Daniel Craig Weekend – Defiance (2008)

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick (Screenplay) Nechama Tec (Book)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner, Mark Feuerstein, Tomas Arana

 

Plot: Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters, and endeavor to build a village, in order to protect themselves and about one thousand Jewish non-combatants.


Tagline – Freedom begins with an act of defiance!

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazing Story of the Tragedy of War

 

Story: Defiance starts as the Bielski brothers Tuvia (Craig), Zus (Schreiber) and Asael (Bell) set up camp in the forests of Belarus for Jews during the war, knowing they would become slaughtered if the Germans came across them. Tuvia wants to make sure the group survive, while Zus wants to fight back against them.

As the conflict between the brothers becomes clearer, Zus joins the Russian resistance to fight back, while Tuvia continues to grow the group offering the only hope of survival for the men, women and children.

 

Thoughts on Defiance

 

Characters – Tuvia wants safety for the innocent people in the war, mostly the Jews of Belarus, he offers them shelter in exchange for labour to make their community whole, guards them from the dangers that could come from the war, he makes the difficult decisions others simply couldn’t decide on. Zus wants to combative defence against the German’s he will eventually clash with his brother before joining the Russian’s against the German, always being left to wonder if he made the right decision. Asael is the younger of the three brothers, he learns to grow up through this war and his action show that he has given his own older brother the hope he needs to survive. Lilka is one of the women saved from the ghetto, she becomes somebody that challenges Tuvia to make the right decisions through the difficult times he is going through. We have a lot of support character who are part of this journey to show just how difficult surviving the war would have been for the innocent or helpless.

PerformancesDaniel Craig takes the leading role and shows all his strengths as an actor, he makes us believe that he is struggling with each and every expression he makes, this is likewise for Schreiber as the two show even with conflict they can work together. Jamie Bell continued to show he was growing up into a great actor ready for the more adult roles and with a supporting cast that contains Oscar nominated stars, we see the abilities involved with the cast.

StoryThe story here shows the incredible story of the Bielski brothers that gave hope to thousands of Jews during World War II, while the two oldest might fight over ideas of how to survive the war, they both want the same thing, freedom and safety for their people. We have seen many different stories of people doing incredible things to survive the war and never ask for anything in return is always growing, it is an important part of history that should never be forgotten and this film’s story shows us just how impossible their stories seemed.

Action/History/WarThe action in the film shows us the fighting suffered through war, the sequences show how quickly the peaceful locations can become ruined and just how war made people do things they never thought they would. This is also an important part of history which simply shouldn’t ever be forgotten.

SettingsSet mostly in the forest, this shows how the victims of war would be in hiding just hoping they never got seen by anybody who would come after them.


Scene of the Movie –
The journey.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The faith side while important does seem to take over at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is yet another amazing story of survival during the war, it showed how one family risked everything to make sure others were safe and shouldn’t ever be forgotten.

 

Overall: Powerful and important.

Rating

 

 

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Jakob the Liar (1999)

Director: Peter Kassovitz

Writer: Peter Kassovitz, Didier Decoin (Screenplay) Jurek Becker (Novel)

Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Liev Schreiber

 

Plot: In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from “his secret radio.” Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life.


Tagline –  He will make you believe.

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong, but Not Impactful Enough

 

Story: Jakob the Liar starts in Poland and the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Jakob (Williams) a pancake salesman is trying to avoid the curfew and while being accused of failing to follow the instruction he over hears the radio announcing the Russians are coming, he saves a young girl Lina (Gordon) the world spreads around the ghetto that the Russians are coming with Jakob giving them hope.

As the stories continue to grow Jakob learns he can no longer tell the truth because it will only leave the people with no hope and if he continues his lies he will give them false hope which might put the lives of fellow residents at risk.

 

Thoughts on Jakob the Liar

 

Characters – Jakob is one of the Jews confined the ghettos in Poland during World War II, he keeps his head down with his connection, until one day he makes the story up of hearing the Russians are coming which lifts the moral in the ghetto, only for everyone there wanting to listen to his radio, the one he doesn’t have, but he can’t tell the truth because it will bring back the suicides in the ghetto. The rest of the character we meet are the residents of the ghetto and a young girl Lina that has escaped the transport trains, they all see hope in Jakob’s stories.

PerformancesRobin Williams in the leading role does nail the accent, get his moments of humour and heart, but sadly it is hard to take the film seriously when you are waiting for a laugh even for the sensitive subject. The rest of the cast are good even if we are turning to Robin slightly too much through the film.

StoryThe story is a difficult one to watch with a humorous tone because it was a horrendous time in history, we know what happened to the Jews and how they were forced to live. Now saying this, how the Jews were given hope from the stories of Jakob does help the hellish life they were living through, but watching things get out of control does play into the what makes the story interesting to watch. This is a story that doesn’t balance the sensitive subject very well though which disappoints.

WarThe film is set in the war time, we get to see the conditions Jews were forced to live through for the most part, but not the conflict.

SettingsThe settings do make us believe we are there with the victims of the time which can be hard to watch like always.


Scene of the Movie –
Battling what to do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too humorous in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting idea for the how Jews would try to improve moral in a difficult time, but end sup being too humorous for the subject matter.

 

Overall: Not on the leave of the best holocaust movies.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – H – The Hurricane (1999)

Director: Norman Jewison

Writer: Armyan Bernstein, Dan Gordon (Screenplay) Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, Sam Chaiton Terry Swinton (Book)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Dan Hedaya, Debbi Morgan

 

Plot: The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.


Tagline – Based on the inspirational true story of a champion.

Runtime: 2 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Incredible Battle for Freedom

 

Story: The Hurricane starts as we see Rubin Carter (Washington) win his first boxing title, but not he is in prison for what he claims is a crime he never committed, a murder. In prison he has written a book to tell his side of the story and his life. When his book is published it goes through the system until 7-years later Lesra (Shannon) picks it up with his home tutors Sam (Schreiber), Terry (Hannah) and Lisa (Unger).

As Lesra reads more of the book he learns how hard the life of Rubin had been with a white cop constantly targeting him including the framing of the murders. Lesra becomes the one young man that will try to defend Rubin and over turn the charges given to him with a new case and a fair jury.

 

Thoughts on The Hurricane

 

Characters – Rubin ‘The Hurricane’ Carter was a champion boxer, he had to overcome the race discrimination that was still flowing through America, targeted by one cop who wants him behind bars. Found guilty of a murder he never committed having given up hope of ever getting released his book sheds new light on the case. When he becomes friends with Lesra and his guardians his hope of freedom is restored. Lesra is a young man that gets taken in by three Canadians who want to give him an education, he gets inspired by Rubin’s book and wants to help him become free for his wrongful imprisonment. Lisa, Sam and Terry are the three guardians of Lesra who end up investigating the case trying to shed new light on the evidence that has been put in the trials before. These characters are all based on real people, they show us just how hard the people worked to clear one man’s name when other wouldn’t or couldn’t.

PerformancesDenzel Washington received one of his Oscar nominations for this role, you can see why because he is fantastic in this leading role, having to go through a body transformation for only limited boxing time too, which shows his dedication to the role. Vicellous Shannon is the least known of this cast and he shows the enthusiasm to help his character see the bright future. Unger, Schreiber and Hannah are actors you know you will always get great performances from and this is no difference even if Hannah’s accent is questionable at times.

StoryThe story focuses on the real case of Rubin Carter, a wrongfully committed prisoner who is running low on options to find his freedom until young man and his guardians come to help with the case. This story shows the racial problems that America had during the 60’s and 70’s in a time where times were changing we still had victims to the old guard that didn’t want to change. It shows how hope could help guide one man to his freedom even after people had almost given up on him.

Biopic/SportsThe sports side of this film is a well-constructed boxing match, but this is only used once because it ruined the career of the fighter. The biopic shows how the life was changed by a wrongful conviction and needing to find a way to get out of prison.

SettingsThe settings show the different locations Rubin would be in out of prison, how confined he felt in jail and where the Lesra and his family have come from to help free him.


Scene of the Movie –
The trial.

That Moment That Annoyed Me John Hannah’s accent doesn’t work.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that is very strong, it has brilliant performances from the whole cast, a story that is almost unbelievable to think it true becomes a reality for Rubin Carter.

 

Overall: Must watch for Biopic fans.

Rating

 

 

The 5th Wave (2016)

5thDirector: J Blakeson

Writer: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner (Screenplay) Ricky Yancey (Novel)

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Zackary Arthur, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Maika Monroe, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello

 

Plot: Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Another Young Adult Franchise

 

Story: The 5th Wave starts as Cassie (Moretz) shows just how deadly she has become before flashing back before everything has changed when alien ships turned up above towns. The first wave of the attack was taking out all the electricity in the world. The second wave was flooding the Earth. The third wave was a deadlier version of the bird flu crippling the surviving number. The 4th wave is the ‘Others’ becoming humans taking out any other survivors and this is where Cassie gets separated from everyone.

With Cassie along we see how Sergeant Reznik (Bello) building a new defence against the Others which is most child soldiers from the remaining survivors. This brings us to the 5th Wave and that is saved for a twist in the film but it this the beginning of the next franchise of young adult stories.

The 5th Wave is the latest in what feels like an endless run of them which luckily is dying out now. This one stands out slightly more because it jumps straight into the battle between the humans and alien invaders instead of wasting too much time building up to this in a later film. I do think this would be a good addition to the genre if we hadn’t had too much rubbish before it.

Chloe is good in the leading role but the character isn’t written as strong as she could have been, while the known adult actors are clearly having the story arc to make them the villainous roles. the rest of the teens are or children are very basic never really getting time to make the impact with the Robinson struggling to make the true impact in his role. This would be an interesting addition to the world of teen young adult films but came too late into the flood of them.

 

Overall: I do feel this would have been a good addition to the young adult genre but I feel we won’t see the whole story now.

Ratingcard

 

 

Goon (2011)

goonDirector: Michael Dowse

Writer: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg (Screenplay) Adam Frattasio, Doug Smith (Book)

Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Marc-Andre Grondin, Kim Coates

 

Plot: Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of under performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Sports Comedy

 

Story: Goon starts as we meet bouncer Doug Glatt (Scott) who comes from a family of doctors and his best friend Pat (Baruchel) who has his own ice hockey show who is starting to wonder where his place is in the world. After getting involved in a fight with an ice hockey player and laying him out, Doug finds himself getting offered a try out for team.

Proving his worth on the rank Doug gets offered a contract for a team in the semi pro level where his job is to watch the back of once brilliant potential player Xavier LaFlamme (Grondin). With Doug’s team success turning with his addition to the team it soon becomes an event to see who Doug will fight next with close to retirement tough guy Ross Rhea (Schreiber) wanting to have a final fight before retiring.

Goon is a sports comedy that takes on ice hockey a sport that can always be looked at very strangely with how violent it can become for no reason. We only look at the violent side of the sport not the beauty it can have when played professional. We do get part building of team spirit through the film which does have elements of underdog story too.

Seann William Scott is great in this leading role getting to be the nice guy off the rink but the most dangerous man on it. Baruchel gets very tiring quickly with his character that just doesn’t stop being annoying with Liev Schreiber being the more experienced player really works. This is a fun sports comedy that can be enjoyed by most sports fans that could easily be seen why it is so popular/

 

Overall: Underrated sports comedy that has plenty of fun at ice hockey’s expense.

Ratingcard