Christmas Holiday Weekend – The Night Before (2015)

Director: Jonathan Levine

Writer: Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Jillian bell, Lizzy Caplan, Helene Yorke, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: On Christmas eve, three lifelong friends spend the night in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Christmas Movie

 

Story: The Night Before starts as we learn why Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents over Christmas in 2001, his two best friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) spend every Christmas Eve together and getting drunk, but as time went by his friends started to move on with Chris becoming a sports star and Isaac starting his own family. With Ethan, still almost stuck in his slump with his life working as a Christmas Elf.

This year has been mutually agreed to be the last one they spend together and Ethan has finally got the ticket to the biggest Christmas Party in town, the one they have always been looking to attended but before that, the traditions need to be celebrated for the last time. How will this night turn out for the friends on what is meant to be their final adventure?

 

Thoughts on The Night Before

 

Characters/PerformanceEthan is a man that lost his family at Christmas, he asks only one thing and that is to spend it with his two best friends, he hasn’t been able to find his path in life while his friends have found success but he knows this is his last Christmas Eve with friends. Isaac is about to become a father which leaves him knowing that he won’t be able to party as often as he can so he gets the chance to party on the last time but can’t handle the trip. Chris is suddenly becoming the big sports star he dreamed off but he finds himself in the middle of making new friends or keeping the ones he loves like brothers.

Performance wise, Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job in the leading role playing a role he has made his own in comedy movies, Rogen is what you expect from him but his character is slightly questionable in places. Mackie shows that he can handle comedy on a regular level after Pain & Gain, he proves he can handle the supporting role.

StoryDeep down this story has a story of friendship and just how important it is over Christmas. We get to focus on moving forward in life remember never to forget the people who spent it with you, accepting responsibility for mistakes you have made and finding a way to be ready for parenthood. I think this does have plenty of Christmas message but sadly does get bogged down with the almost pointless drug based side story going on.

ComedyThe comedy does come thick and fast through the film even if certain parts of the film are based the drug usage going on through the characters.

SettingsThe film is set in New York city which shows the hustle and bustle of the town during the Christmas Eve events. It all works for everything going on through the story.

Final ThoughtsI did enjoy the deeper meaning behind this film as the part of the story Ethan goes through but I got slightly tired on the Rogen drug filled character.

 

Overall: This is a great Christmas film that is well worth a watch if you want something non-family based.

Rating

 

 

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Daniel Day-Lewis Weekend – Lincoln (2012)

lincoln posterDirector: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Tony Kushner (Screenplay) Doris Kearns Goodwin (Book)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee James, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley

 

Plot: As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful History Lesson

 

Story: Lincoln starts as President Lincoln (Day-Lewis) had just been re-elected as the Civil War was entering its four year. Lincoln wants to push a new constitution through congress which is abolishing slavery he must work with fellow members that have difference in opinions on the matter and we follow Lincoln through the meetings.

We follow as all the different sides of the argument try to put their points forward for and against the idea of the 13th amendment with Thaddeus Stevens (Jones) being the stand out campaigner in favour of the amendment. With the Secretary of State William Seward (Strathairn) pushing through the votes for the undecided.

Lincoln really comes off as a history lesson about one of the greatest leaders in American history. This is a slow moving film but it is also very interesting if you want to learn about President Lincoln. There are a lot of courtroom scenes that comes off slow because you want to see Lincoln giving speeches because each one draws you in. overall this really is just a history lesson that will help you learn more about the great man.

 

Actor Review

 

Daniel Day-Lewis: President Abraham Lincoln is the man who fought to campaign for equal rights for all slaves, he is running the country with his speeches and is happy to let his men make things fall into place. Lincoln is arguable the most famous of all Presidents of America and what he achieved will forever be the greatest achievement of any of them. Daniel is incredible in this role where he won his third Oscar.linconl

Sally Field: Mary Todd Lincoln is the wife of Abraham who is still suffering from their lost child as she always wants to stand next to her husband and protect their remaining child. Sally is great in this supporting rolemary

David Strathairn: William Seward is the secretary of defence who has been working with Lincoln to get the votes needed to make the amendment pass. He will stand up to Lincoln when needed showing his strength against the great leader. David is great in this supporting role showing this is what he should be doing in film.

Tommy Lee Jones: Thaddeus Stevens is the one man from the south that agrees with Lincoln, he will stand up in court against any odds for what he believes in to make sure this amendment gets passed. Tommy got himself an Oscar nod in this brilliant supporting performance.ddy

Support Cast: Lincoln has a massive supporting cast that all play different characters that were real people for the time period.

Director Review: Steven SpielbergSteven is the always reliable director when it comes to telling the story from history.

 

Biographical: Lincoln takes us to one of the most important moments of Lincoln’s life as he changes history as we know it.

History: Lincoln gives us everything we need to see in a history lesson about the great man.

War: Lincoln is set through the Civil War but we don’t really end up seeing anyone in actual combat.

Settings: Lincoln re-creates the settings to make us look like the time period in question.
Special Effects
: Lincoln has great effects to make everything look authentic through the film.

Suggestion: Lincoln is one film that you should watch just to learn about Lincoln. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Lincoln’s speeches

Worst Part: Courtroom comes off slightly repetitive.

 

Believability: Based on the real people involved.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Won 2 Oscars and Nominated for 10 more.

Box Office: $182 Million

Budget: $65 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 30 Minutes

Trivia: Every major character in the film was a real person or at least a composite of real figures and the film strives to reflect the actual actions or thoughts of the historical figures.

 

Overall: Brilliant history lesson but not an easy watch

Ratingcard

 

 

The Walk (2015)

walkDirector: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne (Screenplay) Philippe Petit (Book)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Don, Clement Sibony, Cesar Domboy, Mark Camacho, Steve Valentine, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz

 

Plot: In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit recruits a team of people to help him realize his dream: to walk the immense void between the World Trade Centre towers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thrilling Biography

 

Story: The Walk starts as Philippe Petit (Gordon-Levitt) who dreams of walking between the Twin Towers, but of course he wants to give us his back story as a street performer in Paris who learns about the construction of the Twin Towers setting out on the adventure to America while going through other landmarks of the world first.

We watch as Philippe met people along the way to help him achieve his goal including the beautiful fellow street performer Annie (Le Bon) and photographer Jean-Louis (Sibony). Along with the training of Papa Ruby (Kingsley) the four head to New York to work out the plans to make the ultimate high wire performance happen.

The Walk tells the incredible story of the daredevil hire wire who walked between the Twin Towers. This was a remarkable achievement that will never be repeated but I do feel we have seen the documentary Man on Wire which tells the same story in a much more interesting way as we see the real people involved discussing what they experienced. The problem with the story here is that the film focuses on the special effects over the story.

 

Actor Review

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Philippe Petit is the hire wire daredevil, we watch from his early stages of his performing on the streets of Paris where he learns of the construction of the Twin Towers. Philippe becomes obsessed with crossing this dream as he puts together a team to make this dream a reality. Joseph is good in this role but you never believe his French accent.philipp

Charlotte Le Bon: Annie is a fellow street performer that because the love interest and biggest supporter as Philippe is going for his impossible dream. She keeps him grounded when he starts to get tested by his mental state before the walk. Charlotte is good in this supporting role but doesn’t feel strong enough in the role.

Ben Kingsley: Papa Rudy teaches Philippe every he knows as he comes from a long family of hire wire walkers, he treats him like a son trying to protect him but deep down he knows that Philippe is just as daring as he once was. Ben is good in this supporting role but I do feel like he could have seen more from him.

Clement Sibony: Jean-Louis is the second member of the team after Annie, he is a photographer who Philippe makes his official one, he helps Philippe plan his walk giving fresh ideas on how to make it a reality. Clement is good in the supporting role but falls into the background to easily.

Support Cast: The Walk really has a supporting cast that all blend into one in the background of the story going on.

Director Review: Robert ZemeckisRobert gives us a visually great film but when it comes to the small screen it loses all the effects it has created.

 

Adventure: The Walk shows us the adventure Philippe went on to achieve his dream.

Biographical: The Walk cuts out a lot of the important back story of how Philippe got to the Twin Towers.

Thriller: The Walk puts you on edge through the high wire scenes.

Settings: The Walk recreates the settings brilliantly to make us feel like we are with the characters on the trip.
Special Effects
: The Walk uses the effects to create the world trade centres and make the high wire scenes wonderfully.

Suggestion: The Walk is one to try but I would say watch the documentary first. (Try It)

 

Best Part: The Walk.

Worst Part: Misses too much out.

 

Believability: Based on the real story of Philippe Petit.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Man on Wire

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $35 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

Tagline: From the director of Forrest Gump, Cast Away and Flight.

 

Overall: Good thriller but Man on Wire offers a lot more about Philippe.

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Jeff Daniels Weekend – The Lookout (2007)

lookoutDirector: Scott Frank

Writer: Scott Frank (Screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher, Carla Gugino, Bruce McGill

 

Plot: Chris is a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank, where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Underrated Crime Thriller

 

Story: The Lookout starts as high school student Chris Pratt (Gordon-Levitt) trying to impress his girlfriend and friends, which leads to a tragic accident leaving him with memory problems where he struggles to do every day routine. Four years later he is still trying to recover where he lives with Lewis (Daniels) a blind man who is used to working through these issues. Chris works nights in a bank where he ends becoming a target of Gary Spargo (Goode) and his criminal friends.

Gary befriends Chris as a former friend from school as well as meeting Luvlee (Fisher) to give him a new romance in his life. Gary pushes Chris into helping him rob the bank he is working in using all the weakness that Chris has to play him into helping out. We are left to see if Chris follows through with this or not.

The Lookout is a thriller that shows us what it would be like to get bought into the world when you could easily be taken advantage of. While it all comes off nicely on that angle as we only see how much Chris gets to see his part of the crime. The best part of this film is looking at how Chris is going about his life and how his family and friends have dealt with the accident. We do get to see how difficult it would be for people who have been working with Chris would struggle too. This might not be a slick crime thriller but it is an emotional style film.

 

Actor Review

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Chris Pratt is the once rising star of high school ice hockey but after his accident he finds himself struggling with every day routine. He works in a bank where he becomes the target of bank robbers who befriend him to help them rob the bank he works in. Joseph gives us a great performance in this role showing the difficult side of everything happening to the person with the problems.chris

Jeff Daniels: Lewis is the blind friend who lives with Chris, he is used to the disability life and always tries to guide Chris in the right direction, keeping calm when things don’t work out for Chris. Jeff is great in this supporting role where he takes everything in his stride.lewis

Matthew Goode: Gary Spargo is an old school mate of Chris, he sees him working in the bank and tries his hardest to befriend Chris where he offers him the chance to think for himself for once, he ends up using him to rob the bank but not everything goes to his plan. Matthew makes for a good villain through this film.gary

Isla Fisher: Luvlee is the friend of Gary that offers up a romantic angle for Chris, she sees what is happening but decides she wants out of the plan. Isla makes for a good romantic interest for our lead.

Support Cast: The Lookout has a good supporting cast that all look good for the roles they are in.

Director Review: Scott FrankScott does give us a wonderfully told story from start to finish.

 

Crime: The Lookout gives us a crime story involving a bank robbery which all comes off well.

Thriller: The Lookout keeps you guessing from start to finish as to what Chris will do.

Settings: The Lookout uses the small country settings well showing how easy it would have been to rob one of the banks.
Special Effects
: The Lookout uses very few effects but when needed all come off well.

Suggestion: The Lookout is one to have watched at least once and it will be enjoyed by crime fans. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Final moments.

Worst Part: Hard to find one.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: no

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $16 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: Whoever has the money has the power

 

Overall: Great thriller that has real heart dealing with disability.

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Jeff Daniels Weekend – Looper (2012)

looperDirector: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson (Screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Garret Dillahunt

 

Plot: In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits – someone like Joe – who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by sending back Joe’s future self for assassination.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Best Modern Time Travel Thriller

 

Story: Looper starts with Joe (Gordon-Levitt) giving us the world he is living in, in the year 2044.  Joe is known as a Looper a man who is assigned to kill people sent back in time by the bosses in the future where time travel now exists. Joe along with his other Loopers including Seth (Dano) enjoy the life of parties, drinks, drugs and girls but they also know that when their time is up they will kill their future selves gaining a payday.

When Seth’s time comes to close his Loop he freezes and learns that a man known as the rainmaker is in the future closing all of the loops, but worse for Seth he lets his future self-escape and turns to Joe for help. Joe gets summoned to the crime boss Ade (Daniels) who is from the future to answer questions on Seth but this does leave Joe one of the remaining Loopers left.

Joe’s life is turned upside down when it is his turn to clean up his loop only for older Joe (Willis) to be ready for him and ready to escape, but he is hell bent on revenge for the criminals who killed his wife in the future and sent him back, cutting it all out at source as he looks for the child who would become the Rainmaker. Younger Joe has to hunt down his older self in order to fix everything only to himself hiding out with Sara (Blunt) and her child Cid (Gagnon) who happens to be one of the names on the list.

With all the angles set up we get to see how both Joe’s go about their plans with Ade and his hungry to impress hitman Kid Blue (Segan) trying to track them down.

Looper is a time travel film that manages to skip over all the techno talk giving us a personal story. We get a revenge story that pushes boundaries that you will have never seen before with the person out for revenge needing to kill a child. We also get a story about stepping out of the party life to grow up and see where the world is going. We also show how one mother will do anything to save her son along with a crime boss trying to keep everything covered up. Mixing these story elements together keep everything fresh from start to finish for the genre.

 

Actor Review

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Joe is our leading looper, the youngest ever hired and the last to have his loop closed in the future. When he fails to kill his older self he is forced to track him down and help him discover who this Rainmaker really is while escaping from his criminal life. Joseph gives us a great performance in the leading role.joe

Bruce Willis: Old Joe is the man Joe doesn’t kill who has come back in time to kill the child version of the man who killed his wife in the future. He has to teach Joe how to stay alive while he completes his mission of revenge which is one of the darkest for a hero in film. Bruce gives us one of his best performance in recent years which is saying something.old joe

Emily Blunt: Sara is the mother of Cid, one of the children Older Joe has come back to kill, but this is the one that young Joe has come to protect. The two strike up an unlikely friendship to protect Cid. Emily shows here she is ready to become one of the strongest actresses in the action/sci-fi genre.sara

Jeff Daniels: Abe is the crime boss in the city that controls the Loopers, he will never hold back when it comes to dealing with mistakes and has all his men out looking for both versions of Joe. Jeff does give us a good performance in this supporting role, being dark when needed and friendly when the character requires it.abe

Noah Segan: Kid Blue is the wannabe hot shot working for Abe, he always makes a fool of himself but it determined to prove himself to Abe in the search for Joe. Noah gives us the funniest performance where his character just always seems to do something wrong.

Support Cast: Looper has a good supporting cast that all give us good performances with Paul Dano shinning in his role.

Director Review: Rian JohnsonRian continues to show he is a great director capable of creating his own style on each genre.

 

Action: Looper has great action when needed that is all built up well.

Crime: Looper puts us in a crime world where we see a new way of dealing with the problems they are having.

Sci-Fi: Looper enters the time travel genre which never gets over complicated which is a big plus in time travel genre.

Thriller: Looper keeps us guessing to what will happen next throughout.

Settings: Looper creates a future world that isn’t too farfetched which helps us see how things could change slowly.
Special Effects
: Looper uses great special effects when needed, with the highlight being the Seth chasing.

Suggestion: Looper is one of the must watch films for time travel fans. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Cid shows his powers.

Worst Part: Time Travel films always have slight plot hole problems.

Action Scene Of The Film: Older Joe meets Abe.

Oh My God Moment: Old Seth running out of time.

Favourite Quote: Older Joe ‘I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.’

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

Tagline: Face your future. Fight your past.

 

Overall: Time Travel film with a slick style that will keep us wanting more

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