ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – W – The Walker (2007)

Director: Paul Schrader

Writer: Paul Shrader (Screenplay)

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty, Moritz Bleibtreu, Mary Beth Hurt, Lily Tomlin, Willem Dafoe

 

Plot: An escort who caters to Washington D.C.’s society ladies becomes involved in a murder case.


Tagline – Everyone loves a good scandal

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Mystery

 

Story: The Walker starts as high society walker Carter Page III (Harrelson) keeps the ladies of the Washington high society company, with Lynn Lockner (Thomas) being one of his most famous clients. When Lynn discovers a murder, Carter takes up a position to help her not ruin her name for being at this location, while the rest of the society Natalie Van Miter (Bacall), Jack Delorean (Beatty) try to learn his involvement in the murder.

As the case continues to grow, Carter becomes the prime suspect being targeted by the police and the high society that want somebody to take the blame away from their own circle.

 

Thoughts on The Walker

 

Characters – Carter Page III has made a career out of mingling around the women of high society, where he walks them in parties to keep them entertained, his actions never put the rumours in the air, until one of the ladies is involved in a murder, Carter sees the once always open doors closing around him, forcing him to uncover the truth to save his own reputation.  Lynn Lockner is one of the most frequent clients for Carter, they have a close friendship which is tested when she is involved in the murder of a man, did she discover the body or have something to do with it? Natalie Van Miter is another one of the high society that enjoys Carter’s company only she doesn’t always play fair with the others in the circle. Jack Delorean isn’t the biggest fan of Carter and certain members of the high society, he is always looking for dirt on them.

PerformancesWoody Harrelson is the highlight of the film with his engaging performance in an otherwise forgettable story. Kristin Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty bring their big name presence to the film without making the impact to make you care about their characters.

StoryThe story takes us into the high society world where the rich believe they can get away with anything, we follow a walker that mingles with the ladies to keep the business with gossip etc, when a murder is committed, he becomes the prime suspect and must figure out how to clear his name before his reputation is ruined. This story is just like you would imagine, it is a series of conversations from people that are always looking down on people who just want to take each other of their high horses through the eyes of a man desperately trying to stay within the circle. This story could have been extended to give more development to the characters through a television series, which would have been a lot more interesting to watch.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film follows the aftermath of the murder which adds to the mystery as to who committed it and why, we do get plenty of suspects, but most people we meet seem to have a shady reason to be in the position they are in.

SettingsThe film is set in the Washington high society world, with flashy parties, massive apartments, everything you don’t see people in natural life.


Scene of the Movie –
Reporting the murder.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough time to address the real issues touched on within the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story that had potential to be much bigger and more interesting only for it to become mostly forgettable with the slow pacing and weak character development.

 

Overall: Slow and disappointing.

Rating

 

 

Birth (2004)

logoDirector: Jonathan Glazer

Writer: Jonathan Glazer, Milo Addica, Jean-Claude Carriere (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Cameron Bright, Danny Huston, Lauren Bacall, Alison Elliott, Arliss Howard, Michael Desautels, Anne Heche, Peter Stormare, Ted Levine

 

Plot: A young boy attempts to convince a woman that he is her dead husband reborn.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thinking Thriller Without Punch

 

Story: Birth starts by having Sean (Desautels) jogging before having a heart attack and dying while also showing a baby being born. Move forward ten years and we see Anna (Kidman) visiting Sean’s grave with her new fiancé Joseph (Huston). To celebrate the recent engagement the couple are having a party, but for some reason one of the guests Clara (Heche) hides her present before replacing it. The party going on a young boy (Bright) is waiting in the lobby.

The young boy Sean enters into the house to talk to Anna explaining that he is Sean her dead husband and not to marry Joseph. Trying to get the interruption to stop Joseph confronts Sean’s father Mr Conte (Levine) and between the three adults they repeatedly tell Sean to stop pestering Anna before going the separate ways. When Sean collapses after this Anna starts to give the thought a second think.

The Conte’s try to figure out what could be wrong with their son but Sean continues to try and contact Anna and to meet up in the park. Anna decides to meet him and when Sean knows where to go he asks to meet the old Sean’s brother in law to answer questions. The questions asked bring a startling realization that Sean does know too much for it to only be research, Anna wants to get to the bottom of this once and for all while both families don’t know what to make of the situation.

Anna comes up with an idea to figure out about this Sean but with the more time spent together the closer they get leading to Joseph showing his true colours and Sean’s original best man Clifford (Stormare) coming in to try and help find out the truth. We are left to wonder just who wants to believe the truth along with what is the truth.

Birth is a romantic thriller that really pushes boundaries, first it deals with actually having to let go of a true love before eventually dealing with the idea that you could never get over it. It does have a spoon feed finish which does leave it coming off short but it does keep you wondering throughout. It doesn’t feel as open as it could because the ending pretty much tells us the truth, but it also never really address the problems the boy could actually be having with a potential delusion. The idea of everlasting love is good and really does make you want to see it but this feels very much taboo because of the ages which gives the film an awkward feel throughout too. (5/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Nicole Kidman: Anna widowed lady who is about to take the her first step into marriage again, until the young boy turns up and changes her look on life after claiming to be her husband. Anna has to decide what she thinks is real or not. Nicole gives a good performance showing just how hard it could be to let someone go. (7/10)

 kidman

Cameron Bright: Young Sean a little boy who claims to be the dead husband of Anna and he seems to know too much to be making it up but is he really the man reborn or just making up a farfetched story. Cameron showed why he was getting plenty of roles as a child actor here. (7/10)

 

Danny Huston: Joseph husband to be of Anna who has be very patient with Anna but this little boy could show his true colours that will push him to the limits. Danny showed he is a good supporting actor here. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Birth has a supporting cast that includes the family and friends of Anna who are all trying to help figure out what is going on with some believing and others not. They help move the story along because they offer advice and clues to the truth.

 

Director Review: Jonathan Glazer – Jonathan goes a solid job directing keeping us guessing to the final outcome. (7/10)

 

Drama: Birth touches onto sensitive subject with the ideas of reincarnation being real but the idea of the ages makes you have to pause about the reality of things. (7/10)

Mystery: Birth offers up a mystery that you spend most of the film trying to solve. (9/10)

Romance: Birth gives us the idea of everlasting love and how the two could have that. (7/10)

Thriller: Birth keeps you guessing to what is real as the story unfolds. (7/10)

Settings: Birth uses New York as its main setting which always makes for a beautiful setting for film. (7/10)

Suggestion: Birth is a film to try, it isn’t the greatest thriller but it does keep you guessing along. (Try It)

 

Best Part: The Mystery.

Worst Part: The end.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Awards: Nicole Kidman was nominated for Golden Globe.

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $24 Million

Budget: $20 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Tagline: A haunting thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.

 

Overall: Birth is a film that tries to be a romantic thriller but ends up being a drama about who wants to believe in reincarnation or not.

Rating 50

Misery (1990)

logoDirector: Rob Reiner

Writer: William Goldman (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall

 

Plot: Paul Sheldon, a successful novelist, is rescued after a snow storm by his “Number One Fan” and must rewrite his latest novel to her liking in order to stay alive.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the Best

 

Story: Misery starts with Paul Sheldon (Caan) finishing off his latest novel and enjoying a glass on Dom Perignon before returning from his distant cabin through snow filled mountains. The conditions get worse leading to Paul to crash his car and have visions of how he has been struggling with his latest work. Paul is saved from the car wreck by Annie Wilkes (Bates) his number one fan and nurse who takes him back to her house to fix him up.

Paul publicist Marcia Sindell (Bacall) concerned that she hasn’t heard from Paul phones the local Sheriff Buster (Farnsworth) who has to decides to investigate the potential missing persons. Paul gives Annie permission to read his latest novel which leads to him learning about the mental state when it becomes clear she is easily pushed to an extreme. We continue to see how Annie has become obsessed with the Misery character Paul has created.

When Annie finishes the book she finds out that Paul has killed off her beloved character causing her to have a break down. Annie forces Paul to burn the copy of the final book and then makes Paul write a new conclusion where Misery doesn’t die at the end. With the search continuing for Paul, we watch how Paul has to try and figure out a way to survive and potentially escape the Wilkes house. As time goes by Paul works on the book only to Annie’s approval and Sheriff Buster tries to discover whether Paul could still be alive after his car is discovered. Paul learns the truth about Annie leading to him fearing for his life but can he make it out of the predicament before it is too late.

Misery takes what is a simple idea and makes it into one of the most thrilling films ever made. The only bad thing I saw in the film was the fact that with today’s technology we would have seen Paul get free quicker but that is only how certain people will see the film if they are watching think why did he use his cell phone etc. the idea of being saved by a stalker works really well for the film as it drives it to the next level because it gives our character the feeling of safety before being put into a world of horror. The film also keeps you guessing of the mind set of Annie because we see how easily she can turn from pleasant to psycho with a click of fingers. This really is one of the best stories of film time and a King classic. (9/10)

 

Actor Review

 

James Caan: Paul Sheldon successful author who while completing his latest work ends up crashing car before being rescued by Annie. After being nursed back to health he finds that he is trapped in the house forced to bring his much loved character back to life. James gives a great performance as the slightly washed up writer. (9/10)

 paul

Kathy Bates: Annie Wilkes is Paul’s number one fan and after finding him after the crash takes him back to her house to nurse him back to health. After finding out that Paul has killed off her favourite character and heroine of the book series, she makes him rewrite the story. We also see how she has been keeping secrets that will show her real nature. Kathy gives a stunning performance that rightly won her the Oscar. (10/10)

 annie

Support Cast: Misery has a supporting cast of the Sheriff and his wife who are searching for Paul as well as a publicist who is concerned, we really don’t see any other characters.

 

Director Review: Rob Reiner – Rob does a great job directing this film making us wonder which direction every scene will go. (9/10)

 

Thriller: Misery keeps you guessing through every scene between Annie and Paul. (9/10)

Settings: Misery keeps the location isolated for the two characters making it impossible for Paul to escape. (10/10)

Suggestion: Misery is one to be watch by all, it is one of those films that manages to pull you in and sympathise with both sides because of their issues. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Bates performance.

Worst Part: Sadly it has dated, because if it happened today we would see a lot different in the film.

Oh My God Moment: Ankle scene.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Kathy Bates Won a Oscar for her performance.

Box Office: $61 Million

Budget: $20 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

Tagline: This Christmas there will be… Misery.

Trivia: Stephen King was initially reluctant to sell the film rights to “Misery” because he was skeptical that a Hollywood studio would make a movie faithful to his vision. However, King was impressed with one adaptation of his works, Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me (1986), and agreed to sell “Misery” under the proviso that Reiner would either produce or direct the film.

 

Overall: Misery is one of the classics in the thriller world and shows how Stephen King can write almost anything into being thrilling.

Rating 90