Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Writer: Kimberly Peirce, Andy Bienen (Screenplay)

Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alicia Goranson, Alison Folland

 

Plot: Female-born Teena Brandon adopts his male identity of Brandon Teena and attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska.


Tagline – A true story about finding the courage to be yourself.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shockingly Powerful Drama

 

Story: Boys Don’t Cry starts with Teena (Swank) a young woman that wants to become a man, she uses the name Brandon to go around small American towns looking to pick up women, which has got her in trouble in the past.

On his latest trip she finds a new group of people, with Lana (Sevigny) taking her eye, with her friends and family including John (Sarsgaard), Tom (Sexton III), Candace (Goranson) all welcoming her into the group as Brandon, when her true identity is revealed there will be shocking consequence.

 

Thoughts on Boys Don’t Cry

 

Characters – Teena is a young woman that is preparing for her sex change, before that she is going around as a young man Brandon, trying to meet women. She meets a young lady in Lana, makes new friends, but she is on the run which will soon catch up with her. This is a based on a real person that is going through the difficult process of wanting to have a sex change. Lana is the young lady that Brandon takes a shine to, she lives the dead end life that she isn’t enjoying and Brandon brings a new feeling about it, though she is left in a difficult position when the truth comes out. John and Tom are two of the group of friends that happily welcome Brandon into their group, when they learn the truth, they will go to extreme measures to get revenge.

PerformancesHilary Swank went on to win an Oscar for her role in the film, you can see why because she is fantastic in the difficult role. Chloe Sevigny shows us jus how her supporting role she can make a huge impact in the film. Peter Sarsgaard and Brendon Sexton III both are disturbing in their roles in the film which shows just how they could make to truly disgusting human beings come to life.

StoryThe story here follows a young lady preparing for a sex change, that would go around looking for women, only for her secret to come back when the prejudice locals can’t deal with people somebody they can’t explain in their lives. This is a film way before it own time, even though it is only 20 years old, it is based on the real crime which would easily have been given a bigger spotlight in todays world. we do step into the world of transgenders, which is always difficult to word correctly because it is a sensitive subject. What occurs in the film is surprising and shocking that you couldn’t see happening.

Biopic/Crime/RomanceThe film uses the biopic side of the film to show the romance and crime against Brandon Teena a young transgender that is still wanting to figure out how to get through the sex change.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the locations which shows how the smaller towns can operate and have mindsets that don’t accept people that are different.


Scene of the Movie –
The first night together.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The actions of the men.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most difficult movies you will see, it has a sensitive subject on the table which will show the way people can act towards people.

 

Overall: Must watch movie.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Jarhead (2005)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: William Broyles Jr (Screenplay) Anthony Swofford (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Scott MacDonald, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Ming Lo, Lucas Black

 

Plot: A psychological study of operations desert shield and desert storm during the gulf war; through the eyes of a U.S marine sniper who struggles to cope with the possibility his girlfriend may be cheating on him back home.


Tagline – Every man fights his own war.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Effective War Film

 

Story: Jarhead starts as we meet Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhaal) who joined the marines, it isn’t long before he gets taken by Staff Sgt Sykes (Foxx) to the US Marine Sniper division going through the training regime meeting his spotter Alan Troy (Sarsgaard).

When war breaks out the marines are set to the middle east, where they must adapt to the desert condition before going into to conflict, this will test their psychical shape and their mental health as the waiting is just part of the sniper’s game.

 

Thoughts on Jarhead

 

Characters – Anthony Swofford who wrote the book the film is based on, we see how he joined the military out of college and struggled at first through the training regime. Anthony soon discovered he was ready for this life as a sniper, but his time in the gulf sees him start to lose his mind. Alan Troy becomes the best friend of Anthony’s and his spotter, he seems to be the most level-headed marine in the unit. Staff Sgt Sykes is the one running the sniper unit, he demands respect and isn’t afraid to put the marines in their place.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is fantastic in the leading role, he shows everyone how he can play the calm soldier, the crazed soldier and the broken man through the scenes of the film which only increase what he is dealing with. Peter Sarsgaard give us a brilliant supporting performance which shows how the fear can be kept inside a calm outer layer. Jamie Foxx brings us the energy of a career military man.

StoryThe story follows the experiences of one soldier that joins the marines before being put in the sniper division when war breaks out, he must adapt to life in the desert during the waiting game before the conflict. This story does show us just how difficult adapting to war can be for the soldiers and just how the war can be fought without needing to fire a weapon. It shows us just how the mindset can change over a set amount of time which will see the soldiers make decisions they wouldn’t normally consider making. This does focus on the idea that the main soldier Anthony never truly feels like he was part of the war followed by the effects of returning back from war can have on the soldiers who have returned.

Biopic/WarThis film follows Anthony’s experience with war, it shows how war isn’t everything he was planning and how his mindset wasn’t in the right place for parts of his experience. The war side of the film shows us just how different war has become over the years, where the ground soldiers are not as required as once before.

SettingsThe film has some wonderful uses of settings with the march sequence showing us just how open the area in question will be for the soldiers.


Scene of the Movie –
Returning home.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slow start.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fascinating look at the modern war effort, how the biggest problem is now waiting for the war to begin rather than the fighting.

 

Overall: Modern war time.

Rating

 

 

Blue Jasmine (2013)

Director: Woody Allen

Writer: Woody Allen (Screenplay)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard

 

Plot: A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn’t bringing money, peace, or love..

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical Low Key Drama

 

Story: Blue Jasmine starts as we meet Jasmine (Blanchett) a New York socialite that’s life is falling apart after her husband Hal (Baldwin) has been found guilty of stealing millions from fake investments. Moving in with her sister Ginger (Hawkins) in San Francisco to try and build her life again.

As we see how Jasmine is remembering the memories with Hal we see how she is must learn to deal with everyday life and working for a living.

 

Thoughts on Blue Jasmine

 

Characters – Jasmine once had everything thanks to her husband, now she has lost everything and needs to learn about a new way of living. Seeing Jasmine learn to work an everyday job while trying to hold on to the class she believes she is from is what we see. Hal is the husband that cheated on and robbed the money from the investors, a full-on crook. Ginger is the sister of Jasmine, she has been working a normal life with a divorce and kids, she has the normal like of worries. We get to meet the generic people from different walks of life, the guys in Ginger’s life who are looked as overworked and slobby while Dwight is the man from a high class that makes it easy to see how things are going.

PerformancesCate Blanchett won an Oscar for her performance in this film, she is great to watch in this role fully committed to the idea of being socialite. Sally Hawkins for me is the complete star of this film as the normal life sister showing us just how difficult life can be and being so strong through each scene. The male actors in the film are good and let the actresses take the centre stage.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that needs to rebuild her life after her husband is found guilty of embezzlement ruining many lives. We flash between the two lives, the one which was falling apart and the one she is trying to rebuild. We try to get a message over about its never too late to start again and family will always be there for you. This story deals with the complications of relationships nicely as we see how people could look to hide the bad ones from the new people in their lives as well as being involved with people themselves not telling the truth. Outside of this we don’t get too much as Jasmine herself is not the most likeable character because of the entitlement she believes she has.

SettingsThe film uses two of the best location for cities in America New York and San Francisco.


Scene of the Movie –
Supermarket scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Doesn’t seem to have a real ending.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at how relationships can look strong as to how they can be great, bad and not work depending on how things can unfold.

 

Overall: Relationship based drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – S – The Skeleton Key (2005)

Director: Iain Softley

Writer: Ehren Kruger (Screenplay)

Starring: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett

 

Plot: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house’s dark past.


Tagline – Fearing Is Believing

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Ghost Investigation

 

Story: The Skeleton Key starts as we meet carer Caroline Ellis (Hudson) who has been working in a home, but wants a change. This leads her to a New Orleans plantation to helps the Devereaux family, Violet (Rowlands) and the paralysed Ben (Hurt) with the lawyer Luke Marshall (Sarsgaard) trying to strike a deal.

When Ben doesn’t seem as disabled as Violet appears to let on, Caroline finds herself investigating the house more, where she finds a secret room in the attic, she turns to her best friend Jill (Bryant) to help who teaches her about Hoodoo which is what could be haunting the home.

 

Thoughts on The Skeleton Key

 

Characters – Caroline is a carer, looking to study nursing, she takes this new role which offers her the freedom needed to do the studying. She starts questioning the strange goings on within the house, which leads her to go into full investigation mode. Violet is the lady of the home, she wants to keep everything the way it was inside the house knowing and believing the curse that roams the house. She doesn’t like people coming to the home disturbing the peace she has created with the ghosts. Ben is the disabled husband that has suffered a stroke, he is the reason why Caroline is hired but not everything is right for him as he tries to communicate without being able to use his words. Luke Marshall is the lawyer putting the affairs in orders for the Devereaux’s, he hires Caroline to help care for Ben while using his charm will get him through any situation. Jill is Caroline’s best friend, she fills the filling in the information at times roles and gives us the character that helps question whether she is making the right decisions.

PerformancesKate Hudson is good in this leading role, she is strong minded character which shows in her performance. Gena Rowlands enjoys her role in the film where she gets to play the twisted character. John Hurt gets to show of his acting skills in the supporting role, he doesn’t get any dialogue in the film just gets to show the desperation he is feeling. Peter Sarsgaard is strong too, in a decade where he was always one of the go to guys in a supporting role.

StoryThe story dives into elements of horror I enjoy the most, we have a new member of the household, in this case a carer, that finds out something is right and must figure out what is happening before it is too late. The film offers plenty off potential options to where the film could go, which is what we like even if it does suggest heavily in one direction, you will need to keep thinking as to where the film will end up going.

Horror/MysteryThe horror isn’t in your face jump scares, it is well created tension filled moments that help us get to the final outcome, the mystery does take centre stage for the genres as we watch this get solved by Caroline.

SettingsThe New Orleans settings helps us understand the Hoodoo idea that is surrounded by the characters involved in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects aren’t used very often and to be honest the ones used don’t seem to come off very well.


Scene of the Movie –
The Final night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had an issue with just having one random friend who was only used to fill in the blanks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good little horror, it is nothing ground breaking, but it has good performances and a solid story that will keep you guessing.

 

Overall: Good horror mystery from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Romance – V – Very Good Girls (2013)

Director: Naomi Foner

Writer: Naomi Foner (Screenplay)

Starring: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Boyd Holbrook, Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter Sarsgaard

 

Plot: Two New York City girls make a pact to lose their virginity during their first summer out of high school. When they both fall for the same street artist, the friends find their connection tested for the first time.


Tagline – When we lose our innocence, we have to find ourselves.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Romance Between Friends

 

Story: Very Good Girls starts as we met two teenagers Lilly (Fanning) and Gerri (Olsen) who are spending the final summer together before they move onto college. With life problems they are facing they do have each other to keep themselves together and make a pact to lose their virginity before they head off to college.

The two friends both fall for the same street artist David (Holbrook) ad between them they both get a different life change experience through the summer.

 

Thoughts on Very Good Girls

 

Characters – Lilly is the quieter of the two friends, we follow her life with her parents fighting, her job before college and what it was like for her to meet her first love before college, she is trying to hold her family together while not telling Gerri al the details of her life. Gerri is the best friend of Lilly, she tends to do all the talking for the two, she wants David but this summer she must deal with her own personal tragedy. David is the street artist that both the girls fall for, he fits the mysterious figure that can draw the attention of the girls. We do have the parents through the situations the girls are going through too.

PerformancesDakota Fanning is solid enough for this role, she doesn’t do anything wrong, but compared to Olsen for age, there are little elements that show her lack of life experience for this film. Olsen is good she is showing us just capable of filling almost any role in a film here. Boyd Holbrook is good even if he does feel slightly too old for this role which sums up the weakness to a lot of the performances, the age of the leading three is too wide with them meant to be around the same age.

StoryThe story here gives us a coming of age tale between the two friends in their final summer before going of to college. The story does touch on real life situations which could need a best friend to be by your side. We get to see how love can push the boundaries of friendships and how hard life can be when you start to realize that college is the next chapter of life that will big the biggest step you will take and nothing will truly prepare you for it.

RomanceThe romance in the film shows us how two friends can have their friendship pushed to the limits when they both fall for the same boy.

SettingsNew York is a setting that I will always praise for the quality for any setting in the story of growing up, finding yourself.


Scene of the Movie –
The photo.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The two girls don’t seem to have any other friends.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple coming of age movie, it fits the check list well, has good acting but by the ending you will feel we needed that one more spark.

 

Overall: Simple Coming of Age

Rating