Tag Archives: Common

The Tale (2018) Review

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The Tale

Time: 114 minutes
Cast:
Laura Dern as Jennifer Fox
Isabelle Nélisse as Jenny Fox, age 13
Jessica Sarah Flaum as Jenny Fox, age 15
Ellen Burstyn as Nadine “Nettie” Fox
John Heard as William P. Allens
Jason Ritter as Bill Allens
Frances Conroy as Jane Gramercy
Elizabeth Debicki as Mrs. G
Common as Martin
Director: Jennifer Fox

Jennifer (Laura Dern) has it all, with a loving boyfriend (Common) and a great career as a journalist and professor. But when her mother (Ellen Burstyn) discovers a story – “The Tale” – that Jennifer wrote when she was 13, detailing a special relationship Jennifer had with two adult coaches (Jason Ritter and Elizabeth Debicki), Jennifer returns to the Carolina horse farm where the events transpired to try to reconcile her version of events with the truth.

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I had been meaning to watch The Tale for some time. I knew that Laura Dern and Elizabeth Debicki were in it and that it was about the director’s own sexual abuse as a child and I heard some good things about it. The Tale isn’t by any means an easy film to watch but I do think that it is worth taking a look at.

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Handling a subject matter like abuse is definitely touchy and not an easy task for any film to have. I’m actually surprised that it was actually HBO who distributed this movie, it’s probably their most controversial movie and looking at the results, the risk definitely paid off well. This is a great examination of trauma and abuse, and something that definitely helped is that director Jennifer Fox is telling her own story, and that really added a lot. It’s a bit unconventional with the way it tells its story, mainly the flashbacks, with the time period jumping all around the place. In a way it works as it’s Fox looking back at her life, but at times it’s a little too jarring and hard to follow. I will say though that the way they ended the movie and story was great.

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One of the highlights of the movie are the performances. Laura Dern is such an talented and underrated actress and I’m glad that she finally got a lead role in a movie. Here she basically plays Jennifer Fox and this is definitely among her best performances, a powerhouse yet real performance, especially towards the end of the movie. Isabelle Nélisse also plays the younger Jennifer and she’s quite prominent throughout flashbacks and she’s quite convincing in her role. The rest of the cast is great as well. Jason Ritter and Elizbeth Debicki play the two adult coaches that the young Fox had some sort of relationship with and both were really great, especially Debicki. The older versions of the two played by John Heard and Frances Conroy were also great. Ellen Burstyn and Common were also very good as Dern’s mother and boyfriend respectively.

The Tale

Jennifer Fox’s direction was quite good and she knows how to handle her story, even if there were some aspects that didn’t work perfectly. Fox prior to filming The Tale was a documentary filmmaker and at times you can feel it, and I mean it in a good way. There are bits where people in the flashbacks where Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Ritter and even Isabelle Nélisse (who played the younger version of Fox) are being interviewed by the younger and older versions of Fox, with the camera facing the interviewee and all that. As it is about Fox looking back at these people, it made sense and worked for what she was going for. Despite some editing decisions that made the movie a little bit jumpy at times and feeling occasionally like a tv show (given that it’s an HBO movie it’s not that surprising), Fox’s debut at a non-documentary film was quite good.

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The Tale is for sure difficult to watch, but an important look at abuse and trauma, and all around was a really good movie. The highlights were the great performances, particularly from Laura Dern and Elizabeth Debicki, and it was directed very well. While the subject matter is heavy, I’d say that it’s a film well worth watching.

Street Kings (2008) Review

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Street Kings

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & Offensive Language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Detective 2nd Grade Tom Ludlow
Hugh Laurie as Captain James Biggs
Chris Evans as Detective Paul “Disco” Diskant
Forest Whitaker as Captain Jack Wander
Naomie Harris as Linda Washington
John Corbett as Detective Dante Demille
Cedric the Entertainer as Winston AKA “Scribble”
Jay Mohr as Sergeant Michael “Mike” Clady
Terry Crews as Detective 2nd Grade Terrence Washington
Common as “Coates”
The Game as Grill
Director: David Ayer

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves), a veteran member of the LAPD, is still mourning the loss of his wife and trying to navigate through a world that does not make much sense anymore. When evidence implicates him in the death of a fellow officer, Ludlow begins to question the loyalties of everyone around him.

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I went into Street Kings not really knowing what to expect, despite the cast and the director. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that David Ayer is a hit or miss filmmaker given there’s only one movie of his I don’t really like, but only a couple of his movies I would consider great. Street Kings is by no means a great movie and it’s not really that great, but I had fun with it, and it was better than I expected it to be.

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Street Kings is a standard crime thriller movie featuring dirty cops and police corruption, you’ve seen many of these types of movies, and many that have been done much better for sure (like L.A. Confidential or the David Ayer written Training Day). The writing is not the best, some of the characters are rather 2 dimensional, the first act was messy, some of the dialogue is just rather silly, and while I wouldn’t call the plot predictable, it was quite familiar. To be fair on Ayer’s part however, he didn’t actually write the script to this movie. With all that being said, Street Kings is reasonably entertaining for what it is, and doesn’t really have a dull moment (aside from the aforementioned first act). The plot wasn’t entirely riveting, but it was engaging enough for me to pay attention to everything that was happening right to the very end. It was around an hour and 50 minutes, and that was just about the right length for the movie.

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This movie actually has a pretty good cast all around. Keanu Reeves is in one of his more grittier and darker roles as the protagonist, and he performs pretty well. His character is yet another antihero alcoholic police detective who is a loose cannon who does his job his own way, and he doesn’t play by the rules, so nothing really new especially when it comes to crime thrillers. But Reeves does his part, and as to be expected, he excels in the action scenes. The supporting cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans (who especially shares some good on screen chemistry with Keanu), and Naomie Harris all play their parts well. Hugh Laurie is also good in his scenes as the Captain of Internal Affairs but he’s barely in the movie, he doesn’t really do much by the end of the story, so his inclusion felt rather pointless.

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You can definitely tell that it’s a David Ayer movie from beginning to end, and overall it was directed pretty well. When it comes to gritty crime stories, Ayer is pretty good at representing that side in movies, and Street Kings is no exception. This is an action movie, and the action is filmed really well and stylish, with some entertaining set pieces. So at the very least, it’s worth watching just as an action movie.

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Street Kings is nothing special or memorable and it does have a number of issues for sure, but it was rather entertaining and much better than I thought it would be (at least compared to some of the reactions to it that I saw). It is elevated by David Ayer’s direction, some solid performances from the talented cast and featured some really good action. So it might be worth a watch if you’re interested in it.

 

Run All Night (2015) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language & drug use
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Jimmy Conlon
Joel Kinnaman as Mike Conlon
Ed Harris as Shawn Maguire
Common as Mr. Price
Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Harding
Boyd Holbrook as Danny Maguire
Bruce McGill as Pat Mullen
Genesis Rodriguez as Gabriela Conlon
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Professional Brooklyn hitman Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is more commonly known as THE GRAVEDIGGER. Jimmy was a mob hit-man, who was best friends with his boss Sean Maguire (Ed Harris). But when Jimmy’s son, Michael (Joel Kinnaman), is marked for death by the mob, Jimmy must go up against Sean to protect Michael at all costs. Together, he and Michael must avoid corrupt cops, contract killers and the mob to survive the night.

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Run All Night was a movie that interested me because of Liam Neeson’s involvement, but having actors like Ed Harris and Jaume Collet-Serra (the director of Unknown and Non Stop both pretty good Liam Neeson movies) did help as well. Out of the three movies that the director and Neeson had worked on (that I’ve seen, I haven’t seen The Commuter yet), this film is probably my favourite. It felt more placed in the real world (in comparison to the director’s previous movies), the action was great, the cast were quite solid in their roles and it really kept my attention all the way through. It’s not a fantastic action movie but it is an entertaining movie that is worth watching if you have the time.

The mostly story takes place all night (as you can probably tell from the title) and it does well in making it really feel like it. The plot is straightforward enough, not complicated but not mindless either. It’s got some little surprises which are some good surprises. It also felt relatively grounded compared to previous collaborations between Neeson and Collet-Serra (especially Non Stop). The pacing was done well, though it really picks up after Neeson’s character kills Harris’s son’s character. The movie does get better as it moves along more. There’s not much to really say about the plot to be honest.

Liam Neeson is really good, granted he could play this role in his sleep. I like the fact that he’s not playing a very moral character like in some of his other action movie roles. He’s a drunk, he’s a criminal and that was very refreshing to see, with it not just being a rehash of Liam Neeson – Action Hero. Ed Harris proved to be a great antagonist, he like a lot of his other villains has real motives and he makes everything believable and not cartoonishly evil. Both Neeson and Harris seem like they have a history, which was important to capture as that comes into play a lot in the movie. Joel Kinnaman was also really good in his role. He shared great chemistry with Neeson, and really seemed to have an estranged relationship. I also really liked Common here, he plays an assassin that Ed Harris hires at a point in the movie. I do feel like he was underused, he was only in a few scenes of the movie but he was good when he was on screen.

I liked that Run All Night decided to go with an R rating, considering the last 2 Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra collabs have been M/PG-13. The overall direction of Run All Night overall was quite good, the movie has a good look to it. The action scenes are great and quite violent at times, which really worked with the dark and realistic tone that the film was going for, but at the same time isn’t trying too hard to make the movie completely realistic, it still knows what type of movie it is.

Although the film isn’t a must see and isn’t one of the all time best crime thrillers in recent years, I do recommend checking it out. The action is solid, the cast are good in their roles and it does keep your attention and is entertaining from start to finish, it’s not a simple action flick with no substance but it also knows what type of movie it is. If you like a lot of the Neeson flicks, I have a strong feeling that you’ll like it as well.

John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and suicide
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Riccardo Scamarcio as Santino D’Antonio
Common as Cassian
Laurence Fishburne as The Bowery King
Ruby Rose as Ares
John Leguizamo as Aurelio
Ian McShane as Winston
Director: Chad Stahelski

Retired super-assassin John Wick’s (Keanu Reeves) plans to resume a quiet civilian life are cut short when Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up on his doorstep with a gold marker, compelling him to repay past favors. Ordered by Winston (Ian McShane), kingpin of secret assassin society The Continental, to respect the organization’s ancient code, Wick reluctantly accepts the assignment to travel to Rome to take out D’Antonio’s sister (Claudia Gerini), the ruthless capo atop the Italian Camorra crime syndicate.

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John Wick Chapter 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. The original John Wick was great, with its fantastic direction, interesting world and likable main character. So naturally, with one of the directors of the original returning for the sequel, I was looking forward to it. Chapter 2 met all my expectations and even surpassed them. It explored its world even further, its action sequences are even greater than in the original, John Wick Chapter 2 is one of the best action sequels in recent memory.

John Wick Chapter 2 is longer than the original, 2 hours compared to the original’s 1 hour 40 minute runtime. A lot of that is due to Chapter 2 delving deeper into the criminal underworld, which was one of the highlights in the previous movie. There’s a way that these criminals operate and seeing more of the fantastic world created was very intriguing. If there’s any potential flaws story wise, I guess maybe Wick’s motivation isn’t quite as strong as in the first movie, in the original it was for revenge, in the second he’s more forced into a situation. With that said, it’s a bit of a minor issue. Chapter 2 is paced quite well, although pretty fast, it’s slow enough that it allows time for the movie to explore the story and the world. I won’t spoil what happens at the end, but I’ll say that I’m very intrigued in what direction Chapter 3 will go in.

Keanu Reeves is effortlessly great as John Wick, as I said in my John Wick review, this role is perfect for him. He can show off his skill as an action star while being convincing and show a lot of emotion in the role. And this movie is no exception. There are a lot of great supporting characters and actors, some of them returning like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and John Leguizamo, McShane particularly stealing the spotlight effortlessly. There are also some newer characters that are added which were great to see. I would’ve liked to have seen more of Laurence Fishburne (it did feel like he was put in the movie for fanservice, since him and Reeves were in The Matrix), but maybe we’ll see more of him in the sequel. The same goes for Peter Stormare’s character. The main villain played by Riccardo Scamarcio was okay. He didn’t leave as much of a presence compared to Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo from the first movie, but he wasn’t bad, he worked quite well for the story and I do understand some of the ideas that were put into place with his character. The secondary villains with Common and Ruby Rose were really good and served their parts really well.

The direction of Chapter 2 is once again fantastic. There are so many great action set pieces, not one of them have any flaws and they are all consistently entertaining. They are fast, brutal and thrilling. The third act was especially great (including a sequence involving mirrors). The stunts themselves were also incredible. Another thing that makes these action sequences work so well is that everything is edited to perfection, every cut made is necessary and you can tell what’s going on, the camera doesn’t unnecessarily shake. The colour scheme of the movie is perfect, this movie is beautiful, the cinematography was excellent throughout. Honestly for the movie that they were going for, the direction is perfect. The soundtrack by Tyler Bates was also very effective.

John Wick Chapter 2 is truly a great movie. All the aspects from the previous movie have returned, with the great main character, excellent direction and its fascinating world. Chapter 2 expands on most of these aspects, culminating in a film which is quite possibly superior to the original. I can’t wait to see Chapter 3 in about 2/3 years. The John Wick series is one of the best action film series’ in recent years.