Samuel L Jackson Weekend – Black Snake Moan (2006)

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer (Screenplay)

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S Epatha Merkerson, John Cothran, David Banner

 

Plot: A God-fearing bluesman takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it.


Tagline – To save his soul he must save hers.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Redemption Story

 

Story: Black Snake Moan starts as we see how God-fearing Lazarus (Jackson) who has his own problems with his family, he does always look after people who help him knowing the struggle they are going through and the support hard work deserves. Rae sees her boyfriend Ronnie (Timberlake) has gone to war and with her reputation around town of being a party animal that enjoys drugs, drink and sex with anyone until one night she gets left beaten on the side of the road.

Lazarus finds her and takes her back to his house to help clean her up only for Rae to make things a lot more difficult than he first thought they would be, can he help her even if he is keeping her captured in his own home.

 

Thoughts on Black Snake Moan

 

Characters – Lazarus is the local God-fearing man, he has always been good to the people that help him around town, while having issues with he family. He wants to help Rae get back on the right path and end her destructive ways. Rae is the party animal, hooked on drugs, drink and sex with anyone and seemingly everyone. She is left for dead on the side of the road after a sexual assault, where she is rescued by Lazarus who tries to help her, she must learn to clean herself up to realise her own worth in the world. Ronnie is her boyfriend of Rae, he went to war leaving her behind and couldn’t make it there.

PerformancesSamuel L Jackson is wonderful in the leading role of this film, we can believe his characters struggles with and without his alcohol problems. Christina Ricci shows us just how she has transformed herself from the child star we knew to the grown woman with a risqué and brave role with the extra sexuality bought onto her character. Justin Timberlake is fine without being overly used in the film as we focus on the two main stars.

StoryThe story here follows an unlikely man helping an unlikely young lady that is on a path of destruction, both from the same background, though from different sides of the tracks, both are in need of saving in their own way and spending the time together they learn the lessons in life they have been searching for. The story does show us how two people who are on the last legs with the rest of the world giving up on them can fall into each other’s lives without needing a relationship just friendship to put their lives back on track.

SettingsThe film is set in the deep south where you can still see the divide between the white and black families, while we don’t see the racial hate between the two either. This shows the struggle both are having with lives in a dead end feeling town.


Scene of the Movie –
Performing live.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We learn snippets of the past, but not enough to make us truly understand the motives in the younger life.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good redemption story that shows the struggle of small town America, how two different people can come together to help each other through their struggles and showing the right path can come from an unlikely source.

 

Overall: Redemption is what we want to see.

Rating

 

 

Buffalo ’66 (1998)

Director: Vincent Gallo

Writer: Vincent Gallo, Alison Bagnall (Screenplay)

Starring: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Ben Gazzara, Mickey Rourke, Rosanna Arquette, Jan-Michael Vincent, Anjelica Huston

 

Plot: After being released from prison, Billy is set to visit his parents with his wife, whom he does not actually have. This provokes Billy to act out, as he kidnaps a girl and forces her to act as his wife for the visit.


Tagline – Billy Brown just got out of jail. Now he’s going to serve some real time. He’s going home.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull

 

Story: Buffalo 66 starts when Billy Brown (Gallo) is released from prison, his parents never know that he has been to prison, he heads to town where he ends up kidnapping Layla (Ricci) forcing her to pretend to be his wife when he visits his parents.

As the two are spending more time together, we learn why Billy is acting this way, why he was in prison and just what his plan is now he is out of jail.

 

Thoughts on Buffalo 66

 

Characters – Billy Brown has just been released from prison, he has had his own problems which led to him being in prison and it isn’t long before he goes to the extremes to impress his family. He is painted as an aggressive man that believes that woman are just objects and has built his world in lies. Layla is the tap dancer that gets kidnapped, she starts to play along with what Billy wants and even enjoy his company the more time they spend together. Jimmy and Jan are his parents that have both been either distracted or strict in raising Billy, as he wants to impress them now. The Bookie is the man that put Billy in jail as a result of the debts he owed him, he gave him a choice with jail being the only one that didn’t hurt anyone.

PerformancesVincent Gallo doesn’t bring us a very interesting character, it isn’t written well or directed to make us interested in him, he just can’t make this character work. Christina Ricci was trying to break out of the child star roles by now, this is different to what we had seen before, though she does look bored through the film. the rest of the cast struggle too, it is just poorly written to give the actors a chance.

StoryThe story follows a gambler that had paid the price for his addiction and now is free, he wants revenge only he spends the time with his kidnap victim as we get to see the difficult life he has had which led him to the life of crime. Well I think that is what we are meant to be seeing, the story does drag along at an awfully slow pace with nothing much happening, trying to make us believe the two could be falling in love, though he is abusive with his actions and spends more time running around looking for a toilet than showing any sort of emotion.

Comedy/Crime/RomanceIf this is meant to be a comedy, the jokes miss big time as you will struggle to get a laugh out of this film, while the crime only seems to focus on the kidnapping, which she could have escaped from with ease plenty of times, so that never feels like a threat, the romance just feels awkward for the most part of the film because there is zero chemistry between the two.

SettingsThe film is set in the Buffalo area, which is meant to be about the passion of the locals, it could easily be any town with a big American football team.


Scene of the Movie –
The first look at the dinner table makes it a clever shot, until it gets boring.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We spend more time looking for a toilet.

Final ThoughtsThis is just a dreadfully dull movie that has no direction in anyway, it fails to capture any attention from the audience with a truly unlikeable main character.

 

Overall: Dreadfully boring.

Rating

 

 

Tim Burton Weekend – Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Kevin Yagher, Andrew Kevin Walker (Screenplay) Washington Irving (Story)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Michael Gough, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee

 

Plot: Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.


Tagline – Who will it come for next?!

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Fantasy Horror

 

Story: Sleepy Hollow starts in 1799 when forward thinking constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) is set from New York City to the small farming community of Sleepy Hollow, where a series of murders have been happening by a headless horseman, who takes the heads of his victims.

Requested by Baltus Van Tassel (Gambon), Ichabod gets to use his forward-thinking ideas to investigate the crimes and learn about the town’s people with their strong male hierocracy that controls business, until he teams up with Baltus daughter Katrina (Ricci) to unlock the truth about the legend of the headless horseman.

 

Thoughts on Sleepy Hollow

 

Characters – Ichabod Crane is a constable who wants to start using the science to solve crimes instead of the torture techniques being adopted for the time. He becomes the fish out of water in the farming community trying to solve a crime that is surrounded by supernatural, he must use his skills to solve who is behind the supernatural events, using his quirky ways. Katrina is the daughter of the Van Tassel’s who is looking for husband, she takes a liking towards Ichabod and helps learn the truth. Hessian Horseman is the legend that slaughtered many before being defeated and beheaded, now he has risen from the dead to take the heads of the community. Lady Van Tassel is the wife of Baltus, she has a secret from him and for the most part enjoys the new life she is living. Baltus is the man that called for Ichabod to help solve the murders, he is one of the few that will stand up for Ichabod to get the truth. We do get plenty of different town’s people to meet that fill the gaps to help us understand the hierarchy of the community.

PerformancesJohnny Depp was truly making his name at time of this release and we knew he was capable of the quirky, this shows him balance the act perfectly in one of his more underrated roles. Christina Ricci is good, though she doesn’t seem to need to do more than be the damsel in distress. Miranda Richardson does a good job n her role showing her experience of how to handle the period piece films. Christopher Walken does give us a delightful dark character though I do know he doesn’t do a lot of the headless scenes in the film. if you look at the rest of the cast we have some of the great British actors mixed with Casper Van Dien who at the time was hot property after Starship Troopers.

StoryThe story is based on the legend of the headless horseman, which in its own right is an interesting fantasy horror. We keep to the time where science was first trying to get pushed in the crime world and still looked down upon, we also get the idea that science is meant to solve crime until the supernatural is thrown into the mix throwing everything out the window. The story does give us a serial killer to try and see stopped which can keep the detectives in the audience happy and the pace things unfold give us enough time for the twists to have effect in the story.

Fantasy/Horror/MysteryThe fantasy side of the film comes from the horseman coming back from the dead to take the heads of the community. This does play into the horror elements of the film too because we see how the community become scared of whether they will be next, this does also give us the blood and the creepy atmosphere before his arrival. The mystery gives us the questions about who is behind the horseman and his return, this does give us twists along the way too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to the best levels as we get to see the excellent built sets to make us feel like we are in 1799 farming community.

Special EffectsThe effects use mostly excellent practical effects with the lost heads, the CGI moments do work well too when used mostly with the re-creation of the horseman from the skeleton to human again.


Scene of the Movie –
Horseman vs Ichabod & Brom, excellent fight sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The science does get forgotten in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun fantasy horror that gives us an iconic killer with a crime to solve around why he has targeted the farming community.

 

Overall: Fun horror with Burton’s token quirks.

Rating

 

 

Distorted (2018)

Director: Rob W King

Writer: Arne Olsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Christina Ricci, John Cusack, Brendan Fletcher, Vicellous Shannon, Nicole Anthony, Oliver Rice

 

Plot: A 32-year-old woman suffering from bipolar disorder comes to suspect the proprietor of the state-of-the-art ”smart apartment” she and her husband just moved into is using the building’s residents as unwitting guinea pigs for a ”synthetic telepathy” brainwashing plot with dire global ramifications.


Tagline – Don’t fear the lies. Fear the truth.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Confusing

 

Story: Distorted starts as married couple Lauren (Ricci) and Russell (Fletcher) move into a new state of the art apartment, with increased security to help give Lauren a better state of mind. With the apartment full of fellow successful people, Lauren sees her husband working giving her time to focus on finding inspiration to return to her artistic ways.

When Lauren starts to believe she is hearing things around the apartment, she starts to investigate believing that the apartment is part of an experiment which is also making it difficult for her to befriend anyone else in the apartment, but it could also be her bipolar disorder effecting her mind, though a meeting with a hacker Vernon Sarsfield (Cusack) could offer some answers.

 

Thoughts on Distorted

 

Characters – Lauren Curran is a sufferer of bipolar disorder and her own personal tragedy, she has spent time in a hospital and is now getting ready to return to her normal artistic life. In her new apartment she starts to believe she is part of an experiment and must learn the truth before becoming part of the experiment. Russell is her husband that is reluctantly supporting him even though he believes she is going off the wagon again, his character is mostly us wondering which side he is on. Vernon Sarsfield is a hacker that knows what is being used in the building technology and how to get around it, he helps Lauren along the way as he wants to bring the system down. When we look at the rest of the residents we go through the motions of who we are focusing on as they fill the generic fillers in the roles in the apartment.

PerformancesChristina Ricci is our leading lady in this film and she is good for the most part, it must have been hard to react to certain flashing images moments. John Cusack is solid enough his character is meant to be withdrawn from the rest and he keeps that in his performance. The rest of the performances are average throughout no one gets the chance shine over Ricci.

StoryThe story follows a couple that move into a new apartment after their own personal tragedy. It follows the wife who is suffering with her own mental disorders who starts to believe the apartment is being used for something very different. This story focuses on the idea of conspiracies which could be very interesting, but the suspense in the story never comes to light early enough and just ends up going into technical terms, rather than showing us what could be going on in the bigger picture. It does sometimes feel like they just throw her bipolar disorder in for the sake of it too. The story also turns to flashing images to try and show the confusions in Lauren’s mind.

Action/MysteryThere is action sequences, though it is soft to watch and never brings you to the edge of your seat. The mystery is around what is going on and what has Lauren uncovered or is it in her head.

SettingsThe locations used mostly keep us in the new apartment and the strange events going on within it, when we leave we feel like we are getting involved in the conspiracy side of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are a weakness in this film because most of the time we just resort to flashing images to show what is happening to Lauren.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act is the most interesting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The flashing images just get annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard action mystery that tries to give us the old conspiracy idea only for it to rely on flashing images to get tell us what is going on.

 

Overall: Standard action mystery film.

Rating

 

 

The Addams Family (1991)

addamDirector: Barry Sonnenfeld

Writer: Caroline Thompson, Larry Wilson (Screenplay) Charles Addams (Characters)

Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, Elizabeth Wilson, Judith Malina, Carel Struycken, Dana Ivey, Paul Benedict, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman

 

Plot: Con artists plan to fleece an eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Family Comedy

 

Story: The Addams Family starts as we meet the family Morticia (Huston), Gomez (Julia), Lurch (Struycken), Wednesday (Ricci), Pugsley (Workman) and Thing (Hart) who have been trying to contact Uncle Fester after his disppearnce years before. Bring in Tully Alford (Hedaya) and his wife Margaret (Ivey) who want the Addams family fortune.

Tully and Abigail Craven (Wilson) use her son Gordon (Lloyd) to pretend to be Uncle Fester as he enters the house to find his share of the fortune but his adventure are nothing like he would expect as he has to deal with the unusual behaviour of the Addams family. It isn’t long before the family starts to question this Uncle Fester and soon begin to love the strange character even if he isn’t the man they thought he was.

The Addams Family is one of the true classic family comedy fantasy film that shows just how different we can see each person in our own family to be different. The interactions between the family are all twisted in a loving way where we could see others question while the interaction with the people outside the family all come off slightly awkward which sums up the family perfectly.

The con-artist side of the story comes off nicely as we can see how naïve a family can be but even with love people can change. The performances are all great with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston have perfect chemistry as the father and mother of the family. The rest of the cast all give great performances that you can believe from start to finish with the uniqueness given to each character.

 

Overall: Underrated classic that hits on all of the unique style needed to make it truly stand out.

Ratingcard