Juno Review

Juno movie posterSynopsis
When Juno (Ellen Page) gets pregnant unexpectedly, she decides to put her unborn child up for adoption. While searching for adoptive parents, she finds the couple Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman) Loring and befriends them.

Review
I’ve known of Juno since it came out back in 2007. For one reason or another, I never watched it. However, that has now become one of my biggest regrets of the last twelve years. The only time I have finished a film with a similar feeling was after watching Million Dollar Baby the first time. These are character-driven dramas that have left a lasting impact on me as a cinephile and it’s movies like these that helped influence me to become a movie blogger. If you should take one thing away from this review, it’s that you need to go see Juno immediately if you haven’t seen it at all.

Some movies have characters who are bland and paper-thin, getting very little development or existing only to further the main characters’ story. Other movies have over-the-top characters that feel larger-than-life. However, the best movies are those that have characters the audience can relate to and and connect with. Juno creates these connections with ease. I might not be a woman or know anything about how it feels to be pregnant but I still was able to feel a connection to Juno. Her struggle with her uncertainty, her love for her family, and her feelings to genuinely do what is right are still emotions that I can relate to. To say that I was able to sympathize with a pregnant, teenage girl as an adult male is a true testament to how well written the script by Diablo Cody is.

While a large part of this connectivity comes from the thoughtful, well-written script, another portion comes from Ellen Page as the titular Juno. As early as the first line, she instantly captures your attention and had me laughing. I mean, can you think of a better opening line than β€œShut your frickin’ gob!’? From there, she doesn’t let off the charm. From now on, when I think of perfect castings, Ellen Page as Juno will be one of my top examples.

Although I have spent a good chunk of this review so far talking about Ellen Page as Juno, almost all of the same things can be said for the rest of the cast. Late 2000s awkward teen go-to Michael Cera, in one of his first movie roles alongside Superbad, gives a fantastic performance. JK Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno’s father and step-mother respectively are great as her support during this uncertain time in her life. Jason Bateman is more of a comedy actor to me but his dramatic performance as Mark Loring might be one of his best performances I’ve seen. And as always, Jennifer Garner nails her part.

This film is a drama at its core but there is plenty of humor sprinkled throughout. As I said, from literally the first line I was laughing. Ellen Page and Michael Cera bear the brunt of the comedy responsibilities but there are some funny moments from Olivia Thirlby as Juno’s best friend Leah. JK Simmons has some great one-liners as well. The humor may not be laugh-out-loud funny but at the same time, it doesn’t need to be. It’s just the right amount of wit to help connect to the characters and still remain affectionate.

But honestly, Juno‘s greatest strength is how it presents teen pregnancy without becoming preachy. It seems today that teen pregnancy often comes with a negative connotation. Early in the film, Juno decides to get an abortion but then decides against it. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, this film doesn’t make an argument for one or the other and it doesn’t demonize nor praise Juno for being a pregnant teen. Instead, it looks at Juno as a pregnant teen and and simply tells a clever and heartfelt story.

I thought Juno was GREAT πŸ˜€ The fantastic script is complemented by great casting all around and offers one of the most sincerest stories about teen pregnancy in cinema. If you’ve never seen this before, please be better than me. See it as soon as you can.

Juno was recommended by Kim of Tranquil Dreams.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jason Reitman – Director
Diablo Cody – Writer
Mateo Messina – Composer

Ellen Page – Juno MacGuff
Michael Cera – Paulie Bleeker
Jennifer Garner – Vanessa Loring
Jason Bateman – Mark Loring
Allison Janney – Bren MacGuff
JK Simmons – Mac MacGuff
Olivia Thirlby – Leah

Here’s Jack Blogathon 2017: A Few Good Men

Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, is a huge fan of Jack Nicholson. To celebrate, she has invited bloggers to review as many Nicholson films as possible.Β A Few Good Men is my entry into her three-day celebration. Click on the banner below to head over to her site to see the rest of the blogathon entries for today.

A Few Good Men movie posterHere's Jack Blogathon 2017 BannerSynopsis
Navy defense attorney Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), along with JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) and Sam Weinberg (Kevin Pollack), are assigned to prove that Harold Dawson (Wolfgang Bodison) and Louden Downey (James Marshall), two marines accused of murder, are innocent and were merely acting under orders.

Review
I will begin by saying courtroom dramas aren’t really my type of movie. I don’t find them very exciting and think more often than not they are fairly predicable. A Few Good Men is a perfect example of this. Story-wise, I didn’t feel invested in the case that the three attorneys were working on. And honestly, I didn’t care for Tom Cruise’s character, Daniel Kaffee. He is the skilled-but-arrogant character that Cruise played often earlier in his career but it doesn’t feel like he grows very much by the end of the film. His biggest step is actually taking the case instead of trying to make a deal and that happens fairly early. Which brings me to my next point: this movie feels too long. Although, that might be because I just wanted to get through the movie quicker since I wasn’t very interested.

The only thing that really kept me invested in this film was the cast. The main three, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Kevin Pollak, had such great chemistry. Despite my lack of interest in Cruise’s character, I enjoyed his performance. He brought a lot of energy and emotion to the part. The same goes for Moore. Her performance was so emotionally driven that she made for a good counterpart to Cruise. The dialogue between Cruise, Moore, and Pollak felt very real and genuine. Kudos to Aaron Sorkin for writing such believable, and not too ridiculous banter, between the leads. Despite not being in the film for much time, Jack Nicholson is the standout of this movie. The final scene with Nicholson and Cruise battling it out in the courtroom was absolutely riveting and almost made up for the dullness of the rest of the film.

I thought A Few Good Men was OK 😐 My lack of interest in courtroom dramas aside, I found this to be somewhat enjoyable. Although I didn’t much care for Cruise’s character and felt it ran a little longer than necessary, the performances from all of the actors, especially from the main three and Jack Nicholson, kept my attention long enough to finish watching.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Rob Reiner – Director
Aaron Sorkin – Writer
Marc Shaiman – Composer

Tom Cruise – Lt. Daniel Kaffee
Demi Moore – Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway
Kevin Pollak – Lt. (J.G.) Sam Weinberg
Kevin Bacon – Capt. Jack Ross
Jack Nicholson – Col. Nathan R. Jessup
Kiefer Sutherland – 2nd Lt. Jonathan Kendrick
JT Walsh – Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson
Wolfgang Bodison – Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson
James Marshall – Pfc. Louden Downey
JA Preston – Judge Julius Alexander Randolph

Lightning Review: 12 Angry Men

This review was originally posted by Cara on Silver Screen Serenade as part of the Resolutions 2016 series.

12 Angry Men movie posterSynopsis
One juror tries to convince the rest of the jury that the case is not as simple as it seems.

Review
12 Angry Men has been highly recommended to me by my uncle, who absolutely loves it. I haven’t been the biggest fan of courtroom dramas but since we like many of the same movies, I decided to give it a try. The entire movie takes place in a single room and what the film makers were able to accomplish with such a simple set up is very impressive. There is nothing shown of the actual trial, so as the audience, we don’t have any information about the case except for what the jurors tell us. As the movie progresses, we are given a piece here and a bit there as Juror #8 addresses his concerns about the evidence to the rest of the group. At the beginning, the vote is 11-to-1 for a guilty verdict so Juror #8 has a big task in front of him. Since the movie doesn’t change scenes, the tension is created by all of the different personalities of the jurors. Even though the film was 95 minutes long, the twelve jurors felt fleshed out simply by how they analyzed the evidence and what they said. The trial’s epilogue was very short and I would have liked to have seen what actually happened at the crime.

I thought 12 Angry Men was GOOD :-). It was suspenseful and dramatic. Despite my low affinity for courtroom drama, 12 Angry Men managed to keep my attention the whole way through.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Sidney Lumet – Director
Reginald Rose – Writer
Kenyon Hopkins – Composer

Martin Balsam – Juror #1
John Fiedler – Juror #2
Lee J. Cobb – Juror #3
EG Marshall – Juror #4
Jack Klugman – Juror #5
Edward Binns – Juror #6
Jack Warden – Juror #7
Henry Fonda – Juror #8
Joseph Sweeney – Juror #9
Ed Begley – Juror #10
George Voskovec – Juror #11
Robert Webber – Juror #12

Lightning Review: Sicario

Sicario movie posterSynopsis
FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is recruited by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to assist in a task force trying to take down a drug lord who operates around the border of US and Mexico.

Review
Going into Sicario, I was expecting more of an action movie, not the crime drama that it was. I mention that because I think it skewed my expectations for the film. I thought it was going to be some action-filled, shoot-em-up fest. Instead, it is much more quiet and meticulous than that. There is action, and when the action happens, it really revs up and gets sensational. However, the film is composed mainly of the many quieter moments in between these high octane and intense scenes. A lot of time is spent with Kate Macer to get to know her and get inside her head. Emily Blunt does a great job. Although, as good as Blunt is here, Benicio Del Toro is the stand-out performance of the film. He is mysterious and you never know quite what is going through his head.

As I mentioned, the pace was slower than I was anticipating butΒ Sicario still did a fantastic job of keeping the tension. The audience is just as in the dark as Macer is throughout the film about what her purpose on the task force is. I constantly found myself excited to see what was going to happen next, especially when it came to Alejandro, Del Toro’s character. Cinematography isn’t something I bring up very often in a review but I would remiss not to mention it. This film has some breathtaking shots.Β  Every shot makes sure you can see everything you need to see and you are focused on what you need to focus on, whether it’s a broad shot from above or a close up. In terms of action, it does well to keep the action visible and in frame, even during the hectic moments. Sometimes it can be fun when a movie ends up being not what you predicted and still manages to be a fun ride.

Rating
4/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Dennis Villeneuve – Director
Taylor Sheridan – Writer
Johann Johannsson – Composer

Emily Blunt – Kate Macer
Benicio Del Toro – Alejandro
Josh Brolin – Matt Graver
Victor Garber – Dave Jennings
Jon Bernthal – Ted
Daniel Kaluuya – Reggie Wayne
Jeffery Donovan – Steve Forsing
Raoul Trujillo – Rafael
Julio Cedillo – Fausto Alarcon
Hank Rogerson – Phil Coopers
Bernardo P. Saracino – Manuel Diaz
Maximiliano Hernandez – Silvio
Kevin Wiggins –Burnett
Edgar Arreola – Guillermo


I’ve started expanding Drew’s Reviews to social media (slowly but surely).Β  First up is Google+! It’s the least used, I know, but I gotta start somewhere.Β  So if you want to get my reviews and other posts on Google+, follow me here.Β  Right now it’s pretty bare but I will slowly expand on it soon.Β  I hope to see you there! πŸ™‚

Cheers.