movie reviews

The Next Three Days (2010)

next 3 days

The Next Three Days is an enthralling action movie set in Pittsburgh. Lara (Elizabeth Banks) is sent to prison for the murder of her boss after they were seen having an argument at the office. An eye witness has also placed Lara at the scene of the crime. The evidence against her is pretty condemning. Her husband, John (Russell Crow), a teacher at a community college, fights ferociously to prove her innocence. He is now also effectively a single father taking care of their young son. When every legal recourse fails and Lara attempts suicide, John has starts making a different plan to get his wife out of jail. He gets involved with some dangerous characters and sets down a road there is no turning back from. When he learns that Lara will be moved to a different prison withing a few days, John has to floor the accelerator on his plan.

The Next Three Days is a story about love, faith, family and fortitude. It’s about the people who believe you even if all the facts seem to scream that they are wrong. The people who will be there for you even when you push them away. A hero who keeps fighting for the people he loves and for what he believes is right, even when all the odd are stacked against him. A discussion John has with his students about Don Quixote is a perfect parallel for his own situation. The film has plenty of suspense, action, violence, chases and nail-biting moments.

Is it super realistic? Perhaps not. Though,  it is well-written, well-made, edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

Cast includes: Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Jason Beghe, Aisha Hinds, Helen Carey, Brain Dennehy…

Director : Paul Haggis (Crash)
Screenplay: Paul Haggis (Crash, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Million Dollar Baby)
Based on the Screenplay: “Pour Elle” by Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans
Release: 2010 (USA)
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 2h 13min

©2018

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movie reviews

The Town (2010)

the town

The Town is set in Charlestown, a blue-collar Boston neighbourhood, which is known as “The bank robbery capital of America.”The Town is set in Charlestown, a blue-collar Boston neighbourhood, which is known as “The bank robbery capital of America.”

Doug Macray (Ben Affleck)  is basically a decent guy with a good heart, who has taken a few wrong turns in his life. He is a recovering addict who is trying to get his life act together, but he is tangled up in a life of  crime. He commits robberies with his best friend since childhood, Jem (Jeremy Renner), and two of their friends. In their free time the guys hang out in bars and at barbecues. Doug also has some sort of  non-committed  relationship with Jem’s sister, Kirista (Blake Lively),  who is the mother of a small child and addicted to oxy.

During a bank robbery, the gang takes a bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall),  hostage. Afterwards, they fear she might be able to identify them and Doug decides to check up on her. He starts talking to her to ascertain what she has been telling the cops. A determined FBI agent, Frawley (Jon Hamm), is questioning Claire about the bank robbery and starts sniffing around Doug and his friends’ lives. As Doug spends time with Claire he soon falls in love with her.  Doug wants to get out of his precarious situation, but he and his crew is hired by a dangerous man, “Fergie  aka The Florist” (Pete Postlethwaite),  to do a big heist and if he doesn’t play a long, Claire is in danger…
The Town is violent with strong language. This script is well written, with some well-drawn characters who I  found myself caring about. It is a hard crime drama with some moments of sweetness and some humour in the dialogue. The score underlining the film is used effectively to create tension during action scenes, but subtle and sparse during conversation scenes, so that you can really focus on the characters and the great dialogue. This also gives theses scenes a real and raw feel.  The film is well directed and the cast gave some pretty decent performances.

See it if you like heist movies with a bit of human drama.

 

Cast also includes: Chris Cooper,  Slaine, Owen Burke, Titus Welliver, Corena Chase

Director: Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, Argo)
Writers: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard (screenplay)
             Chuck Hogan (novel)
Release: 2010 (USA)
Rated: R 
Duration: 2h 5min 
Crime, Drama, Thriller

 

©2018

movie reviews

Thor: Ragnarok

thor-ragnarok

Thor finds out he has an older sister, Hela, who is the rightful heir to the throne of Asgard. Hela is hella evil though and bent on destruction. Suddenly his black sheep brother, Loki,  who Hela usurps, doesn’t seem all that bad. Thor finds himself imprisoned.  Easy going Thor realizes he’ll have to take responsibility,  make haste to get back home and prevent Ragnorok (the total destruction of the world and life as he knows it). He charms a beautiful, but tough Valkyrie into helping him. He meets up Loki, as well as with Bruce Banner, aka Hulk… and he assembles a team to join him in his epic battle against his sister.

Thor: Ragnorok is a fun action-packed movie that will have you laughing throughout. The way the characters teleport is really cool.  There is some awesome scenery and great editing. I loved the dialogue in this movie, it is incredibly funny.   I was told that it was apparently mostly improvised… This speaks of great cast chemistry.  This is some pure sit back and relax entertainment. See it if you love super heroes and funny action movies.
Cast includes:
Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban… 

Director: Taika Waititi
Writers:  Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle &  Christopher Yost
  — based on comic books by:  Stan Lee, Larry Lieber& Jack Kirby

Release: 2017 (USA)
Running Time: 2hrs 10 min
Rating: PG -13 

 

©2018

 

movie reviews

Justice League (2017)

jl2017

I didn’t grow up reading comic books (though I was a regular viewer of  Batman: The Animated Series )…  and I still don’t read comic books (though thanks to the recent Wonder Woman movie as well as the biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, I w will) … but I do love super hero movies. Okay, let’s just move a long.

Justice League is based on DC comics characters Batman (Ben Affleck),  Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller),  Aqua Man (Jason Samoa),  Cyborg (Ray Fisher)  and Superman (Henry Cavil) .

Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) , a supernatural super-villain, is threatening life on planet earth.  An aging millionaire, Bruce Wayne (aka Batman), decides to assemble a team of with special abilities.  There is a slight problem though… Superman is dead.

Like with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I kind of liked it. (Though like I said, I’m not a purist). It’s a violent spectacle of super-hero action,  best enjoyed on the big screen.

The theme song rendition of The Beatles’ “Come Together”  by Gary Clark Jr. & Junkie XL will probably be stuck in your head for a few days at least.

Cast includes:  Diane Lane, Amy Adams Jeremy Irons, Connie Nielson, Amber Heard, Joe Morton and  J.K. Simmons.
Director:  Zack Snyder

Screenplay: Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon  (see imdb.com for full story & character credits)
Running Time: 2 hours
PG-13

analysis

Excess Baggage vs A Life Less Ordinary

 

Both films were released in 1997.  Both are about a spoiled rich girl, trying to get her father’s attention, who is accidentally kidnapped by a troubled young man. In both cases they fall in love. I wouldn’t really call either films an example of Stockholm Syndrome, even though in both cases the kidnapping “victim”  identifies with the kidnapper, because the kidnappings are  accidental.
It often happens that movies with similar plots are released by different studios in the same year.  What makes a difference is the screenplay, director and cast.

spoilers

A Life Less Ordinary (ALLO for sake of comparison):
Running time: 103 min      Rated: R
Tagline: “A comedy for anyone who’s ever been in danger…of falling in love.”

Robert (Ewan McGregor) loses his job and confronts the company president.  He impulsively takes the boss’s daughter, Celine (Cameron Diaz),  as a hostage. He now finds himself as a kidnapper on the run with Celine.  In the meanwhile, Jackson (Delroy Lindo) and O’Reilly (Holly Hunter),  are two angels on a mission from God to reestablish romance between modern man and woman.

Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Cast includes: Dan Hedaya, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shaloub, Ian Holm and Timothy Olyphant.

Excess Baggage (EB for sake of comparison):
 Running time: 101 min      Rated: PG-13
Tagline: “You would NOT believe what a girl’s got to do, just to get a little attention”
A spoiled teenager, Emily (Alicia Silverstone), fakes her own kidnapping.  While she is in the trunk of her car, Vincent (Bencio Del Toro), a car thief steals her car and inadvertently becomes a kidnapper. There are sparks between them and they form a special bond. In the meanwhile her father has sent his associate, ” Uncle Ray” (Christopher Walken) to retrieve Emily.

Director: Marco Brambilla
Writer:  Max. D Adams (story & screenplay), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais.
Cast includes: Harry Connick Jr., Jack Thompson and Nicholas Turturro.

Comparison:

  • EB is more realistic than ALLO, which has the fantasy element of two angels on a mission.
  • ALLO employs Deux ex machina. 
  • ALLO overall has the better cast and acting performances.
  • EB: Alicia  Silverstone  was nominated for a worst actress Razzie. Good performances from Walken and Del Toro.
  • ALLO has a more famous writer and director.
  • ALLO has better overall cinematogrpahy and editing.
  • Both have cool soundtracks.
  • EB is more main stream and did better at the box office.
  • EB was made for a budget of ± $20,000,000  and ALLO for  ± $12,000,000 (source: imdb)
  • ALLO has funnier dialogue.
  • The romantic relationship in ALLO is more volatile.
  • Emily (EB) fakes her own kidnapping to get attention and then gets kidnapped for real… Celine (ALLO) gets kidnapped by mistakes but then decides to exploit the situation (and test how much her father loves her), by making Robert demand a ransom.
  • Both female leads are willful and opinionated and will speak their minds, but Celine (ALLO) is more independent and a stronger character.
  • Both women are American.
  • Robert( ALLO) is just   sweet, but frustrated guy, a bit of a loser,  who is at the wrong time and the wrong place and haplessly becomes a criminal.  Vincent (EB) is a career criminal (who wants out), who is also at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets sucked into s sticky situation.
  • Both male characters are of foreign origin. Vincent is Latino and Robert is British.

I enjoyed both movies, but I slightly favour A Lifeless Ordinary, as it is quirkier and a lot more absurd, albeit a little over the top.  It also briefly features two beautiful Dobermans.

 

Memorable Dialogue:

——————————————————————————————————————————
Emily vs. Celine:

===Excess Baggage===

EMILY:
What… you’re done? You don’t wanna play anymore?

**
EMILY:
Oh, hi Dad, I’m okay but um… Daddy he made me touch his penis.

VINCENT:
[Vincent hangs up the phone] Touch what?

EMILY: Oops.
===A Life Less Ordinary===

CELINE:
“Kidnap For Beginners”, Chapter One. Have you even asked for a ransom yet?
**

CELINE:
If word got around that I had been liberated for half a million dollars, I could never show my face in polite society again. Diamonds have no value except that which is placed upon them.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

Vincent vs. Robert

===Excess Baggage===

VINCENT:
I once stole a Ferrari with a Chihuahua in the back. He made less noise than you do.

**
VINCENT:
I’ve known this girl for two days, are you tellin’ me I care more about her than you? You son of a bitch! You should’ve sold her when she was born for cash value Mr. Business Man!


===A Life Less Ordinary===

ROBERT:
Right you asshole, I’ve got your daughter here, and I’m gonna send her back in pieces if… OH! I’m sorry, madam. No, I haven’t got your daughter here, I’ve got someone else’s. No, we’re not married. Yes, I’ve read the same thing, it’s very hard to find suitable young men these days. Well, I’m sure your daughter’s very nice, in principle I’ve got no objection to meeting her…
[Celine hangs up the phone]

——————————————————————————————————————————

Relationships: 

===Excess Baggage:===

VINCENT:
How stupid do you think I am, huh?

EMILY:
How stupid is there?
**

VINCENT:
I got a Twinkie in the car. It’s all yours, if you want it. Just make this call for me.
**
VINCENT:
Let’s see… we’ve got rum, tequila and rum… Rum and tequila. What would you like?

EMILY:
You don’t have to be drunk to kiss me.

VINCENT:
Well… I’m not drunk.
===A Life Less Ordinary===

ROBERT:
Why are you such a pain to be with?

CELINE:
Because you tied me to a chair all night.
**

CELINE
Despite your crummy poem, I came to see you and all you could do was humiliate me and turn me away. I thought you were decent, but it turns out you’re just a lying, cheating bastard like all the rest.
**
CELINE:
What’s wrong?

ROBERT:
What’s wrong, you crazy bitch, is I thought you were gonna shoot me! THAT’S what’s wrong!

—————————————————————————————————————————

©lowercase v  2017