The Nightingale (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent (Screenplay)

Starring: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Kaykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie

Plot: Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

Tagline – 1820’s Tasmania. A young Irish convict seeks revenge.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shocking & Intense

Story: The Nightingale starts as an Irish convict Clare (Franciosi) is forced to work under British Officer Hawkins (Claflin) to pay off her debts, which usually involves cleaning and performing a song to the soldiers, until one day he goes too far by raping her, Clare is desperate to get out of her debt, to which she has paid off, but Hawkins won’t release her.

Confronting Hawkins with her husband Aidan (Sheasby), it leads to Hawkins not getting his promotion and Hawkins makings Clare pay with his men Ruse (Herriman) and Jago (Greenwood). Left completely broken Clare is put in contact with aboriginal tracker Billy (Ganambarr), as she goes in search for revenge on the men that took everything from him.

Thoughts on The Nightingale

Characters – Clare is an Irish convict, she has been released from jail to work off her time cleaning and using her beautiful singing voice to entertain the soldiers. She is coping with her time until Hawkins refuses her chance to have her freedom, being subjected to violence from the soldiers, with nothing left she is hellbent on revenge and isn’t in this journey to make any friends or want anybody’s sympathy, she just wants blood. Billy is an aboriginal tracker that reluctantly agrees to help Clare on her journey, he doesn’t want trouble, he is tired of how the white man has treated his kind, believing at first that Clare is just like the rest, until he learns the truth. The two have some true heart to heart moments as well as having moments which will give you a laugh too. Hawkins is a English officer that believes he should be given a promotion to a vacant captain role, he can’t control his soldiers and his aggression sees him leaving bodies in his path, making him have enemies coming from all directions, as he looks to arrive for his latest position. Ruse and Jago are the two soldiers that are also involved in the attack on Clare and her family, they are just as cowardly as Hawkins.

PerformancesAisling Franciosi gives us one of the most grounded and exceptional performances of recent years, she shows us the pure vengeance her character is going through, right next to the grief she would have experienced. Sam Claflin brings us one of the most horrendous humans to life with his performance, one that will leave almost wanting to hate the actors for his performance being so horrid. Baykali Ganambarr is wonderful too showing us the pain that a generation of people would have suffered through during the events of the film.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman that sees everything taken from her in an act of violence by military men and seeks her own form of revenge. Where this story steps up comes from breaking certain traditions, while the opening actions are always going to be hard to watch and give the motivation required for Clare determination for revenge. Once we get on the war path, this isn’t a calm calculated plan for revenge like we have seen before, this is a cold complete emptiness reaction to the horrors she experiences with her journey being the only time she properly starts to grieve what she has been through. This is a new level of revenge movie that isn’t just revenge on this one action, it feels like a moment that wants to show the people that the white English soldiers walked all over. Wonderful story telling throughout.

ThrillerThis is a tense thriller that shows the path of revenge that one lady and her tracker go on after being wronged by acts of violence by English soldiers.

SettingsThe film uses the settings amazingly to show the world that Clare goes into and how the trackers are the only way to get through the outback in Tasmanian wilderness safely.

Scene of the Movie – The last song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The English Soldiers.

Final Thoughts This is one of the best revenge films you will see, it has a different style to anything you have seen before with performances that are true heavyweight ones.

Overall: Brilliant.

Abstruse (2019) Movie Review

Director: Harley Wallen

Writer: Harley Wallen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Sizemore, Dennis Haskins, Jesi Jensen, Colleen Gentry, Clahoun Koenig, Harley Wallen, Jerry Hayes, Kris Reilly, Kaiti Wallen

Plot: Two young women get themselves into a very compromising situation that proves life changing, the aftermath is almost worse as all trails of the event has been wiped out and all of a sudden the tables turn and Amanda goes from being the victim to the accused. Amanda’s father decides to look into it only to realize it’s much bigger than they first anticipated. The story heads to a Good Vs. Evil showdown to settle the score.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense

Story: Abstruse starts when the playboy son of a senator Justin Stevens (Reilly) is getting tired of the normal call girls, he wants to make his own movies, adult movies, he recruits a couple of barmaids Mindy (Johnson) and her friend Amanda (Kaiti Wallen) to be their first stars of their movie, only for the night to take a turn for the worse, when Mindy is killed.

With Justin turning to his father Senator Stevens (Haskins), the police detectives Caldwell (Harley Wallen) and Morris (Hayes) have nothing to go on, even starting to investigate her. Amanda has one last out for the truth, her father Max London (Sizemore) a known killer who will stop at nothing to learn the truth.

Thoughts on Abstruse

Characters – Max London is an ex-con, a killer that has been used in protection before, he has connections that will get a job done and after he is released from prison, he must help his daughter, he will use his skills to try and learn the truth and his connections to make sure the people pay. Senator Stevens has always financed his son’s hobbies, he has always looked to save face whenever his son has done wrong and this is no different. Amanda is one of the barmaids that goes from having a good time, to seeing her friend murdered, she becomes the target by the senator who wants to spin the story on her, her father is one of the only people that could help her out of the position which could see her end up dead. Justin in the son of a senator, he has always lived off his daddy’s money, with his latest desire to make adult movies, which soon turns into filming a murder, now he will do anything to cover it up and get pleasure from hurting people.

PerformancesTom Sizemore back on the bring screen in great to see and this is the right type of role for his strengths. Kris Reilly does make for a wonderful psychotic rich person, while Kaiti Wallen as the victim looks as helpless and desperate as her character would be. The while cast do a good job here, showing us how to make their character make an impact in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the cover up of a murder, which sees the witness becoming one of the main targets of the cover up, with everyone needing to figure out who is working for who. This story does start slower that we get with the introduction to all of the characters, but once every pieces get put on the table, we do get a crime thriller that becomes edge of your seat, we literally don’t know who will be working for who, will people stay on certain sides etc. we have an antagonist that only seems to get more twisted as they get pushed. We even get to see how themes of money being able to get people off crimes and even try and turn the tables on the witnesses.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is more about the violent acts rather than being flying bullets or car chases, which it easily could be, the crime side of the film is much more complex as we see just how everything is unfolding between the characters after a crime has happened.

SettingsThe film does keep us in the city, which is filled with people that could do anything illegal to keep their names in the clear.

Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Did nobody see a dead body on the streets for that long?

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime thriller that does keep you guessing which is wonderful to see with strong performances throughout.

Overall: Great Crime Thriller

Red Handed (2019) Movie Review

Director: Frank Peluso

Writer: Frank Peluso (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Biehn, Ryan Carnes, Kenzie Dalton, Owen Burke, Rick Salomon, Christian Madsen, Michael Madsen

Plot: When their father is murdered, three brothers descend upon an Oregon mountain river to spread his ashes. After they arrive, one of their children goes missing. One of the brothers was himself abducted 30 years ago when they visited this same river, but he has blocked the incident out of his mind. Only by unlocking the mysteries inside his subconscious, will they be able find the child.

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Thriller That Lacks Intensity

Story: Red Handed starts with a Pagan ritual that was once famous in the local area in the 12th century, one with real horrors. We see Lou (Michael Madsen) a car mechanic in the town now, he has three children Gus (Carnes), Pete (Burke) and Duffy (Christen Madsen) with his own relationship with his brothers Reynolds (Biehn) and Dale (Salomon) being distant.

When Lou gets murdered by his brother, the brothers return to the town for the first time in years to spread his ashes. This trip brings back the memories of the three’s childhood, where one of them once went missing, following the traditions of the area, which might have a reason for their father’s death.

Thoughts on Red Handed

Characters – Reynolds is the brother of Lou, he is older and has always remained closer to the family traditions. Duffy is the son that is closest to his father, he has his own family even if there are a few problems in his marriage, he is reluctant to sees his brothers, but must work with them over the weekend. Pete is the eldest of the brothers, he likes the quiet of the world unlike the other too, as well as having a trauma from his past which he doesn’t like to open up about. Lou is their father who has always tried to keep them close, but just like him with his brothers, has seen them becoming distant. We do have three brothers that have become distant, which sees them reuniting having issues between them.

PerformancesWe do have two big names in this film with Michael Biehn and Michael Madsen who are here to show the experience the film needs, while the younger cast, where Christian Madsen, Owen Burke and Ryan Carnes all work well in the dysfunctional siblings.

StoryThe story here follows three brothers that come together for their father’s funeral only to find themselves in the middle of a pagan community that their father didn’t want to be part off. This is a story that can be split into two, the brothers coming together shows that life can push family’s apart and coming back together can help problems be talked through, this is all great. When we look at the other side of the story we are dealing with pagan followers which is more about them planning in the background without getting into the true depths of the ritual.

ThrillerThe film tries to keep us guessing on what will be happening next, but we never get the intensity we could get with the pagan style movie.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small backcountry homes, which are near historic important locations, which does help keep everything contained.

Scene of the Movie – Brothers together again, touching moment between the brothers.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of the Pagan side didn’t feel like it was important enough.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that doesn’t hit the heights it could, the serious relationship between brothers is the highlight, while the pagan side almost feels tagged on.

Overall: Thriller without Intensity.

Knuckleball (2018) Movie Review

Director: Michael Peterson

Writer: Kevin Cockle, Michael Peterson (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Ironside, Munro Chambers, Luca Villacis, Kathleen Munroe, Chenier Hundal

Plot: Alone, and targeted on an isolated farm, 12 year-old Henry finds himself at the center of a maelstrom of terror, and a dark family legacy, when his secretive grandfather dies suddenly in the night.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Slasher

Story: Knuckleball starts when 12-year-old Henry (Villacis) gets left with his estranged grandfather Jacob (Ironside) on his remote ranch, while his parent head off to a family funeral, he meets the overly nosey neighbour Dixon (Chambers) and sees just how bad the climate outside is.

When Jacob dies in his sleep, Henry tries to contact his parents before turning to Dixon who might not be as friendly as Henry believes, showing his darker secret side.

Thoughts on Knuckleball

Characters – Henry is the 12-year-old left to spend time with his grandfather, he is the typical young boy who spends too much time playing video games, so this trip would give him a more hands on approach to work, he is left alone after his grandfather dies and proves to be a worthy opponent for the serial killer neighbour. Jacob is the grandfather who has a mysterious past, he does teach Henry little things and does expect him to work on the ranch, he has a past that has been kept secret from the rest of the family including his own daughter. Dixon is the neighbour who seems too interested when Henry is visiting, once Henry comes to him for help, he shows his true colours as a killer who has been waiting for this chance to let know about his own family secret. Mary and Paul are the parents that are left helpless as they try to find a way back to save their son.

PerformancesLuca Villacis as the boy is great showing himself to be able to show his character planning what his next move will be, Michael Ironside might not have the biggest role, but he brings his mentor figure to life, while Munro Chambers in the villainous role is dark enough to be a threat, even if he talks too much.

StoryThe story here follows a 12-year-old who must fight off a serial killer that is one of his family’s dark little secrets after being left for the weekend with his estranged grandfather. The story does flow well very well showing us just how the secrets slowly get revealed, while going through the slasher idea of following the kid trying to stay ahead of the killer. It does play into the idea of seeing one trying to get ahead of the other, with both getting their own upper hand at times, with each having a plan, while the parents just end up feeling like they are from Home Alone.

ThrillerThis uses the thriller aspect that are used in a slasher style movie, it only shows the two going at it without needing to give us the pile of bodies.

SettingsThe film uses the one location which is two ranches next door to each other in the snow-covered area which made the conditions harder to survive in.

Scene of the Movie – The basement trap.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The parents don’t seem to care that much.

Final Thoughts This is a slasher styled thriller that shows the battle between a young man and a 12-year-old where the boy must do anything to survive from the killer.

Overall: Cat-n-mouse 101.

The Good Liar (2019) Movie Review

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Jeffrey Hatcher (Screenplay) Nicholas Searle (Novel)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Mark Lewis Jones, Laurie Davidson

Plot: Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.

Tagline – Read between the lies

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tense Thriller

Story: The Good Liar starts as we meet Roy Courtnay (McKellen) a con man that has mark out his latest target, a widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) who he gets to romance getting close before presenting his plan with his partner Vincent (Carter).

Betty is happy to welcome Roy into her life despite her grandson Stephen (Tovey) not being as welcoming, only for this job to become one that will finally put Roy against his toughest match.

Thoughts on The Good Liar

Characters – Betty is a widow teacher that has always been smart with her money, with her only remaining relative being a grandson that always makes sure she is safe, she is looking for companionship with Roy and wants to remain her own confident self while making decisions with her money. Roy is a conman that is always working on his latest scheme to steal people’s money, he targets wealthy widows with Betty being the latest target, he always presents himself as a kind gentleman and even with the deals he is doing, he does have a violent side to him which he only shows when he needs to, making him a very dangerous man. Stephen is the grandson of Betty, he is always wanting to make sure she is safe and not being taken advantage of, not taking to fondly to Roy. Vincent is the partner of Roy, he is there for any final deal playing the person that will broker the deals, he does try to play into the human side of Roy too.

PerformancesHelen Mirren and Ian McKellen are absolutely brilliant together, seeing the two legends dominate the screen through the film. Russell Tovey and Jim Carter do well through the film to try and keep up with the legends too.

StoryThe story here follows a veteran conman that is still working on his cons with his latest target being a widow, worth millions, only this time he is meeting his match. This is a con man story that shows how one man has turned it into an art never fearing the job will go wrong, but Betty isn’t going to be an easy target. The big problem with this story comes from the fact you know this needs to have a twist and you are just waiting to see if you can figure it out before it is revealed, luckily it is a wonderful twist which can make the story revisited to pick up on the little clues being left through the film. It might not break the wheel with how everything unfolds because it is one where he learn and want Roy to get what he deserves through the film.

ThrillerThe thriller side of the film plays into the conman mindset being explored through the film, we are kept guessing, while we don’t need to have too many intense scenes.

SettingsThe film uses the locations to the advantages, with busy life of London, which Roy enjoys, to the quiet life which always makes him uncomfortable.

Scene of the Movie – Underground meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – You are left waiting for the twist to happen.

Final Thoughts This is one of the thrillers that can be enjoyed, it is smart, slick and has two legends of the industry shining through the film.

Overall: Entertaining Thriller.