ABC Film Challenge – Romance – M – Maggie’s Plan (2015)

Director: Rebecca Miller

Writer: Rebecca Miller (Screenplay) Karen Rinaldi (Story)

Starring: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel

 

Plot: Maggie wants to have a baby, raising him on her own, but when she gets romantically involved with John, a married man, things get complicated and all the balance of Maggie’s plans may collapse.


Tagline – Chapter Three: A Change of Heart

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Romantic Comedy Drama

 

Story: Maggie’s Plan starts as we meet university professor Maggie (Gerwig) who is tired of not being able to meet the right guy has made the decision to inseminate herself, using her friend Guy’s (Fimmel) sperm. While her couple friends Tony (Hader) and Felicia (Rudolph) give her advice, but her life changes when she meets John (Hawke) a professor at the university, who ends up leaving his wife Georgette (Moore) to marry Maggie.

When Maggie and John do get married, they have their own child and the three parents must now work together to raise the children from his previous marriage, Maggie does start to wonder about her decision about going with John as her own career gets held back at times.

 

Thoughts on Maggie’s Plan

 

Characters – Maggie is a career woman that has never had any luck in love, she has decided she wants a baby and is happy to go through the process on her own, she does listen to advice from friends and family, she makes a new friend in John that soon steals her heart giving her a family she never believe she would get. John is an ambitious author in a loveless marriage who starts having the affair with Maggie before leaving his wife, it doesn’t take long before he shows that he ends up falling into the same problems he was facing in his last marriage. Georgette is a successful professor that is married to John, she has always put career first meaning John had to put his professional side on hold, she is against most people coming into her life. Tony and Felicia are the friends who have their own family who helps Maggie make her decision.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are good, with Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore all showing they can handle any sort of serious material put on their plates. The supporting cast are strong too without anybody in the film doing anything overly memorable.

StoryThe story follows a professional woman that wants to start a life with a baby, she has a plan she wants to follow which seems simple in her head until she meets John who puts everything in a different direction and as the passage of time rolls on, she believes she might have made a mistake. This does show us how life doesn’t always go the way you plan and no matter how much you plan things, things will go wrong. This story isn’t the most interesting as we see how one woman deals with starting to date a married man before starting her own relationship with him, never truly sure what she wants in life.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy is solid, most of the comedy comes from Bill Hader who can hit dry wit in any film, the romance shows us how one woman sees love and the problems it brings.

SettingsThe film doesn’t give us any clear settings which disappoints, though it does show how it is meant to be everyday life.


Scene of the Movie –
Drunk Bill Hader.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not the most interesting story.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t the most interesting film, it does have strong performances from a talented cast, it just doesn’t connect with me.

 

Overall: Strong performances.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – S – Still Alice (2014)

Director: Wash Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer

Writer: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland (Screenplay) Lisa Genova (Novel)

Starring: Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae, Hunter Parrish, Alec Baldwin, Seth Gilliam, Kristen Stewart

 

Plot: A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Moore’s Powerhouse Performance

 

Story: Still Alice starts on linguistics professor Alice Howland (Moore) birthday, with her family, husband John (Baldwin), children Tom (Parrish) and Anna (Bosworth), the family is filled with college educations, successful careers and with distant daughter Lydia (Stewart) following her own dreams, we get our normal higher educated family.

With Alice noticing slight mistakes in her life, loss of knowing where she is, loss of words, she starts seeing a doctor who can gives her the news that she has early Alzheimer’s disease, but even worse her children could have the disease too.

 

Thoughts on Still Alice

 

Characters – Alice is a professor of linguistics, one of the most renowned in her field, she has the perfect family of grown-up children following their own careers. She notices her memory going before learning she has early onset Alzheimer’s, she must learn to live with this disease which will make everyday routine a challenge. John is Alice’s husband, he supports her through her tough times, never giving up on her. Anna, Tom and Lydia are her children that have been living their own lives, who come to support her too.

PerformancesJulianne Moore gives the performance of her career, you believe every struggler Alice goes through because of her performance. Alec Baldwin is great in the supporting role as are the rest of the cast, with this being one of the first films to help Kristen Stewart break out of the Twilight fame.

StoryThe story shows us what happens when a once successful professor Alice gets struck down with Alzheimer’s, the strain it can put on the family, her life and leave her helpless for the first time in her life. The idea that families will have to face this similar situation will come through and this shows how it can take away the delights they once had from life and shows how more will need to be done to help people. The support from the family helps, but you can’t help but wonder what it would be like for someone who is alone that is suffering from this.

SettingsThe film shows us the life that Alice and her family have, this brings us into a world of a real family that could be suffering through the same situation.


Scene of the Movie –
The Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Text talk should have been the first signal for a linguistics expert.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful performance heavy film that shows us the suffering the victim of the disease will go through. The struggle the family will be put through as they see a loved one disappear in front of them, something incredibly difficult.

 

Overall: This is one of the best performance heavy films.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – L – Laws of Attraction (2004)

Director: Peter Howitt

Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna, Robert Harling (Screenplay)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Michael Sheen, Parker Posey, Frances Fisher, Nora Dunn

 

Plot: Amidst a sea of litigation, two New York City divorce lawyers find love.


Tagline – Getting married is a great way to fall in love.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Rom Com

 

Story: Laws of Attraction starts as we meet divorce lawyer Audrey Woods (Moore), she has never lost a case for her clients and has her own strict style to getting business done and personal life, when her latest case brings her up against laid backed lawyer Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan) that throws her off her game, with his style and the fact he has never lost a case doesn’t help.

As the two fight their obvious attraction to each other, the battle in the courts breaking each other’s undefeated streaks before getting their hands on one of the biggest divorce cases in the public eye, rock star Thorne (Sheen) and fashion designer Serena (Posey), which brings the two lawyers closer together.

 

Thoughts on Laws of Attraction

 

Characters – Audrey Woods is the most successful divorce lawyer in New York City, undefeated and the one that the rich and famous turn too. Away from the court she lives a very closed off life not dating and using her spare time watching the weather channel. She is the complete opposite to Daniel, she is neat and tidy borderline OCD. Daniel is the untidy lawyer that has returned to New York and goes against Audrey in the courtroom, he is as successful as Audrey which shows the two clashing in court. The two characters show how opposites can attract in the strangest times. Thorne and Serena are the typical over the top celebrities that should never have gotten married in the first place, that show Audrey and Daniel about love.

PerformancesJulianne Moore is great in this leading role, her chemistry with Brosnan is good throughout and her timing for the comical moments works for her character. Pierce Brosnan is great opposite Moore, he is always great as the laid back figure in any movie and this is no different. The supporting cast are good too with Michael Sheen, Parker Posey and Frances Fisher getting plenty of laughs through the film.

StoryThe story here follows two lawyers that start against each other in court but soon start having sparks between them as they are against each other with one of their biggest cases going on in the court room. This does play into the idea of opposites attracting through an unlikely situation and plays out the idea of career versus love at time, for the most part this is a safe romantic comedy that does the humour when needed and the serious moments when needed too.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in this movie does hit well, most of it comes from the supporting characters with Michael Sheen being the highlight of them. The romance side of the film shows us just how opposites could attract and that you could find love in the strangest places.

SettingsThe film has a couple of main locations, New York which would explain the careers for both the lawyers and the fish out of water location in Ireland which offers Audrey a chance to loosen up.


Scene of the Movie –
To the Airport.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Audrey isn’t the nicest of characters with the way she treats Daniel.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable romantic comedy that does feel very safe, but doesn’t need to over complicate anything. You will get the chuckles needed too.

 

Overall: Safe and enjoyable romantic comedy.

Rating

 

 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn (Screenplay) Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons (Comic Book)

Starring: Taron Egerton, Pedro Pascal, Sophie Cookson, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges

 

Plot: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Blast of Fun

 

Story: Kingsman: The Golden Circle starts when the Kingsman are left for ruin with only Eggsy (Egerton) and Merlin (Strong) making it out of a calculated attack by drug lord Poppy (Moore) who is using former failed applicant Charlie (Holcroft) to do her work.

Searching for the Doomsday play, Eggsy and Merlin head to Kentucky and for Stateman to work with their agents Tequila (Tatum) Ginger Ale (Berry), Champagne (Bridges) and Whiskey (Pascal) to learn more about the Golden Circle which is the only other clue they have, it isn’t long before Poppy reveals her plan to the world and now the two Kingman and Stateman must work together to stop her with the help of an old friend.

 

Thoughts on Kingsman: The Golden Circle

 

Characters – First the Kingsman Eggys is now a proven Kingsman, a year has passed and his working relationship with Merlin and Roxy are the highest they have ever been. When he losses most of his team, he is reunited with Harry and must use his skills to return Harry to his former glory and save the world. Merlin continues his gadget man role but gets to learn with Ginger Ale about newer technology, where the two work to help the field team. Harry survived, well we get a loose story that works as to why but he is damaged spending the year not remembering who he is, when his memory does return to him, he isn’t the same man but does still have the edge.

The Statesman, Tequila is the agent that first discovers the Kingsman in their base, he asks the questions and feels almost like an American Eggys. Champagne is the leader of the Statesman who sets out the missions. Ginger Ale is the gadget woman that dreams of being able to go into the field but for now she works with Merlin. Whiskey is the agent that goes out into the field with Eggys and is easily the best character from the Statesman side of things with his lasso in hand, he gets all the best fight scenes.

Poppy is our main villain, she is a drug lord living off the grid, she has everyone in the palm of her hands but now she wants to be remembered as the successful businesswoman that she believes she is, by making her drugs legal, which looking at the reasoning seems like a good idea for her motives. She does have an evil side which comes out with how she is demanding people to accept what she is doing or they will die and forcing Elton John to sing for her.

We do have a large cast but with the length of the movie the most important characters do all get the required screen time.

PerformancesTaron Egerton once again does a great job in the leading role showing the street smarts one minute and the upper class the next, Mark Strong and Colin Firth both enjoy their roles never putting a foot wrong. Julianne Moore relishes playing the villain and makes the most of it. The weakest performances come from Bridges and Tatum but that is mostly because they have very few scenes and are both here to drag in a certain audience. Halley Berry does a good job in her role not demanding the attention which other gadget figures have in the past, but to me Pedro Pascal is the scene stealer here, he loves the action sequences, understands how his character is meant to be over the top too.

StoryThe story here does increase the scale of everything, it brings the Kingsman into an international ring of secret agent which opens many more doors in the future, but it does bottle down to needing to face one crazy genius who has an enhanced goon as their main protection. The villain does have good motives for their plan, which is different for most villains who just what the money or revenge, the idea of bringing Harry back while farfetched does play into the bigger story too. If you wanted bigger, you get it here and even though the film is longer than you would like it to be it just doesn’t get slow.

Action/AdventureThe action is large scale with the usual well-placed action sequences with the ski lift being the most impressive of the lot. The adventure side of the film does take the agents all over the world to face different environments for battle.

SettingsAs we said we jump around the world, we start in London, head to Sweden, Kentucky, Italy and Cambodia for our main settings which gives us different environments to fight in.

Special EffectsThis is one of the weakest elements of the film, it does make things bigger which does force the use of CGI and the large-scale scenes do at times take you out of the moment.


Scene of the Movie –
Ski lift.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Travelling around the world never happened so quickly.

Chances of Sequel: I am sure we will get one.

Final ThoughtsIf you wanted a sequel that is just as fun as the original, then you will find it here, it builds a larger universe which we know is something we don’t always need, we have a great villain with a smart plan, we also have enjoyable action throughout.

 

Overall: One of the most fun action films of the year.

Rating

 

 

Boogie Nights (1997)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C Reilly, William H Macy, Heather Graham

 

Plot: The story of a young man’s adventures in the Californian pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Drama About Success

 

Story: Boogie Nights starts as we meet high school dropout Eddie Adams (Wahlberg) working in a club for Maurice TT Rodriguez (Guzman) in his disco club. The club brings in porn director Jack Horner (Reynolds) with his number one star Amber Waves (Moore). When Jack sees, and hears the rumours about the size of Eddie’s penis he wants him to be the new star of his movies.

Leaving his home Eddie move in with Jack and it isn’t long before he becomes the hottest property in the porn industry as Dirk Diggler, as he learns that along with the fellow pornstars Rollergirl (Graham), Reed Rothchild (Reilly) and Becky Barnett (Parker) the production company dominates the industry through the late 70’s and early 80’s, but with the success come the darker side of the industry the drinks, drugs and knowing age could be an expire date in the industry.

 

Thoughts on Boogie Nights

 

Characters/PerformanceEddie Adams is the typical high school dropout that lands on his feet entering into the porn industry. The characters sum up how a young star can rise too quickly and become blinded in the overly famous. Jack Horner is the director of the films but also the man preparing the latest talent even if not everything is strictly legal. Amber Weeks is the experienced star guiding Eddie as well moving onto new thing. We do get a couple of well-developed characters in the supporting roles too who we can all learn about as we are invested in their supporting roles.

Performance wise, Mark Wahlberg burst onto the main stream with this impressive performance, Burt Reynolds in the star of the show here dominating the screen whenever he appears. Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, William H Macy, Nicole Ari Parker all are great in the supporting roles in this film.

StoryThe story shows the rise and fall inside of the porn industry, we see how some people get out and start a life outside the industry, others get consumed by the lifestyle, others never move forward with the times and others can struggle in the post industry life. I do think this brings us brilliant character development even if the story is slightly long at times but the afterlife outside the industry becomes fantastic viewing.

SettingsThe settings show us the time the film is set, the struggles the people are going through, I think each setting comes off perfect as we get to see the world we are entering.

Final ThoughtsThis is a long film but it is also a rewarding film too, it does a brilliant look into how lives can be ruined by a career choices.

 

Overall: Brilliant, haunting look at the porn industry.

Rating