One Sentence Synopsis (What’s This Film?)

Here’s a new game for you all then, guys. Each week, I’ll give you a brief, one sentence synopsis of a film, and you have to guess what the film is. Simple, right? I guess we’ll find out.

Anyway, let’s give it a go…

Three bootlegging siblings find their livelihood under threat from the law in Depression-Era America.

All you have to do is write your answer in the contact form below, along with whatever contact details it asks you for, and I’ll announce a winner (or winners) on Sunday.

May the odds be forever in you favour!

One Sentence Synopsis – The Results!

Okay, so earlier in the week I put out a one sentence summary of a film and asked you guys to to guess what film it was describing. This is the line I gave you – 

The fate of mankind is ultimately decided by a small robot that inadvertently embarks upon a huge space adventure.

And the film was, of course, Wall-E, as guessed by the following people:

Carl (Listening To Film)

Drew (Drew’s Movie Reviews)

Tim (T Knight Reviews)

Becky

Catherine (Thoughts And All Sorts)

Tom (Plain, Simple Tom Reviews)

Rob (MovieRob)

Thanks to everyone for getting involved, and well done to you all for getting it right, even though it really wasn’t the most challenging I could have come up with. Next week I’m going to make sure it isn’t so easy, so you have been warned! This Wednesday coming will bring Round 2 to you all, so I’ll see you again then.

Not a fat lot of Room for improvement with this one


After spending the past five years locked away in a kidnapper’s shed, a little boy and his mother finally get out and are able to reacquaint themselves with the world.
When she was seventeen, Joy Newson (Brie Larson) was kidnapped on her way home from school. For seven years she was held hostage by her kidnapper in his garden shed, and gave birth to his child, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), after two years in captivity. Joy and Jack survived together for five years in the shed, until one day Joy decided the time had come where they had an opportunity to get out. She constructs an escape plan which heavily involves her son, and when the mission is completed, the two, especially Jack, find that things on the outside are more different than they expected. 

I’d heard that Room was supposed to be a phenomenal watch, and I had also heard that it had brought a tear to the eyes of many viewers. To be honest, I’m surprised that it has taken me until now to see the film, but I will say that after finally seeing it, that wait has been well worth it. I will also say that the film manage to stir up emotions within myself that I was not even sure existed. If you’re in the mood for a full on ugly cry, this is probably a film you should consider.

There are some incredibly powerful performances in Room, brought to you by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. The two of them got the whole mother/son dynamic perfect, and it felt like a really authentic relationship for the entire time you were watching them. Larson nailed the patience needed by Joy whilst she was locked in the shed, and the innocence shown by Jacob Tremblay as Jack towards the idea of a huge world outside of his own existence was clear to see. I found that it was Tremblay’s performance that provoked the greatest reaction from me at various points throughout the film (one such point was when he set eyes on a real dog for the first time, I’m still not over it). However, the scene where Joy was reunited with her father for the first time since she disappeared was also a significant one for me, and once again, tissues were needed.

I have to whole-heartedly praise Emma Donoghue for her writing of both the novel and the screenplay, and with that I also take my hat off to whoever had the idea of keeping the same writer for both. The emotions that are brought to the surface by the characters she created are like a punch in the face. There is no escaping them, meaning even the most hardened non-criers such as myself find themselves reduced to tear stained ruins by the end of the film.

Director Lenny Abrahamson did a fantastic job with the making of this film. I’ve read about all the struggles that were presented to the cast and crew by the task of filming such a huge proportion of the film in the confines of the shed that Joy and Jack were kept in. It does not sound as though the first month of filming was a breeze. However, I think Abrahamson’s belief in the story was shown by his persistence and determination that they would succeed in filming those scenes within those four walls, which, if you are aware of it, I think gives you even greater faith in the film as you watch it.

So, would I recommend Room? Well, it’s not remotely like anything that I’ve personally watched before, nor has any other film made me such an emotional wreck on numerous occasions before. The performances are on a new level altogether (I forgot to mention it, but Larson won a Best Actress Oscar for her part, although I’m sure you already knew that), and really work to bring to life the feelings that the script is absolutely sodden with. I’ve already been recommending it to people, and I wouldn’t think twice about sitting down to watch it again myself. 

Wonder Woman has given the DCEU a new lease of life


Diana, princess of the Amazons and trained warrior, discovers her full powers and true destiny fighting a war in the outside world.
Diana (Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, was raised on a sheltered island. She spent her time being trained to become an unconquerable warrior, although the hope had been that she would never have to use her skills. When army pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the secluded island one day, he brings news of a war to end all wars. Convinced that the war is the work of Aries, the god of war, Diana decides to use all she has learnt in a bid to take down Aries and put an end to the fighting, and in doing so, she discovers more about herself than she ever knew existed.

Besides the blogathon that has been taking place, normal service hasn’t really been occurring here for a while – blame the final round of exams I was having to take. However, it would appear that school has officially ended, and so have the exams, which means one thing; I am back. It seemed only right to mark the occasion with a couple of new releases, and to properly kick things off I bring you my review of Wonder Woman. People have made a big fuss of this film for good reason. It is an incredibly empowering film that had such an effect on my best friend that it brought her to tears at least four times. 

I can’t say that I’ve seen any other versions of Wonder Woman besides this one, so I have nothing to compare Gal Gadot’s outing as the heroine to. However, what I can say is that her portrayal of Diana is up there with Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft as one of my favourite female heroes to have graced the big screen. What I liked so much about the character was she was very human. The events that she witnessed deeply affected her, and Gadot made this so obvious to the audience. It honestly was so good to watch a female lead saving the world without her feeling the need to hide her emotions from her male counterparts so as to be taken seriously. She kicked ass quite spectacularly as well, we cannot forget that.

For me, since watching Chris Pine in Hell Or High Water, I’ve welcomed his presence in films with open arms. His performance was Steve was excellent, and what made it so was that it didn’t in anyway overpower Gadot’s Diana. In fact, it was very complementary of it, and this became apparent in the series of exchanges that took place between Steve and Diana throughout the film. I personally struggle to picture anyone else in the role because Pine has a subtlety about him as an actor that I think means he quite often goes under the radar with audiences and directors. Besides the Star Trek franchise, he’s not been in many huge films, and it is this quality possessed by him that meant he worked so well in the role here.

The next thing I have to talk about is the wonderfully crafted fight scenes, and the very effective use of selective slow motion. It really helped take the fighting to another level, and allowed us all to revel in Wonder Woman’s fierce physical prowess. Rather than the most impressive moves being over and done with in a fraction a second, everything was slowed down right at the pinnacle, letting the audience just bask in all it’s glory. I think this was a terrifically smart move on director Patty Jenkins behalf, as was much of what she did with the film. She knew what she wanted to achieve with this film, and she most certainly succeeded from where I’m standing.

So, you might have guessed it already, but I was very pleased with Wonder Woman. If anyone was to ask me, much of it’s success has been down to the fact that it was very much left to the girls – a female director, a brilliant lead actress, and a series of male stars who seemed to realise that this wasn’t their film, if you understand where I’m coming from. I also think it’s fair to say that Wonder Woman has allowed DC the opportunity to give us a few more films and hopefully turn things around for their comic universe. However, regardless of whatever happens, I reckon Wonder Woman will stand alone as a landmark film for the simple fact that it was quality cinema for everyone to enjoy that happened to be led by women – something that doesn’t seem to happen often enough. However, things might start to change following this (fingers-crossed!).

Tiffany’s Entry For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon


This review comes to you from Tiffany at the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Thank you Tiffany for getting involved – it was good to read about your film and to have you take part.

Angels In The Outfield


Many films are centered around sports. Others are centered around religious, supernatural elements such as angels. However, have you ever heard of a movie about sports and angels? There is such a film, and it is Angels in the Outfield from 1951 with Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh, and Donna Corcoran. I will review Angels in the Outfield in terms of the sports involved, the supernatural elements, and Guffy McGovern’s transformation.
As the name implies, this film is centered around baseball; it is a story about the Pittsburgh Pirates and their manager, Guffy McGovern. The Pirates are in a slump, and their losing streak has lasted for months. A cute reporteress named Jennifer Paige is assigned to write an article about the Pirates. She may not know anything about baseball, but she does know about proper behavior and comeuppance, so she is certain that the Pirates are losing because of their disagreeable manager’s behavior. There is a lot of interesting footage from actual baseball games which would be interesting to sports fans. The Pirates start in seventh place in the National League, and they soon move to eighth, the lowest possible position. However, after Guffy begins to reform his behavior with a little angelic intervention, the team begins to rapidly improve. Soon they are in third place with hopes for winning the pennant. After being hit in the head with a ball, Guffy dizzily reveals his conversations with angels. Further evidence leads to a trial regarding his sanity relating to talking with heavenly beings. This trial comes right before the final game that will determine the pennant, but the kind old judge says that Guffy is sane. However, because he started fighting with his reporter nemesis in the courtroom, Guffy is on his own. The final game is going shakily without heavenly intervention, and the pitcher is Guffy’s tired old friend, Saul Hellman, a man who was a great player years ago but now is wavering under the strain. Guffy’s angel told him that next year Saul would no longer be playing ball on earth, so he decided to give Hellman one last chance to be a star. Even though all the fickle fans are yelling for Hellman to be taken out, Guffy gives him a final chance, and his confidence in him makes him succeed. They win the game and the pennant.
The name also tells us that angels are involved in this movie; everything changes for the Pirates when Guffy becomes acquainted with an angel. One night, while trying to find his good luck piece on the dark field after a game, Guffy is cursing because he can’t find his missing token. A voice tells him to shut up; at first, Guffy is sure someone is playing a joke on him over the loud speaker. It takes a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning bursting the calm night for him to realize that the voice is really an angel’s. This angel tells him to stop swearing, fighting, and bullying. If he obeys, the angels who play baseball will help him win some games. The very fanciful notion of angels in this film is the following: someone has been praying on Guffy McGovern’s behalf, so Gabriel, the archangel, has dispatched a personal angel to reform him and pull the Pirates out of their slump. This particular angel, who sits at Gabriel’s right hand, is a member of an angelic baseball team called the Heavenly Choir. This team is comprised of deceased baseball players who are receiving their reward in heaven, where they still play baseball and occasionally assist their mortal brothers in the game. The idea is that they stand behind the Pirates when they need help and assist them, wearing long white robes which are sort of like uniforms and bear the initials HC for Heavenly Choir; I understand they are not encumbered by their wings. Mind you, no angel is ever seen on the screen. The information comes from Guffy’s conversations with his unseen angel and a little girl’s description of them. You see, little Bridget White, a Catholic orphan with a lot of faith and a great fondness for Guffy and the Pirates, is the only person who can see the angels. Whenever they start helping the Pirates during a ballgame, she sees them very clearly.

It seems that nothing less than a miracle could transform Guffy McGovern from an irreverent, foul-mouthed bully into a kind man, but a child’s prayers, a woman’s love, and an angel’s intervention manage to reform him. Guffy is ruthless to his players, rude to reporters, and insulting to the umpire. His speech during and after games is often very blue, but this film uses a brilliant tactic to imply swearing without allowing one forbidden word to be said. Paul Douglas yells and talks, but several recordings of his voice are played at the same time, so his words sound like nonsense. I don’t know whether the idea came from Clarence Brown, the director, or Joseph Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration, but the Code administrator must have approved of this delicate technique. Guffy is thrown out of almost every game for his fighting with the umpire. After an angel warns him to stop fighting and swearing, he struggles, so the angel suggests that he learn Shakespeare to diversify his vocabulary. The whole team is stunned and nervous because of the coach’s change; he is kind, courteous, even-tempered, and well-versed in the language of the Immortal Bard.  When Bridget White sees the celestial beings with whom he has been conversing, Guffy pays the sweet little orphan a visit; at the orphanage he encounters Jennifer Paige again, since she too is curious about the child. Jennifer writes an article about the girl’s supposed angel siting, but she soon realizes that it causes a lot of trouble. She brings Bridget to another baseball game, hoping that she won’t see angels when she sits out of the sun, but she sees them again. As Bridget recovers from a stomach ache caused by two many hotdogs and Eskimo pies, Guffy and Jenny visit her. Soon, the three are fast friends. For the first time in years, Guffy realizes that there is more to life than baseball. He realizes that a man can get a lot of joy and satisfaction from the affection and care of a young woman and little girl. He begins to make plans for adopting Bridget, but he will need to marry Jenny to give her a happy, normal home. At the end of the film, he has won the pennant, but more than that, he has won the love of a future wife and daughter.
Having reviewed Angels in the Outfield in terms of the sports involved, the supernatural elements, and Guffy’s transformation, we see that it is a heartwarming story that mingles America’s favorite pastime with a whimsical outlook on heaven and its angels. There is a lot of interesting footage of baseball games which will please sports fans but also be entertaining to people like me who don’t like sports. Although it presents a very fanciful view of angels, this movie has a charming if not realistic depiction of heaven and the way it helps humans. The experience with the angels makes Guffy realize that clean speech, peace-making, and respect and kindness for other people make life fulfilling and rich, since a man needs more than baseball in his life. Watch this movie soon to see how MGM charmingly mixed baseball and angels in 1951.

My review of Arrival has landed


When aliens land across the globe, a linguistics experts is called in to try and decipher the messages sent by the visitors to figure out if they come in peace.
Aliens have landed in twelve different locations on Earth, and linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is asked to join the U.S. army team keeping the situation under control in the States. She is given the task of trying to figure out what it is the aliens want from humanity, but the language they use to communicate is like nothing that has ever been seen before on Earth. As her quest to establish a dialogue with these creatures unfolds, the other countries acting as host to the visitors start to see them as an increasing threat, meaning that it is a race against time to find out if the aliens are friend or foe before total war breaks out.

Considering I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, I’ve seen a decent number of those types of films lately. Arrival is the latest creation from Denis Villeneuve, and I think it’s fair to say that after watching four of his films and enjoying all of those films, I now consider myself to be quite a fan of his work. What I really liked about this film was the fact that what initially seems to be the focus of the film isn’t actually the main event. It just felt a bit different to what I’d imagine so many other alien invasion films to be like.

Amy Adams is terrific here, and the fact that she hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar is a travesty in my honest opinion. She is someone who I think has crept up through the ranks in Hollywood over a number of ranks to be where she is today, and the wait has been well worth it. It was so good to see her as Louise in what was the pivotal role in this film – without her, the world would’ve been destroyed. She was the perfect heroine and I loved every second she was on-screen.

Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker both co-starred alongside Adams here. They both played slightly different characters here, one was in full support of what Louise was trying to do and the other one wasn’t so much. They did good jobs as their characters, but I think the main purpose of them both was to highlight all the brilliance that came with Adams’ character and her performance here.

I said at the start that what I liked so much about this film was the fact that for a long time I thought it was just about an alien invasion, but was actually about something else entirely all along. I thought this was a nice little twist as it meant that the aliens weren’t so much the main event of the film, but were more of a tool to get the end product. I also loved the idea that the sole focus of the film wasn’t dead science-y. The way this whole language puzzle came about was really interesting for me to watch, and while some of the linguistics stuff went over my head as much as the science would have done, it was quite nice to delve into the details of something like language for once.

Overall, Arrival was one of those films that was a pleasant surprise for me to watch, and has certainly encouraged me to see a few more in this sub-genre of sci-fi. The characters and the themes made it feel really accessible for me as it wasn’t 100% science, and director Denis Villeneuve has well and truly cemented himself among my favourite filmmakers now. I would even go as far as saying that I could be persuaded to see the new Blade Runner film when it comes out given he is directing. Not a bad review from someone who isn’t the biggest fan of science-fiction, wouldn’t you say?

Killer Elite is not the top performer, but it’ll do

When his mentor is taken captive by a disgraced Arab sheikh, a former killer-for-hire is reluctantly forced into a final mission in which he must take out the three SAS servicemen responsible for the death of the sheikh’s son.

Danny (Jason Statham) is a former killer-for-hire who is forced back into the game when his longtime mentor and friend, Hunter (Robert De Niro), is taken hostage. Hunter’s captives, the head of which is an ex-Arab sheikh, say that the only way he will be released is if Danny can get revenge on those who killed his son. The job won’t be easy though, as the people Danny must get revenge on used to be British SAS servicemen. One person with close involvement in the case is Spike (Clive Owen), who now belongs to a secret society for former SAS operatives. All three men are dragged back into a world that they thought they had left long ago, one that is full of revenge and deception, and one where everything is not always what it first seems to be on the surface.

Killer Elite is the very loose retelling of events that took place in 1980 that I knew nothing about, so it could have all been made up for all I know. We put it on the TV one Friday night so as to avoid having to watch season 3 of The Affair as myself and my dad are not the greatest fans of that show. We quite enjoyed the film, although it is far from Oscar-worthy let me tell you.

A couple of my favourite British actors take significant roles in this film. Jason Statham, where do we ever start with his performances? He certainly isn’t the greatest actor known to man, but, like I say, he is one of my favourites. His films are so easy-going and often feature some terrifically choreographed fight scenes. Killer Elite is a prime example of a Jason Statham film in my eyes. I loved every second of him here, although quite what country his character was supposed to be from I am not sure. It’s the first time I think I’ve ever heard someone who is supposed to be American shout ‘Oh bollocks!’ when he discovered his barbecue was burning. His accents require some practise, but he was still great fun to watch as Danny.

Clive Owen is another of my favourites, and was very good as Statham’s opponent, Spike. I’m still not sure if his character was one of the good guys or not, but I do know that I really enjoyed the fight scenes he was involved in. I think the two actors worked well together in these scenes as they looked brilliant – there were plenty of creative moves and a few hits that made us all wince a bit when we were watching the action unfold.

My one major issue with the film is some of the camera shots, especially in those fight scenes. I really wish that the camera could have been held still enough to capture the whole fight instead of obstructing our view on a fair bit of the action. That did not impress me. I do feel as though the director tried to attempt a bit too much in what I’m led to believe was his first feature film. Sometime simpler is better, and I’d have to agree here.

On the whole, despite it’s problems, you could do worse than Killer Elite. Like many films starring Statham, it was never destined to win Oscars, but it made for a half decent Friday night after dinner flick that also helped to avoid a TV show I really didn’t want to watch. Given these facts, can I really complain too much about this film? The answer is no. Does it mean I’d recommend it to everyone near and far? The answer is also no. If you’re a fan of the actors in it, you’ll want to watch it, but beyond that, I can’t really say who it would appeal to. Maybe if there’s nothing else on the TV one night, you could give it a try like I did, but I wouldn’t say you should rush to see Killer Elite before then.