ABC Film Challenge – Random – W – Welcome to Me (2014)

Director: Shira Piven

Writer: Eliot Laurence (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, James Marsden

 

Plot: When Alice Klieg wins the Mega-Millions lottery, she immediately quits her psychiatric meds and buys her own talk show.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Good Drama

 

Story: Welcome to Me starts as we meet Alice Klieg (Wiig) who idolises Oprah studying all the tapes of her shows, she lives an isolated life but that is going to change when she wins the $86 million on the lottery. Believing the money has changed herself she drops her Dr Moffet (Robbins) who has been treating her for multiply personality disorder and heads off to Vegas with her best friend Gina (Cardellini).

When Alice meets studio team Rich Ruskin (Marsden), Gabe Ruskin (Bentley), Dawn Hurley (Cusack) and Deb Moseley (Leigh) wanting to create her own talk show which Rich sees this as a chance to save their studio. As the money being spend increases the show reaches new levels of popularity but can the studio continue to extort Alice’s mental issues to make money.

 

Thoughts on Welcome to Me

 

Characters/PerformanceAlice is a very unstable woman that has struggled through all her mental health problems for years, but after winning the lottery she gets her own show on television show where she can deal with all her problems, but can she deal with this new fame. Gabe is one of the studio producers that is willing to help Alice, but is one of the only ones that does want to help rather than use her. Gina is the best friend that gets left behind as Alice becomes obsessed with her own show. We also have the rest of the studio team that see this as a big payday.

Performance wise, Kristen Wiig is fantastic in this leading role showing she is capable of the serious performance away from the full comedy she is known for. Wes Bentley continues to turn his career around with another good performance. Linda Cardellini is also good throughout the film and the other highly respected stars also good great jobs with James Marsden being hugely memorable.

StoryThe story shows how people with mental health issues will find life difficult, but if you add money they can’t explain to themselves to the mix they will get taken advantage off by greedy people, but it also shows how money shouldn’t change friendships but it will. This is a film that has a story which is very important to show how difficult living with mental health issues can be.

Comedy/DramaThe comedy works in the limited moments because the story isn’t a full laughing matter. The drama shows the issues Alice must live with along with her new money.

SettingsThe settings are important because they show the world that Alice comes from to where she finds herself with all her money.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie that tells a very important message for the people who struggle with the mental health issues.

 

Overall: Very impressive film I feel people might not have heard off.

Rating

 

 

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Kurt Russell Weekend – Backdraft (1991)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glen, Rebecca De Mornay

 

Plot: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along must work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Slow

 

Story: Backdraft starts when a young Brian McCaffrey witness his firefighter father killed putting out the fire. 20 years later Brian (Baldwin) is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps much like his brother Stephen (Russell). Passing his tests Brian joins Stephen’s unit, the strictest in town.

As the number of fires increase, the number of firefighters are being cut and with each fire brings the investigator Donald Rimgale (De Niro) who uses slow methods but gets results. When Brian becomes worried about the safety of his brother’s actions he agrees to work with Donald to track down an arsonist operating within the city.

 

Thoughts on Backdraft

 

Characters/PerformanceStephen is the tough firefighter who enjoys the job knowing he and his team can save as many lives as possible. Brian is the brother of Stephen, son of a firefighter who became the photo of a generation after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but finds himself having to turn on his brother to investigate arson rather than fight the fires. Donald is a grizzled veteran who has seen the worst in fighting fire, he now leads the investigations into the fires, he works with Brian to locate the arsonist and reckless behaviour being portrayed by the firefighters. The rest of the characters fill the loyal unit, the ex-wife and potential lover without being a major part in the film.

Performance wise, Russell is solid but never reaches the levels we know he can. Baldwin just doesn’t capture the level of performance you would see from other members of the family while De Niro is good in the supporting role.

StoryThe story shows the life of firefighters struggling with the demands placed upon them by dwindling resources, the lives get put at risk. We get to see the investigation into an arsonist but sadly this isn’t the focus of the story. the focus is on the broken relationship between the two brothers who have gone in different paths when it comes to following in their father’s footsteps. The story is fine but too long in my opinion.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe firefighting scenes are brilliant action set pieces without a doubt but the crime side which should be a major side just doesn’t get the focus required. The mystery also suffers because of this too.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully to show the intensity of the fires for the firefighters while outside the fires it just feels like a normal city which could be any.

Special EffectsThe special effects are stunning for the creating of the fires, using mostly practical effects which still look amazing today.

Final ThoughtsThe special effects in this movie do save it from being awful but in the end the story is just too flat for my liking.

 

Overall: Flat story, too long but amazing effects.

Rating

 

 

Annihilation (2018)

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland (Screenplay) Jeff VanderMeer (Novel)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, David Gyasi, Tuva Novotny

 

Plot: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.


Tagline – Fear What’s Inside

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Stunning, Mind Testing Sci-Fi Spectacular

 

Story: Annihilation starts as Lena (Portman) is still feeling the effects of her husband Kane’s (Isaac) yearlong disappearance, only for him to turn up randomly. Kane has returned from a secret mission, which has bought Lena into the mysterious shimmer that has had strange effects with nobody known to return other than Kane.

Learning about a new team of scientist of military, Lena joins the team of Dr Ventress (Leigh), Anya (Rodriguez), Cass (Novotny) and Josie (Thompson) to learn the answers of what happened to her husband. As the group go further into the Shimmer the bigger the threats they find, something they have never had to explain as science isn’t working the way they are used too.

 

Thoughts on Annihilation

 

Characters – Lena is a biologist that has spent the last year wondering just where her husband has gone, only for him to return and finding herself drawn to a secret investigation. Lena uses her skills to help a team of scientists in this mysterious Shimmer where science isn’t what she has spent her life learning. Out of the five women team, she is the calmest, not picking a side, just planning on seeing where this science takes her. Dr Ventress is leading the team into the Shimmer, she has her own motivation for leading the team and does her best to keep the team together. Josie is the youngest member of the team, quiet genius inside, but not experienced in the field compared to the rest of the team. Kane is the husband soldier that went missing, returned he isn’t the same man, he is the motivation for Lena to go into the Shimmer.

PerformancesNatalie Portman is great in this leading role, she must balance a scientific mind, a broken-hearted character and truth hunter role, which she does with ease. Looking into the supporting cast we get great performance from all involved, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez.

StoryThis is a sci-fi mystery that will make you think, it follows a team of scientists that go into an unknown Shimmer, where the previous teams have never returned from. The rules of science have gone out the window which only add the questions we love to see and offers up the chance to be left wondering just where things will go next in this one. We do go through the idea that each member of the team changes through their experience and for scientist this does seem strange. This is what the cinema audience has been craving for, a story we need to see over plenty of the different popular movies.

Adventure/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe film uses the adventure elements of the film by taking our five women into the unknown land which has elements of fantasy as the mystery side of just what is happening in the sci-fi world our characters enter. For a sci-fi movie this both creates a wonderful world and poses the questions we enjoy asking ourselves about how the world goes around. We do get horror moments too which surprise when they hit.

SettingsThe Shimmer is one of the most interesting, visually beautiful places we have ever had a sci-fi movie, it feels like a new world even if it is set on Earth.

Special EffectsIf this movie isn’t an early contender for the Oscar for best visual effects, I really don’t know what else could beat it. This uses the effects to make this one of the most beautiful movies you will ever see.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act, will make you question everything you have seen, while also keeping you on edge through the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not being able to see this in the cinema! Not by choice either.

Final ThoughtsThis is the sci-fi movie of the year, the one I have waited for, the one I want to see again. It makes you think, it looks beautiful, it sounds the disturbing and engaging with each use of the sound and music, making this the must watch movie of the year.

 

Overall: Must watch sci-fi movie

Rating

 

 

Good Time (2017)

Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Writer: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Benny Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress

 

Plot: After a heist goes awry, a bank robber tries to free his brother from Rikers Island, all in one night.


Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Contender for Film is the Year

 

Story: Good Time starts as we meet two brothers Connie (Pattinson) and the simple-minded Nick (Safdie) who commit a bank robbery, Connie has planned for escape but not everything goes to plan as Nick is captured.

Connie refusing to leave his brother behind sets out to find a way to get him out of jail as well as getting the money he stole, so the two can move away from the big city, using his contacts including Corey (Leigh) and teenager Crystal (Webster) to get away with it.

 

Thoughts on Good Time

 

Characters – Connie Nikas is the brains between the two brothers, he has planned the robbery with an escape which should be able to get him out of the problems that come their way. Once his brother ends up captured, he will do anything to get his brother out of jail. Nick is the simple-minded brother of Connie, he will follow his brother in any crime, but doesn’t get the treatment he requires for his problems, even after he gets captured after the robbery. Corey is one of Connie’s friends that helps him in his time of need. Crystal is the teenager that finds herself willingly helping Connie in his attempts to get his brother out of jail, she does seem to have a lack of authority figure in her life.

PerformancesRobert Pattinson is getting a lot of buzz about his performance and you can see why, this is easily his best performance of his career and he deserves all the praise he is receiving. The rest of the cast is fantastic too with the supporting roles.

StoryThe story follows the bank heist gone wrong with the Connie needing to rescue his brother from jail in one night. This is a gripping story to watch, we are kept waiting to see where things will go as everything unfolds and having the rescue attempt happening in one night helps give it a real time feel. The connection between the two brothers is shown too with just how far Connie will go to save his brother and how Nick will follow Connie through with anything.

CrimeThe crime side of the film starts with a heist that goes wrong but soon ends up in a rescue attempt to save the captured brother. We only see how Connie can use his criminal side to get through the night.

SettingsThe settings show how Connie must work around to survive against the background of the big city who are hunting him.


Scene of the Movie –
The heist escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have like to see more about Corey character.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most impressive movies of the year. It is filled with tension from the opening to the finish with a powerhouse performance from Pattinson.

 

Overall: Must watch for the year.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – The Hitcher (1986)

Director: Robert Harmon

Writer: Eric Red (Screenplay)

Starring: Rutger Hauer, C Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn, John M Jackson

 

Plot: A young man who escaped the clutches of a murderous hitch-hiker is subsequently stalked by the hitcher and framed for his crimes.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Thrills

 

Story: The Hitcher starts as student Jim Halsey (Howell) travelling across America to San Diego. Against any warnings, he might have been given he decides to pick up a hitch-hiker John Ryder (Hauer), John promises to kill Jim in the most graphic possible way. Escaping Jim witnesses the path of destruction Ryder has been leaving, this leads to Jim trying to warn people only finding himself as the prime suspect.

Ryder continues leaving bodies including cops in his path as Jim teams up with plucky waitress Nash (Leigh) to clear his name, the problem is the police and Ryder are after Jim in this suspense driven thriller.

 

Thoughts on The Hitcher

 

Characters/PerformanceJim is a young man just looking to get across country to make a new start, he is naïve in how he acts but also desperate to prove his innocence. Ryder is a hitch-hiker with a lust for blood, well killing, it doesn’t matter who you are, your age, sex or reason to be travelling along this road, he will just kill you. His emotionless enjoyment of killing is what makes him stand out. Nash sees a chance to leave this dead-end life she is living by help Jim.

Performance wise, Rutger Hauer is brilliant in this leading role full of terror in every single look he gives us. Howell is good in his role as the determined young man with Leigh giving us a good supporting role.

StoryWhen it comes to the story, this film keeps it all very simple, a young man is chased around the open roads of America by the psychopathic killer as the young man tries his best to prove he is innocent. This is all the film needs to do, keeping everything simple for us the audience to enjoy, but if you want deep character development you need to look somewhere else.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror side of the film comes as we are left wondering how we would act if this happened to us, the thrilling side comes wondering just what Ryder will do next.

SettingsKeeping the film on the open roads shows us just how difficult the situation would be to escape for our character.

Special EffectsThe special effects are only used when needed and the truck tie up scene is brilliant use of them.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple idea that reaches all the tension levels need for a thriller film, it keeps you on edge throughout the film and has a psychopath that is genuinely scary.

 

Overall: This is one of the best horror thrillers of the 80’s one that all can enjoy.

Rating