Tag Archives: Matthew Rhys

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Review

Matthew Rhys (Finalized);Tom Hanks (Finalized)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers
Matthew Rhys as Lloyd Vogel
Susan Kelechi Watson as Andrea Vogel
Chris Cooper as Jerry Vogel
Director: Marielle Heller

Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is an investigative journalist who receives an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks). He approaches the interview with skepticism, as he finds it hard to believe that anyone can have such a good nature. But Roger’s empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel’s jaded outlook on life, forcing the reporter to reconcile with his own painful past.

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I never really grew up with Mr Rogers but last year I really got to learn about him from the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a movie I highly recommend checking out. I was then aware of a movie being made about him (this one), I like Tom Hanks and I like the director Marielle Heller, there were some talented people involved. However I didn’t really know what to expect from it. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a lot better than what I thought it would be, and it’s quite great overall.

Tom Hanks (Finalized)

First of all, I have to say that the marketing for this movie was poor and misleading. It made it look like the most basic version of a Mr Rogers movie you could possibly make, and was misrepresentative of the movie. It made Rogers look like the focus of the movie, and while he plays a big part, it’s not really his story. This movie is about the journalist who goes to interview Fred Rogers, and it’s his story. You can tell pretty early on that this isn’t the absolute feel good movie of the year the trailers have been portraying it as, in fact it’s a little more mature and serious than you might think it would be. However ultimately it’s a heartwarming movie, and is genuinely touching and personal. There are some important messages in there that aren’t just surface level. You don’t need to even know who Mr Rogers is to love the movie, he’s definitely portrayed as how he’s usually seen, but it never loses sight of what story it’s trying to tell.

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Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers was a simultaneously fitting and rather boring casting choice for Fred Rogers. While he is talented for sure, the casting made me feel like he was cast also because he was really likable. However this is Hanks’s best performance in a while, he’s truly great here. Sure he doesn’t really look like Rogers at all, but he completely embodies the spirit and character of him, and he’s really compelling. It could’ve been so easy for him to just be an impression of the real man, but Hanks managed to keep him seem human and grounded. As I said before though, this movie isn’t about Fred Rogers, it’s about the character of Lloyd Vogel, played by Matthew Rhys. I haven’t seen Rhys in really anything but he impresses here as an incredibly cynical person who’s outlook in life slowly changes after his meetings with Fred Rogers. Other supporting performances like Susan Kelechi Watson as Llyod’s wife and Chris Cooper as his father also work very well.

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I’ve liked Marielle Heller’s work from Diary of a Teenage Girl to Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and she definitely shows herself once again to be a director to really pay attention to. On paper you wouldn’t think that it would just be directed in a standard way, but Heller makes some certain choices that pay off and really stand out in a great way. The film opens with seemingly a recreation of Mr Rogers episode, but it then it actually makes this movie look like it’s one whole Mr Rogers episode. And it’s not just in the bits where you see Hanks’s Rogers on screen performing on the show, some of the exterior shots of the actual movie are recreated with the miniature models used in the show. On top of that, from watching the documentary I was pretty familiar with the setup for the filming of the show, and the models, props, aspect ratio of the camera and overall look of the recreation of the scenes were on point. I think there was one dream sequence that came across a little too weird for its own good, but it doesn’t take away too much from the movie, it’s just that when it initially appears it really takes you out of it briefly.

Tom Hanks (Finalized)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is sincere, heartfelt and wonderfully compelling, Marielle Heller’s direction is unique and elevated the movie even further, and the performances from Matthew Rhys and Tom Hanks are great. It’s a surprising biopic that’s a lot more than it initially appears to be. Don’t let the weak trailers sway you, it’s definitely worth seeing.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018) Review

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Rohan Chand as Mowgli
Matthew Rhys as John Lockwood
Freida Pinto as Messua
Christian Bale as Bagheera
Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan
Cate Blanchett as Kaa
Tom Hollander as Tabaqui
Andy Serkis as Baloo
Peter Mullan as Akela
Naomie Harris as Nisha
Eddie Marsan as Vihaan
Jack Reynor as Brother Wolf
Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Bhoot
Director: Andy Serkis

Human child Mowgli (Rohan Chand) is raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo (Andy Serkis) and a panther named Bagheera (Christian Bale), Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own, but the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) doesn’t take a liking to him. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins.

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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (originally titled Jungle Book: Origins) was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. With the direction of Andy Serkis, the involvement of actors like Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett, but most of all a darker and more accurate to the source material adaption of Jungle Book, I was curious about the movie. While not quite great, Mowgli is a solid movie that’s well worth the watch.

It’s difficult to talk about this movie without mentioning Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, which was pretty much a direct live action adaptation of the animated movie. I will be making some comparisons between the two but I will refrain from talking about which version I prefer. Ultimately both versions are great for what they are. Although I never read the original Jungle Book stories, from what I can tell Mowgli is a much more accurate adaptation of it. The movie is much more darker and while it doesn’t necessarily creep into R territory, there are definitely some scenes that a lot of children will be scared by. That’s not to say that there aren’t some light moments, its just that you won’t see Baloo signing “Bear Necessities” or anything like that. The characters are also rather different from what you remember in the previous Jungle Book movies. For example, Baloo is a grumpy bear who lived closely with the wolves with Mowgli grows up being mentored by him instead of encountering him for the first time during the story, and Kaa isn’t really a threat to Mowgli. The events and focus of the story are a bit different as well, while Mowgli meeting other humans played a small part in the other versions, here it plays a more larger part. So for those who wonder whether it’s just the same movie with a dark filter, it’s not. The movie is an hour and 45 minutes long and from start to finish I was actually liking it quite a bit. This doesn’t necessarily make it better than Favreau’s version but I really liked the dark tone that they went with, and the darker and scarier moments feel earned and not forced at all. The one thing with the story that I didn’t like so much is that it has a very abrupt ending, just a scene or two more and it would’ve improved it much more.

First of all worth talking about when it comes to acting is the titular Mowgli, played by Rohan Chand. Much of this movie relies on him being great and he really was. He was great at the very physical scenes and he was also great at the more emotional parts of the role. There is a reasonably large talented cast involved in the motion capture as well. The cast includes Eddie Marsan, Naomie Harris, Peter Mullan, Tom Hollander and Jack Reynor who are all great. However some stood out more than others. There is Christian Bale as Bagheera, with a bit of different take on him, who’s great. Appearing in front of the camera as well as behind was Andy Serkis who plays Baloo. Again, different take on Baloo and Serkis is an expert when it comes to motion capture, so it’s no surprise that he’s great here, a real scene stealer. Benedict Cumberbatch already played a motion capture role with Smaug in the Hobbit movies and here also plays Shere Khan. Whereas Idris Elba in Favreau’s Jungle Book was an intimidating and menacing force to be reckoned with, Cumberbatch’s feels like a monster or a demon, who is made all the more threatening by his voice. I do wish that we got a little more of him though but he owns every scene that he’s in. Cate Blanchett as Kaa was great. They seemed to have taken inspiration from Favreau’s Jungle Book by having Scarlett Johansson voice Kaa instead of a male actor, and both versions actually worked well with this. However Mowgli’s version works much better for the sheer fact that we get Kaa for more than one scene. We don’t get a ton of her but she steals the scene when she appears, and Blanchett’s voice adds so much to her, giving Kaa a sort of mysterious presence.

Andy Serkis handles this movie well as director and it really looks visually stunning. Unlike the 2016 Jungle Book movie, Mowgli uses motion capture. This makes the characters appear more expressive and really enhances the performances of the actors, and as I said before the performances are great. Most of the time it is great, however there are some character designs which look bizarre and don’t work at all with some of the animals. The lighting compared to The Jungle Book from 2016 is darker but it works for the tone of the movie.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is solid but I can understand why it was put on Netflix. It was only released a couple of years after the last Jungle Book adaptation, and also it was quite dark, which would no doubt mean that it wouldn’t have that much interest from the general audience. I personally found it to be a well made and different take on the familiar story, and is worth seeing at the very least for the visuals. No matter your thoughts on other The Jungle Book movies, I do recommend at least checking out Mowgli.

The Post (2017) Review

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Meryl Streep as Kay Graham
Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee
Sarah Paulson as Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee
Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian
Tracy Letts as Fritz Beebe
Bradley Whitford as Arthur Parsons
Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara
Matthew Rhys as Daniel Ellsberg
Director: Steven Spielberg

Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.

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There is an undeniable amount of talent and potential involved when it came The Post. With it being about The Pentagon Papers, with a cast which features actors such as Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and being directed Steven Spielberg, it showed some signs of it being really something. However, I wasn’t as excited about it as I wanted to be leading up to its release. The Post is by no means a bad or even average movie, it’s decent enough and has some good aspects to it. However it is missing some aspects that would’ve otherwise made for a consistently riveting movie.

It takes quite a while for the movie to pick up. Focussing a movie about The Washington Post on The Pentagon Papers definitely has some potential, the problem is that it’s a bit of a wait before The Washington Post even get The Pentagon Papers. There are multiple things going on during the movie, not just The Pentagon Papers. One of the aspects is Meryl Streep’s character of Katharine Graham and her running of The Washington Post. I should be interested because it’s an important part of the movie and she is the primary protagonist but I just wasn’t that invested. I was a little more interested in The Pentagon Papers aspect. It does pick up a bit as it goes along, especially after the halfway point and it gets better from there. One problem for me is that I never felt that concerned or worried for what was happening, you don’t feel like you’re necessarily with these people as the events are going on. Of course we know the end results but there are plenty of movies based on real life where you are really wrapped up and riveted in what’s going on. The Post on the other hand just seemed to be showing events, for as hard as the decisions that Katharine Graham has to make, you don’t really feel the weight of the decisions, even if you know why these decisions are difficult for her. The Post isn’t that long at just under 2 hours long and while it can drag at points, the length wasn’t a problem. A lot of people have already called The Post and Oscar Bait movie and I can say that there are some moments where it definitely feels like it, especially with it being directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s also meant to be topical for today and while it is relevant for today, only time will tell whether it will stand the test of time with movies like All the Presidents Men.

The Post has a pretty talented cast with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood and more. They all give commendable performances in this movie but it’s really only Tom Hanks who stood out to me. Honestly the characters aren’t that well fleshed out, so I really wasn’t that invested in them. Meryl Streep is fine, but she’s not even close to being one of the best performances in the film, I can’t tell whether its her acting or the writing she was given but for such a talented actress I was pretty underwhelmed by the performance. There are also some actors that are underused, like Michael Stuhlbarg and Sarah Paulson to a degree.

Steven Spielberg directs this movie competently enough, it’s well pieced together and edited very well. It also does well at setting itself in the 1960s. Really in terms of direction I’ve got no problems with it, it’s at the level that it needs to be, it doesn’t overshadow the plot or actors and is at a pretty high level.

The Post has some good moments, some interesting aspects, pretty good performances and commendable direction from Steven Spielberg but it seems to be lacking some things. It takes for the second half for the movie to pick up and it really didn’t consistently have my interest, though it still had my attention. If The Post interests you, I do recommend checking it out. Everyone else who isn’t interested I still recommend checking it out, but you don’t need to rush out and see it, it’s not one of Steven Spielberg’s better movies.