Joseph Gordon-Levitt Weekend – Stop-Loss (2008)

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Writer: Kimberly Peirce, Mark Richard (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Victor Rasuk, Timothy Olyphant, Ciaran Hinds, Rob Brown

 

Plot: A veteran soldier returns from his completed tour of duty in Iraq, only to find his life turned upside down when he is arbitrarily ordered to return to field duty by the Army.


Tagline – The bravest place to stand is by each other’s side.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch Movie

 

Story: Stop-Loss starts as we see the army unit that is touring in Iraq, they come under attack losing men, Brandon King (Phillippe) and Steve Shriver (Tatum) return home with their unit for a weekend of leave with Tommy (Gordon-Levitt) and Eyeball (Brown).

The weekend in Texas shows the effects on war has had on the soldiers, Steve becoming a violent drunk, while Tommy is suffering from losing his best friend on that last mission, Brandon tries to keep them in line while he is about to eave himself. Brandon gets stop-loss meaning he must return to Iraq, but he isn’t going to return, going on the run AWOL from the army with Michelle (Cornish), Steve’s girlfriend, as he wants to find a way to leave the army, while also showing the effects of the war on him.

 

Thoughts on Stop-Loss

 

Characters – Brandon King is the squad leader of his unit, he losses men on his latest tour of duty, but believes he is out with this latest tour, he must remain calm for his men back home while clearly suffering from PTSD from the events. He gets ordered to return to Iraq which he isn’t having leading him to go on the run, searching for answers to stop his return to war. Steve is Brandon’s best friend and fellow star of their home town, he returns home to get married, but his suffering is clearer to see and this puts his relationship with Michelle in the air. Michelle is Steve’s girlfriend, they are meant to be getting married, but when Brandon goes on the wrong, she supports him as her relationship with Steve get worse. Tommy is another member of the unit, he loses his best friend on tour and never recovers, he drinks to get through his nightmares which shows the PTSD he is suffering from, only Brandon can get through to him and with him on the run Tommy is a danger to everyone.

PerformancesRyan Phillippe gives his best performance of his career in this role, he shows the strength his character needs while the weaknesses inside are tearing him up. Channing Tatum broke away from the pretty boys roles first with this role and shows that he does have skills. Abbie Cornish is strong in her role through the film and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fantastic in the supporting role as the PTSD in his character feels the most destructive.

StoryThe story follows the effects of war on three soldiers returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, they are all suffering from different levels of PTSD and shouldn’t be returning to duty, when one gets Stop-loss he goes on the run, ones behaviour stops him going back with this being the only thing he wants and the third who wanted out but decides he wants to return. While the story shows one man trying to get away from his duty, it shows the larger effects of soldiers that are returning with PTSD and how easily they can just break. This is an important story about treating soldiers with respect by not forcing them to return if they are not mentally capable off because of what they have seen, done or been involved in, and how to support them as they try to return to normal lives.

WarThe war side of this film is shown in what happened to these soldiers and the aftermath of what happens when they return without the support required.

SettingsThe settings show both the world they have been living in Iraq and the home back in Texas as they are in desperate search to get on with their life.


Scene of the Movie –
Brothers fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of support the soldiers get.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most impactful movies when it comes to tackle war, it shows how difficult life away from the tours can tear the soldiers apart in a war they didn’t need to be fighting. This has career best performances from the three lead actors and a story which could easily be a reality to any soldier returning from active duty.

 

Overall: Must watch war story.

Rating

 

 

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Joseph Gordon Levitt Weekend – Snowden (2016)

snowdenDirector: Oliver Stone

Writer: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone (Screenplay) Anatoly Kucherena, Luke Harding (Book)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nicholas Cage, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Shailene Woodley, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Olyphant, Scott Eastwood, Rhys Ifrans

 

Plot: The NSA’s illegal surveillance techniques are leaked to the public by one of the agency’s employees, Edward Snowden, in the form of thousands of classified documents distributed to the press.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important but Slow True Story

 

Story: Snowden starts as we follow documentary film maker Laura Poitras (Leo) and journalist Glenn Greenwald (Quinto) meet Edward Snowden (Gordon-Levitt) who is a private contractor for the NSA giving his interview to why he did what he did.

The story begins back when Snowden was training to be a soldier only to be discharged on medical grounds and entering a career into the CIA. We see how Snowden meet his love Lindsay (Woodley) but on the other side of this life he gets to see how the minds of different people inside the CIA work leaving him questioning each decision within before he went onto exposing all the secrets from around the world.

Snowden is the story of one of the biggest whistle-blowers in American history, he gave up his whole life to show the secrets of America and other intelligence communities. This is an important part of history we haven’t fully seen the effects of yet which makes this film almost feel too early. The film moves at a steady pace but can get complicated when certain technological talk going on.

Joseph gives his ever-reliable performance as Snowden without ever looking out of place in the role. When it comes to the reporters exposing the story they all come off great without shining or coming off badly. The rest of the government characters all work well too. The truth is no one lets the film down on performances it is another film that can get caught up on tech talk.

 

Overall: This is an interesting look at how one of the biggest leaks in intelligence history happened.

Rating

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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

 

 

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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