player. Elsewhere in the cast we have strong performance throughout the film without taking the shine of the performances of the leading pair.

StoryThe story follows the real events leading up to one of the most watch games of tennis in history. We get to look at how Billie Jean lead the change in tennis for equality within the game which should be front and centre of the story. We do get to see how both Billie and Bobby have personal problems with relationships which were being explored at the time. The big and most entertaining part of the story comes from seeing the build up to the big game, where Bobby is playing into the press more than anything. The slightly confusing part of the whole story comes from wondering if Bobby knew what he was doing and whether he was actually supporting the women’s game, the film shows him making it a show for the cameras, which could see him trying to bring them to the forefront of the conversation rather than just being somebody trying to put them down.

Biopic/ComedyThe biopic side of this film does show us just how much of an impact Billie Jean had on tennis during the 70s how she made a difference for the prize money and views of tennis. The film is set with a comic tone with most of the laughs coming from just how outlandish Bobby is meant to have been.

SettingsThe film is set in the 1970s with each location, costume or outfit looking like we are part of that time.


Scene of the Movie – The match.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The scoring in the match, it isn’t clear enough.

Final Thoughts This is a great to watch biopic about one of the biggest games in tennis history, it has brilliant performance throughout and will leave you want to see what happened next.

Overall: Brilliant biopic.