The Help (2011) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Natasha of Life Of This City Girl. Thanks for the review, Natasha! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of The Help, IMDB rank 234 out of 250…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Movie Review: The Help (2011)

Plot: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Rating: 8.5/10

Hey, T9M readers! I’m reviewing The Help here today, because when I saw it was on T9M’s remaining movies to review for her IMDb Top 250 challenge I greedily claimed it as my own, seeing my chance to finally watch it.

I was surprised. Not only is The Help a really good film, it is also right up my alley and has stayed with me since I saw it.

What works well for this film first and foremost is a fantastic cast. To name a few, but certainly not limited to, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Allison Janney to Anna Camp all came to life as some form of a Southern Belle working to adjust to changing times.

The Help focuses on a time in America when things were changing. Women were entering the workforce, they were suddenly allowed to have bigger dreams than being barefoot and pregnant, and alongside that liberation came a movement where people realized that black people also had rights. Shocking, I know. Idiots. That’s where Skeeter Phelan comes in – she’s recently graduated and in look of making a name for herself. She moves back to Jacksonville, her home town that has not progressed with racial equality at all, and starts working a dead end job writing housekeeping tips for the local newspaper. Skeeter seeks to find the nanny who raised her, a woman whose disappearance makes her very worried – this is the woman that truly raised her, not her scatterbrained and often mean spirited mother. This leads her to embark on a project that records the tales of the black women who raise white children while their own sit at home.

In a very idealistic fashion, The Help isn’t particularly violent. I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence at all. There is a time and place for it and only in certain films, and I get upset especially when it involves minorities being beaten down. Django Unchained is pretty much the threshold for me, and let me tell you, as much as I love Tarantino, that film was almost too much to watch. The Help tells and accurately depicts inequality without making it an unnecessary blood fest nor a pity party, and yet you walk away feeling definitely disgusted with white ancestry. I saw that a lot of people did feel that the movie fancily glosses over the atrocities that happened and I do agree on that point though.

I liked the most that there were some genuinely sweet white people that offset the heinous racists that were also depicted. Jessica Chastain plays the particularly kind Cecilia Foote, who has been shunned because she’s just a bit too attractive and fun loving for Hilly Holbrook, excellently brought to life by Bryce Dallas Howard. Hilly is racist and underhanded, using her status in town to control everything– social events, treatment of staff and generally just getting her way in everything. The good tries to offset the bad, but it is still so obvious about how unjust the system was – I recently saw that it was a time period where it was finally acknowledged that black people deserved rights, just not quite as many as white people. I’m not going to go all swearing about this, because I am guest blogging here, but you can please include a number of profanities to gather my opinion about this.

Most of all, the end impressed me – things do not end perfectly for Phelan. After successfully publishing her novel, Phelan is shunned by many in town, including her boyfriend, but since he was a pompous, primitive prick from the very start I’m not feeling that she’s missing out on something special. It shows that actions have consequences, even when the action was required and did something good.

If you are looking for a film that accurately portrays inequality in the 1950’s, this probably isn’t for you. The Help is mostly feel good with some bad moments between, a very well-produced and acted out film for this. Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for this and it is well deserved – her sassy attitude is a scene stealer every single time. I’m likely to watch it again at some point, and am pretty glad that I took the time to watch this.

Thanks for having me lady!

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The Martian (2015) Review

The Martian (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Based on The Martian by Andy Weir

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

My Opinion:

I finally saw this! Can you believe I didn’t see this one until now? Especially as I absolutely loved the book (which I reviewed HERE). Hmm. Yeah, it’s good! It’s of course not as good as the book (not many films are). I never enjoy a film as much if I’ve read & really loved the book and the same is true with this one. But I still really liked seeing the book brought to life.

First of all, I should say that Matt Damon did a good job. I was at first annoyed when he was cast as he’s not at all how I pictured Mark Watney but I managed to accept him as the character. I’m disappointed, though, that the movie really didn’t capture Watney’s great sense of humor. It tried & there was a bit of that but I still didn’t connect with the character in the film the way I did in the book. The movie was much more a “drama” than the book was but I suppose that makes sense as to make it too much of a comedy could have been a flop.

All in all, the movie was quite faithful to the book until the end when things were changed a bit & added. I can’t really complain – I’m happy it stayed as faithful as it did. I hated Kristen Wiig – she was the only mistake as far as the casting went. The film looked great & I far preferred all the scenes on Mars (as to be expected). The movie got a little cheesy at the end but I can forgive that as, if this was a true story and a man was really left behind on Mars, it would be a very big story and I believe the whole world would rally around him in the same way.

I was surprised to look this up on IMDB and actually see a lot of negative reviews. Really?! I can’t say I understand that. I got the impression that those giving negative reviews were either “bored” because of all the science or were bitching that the science was “wrong”. It’s a fictional story, for crying out loud – it’s just meant to be entertaining. And for those who were bored, I hope they don’t read the book because there’s waaaaay more talk about growing potatoes and making water. How dare they stick some science into a science fiction movie! Whatever. People suck.

I’m sorry – I’m distracted. I don’t feel like writing reviews much lately. I’ve just gone & started The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and I have no idea why as it’s 1,183 minutes long. I’m 36 minutes in. Does it get better?! Because, so far, I’d have to say that Once Upon A Time In The West was way better by this point. Well, at least the score is awesome. Yeah, I’m done reviewing The Martian, I guess. Here’s a summary!

Summary:

The Martian, although of course not as good as the throughly entertaining book, still manages to stay pretty faithful and mostly captures the spirit of the book. It’s not quite as much fun as the book and takes itself too seriously at times but I can see why they made it a little more dramatic. Damon was good, as usual, but he’s one of those actors that I always just see as the real-life person. Not his fault, I suppose – it’s just that way with certain actors. So it was more “Matt Damon is stuck on Mars!” than “Mark Watney is stuck on Mars!” for me. Overall, it’s a sci-fi movie and I am rarely disappointed by sci-fi movies (except for Elysium, which I watched after The Martian! Ugh). I’d recommend this movie but, as you can probably guess, I’d most definitely recommend reading the book first.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**I’ve now seen all the Best Picture Nominees other than Brooklyn & Bridge Of Spies. Sadly, they both become available on DVD just after the Oscars so I won’t be seeing them beforehand. Still, I’ve done well this year! Here are My Best Picture Nominee Reviews & Ratings (from favorite to least favorite):

Room – 9/10
Mad Max: Fury Road – 9/10
The Martian – 7.5/10
The Revenant – 7.5/10
Spotlight – 7/10
The Big Short – 5.5/10

Mama (2013) Review

Mama (2013)

Directed by Andrés Muschietti

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film deals with the story of two young girls abandoned in a forest cabin, fostered by an unknown entity that they fondly call “Mama”, which eventually follows them to their new suburban home after their uncle retrieves them.

My Opinion:

Here we are with my first horror movie review for the month of October! You know I’ve clearly watched a load of shit this year if I’m starting with stupid Mama. Well, no one visits this blog on a Friday so let’s get this crappy movie out of the way first, shall we? 🙂

Why do 99.98% of modern horror movies suck? And why do I continue to watch them? I suppose I still live in the hope that one will at least be entertaining even if they’re not exactly “good”. Okay, there are two fairly recent ones that I actually loved: The Babadook & It Follows. But that almost makes things worse! Now I’ll have high expectations! But you know they’ll go back to pumping out nothing but shit like Mama & Insidious 8.

I suppose I have only myself to blame as plenty of bloggers trashed Mama before I saw it. Although, reading about this movie online, it got praised somewhat by critics. What?? Maybe us bloggers are becoming too picky or something. Anyway, I love a good supernatural story. And feral children… Feral children (and Satanic children, too) are the BEST! That’s why I love stuff like The Brood & The Omen. Well, the two girls in Mama are the sweetest feral children ever – I probably felt too protective of them since they were totally cute & weren’t psychotic little nutjobs. I also liked, being a mother & all that, the thought of an “entity” protecting the girls. But, dammit, did we have to see “Mama” SO DAMN MUCH?! Why do so many modern horror films do this? I’m far more scared by the things we don’t see or the things we only glimpse. How am I supposed to be scared of this?

What the hell is that shit? Is that seriously what scares audiences nowadays? You know, I suppose the actual story in Mama wasn’t all that bad. It’s a shame they felt the need to show her so much – I’d probably give this a halfway decent rating if it wasn’t for that. And, I was too lazy to look into it but is this one of those cases where a famous star made a crappy movie that didn’t get a full release but then, once they were famous, it did? If not, then what the hell was Jessica Chastain doing in this? I actually find her pretty seriously overrated but she can clearly get better work than this now (other than InterstellarMama is probably a better horror film than Insterstellar is a sci-fi film. no, seriously – I have far higher standards for sci-fi than for horror). At least we had hunky Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to look at in Mama… As TWINS!

I actually forgot he was twins in this until Laura reminded me in our review chat for Headhunters (HERE), which is pretty pathetic as I only watched this a couple of months ago. I have such an excellent memory for great or really horrible movies & such a shitty memory for bland crap like this. Yeah, I prefer a truly horrible movie to something like this one as at least horrible movies are fun to take the piss out of & bitch about with you guys. Mama was just “So what?”. And I don’t want to get into spoiler territory too much in case anyone still wants to watch this but I hated the ending & I hated that there wasn’t “more” to the entity. There’s a story here that actually could have made for a more complex supernatural “villain” but that doesn’t really happen – it’s just good vs evil. Apparently this was a short film first? Well, I wonder what that’s like because the simple story seems like it would be better as a short film.


(Btw, Jessica Chastain is soooo not believable as some “rock chick” in this)

You know what? Screw all this. My hubby told me the other day that my reviews are no fun lately (he may have used the word “suck”) because it’s obvious that I can’t be bothered. Ha! Nice! I don’t care what he says – he went to see The Martian without me yesterday. How rude!

Anyway, I’ve never once claimed to be some kind of writer but he’s right that I can’t be bothered lately due to being too busy but, also, because I’ve watched too much stuff like Mama over the past few months. I seriously need to see a movie that gets me all excited about putting a post together again instead of it feeling like a chore (something like, hmm… The Martian hopefully?!). Mama was a chore. It was a chore to watch & a chore to think of anything to say about it for a post.

Summary:

I know this review was really negative but I’ve definitely seen worse horror movies than Mama. The problem is just that I’ve seen this same sort of mediocre “supernatural horror” movie over & over again. Here’s the plot: There’s an evil entity, no one believes it’s real, someone does some investigating & discovers the entity’s tragic history, evil entity must then be defeated using the knowledge gained during that investigating that I mentioned. How original – I’ve never seen that story before!

I’ll end on a positive: Mama is an okay “stuck on the couch while off work because you’re sick” movie. That’s how I saw it (along with three others in the same day). Don’t make a big thing of it if you watch it. Like, don’t make it your big date night movie or something – you’ll be pretty disappointed. It’s at least a good movie to watch while throwing up in a bucket!

My Rating: 4.5/10

Interstellar (2014) Review

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****SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but slightly bitchy…)****

Interstellar (2014)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring:
Matthew McConaughey
Anne Hathaway
Jessica Chastain
Michael Caine
Bill Irwin
Ellen Burstyn

Running time: 169 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

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My Opinion:

I’ve avoided reading the many reviews of Interstellar here on WordPress because I really didn’t want to know a single thing beforehand. As there are so many (much better) reviews out there, I’ll keep this super short and instead go & read all your reviews when I get a chance. Besides – the more I talk about Interstellar, the more annoyed you’ll probably all get with me. So I’ll just say this: I was underwhelmed. I was bored at times. And, by the end, it kind of just left me feeling empty (well, except for my bladder).

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Okay – I’ll say a little more because I’m sure you all want to hear me once again complain about a movie. Right?! 😉 Most who actually read my reviews know by now that I’m of the 70’s & 80’s generation and the majority of my favorite movies are from those two decades. I like plenty of current movies (you can see a ranked list of everything I’ve watched in 2014 HERE and see that I’ve given several movies a rating of 8 or higher). So this isn’t just age talking. No, wait… It IS age talking. I’ve been around a long time now and I’ve seen a lot of truly excellent films. Christopher Nolan is a very good director. I realize that he’s sort of like the “Steven Spielberg” for a generation below mine. For me, though, he’s only made one film so far that I’ve truly loved and it’s not The Dark Knight and certainly not Inception (it’s The Prestige). Other than that one, I wouldn’t watch his films over and over again like the way I have with plenty of Spielberg’s films. I think he’s done a great job with the movies he’s directed but, unfortunately, I think maybe Interstellar was a little too ambitious and comes up very short when compared to sci-fi classics.

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Science fiction! It’s something my little brain never fully understands (WTF is a wormhole anyway?) but I absolutely LOVE the genre above all others when it comes to entertainment so I was of course not going to miss this epic space movie. However, I’m also going to be far more picky than some. We have some TRULY classic sci-fi films and I wanted this to be another one. Maybe my expectations were just too high? However, I really had no issues with Gravity. I even ended up thinking Edge Of Tomorrow was far better than I’d ever expected it to be. I think, more than anything, the “human drama” element to Interstellar didn’t fully work. There were definitely some good performances but, overall, it all felt a little shallow and I never really connected with anyone. The “space stuff” (sorry – I hope I don’t lose anyone with my big technical terms!) was fine although, again, I had even less of a connection with the humans in space than I did with those on Earth. It all looked pretty but I wouldn’t say it’s the most visually stunning film I’ve ever seen. The first half of the film dragged and I just wanted them to get the hell up into space. But then even that didn’t live up to my expectations.

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You know what? I’m going nowhere with this review & these days I get maybe 20 minutes to write them. Plus I said I’d keep it short but as always I just blabbed & blabbed! I’m sorry I’ve not been able to put it into better words but, hey – I was just a little disappointed. That’s all. I like what I like and I’m always completely honest here. Hopefully some of my regulars will know I’ve written enough extremely positive reviews of movies I’ve loved to know that I’m not just trying to be difficult as I know some get a little over sensitive about opinions. The Prestige?? I love it. That’s a 9/10 for me. Interstellar is okay. I know Nolan-worshippers won’t have a bad thing to say about it and I do still recommend it to his fans and, well – to everyone, really. It IS worth a watch on a big screen. It just didn’t quite work for me personally and I’d now rather re-watch a sci-fi classic or something like The Right Stuff, which is one I’ve been meaning to watch for years. Ultimately, Interstellar tries too hard to be Spielberg with the human drama and Kubrick with the rest but never comes close to achieving the greatness those two directors have when they’ve been at their best. I think more focus on either one or the other would have actually made this a better film overall but instead both elements kind of fail.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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***Not that anyone is still reading this now that I’ve given a Christopher Nolan film less than an 8 but these are some great sci-fi films & I’d highly recommend them to fans of the genre (the extremely obvious as well as some that are less so). I’d be happy if at least one person gave one of these movies a shot after watching Interstellar (or, better yet, before!). 🙂 And I’d happily take some recommendations as well as there are still plenty I haven’t seen, such as The Right Stuff & the original Solaris or most things from before the 70’s:

In no particular order:

2001: A Space Odyssey
Silent Running
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Star Wars (original trilogy)
Alien & Aliens
They Live
The Thing
Enemy Mine
Moon
Sunshine
WALL-E
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Predator
Planet Of The Apes
Back To The Future
The Last Starfighter
Dark Star
Blade Runner (I’ve just lost Brian!)
The Terminator 1 & 2
Death Race 2000
TRON
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Fahrenheit 451
D.A.R.Y.L. (I’ve just lost the rest of you!)
HARDWARE (I had to include it) 😉
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Because… David Bowie!)

That took ages. I’ll stop there although I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. A few of these movies are definitely not as good as Interstellar. However, I enjoyed them all more…

Take Shelter

Been wanting to watch this for a while. I’m obsessed with movies that are at ALL apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic in any way. These days it’s zombie movies that I especially love. Maybe there’s something wrong with me or I just really hate humanity – I think it actually started with that (admittedly awful) Night of the Comet movie I watched in 1984. Or possibly a bit earlier as I loved the original Twilight Zones from a VERY young age and a couple of my favorites were The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and the one where the neighbors all fight over the bomb shelter when they think the world is ending. So, anyway – Take Shelter was close enough to those things I love for me to check it out even though I KNEW it was actually a story about mental illness. But, dammit – some more actual storms would have been good!! 😉

Decent enough performances from all involved but nothing too stunning. I did like the parallels of mental illness/approaching storm. The pacing was a bit too slow at times (I found my mind wandering several times but that’s getting to be more of a problem in my old age plus I have a lot on my mind at the moment AND I was watching it while decorating the damn Xmas tree). 🙂 And I like the ending but I always love a good ambiguous ending that you KNOW people are going to fight about on websites like imdb. Seriously – I think I just like to see movie geeks get all worked up insisting that THEIR interpretation of a movie is the only correct one. 😉 What I love about those endings is that you can take them any way YOU choose to.

So, overall, Take Shelter was a decent enough movie exploring mental illness in a slightly more interesting way by using the symbolism of the storm and the shelter and blah blah blah. But I felt it was missing something. I don’t know what exactly but I was a little bored throughout it. The feel & pacing & exploration of the characters kept reminding me of the movie Another Earth, which I enjoyed much more and I felt did a better job of getting its point across (exploring human emotion as opposed to mental illness and the effects it has on the sufferer & those close to them). And a similar sort of ambiguous ending! Hey ho. 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

(And since I mentioned it, I’d probably give Another Earth a 7.5/10)

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