Seabiscuit (2003) Film & Wine Club

seabiscuit-movie-review-poster-2003Director: Gary Ross

Genre: Drama, History, Sport

Runtime: 140 Minutes

Main Cast: Tobey Maguire, David McCullough, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Gary L. Stevens, Eddie Jones, William H. Macy, Chris McCarron

Plot: Based on a true story, Sseabiscuit was an undersized race horse who took the racing scene by storm during the Depression-era, right when people needed an underdog story the most.

My Thoughts: Welcome back to Film & Wine Club! We’ve each thrown another 3 movies into the hat and first pick is one of Dad’s – Seabiscuit. It’s safe to say my Mum wasn’t looking forward to it. Drama, history, horse race, Depression-era was enough for her, I think. But just like the entire of the USA back in that day, that small horse won us over. Tobey Maguire plays a to-tall jockey who can’t catch a break, Jeff Bridges plays a once-successful car maker trying to rebuild his life after the death of his son, and Chris Cooper is a loner with a natural talent for rearing horses. Together, they’re a dream team.

It’s your typical Oscar-bait movie really but movies about horses don’t have a wide appeal. That’s where the talent of the actors and the directing comes into play and I can honestly say I loved every minute of it. Clearly it’s a favourite of my Dad’s but I imagine he might have been regretting his choice when Mum and I asked “Is that Seabiscuit?” every time a horse came onto the screen. By the final two races even Mum was out of her seat shouting encouragement and that is honestly the best review I can give – it tells you all you need to know!

So here I am, doing something I never expected I would be doing, and I’m recommending you a movie almost two and half hours long about a horse. It’s just entertaining, and heart warming. Let’s hope Seabiscuit has built up enough karma for when it’s Dad’s next movie, eh? Well, the next movie out of the hat was one of mine, and it’s Fargo (1996). It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it but it’s always stuck with me so I hope my parents enjoy it too. Watch this space!

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Best Bit: Easy, it has to be the moment that Seabiscuit won the race against War Admiral. It was the perfect victory, especially after all the animosity caused by War Admiral’s owner’s refusal to even have the race in the first place.

Worst Bit: I was gutted when Red (Tobey Maguire) couldn’t ride Seabiscuit. Red lost his family so early in life and racing was all he had. There were no ‘bad’ moments in this movie for me, just a lot of sad ones! It was slow going until the trio got together though, and I feel like Elizabeth Banks was completely underused. Those are my only complaints.

Fun Trivia: The companions Seabiscuit is given to calm him down were actually used in real life. The stray dog was named Pocatell. The female horse, Pumpkin, would accompany him to all his races through out his racing career.

My Rating: 4 and a half horseshoes that got given away to all the press that turned up.

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Remember Me (2010)

remember-me-2010-movie-review-posterDirector: Allen Coulter

Genre: Romance, Drama

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Pierce Brosnan, Lena Olin, Chris Cooper, Ruby Jerins, Martha Plimpton, Gregory Jbara, Meghan Markle

Plot: Tyler (Robert Pattinson) accepts a bet from his friend to try and hook up with the daughter of a police cop who wronged him as payback. Along the way he ends up falling in love with the girl, Ally (Emilie de Ravin) as they both struggle to deal with traumatic family events they both suffered years ago.

  • My Thoughts: Straight up, I’m giving you a SPOILER WARNING. There’s no way I can talk about this movie without mentioning the ending. Let me tell you how I got here in the first place, though. I’m starting to fall down a Robert Pattinson hole. It snuck up on me, he’s found himself into a lot of things I’ve been watching and well, it’s been a while since my last obsession so it was bound to happen eventually. Remember Me has been on the edge of my radar for years now and ironically, I could never remember why…

This is straight up angsty romance in every sense of the word. If you don’t like your romance movies to be depressing you’ll hate this, but I have a weird love for them. Tyler is completely lost, with no idea what he’s doing with his life but he’s a passionate family guy, and has a fierce protectiveness for his little sister. Ally has struggles of her own but fits into Tyler’s world perfectly. Of course, when a relationship starts because of a dare…it’s not going to stay a secret forever, and I knew the fallout was coming.

What I didn’t see coming? THAT ENDING. Bloody hell. Those last few minutes were so confusing. Everything seemed fixed, things were starting to look up, for everyone, but the music didn’t match the tone of the images and I couldn’t work out why. And then the tiny pieces of the puzzle fell into place and…oh man. Was it a cheap and easy way to evoke emotion from an audience? Maybe, but it ruined me. I turned the movie off and disappeared upstairs to ugly cry under a blanket!

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Best Bit: Although it’s one of the biggest, did not see that coming, kind of twist, it broke my heart and it’s not allowed to be the best bit. Being the total loser I am, my favourite scene was in the coffee shop or diner or wherever it was that Tyler introduced himself to Ally. His awkward yet witty charm…I fell for him.

Worst Bit: You know how everyone just hates it when the dog in the movie dies? Well that’s how I feel when kids in a movie are upset. Ever since becoming a parent, I just can’t handle it. So when Tyler’s little sister is mercilessly bullied at school, it really hurt to watch.

Fun Trivia: When casting, Twilight hadn’t come out yet, which means the producers had no idea the attention the movie was about to get when they cast Pattinson in the lead role of Tyler. “I didn’t know who he was,” Allen Coulter [Director] admitted. “That was an advantage, because I cast him just because I liked him.”

My Rating: 4 out of 5 cigarettes which Tyler will swear to you are his last ones.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

a-beautiful-day-neighborhood-2019-poster-reviewDirector: Marielle Heller

Genre: Biography, Drama

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni

Plot: Tom Junod is a journalist known for delving deep into the subjects he writes about, seeking the truth. He’s a cynic by nature with a terrible relationship with his Father, but when put on an assignment to write a piece on the legendary Mr. Rogers, his views are changed.

My Thoughts: I have to admit straight off the bat – I struggled with this movie. Mr. Rogers’ show wasn’t a thing in the UK so I know next to nothing about him, but that wasn’t my problem. I just felt like two very different movies were thrown together to make one, and one that didn’t gel together. I loved Tom Hank’s role, I loved seeing how compassionate Mr. Rogers is and how he deals with the mental burden of everything he deals with. I could have happily watched an entire movie about him, so I guess I should turn to 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.

On the other hand, we have Tom’s story. Tom is married more to his job than his wife and hasn’t spoken to his Father in years, since his Mum died and his Father moved on quickly. It may be a story based on real-life, but it’s a story I’ve seen countless times. I also struggled to connect with Tom’s character at all. We were shown too much of his bad side before getting to actually care for him.

So in the end, I have to land somewhere in the middle. I adored one half of the movie and really disliked the other half. It was still an interesting, well-made movie though, and I’d still wholeheartedly recommend it for Tom Hanks’ performance alone. He never turns in a bad performance.

a-beautiful-day-neighborhood-matthew-rhys

Best Bit: There’s a scene in a diner where Mr. Rogers tells Tom to take a minute’s silence to think. All the background noise quietens down slowly, and Mr. Rogers looks at the camera, directly at us. It was such a surreal moment and really made me stop and think!

Worst Bit: I know I’m struggling with a movie when I start nitpicking at stupid things. In Ad Astra (2019) it was the absurdity of a Subway sandwich shop on the moon, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood it was how Tom is never holding his own child. Hold your baby, Tom!

Fun Trivia: During the TIFF post-film panel, Tom Hanks mentions how he wishes he and his son (Colin Hanks) at 3 years old watched a half hour of Mr. Rogers a week so he could learn that it is okay to be sad. Hanks feels children don’t learn the importance of expressing emotions from a young age and Mr. Rogers did an excellent job explaining this.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 baby car seats which it is NOT okay to let your baby sleep for hours in, Tom!

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