Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh (Screenplay)

Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas hedges, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones

 

Plot: A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.


Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darkly Humorous

 

Story: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starts as Mildred Hayes (McDormand) puts up three billboards in a quiet road questioning how Willoughby (Harrelson) hasn’t solved the case of her daughter’s rape and murder. Fellow officer Dixon (Rockwell) who has a chequered past is enraged by the signs, while officer Willoughby tries to clean up the situation and prove there isn’t enough to solve the case, but with his dying he does want to solve the case before he goes.

As the billboards stay up longer, the town starts to become divided on the support in catching the killer and Mildred does to extremes in her battle with Dixon to get the case solved.

 

Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

Characters – Mildred Hayes is a mother that has run out of patience when it comes to the police finding the killer off her daughter, she did have the full support of the town, but this stunt pushes the people away even if it could get her the killer to identify themselves. Willoughby is the lead investigator in the case, he has done everything he could to solve the case, but he is now facing his own battle with cancer, while keeping the peace in the town. Dixon is the hot-headed police officer that clashes with Mildred and anyone who supports her in finding out the truth.

PerformancesFrances McDormand shows us that she can reach the Fargo levels whenever the material is given to her, as she shines through as the best part of this movie. Woody Harrelson is great again this year, showing us he can step into any role and be great. Sam Rockwell is wonderful too as we see that this cast is filled with talent character performers.

StoryThe story shows the extremes of losing a child, the stress of noting being able to solve one of the worst cases in the town. This does turn into a character studio on the people involved and how their lives need to move on without a chance of every being able to. It is hard to describe this story in much more depth because it is interesting, it does have a lot going on that keeps us wanting to see where the film will go.

Comedy/CrimeThis does use dark humour throughout as we are seeing the effects of the crime on people’s lives, don’t expect to see an investigation though, we are focusing on the relationship between the mother of the victim and the police.

SettingsThe film takes place in this small town where everyone seems to know everyone, so they have all felt the effects of the crime, this helps when things start to get exposed.


Scene of the Movie –
Window smashing, it is a well shot single looking take.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The answer is frustrating.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dark humour that can be enjoyed by the fans of that genre, it does have a good subject matter but doesn’t get to a level in the story that I enjoyed watching.

 

Overall: Dark comedy through a serious subject matter.

Rating

 

 

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Casey Affleck Weekend – Out of the Furnace (2013)

Director: Scott Cooper

Writer: Brad Ingelsby, Scott Cooper (Screenplay)

Starring: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard

 

Plot: When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn’t follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Crime Thriller

 

Story: Out of the Furnace starts as we meet the key character in this depressive downbeat town, we have aggressive new criminal Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson), the current crime boss John Petty (Dafoe), hardworking Russell (Bale) and his brother soldier Rodney (Affleck), Russell girlfriend Lena (Saldana) and Chief Wesley (Whitaker).

Russell looks out for Rodney but when he is involved in a manslaughter case he finds himself in prison, while away Rodney finds himself working for Petty owing him money. Rodney desperate to make the money quick forces John into booking a fight in Harlan territory, to make a large pay day.

When Rodney finds himself in more trouble, he vanishes after the fight for Harlan, leaving a note to Russell about the change he is going to make with his life. When Russell isn’t happy with the speed, the police are taking finding his brother and Harlan he takes matters into his own hands risking his own newly acquired freedom.

 

Thoughts on Out of the Furnace

 

Characters/PerformanceRussell is the everyday man who always looks out for his brother, works hard to make a living and start a family but his life is turned upside when he is involved in an accident landing him in jail. He shows that he will do anything to protect his own family. Harlan is you typical crime boss who believes he is toughest around, deadly when needed to be. Rodney is the easily led astray young man who feels like he doesn’t get what he deserves after his time in Iraq turning to underground fighting. Wesley is the basic cop we don’t see enough from, Lena is the girlfriend that only shows what could have been with John being a nice criminal if that makes sense.

Performance wise Bale shines in the leading role with Affleck showing all of his acting skills in the supporting role. Harrelson is good and creepy but also seems to enjoy this role slightly too much. Looking deeper into the cast Whitaker, Saldana and Dafoe are all good but could be replaced by another actor.

StoryThe story shows how the bleak desperate people will turn to illegal actions to make money. We have elements of the criminal underworld which all comes through as we see how the fighting takes place and we see how one brother seeks answers on a one man mission. I liked how this was just a body building count for Russell, he goes straight to the source of the problems. This also does feel like many films we have seen before with the huge issue I had was not knowing how long he was in prison for.

Crime/ThrillerThe criminal underworld fight scenes are great with the whole idea that the criminals control the town, we are kept on edge as we wonder just how far Russell will go.

SettingsEach setting shows us just how much of a struggle most days are for these people, giving the criminal life the only escape they can get.

Special EffectsWe don’t have many here, most are just well drawn out fight sequences and well placed gun shots.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dark gritty crime thriller that is a good watch, it does have a couple of plot holes but otherwise good addition to the genre.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans enjoy.

Rating

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves (Screenplay) Pierre Boulle (Novel)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Ty Olsson, Amiah Miller, Sara Canning, Max Lloyd-Jones

 

Plot: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blockbuster of the Year

 

Story: War for the Planet of the Apes starts as two years have passed after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Caesar (Serkis) has had his ape herd in hiding with the humans desperately searching to finish the job on the apes.

The conflict between the humans now led by The Colonel (Harrelson) and the apes has intensified and after Caesar is pushed past his limits of peace he sends the ape herd to safety and goes on his own mission with his three most trusted allies Maurice (Konoval) often the voice of reason, Rocket (Notary) who would fight to the death to save Caesar and Luca (Adamthwaite) who sees his own kind betraying the apes to work for the humans.

Without giving too much more away we see how Caesar searches to find an end to the war be it peaceful or not, so his herd can just live in peace instead of watching out for humans wanting to kill them.

 

Thoughts on War for the Planet of the Apes

 

Characters/PerformanceCaesar is the hero of the previous two films, he leads the apes, he wants peace between humans and apes but this time he is pushed two far as we see a darker side of Caesar come out. We get a full story arc for Caesar through the films now but his nature has always stayed true, protect the apes from humans. The Colonel is the villain of the piece, he wants to eliminate all apes and he will not blink in his methods, he does have plenty of twists to his story arc too. Maurice has been by the side of Caesar since Rise and still his voice of reason when making any decision, the heart this character shows also brings the human child along too. Bad Ape adds the only comedy to the movie, but we didn’t need to much either, Nova shows the consequences of the war that has now been raging for 17 years has had on the Earth. Rocket is the loyal soldier willing to die. We do have other characters that don’t get flushed out as much but otherwise they do all fit their role in the film.

Performance wise, Andy Serkis completes his third outing as Caesar and shows just how fantastic he is, give this man an Oscar nomination. Woody Harrelson is a great villain and easily the best human villain the trilogy has seen, I saw parts that reminded me of what Negan is like in the Walking Dead where he comes onto the screen gives a speech seemingly never blinking and having you just want to hear more from his. The rest of the motion capture cast are all brilliant too and the humans we see are good too.

StoryThe story does continue on the Planet of the Apes saga, we get to see how the end of the last film effected the world with the military ruthlessly hunting down the apes now. We get to see just how far Caesar could be pushed with his arc being told perfectly, the film does also go in a direction I wasn’t expecting which I did like too. If you have followed and enjoyed the first two this will feel like the bow on top of the packet it is that interesting of a story.

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/WarThe action sequences are tied in with the war side of the film as most are the elaborate battle sequences which all work and do something different on each battle. The adventure side of the film does suffer now though as we do get part adventure but in the end, we just fall into focusing on the other elements of the film. the sci-fi side of the film does show the future world that apes look to control.

SettingsThe settings bring another fresh look to the trilogy, first it was the big city, then it was the woods and the city now it is the mountain range with snow being added into the mix, the settings all work and look great through the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are brilliant, the motion capture is fantastic and this film shows just how to use special effects to their upmost.

Final ThoughtsThis has completed one of the best film trilogies of modern cinema, sure we could knit pick a couple of moments but otherwise the emotional rollercoaster you go on will leave you needing to take a breath by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Brilliant, stunning and the best modern cinema trilogy.

Rating

 

 

White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

whiteDirector: Ron Shelton

Writer: Ron Shelton (Screenplay)

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez, Tyra Ferrell, Cylk Cozart, Kadeem Hardison

 

Plot: Black and white basketball hustlers join forces to double their chances.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sports Drama Comedy

 

Story: White Men Can’t Jump starts when we see Billy Hoyle (Harrelson) arriving at Venice Beach a notorious black man basketball court where Sidney Deane (Snipes) is a known hustler on the court. Billy looking completely out of place gets one over Sidney as was a former college player who needs to make a fast buck for himself and his girlfriend Gloria (Perez).

Sidney sees the skills Billy has and talks him into working as a partnership using Billy’s skills and Sidney’s connections to make the money fast. The two have their differences along the way but must put everything between in the background to win the new tournament that will help the both with their financial issues.

 

Thoughts on White Men Can’t Jump

 

Characters/PerformanceSidney is the streetwise hustler that has the gift of the talking his way out of any situation. Sidney can go on the court but he is also a very good businessman trying to support his family. Billy is terrible with money but a great basketball player, he is hustling to clear a debt to supporting his girlfriend who is also a firecracker who dream of being on jeopardy.

Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson are fantastic as the unlikely couple of hustlers showing they have chemistry to pull off every scene they are in. Rosie Perez brings the fire needed for her role as she helps Woody look all the more innocent in the role.stars

StoryThe story is easy to follow and shows how two men from difference backgrounds can work together to aim for the same thing once they put their difference behind them. We get to see the strong sides to both men as well as their weakness which is important for us to see as everything unfolds. I think this is an important story for people who need to learn to work as a team both on the court and off.

Comedy/SportsWe do get laughs coming through this film which is all good to enjoy, we also get to see the streets style of basketball where not everything is as planned to be as clean as professional basketball.

SettingsNearly the whole film is set in LA where we do spend a lot of time on the wrong sides of the tracks for Billy but this shows how honest these men can be on the court.genre

Final ThoughtsThis is a good time film that is well worth a watch by all the fans of the actors, the sport and comedy dramas.

 

Overall: A film that can be enjoyed by all that see it.

Ratingrating

 

 

Indecent Proposal (1993)

indiDirector: Adrian Lyne

Writer: Amy Holden Jones (Screenplay) Jack Engelhard (Novel)

Starring: Robert Redford, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Seymour Cassel, Oliver Platt, Billy Bob Thornton, Rup Taylor, Billy Connolly

 

Plot: A millionaire offers $1,000,000 to a young married couple for a night with the wife.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Little Drama

 

Story: Indecent Proposal starts as we meet young newlyweds Diana Murphy (Moore) and David Murphy (Harrelson) who have been high school sweethearts who believed everything was going to go their way but once the recession hits they find all their dreams shattered with money becoming the serious problem after they both lose their jobs.

Wanting to make the money quickly they head to Vegas where they learn the good and bad side of gambling industry where they lose their remaining money after making it big. Their fortunes change when they bump into high roller billionaire John Gage (Redford) who shows them the life of luxury.

Gage offers the young couple $1 Million for one night with Diana, this gives the couple an almost impossible choice but we are left wondering just whether they could come to a deal or not. Making the deal we get to see how David and Diana deal with the night and the consequences of this decision.

 

Thoughts on Indecent Proposal

 

StoryThe story does give us one of the ultimate moral questions that any married couple could face to solve their monetary problems. We also get to see how they could become broken once the night is done. We get to see how the love between two people can be tested to the extremes as they need to solve their problems. The major issue I have with this story is that this couple have set an unrealistic dream in the first place putting themselves in the mess they find themselves in which a normal person wouldn’t end up finding themselves in.

Drama/RomanceWhen you look at the romance side of this story you get to see how a married couple with all the love in the world can be led astray by someone catching their eye even if it is the money that draws them apart. We get to see how undying love with always prevail whatever you have been through.

Characters/PerformancesDiana and David are the typical Hollywood couple with their unrealistic attempts to make their life the dream even though their love is all they need. John Gage is a man who believes he can buy anything but must learn that he can’t buy the one thing he wants. When you look to the performances everyone is great here with Woody Harrelson has the broken man, Demi as the naïve women dreaming of more and Robert Redford as the business man who can get all.

SettingsThe settings show us the difference in the lifestyles of the married couple and the billionaire which are used brilliantly as we see how Diana gets to look at a different life.

Final ThoughtsI see this film as one of the interesting films from the past that could be done on so many other levels with new technology but can be enjoyed by all.

 

Overall: Good drama about love, money and decision making.

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