Monday, November 28, 2016

Fall Film Challenge: Bonus Round Reviews

I'm happy to report some fun news - I was first to complete Jenn's Fall Film Challenge again this year! The bonus round was 100% in my sweet spot so I quickly moved through the 25 movies listed below. Each film either had to be based on actual events or a book. I enjoyed most of these movies, but did find a few that didn't resonate as much. My favorite from each category was Antwone Fisher (actual events) and The Book Thief (book). I highly recommend watching both of these movies...and a number of others listed below. Here are my brief reviews...

1 - Lean on Me (1989 - actual event) - 3 stars
Interesting look at the state of inner-city public schools in the late 80s. Several cheesy scenes and not enough full character development for me, but great message.

2 - The Good Lie (2014 - actual event) - 4 stars
Fantastic depiction of the refugee crisis and the flawed system in place to help these individuals. Highly recommend everyone watch this film.

3 - McFarland, USA (2015 - actual event) - 4 stars
Exciting and inspiring look at racism and class struggle in the rural, farming areas of America. The movie is long and drags a bit in places, but certainly worth watching.

4 - Water for Elephants (2011 - book) - 3 stars (didn't read book)
The story is interesting, but quite predictable from the start. I am curious if the book is more suspenseful. I also really didn't like the main female character.

5 - Ali (2001 - actual event) - 1 star
Not at all what I was expecting from this film. The first half focused more on other key historical figures than Ali so that set things off on a bad note. I was simply expecting more.

6 - Last King of Scotland (2006 - actual event) - 2 stars
Definitely an interesting story, but a bit too "off with their head" for me. What a terrible, scary character...especially since I don't particularly enjoy Forest Whitaker as an actor.

7 - The Jungle Book (2016 - book) - 4 stars (didn't read book)
This brought back fun childhood memories. I have always loved the animated version, but this one was equally as good. Made my day to hear the Bare Necessities song.

8 - Antwone Fisher (2002 - actual event) - 5 stars
Denzel (and company) does it again. Wow! I really loved this story. What a powerful account of the impact and value of proper mental health treatment particularly for our military personnel. Watch it!

9 - The Manchurian Candidate (2004 - book) - 1 star (didn't read book)
I can't even waste time on describing this one. Please just skip it. Mind blown by the ridiculousness.

10 - The Hours (2002 - book) - 3 stars (read book)
I truly enjoyed seeing each character come to life. I don't feel like the movie strayed much from the book. Touches on some heavy issues, particularly for women, - worth watching.

11 - United 93 (2006 - actual event) - 3 stars
Unique look at both the air traffic control world and the happenings inside the plane on that fateful flight. I am curious how much is precise to the facts of that day (particularly the scenes involving the military), but overall it was an insightful film. Sad though.

12 - The Hurt Locker (2008 - actual event) - 4 stars
Incredible story depicting a part of the military that I hadn't really ever thought to consider - the explosives disposal team. It veered off course a little toward the end, but overall I found the content and characters to be fascinating. Check it out.

13 - Atonement (2007 - book) - 3 stars (didn't read book)
I've had this book on my shelf for ages. I tried to read it once and didn't get very far. After watching the somewhat disturbing first half of the movie, I desperately wished I had read the book. While I didn't love the movie, I did think the story line was rather interesting. Hopefully, I can find time to read the book soon.

14 - The Book Thief (2013 - book) - 5 stars (read book)
Absolutely loved both the book and the movie. There was very little difference between the two. Solid story, great characters, based on historical events - please watch this one.

15 - The Road (2009 - book) - 3 stars (read book)
I read nearly half the book before I began to have interest in the main characters and their predicament. The movie got right to it and held my interest throughout. It is grim and gets a bit tiresome at points, but well made given the story at hand.

16 - The Best of Me (2014 - book) - 3 stars (didn't read book)
Nicholas Sparks has a way of creating beautifully predictable tales. This was no different. I enjoyed the back and forth flip between present and past time though. Interesting story, but undoubtedly you already know how it will end.

17 - Amanda Knox (2016 - actual event) - 4 stars
Fantastic documentary. I had not seen or heard anything about this case until I watched the movie. I recommend that everyone watch it - particularly if you plan to spend any significant time abroad!

18 - 13th (2016 - actual event) - 4 stars
Wonderful documentary about the mass incarceration of black men and how we have gotten to this point in America. Seemed unbiased politically as fault was placed on both parties for the current situation at hand. Particularly stirring as race is a primary factor. Highly suggest watching this one.

19 - The Witness (2015 - actual event) - 2 stars
I had heard of Kitty Genovese in my college psychology classes when we studied bystander effect. This deeper dive into the happenings of that night was interesting, but seemed to lead to several dead ends and no real answers of any sort. I was a bit bored by the end.

20 - Audrie & Daisy (2016 - actual event) - 4 stars
Fascinating look at the effect of social media shaming and bashing on sexual assault victims. Highly recommend this to anyone that knows or works with middle/high school students. Life is precious.

21 - Who Took Johnny (2014 - actual event) - 1 star
Johnny's mom was just too much for me. At first, I felt like I could understand her frustrations and agreed that something seemed fishy. As more and more was reveled about both the case and her, I realized something was fishy. Very odd and strange circumstances indeed.

22 - Concussion (2015 - actual event) - 2 stars
I had interest in seeing this movie from day one based on my history with football, but I was disappointed with its length and originality by the time I got around to viewing it. The content is extremely interesting, but the movie is very slow.

23 - Everest (2015 - actual event) - 4 stars
Exciting and scary all wrapped up into one. This was a fantastic movie. I loved the character development along the journey to the top of Everest. What an incredible story. Watch this one.

24 - Man on Wire (2008 - actual event) - 1 star
I was bored to tears through most of this documentary. I didn't like the actual man on wire. I agreed with many of those interviewed that he was selfish. It is certainly incredible the feats he accomplished, but I'm not sure they were worth the personal sacrifices in the end. Skip it.

25 - To Kill A Mockingbird (1962 - book) - 3 stars (read book)
It was nice to have at least one older movie thrown in the mix. Since I recently re-read this book, I particularly enjoyed watching the movie. Everything plays out accordingly.

Have you seen any of these movies?

Andrea :)

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