Nicholas Hoult Weekend – Dark Places (2015)

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Writer: Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Screenplay) Gillian Flynn (Novel)

Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Andrea Roth, Chloe Grace Moretz

 

Plot: Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.


Tagline – In 1985, her entire family was murdered. 30 years later, the truth emerges.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Dark Places starts as we meet Libby Day (Theron) one of the daughters that became somewhat of a celebrity after her family’s murder when she was 8, with the support funds running low, she accepts an offer from Lyle Wirth (Hoult) a member of a private investigation group that look at crimes and whether they are solved correctly, who want to prove her brother Ben (Stoll) didn’t commit the murders.

As Libby starts to investigate the case, she must face her past and learn about Ben’s past as a teenager as well as her mother Patty (Hendricks) struggle to keep the family together. This will help her confront her past and learn the truth of the events of murder.

 

Thoughts on Dark Places

 

Characters – Libby Day has spent her life trying to escape the fame that followed her after the murder of her family, her light is dwindling as she gets older and now she is forced into learning the truth about what happened in her past, plagued by nightmares we see just how she looks to remember the nightmare events the 8-year-old self-experienced. Lyle Wirth is the leader of a group that are investigating the night of the murder privately, however he comes of nervous about trying to figure out the truth even with his own theory. Patty Day is the mother and victim of the murder, we see her in the flashbacks are she tried everything she could to keep a roof over the children’s heads. We meet characters from the past and present version of the stories, as we flashback and forth learning more about the events from these characters.

PerformancesCharlize Theron is the star of this film, we get to see the withdrawn from the world character that wants to hide from her past and how she has accepted the outcome of the case, we see the range in how she deals with the problems she is facing in everyday life. Nicholas Hoult like most of the supporting performers are fine without being anything standout.

StoryThe story here follows one of the survivors of a family murder facing her past to learn the shocking truth about the events of the deadly night to which her brother was convicted of. The story adopts a mixture of flashbacks and forwards to show us just how different parts of the story played out, each clue brings the next tale in the story. The story does try to keep us guessing about who was responsible for the murders, it gives us plenty of suspects along the way and shows us just how a young girl would struggle to have grown into a mid-30s woman still lost in the world. this is from the same author as Gone Girl, and if you were to compare the two, this is easily the weaker of the stories.

Action/MysteryThe film has moments of action, but doesn’t turn to it that often as we wait to see how the murder really unfolded. The mystery is the highlight of the film because of how it keeps us wondering to just what really happened.

SettingsThe settings show us the struggles that the family would have had during the events leading up to the murder, when we are in the modern time we see the faceless city of Kansas which could have been any city really.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well when needed, with most happening off screen we see the aftermath of the events.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do seem to spend too much time watching seemingly pointless moments of the back story and one aspect with Ben doesn’t seem to get answered enough.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that does keep you guessing, but never draws you in enough, it has a strong cast of talented names and by the end you will b shocked even if the narrative does spiral down some dead ends at times.

 

Overall: Off-track thriller

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – Y – The Yards (2000)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Matt Reeves (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, James Caan, Ellen Burstyn, Faye Dunaway, Steve Lawrence

 

Plot: In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city’s subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he finds his aunt married to Frank Olchin, one of the big contractors; he’s battling with a minority-owned firm for contracts. Willie Gutierrez, Leo’s best friend, is Frank’s bag man and heads a crew of midnight saboteurs who ruin the work of the Puerto Rican-owned firm. Leo needs a job, so Willie pays him to be his back-up. Then things go badly wrong one night, a cop IDs Leo, and everyone now wants him out of the picture. Besides his ailing mom and his cousin Erica, to whom can Leo turn?


Tagline – He’s the target of the most merciless family in New York. His own

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: By the Books

 

Story: The Yards starts when Leo (Wahlberg) gets released from prison, needing to lock down a job his Aunt Kitty (Dunaway) sets him up with her husband Frank Olchin (Caan) who runs a railway construction company in Queens. Without the skills set, he can’t be given a job, but his bag man Willie (Phoenix) who is also Leo’s best friend recruits him to do the dirty work for the company.

When a job goes wrong Willie and Leo both commit an act of violence, only Leo can be identified, he must go on the run while finding everybody trying to hunt him down, trying to expose the truth before it is too late, with only is mother Val (Burstyn) and cousin Erica (Theron) to trust.

 

Thoughts on The Yards

 

Characters – Leo is an ex-con that is released from prison, he best friend and Uncle offer him two different jobs, one he isn’t qualified for and one would mean working against the law. He finds himself on the wrong side of the law after a job goes wrong needing to do anything he can to clear his name, while being considered the most wanted man in Queens. Willie is the best friend of Leo, he has made a career being the bag man for Frank which will see him complete the deals to make the business succeed. He ends up leading Leo down the wrong path, when it is him that makes the biggest mistake. Erica is the cousin of Leo and girlfriend to Willie, she is completing her education and gets caught between who to remain loyal towards. Frank runs the corrupt railway construction company that has nearly every political figure in his back pocket. He keeps himself looking clean, letting his men do the dirty work, leading to him being forced into a difficult decision. Val is the mother of Leo that has always tried to give him everything he could give him in life, left to suffer when he gets blamed for the crimes.

PerformancesMark Wahlberg is strong in the leading role, he gives us a performance that shows his regret, confusion and worries about the future he is meant to have once out of prison. Joaquin Phoenix brings us a performance which shows us just how he can make us hate a character. Charlize Theron in the supporting role shows us everything she needs to without getting the same spotlight as the rest of the cast, while James Caan works in the corrupt businessman role with ease. The rest of the cast are solid without doing anything outside the comfort zones.

StoryThe story here takes us into the world of corruption within the Queens railway service construction company that pays off to get jobs after doing their own dirty work to make others look worse, we follow one ex-con being placed into this world who sees the bad only to become the prime suspect in the investigation of a murder. The story does try to keep us guessing to what will happen and who Leo could trust only for it to become to run of mill in the genre to make it new or original. It might be loosely based on a real case, it however doesn’t offer enough to make things feel like we could see too much going on, rather than focusing on the cover up itself.

Crime/RomanceThe crime world we enter is the political corruption of construction which shows us how quickly people can turn on each other without doubt. The romance side of this story takes a back burner which is here to show how difficult of a position Erica is put into.

SettingsThe film is set in Queen which shows us how the community will come together to work together or turn on somebody.


Scene of the Movie –
The incident.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story is overly generic.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting crime story that does everything by the book without doing anything overly special.

 

Overall: Simple crime film.

Rating

 

 

That Thing You Do! (1996)

Director: Tom Hanks

Writer: Tom Hanks (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Steve Zahn, Johnathon Schaech, Ethan Embry, Charlize Theron

 

Plot: A local Pennsylvania band scores a one hit wonder in 1964 and rides the star-making machinery as long as they can, with lots of help from its manager.


Tagline – In every life there comes a time when that dream you dream becomes that thing you do.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict:

 

Story: That Thing You Do! Starts in a small town in Pennsylvania in 1964, where four young men Jimmy (Schaech), Guy (Scott), Lenny (Zahn) and the Bass Player (Embry) are trying to make a nae for themselves and when they win a talent contest, the band known as ‘The One-Ders’ grab the attention of the state.

When Mr White (Hanks) discovers the band, he rebrands them ‘The Wonders’ and soon their hit ‘That Thing You Do!’ rises up the charts becoming an overnight sensation.

 

Thoughts on That Thing You Do!

 

Characters – Mr White is the music manager who takes over control of ‘The Wonders’ he knows how to make them bigger than they are and shows them how to go from small crowds to the main attraction to national success, however he makes sure he keeps them doing the song that made them popular over trying to make them do anything new. Jimmy is the lead singer of the band and along with his girlfriend has always tried to make the band their own style, always trying to find a clever snappy name for them. Guy is bought in last minute to become the drummer and soon becomes the man of mystery in the band, the one that pushes them to up the tempo of the band sound. Faye is Jimmy’s girlfriend that has supported the band from day one, she will follow them on tour.

PerformancesTom Hanks is a busy man on this film taking writing and directing too, he is great as the manager trying to make the band the next big thing, he shows he knows this side of the business with the character too. Johnathon Schaech, Tom Everett Scott, Steve Zahn and Ethan Embry as the band are good they have great chemistry together. Liv Tyler is good with her role slowly turning into the background roll in the film.

StoryThe story follows a young band that rise from small-town band to national success with their one hit wonder song that is filled with good feeling. We see how the band can be led down one the path that is best for their quick success over being shown about lasting success in a cut throat 60s music industry, where everyone wanted to become the next Beetles. The story is shown in a pace which shows the band just loving the success that is coming their direction while they have their own issues which must be put aside to keep the band together and we see how they must learn to handle success.

Comedy/MusicThe comedy in the film comes from the supporting cast where Lenny get the laughs with his enthusiasm about the band. The music is mostly the same song being played, but it isn’t one that gets annoying though.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the small humble beginnings the band has to just how big they becomes with each location becoming bigger to mirror their success.


Scene of the Movie –
That Thing You Do! The song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Bass Player not actually having a name.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good example of how bands can have one song which makes them massive only to see them struggle when it comes to trying to make a name for themselves in a new booming industry.

 

Overall: Hanks is just as great behind the camera as he is on front of it.

Rating

 

 

Tommy Lee Jones Weekend – In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Director: Paul Haggis

Writer: Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Mark Boal, Paul Haggis (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Barry Corbin, Josh Brolin

 

Plot: A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.


Tagline – Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried

Runtime: 2 Hour 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Slowly Driven Thriller

 

Story: In the Valley of Elah starts when retired military investigator Hank Deerfield (Jones) receives a phone call informing him his son Mike (Tucker) has gone AWOL which leads him to head to the base to investigate the motives and hopefully find his son before it turns into a criminal case. Hank turns to the local police and detective Emily Sanders (Theron) for help, but derestriction causes the problems.

When Mike’s body is discovered the military want to keep things quiet, but Hank isn’t accepting the answers given to him, working with Emily the two investigate what really happened to Mike and the truth will leave us shocked.

 

Thoughts on In the Valley of Elah

 

Characters – Hank is a retired military investigator, he has lost one son in war and no his second has gone missing, he goes to solve the case using his years of experience to get to the bottom of the case. He is from an older school of military with a determination unlike what people are prepared for. Detective Emily Sanders is used to getting dead end cases, but she does care about the people who are in need of help, she listens to Hank’s ideas and takes lead on the case having to face the truths of not being able to help everybody. Joan is the wife of Hank and mother of Mike, she stays home while Hank tries to solve the case where we learn about the struggles she has faced with dealing with the boys she let go into war.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones shines in this role, he carries the film with a performance that is up there with his very best. Charlize Theron is also strong in the supporting role showing she can step away from glamourous roles with ease. Susan Sarandon is good as the supporting role which we are used to seeing from her. The whole cast is great throughout the film never giving too much away.

StoryThe story starts off as if it was a simple missing persons case, but it soon turns into a murder with conspiracies about what could have happened on that night of his death. we are never driven down one path and the crime takes time to unfold which makes this a fascinating watch as we see things unfold like Hank. The other side of the story remains how parents must deal with losing children who are in the military.

Crime/MysteryThe crime starts as a missing person and soon turns into a murder that needs to be solved with the conspiracies about who could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe settings show us the town next to a military base and how it operates, it keeps everything simple which is what the story calls for.


Scene of the Movie –
Final piece of the puzzle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I didn’t get annoyed by a single moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an amazing crime mystery thriller, it keeps the pace perfect to not give too much away and tackles the idea of the modern horrors of war.

 

Overall: Must watch for crime mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

James McAvoy Weekend – Atomic Blonde (2017)

Director: David Leitch

Writer: Kurt Johnstad (Screenplay) Antony Johnston, Sam Hart (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgard

 

Plot: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.


Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining at Best

 

Story: Atomic Blonde starts with history about the bringing down the Berlin War being different to how would be it would be led to believe, so we follow Lorraine Broughton (Theron) a British spy being debriefed by Eric Gray (Jones) and Emmet Kurzfeld (Goodman) on just what happened with her latest mission.

Lorraine’s mission is to locate and extract Spyglass (Marsan), she must work with local spy David Percival (McAvoy) to get around Berlin as we learn about the web of conspiracies she must take on.

 

Thoughts on Atomic Blonde

 

Characters – Lorraine Broughton is the British spy, drop dead gorgeous and deadly when it comes to combat, she can handle herself in any situation which makes her a deadly weapon looking to bring down the truth in Germany. David Percival is the partner Lorraine and the man in the know in German, he has researched the area but we sense something not quite right about him, much like Lorraine does. Spyglass is the man that is being extracted with the answers that could end the cold war, Emmett and Eric are both the CIA and MI6 agents that are learning just what went wrong on this mission.

PerformancesCharlize Theron is our kick ass lead in the film, she handles herself in combat and looks sexy along the way. James McAvoy continues to show strength in the supporting roles where he must be over the top at times. Goodman and Jones are perfect choices for the office like roles in the film and they are good throughout the film.

StoryThe story follows a special agent going to Berlin to discover who the double agent is while getting the only person with the information out of Berlin but not everything goes to plan as we are thrown into a world a spies and double crossing. By telling us the most part of this film in a report style story takes away the peril our lead is ever in and by having the number of twists we do it sometimes comes off slightly short.

Action/MysteryThe action sequences are the highlight of this film, we have three main one where we see just how exhausting they are one Lorraine. The mystery is here as we wonder just who the double agent it even if things seem clear from the start.

SettingsMost of the film is set in Berlin which fits the time for the setting and the tension is created with the world where people are on edge.

Special EffectsThe effects are good when it comes to the kills and is only used sparing which works for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Single Shot Escape

That Moment That Annoyed Me Time jumping.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good little action film that hits all the marks, it entertains while it does become complicated at times.

 

Overall: Entertaining Action Film

Rating