ABC Film Challenge – Romance – H – High Fidelity (2000)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack, Scott Rosenberg (Screenplay) Nick Hornby (Book)

Starring: John Cusack, Lisa Bonet, Joelle Carter, Joan Cusack, Sara Gilbert, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso

 

Plot: Rob, a record store owner and compulsive list maker, recounts his top five breakups, including the one in progress.


Tagline – A comedy about fear of commitment, hating your job, falling in love and other pop favorites.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Story of Finding Love 101

 

Story: High Fidelity starts as Rob Gordon (Cusack) is breaking up with his girlfriend Laura (Hjejle) pushing him into going through his top five break ups and former girlfriends, from high school, college and adult life. Rob owns a small record shop with two employees Dick (Louiso) and Barry (Black) who are always in competition for the music to be played in the story.

Dick & Barry try to help Rob get over his break up by taking him to a local bar to see musician Marie De Salle (Bonet) who has her own unique sound, one that Rob hasn’t heard before. Rob must put his life in order to understand what he is searching for in love.

 

Thoughts on High Fidelity

 

Characters – Rob Gordon is a record store owner who makes top five lists on every possible subject in the music field, he is going through a break up which sees his latest list being his top five break ups, he is looking back at his past relationships to figure out what went wrong and deciding whether to move on with a new love interest. Laura is the latest woman that Rob has broken up with, she is trying to move on, but Rob still sees something with. Dick an Barry are the two employees at the record store, they have different tastes in music which sees them clash at times about what is being played in the store, they also provide friendship for Rob. Marie is one of the woman Rob tries to move on with a musician with new sound. We sees five other women that Rob has been with though his life, ones that have seen things go wrong for him.

PerformancesJohn Cusack in the leading role does bring us a character that is emotional difficult in relationships which works for the film, he has moments of charm and shows his angry mind side too. Todd Louiso and Jack Black both make for most of the comedy in the supporting roles, while Iben Hjejle leads the long list of actresses in the film who are all pick to play the right versions of what we could see them being.

StoryThe story follows one man that has just been through a break up and like a lot of people in break ups looks back at previous relationships to see what keeps going wrong in his life. This story is told straight to the camera, which at times gets annoying, but the idea of looking back at previous relationships does feel like something people do, wanting to know where people are in life too, if they could still miss you, if there is still something between the two. The problems in this film comes from this painting Rob as somebody is can’t find love, but he clearly can, he is just not very good a keeping the relationship together.

Comedy/Music/RomanceThe comedy in the film comes from seeing how Jack Black seems to react to everything. the music in the film shows us just how the record story and music means so much to Rob, while the romance shows us just how love isn’t always the easiest thing to understand.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago which shows the busy nature of the people, while the record store shows us just it can bring the right minds together.


Scene of the Movie –
Barry’s performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Being spoken to through the whole film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a romance film with a difference, it shows how difficult love can be and just what it means to the people who are going through break ups.

 

Overall: Simple Alternative Romance Film

Rating

 

 

About a Boy (2002)

Director: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz

Writer: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Peter Hedges (Screenplay) Nick Hornby (Novel)

Starring: Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Natalia Tena, Rachel Weisz

 

Plot: A cynical, immature young man is taught how to act like a grown-up by a little boy.


Tagline – Growing up has nothing to do with age.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant British Comedy

 

Story: About a Boy starts as we meet Will Freeman (Grant) who lives the perfect life in his head, no job because of his father’s royalties, no responsibilities and no relationship, he can jump from woman to woman and now he has learnt about single mums, he new target. Marcus (Hoult) is a young boy whose single mother is battling depression and when the two become unlikely friends.

As the friendship builds between Will and Marcus, the two learn valuable life lessons with Will finally learning the serious side to life, one he had coasted over through his life.

 

Thoughts on About a Boy

 

Characters – Will is the playboy bachelor who has gone from woman to woman never taking responsibility in anything in his life, at the age of 38 he isn’t getting any younger and wants to look to a new location to meet women, which finally gives him a chance to look at his own life errors and start to make something from life. Marcus is a bullied young boy, his mother is battling depression and he never fits in at school, he sees a male role model in Will and starts to becoming friends with Will where he can starts to learn how to be who he should be. This character is drawn up wonderfully because he doesn’t understand the problems his mother is going through, while he is aware there is a problem it reflects in his everyday life. Fiona is the mother of Marcus, she is battle depression in her life while trying her hardest to stay positive for Marcus, a battle she isn’t always winning. Rachel is the woman that shows Will a new meaning to life, only she is the one that could shatter his new look too.

PerformancesHugh Grant is easily one of the most British actors out there, he gives one of his best performances here that will make you like his bad character. This role could easily be a look at the person people believed he would be in real life. Nicholas Hoult gives one of the greatest breakthrough performances for a young star and by seeing just how far he has gone since this shows the early talent he showed. Toni Collette gives us a supporting performance that is just as difficult to watch because of her characters problems that it is an essential performance to see. Rachel Weisz is good in her supporting role, she doesn’t need to do too much with her character though.

StoryThe story here plays out as a middle-aged man needing to grow up, a young boy who needs a male role model and understand that life isn’t going to be perfect no matter how much you want to believe it. The growing up side of the story is the one that we get to focus on the most and is everything you expect it to be. There is however a much deeper and stronger side to this story we see, that comes from seeing how young Marcus doesn’t completely understand his mother’s depression and just wants somebody to talk to, while finding his own way to fix her. Now this is important because the mental health issues are a bigger talking point now and showing it through the eyes of an innocent young boy shows how difficult it can be to talk about and deal with, with him never truly understanding what the problems are.

Comedy/RomanceThis film did get me laughing a lot, this is usually hard for any comedy movie, this has so many clever visions on life through the shallow nature Will has. The romance is the backburner because it shows us just how Will is trying to find women, even if one does change his life.

SettingsThe film is set in London, we get the see the home environment, which for the most part are empty, the social life and everyday life, nothing is new.


Scene of the Movie –
Be a Godfather question?

That Moment That Annoyed Me The generic bullies.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant comedy that gets everything right with the way the comedy is handled, we do get a big issue covered and is a film that people need to look back on and watch.

 

Overall: Must watch comedy.

Rating

 

 

A Long Way Down (2014)

Director: Pascal Chaumeil

Writer: Jack Thorne (Screenplay) Nick Hornby (Novel)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Zara White, Joe Cole, Sam Neill

 

Plot: Four people meet on New Year’s Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another with the difficulties of their lives.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Underrated Gem

 

Story: A Long Way Down starts on New Year’s Eve as disgraced TV celebrity Martin (Brosnan) is planning to kill himself only to get interrupted by the lonely Maureen (Collette), heartbroken Jess (Poots) and cancer stricken JJ (Paul) who are also using the same rooftop to plan their suicide.

All going against the suicide the four make a pact to not kill themselves until at least Valentine’s day and support each other through the six weeks once the tabloids want to make a story of why they were together. The four become good friends exposing their own secrets to why they want to escape their lives.

 

Thoughts on A Long Way Down

 

Characters/PerformanceMartin is the disgraced TV talk show host, his small mistake has ruined his career, his family and even finding himself in jail. Now out of jail he wants to kill himself to get away from the headlines. Maureen is a single mother spending everyday looking after her disabled son, not getting any real free time. Jess is the daughter of politician whose sister vanished a few years before, she is a lost soul in the world turning to the drinks and drugs. JJ is an American musician who can’t find his place in the world.

Performance wise, I feel all four of the main actors give brilliant performances, Paul and Poots both show that this could be one of their best of their careers in film, while Brosnan and Collette must have theirs put on their underrated performances of their careers.

StoryThe story shows the struggles everyday people can have with depression, it shows that you can get support from people you didn’t even know. I think this film tackles the issues of depression on a brilliant level, and shows just how you can find light in the strangest places.

SettingsThe settings are used to show just how different the location these four have come from, it shows just how important finding help outside your comfort zone can be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film I didn’t expect too much from and I can say I truly enjoyed the film, the characters all feel real, their problems feel real and most importantly the answers to the problems didn’t cure everything they helped them realizes how important they are.

 

Overall: This is a very underrated film I feel people should be seeing.

Rating

 

 

Wild (2014)

wildDirector: Jean-Marc Vallee

Writer: Nick Hornby (Screenplay) Cheryl Strayed (Memoir)

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Keene McRae, Michiel Huisman, W Earl Brown, Gaby Hoffman

 

Plot: A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Drama

 

Story: Wild starts as we Cheryl (Witherspoon) getting prepared for her 3-month hike along the Pacific Crest Trail to help herself get over the recent death of her mother. We watch how Cheryl’s life had been fallen apart before this challenge including throwing away her own marriage.

Wild is a slow drama showing how one woman went on her own redemption story going on an almost impossible hike that even the most experience drop out off. We get to see what drove her to make this decision but in the end it feels like a glorified story that we have seen before. You do have to give Reese Witherspoon praise for her performance but in the end this is easily a forgettable film that got Oscar nods for no reason.

 

Overall: Disappointingly overrated drama that is fine but nothing special.

Rating

 51

 

Oscar Season Challenge – Brooklyn (2015)

Rob and I have decided to make a twist on the challenge where we will be looking at Oscar related films first before moving into going back to look at different Oscar winners from the past.

brooklynDirector: John Crowley

Writer: Nick Hornby (Screenplay) Colm Toibin (Novel)

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eillen O’Higgins, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters

 

Plot: An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Romantic Story

 

Story: Brooklyn starts with Eilis (Ronan) a young Irish woman working in a local shop, she plans to move to America and Father Flood (Broadbent) has helped make this happen. Eilis learns a few tricks of the trade along the way on the boat before arrive in Brooklyn where she stays with Mrs Kehoe (Walters) in a religious household.

Eilis does have her ups and downs with her first few months in Brooklyn but she gains the respect of the house owner Mrs Kehoe much to the annoyance of the other girls in the house before she meets the charming Italian Tony (Cohen). When tragedy strikes back home in Ireland she has to put her new life on hold and travel home where she ends up meeting Jim Farrell (Gleeson) where she ends up having to make the biggest decision of her life.

Brooklyn is a romantic film that pulls on your heart strings and actually has you rooting for one of the guys, the characters are all likeable which can be difficult for these styles of films but this one gets everything right. The idea that one trip could change this young woman’s life is the main focal point which gets driven throughout and it isn’t only about which side of the Atlantic would be best for her romantically but also professionally. We get to see how dreams can be chased and love can be found in the places you are brave enough to look for it. As a non-romantic film fan I found this had everything I enjoyed.

 

Actor Review

 

Saoirse Ronan: Eilis is the young Irish lady who gets to go to America the lady of opportunity, in America she meets the charming Tony and starts to live the life of her dreams but when tragedy strikes she finds herself back in Ireland having to make a choice between Ireland or America. Saoirse is brilliant in this leading role where she shines from start to finish.elisi

Domhnall Gleeson: Jim Farrell is the Irish man that Eilis falls for when she returns back to Ireland, he is nothing like she expects. Domhnall would only be considered a supporting cast member but is good once we finally meet him.

Emory Cohen: Tony is the charming Italian plumber that comes into Eilis’ life who helps turn her struggle in Brooklyn into the best time of her life. The two have a whirlwind romance that is the stuff of fairy tales but when Eilis returns to Ireland he is left waiting to see if she will return. Emory is great in this role where he never looks out of place in this story.

Jim Broadbent: Father Flood is the man who arranges the whole trip for Eilis which includes finding her a job, a home and being in Brooklyn if she needs any support. Jim gives us a great supporting performance you would expect from the great man.

Support Cast: Brooklyn has a wonderful supporting cast that all give this film a real feel about it with not a single person looking out of place.

Director Review: John CrowleyJohn gives us a film that will stick with you for years to come

 

Drama: Brooklyn shows how one lady needs to make the toughest decision of her life being it romantically or professionally.

Romance: Brooklyn gives us a love triangle that only one person can make the right decision with and you will root for one of the guys more than the other.

Chemistry: Brooklyn gives us great chemistry between our leads as they come off like a real couple.

Music: Brooklyn uses the music perfectly throughout the film.

Settings: Brooklyn re-creates the look of the settings to make everything look like we are in 1950 Brooklyn and Ireland.

Suggestion: Brooklyn is one of those films I think everyone should watch this year, it is a perfect date night movie too. (Watch)

 

Best Part: The romance between Tony and Eilis.

Worst Part: We don’t meet Jim until well over the hour mark.

Funniest Moment: Frankie, Tony little brother.

Romantic Moment: Before the trip home.

 

Believability: Certain parts could have been a true story even if this is a fictional one.

Chances of Tears: Maybe.

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Notebook.

 

Awards: Nominated for Best Actress in Golden Globes.

Oscar Chances: It could get nominated for Best Actress.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

Tagline: Two countries, two loves, one heart.

Trivia: The city of Brooklyn in the film was actually shot in Montreal for budgeting reasons, as the production was unable to turn 2015 Brooklyn back to 1950s Brooklyn. Only two days of production were spent in Brooklyn, one in order to create the brownstone exterior shots and a second to film at Coney Island.

 

Overall: Brilliant romantic drama that pulls on the heart strings.

Ratingcard