ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – J – Julie & Julia (2009)

Director: Nora Ephron

Writer: Nora Ephron (Screenplay) Julie Powell, Julia Child, Alex Prud’homme (Book)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond, Helen Carey, Mary Lynn Rajskub

 

Plot: Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book.


Tagline – Passion. Ambition. Butter. Do You Have What It Takes?

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Inspirational and Sweet

 

Story: Julie & Julia starts as we follow Julia Child (Streep) and her husband Paul (Tucci) starting to find her place in the world in France, where she finds a new passion for cooking, meanwhile in 2002 Julie Powell (Adams) moves to Queens with her husband Eric (Messina) who is getting tired of her everyday life, decides to start a blog, challenging herself to cook all the recipes in Julia’s cook book within a year.

The two stories run next to each other with Julia studying cooking before getting a chance to teach and write the book that Julie is working from, while Julie starts to see a spike in interest for her blog, with people wanting to see just how far she gets into her challenge.

 

Thoughts on Julie & Julia

 

Characters – Julia Child is one of the most famous chefs from the 1950 and beyond, here we get to see how being a bored housewife that turned to cooking to keep her entertained, first studying it before writing the book that saw her take years to write with her co-workers. We only follow her time getting to the position of getting the book published. Julie Powell believed she had a bright future, now turning 30 she is stuck in a cubical job feeling out of place in life. Deciding to set herself a challenge, she wants to prepare every recipes in Julia Child’s book within a year. Julie does see the success of her blog skyrocket with people wanting to see how she experiences the dishes through the year. Paul Child and Eric Powell are the supportive husbands of both the women, they both let them get on with their projects, stepping in only when they are feeling down about moments in life.

PerformancesMeryl Streep and Amy Adams are both truly fantastic in their roles, they bring both real people to life by making both their characters filled with life in different generations. Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina both manage the supporting roles with ease, helping the two leads hold the spotlight, but stepping in when they need their characters to make impacts in the lives.

StoryThe story here follows the early days in the cooking world for Julia Child as she starts to use her hobby to bring a new joy to her life, we also follow a small time blogger looking for a challenge, using the book to make a name for herself in the world as a cook that enjoys the challenge. The story manages to balance the two ladies challenges to make an impact, with Julia Child needing to go against traditions of male chef to get her book released, while Julie wants to prove she can complete something in her life. The tone of the story is told in a way that keep everything feeling calm and enjoyable and seeing what both the women achieve is a delight to see.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic side of the film shows two different sides of the lady’s lives, seeing how they both had to overcome their own problems to achieve the challenge. The romance shows us just how the two women turned to their husbands to keep them strong.

SettingsThe film uses two main locations, one was Paris with Julia seeing how a new vision for cooking, while Julie is stuck in a small apartment, which does show us just the book could be achieved by anybody whatever size their kitchen.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chapter of the blog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not a thing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightful story about two women that used their passion for cooking to tell and bring new their stories to the people of the world.

 

Overall: Delightful

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – L – Live by Night (2016)

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck (Screenplay) Dennis Lehane (Novel)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Remo Girone, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Chris Messina

 

Plot: A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.


Tagline – The American Dream has a price

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long & Complex

 

Story: Live by Night starts as we meet Joe Coughlin (Affleck) a former soldier in World War I, who returned to Boston to live the life of crime as an outlaw. When Joe gets blackmailed into killing his boss or risk having his boss learn about his secret affair with his girlfriend Emma (Miller) he finds himself in the middle of a battle he didn’t want a part of.

After the secret is revelled Joe is left for dead blamed for killing cops, after 3 years in jail he gets sent to Florida to track down Albert White, to stop his business and kill him for the new gangster running things in Boston.

With his being a success Joe ends up clashing with the Klux Klan while trying to continue to watch the money roll in to his bosses and even himself.

 

Thoughts on Live by Night

 

Characters – Joe Coughlin is our narrator our gangster, well reluctant gangster, forced into the world after his life as an outlaw gets him mixed up with the wrong people. We learn he is fantastic at handling himself in the meeting striking a deal and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The other characters seem to just be in chapters of his life, Emma is in Boston being a love interest, while Graciela business partner and lover in Florida. Chief Figgis is the man that will let Joe conduct business and to be honest we don’t get to learn enough about them to care about.

PerformancesBen Affleck is the only lead performer in this movie, he is fine through the film, he doesn’t reach the levels we know he can. When you dive into the supporting cast we get a host of known names and even unknowns who get the same amount of time that are solid without anyone standing out.

StoryThe story follows Joe Coughlin as he starts out as a thief and becomes a gangster, this should work and I would have been fine with this, the problems build up as we see how many different situations Joe must solve to get the next chapter of the story through, because we don’t get enough time to see the problems he must overcome and everything just becomes glimpses into the gangster life without doing anything new.

Action/CrimeWe have plenty of shooting going on, though the final one does feel like a level of Grand Theft Auto. This does from us into a gangster heavy crime world where the prohibition is ongoing through America.

SettingsThe settings place us in the prohibition era America, be it Boston or Florida nothing does seem out of place with these locations.


Scene of the Movie –
Final shoot-out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not giving us the time to know the supporting characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a messy gangster film, it has the moments of potential but in the end just jumps too fast to grab us to care about certain moments which do seem to have a bigger impact on the story.

 

Overall: Disappointing, ending Affleck’s streak behind the camera.

Rating

 

 

ABC Challenge – Comedy – O – Ordinary World (2016)

Director: Lee Kirk

Writer: Le Kirk (Screenplay)

Starring: Billie Joe Armstrong, Fred Armisen, Judy Greer, Selma Blaire, Chris Messina, Brian Baumgartner

 

Plot: An aging punk rocker copes with life after rock.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable

 

Story: Ordinary World starts as we follow former punk rocker Perry (Armstrong) who is now married to Karen (Blair) with two children with eldest Salome (Shipman) about to be involved in a talent contest at school. He now has a 9-5 type of job while his wife is a high life lawyer and today is his 40th birthday.

Perry is struggling through, missing his music and lacking the concentration in life, being late for work, forgetting appointments and not enjoying his life, as he goes through his own mid-life crisis. This changes when he decides to have a party with his former band mates and must learn to accept the next stage of his life.

 

Thoughts on Ordinary World

 

Characters – Perry was once a punk rocker but he settled down starting a family, but not everything is where he wants his life now. He has a mid-life crisis where he must learn about his life and where it will go next. Karen is Perry’s wife that is a lawyer that brings in the larger amount of the income, but puts up with his distraction mind. Christy is the former flame of Perry’s in his band days, she happens to walk into his life the same time as his mid-life crisis offering him a chance he never got in his music dream.

PerformancesBillie Joe Armstrong is good in this leading role as we see him reflect what you could see as an aging musician questioning his place. Blair and Greer are both good in the supporting roles as is the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story shows a mid-life crisis from a rocker point of view, it does follow how one day things go in a different way to how he would imagine which is by the books but it works so why change it. The idea of seeing how he is supported by the loved ones is refreshing as he would usually have a bigger freak out but for a feel good mid-life crisis film this hits the marks.

Comedy/MusicThe comedy is light through the film as we see how things are going wrong for Perry with the music moments letting Billie Joe show off his skills and true talent.

SettingsThe film is set in New York which shows us the different location the family wold be in as well as the big city.


Scene of the Movie –
Talent Show.

That Moment That Annoyed Me You feel certain characters might get mad at some point in this movie.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good feel good movie, it has good music and shows how hard it is to let your dreams go.

 

Overall: Enjoyable comedy drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – M – Made of Honour (2008)

Director: Paul Weiland

Writer: Adam Sztykiel, Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont (Screenplay) Adam Sztykiel (Story)

Starring: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Kadeem Hardison, Chris Messina, Richmond Arquette, Busy Philipps

 

Plot: A guy in love with an engaged woman tries to win her over after she asks him to be her maid of honor.


Tagline – He’ll do anything to get the groom out of the picture.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Romantic Comedy

 

Story: Made of Honour starts as we learn how Tom (Dempsey) and Hannah (Monaghan) met in college, the two become best friends over the next 10 years, sharing their stories of their weeks, both professional and personal moments.

When Hannah travels for work, Tom realizes that he does have feelings for her determined to tell her once she returns, when she does return she breaks the news that she met someone Colin (McKidd) and they are getting married, wanting Tom to be her maid of honour.  Tom now knows the limit to tell Hannah how he feels about her and get rid of Colin.

 

Thoughts on Made of Honour

 

Characters – Tom is a serial womaniser whose best friend is a woman he never hooked up, he has a friendship with her that transcends any form of physical, but when he learns she is getting married he starts to realize he needs to be with her and will go out of his way to show her how he feels. Hannah is the best friend of Tom, she doesn’t care about his behaviour with how he treats women, an art specialist that falls in love while on a trip to Scotland. She asked Tom to be her maid of honour as she plans for her dream. Colin is the Scotsman that Hannah falls in love with, part of the high society in Scotland that seems like the perfect man at first.  

PerformancesPatrick Dempsey was a great choice for the leading role, he has the charm needed for this role. Michelle Monaghan is a good choice for a romantic lead because she always gives us a genuine performance of a real woman. Kevin McKidd makes for a good supporting man that gets the laughs when needed through the film.

StoryThe story here follows two best friends that have never been more than friends getting to a stage of their lives when things take a turn, so When Harry Met Sally. While this does do for the film it can take away moments of needed for the film, we have strange character decisions being made and an overly drastic decision to get married. If you do like your rom coms you will enjoy this one, it follows the rules well, but I didn’t get the sudden change in Tom’s character though.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in this film hits for the most part, we get good laughs even if we don’t get a laugh a minute, the romance side of the film shows us just how you could be missing something that is right under your nose.

SettingsThe film gives us the New York setting which is an old favourite for the romantic movies while also have parts of the film in Scotland which show us the different culture the two are in.


Scene of the Movie –
The Highland Games.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How America portrays Scotland.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that will be enjoyed by the rom com fans out there, they will enjoy what they see through this film.

 

Overall: Rom com fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Ruby Sparks (2012)

posterDirector: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Writer: Zoe Kazan (Screenplay)

Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Aasif Mandvi, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould

 

Story: When writer Calvin Weir-Fields (Dano) who’s first book is considered a classic he just can’t find a way to get inspiration for his next novel.  One dream starts his mind working on something that could change his life forever. Ruby Sparks (Kazan) Calvin starts writing about a love story between him and her only what is real and what has he just made up?

 

Verdict:

 

Comedy: Some light hearted funny moments work nicely (8/10)

Romance: Good love story filled with everything that could go well or badly (9/10)

Suggestion: I would say that all fans of the romantic drama comedy genre would like this film it shows a different story of love and life. (9/10)

 

Star Performance Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan

Favourite Character Calvin

 

Best Part: The whole story is just great really should be watched

 

Similar Too: Stranger Than Fiction, 500 Days of Summer

 

Overall: This was really a special film yet again Paul Dano shines in a small romantic comedy drama and Zoe Kazan as well as writing this has a wonderful job a Ruby going through all the emotions of a relationship. This will give you a chance to think about what you could do with Calvin’s ability and whether you could change someone to be moulded into the person you want them to be. Scotty Calvin’s dog is also quite the little scene stealer always popping up when he most needs his trusted companion. After watching this I am left wondering why this films don’t get more success at the cinema as the story is one people will have related to but never had a chance to do anything about.

Rating 95%