Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)

Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Writer: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Rae Dawn Chong, Steve Zissis

 

Plot: Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.


Tagline –  The first step to finding your destiny is leaving your mother’s basement.

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Family Based Drama

 

Story: Jeff, Who Lives at Home starts as we meet Jeff (Segel) a stoner that lives in his mother Sharon (Sarandon) basement, he is always looking for his destiny and a mysterious call from a stranger looking for a Kevin leads him to go out of his way to find the truth. When going out on to do a household chore he finds himself joining his older brother Pat (Helms) as they go on the chase to figure out if Pat’s wife Linda (Greer) is cheating on him.

 

Thoughts on Jeff, Who Lives at Home

 

Characters – Jeff is a slacker that is desperate to find a purpose in his life believing he will be given signs in life to find this goal, he doesn’t have a job and today he goes on an adventure in hope of finding his place in the world. Pat is the older brother to Pat, he has recently impulse bought a Porsche which has only continued his strain of his marriage which leads him to share his honest truth with Jeff while trying to figure out if his wife is cheating on him. Sharon is their mother of the boys who is a widow still working a day job, today she gets secret message which adds some spice to her birthday.

PerformancesJason Segel in the leading role works because he does have a good understanding of withdrawn character his playing. Ed Helms does give us a good performance in his role where he does play louder of the two brothers. Susan Sarandon does a good job with her role even if her story does feel distant from the rest of the film.

StoryThe story follows one day in the lives of the three family members, Jeff finding his place Pat facing the truth and Sharon getting an unexpected surprise in her life. The story shows how things can come together for the series of events to bring a family closer and how they need to support each other through struggles, the sprinkling of comedy helps us along the way too. This does focus on needing to express feelings for the people that are important in your life however much you feel like it is a weakness in their eyes.

ComedyThe comedy in this film helps takes moments of seriousness out of the story, which does give it elements of realness in the film.

SettingsThe film gives us an everyday city for the film to take place in, showing how these people do have to operate in an everyday situation.


Scene of the Movie –
The lunch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it shows her day, Sharon’s storyline doesn’t feel as connected to Jeff’s.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful drama that shows the difficult decisions people will be making on an everyday basis, being it following a believed destiny, fixing a marriage or taking a chance.

 

Overall: Wonderful drama

Rating

 

 

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Tommy Lee Jones Weekend – In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Director: Paul Haggis

Writer: Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Mark Boal, Paul Haggis (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Barry Corbin, Josh Brolin

 

Plot: A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.


Tagline – Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried

Runtime: 2 Hour 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Slowly Driven Thriller

 

Story: In the Valley of Elah starts when retired military investigator Hank Deerfield (Jones) receives a phone call informing him his son Mike (Tucker) has gone AWOL which leads him to head to the base to investigate the motives and hopefully find his son before it turns into a criminal case. Hank turns to the local police and detective Emily Sanders (Theron) for help, but derestriction causes the problems.

When Mike’s body is discovered the military want to keep things quiet, but Hank isn’t accepting the answers given to him, working with Emily the two investigate what really happened to Mike and the truth will leave us shocked.

 

Thoughts on In the Valley of Elah

 

Characters – Hank is a retired military investigator, he has lost one son in war and no his second has gone missing, he goes to solve the case using his years of experience to get to the bottom of the case. He is from an older school of military with a determination unlike what people are prepared for. Detective Emily Sanders is used to getting dead end cases, but she does care about the people who are in need of help, she listens to Hank’s ideas and takes lead on the case having to face the truths of not being able to help everybody. Joan is the wife of Hank and mother of Mike, she stays home while Hank tries to solve the case where we learn about the struggles she has faced with dealing with the boys she let go into war.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones shines in this role, he carries the film with a performance that is up there with his very best. Charlize Theron is also strong in the supporting role showing she can step away from glamourous roles with ease. Susan Sarandon is good as the supporting role which we are used to seeing from her. The whole cast is great throughout the film never giving too much away.

StoryThe story starts off as if it was a simple missing persons case, but it soon turns into a murder with conspiracies about what could have happened on that night of his death. we are never driven down one path and the crime takes time to unfold which makes this a fascinating watch as we see things unfold like Hank. The other side of the story remains how parents must deal with losing children who are in the military.

Crime/MysteryThe crime starts as a missing person and soon turns into a murder that needs to be solved with the conspiracies about who could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe settings show us the town next to a military base and how it operates, it keeps everything simple which is what the story calls for.


Scene of the Movie –
Final piece of the puzzle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I didn’t get annoyed by a single moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an amazing crime mystery thriller, it keeps the pace perfect to not give too much away and tackles the idea of the modern horrors of war.

 

Overall: Must watch for crime mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – J – James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Director: Henry Selick

Writer: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Roberts, Steve Bloom (Screenplay) Roald Dahl (Book)

Starring: Paul Terry, Joanna Lumley (Voice Talents) Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon

 

Plot: An orphan, who lives with his two cruel aunts, befriends anthropomorphic bugs who live inside a giant peach, and they embark on a journey to New York City.


Tagline – Adventures this big don’t grow on trees.

Runtime: 1 Hour 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical Family Adventure

 

 

Story: James and the Giant Peach starts young boy James is left orphaned after his parents are killed, he is forced to live with his cruel aunts Spiker (Lumley) and Sponge (Margolyes) who treat him like a slave. When a mysterious old man gives him a bag with magic in he unleashes them by accident to great a giant peach.

The peach becomes a side show for the Aunts leaving James to clean up, until he finds a passage which takes hi into the peach which is know being lived in by a serial bugs Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybird, Spider and Earthworm. The unlikely group head off on an adventure which takes them across the Atlantic to New York City.

 

 

Thoughts on James and the Giant Peach

 

Characters – James is an orphan from a loved family forced to live with evil aunts, he just wants to be a kid and isn’t being allowed to go out and play. His adventure takes him across the Atlantic Ocean to the place he was always due to go with his family New York city. Like a lot of the Roald Dahl books he creates an orphan that is being ill-treated looking for an escape. The different bugs each offer up different parent like advice for James, just what is needed for James in his time of need.

PerformancesPaul Terry is the real James and he is good for a child actor as are the Aunts, most of this film focuses on the voice work which shows the talent of the cast selected.

StoryThe story shows follows one boy and his adventure with bugs to escape the horrible life he has been trapped living. The story enters full levels of fantasy which is great to see, there is no covering up elements of the story, it all happened and everyone sees this. It does feel like it should be the imagination of a traumatised orphan and it should end up being this for the generic following.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure James goes on is everything a lonely boy would imagine going on. This is a family film because everyone can get a laugh of different moments in the film.

SettingsMost of the film takes place in and on the peach, we see the family dynamic on board the peach, this is the only one of its type even if you can see elements of ‘Up’ in this setting.

AnimationThe animation shown here showed us what we were getting from the director, a unique look at stop-motion.


Scene of the Movie –
Rhino in the sky.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It can be dark at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical family adventure from the childhood author Roald Dahl that wrote wonderful books, which changed many lives, this is one that people sometimes forget.

 

Overall: Magical and wonderful movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – L – The Lovely Bones (2009)

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (Screenplay) Alice Sebold (Novel)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan

 

Plot: Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Fantasy Elements Throughout

 

Story: The Lovely Bones starts as Susie (Ronan) introduces us to her family, father Jack (Wahlberg), mother Abigail (Weisz), sister Lindsey, brother Buckley and Grandma Lynn (Sarandon), Susie tells us about her memories, dreams and that she was murdered by George Harvey (Tucci).

Susie trapped in purgatory wants to show her family who the murderer was as she watches over her family, her family are dealing with her loss in different ways, Jack is trying to solve who would have done it, while Abigail is grieving silently.

As Susie watches her family she does see the healing happening but when Lindsey catches the eye of George, she makes it her mission to protect her sister from the same fate she suffered.

 

Thoughts on The Lovely Bones

 

Characters – Susie is our victim, she is also our narrator telling us her feels towards her family before and after she is murdered. She is the light in the darkest places, a teenager that never experienced those life moments she dreamt off. Jack is Susie’s father that never gives up on finder the person responsible but this only makes him crazy pushing Abigail away from him as she is parent that needs to get away from everything to recover. George Harvey is the man that killed Susie, he lives in the street waiting for his moment to take advantage of any of his victims. Grandma Lynn tries to help bring peace to the family and mostly the children.

PerformanceSaoirse Ronan showed us here once again that she was one of the best actresses of her generation, being able to tell the story for the eyes. Wahlberg gives us a solid performance through the film while Weisz does all she can with what she gets, she does have a couple of powerful moments though. Susan Sarandon enjoys the grandmother role but it Stanley Tucci that gives us the most haunting performance of his career to date.

StoryThe story brings a fresh spin on the idea of a murder in suburban neighbourhood, we have had the ones where it could be someone in the area, we have had the parent searching for the killer, we have had the ghost haunting but to have the spirit watching over the people they loved and the one that killed them brings a unique way of looking at the whole murder and solving it. For a story this may well be from a novel of the same name and it is good watch throughout.

Fantasy/ThrillerThe idea of the fantasy side of the film comes from the purgatory that Susie finds herself in, it is a visual treat at times in this world.

SettingsThe settings bring us to a small suburban neighbourhood where everyone believes they know everyone, where the sudden disappearance of Susie brings the family to start pointing fingers shows how a neighbourhood can come together to put this behind them.

Special EffectsThe effects for the purgatory looks fantastic throughout the film showing us the imagination of Susie at work.

Scene of the Movie – Bottle smashing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does come off longer than it needs to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is a visual treat and good spin on the murder movie, it is well worth watching to see how the lives of the people effected by the disappearance.

 

Overall: Good fantasy crime movie.

Rating

 

 

Double Feature Weekend – The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Director: Jim Sharman

Writer: Jim Sharman, Richard O’Brien (Screenplay) Richard O’Brien (Original Musical)

Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Jonathan Adams

 

Plot: A newly engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must pay a call to the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cult Classic

 

Story: The Rocky Horror Picture Show starts as Brad Majors (Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Sarandon) get engaged as they were heading home they get trapped in a storm. Seeking refuge the couple find themselves in a mysterious castle full and strange and colourful characters hosted by Dr Frank-N-Furter (Curry).

Tonight, is a special night for the Doctor as he is about to bring his Creation to life in full Frankenstein style. The longer Brad and Janet spend in the castle the stranger the night becomes but one they will never forget.

 

Thoughts on The Rocky Horror Picture Show

 

Characters/PerformanceDr Frank-N-Furter is bar far one of the most iconic characters in musical and film, leading the transsexual movement in the main stream, he is another version of Dr Frankenstein but one with extreme sexual motivations. Brad is the newly engaged man who feels out of place in the party but grows to respect the choice. Janet is Brad’s new fiancé who enjoys the sexually driven party more than Brad. The rest of the characters all add to the style of the film.

Performance wise, Tim Curry does steal the show with his eccentric performance that you can see he fully commits to, Sarandon and Bostwick are great as the new engaged couple put in the awkward situation with the rest of the cast all giving us the performance we need to see.

StoryThe story is easy to follow like you would imagine with musical and with the narration does make certain things easy. The idea of staying at a strange castle where you could end up involved in a mad party hosted by a crazy scientist. This is a unique story that does have moments from the Frankenstein story involved.

Comedy/MusicalThe comedy is used to make this story come off fun with the musical numbers throughout.

SettingsThe castle makes for a wonderful setting full of the gothic style and the scientific laboratory used to make the creation.

Special EffectsThe special effects are few are far between but all come off when they are needed.

Final ThoughtsI knew this was a cult movie for years but never got around to see it, I found this exactly what I was expecting, unique, crazy and a stand-alone special event.

 

Overall: This is a true cult classic film.

Rating