Joaquin Phoenix Weekend – Mary Magdalene (2018)

Director: Garth Davis

Writer: Helen Edmundson, Philippa Goslett (Screenplay)

Starring: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tahar Rahim, Ariane Labed, Denis Menochet, Lubna Azabal

 

Plot: The story of Mary Magdalene.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Boring

 

Story: Mary Magdalene starts a Mary (Mara) a young woman in a small town helps out the way she can, but is considered possessed because of her behaviour, when Jesus (Phoenix) arrives on his journey, she gets inspired to join his cause with his followers, including Peter (Ejiofor) and Judas (Rahim), where she learns more of the bigger world problems, they are fighting for.

Mary gets to witness just how important Jesus is the people on the journey and how nearly every town or city would come to a stand still for him, until he is betrayed.

 

Thoughts on Mary Magdalene

 

Characters – Mary Magdalene is a figure from the Bible, one that was close to Jesus, we do follow her journey from small town outsider to one of his disciples who could lead the women unlike any other, she learns about the world from the journey and just who she could trust. Jesus is the man we know from the Bible, he travels from town to city to help people with his abilities of faith, which sees him become the inspirational leader or many. Peter is one of the disciples that has been by his side for years, he welcomes the people he trusts to join, including Mary. Judas comes off like a nice man, we know his true nature, as he is seen telling Jesus the stories he wants to hear.

PerformancesIt is hard to criticize any of the actors in this film, they really don’t have anything to work with, they just can’t make an impact in such badly written character, which come from a popular source material.

StoryThe story focuses on Mary Magdalene, one of the many followers of Jesus, we see everything through her eyes, how she was treated before he came along, how she was able to connect to the women unlike the rest and how she reacts to the end, the moments we all know from the Bible. The problem here comes from that fact that we have seen countless versions of the Jesus story, we often grew up on our own version of the figure and while this might be more accurate to the tales, it doesn’t come off showing it to be very interesting.

SettingsThe highlight of this otherwise slow movie comes with the settings which show us just how the country would have looked like at the time of Jesus.


Scene of the Movie –
The settings.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a painfully slow story that we have seen before, it just offers nothing new or anything interesting to the ideas the bible once taught.

 

Overall: Dull and uninspiring.

Rating

 

 

Joaquin Phoenix Weekend – Irrational Man (2015)

Director: Woody Allen

Writer: Woody Allen (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley

 

Plot: A tormented philosophy professor finds a will to live when he commits an existential act.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Drags Along

 

Story: Irrational Man starts when mysterious and celebrated professor Abe Lucas (Phoenix) starts at a new college, he is the talk of the facility and the students who all believe they know who Abe is. When Abe starts work it is clear that he has a drinking problem and filled with unfulfillment going on through his life.

Making friends with fellow teacher Rita (Posey) and student Jill (Stone) who starts to get a crush on him, Abe does find a new purpose for life and gets torn between the two women one his age, one a student, what is the right decision for Abe?

 

Thoughts on Irrational Man

 

Characters – Abe Lucas is a brilliant and complicated professor, he drinks and is in full content mode as he goes through life. When he gets a reason to become positive, he starts taking a chance on different moments in life and gets torn between two women. Jill is a student at the college that takes a shine towards Abe, she must put her own relationship aside for her feeling towards him believing he can offer her a conversation her boyfriend can’t. Rita is a fellow professor that takes a shine towards Abe, she wants him to be his latest affair.

PerformancesThis is a film where it is hard to question the performances because the actors are only playing dull and uninteresting characters. the performances are fine, none will be remembered as the actors best or worst of their careers.

StoryThe story here follows a mysterious professor with a big reputation who joins the facility of a new college where he changes the lives of two women on the campus, while finding a new zest for life. In typical Woody Allen style this story goes in the directions you would imagine without having any dialogue you could see being real. The way everything unfolds feels just like a gossip magazine dealing with a rumour and you just lose all interest in the events.

ComedyThe comedy tries to be quirky without managing to hit any of this as the film roles on.

SettingsThe setting keeps us in and around the college campus as the stories spread around the campus.


Scene of the Movie –
The lift.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The conversations feel out of place.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical Woody Allen movie, it tries to be quirky without hitting the marks and only seems to waste the talent involved.

 

Overall: Disappointing and dull.

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

 

 

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Writer: Lynne Ramsay (Screenplay) Jonathan Ames (Book)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola, Alex Manette

 

Plot: A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Divisive to Say the Lease

 

Story: You Were Never Really Here starts as we meet Joe (Phoenix) a war veteran that has his own nightmares that uses getting bag over head trick to show him what life is worth being a part off, he lives with his insecure mother (Roberts) and works as a fixer, tracking down missing girls for a living.

Joe’s latest job is to help Senator Albert Votto (Manette) find his daughter Nina (Samsonov) who has a habit of running away. When this latest mission gets out of hand, Joe must seek revenge on the people responsible in the bloody way possible.

 

Thoughts on You Were Never Really Here

 

Characters – Joe is the veteran that is suffering from his own nightmares, traumatised from his time at war, his outlets include a mix of legal highs and searching for missing girls. He is excellent at getting the job done and can get his hands dirty where needed, he has a close relationship with his mother where he tries his best to care for her, but his latest job will show us just how deadly he can be. Joe’s Mother is the one person Joe opens up to, she is the only one that can keep him grounded through his troubles. Nina is the teenager that went missing, the one he promises to help, we don’t see too much from her other than he is part of his motivation.  

PerformancesThere is no question that Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant in the leading role, we know his struggles he is showing us and watch eagerly to see what he does next. As for the rest of the performers, they are good as they are not trying to take the spotlight away from him.

StoryThe story follows a struggle war veteran with the ability to track down missing people getting involved in a bigger picture that he just wasn’t prepared for. As things get out of hand he continues to question his own sanity as he looks to do the right thing for the latest victim. Well I think that is what I read from the movie, I am not going to lie when I say I feel I may have missed what makes this such the iconic special movie people have been talking about. It just seems to go into the you will need to understand every scene to make the answer to what happened as most of the interesting scenes do seem to miss the point.

MysteryThe mystery parts of this film come from just not knowing just where things will be going, just like Joe who is waiting to see what he has gotten himself into.

SettingsThe film shows us just where Joe can stay away from the public eye but can be in the middle of the scene searching for the answers.


Scene of the Movie –
Goodbye.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This movie has been overhyped for me.

Final ThoughtsThis is disappointing for me, because all I have heard is how great this movie is, but by the end of the film it does end up falling very short for me.

 

Overall: Disappointing.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – L – Ladder 49 (2004)

Director: Jay Russell

Writer: Lewis Colick (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Jacinda Barrett, Robert Patrick, Morris Chestnut, Billy Burke

 

Plot: A firefighter, injured and trapped in a burning building, has flashbacks of his life as he drifts in and out of consciousness. Meanwhile, fellow firefighters led by the Chief attempt to rescue him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thought Provoking Action Thriller

 

Story: Ladder 49 starts as Jack Morrison (Phoenix) is performing a daring tower block fire rescue only for disaster to strike and Jack finds himself trapped inside the burning inferno. This causes Jack to have flack backs to his early firefighting days as a rookie in the 39th under Mike Kennedy (Travolta).

As Jack continues to fade between consciousness we learn about his personal life and how he met and married Linda (Barrett) as well as seeing just how his team became the unit through the good and bad events of being a firefighter, this will give him a chance to believe who could save him.

 

Thoughts on Ladder 49

 

Characters/PerformanceJack Morrison is the firefighter that gets trapped in the fire, we get to see his rise from rookie firefighter to one of the most respected in his team, get married and have children but through the events of the film we are left to wonder like himself whether he was right to stay in the force. Captain Mike Kennedy keeps his team united through the good times and the bad, he knows how to motivate them and how to let them celebrate, but he won’t leave a man behind. Linda is the wife of Jack that he meets on one of his first few days on the job, she is concerned after the first death in the squad. The rest of the unit are what you expect, the best friend, the wise one, the confrontational one you know the picture.

Performance wise, Joaquin Phoenix is great in the leading role showing he was ready to make the jump from supporting actor to leading man. Travolta shows that he can turn out good performances around the weaker ones people can slam him for. Jacinda Barrett is good but doesn’t get the full levels you would like to see from the supporting character. The cast all give us good performances throughout the film too.

StoryThe story is told as one man is looking back on his life wondering if he made the right decisions in his life when he becomes trapped during the latest fire he is fighting. This does show the stress firefighters would go through from either a good rescue or seeing a friend hurt or killed, dealing with personal life and the peril of going into a blaze with no true idea of what is waiting for them. I like how this is told because it shows how Jack got to where he is in his ranking within the unit.

Action/ThrillerThe action sequences are all different types of fires the crew must battle and they are all shot wonderfully to suck us into the story as we don’t know what will happen in each fire. This does help keep us on the edge of our seats at times but we know we don’t need to worry about Jack during the flack backs.

SettingsThe settings show us just how dangerous battling fires can be, how the men risk their lives and how they can be different on each occasion.

Special EffectsAll the effects are used to make the fires look as dangerous as they should be which is good to see throughout the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that will make you respect the firefighters of the world even more because you get to see how much they are willing to risk to save people’s lives. It is shot very well with the only negative being knowing there is only one fire Jack is in any peril through.

 

Overall: One for all the action thriller fans out there.

Rating