The Mexican (2001)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: J.H. Wyman (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, J.K. Simmons, Bob Balaban, Sherman Augustus, Michael Cerveris, Gene Hackman

 

Plot: A man tries to transport an ancient gun called The Mexican, believed to carry a curse, back across the border, while his girlfriend pressures him to give up his criminal ways.


Tagline – love with the safety off

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Adventure Film

 

Story: The Mexican starts when small time crook Jerry (Pitt) is forced to head to Mexico to collect a gun for mob boss Bernie Nayman (Balaban), only this mission goes wrong when he loses the gun and is let stranded in Mexico trying to locate it.

With the bosses not happy that he has failed they send Winston Baldry (Gandolfini) kidnap his ex-girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) to locate him and the missing gun known as the Mexican.

 

Thoughts on The Mexican

 

Characters – Jerry is a small-time crook that has been in the debt of crime boss for years, with his latest and seemingly last chance sees him travelling to Mexico to locate a famous pistol. He has a short attention span which has gotten him trouble before and this is no different, he needs to clean up his own mess before finding himself wanted by the crime bosses. Samantha is Jerry’s ex-girlfriend that gets forced in work with a hitman to locate Jerry against her wishes, she just wants a normal life instead of being part of the crime world. Winston is the hitman that forces Samantha to help him locate Jerry, while learning to expression his own feelings. Arnold Margolese is the man that has been left in jail thanks to Jerry’s sloppy mistakes, he is making Jerry make up the time he is lost.

PerformancesBrad Pitt does bring us a wonderful comic character that plays into the cool persona that he had at the time, Brad mixes both the styles together to make his performance standout. Julia Roberts showed that she was a powerhouse in film during the 2000s, she brings everything to this performance to make her a supportive character. James Gandolfini brings us a twist on the hitman role which is against everything we have seen him play before. Gene Hackman might only have a smaller role, but he makes the most of his screen time.

StoryThe story here follows a clumsy crook who is sent to Mexico in search for a gun for his boss, the gun has a history which many different people want, which drags his girlfriend into the mix as they get caught up in a bigger chase for the gun, letting the two put aside their differences and finding out how they really feel about each other. This story is one that has plenty of twists and turns along the way, like any interesting crime adventure film, we see how Jerry always manages to get himself into more trouble no matter what and how Samantha is always going to be the one that puts him back on the right path. We have a lot of details that are added to create the characters which keeps the film flowing with more information as each scene unfolds.

Adventure/Comedy/CrimeThe adventure side of this film takes Jerry to Mexico where he never feels comfortable or look like he should be there, the crime world shows us just how man people would be after the legendary weapon that the bumbling criminal is set to get. The comedy in the film comes from the actions of Jerry which always make him look out of place.

SettingsThe film shows us how the shady looking street around Mexico which shows just how out of place Jerry looks.


Scene of the Movie –
Leroy changes a tyre.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could sometimes have too many different subplots going on within the world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun adventure that shows just how entertaining a crime comedy can be with its multiple different branches.

 

Overall: Fun filled adventure.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – I – Isle of Dogs (2018)

Director: Wes Anderson

Writer: Wes Anderson (Screenplay) Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Kunichi Nomura (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talent) Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Kunichi Nomura

 

Plot: Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightfully Entertaining

 

Story: Isle of Dogs starts when Mayor Kobayashi declares dogs to be banned from the city because of the outbreak of dog flu, it means all the dogs must be sent to trash island. 6-months later five alpha dogs Chief, Rex, King, Duke and Boss have created their own pack and when the Mayor’s nephew Atari goes in search for his dog, crash landing on the island.

With four of the dogs being house pets, Chief doesn’t follow the same beliefs the rest, he reluctantly accepts to help Atari in the search for the dog and the cure could be heading their way at last.

 

Thoughts on Isle of Dogs

 

Characters – Chief is the stray out of the pack, he isn’t as willing to help as the others to help Atari because he has never felt the attention from a human, reluctantly he helps and learns how important a human can be. Atari is the young boy that has had his dog taken from him and goes in search for him working with the fellow dogs on the island, while alluding his evil uncle. Rex is the guide for the island, he challenges Chief most to be equal in the decision-making process. King is another part of the pack the least standout of the five, while Duke knows all the rumours about different parts of the island, which gets the laughs through the film, with Boss being the calm presence through the pack.

StoryThe story here follows a city that has excluded dogs dumping them on a trash island to fend for themselves. One boy travels there to find his dog as we see how the dogs have settled on the island while others plan an escape, with the humans on the main land fighting for the dogs rights with the evil mayor planning on destroying them. This film does have a lot more going on than you would expect which is a surprise, but it does show us just how loyal people will be towards their dogs. This does fly by for time and gives us enough of the Anderson quirks that he seems to be the only one to bring us, with the most important message being, not to rush into rash decisions.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure takes the dogs and Atari on an adventure across the trash island to stop the destruction of the dogs, we get comedy from the different dogs and how they react to the events of the film.

SettingsThe film uses two main wonderful settings, first the city which looks fantastic, while the trash island is just as beautifully created through the film.

AnimationThe animation used in the film is stop-motion which looks amazing as always to watch.


Scene of the Movie –
The crash landing because of the reactions.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How did no one else try to get their dogs back.

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightful movie that will only make you smile, the stop-motion is used perfectly and the scale of the world created is mind blowing.

 

Overall: Must watch animation.

Rating

 

 

Jakob the Liar (1999)

Director: Peter Kassovitz

Writer: Peter Kassovitz, Didier Decoin (Screenplay) Jurek Becker (Novel)

Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Liev Schreiber

 

Plot: In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from “his secret radio.” Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life.


Tagline –  He will make you believe.

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong, but Not Impactful Enough

 

Story: Jakob the Liar starts in Poland and the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Jakob (Williams) a pancake salesman is trying to avoid the curfew and while being accused of failing to follow the instruction he over hears the radio announcing the Russians are coming, he saves a young girl Lina (Gordon) the world spreads around the ghetto that the Russians are coming with Jakob giving them hope.

As the stories continue to grow Jakob learns he can no longer tell the truth because it will only leave the people with no hope and if he continues his lies he will give them false hope which might put the lives of fellow residents at risk.

 

Thoughts on Jakob the Liar

 

Characters – Jakob is one of the Jews confined the ghettos in Poland during World War II, he keeps his head down with his connection, until one day he makes the story up of hearing the Russians are coming which lifts the moral in the ghetto, only for everyone there wanting to listen to his radio, the one he doesn’t have, but he can’t tell the truth because it will bring back the suicides in the ghetto. The rest of the character we meet are the residents of the ghetto and a young girl Lina that has escaped the transport trains, they all see hope in Jakob’s stories.

PerformancesRobin Williams in the leading role does nail the accent, get his moments of humour and heart, but sadly it is hard to take the film seriously when you are waiting for a laugh even for the sensitive subject. The rest of the cast are good even if we are turning to Robin slightly too much through the film.

StoryThe story is a difficult one to watch with a humorous tone because it was a horrendous time in history, we know what happened to the Jews and how they were forced to live. Now saying this, how the Jews were given hope from the stories of Jakob does help the hellish life they were living through, but watching things get out of control does play into the what makes the story interesting to watch. This is a story that doesn’t balance the sensitive subject very well though which disappoints.

WarThe film is set in the war time, we get to see the conditions Jews were forced to live through for the most part, but not the conflict.

SettingsThe settings do make us believe we are there with the victims of the time which can be hard to watch like always.


Scene of the Movie –
Battling what to do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too humorous in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting idea for the how Jews would try to improve moral in a difficult time, but end sup being too humorous for the subject matter.

 

Overall: Not on the leave of the best holocaust movies.

Rating

 

 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Steven Spielberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, J Patrick McNamara

 

Plot: After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Sci-Fi Film

 

Story: Close Encounters of the Third Kind starts as a group of planes all have an encounter they can’t or refuses to explain with a UFO. We move to Indiana as the Guiler family get a strange encounter as young boy Barry (Guffey) follows the strange lights and noises in the dark. The area is also suffering from a black out with Roy Neary (Dreyfuss) needing to leave his family to help fix.

As the scientific world is trying to explain the strange noises coming from the sky they must find the location being set to them. Roy becomes obsessed with the vision he has seen but Jillian goes in search for her son that is taken by the lights.

With the government covering up what is about to happen it is up to Roy and Jillian to discover the truth before it is too late but what they find is something completely unexpected.

 

Thoughts on Close Encounters of the Third Kind

 

Characters/PerformanceRoy comes off as the classic crazy person who believe they have been involved in an alien idea, he puts his family life in danger to figure out the message placed inside his head and will stop at nothing to learn the truth, Jillian also suffers a visit but her character is drawn to find her son that is taken. These two work together to get to the bottom of what happen. Claude leads the scientific search for answers and is what you would call the typical scientist.

Performance wise, Dreyfuss is great in the leading role showing his normality between his crazy, Dillon is great too as the concerned mother with the rest of the cast all giving good performances without taking away from the main characters.

StoryFor the time this story was something special, we have an alien coming to visit in a friendly manor which is fine because at the time it was only evil coming from space. When you look at everything that unfolds you are left with the trailblazer for the style of film that has been borrowed from so often. The idea the government can cover up this is believable along with the idea the one person considered crazy will go all out to find the answers does too.

Sci-FiAliens coming to visit, do you get anymore sci-fi that this, no of course not.

SettingsThe settings used in this film show us the aliens would only be coming to small less populated areas rather than big cities as they want to make calm friendly contact.

Special EffectsFor the time the special effects are amazing, in places some of them have dated but they are still good in the most part.

Final ThoughtsThis film was ground breaking for the time, while more recently we have been given Arrival which is strikingly similar with the interactions between the aliens and humans, this is refreshing to see in a world of monsters coming from space.

 

Overall: This is the classic people talk about but I can see the younger audience not enjoying it all.

Rating

 

 

The Majestic (2001)

logoDirector: Frank Darabont

Writer: Michael Sloane (Screenplay)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Bob Balaban, Jeffrey DeMunn, Hal Holbrook, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau, Brent Briscoe, Ron Rifkin, Amanda Detmer, James Whitmore

 

Plot: Set in 1951, a blacklisted Hollywood writer gets into a car accident, loses his memory and settles down in a small town where he is mistaken for a long-lost son.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Drama

Story: The Majestic starts by showing us a movie plot discussion meeting with our protagonist Peter (Carrey). We learn how he is about to break out as a screenwriter with his first film being shown. This goes next to the communist hunt that flew through America in the 1950s. Peter becomes the next victim in the hunt leading him to get blacklisted in Hollywood, after losing it he gets drunk and tries to drive off into the sunset, but things don’t go well for him when he crashes his car on a bridge going over and bumping his head. Peter awakens with no memory of who he is or why he is where he is. Peter is taken into a small town that have lost most of their young generation of men in the war. The town’s people all seem to recognize Peter and one man in particular Harry (Landau) thinks he is his lost son. His appearance in the town makes Harry want to reopen the Majestic cinema to give the people of the town some hope.

It is not long before the whole town is welcoming him home and he gives the whole town inspiration to move on with their lives and the man’s lost love Adele (Holden) tries to rekindle what she once had by taking him around town to the memories they once had together. While his attachment for the town grows we are left to wonder what will come back first, his memory or his past.

The Majestic is a very powerful story about a town struggling to move on while one man who could be one of their own lost ones inspires them to move on with their lives. Where the story shines is by showing how small towns would be suffering to cope after the war and how America panicked through the communist investigation just pointing figures and never getting real answers. On its negative side I find it hard to believe that the amnesia got almost shrugged off by the town’s people and how easily they just assumed a man who couldn’t remember anything would just turn up home. The Majestic does come off giving a very warm feeling after viewing and is easily enjoyable. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

Jim Carrey: Peter Appleton a screenwriter who gets blacklisted when people believe his is a communist. While trying to escape the problems he ends up in a small town where he has a striking resemblance to a man thought to have died in the war. He gives them all inspiration but once he figures out who he really is he has to learn to stand up for a new cause. Jim gives one of his best performances here showing he can give serious performance. (9/10)

 jim

Martin Landau: Harry Timble the man who believes Peter is his son returning after the war and once he sees him wants to reopen the family business. He gets to see his cinema reopened and spend time with what he thinks is his son before passing on before the truth gets out. Martin gives a good performance of a man wanting one more day with his lost son. (7/10)

 martin

Laurie Holden: Adele Stanton the romantic interest of the lost man, she is not sure about Peter but does fall for his charms all over again before finding out the truth. Laurie gives a good performance. (7/10)

 laurie

Support Cast: The Majestic has two main groups of supporting characters; we have the studio people and the men investigating the communist in Hollywood. While the second group are the members of the town who believe Peter is a lost member of the town. Both sets make the story flow well giving us the solid idea between the loss of loved ones in the war and the witch hunt for communists.

Director Review: Frank Darabont – Frank does a good job directing this film even though it doesn’t reach the levels of some of his previous work. (7/10)

 

Drama: The Majestic uses the sense of drama to tell the heart breaking story of loss of the young men during the war in the small town and how it has changed the people’s lives. (9/10)

Settings: The Majestic uses the settings really well to give an authentic feel for the time period the film is set in. (9/10)

Suggestion: The Majestic is a film that could be enjoyed by everyone but may not appeal to everyone due to its character driven story. (Try It)

 

Best Part of The Majestic: The Commission Speech.

Worst Part of The Majestic: Slightly too long for the story it tells.

 

Believability: Forgetting the chance of the character happening to look like another person the two storylines focus on very real effects the war had on two different areas of society. (8/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Jim Carrey could have got a nomination but the film didn’t get any.

Box Office: $37 Million

Budget: $72 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 32 Minutes

Tagline: Sometimes your life comes into focus one frame at a time

 

Overall: Carrey’s Best Was Not A Success But is Must Be Seen By His Fans

Rating 

79