ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – O – Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

Director: Susanna White

Writer: Hossein Amini (Screenplay) John le Carre (Novel)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Khalid Abdalla, Mark Gatiss

 

Plot: A couple finds themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect, and are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.


Tagline – Who can you trust with the truth?

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Crime Thriller

 

Story: Our Kind of Traitor starts when British couple Perry (McGregor) and Gail (Harris) holidaying in Morocco meet Russian Mafia member Dima (Skarsgard) and the two men bond. Dima talks Perry into taking information back to MI6, which opens the door for the secret service agent Hector (Lewis) trying to investigate the information.

Returning with the information, Perry and Gail gets caught up in the middle of both sides even though they want to get on with their own lives, soon it is their lives that are in danger, who will come out on top.

 

Thoughts on Our Kind of Traitor

 

Characters – Perry is a university professor, he is trying to make amends with his wife on a romantic holiday, he reluctantly gets involved in the information trade with his good nature being used by both sides. Gail is the lawyer wife of Perry, she has become distant from him while still loving him and does question his decision to help Dima. Dima is the Russian mafia handling the accounts, but he wants out to help his own children become safe, he uses his connection with Perry to get MI6 involved in the truth. Hector is the MI6 agent that is willing to work with Dima for the information in exchange for the family, he does have his own grudge with the man they are trying to take down too.

PerformancesThe performances through the film show us just what Le Carre does with his characters, he gives them good moments, without making them stand out. McGregor is good, but you feel a younger up and comer would have been perfect here, Harris is good and doesn’t put a foot wrong, while Skarsgard enjoys his role, shady but loyal. Damian Lewis brings back his true English role which at times does feel weird knowing how often he has been an American character recently.

StoryThe story comes from a John Le Carre novel, so instantly we know we are going to get a thriller that keeps us guessing on what everyone’s motivation will be. The idea that a normal couple get mixed up in the middle of an international information exchange is different and does work for the film because it helps us stay on edge thinking and wondering if they do have a bigger involvement. The story does feel like that one moment to make it great is missing, as everything does end up feeling just normal and good only.

CrimeThe crime side of the film follows a criminal looking for a safe way out of the life for his family in exchange for bringing down the mafia’s dealings in London.

SettingsThe film splits the settings between London, for the deals, Morocco for the exchanges and the final location for the next chapter of the lives, they work because they show how this world would operate.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It lacks the edge of your seat style of Le Carre novels have given us.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid thriller even if it lacks that final factor to make it one of the best ones, it does the by the book material well, but never develops the characters enough to understand the situation they put themselves in.

 

Overall: Simple thriller.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Thor (2011) Revisited

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (Comic Book)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings

 

Plot: The powerful, but arrogant god Thor, is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.


Tagline – Two worlds. One hero.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Highly Entertaining

 

Story: Thor starts when astrophysicist Jane Foster (Portman) discovering a cosmic event in the New Mexico desert with her team Erik Selvig (Skarsgard) and Darcy (Dennings). We head up to Asgard next as Odin (Hopkins) tells the history of his people, the battle with the frost giants, his two sons Thor (Hemsworth) and Loki (Hiddleston) that will one day replace him as King.

When the Frost Giants try to enter Asgard, Thor decides to lead a team to retaliate, which sees Odin banish him to Earth. Thor must learn his place in the universe, with Jane helping him, while Loki takes his place as King of Asgard even if his past sees him wanting the events of the film to happen.

 

Thoughts on Thor

 

Characters – Thor is the son of Odin, he is soon to become King, but his over confrontational nature sees him disobeying his father’s orders, he is a fearless warrior who is banished to Earth, without his powers. This is a lesson for him to learn about fighting the right wars, not starting them, until he learns this, his powers won’t return to him. Janes Foster is an astrophysicist that has been searching for answers in the cosmos, her research has seen her finding unexplained answers in the universe, she could finally get answers with Thor’s appearance, she is willing risk her career for answers. Loki is the brother of Thor, he has been planning on taking over Asgard instead of his brother, he knows his past and has been waiting for his moment to become King. Odin is the king of Asgard, he has kept the peace for centuries and is running short on patience for his son’s action, he wants to teach Thor a lesson, while needing to tell Loki about his own past.

PerformancesChris Hemsworth is fantastic in the leading role, he has the look and shows the comic timing which has become the staple of his character. Natalie Portman is strong enough even if the character is disappointing, Tim Hiddleston shows us his calm persona behind his character, with Anthony Hopkins doing everything you would imagine he would bring to a father figure.

StoryThe story here follows Thor as he must learn his truth strength when it comes to one day become King of Asgard, this will see him losing his powers and learning to control his desires while his brother is positioning himself for power. Thor is yet another character we knew very little about going in (unless you read the comics), we get to see his past, how the world he is from is created, the dynamics behind the characters involved, even before we get to Earth. On Earth we learn more about the SHIELD and how they are still investigating the bigger picture of unexplained weapons. This does show us just how important waiting for power is more important than being given power, we get to see how another hero is introduced to us for the bigger picture.

Action/Fantasy The action is at the large scale here with the battles being hordes of enemies for Thor at times, we do get the giant battle against the enemy physically bigger and stronger that Thor must learn to defeat as well as the traditional final fight which shows us the sacrifice a king must make. The fantasy world created shows us the world of Gods being real, being one away from our own, while still being connected in folk lore.

SettingsThe vision of Asgard is beautiful, with towering buildings, a place where you would imagine Gods living. The second settings takes us to New Mexico which plans into the fish out of water scenario.

Special EffectsThe effects are the best in the franchise to date, the pure scale of the enemies involved, the worlds created and fight sequences makes this look beautiful to watch even with the CGI heavy usage.


Scene of the Movie –
Bifrost fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts of Loki’s plan seem confusing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the enjoyable comic book movies you will see, we get the big action sequences, we get some laughs and we see the star of Chris Hemsworth take full advantage of his opportunity.

 

Overall: Great Fun.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – F – Frankie & Alice (2010)

Director: Geoffrey Sax

Writer: Cheryl Edwards, Marko King, Mary King, Jonathan Watters, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse (Screenplay) Oscar Janiger, Philip Goldberg, Cheryl Edwards (Story)

Starring: Halle Berry, Stellan Skarsgard, Phylicia Rashad, Chandra Wilson, Alex Diakun, Joanne Baron

 

Plot: A drama centered on a go-go dancer with multiple personality disorder who struggles to remain her true self and begins working with a psychotherapist to uncover the mystery of the inner ghosts that haunt her.


Tagline – Inspired by an amazing true story.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Drama, Lacking Casual Appeal

 

Story: Frankie & Alice starts as we meet go-go dancer Frankie (Berry) the most popular girl in the club who starts having strange episodes in her life, moments when she starts to believe she is a white woman. Oz (Skarsgard) a psychologist takes Frankie in and starts to try and figure out what is going on inside Frankie’s head.

Losing her job and finding herself in trouble with the law, Frankie must turn to Oz to help her by checking her in for 30-days to start with and soon they start to get to the bottom of everything.

 

Thoughts on Frankie & Alice

 

Characters – Frankie is a stripper that is the most popular girl in the club, she can have any guy she wants and usually gets them. One day she starts getting black outs where we see she becomes a different person, which only leaves who losing her job and running out of money. Seeking help, she learns she has multiple personality disorder and now she needs help to understand how to get this under control. Oz is the psychologist that is sees the problems in Frankie’s head and works against the trends to help her even if the rest of the doctors don’t believe things are real.

PerformancesHalle Berry is great in this leading role, she takes on the 3 personalities and makes each one feel unique for the difference in their characteristics. Stellan Skarsgard in a doctor role, he is always going to be one of the great doctor figures on the big screen. When we look at the rest of the cast we don’t get too many performers that standout in anyway.

StoryThe story here follows one woman that starts to lose her mind when the multiple personalities in her head start taking over, one doctor will try to help her unlock the past she has locked up to create these personalities. This is based on a real woman and doctor that worked together and it shows us just how committed doctors can be to solve a problem which others will dismiss, we get to see how misdiagnosis can cause bigger problems in life, but once you learn the truth you can put everything together to live a happy life. We knew this going in, this was never going to have an unhappy ending, but we should face the reality that certain people would have not made it through this. This story does show an important sign to help deal with mental health which could see people struggle through different times in life and tells us all we shouldn’t be afraid to get help.

BiopicThis shows us two real people, Frankie is an incredible and tragic story which has been hidden behind the personalities created in her mind and the doctor that would do anything to help her control them.

SettingsSet in the late 60’s we get an authentic feel for every scene of the movie, the divides in the neighbourhoods and the class difference between the rich and poor.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This isn’t going to be for a causal movie fan.

Final ThoughtsThis is an important look at deal with mental health in the 60s how certain doctors would push it aside while others tackled it head on, the story of Frankie shows us how we could understand a person going through such horrors could create these personalities.

 

Overall: Important and brave message.

Rating

 

 

Cinderella (2015)

cinderellaDirector: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Chris Weitz (Screenplay)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera

 

Plot: When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her scheming step-sisters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming Telling of Classic

 

Story: Cinderella starts as we see Ella getting raised by her parents Mother (Atwell) and Father (Chaplin) who teach her to be honest and good before we see the tragic death of her mother. Years pass on and her father decides to real marry to her new Stepmother (Blanchett) but the now grown up Cinderella (James) has to get used to a new step sisters Drisella (McShera)) and Anastasia (Grainger). When Cinderella’s father dies on a trip she ends up getting placed in the role of housekeeper and all around slave for the family.

When Cinderella meets the handsome Prince (Madden) the two find themselves hiding their true identities as sparks fly between the two. The Prince is about the host a ball where he must pick a bride and he opens the doors to every woman in his kingdom.

Cinderella wants to attend the ball to meet the charming man she met in the woods but her dreams are dashed by her evil stepmother but her Fairy Godmother (Carter) is always looking over her to make the dream happen.

Cinderella is one of the most classic tales there is to tell and this outing keeps the fairy tale in the wonderful world we expect to see. We all know where the story is going and this does give us a couple of extra twits to the story with the Stepmother being more involved with where the story goes. If you just want to see a fantasy romance unfold this is all you need to see from the story.

 

Actor Review

 

Cate Blanchett: Stepmother is the lady Ella’s father marries, she has two daughters that are used to the high lifestyle. When her new husband dies she turns Cinderella into the slave of the house while the three continue to try and live their lives of luxury. Cate is good in this role where she looks like she enjoys the role.stepmother

Lily James: Cinderella grew up as Ella with her caring loving parents but when she is left with her new stepmother she ends up becoming the slave of the household. She only ever wants to see good, be good and be treated fairly, she never wants to look down on any a true pure sole. When she gets to go to the ball she could escape her life locked away by her stepmother. Lily is good in this role really looking the part.ella

Richard Madden: Prince is the charming stranger that Ella meets in the woods one day, they have instant attraction but keep their names a secret. When it becomes time for him to select a wife he opens the doors to any woman hoping to find her once more. Richard fits the character very well giving us a good performance.prince

Helena Bonham Carter: Fairy Godmother has been watching over Cinderella all her life but shows herself to make her dream of going to the ball a reality. Helena does well in her main scene and role of narrator.godmothr

Support Cast: Cinderella has great supporting cast that all give good performance throughout.

Director Review: Kenneth BranaghKenneth does a great job telling the story that every girl loves to hear.

 

Family: Cinderella is one for the whole family to enjoy.

Fantasy: Cinderella brings us into a fantasy idea where magic happens.

Romance: Cinderella brings us into a romantic story of true love.

Settings: Cinderella takes us into the fictional kingdom which all look beautifully created.
Special Effects
: Cinderella uses great effects that all look great in a fictional story.

Suggestion: Cinderella is one to watch with the family. (Family Time)

 

Best Part: Preparing for the ball.

Worst Part: Slightly too long with the final act going on too long.

Funniest Scene: Goose driving.

Favourite Quote: ‘I can’t drive, I’m a goose’.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for One Oscar.

Box Office: $201 Million

Budget: $95 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Tagline: Midnight is just the beginning.

 

Overall: Easy to watch fictional fairy tale that is being retold once more

Ratingcard

 

Franchise Weekend – Nymphomaniac Vol 2 (2013)

Director: Lars von Trier

Writer: Lars von Trier (Screenplay)

Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, Mia Goth

 

Plot: The continuation of Joe’s sexually dictated life delves into the darker aspects of her adulthood, obsessions and what led to her being in Seligman’s care.


Tagline – Forget About Love

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darker, but Not Interesting

 

Story: Nymphomaniac Vol 2 starts where the last film finished as Joe (Gainsbourg telling the story, Martin acting the story) is feeling lifeless when it comes to sex and even after having a child with Jerome (LaBeouf) the two start to become distant in their relationship as Joe still requires her sexual times. Now we are watching the older Joe only as she gets involved with risky sexual experiences.

When her body starts to struggle with the sex in her life, she starts going through treatment for her sex addiction and what she goes through next shows just how addiction can take over the lives of people.

 

Thoughts on Nymphomaniac Vol 2

 

Characters – Joe continues her story in this one we look at her taking on more extreme sexual encounters as she does continue to take on daily encounters to satisfy her lust. We see the affects on her body as she grows to the middle aged woman. The rest of the characters we meet don’t get enough screen time, Jerome is here only to try to take Joe’ child away. Seligman does have a bigger secret about him.

PerformancesCharlotte Gainsbourg does take the centre stage this time around going through the sexual encounters, she does commit to the performance. We have new actors joining this film and they do a good enough job when given the time.

StoryThe next chapter of the stories of Nymphomaniac Joe, this does show her going into extremer formers of sexual pleasure which has cost her child, but found her a career she could never have imagined, one which lets her use her sexual desires. The thing with the story here, is that you do need to have seen the first film to have any idea what is going on, while most two part movies you can miss or get recap this offers us nothing to help.

SettingsThe settings continued to show us just where Joe finds herself through her different encounters, none become the most important to the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The new job for Joe.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It’s just unrealistic conversations.

Final ThoughtsThis is the second half of a film, that if you don’t make it through the first one, you will not enjoy the second, this might be darker, but it just isn’t enjoyable enough to sit through.

 

Overall: Still difficult to watch.

Rating