Double Feature: Southpaw (2015) & Miss Sloane (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature. I rented Southpaw and Miss Sloane on discount on Play Store last month. Two very different films and two very different feelings about it however both heavily reliant on their main character.

Southpaw (2015)


Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Oona Lawrence, 50 Cent, Naomie Harris

Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services. – IMDB

If there is one word to describe Southpaw, it would be disappointing. It isn’t particularly a bad film as the performances were great. Rachel McAdams did great for what it was. Jake Gyllenhaal was fantastic and I absolutely love Forest Whitaker who is an underrated actor. The girl who played the daughter was Oona Lawrence and that arc was decent.

However, the flaw lies in the fact that Southpaw is pretty much another Rocky story in many instances and we already had Creed recently that was much more engaging. It didn’t help that Southpaw was a little too dramatic at parts but never made it feel very exciting to watch. Seeing the stellar cast being in this uninspired script truly was a lackluster experience.

Miss Sloane (2016)

miss sloane

Director: John Madden

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Alison Pill, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Lithgow, Jake Lacy

In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price. – IMDB

Miss Sloane was a movie that I went in with no idea of what the premise is. I have heard good things about it and I have enjoyed Jessica Chastain. Miss Sloane is such a vibrant character wrapped up in a tough and ruthless shell. She is strong and strategic in all her plans and for all the reasons, it makes us wonder on what she has under her sleeve even in the most desperate of situations but it is what makes her compelling to watch.

Miss Sloane, just as the title implies, is truly based on Jessica Chastain and how she takes on the role and she did an outstanding job. As we navigate through her way of life and the little things, while she isn’t exactly a character you would cheer for because of her lack of ethics and morals in some of her decisions, every part whether planned or not comes into play and that gives full credit for the screenwriters doing a fine job at giving it a good pacing that keeps everything moving and finding a balance to learn just enough about Miss Sloane and keeping enough to make everything make sense and surprise when it falls into place.

While Miss Sloane isn’t typically the movie that I would watch, I’m glad that I did because it was absolutely awesome. Gripping, compelling and full of twists and turns around every corner. This one is a must see.

Have you seen Southpaw and/or Miss Sloane?

Valentine’s Marathon BEGINS with Netflix A-Z: Hope Floats (1998)

I had a few days to get back on track a little and we’re officially kicking off the Netflix A-Z selection: Hope Floats! I had originally wanted to watch Her and well, that probably might’ve been the typically better choice. However, I have a girl crush on Sandra Bullock since I saw her in Speed and I also have a love for romance back in the 90s. I’ve only ever heard of Hope Floats and never saw it so when it landed on Netflix, I just couldn’t resist. It might not be the light and fluffy movie that should be in a Valentine’s Marathon but forget about it.  I just looked at my rundown and its not very light and fluffy.  Its might still change but who knows.

Lets check this one out! 🙂

Hope Floats (1998)

Hope Floats

Director: Forest Whitaker

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., Gena Rowlands, Mae Whitman, Michael Pare, Cameron Finley

Birdee Calvert must choose between her morals and her heart after her husband divorces her and a charming young man, who her daughter disapproves of, comes back into her life.-IMDB

 Okay, after watching Hope Floats, it really isn’t quite suitable for the Valentine’s Marathon but it is romance as much as it is a drama. Let’s start from the beginning.  Hope Floats is a decent romantic drama.  Its a little bit of soul-searching and a little of just moving on and figuring out what our main character, Birdee is made of after the first half of her life seems to be wasted. Its about finding hope after it feels like everything’s been destroyed from your original beliefs.  But then, isn’t that life? What would be the fun of it if it was all expected, right? I’m not saying divorce and death are anything needed to be part of our life but on a broader spectrum, you can take Hope Floats as a little journey to find out what is important and how to move on and still have hope.  Its a good message, that is what I’m trying to say.

hope floats

The cast here is lovely.  I think it might even be the whole mesh of the characters portrayed by this outstanding cast that lifts the rather cliche storyline.  Sandra Bullock is lovely as always.  Its actually the few times I’ve seen Harry Connick Jr. and he is quite good as well.  The best scenes are their scenes together where they fully show their amazing chemistry together. There is one dance scene that totally swept me away and his tender eyes and all that makes him such a dreamy male character. I mean, that says a lot since he’s not exactly my type of attractive so its more his charisma that catches me more than his looks.

Hope Floats

On another note, its funny how recently for The Duff, I was saying that I hadn’t seen Mae Whitman in anything and one of you told me that she was in Independence Day.  Well, it turns out she’s in Hope Floats playing Sandra Bullock’s daughter, Bernice.  As much as its a romance, this is also a lot about this little girl and her mom’s relationship and just picking up the pieces and facing the wreck of a divorce.  She does a fantastic job especially with the help of the little boy who plays his cousin by Cameron Finley and holding a balance with Gena Rowlands playing Bernice’s grandmother.  There’s no point where I found her annoying as it happens frequently but rather I learned to really feel for her character and want her to see that her mother was working so hard, especially when it was even harder for a young girl to face the reality of the situation as her mother struggled with those same emotions in a different level.

Hope Floats

Overall, Hope Floats is a lot of things as I think about it more.  Its about family and love all at the same time.  It was about a mother and daughter relationship, a father and daughter relationship and a guy and a girl relationship.  While Hope Floats might not be anything more than average, its rather decent especially with its great cast that lifts the story to another level so that we can connect with the characters and make us care, especially when the deeper meaning is so significant, reminding us to stay hopeful even in the most dire situations. I really like movies with a good message and this one definitely qualifies as a decent choice.

Have you seen Hope Floats? Are you a fan of Sandra Bullock?

Next selection is a romance in I! Can you guess what it is?

Body Snatchers (1993)

Remember a month or so back, I did the Shitfest and I contributed Bad Moon(check the review over at The IPC right HERE)? Well, my boyfriend decided that it was time to go through the rest of that 4 movie pack.  Next 3 reviews will be on those.  He didn’t really care which one he plopped in so we ended up with Body Snatchers as our first pick.  At the time I’m writing this, I’ve already finished up all the movies and hoping that I don’t mix them up…

body snatchers posterDirector: Abel Ferrara

Cast: Terry Kinney, Meg Tilly, Gabrielle Anwar, Billy Wirth, Christine Elise, R. Lee Ermey, Forest Whitaker

Steve Malone (Terry Kinney) is a researcher for the government to check the quality of the area to make sure there isn’t any contamination in the water and no hazardous materials in the environment.  This leads him to the next destination with his second wife Carol (Meg Tilly), his 17 year old daughter Marty (Gabrielle Anwar) and youngest son Andy.  Before arriving, Marty is attacked at the gas station by a crazy man warning her that something attacks in their sleep.  Marty hates having to move there in those circumstances until she befriends Jenn Platt (Christine Elise), the daughter of the General Platt (R. Lee Ermey), the man that runs the base and her group of friends, especially Tim (Billy Wirth).  While her father is approached by Major Collins (Forest Whitaker) with abnormal questions, he starts seeing weird issues occur among the staff and eventually they realize that the majority of the base has been replaced with alien clones. How can they get out of this mess?

Marty and Tim

Marty and Tim

In all honesty, I had zero hope for this one after how bad Bad Moon was.  With zero expectations, this one was okay.  Its a sci-fi horror thriller genre.  I didn’t really find it very scary but it was somewhat weird.  There were parts that didn’t make sense and those alien things were really funky.  My boyfriend named it Squeaky Poo-Poo.  So yeah…just to give you an idea of what it was.  I couldn’t find a picture of it online but yeah, they weren’t very well done in the first place.

Body Snatchers

“Where you gonna go? Where you gonna run? Where you gonna hide?”

Meg Tilly’s snatched Carol Malone’s character was probably the most early on transformation with her walking out all naked and stuff.  Plus, she was super eerie with her tone of voice and whatnot.  This was just a very low-budget move in general with some pretty bad effects (although this is kind of old, so its expected).  Everyone is alright in their roles.  The only actor I knew going in was Forest Whitaker and I was thinking that it can’t be bad if he’s in it.  Seriously, he did pretty good as the paranoid Major Collins…his stupid actions in that scene below was not his fault.

Major Collins by Forest Whitaker

Major Collins by Forest Whitaker

All in all, my issues weren’t with the characters but the script.  Some things just didn’t make a whole lot of sense and I was like, “Why are you doing that?” all over the place. Like up there, I was like “SHOOT, YOU RETARD!” Apparently you don’t shoot when you have a gun in your hand and your enemies are approaching to take over your body.  Even though the movie was alright, the ending was the usual bad wrap-up. Although, in all fairness, I had a good laugh at the last “surprise” twist.  I saw it a mile away but how they did it was just the absolutely laugh-out-loud moment.  And oh, did we laugh…haha! I’m laughing now, sorry, just can’t resist.  Even the thought of it is hilarious!

Overall, not a bad movie.  The concept was alright, the design and effects a bit lacking (but maybe not for 90s quality), the cast was okay, the story was a bit illogical here and there.  Thats about it.  You tell me if that interests you.  If its your thing, there are two naked chicks in here, no screenshots though..sorry about that.  Plus, you get to laugh at some scenes because of its stupidity or bad set-up.

It didn’t make me bang my head on the table, thats already a plus for me 🙂

I was checking out the page and there are these movies called Invasions of the Body Snatchers? Does anyone know if its related in any way? Is this a remake? Any ideas?

Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

Based a popular children’s storybook, Where the Wild Things are, this movie had me wondering if it would be good.  A part of me had a bit of doubts on the turnout and I ended up hearing a lot of mixed reviews, but I managed to get on Blu-ray at a bargain price. This gave me the opportunity to pick it up.  Plus, its adaptation from a book and I love to check out those flicks all the time!

where the wild things are posterDirector: Spike Jonze

Cast: Max Records, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Catherine O`Hara, Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose

Max (Max Records) is a little boy who has a wild imagination.  He builds things and creates worlds for himself.  After being bullied by his sister Claire and her friends, and then being scolded by his mother (Catherine Keener) for a tantrum he pulled due to her paying more attention to her boyfriend, he runs away from home.  As he runs away in his wolf costume, his imagination takes him across the ocean to another land where there resides Wild Things. As he spies on them in the distance, one of the Wild Things Carol (James Gandolfini) was pulling a tantrum and destroying his family’s living spaces because he thought that KW (Lauren Ambrose) had left him.  When Max reveals himself, he eventually convinces them to not eat him because he had magical powers that could help them shield away sadness and keep everyone together, and they in turn make him their king.  However, as he leads them to build Carol’s dream home, he realizes that there are deeper issues between the Wild Things: Judith (Catherine O’Hara), Ira (Forest Whitaker), Alexander (Paul Dano), Douglas (Chris Cooper), The Bull (Michael Berry Jr.).  Sometimes, there are things that he can’t settle with just doing wild and rash decisions.

where the wild things are

Right off, this movie confused me a bit.  It was set in a really dark tone.  There seemed to be a lot of random things going on and seeing as I don’t remember much about the original story book it was based on, I sat there look at Max doing his wild thing in his wolf creature and for a good part of the beginning, I started getting really depressed.  However, now that I think about it, I really think thats what it was trying to achieve because Max felt like one day he was going to fade away, his energy would fade away and he feared being left alone.   So he would pull his tantrums to try to remind his mom and his sister of his existence.  It was the way he chose to express himself. Running into the imaginary world was still a whole lot of dark tones visually everywhere, but there was a sense of freedom that was there.  Maybe freedom is not the right word, its more like this world brought him hope as he brought hope to the Wild Things.  At the same time, he got the care and attention that he wanted but at the same time, he learned that it wasn’t always fair, there was always going to be people who cared but didn’t always show it equally to everyone around them.  There are lessons that Max had to learn and in his little excursion to this imaginary world created in his mind, he sorted out those problems and he learned a little bit more.

Where-the-Wild-Things-Are king

This movie was a mix of human characters and the one focus was Max who is a real boy, but it matched it with puppeteers (from what I read).  The Wild Things creatures were super weird but yet they were done really well.  The characters were created in a way that as the movie moved on, the characters developed, especially Max and Carol and I grew to be attached to them.  For me, it was a very subconscious thing.  All I remember was thinking this was a super weird movie and just crazy depressing but by the end of the movie, I knew that I had laughed with them and the characters had touched my heart because in any imaginary world, we need to leave it eventually.  When Max had to leave to face his real life, I was crying pretty damn hard. I hadn’t realized I had gotten so drawn in until then.

where the wild things are maxI have never wanted to read a bedtime story book more after watching this.  I went searching up to see if I could find an ebook version but there wasn’t.  As much as this source material was meant for children, I’m not exactly sure this one is.  This one hits the dark and heavy area.  Its as much an adventure as it is a path to growing up.  Max comes to realizations through the characters that he’s imagined. This world and Wild Things was where he could be innocent and not worry about his problems.

where the wild things are 1

However, I love movies with dark tones and this was adapted in a unique way, even though at parts it was depressing, it also was done beautifully.  A story where Max wanders into his imagination as a child and walks out of it grown up, simply by understanding it a little bit more, and that in itself is somewhat bittersweet.  It tugs at our heartstrings and brings in some beautiful and fun moments but also mixes in some heartbreaks.  Thats what it feels like to have to let your childhood innocence fade away a little.  I recommend this movie however with huge warning that you really have to be ready to accept that its not a children’s movie and you have to appreciate the dark tone that they use.

Panic Room (2002)

Justin at Today I Watched A Movie reviewed this flick a few months ago (exact time frame I don’t remember) and he gave it full score 3/3 and said that Kristin Stewart could act.  I have nothing against Kristin Stewart but I have NEVER seen anything remotely memorable from her.  So I went on the hunt for this movie, then last month I found it on special somewhere and I snatched it up.  After having it sit on my table for the past month, I finally picked it up and saw it a few days ago.  I have seen this before on TV or somewhere, not in full though so this is technically my first time seeing the whole thing.

panic room posterDirector: David Fincher

Cast: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight, Yoakam

Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) is recently divorced and is seeking a house for her and her daughter Sarah (Kristin Stewart) in an area closer to her ex-husband.  We start with her looking at a gigantic house and we see that there are 3 floors, basement.  The best part is that there is a secret room connected to the main bedroom called panic room which is not only a 3 feet steel box, but has an elaborate security system and is a place to hide if ever there are burglars, which has its line and all that.  As uncomfortable as Meg originally was with that idea, they ended up getting the house and on the first night, three men, Burnham (Forest Whitaker), Junior (Jared Leto), Raoul (Dwight Yoakam) breaks in not knowing that Meg and Sarah had already moved in.  They are after something valuable that was left behind by the previous owner.  As Meg realizes that they are in danger, she gets Sarah and they lock themselves in the Panic Room.  What they didn’t know is that what the three men want is in exactly where they are hiding, and they find ways to get Meg and Sarah to come out while inside the panic room, they are trying to find a way to be rescued.

panic room 1

This is a crazy movie: Intense action thriller to say the least.  It had me extremely anxious the whole time.  There were some times where I felt it was slightly stupid, but then thinking about  if I was in Meg’s shoes, I’d probably have done the same stupid things.  So it was forgiven.  I mean not connecting the panic room separate phone line, I can get that.  I have my cellphone, its not totally crucial.  Who actually expects to get broken in on the first night? This flick is even more intense as everyone is locked into one place: the house.  As much as we had a tour in the beginning of the movie, a lot of it was still new.  Not knowing what was around the corner, made this a thrill to watch. Plus, ever since Phonebooth, I’ve been attracted to movies with only one setting.

panic room 2

Ever since Silence of the Lambs, I’ve been a HUGE fan of Jodie Foster.  I haven’t seen all her movies and far from it, according to IMDB but I adore the movies she’s in.  In this one, she’s just totally awesome as a woman that strives to protect herself and her daughter from the dangers that keep coming and repelling it in intelligent ways.  Kristin Stewart is an alright child actress….just what happened to her now? She actually was decent in this one.  At least she didn’t have one expression through the whole thing, that’s already good enough for me. Thats what scares me though, how child actors do okay but after they grow up, they forget how to act.

panic room burglars

Any good hero is always carried with their villains.  The bad guys in this one are played by Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, and Dwight Yoakam.  The last guy, I’m not familiar with, nor do I remember any of the movies that he’s in.  However, the characters themselves were done pretty well because the 3 guys each had their own motives, different personalities that balanced their actions and played off of each other really well.

I’m definitely recommending this movie.  I had me at the edge of my seat and genuinely worried about the two main characters.  It made me wonder about what next move the theives would do to force them out and how they would intelligently (and sometimes not so much) counteract.  This is a fantastic thriller!

Whats your favorite thriller? What do you think of Jodie Foster?