Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Writer: Becky Johnston (Screenplay) Heinrich Harrer (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, BD Wong, Mako, Danny Denzongpa, Victor Wong

 

Plot: True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.


Tagline – At the end of the world his real journey began.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drags Along

 

Story: Seven Years in Tibet starts when Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (Pitt) heads to India to climb in the Himalayas, he doesn’t get on with his team with leader Peter Aufschnaiter (Thewlis) forcing him to return, which does see him taken a prisoner of war.

Escaping from the prison camp, Heinrich and Peter head into the Himalayas before reaching Tibet, where he befriends the young Dalai Lama which sees a unique friendship started between the two.

 

Thoughts on Seven Years in Tibet

 

Characters – Heinrich Harrer is an explorer from Austria, he heads out for his next quest in the Himalayas to avoid the war heading to his country, he leave his pregnant wife behind him, but his nature isn’t to be friendly with anybody else on his team, he must learn to work as a team when the team are captured, and the escape sees him travelling around the Himalayas. Peter is the guide on the quest, which sees him being the one that does end up becoming the only friend for Heinrich, the two do their mission across Asia to the religious city. Ngawang is one of the Dalai Lama’s advisors, he wants to use the friendship to his advantage. Kungo is the man that welcomes the outsiders into the city, The young Dalai Lama is interested in Heinrich, being somebody with outside knowledge, he wants to keep him around.

PerformancesBrad Pitt really does struggle in the leading role, his accent is all over the place and for a charismatic explorer he doesn’t drag you into his performance. David Thewlis is solid enough in his role which is where he is always an actor to turn to. The rest of the cast have a mix of experience and screen time which just doesn’t let them effect the story.

StoryThe story tells us the events that led to Austrian explorer becoming friends with the Dalai Lama during World War II and the Chinese invasion of Tibet. It does show a different in culture, how the Dalai Lama was willing to gain knowledge from people outside of his village even at a young age. We do get a lot of jumping in time, with very little happening in places, which doesn’t help the flow of the story, which is meant to be a big moment in history. The narration from Brad Pitt doesn’t help too, because it sounds like he is just mumbling the lines which are meant to fill in the gaps.

Adventure/Biopic/WarThe adventure shows the incredible will to survive that Heinrich has, the ability to adapt to each situation which will take him across Asia. This plays out in the biopic side of the film, showing us just how the event of his story unfolded. The film is most set during the war, be it the second world war or the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

SettingsThe film does use the authentic locations for the events of the film, it shows the harsh reality certain locations are for Heinrich.


Scene of the Movie –
The meetings with the Dalai Lama.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing is slow for no reason.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow paced biopic that could show us a real moment of history, only it ends up not giving us enough to care about.

 

Overall: Disappointing a slow biopic.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – A – Allied (2016)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris

 

Plot: In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.


Tagline – Deception is an art. Truth is a test. Is love a lie?

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Suspense

 

Story: Allied starts as Canadian Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Pitt) lands in Morocco to work with French Resistance Fighter Marianna Beausejour (Cotillard) as they pretend to be married as they complete their mission. The two fall in love for real and return to London to get married against the his superior Frank Heslop (Harris) opinion.

After a year of marriage Heslop comes to Max believing Marianna is indeed a spy, this leaves Max questioning, which side of the story to believe and what is the truth.

 

Thoughts on Allied

 

Characters – Max Vatan is Canadian intelligence working in Africa, highly skilled he can blend into his environment, but he does fall in love with his undercover wife. When he gets informed she could well be a spy, his life is turned upside down with doubts about what is the truth. Marianna is the French resistance fighter working with the Canadian Max as his fake wife, but she also falls in love with Max and returns to start a family with him. We don’t learn too much apart from that she is a loving wife and mother though.

PerformancesBrad Pitt is good for the opening mission, you believe his every decision, but when he becomes the family man, he just doesn’t reach the levels you know he can. Marion Cotillard is good without being her breath-taking best in this role.

StoryThe story here follows love and spies during World War II, we see how two people from different sides of the war fall in love and they must decide which side of the war they are supporting. This film doesn’t become as intense as it could be because seeing it from both sides could have heighted the experience and by the end it just doesn’t feel like it reaches the levels it should.

Action/Romance/WarThe action during the film is tame with very little being used or looking overly real. The romance doesn’t feel whirlwind like you think it should be either, but the war side comes off strong as we see how the tension between the sides cause most of the issues in the lives.

SettingsThe settings look authentic for the time, which does work well for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just fizzles out in the second half of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a war romance film that just never reaches the levels it should do, it just seems to go on and becomes one of the average films that you forget by the end.

 

Overall: Average and disappointing.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – S – Snatch (2000)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Vinnie Jones, Alan Ford, Lennie James, Ewen Bremner

 

Plot: Unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers, and supposedly Jewish jewelers fight to track down a priceless stolen diamond.


Tagline – Stealing stones is hazardous.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gangster Wonderland

 

Story: Snatch starts as we meet Turkish (Statham) an underground boxing promoter who is on the biggest business with Brick Top (Ford), but when he loses his fighter to gypsy Mickey O’Neil (Pitt), he must work on a new deal to get Mickey to enter the fight.

When the fight doesn’t go as planned Turkish must make amends for the mistake, putting him where he never wants to be in debt to Brick Top, while we follow the gangsters in this world as they get themselves into a string of trouble.

 

Thoughts on Snatch

 

Characters – We have plenty of characters in this film, Turkish is our narrator telling us everything going on, he is a boxing promotor that gets himself in the bad books of the head gangster in the city. Mickey O’Neil is a gypsy that just so happens to be an amateur boxer that ruins the plans of Turkish. Brick Top is the gangster running the city, he keeps everyone in fear and promises to feed anyone that crosses him to his pigs.

PerformancesJason Statham broke out with this role, he had done a couple of supporting roles, but this made him the star we know he is today. Brad Pitt gives us a performance we didn’t see coming from him as he showed us he can bring us a supporting role that wants to break away from the Hollywood main stream. Alan Ford seems to enjoy playing the villainous gangster role too not holding back in anyway.

StoryThe story follows the many different members of the crime world on a serious of miss-adventures during a week long time, this takes us through robbers, thieves, gypsy and gamblers that are all trying to pull something off as things are unfolding. I will say at times it does feel like one too many things are going on, but they do all come full circle by the end of the film. as for gangster style movies this story is one of the more enjoyable without taking itself too seriously.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy comes from things that do go wrong for the characters, with the dog having a squeaky toy instead of a bark is funny. The crime side of the film comes from every character that is from different places in the crime world.

SettingsThe settings keep us seeing everything coming from the different locations you would expect to see gangster films to take place.


Scene of the Movie –
The dog and the toy.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is one too many stories to keep up with at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good gangster film that doesn’t want to take itself too seriously, which helps bring the colourful characters to life.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

Edward Norton Weekend – Fight Club (1999)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Jim Uhls (Screenplay) Chuck Palahniuk (Novel)

Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Meat Loaf, Helena Bonham Carter, Jared Leto, Zach Grenier, Richmond Arquette

 

Plot: An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soapmaker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.


Tagline – How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?

Runtime: 2 Hours 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Modern Classic

 

Story: Fight Club starts as we meet the insomniac known only as the Narrator (Norton) an office worker that starts crashing support groups to help him feel which brings his back his ability to sleep. Here he meets Robert Paulsen (Meatloaf) who is suffering from cancer before learning Marla Singer (Carter) is also treating the supporting group as a cure for her own problems.

This puts Narrator in a position of needing to find something new and here he meets soap salesman Tyler Durden (Pitt) and between them they start a secret underground fight club. As the club gains a following it starts to branch out and the Narrator finds himself in the middle of a much more dangerous world.

 

Thoughts on Fight Club

 

Characters – The Narrator starts his story at the end explaining how his own struggles with insomnia starts turning him into a support group junkie and co-founder of the Fight Club, the more involved in the fighting world he gets the bolder his moves become as he comes out of his shell. Tyler Durden is the outgoing soap salesman, full of confidence and knowledge that starts the Fight Club with the narrator. Bob is one of the men that the Narrator meets at one of the support groups and once he joins the fight club it gives him the new lease on life. Marla is the woman that the Narrator meets doing the same thing as him, crashing the support groups, she is struggling too and sees the escape with the Narrator and Tyler.

PerformancesEdward Norton continued to make his big impact on Hollywood in the mid to late 90s, he shines once again in this role which is one of the memorable leading roles. Brad Pitt is fantastic too, the performance he gives us shows just how twisted the character is and the confidence he shows makes him stand out in every scene. Helena Bonham Carter is great in her role as are the men in the fight club.

StoryThe story follows one man who is bored of everyday life and struggles to get through everyday life, he uses support groups for help before befriending a stranger who wants to help start a new revolution against the system with a Fight Club. This is a story that has the major twist in the final act which surprised the audience at the time and gives us something to look out for in repeat viewing. This shows us how difficult processing everyday life can be for certain people and shows us how they try to cope with extremes moments coming from his mind.

SettingsThe film shows us just where the Narrator goes from his quiet simple life to his much more darker one where the secret fight clubs take place in, the locations show us his descent into madness.


Scene of the Movie –
The Narrators true identity.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is a tad long.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the modern classic movies out there, it has such a big reputation that it deserves if only the twist hadn’t been revealed so often because the first viewing for anyone will not be enjoyed as much if you know the twist.

 

Overall: Modern Classic Filled with Brutality.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – S – Spy Game (2001)

Director: Tony Scott

Writer: Michael Frost Beckner, David Arata (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane, Larry Bryggman

 

Plot: Retiring CIA agent Nathan Muir recalls his training of Tom Bishop while working against agency politics to free him from his Chinese captors.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Spin on the Thriller

 

Story: Spy Game starts as CIA spy Tom Bishop (Pitt) gets captured in China on his latest mission, back home America is panicking with his retiring former handler Nathan Muir (Redford) bought into the fold to learn about his character.

Nathan finds himself being interviewed to understand the mentality Tom has, which leads to flashbacks as we learn about how Tom was recruited and his ability to make new assets as we go through the cases he worked on with Nathan. This all goes into the race against time to make the decision on whether to trade or leave Tom to rot in Chinese jail.

 

Thoughts on Spy Game

 

Characters/PerformanceNathan Muir has worked a decorated career for the CIA handling spies searching for assets around the world. He is about to retire but his last day he must do everything to save one of his best recruits Tom Bishop. Tom Bishop is the spy that has been captured on his latest mission, we learn through the film just how skied his ability as a spy was as we also learn his strengths and weaknesses. Elizabeth Hadley has a past with Tom which might be the reason why everything has gone down.

Performance wise, Robert Redford and Brad Pitt are both great throughout showing us just how the two can play the mentor student kind of relationship through the film.

StoryLooking at the story we get to see how a mentor in the CIA must recount his relationship with one of his best student turned spy, this gives us a nice mix between training even when Tom is experienced in the field and seeing how Nathan is looking back at his career. We also have enough spy material to keep us on edge throughout.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe action in this film is very calm, it is the thrilling side of everything that keeps us on the edge of our seats as we are left to wonder if there is a crime going on or not.

SettingsThe settings show us just how the world of spies can be left open to anything and everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that keeps us on edge through the whole film with great performance from Redford through the film.

 

Overall: One for the thriller fans to enjoy.

Rating