Film Review: ON THE BASIS OF SEX (USA 2018) ***

On the Basis of Sex Poster
Trailer

The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights, and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Director:

Mimi Leder

Mimi Leder (director of the little seen PAY IT FORWARD and made-for-TV, THICK AS THIEVES) tackles a female issue film, ON THE BASIS OF SEX,  an American biographical legal drama film based on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The film is written by Daniel Stiepleman, with an impressive cat that includes Felicity Jones as Ginsburg, with Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Sam Waterston, and Kathy Bates in supporting roles.

If when watching the film, everything looks familiar, perhaps you might have seen a documentary released early this year called RBG, the letters stand for Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the subject of ON THE BASIS OF SEX.  The doc concentrates more on her career and what she has done to promote progressive change in the legal America system.  Leder ON THE BASIS OF SEX, opening during Christmas plays like feel-good stand up and cheer move while trying to keep to the spirit and truth of RBG, a legend in our times.  (One can imagine director Leder herself trying hard o get work as a female director as one notices her dry spell of films after PAY IT FORWARD.)  

The film covers the full life of Ruth Ginsburg.  The first third shows her struggle in an almost all-male (she was one of only 10 females) Harvard Law School.  The film is quick to emphasize that Ruth had more on her plate than her fellow undergraduates.  She was not only married with a kid, but her husband (Armie Hammer) suffered from cancer with hospitalization.  Ruth looked after him, their kid while attending his classes and her own the same time.  She came up top of her class.  The second part shows her at her job after graduation.  She teaches while inspiring her students to change the world.  Her subject was “Sex discrimination and the Law”.

Leder’s film reveals important truths.  The success of a woman depends on the support of her husband.  Clearly Ruth’s husband was always behind her, giving in and urging her to strive on.  The same can be likely said for husband of Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Teresa May. However, Ruth and her husband’s relationship appears too perfect.  “You are ready for this.  You have been ready for this your whole life.  Go in there and let the judges see the real Ruth Ginsburg I know,” is the husband’s best advice, obviously spiced up int he script for artistic purposes.  Despite the husband’s support, it must be certain that they must have had huge arguments that would have rocked their marriage.  No major disagreements are on display except for one minor argument which involves their daughter, now grown up.

English actress Felicity Jones is winning as Ruth Ginsburg.  Armie Hammer, also delivers a remarkable performance in a little written role.  But the best performance comes from little known Charles Milky who plays Charles Moritz, Ruth’s caregiver client denied his tax benefits for looking after his ailing mother based on his gender.

It is clear that more cane learnt about Ruth Ginsburg by watching the doc RBG than this Hollywood dramatization.  Audiences have seen similar films before, like MADE IN DAGENHAM and even the lighter and more hilarious LEGALLY BLONDE.   What is clear is that Ruth Ginsburg is still recognized as a major force in changing sex discrimination in America.  Her story needs be told in one form or another.

So the ultimate question is whether Ruth Ginsburg’s achievement in life can be trivialized into a 2-hour feel good movie?  Surprisingly, the answer is yes, judging that the real Ruth Ginsburg appeared the end of the film implying her endorsement of the film which was written by her nephew, Daniel Stiepleman.  At least the words at the start of the film declared the film ‘inspired’ rather than ‘based’ on a true story.  But as far as feel-good movies go, Leder’s film is a textbook example of how to achieve the task

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28dHbIR_NB4

Advertisements

Film Review: A MONSTER CALLS (USA/Spain 2016) ****

a_monster_calls_movie_poster.jpgDirected by J.A. Bayona

Starring: J.A. Bayona

Writers: Patrick Ness (screenplay), Patrick Ness (based upon the novel written by)

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall

Review by Gilbert Seah

Based on the acclaimed novel by Patrick Ness who also wore the script and served as producer of the film, A MONSTER CALLS must have been a love project from the start and it looks so. A dark, occasionally humorous and exciting film, A MONSTER CALLS reminds one of the best of the horror fantasy films – Guillermo Del Toro’s PAN’S LABYRINTH and Nicholas Roeg’s THE WITCHES.

The protagonist of the story is young Conor O’Malley – who we are told by voiceover is too young to be a man and too old to be a boy, (a fresh performance by Lewis MacDougall). Conor has been dealt some of life’s most devastating blows. His mother (Felicity Jones) has terminal cancer, his father (Toby Kebbell) is not part of his life and his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) offers no consolation. To top it all, he is bullied at school. Conor has nowhere to turn, until he receives a nighttime visit from an enormous, tree-shaped monster (voiced by Liam Neeson). The monster is to help him, but not in a regular way.

The monster declares that it will tell Conor three stories and that when it has finished recounting the tales, Conor must reciprocate with a story of his own. All of the monster’s stories offer a lesson in the complexity of human nature (e.g. the murderous king lives happily ever after and loved by his subjects) and the consequences of the actions — while each of the monster’s visits leaves destruction in its wake. When the time comes for Conor to tell his story, he must confront difficult truths that can no longer be ignored.

The stories told by the monster unfolds on the screen with special effects animation. But the very best effect is very basic – appearing in the boy’s room where three hanging cut out painted pieces of cardboard dangle coming together to form the face of a monster. But it is not only the animation that dazzles (though it does) but the stories themselves. Each is as dark as dark can be and all have an unexpected twist where expectations are thrown to the wind. These stories are so amazing that they almost eclipse the main plot. The main question in every viewer’s mind is how the stories relate to the boy’s real life.

But director Baoyna’s film teases all the way. Where and when is the film set? As the film has a vintage look, one expects a period setting, but then Conor owns a cell phone. One assumes a British setting from the looks of the houses and buildings. This becomes clear as the school is clearly British but still one is never certain which city the film is set. The only clue is the pier and the amusement park nearby. So it could be Brighton but not Blackpool for the lack of the working class accents. Another puzzle occurs at the end of the film when Conor looks at the drawings of a book, with the author’s name Lizzie Caplan in front? Who is this Lizzie?

A MONSTER CALLS proves that a good story is more important than just a movie which dazzles the eye. A MONSTER CALLS has the bonus that it does both. And with the young boy as the protagonist, every adult can sit back and pretend to be young once more, facing and conquering the monsters in life.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Xbo-irtBA

 

Watch Winning Best Scene Readings:

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script

Movie Review: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (UA 2016) ***1/2

rogue_one_movie_poster.jpgDirector: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Chris Weitz (screenplay), Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits

Review by Gilbert Seah

It is finally here and the world is waiting to hear how good (or bad) the $200 million production of the new Star Wars film is. For one, the filmmakers are clear to emphasize that this is a standalone story. By this, they mean that the story, set shortly before the events of the original Star Wars, is not part of the other STAR WARS films, though there are already two more films after ROGUE ONE in the making as ROGUE ONE is the first of three anthology films.

There is not much original in the story of ROGUE ONE. But there is little to disappoint. Again, the film begins with the title, “Long time ago in a galaxy far away..”, though the words are differently laid out. The scriptwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta ensure the successful formula is untampered with. And there are lots of spectacle, new characters, explosions, exotic futuristic sets combined with exotic setting – space towers emerging from a tropical paradise. At times, the film feels like a James Bond film, where the hero and troops storm the villain’s lair, take him out while blowing everything up.

It all starts with the escape of young Jyn Erso as a child as she witnesses her mother shot dead and her inventor father (Mads Mikkelsen) taken away to create a planet destroyer for the Empire. With this weapon, the rebels would stand no chance of winning the battle for the galaxy.

So, the Rebel Alliance recruits the grown up Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) after freeing her from prison, to work with a team including Cassian Andor (Diego Luna from Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN) to steal the design schematics of the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star. That is about it for the story, leaving the film plenty of time for action, spectacle and more action and more spectacle. Music is by Michael Giacchino with pieces taken from the original score by John Williams.

The enmity between Cassia and Jyn inevitably turns into romance. But the romance is executed in good taste without distraction from the action at hand. The two are just shown holding hands in the key scene.

The choice of a female protagonist heroine as in the last STAR WARS film last year is a good one, given these politically correct times. After all, Princess Lea, a key Star Wars character is female and key to the whole saga.

The main villain of the piece is played with sufficient relish by Ben Mendelsohn next to the odd appearances of Darth Vader. But the new characters that steal the show are played by Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen. Have the Chinese taken over? The new droid K-2SO,(Alan Tudyk) a Rebel-owned Imperial enforcer also makes a new welcome non-human hero.

As in last year’s THE FORCE AWAKENS, reviewers were asked not to reveal plot points or twists. In THE FORCE AWAKENS, these included the death of Hans Solo and the end appearance of Luke Skywalker. In ROGUE ONE, there ares equal surprises to please the fans.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=frdj1zb9sMY 

 

Watch Winning Best Scene Readings:

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script

Happy Birthday: Felicity Jones

felicityjones.jpgFelicity Jones

Born: October 17, 1983 in Birmingham, West Midlands, England, UK

When you’re a young actor, there’s this pressure to rush. But I hope to be doing this into my sixties and seventies, so I’d prefer to take my time. There’s so much of a desire in the entertainment industry for newness, a desire to build somebody up and then treat them as old news within six months. I think you’d be naive if you didn’t try to hold on to your own way of doing things.

The Tempest
dir. Julie Taymor
Stars:
Helen Mirren
Felicity Jones
MOVIE POSTERTHE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
2014
dir. Marc Webb
Stars:
Andrew Garfield
Emma Stone
MOVIE POSTERHYSTERIA
dir. Tanya Wexler
Starring:
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Felicity Jones
TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Watch First Trailer for ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY #rogueone

The new Star Wars film is coming out in December starring Felicity Jones.

Watch Trailer NOW:

 

“Rogue One” will be a prequel to the events of 1977′s “Star Wars: A New Hope,” described on the official “Star Wars” website as “the story of unlikely heroes who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star.”

The cast also includes Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed and Forest Whitaker.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” arrives in theaters Dec 16.

Here’s what people are saying on Twitter: