Marriage Story (2019) Movie Review

Director: Noah Baumbach

Writer: Noah Baumbach (Screenplay)

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Merritt Wever, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Alan Alda

Plot: Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Powerful

Story: Marriage Story starts as we meet theatre director Charlie (Driver) and his wife actress Nicole (Johansson) they are about to go through a separation, with Nicole starting a new life in LA where she is trying to return to the television or film, moving away from the New York theatre lifestyle.

With the lives going on completely different directions, Nicole is pushed into getting a lawyer in Nora Fanshaw (Dern) which sees the two looking at a divorce, something neither thought would come their way, where they end up seeing the darker side of a break up even if they want to remain friends for their son.

Thoughts on Marriage Story

Characters – Nicole is an actress, mother and wife, she is given a chance to leave the theatre and return to television, while the couple are going through a separation and her moving to LA. She has given up a lot of her dreams for her marriage in the past, which is one of the reasons why she wants to get a divorce. Charlie is the theatre director, father and husband in New York, he wants to stay in New York running his theatre company. He is more stubborn that he wants to admit. Nora Fanshaw and Jay are both the lawyers hired to represent the divorcing couple, they show their ruthless sides whenever the two are trying to get the upper hand.

PerformancesAdam Driver gives us one of the best performances of the year, where he shows one that suddenly sees his whole life come crashing around him, showing the signs of his anger of everything happening. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic too where we see how she is escaping from a trapped life showing her character start a new life. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta are both great in the supporting roles usually getting the bigger and louder scenes.

StoryThe story here follows a couple that are going through a separation that turns into a messy divorce as they expose the problems, they both had through the years. The best way to describe this story is brilliant, when we break it down, it shows how relationships can break down and how two people want to end things calmly and for the right reasons, remaining friends for their son. It shows us how things can get out of hand when lawyers get involved and how everybody seems to know best apart from the two who are going through the breakup. We see how lives can change, people can move on and how holding on can be heart breaking. It is watching how both Nicole and Charlie are reacting to how everything is spirally out of hand which is easy for the highlight of the storytelling.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film is brilliant, it does get a perfectly laugh when needed, while staying straight when it doesn’t, the romance does show us how love can go from the heights to the end.

SettingsThe film uses the two main settings of cities, New York and LA, the locations are used to show how the lives will need to be changed, not just for Nicole and Charlie, but their son too.

Scene of the Movie – Let’s try and talk this through without a lawyer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The timeline isn’t the best.

Final Thoughts This is easily one of the best films of the year, it shows us how love can end and how a divorce can spirally out of control, the two lead performances are easily within the best of the year too.

Overall: Awards Guaranteed.

Reality Queen! (2019) Movie Review

Director: Steven Jay Bernheim

Writer: Steven Jay Bernheim, Schuyler Brumley, Chris Cobb, Gabby Gruen, Greg Lindasy, Allan Murray, John-Paul Panelli, Chandler Patton (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Faye West, Denise Richards, Mike Tyson, Kate Orsini, John Witherspoon, Charles Fleischer, Loren Lester, Candace Kita, John R Colley

Plot: Reality Queen. follows an heiress’ quest to show the world she isn’t just another “it” girl and pretentious celebutante, chronicled by renowned BBC journalist Diana Smeltmarlin.

Tagline – Is London a marketing genius, or is she simply the accidental beneficiary of an overwhelmingly ignorant American public?

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Perfect Parody of Reality Stars

Story: Reality Queen! Starts is as we learn about celebrity London Logo (West) has risen to fame as an heiress, she has no talent and is shallow as they come. British journalist Diane Smelt-Marlin (Orsini) is running a story about London, which means she gets close to her, learning more about her attempts to remain relevant in the eyes of the world.

Diana learns how London relies on Winston Spritz (Lester) to handle all her problems, her fashion designer Simon Debris (Colley), her best friend actress Angelina Streisand (Richards), while trying to out do her rival Kristy Kim (Kita).

Thoughts on Reality Queen!

Characters – London Logo is a celebrity heiress who has becomes an international role model without doing anything worthwhile, her clothes inspire fashion trends, her social media is followed by millions, she is meant to be as dumb as they come, including thinking she has the smallest dog, when it is a gerbil. Angelina Streisand is the actress best friend of London, she does seem to stick around out of enjoyment of the high life. Diane Smelt-Marlin is the reporter trying to get a story about London and the more she talks and spends time around London, she learns more about the reality life that the famous try to hold onto. Winston Spritz is the man that cleans up any problems that London finds herself in, almost being a personal butler to London.

PerformancesJulia Faye West truly brings this airhead character to life being just how most people would imagine a pointless celebrity to act life. Kate Orsini brings us a more grounded in reality character in the journalist, which the different between the two characters. Denise Richards being one of the biggest names in the film gets to give a strong supporting performance while Loren Lester gets plenty of laughs in what is a completely straight-faced character in the film.

StoryThe story here follows an interview being prepared for a rich celebrity who is famous for being famous, as we see how she has somehow stayed on top of the industry for so long. The story is told in a mockumentary style which gets to have plenty of fun at the famous for being famous pointless reality celebrities we see flooding our screens, either television or social media, going behind the scenes means we get to see how London thinks her life is hard when she will do silly things believing it will be her important. For a story to make this much fun at the reality stereotypes, you simply can’t love it because they have taken up too much time, been popular and given the wrong messages across for years.

ComedyThe comedy is perfectly used to parody the reality celebrities that flood the screens, you will laugh at just how outrageous certain statements or actions are from somebody who thinks they are above everybody else.

SettingsThe film here shows us everywhere you would imagine seeing a reality star hanging out, the mansion they call home and their transport used for getting around town.

Scene of the Movie – The search for the micro dog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The beach scene.

Final Thoughts This a comedy that manages to perfectly make fun of the reality star’s lives, it will show off just why people dislike them and how they think they are important for the world.

Overall: Laugh Out Loud Funny.

City Slickers (1991) Movie Review

Director: Ron Underwood

Writer: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel (Screenplay)

Starring: Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, Jack Palance, Noble Willingham

Plot: On the verge of turning 40, an unhappy Manhattan yuppie is roped into joining his two friends on a cattle drive in the southwest.

Tagline – Yesterday They Were Businessmen. Today They’re Cowboys. Tomorrow They’ll Be Walking Funny.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Little Comedy

Story: City Slickers starts as three 40-year-olds Mitch (Crystal), Phil (Stern) and Ed (Kirby) have been spending years going on adventure holidays together with their families. Mitch however is getting tired of his everyday life in New York City where he believes he should have done more with his life and for his birthday, Phil and Ed get him a special present.

The three are going on a boys holiday in a cattle drive across the south, one which will bring them back to nature and learn to find a new lust for life, while Phil must decide about his future after being caught teaching on his wife.

Thoughts on City Slickers

Characters – Mitch is the one of the three who has been having the biggest mid-life crisis, he has always worried and now he has seen him career take a turn he wasn’t prepared for, he gets sent on the cattle drive which would have given him a chance to reconnect with nature for the first time. Phil has been stuck in a marriage where he is controlled, he works horrible hours and gets caught out cheating on his wife, left with nothing, he starts to stand up for himself when it comes to facing a future with nothing in it. Ed has always been a womaniser, he has just got married though, which sees him wondering if it was the right thing to do. The three have always been there for each other and now they are finally needing to talk to each other about the problems they kept secret.

PerformancesBilly Crystal in the leading role of the three does bring his charm, while some of his comedy might well miss or feel like it is all pop culture references, he works wonderfully well with Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby, the three each get a moment to shine and have great chemistry together.

StoryThe story here follows the three lifelong friends that have been vacationing together for years and now after starting to worry about their own futures, get to go on a boys trip on a cattle run, where they can final start to see just what the future might hold for them. This is a story that for the 90’s would have translated to everything that people get caught up in during life, but when you look at the more model society, the friendship would be a lot closer with the technology use. With this story we do get an interesting look at what people might find a happiness in life, in a world they would never have imagined.

ComedyThe comedy in the film comes from Billy Crystal trying to bring his wise cracking lines forward during most of the scenes, it doesn’t always work either.

SettingsThe film is set in the South of America which would see cowboys and cattle drives happening, the backdrops could be from any western too.

Scene of the Movie – The birth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The witty lines just don’t work.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that focuses on friendship and finding the reality of life, it does show how the three friends must learn they are just getting started in life.

Overall: Life’s an Adventure 101.

Knives Out (2019) Movie Review

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson (Screenplay)

Starring: Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Edi Patterson, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Christopher Plummer, LaKeith Stanfield

Plot: A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Tagline – Everyone has a motive. No one has a clue.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Pure Fun

Story: Knives Out starts with the apparent suicide of Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) on his 85th birthday, the family Linda (Curtis), Walt (Shannon), Richard (Johnson), Joni (Collette) Meg (Langford), Jacob (Martell) and Ransom (Evans) were all in attendance along with Harlan’s nurse Marta (Armas).

Lieutenant Elliott (Stanfield) lets private investigator Benoit Blanc (Craig) look at the events of the night after he gets an anonymous request to investigate the death believing it was murder, with the whole family have cause to potentially murder.

Thoughts on Knives Out

Characters – Benoit Blanc is a private investigator that has a connection to the family and has been given an anonymous letter to investigate the death, he has his way which unlike the normal police will push the family for the truth, knowing most are lying when they talk to him. Marta Cabrera is the nurse to Harlan, she has the closest relationship to him, knowing most of the family secrets, while just working to make sure her family is secure. Harlan is the self-made millionaire author that has started to get disappointed by the behaviour of his own children. Linda is the eldest daughter who has her own real estate business that she is proud of her work, believing she has done better than the other siblings. Walt is the youngest son who runs the publication of the books, which has always seen him try to push his father into selling the rights to entertainment sources. Richard is the husband to Linda that has been caught by Harlan being forced into telling the truth or being exposed. Joni is the daughter in the law of the deceased son that is an influencer and has been getting an allowance since her husband’s death. Ransom is the black sheep of the family, son of Linda and Richard, he has always lived the life of luxury never having to work on anything himself. Meg is the daughter of Joni that is the closest of any of the younger family members to Marta, she has seen herself be put through school but Harlan. LT Elliott is leading the investigation to the death, he is happy to put it down as suicide, but will let Benoit lead his own investigate.

PerformancesThe performances here are a pure joy, Daniel Craig gives us a career best, Ana De Armas continues to rise up the Hollywood name list, proving herself with a sweet innocent figure, Chris Evans brings to light a character complete against the type we are used to seeing form him. Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Toni Collette are wonderful too showing they can become anybody like we know from them. Everybody in this film is wonderful to watch.

StoryThe story here follows a private investigator who decides to investigate an apparent suicide where he will dig up the family secrets to learn there might have been foul play. This story is a who-dun-it where everybody could be a suspect as nobody wants to tell the truth and everybody is hiding the truth too. There is a unique way of telling the story that will surprise you and turn the usual flow on its head, almost pointing out just how predictable certain TV shows involving a murder are. We do have plenty to unpack through the story, though there is a slight drag through the middle of the film.

Comedy/Crime/MysteryThe comedy comes from the colourful characters we get to meet and their actions, while the crime mystery mix together to keep us guessing to the complete truth of what happened, we get plenty of references to other crime stories too.

SettingsThe film is mostly set on the grounds of the death, we have the luxury mansion, when we stay in this location everything does feel like ‘Clue’ but whether we leave it does take a little bit away from the quirky style.

Scene of the Movie – Ambulance arrives.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We never learn where Marta is from, with the on running joke she is South American, each character claims she is from a different country.

Final Thoughts This is a quirky joyful comedy that leaves you guessing to the truth with performances that shine throughout the film.

Overall: Entertaining Mystery.

Little Monsters (2019) Movie Review

Director: Abe Forsythe

Writer: Abe Forsythe (Screenplay)

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Kat Stewart, Diesel La Torraca, Nadia Townsend

Plot: A washed-up musician teams up with a teacher and a kids show personality to protect young children from a sudden outbreak of zombies.

Tagline – Playtime is over.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Delightful

Story: Little Monsters starts when a washed up musician Dave (England) breaks up with his girlfriend Sara (Townsend) moving in with his sister Tess (Stewart) and her son Felix (Le Torraca), after getting his heart broken, Dave gets left on his last warning with Tess and after he meets Felix’s teacher Miss Caroline (Nyong’o) he ends up agreeing to go on a school trip.

When the trip seems to be going well, the school kids, Miss Caroline and Dave must find safety as zombies have broken free and heading to the petting zoo, joined by celebrity children’s host Teddy McGiggle (Gad) they must stay safe or face death.

Thoughts on Little Monsters

Characters – Miss Caroline is the kindergarten teacher that has the respect from all her students, treating them like nothing is going wrong no matter what is happening, she will always remain calm, with a smile on her face she takes complete control of the zombie outbreak. She has seen the father hit on her in the past which makes it easy for her to ignore them. Dave was once in a metal band, he had a girlfriend he always fought with him leading to him moving in with his sister and nephew. He is a terrible role model for Felix with his swearing, not listening and accepting it ok for a 5-year-old to play zombie games. He wants to get to know Miss Caroline and over this school trip he learns that there is more to life. Teddy McGiggle is a children’s entertainer who is world famous with every kid loving his work, when the zombies arrive, he shows the worst in mankind. The kids are all brilliant without being annoying like most would become in zombie films.

PerformancesLupita Nyong’o is wonderful to watch being a ray of sunshine through the film, bring a character that is completely different to anything we have seen before. Alexander England is excellent too, being someone, you could never see around children, getting so many laughs in the film. Josh Gad is great too, though it does seem like his character is slightly too much over the top at times. The young actors look like they are having a ball which is important for a film like this.

StoryThe story here follows a teacher, a washed up musician and a group of school kids that get trapped during a zombie outbreak in a petting zoo. The best way to describe this story would be that we be, that we are focused on the human factors over the zombies, who are just background problem. We get to see how one man must learn about his life and start taking it more serious after years of wasting his time. We see zombies tackled a different way without needing to give us any sort of flashy zombie kill, which most all try to do, this is a character piece that shows positivity can give you hope no matter what is in your way. If you don’t end up smiling by the end of this film, it will be a surprise.

Comedy/HorrorThe comedy is the highlight of this film, we get plenty of laughs, being part of the idea of Dave saying things or doing things around children along with how relaxing the survival attempts end up looking.

SettingsThe film is mostly set on a petting zoo, which is meant to be a happy place for the children, despite it turning into a nightmare situation for the adults once the zombies come out.

Special EffectsThe zombies are done with great practical effects, while any of the violence is withheld away from the camera.

Scene of the Movie – The tractor rescue.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It seems like we didn’t need Teddy’s character if we are being completely honest.

Final Thoughts This is a truly delightful watch, with loveable characters, adorable kids and a fresh take on the zombie genre, showing it is about the characters, not the zombies.

Overall: Enjoyable from start to finish.