Maggie Gyllenhaal Weekend – Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

Director: Mike Newell

Writer: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ginnifer Goodwin, Dominic West, Juliet Stevenson, Marcia Gay Harden

Plot: A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 1950s Wellesley girls to question their traditional social roles.


Tagline – They had everything. She showed them more.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant

Story: Mona Lisa Smile starts when Katherine Ann Watson (Roberts) takes a teaching role at the prestigious Wellesley College, one with the social traditions taught to girls studying they’re from the upper-class families. Katherine learns that her class with includes Betty Warren (Dunst), Joan Brandwyn (Stiles), Giselle Levy (Gyllenhaal) and Connie Baker (Goodwin) know the whole textbook on the first day.

Katherine must learn to keep her head down, while trying to teach the young women about being thinking instead of following the traditions they have been raised to believe are the only way to go. With Katherine showing them a new look at life the pressure starts getting thrown back at her by the parent’s of the students, with some wanting to accept it, while others are happy to stay in the line they believe is right.

Thoughts on Mona Lisa Smile

Characters – Katherine Ann Watson is an arts history teacher that is known for her free-thinking ways that doesn’t follow the traditional ways of the school, she does want to teach the women they don’t have to just get married and become housewives, she must remain in a position which will see the higher ups in the school question her beliefs and methods. Katherine will help develop these young women to understand they can be more in life. Betty Warren is the daughter of the head of the school, she is engaged and ready to finish school and become a housewife, everything she has been taught is right for her, she isn’t afraid to report anyone going against the traditions and questions her own friends for trying to be different. Joan Brandwyn is one of the students who also believes she is meant to just get married, she did want to study law and Katherine pushes her to follow her dream an apply for law school, this puts Joan in a position of not knowing what she should do next. Giselle Levy has been having an affair with one of the professor, she pushes the other girls into trying to break the rules more which is the way she feels like she fits in.

PerformancesJulia Roberts is wonderful in this leading role, being the truly free-thinking which does seem to reflect her own acting career at times. Kirsten Dunst is great too showing that in the early 2000s, she was nearly untouchable in her acting. Julia Stiles is great to breaking away from the romantic comedies she had been doing. Maggie Gyllenhaal shows that she was going to go onto bigger projects with her wonderful supporting performance and Ginnifer Goodwin is wonderful in this film too.

StoryThe story here follow a free-thinking professor that takes a job in a prestigious women’s school where she wants to help the young women start to think for themselves instead of following the traditions set up for them to follow, her thinking does upset the normal in the beliefs, as she just wants to make a difference to these women’s lives. When you look back at the story and time it is set, it does show us just how frustrating the mentality was. You could compare this to ‘Dead Poets Society’ with a teaching trying to show students life can be different to what they have been raised to believe. The story does show us enough of a previous problem in life and does show how people would have changed if they were given a glimpse into the life they could have.

SettingsThe film is set around the school in which Katherine teaches, it shows how the rules are going to be difficult to follow or understand and how people will constantly be looking down on people trying to change thing.


Scene of the Movie – The flowers of goodbye.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain characters are too generic.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful look at how somebody wanted to help make a change to the normal which should never have been the normal, we have five excellent leading lady performances too.

Overall: Wonderful look at change.

Rating

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

Director: Lewis Teague

Writer: Mark Rosenthal, Lawrence Konner (Screenplay) Diane Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Spiros Focas, Avner Eisenberg

 

Plot: When Joan Wilder is abducted while on a trip along the Nile, her boyfriend, Jack Colton, and pal Ralph rush to rescue her and retrieve a fabled jewel.


Tagline – When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun 80s Adventure

 

Story: The Jewel of the Nile starts when struggling author Joan (Turner) can’t think of her latest romance novel, offered a chance to go down the Nile by Omar (Focas), she must leave her boyfriend adventurer Jack (Douglas) to explore the mystery about a mysterious jewel.

When it turns out Omar isn’t the man he presented himself to Joan, Jack must team up with an old friend Ralph (DeVito) to steal the jewel back for the rightful owners and save Joan from the danger she unwittingly finds herself in.

 

Thoughts on The Jewel of the Nile

 

Characters – Jack is the adventure seeker, who travels around the world in search for his own adventure, he has his girl Joan and would give up the time with her for an adventure, only this time he must go after her to rescue her from a villainous man, he gets lucky in fights not being the first to step up and get his hands dirty. Joan is an author that is struggling to start her latest work, she goes to Omar believing it will be a new story only to find herself needing to write a story she isn’t willing to write and learn about her own feelings for Jack. Ralph is the old friend that has always clashed with Jack, he finds himself in the middle of this not prepared for where things will go. Omar is the man that has the jewel, he wants it to control the people of the land which only caused the nation to be torn about who to follow.

PerformancesMichael Douglas in the leading role is a fun choice, you wouldn’t put him down as a leading adventure star, but his performance only adds to the humour in the film, making everything more enjoyable. Kathleen Turner is good to in her role, she shows us a strong female character that does still need the man’s help. Danny DeVito gets to give us the comic relief through the film which does work at times while at other times it misses. Spiros Focas does make for a good villain role.

StoryThe story follows the events of Jack and Joan as they get caught up in another adventure in search of treasure, even though the treasure this time is a person. This is what the 80s stories were all about, we had people outside of their comfort zone battle to survive against an evil ruler trying to take over the control. It plays out like you would imagine as our characters must learn a new culture, make new friends and stumble across defeat the villain. It is an easy watch one that can be enjoyed without being overly complicated and gives us the idea of peril throughout.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action shows us just where the characters must fight to survive mostly from bullets flying their way on their adventure across the country hoping to survive and find the treasure. The comedy shows us not taking things too seriously when it comes to the style they survive the adventure.

SettingsThe film takes us across a Middle Eastern country in search for the treasure, it shows a culture people can easily ignore, show the good and bad in people.


Scene of the Movie –
Jet craft.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The racial jokes which wouldn’t work now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical 80s adventure film that will give you everything you want from the genre and help you enjoy things along the way.

 

Overall: Enjoyable adventure.

Rating

 

 

Vintage Franchise – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Director: Nicholas Meyer

Writer: Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (Screenplay) Gene Roddenberry (Characters)

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Kim Cattrall, Christopher Plummer

 

Plot: On the eve of retirement, Kirk and McCoy are charged with assassinating the Klingon High Chancellor and imprisoned. The Enterprise crew must help them escape to thwart a conspiracy aimed at sabotaging the last best hope for peace.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Addition to Franchise

 

Story: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country starts as the Klingon race is facing extinction after a mining accident, Spock (Nimoy) and the federation have looked at options to create a peace agreement and Spock suggests the near retirement Kirk (Shatner) to escort the Chief in Command of the Klingons for negotiations.

When the escort goes wrong all clues point to the Enterprise attacking and members of the crew boarding the ship to assassinate the Chief in Command, this leads to Kirk and McCoy (Kelley) being arrested for the assassination, leaving Spock to uncover the truth during this delicate time between the space races.

 

Thoughts on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

 

Characters – Kirk is on the verge of retirement and reluctantly accepts an escort mission searching for a chance of peace even against his own dislike towards the Klingons after their hand in his son’s death. Kirk is framed for the assassination of the Klingon leader and joins McCoy in a mining prison hoping his crew could turn around the conviction. Spock is the one trying to put together peace treaty and must take control of the Enterprise after the assassination and the investigation from within the ship to who was really behind it all. Chang is the Klingon general that believes himself and Kirk are both great warriors and he also isn’t supporting the peace talks, he is quick to point the finger at Kirk for the assassination.

PerformanceBy now we what performances we are going to get from the crew, with Shatner and Nimoy both doing what we expect now. Christopher Plummer is the biggest addition to this cast and he does well even though you could question an actor as respected as him joining in this late in the franchise.

StoryThe story shows the point of the Federation, looking for peace between all races but the crew must deal with the few extremists that don’t want the peace in the galaxy. This does play out as a strategical part of the series as we learn more sides to the overall battle which makes everything feel a lot more interesting. If you are going into this looking for big battles you won’t get that one though.

Adventure/Mystery/Sci-FiThe adventure does take a step back in this story as we are left to focus on the mystery behind who is against the peace talks.

SettingsThe mostly just spend the time on the ships which is fine because this story focuses on the idea of peace in the galaxy over a battle there.

Special EffectsThe effects are good without being great through this film.

Scene of the Movie – The assassination looks great.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of use of the supporting crew.

Final ThoughtsThis is another nice addition to the Star Trek franchise which shows even after 6 films you can still enjoy the film.

 

Overall: This is a nicely built up film in the franchise.

Rating

 

 

 

Halloween Kingathon – Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

Banner-1logoDirector: Tom McLoughlin

Writer: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (Screenplay) Stephen King (Short Story)

Starring: Tim Matheson, Brooke Adams, Robert Rusler, Chris Demetral, Robert Hy Gorman, William Sanderson

Plot: Based on a short story by Stephen King, a man and his family return to his home town, but he is then harassed by teenagers that died when he was a kid.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Ghosts of the Living Dead

Story: Sometimes They Come Back starts the Norman family moving back to Jim (Matheson) home town with wife Sally (Adams) and son Scott (Gorman). Jim has taken a teaching job and the rumours about his past continue to follow him around, while his past haunts him from this town.

We learn what happens to Jim’s brother when he was a kid and that being the main reason why they left the town in the first place. The return to the town brings death of a student before a new student Richard Lawson (Rusler) appears in class who has a striking resemblance to the thug that killed Jim’s brother.

When a second student dies a second member of the gang who died after killing Jim’s brother turns up in his class looking for revenge for their deaths.

Sometimes They Come Back turns the spin on the idea from The Crow where the evil characters come back looking for revenge. It all works very basic but you do wonder why the innocent kids deaths never really got looked into. It ends up being a reliving moment idea and some weak investigation nothing really gets explained to why it all ends up happening. (5/10)

Actor Review

Tim Matheson: Jim Norman is the teacher who is haunted by his childhood where he brother was murdered but it trying to rebuild his life after a professional incident in his home town. His life really comes back to life when the thugs who died during his brother’s death come back for revenge. Tim does a solid job in the film without excelling. (6/10)jim

Robert Rusler: Richard Lawon is the leader of the gang who killed Jim’s brother but died, he has returned with the rest of his gang from the grave to get revenge on Jim. Robert does a good job in this role and you generic villain character. (7/10)

Support Cast: Sometimes They Come Back has the generic supporting cast with worried family and typical thug like characters.

Director Review: Tom McLoughlinTom gives us a basic thriller without hitting any real horror angles. (5/10)

Horror: Sometimes They Come Back doesn’t reach all the horror angles it needs to get to. (4/10)

Thriller: Sometimes They Come Back tries to keep you guessing to what will happen next to the characters. (7/10)

Settings: Sometimes They Come Back uses the basic small town setting which is easily the trademark of Stephen King based film. (5/10)

Suggestion: Sometimes They Come Back is one to try but could easily be missed. (Try It)

Best Part: Basic tunnel scene.

Worst Part: Not enough scares.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has a sequel.

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

Overall: Basic horror thriller that is very slow

Rating 40