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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Prisoners (2013) Review

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Prisoners (2013)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring:
Hugh Jackman
Jake Gyllenhaal
Viola Davis
Maria Bello
Terrence Howard
Melissa Leo
Paul Dano

Running time: 153 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
When two young girls go missing, the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) feels he must take matters into his own hands while the police investigate but seem unable to find out what happened to his daughter & her friend.

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My Opinion:

This will be a quickie. I’ve been a terrible movie blogger lately! I’ve been busy so have done very few reviews & when looking at the list of films I’ve watched this year, I see I’ve not reviewed 24 of them. Pathetic! So I’ll try to crank out some short ones over the next few weeks. I’m too wordy anyway!

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The Story:

Prisoners is very highly rated & recommended but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by the end of the film as I left with far too many unanswered questions. The investigation didn’t feel at all like how one would go in real life (not that I exactly know). The cop (Jake Gyllenhaal) did far too much on his own. Don’t they have partners in real life? Especially for potentially dangerous situations? And there were a few things that seemed so obvious to anyone watching the film yet this cop, who has apparently solved every case he’s ever been on, completely misses these clues or figures them out too late. Like with a lot of movies in this genre, some of the characters do things that don’t make sense and you can’t help but get annoyed when they do something stupid. All in all, there were just far too many loose ends for me to be able to leave the cinema feeling satisfied by the story.

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The characters:

Luckily, the movie is helped by some believable characters & good performances. Hugh Jackman is by far the best thing about the film. He’s very good as the desperate father who will do whatever it takes to find his daughter. His wife (Maria Bello) didn’t have much to do but the parents of the other missing girl (Viola Davis & Terrence Howard) were also very good as two parents going through their worst nightmare.

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The thing that probably annoyed me most about this movie, aside from the problems I had with some plot holes, was the underdevelopment of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character. His character felt like he had a very interesting backstory but this wasn’t explored at all and I left feeling like he must have more scenes that explained his character’s past but were left on the cutting room floor. Which is especially disappointing as, at a length of two and a half hours, you would think they could have devoted a little time to his past. Jackman’s character also suffered a bit from this lack of development. I don’t know. Seeing as the story just didn’t quite come together, getting to know a bit more about the characters & their motivations (what’s with the religion? being a survivalist? having nervous ticks & lots of tattoos?) would have been nice.

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Summary:

A tense thriller with some very good performances that’s unfortunately let down by an investigation that doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny & lack of character development. The film’s biggest strengths are the performances from its stars and some strong and (potentially) very interesting characters. However, these interesting characters deserved to have much more of the two and a half hour running time devoted to their development. I really felt like we were missing so much of whatever made Jackman’s and especially Gyllenhaal’s characters who they were. Had we learned more about these seemingly deep men with strong beliefs that aren’t explained, I’d have been able to overlook a few problems with the plot.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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That was still too wordy…