Julia Roberts Weekend – Secret in Their Eyes (2015)

secretDirector: Billy Ray

Writer: Billy Ray (Screenplay) Juan Jose Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Alfred Molina, Joe Cole, Michael Kelly

 

Plot: A tight-knit team of rising investigators, along with their supervisor, is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre Thriller

 

Story: Secret in Their Eyes starts as we see Ray Kasten (Ejiofor) meeting his old team and now DA Claire Sloane (Kidman) Chief Investigator Jessica Cobb (Roberts) and fellow political roles Reg Seifert (Kelly). We flash back to when they were a team of investigators with Bumpy Willis (Norris) when they are tracking terrorists only for one of their own daughters Carolyn Cobb (Graham) being murdered next to their investigation.

Ray has spent the last 13 years of his life searching for the killer and now he believes he has figured out the person responsible and wants the case re-opened between the old team.

 

Thoughts on Secret in Their Eyes

 

StoryThis is an American remake of the Oscar winning movie that has a very bland story which should be a very intense story, the scenes all flow so slowly you just don’t believe this is a case unfolding and the jumps in time are too often leaving us all over the place in the end.

Crime/MysteryThe crime story should be one of the most intense ones we have seen, but it doesn’t work out that way because the film spends way too much time balancing the murder case with a potential terrorist investigation without even giving us the mystery to try and solve ourselves.

Characters/PerformanceThe team are all believable as a unit but as solo characters you just don’t feel the desperation in Ray, the power in what should be a power-hungry role in Claire but you do like get to feel the grief through Jess’s character.

Ejiofor, Kidman and Roberts are all solid but just don’t reach the ability we know all three are capable off. The rest of the performances are all solid without stealing the scene.

SettingsWe have the setting in and around LA without managing to use any settings which are easy to help us identify where the film is set.

Final ThoughtsFor the talent involved this is a very slow, poorly acted thriller that lacks any suspense to the levels it could have got too.

 

Overall: This will always be forgettable in the arena of remakes.

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The Golden Compass (2007)

Director: Chris Weitz

Writer: Chris Weitz (Screenplay) Philip Pullman (Novel)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards, Ben Walker, Freddie Highmore, Ian McKellen, Eva Green, Sam Elliott

 

Plot: In a parallel universe, young Lyra Belacqua journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Been Here Seen This

 

Story: The Golden Compass starts in a world with parallel universes where the human spirits can walk next to humans in animal form known as daemons, with a Golden Compass being the only way to find the different universes. We meet young Lyra (Richards) who lives with her Uncle Lord Asriel (Craig) who is an adventurer that is seeking the Dust which can travel between universes.

With the children getting taken by Goblers Lyra in her high life promises to search for poor boy Roger’s (Walker). Lyra is chosen by Mrs Coulter (Kidman) to help with her research in the North which just so happens to be where Lord Asriel is heading, in what looks like a battle for the dust.

Learning that Mrs Coulter is behind the missing children Lyra teams up with a host of other characters in the Gyptians as they search for the children and her Uncle before Coulter’s research is complete.

 

Thoughts on The Golden Compass

 

Characters/PerformanceLyra is the type of leading child you will need for this type of film, she comes from a rich background, she is curious and brave. Mrs Coulter comes along as the villainous character that believes in the cause she is fighting for with Lord Asriel is the explorer looking to change the future. The rest of the characters do their part well as Lyra goes on her adventure.

Performance wise, Kidman and Craig both do a good job in their roles, but it is Richards that really struggles in the lead role, she is meant to come off posh but too often comes off a common which takes away from the character.

StoryThe story is one I have come to believe was butchered from the book, which when you watch you can see, it gets the basics correct but anything which involved developing a character sadly gets forgotten as the film unfolds. The story ends up becoming slightly messy and focuses on just doing action to cover the lack of story.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure side of this film should be clear, but it just shows one person’s adventure, I don’t feel the family could enjoy this movie but the fantasy world we find ourselves in does work well.

SettingsThe settings all look good with their own fancy way of saying countries we all know in the world just having slight twists on them.

Special EffectsMost of the special effects all work well, but there are moments which look pretty bad for the CGI.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a cliff hanger that never gets complete, well here is the film for you.

 

Overall: This seems like a solid start to the franchise but we will never see the end.

Rating

 

 

John Leguizamo Weekend – Moulin Rouge! (2002)

moulinDirector: Baz Luhrmann

Writer: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, Garry McDonald

 

Plot: A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Flamboyant Musical Stunner

 

Story: Moulin Rouge starts as a young English writer Christian (McGregor) moving to Paris for dreams where he finds himself having to work on a play Spectacular Spectacular, but he needs to be passed off as a famous writer to impress Satine (Kidman).

When Christian gets mixed up with The Duke (Roxburgh) the two fall in love but when the Duke discovers them they must arrange a new play to prove they are just rehearsing for the latest play throwing Christian into the biggest show in town.

As The Duke becomes jealous he forces the director Harold Zidler (Broadbent) to sign a contract where he has exclusive rights to Satine and the Moulin Rouge, this throws the love between Satine and Christian up in the air because her chance to become the next big actress could be ruined.

Moulin Rouge is a flamboyant romantic musical that opens with all singing and dancing and never holds back from the over the topness of the songs being used. Going in completely blind I was left shocked with the choice of songs which include versions of Nirvana, The Sound of Music and David Bowie which all work apart from the creepy version of ‘Like a Virgin’. The setting is beautifully re-created with each performance embracing the location perfectly. The love story starts with the tragic ending which is against the normal as we are leading to find out what happened.

Kidman and McGregor are both brilliant in the leading roles but it is the supporting character which in places get left behind as The Duke comes off strange with the rest all coming off letting the main to shine in this performance. This is big, bold and breath-taking in places with anybody with the love for these songs finding a way to enjoy.

 

Overall: This is one of the most over the top style films with glorious use of music throughout.

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

eyesDirector: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael (Screenplay) Arthur Schnitzler (Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson, Rade Serbedzija, Todd Field, Vinessa Shaw, Sky Du Mont

 

Plot: A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Intense Thriller

 

Story: Eyes Wide Shut starts as Dr William Harford (Cruise) and his wife Alice (Kidman) attend a high society party hosted by Victor Ziegler (Pollack). At the party, Alice is wooed by a rich man at the party while William is almost seduced by two beautiful models before covering up an incident for Ziegler.

The next night the two find themselves arguing about what happened at the party which leads to the revelation that Alice almost cheated on William once before during the marriage. Wondering the streets after helping a patient he visits his old friend Nick Nightingale (Field) who is a pianist at selective parties which gives William a chance to explore a sexual underworld putting his own life in danger in the process.

 

Thoughts on Eyes Wide Shut

 

StoryWhen you look into this story, this is an erotic mystery thriller that shows what happens when you start to question you own marriage by going into the sexual underworld. We see how when William questions his own position what he tries puts not only his own life but everyone he knows life in danger in what feels like a cult heavy story of the rich and famous society. To think this film is over 2 and half hours long is amazing because it never seems to drag which when you try to simplify this story it sounds like an easy hour and half film.

Mystery/ThrillerThe mystery in this film is created once we are left to wonder just what William has gotten himself into, who are these people, why are the people he knows changing after than night, we get plenty of questions that lead to the thrilling side of the story that just keeps us guessing throughout.

Characters/PerformancesWilliam is the almost betrayed husband seeking something for his own desire like what his wife did but what he finds becomes he need to cover up his own action to protect his family. Every other character does just feel like somebody from within the mysterious cult that is following William. Performance wise this is brilliant from both Cruise and Kidman with everyone else give great performances for their few scenes.

SettingsThe streets of New York show just how lost in his life William is as the houses he finds himself in are all expensive houses, hotels or mansion to show how easily he could become part of this world.

Final ThoughtsI can see why people did enjoy this one and you can see just how brilliant Kubrick was as a director because each scene is filled with tension with excellent use of music. I didn’t enjoy this one that much even though I did think it was made so well with brilliant performances throughout.

 

Overall: Masterfully made movie that just wasn’t my cuppa tea.

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Genius (2016)

geniusDirector: Michael Grandage

Writer: John Logan (Screenplay) A Scott Berg (Book)

Starring: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Dominic West, Vanessa Kirby, Mark Arnold

 

Plot: A chronicle of Max Perkins’s time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas WolfeErnest HemingwayF. Scott Fitzgerald and others.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid History Lesson

 

Story: Genius starts in New York 1929 where Maxwell Perkins (Firth) an editor for Scribner who is considered the best in his office that others come to with work they believe need to be appreciated. The latest work is from Thomas Wolfe (Law) and it has taken his breath away even though it has been reject by all the rest of the publicist around New York.

Seeing the greatness in the novel Max works with Thomas to trim the work so the mass audience will go out of their way to read the next American classic. We continue to see how Max worked with best minds including F Scott Fitzgerald (Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (West) as we see how Maxwell was the man behind who made some of the biggest books happen. We do focus on the Maxwell and Thomas relationship as they spend years working on the latest work which will become one of the biggest in American history but will also test the men’s personal relationships.

Genius falls into yet another history lesson of a great mind that didn’t get everything out before he was taken from this world. This time we focus on author Thomas Wolfe and the unique style he went to make sure he could get out his stories. We get to see the relationship with the man behind the work who helped make it the legendary book he could tell. The film is slightly slow in places and we don’t get a full extent of the time period it is all set over which disappoints in places. It was nice to learn more about certain men in history but it is also a film that I wouldn’t be re-watching any time in the future.

 

Overall: Solid history lesson but disappointing with how much detail it does into everything.

Rating51