Tag Archives: Jessica Chastain

It Chapter Two (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

It Chapter Two Review

Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Gary Dauberman (screenplay by), Stephen King (based on the novel by)
Stars: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader

Moviie Couple here!   Well, sort of anyway.  You see Mrs Moviie Couple nearly always refuses to watch horror films.  The sight of Pennywise or the name of Stephen King in the trailers had her diverting her eyes, shaking her head and just saying No, No, and No Way, over and over again in my direction.  No matter what I did or promised, she simply would not go see this film with me.  With that in mind, We will be having a guest reviewer this week.  Keeping things in the family, we welcome Moviie Couple Son!  Yes, Moviie Couple Son and myself went to see It Chapter Two this weekend!  Never fear (Wow!  How appropriate is that statement to this weeks film? ) Mrs. Moviie Couple will return!  Here is a quick reminder of our scoring system.  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   We rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

It Chapter Two continues the story from It (2017), naturally, as the now adult Losers Club return to Derry, Maine.  Pennywise the Clown has returned twenty seven years later, to murder victims in the friends home town.  As promised at the conclusion of IT, the Club fulfills their vow, in an attempt to end Pennywise once and for all, and return to face their childhood nightmare for a final time.  Directed once again by Andy Muschietti, the adult Losers are portrayed by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan (who Warner Brothers/DC should be looking at to replace Henry Cavill as Superman if you ask me), James Ransone and Andy Bean.  Once again, starring as Pennywise, is Bill Skarsgard.

This well known and beloved book truly needs no recap other than what we already gave.  Fans of the King classic know what they are getting here and even if you don’t have a well worn copy in your paperback collection or a newly downloaded edition in your Kindle, filmgoers that watched the first chapter should be more than eager to see the Losers Club return to Derry.  I will say that if you have not seen IT (2017) it will behoove you to watch that film in order to truly appreciate the entire saga presented here.  Can you watch just Chapter Two alone?  Sure, flashbacks and exposition catch you up, but a viewing of the first film will only enrich the experience.  At the very least, if you’ve read the book or seen the original mini series you will be fine, but trust me, this is best seen in conjunction with the first film.  Fine, is not enough.  Seeing this as a whole story is a much better experience.

Will the now adult friends be able to duplicate the experience from that past summer when they first faced Pennywise? (No Spoilers)  Will the adult versions be able or even willing to face their fears a second time?  Has adulthood and the world outside Derry, changed them in a way to make matters worse?  Will they still connect or has the years apart damaged a once close knit group of friends?  Will Pennywise even remember them or be ready in waiting for the old gangs return?

Does this film’s conclusion live up to the original book or even the well known mini series?  How does it measure up as a horror film in general?  Let’s put on our yellow slickers, head out to play in the rain, all hold hands, jump in some puddles and try not to look into any sewer drains!  it’s time to find out!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  I went into this expecting a genuine horror film, but I got so much more. This movie deals with much more than just horror elements.  King’s work often delves into deeper subjects using the horror story as a backdrop.  Director Muschietti understands this perfectly!  Each of these adult members of the Loser’s Club are dealing with issues from either their past or their current lives and must find ways to deal with or overcome their own challenges in order to not just face Pennywise, but to be happy in life as a whole.  The film opens with a very harsh scene of violence in the real world.  The scene portrays a very jarring and visceral hate crime.  A gay couple enjoying a night of fun at the Derry Fair get brutally attacked.  It’s hard to watch and at first began to pull me from the movie, but I believe it was a directorial decision to demonstrate just how LITTLE a creature like Pennywise has to push people to commit evil.  Either that or to remind us that there are monsters roaming free in our world and Pennywise needs to do very little to find fear to feed off of.  We simply provide him a buffet each and every day with our actions toward each other.  He really needs to only let us be ourselves and he can feast from the fear we create forever.  It left a powerful impact on me as to the nature of evil.

The cast was amazing!  If you’ve seen the 2017 IT, you will be impressed with just how well cast the adult actors are in conjunction with the young actors that came before them.  It’s uncanny how perfect they look in my opinion.  A standout for me was Bill Hader, usually known for his comedic performances, he does provide a few laughs, but also does a fantastic job of playing adult Richie dramatically.  He is certainly on the rise in Hollywood.  Beside Hader, Chastain does good work as adult Beverly and Jay Ryan in a subtle portrayal, really captures his young acting counterpart’s essence without resembling him in the least. He needs to be noted for accomplishing something that perfectly, it can’t be easy.  Skarsgard really shines even more in this sequel as the LegenDerry (see what I did there?) Pennywise.  His portrayal will now live on as the definitive Pennywise in my opinion.  He is both sinister, creepy and likable all at once.  Something necessary for a killer clown capable of seducing children from the safety of their parents.  What he accomplishes behind clown makeup and prosthetics is in award winning caliber.

In reference to the horror aspect of the film, it succeeds, but its not trying to be a gore fest (although there is a lot of blood).  It probably has one too many jump scares for true horror fans and the FX isn’t going to change the industry,but it works.  Pennywise’s lair and it’s entrance, in a classic haunted house setting, is creepy as hell and well done.  I can perfectly see it as a maze at Universal Horror Nights for sure!

The film is nearly three hours long BUT unlike Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I never noticed it.  The film soared by and kept me engaged at every level.  This was one of my favorite movies of the year to be honest.   The actors playing the adult Losers had me believing in them the entire ride!  It felt more like a modern times version of an epic adventure film rather than a horror film to me.  Of course there is a horror aspect to Pennywise, he is a child killing, fear consuming clown I get it, but it felt like a Lord of the Rings quest type story set in our times (no swords or horses) with Pennywise being a dragon to be slayed if you see where I’m coming from.  We do not spoil here at Moviie Couple, so I can’t give away the details, but suffice to say the themes of love and friendship, good vs evil are presented in a scary, entertaining and timely way!  It was great!  The original story’s influence can be seen everywhere from ‪the Goonies‬, ‪The Lost Boys‬ and all the way to today’s Stranger Things mania.  But even a classic template can be messed up if not handled with care.  Muscietti and a top notch cast present the classic tale in a (while not being a page for page retelling) loving and exciting way for a new generation!

King at his best!  (Keep eyes peeled for a great cameo!)  I enjoyed this film far more than I expected to heading in.  Not only a fine conclusion or sequel, but just a really good film.  Thanks to some sharp directing (highlighted by scenes with Pennywise under the bleachers and in a mirrored funhouse!) and excellent performances all over the cast,  I give It Chapter Two 5 Bills!  Wow!  Take my money!  I want to see it again!  I’d follow this film down a sewer drain any time!

Moviie Couple Son:  So my Mom can’t stand to watch horror movies, well lucky for us they are a favorite of mine!  So I will be covering for my mum.  Dad writes these things up, so I’m going to hand him the bullet points to my reaction to It Chapter Two and he can type it all up, like he does for Mom.  I may be back for any future horror movies, since Mom is such a chicken when it comes to those.  Hope you enjoy!

-Perfect Casting!  Bill Skarsgard was better than ever as Pennywise!  He now stands alongside Freddy, Jason and Leatherface!

-Great cinematography!  All the scare scenes were framed and shot in dynamic fashion!

-The film could have taken the “scary”to a higher level.  I was hoping for more terror, but it was still unnerving thanks to the differing camera angles and an intense score!

-The film is as good an adaptation of the book as fans could hope for!  Long time book fans will not be disappointed

-If you are a fan of the first one you will absolutely love this one.
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-Great classic horror movie to kick off the fall season.

-Not as violent as expected.  So fans of a more supernatural horror and those not into torure and gore will be able to enjoy it more than some horror films of late.

-Very good storytelling here.  Lots of exposition about Pennywise’s past, but that is to be expected.  It did not bog down the runtime at all.  It was all told in a natural and necessary way.

-The dialogue was excellent, as in the first film.  Very well balanced between humor (natural flow between childhood friends) and the anxiety driven fear filled serious scenes.  Maybe not as natural and fun as the first film’s interaction between the kids, but still solid.

-I give It Chapter Two 5.5 Bills!  It was such a good sequel and final chapter to the first film.  I would have given it 6 Bills had it ratcheted up scares a lot more, but as is its still a great movie that I will recommend to any King fan and to horror fans in general!  Thanks for allowing me to sub for my horror allergic Mom.  Hopefully I’ll be back again soon!

On the way home, We spoke of the book (which we both read) and how some weirder aspects were left out or only hinted at in Easter Eggs (see if you spot turtles anywhere?  Book fans will get it).  How great the acting and directing are in this one.  How Skarsgard’s Pennywise was so awesome!  The themes of the film, how love and forgiveness can overcome fear and evil.  We both couldn’t have enjoyed it more!  I thought it was perfect, Moviie Couple Son thought it held back a bit and could have been scarier, but still loved it!  My 5 Bills with his 5.5 Bills gives It Chapter Two get an average of a solid 5 Bills!  Not too shabby!

So until next time, Call your old friends and reconnect, stay away from open sewer grates and if you see one lone red balloon floating around, turn and run the other way!  Be sure to check our facebook page for a clue to our next movie up for review!  Mr. Moviie Couple and Son out!

A Most Violent Year (2014) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

Director: J.C. Chandor
Writer: J.C. Chandor
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

“A Most Violent Year” is set in New York City in the year 1981, were an ambitious immigrant named Abel (Isaac) fights to protect his business and family during the most dangerous year in the city’s history.

Having watched this movie I can only describe this as a captivating drama more than an action film that perhaps the title may suggest to some. I enjoyed Oscar Isaac’s performance as Abel, a family man built on principals, who is provoked into crossing the line a few times by his competitors. Don’t get me wrong the movie doesn’t focus on violence that much and when it does it is justified and not unnecessarily shoehorned into the plot for effect.

The movie’s strength lies in the excellent cast and their performances and interactions throughout the storyline. Almost every shot and scene should be appreciated as the script is intelligent, interesting and gripping to the extent that the audience will be drawn in very easily. Abel’s stance and morals frustrate his wife Anna played by Jessica Chastain who seeks protection from Abel for her and their children in the means of being in the possession of an unlicensed firearm. Chastain’s performance is as equally strong and assertive of that of Isaac and both appear to excel in their shared scenes.

The pacing of “A Most Violent Year” is consistent and the plot is tight. At no point does the story appear choppy or misguided thanks to the films editing by Ron Patane. Director J.C. Chandor did a great job capturing a somber and dramatic tone throughout the movie and creating some tense scenes in there that are memorable also. His writing is also well done and you can sense that he has invested time and care into his characters that are fleshed out and you can relate to.

The cinematography by Bradford Young and Robert Levi (who created the documentary segments) managed to recreate a New York City in 1981 with impressive and convincing results. Added to this a very subdued soundtrack that adds atmosphere to these visuals and the audience is taken back 30 odd years thanks to the music of Alex Ebert.

“A Most Violent Year” perhaps wasn’t going to target a mainstream audience it is fair to say that Chandor has made possibly one of the best dramas of 2014 and should not be overlooked if you enjoy these type of films and cast. Oscar Isaac again has proven there is more to him than Poe Dameron in the new Star Wars Trilogy and flexes his acting abilities once more in the gripping and intriguing movie. “A Most Violent Year” came as a surprise to me and I’m glad I managed to get round to this movie. Highly recommend.

Interstellar (2014) Movie Retro Review by John Walsh

INTERSTELLAR

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan,  Christopher Nolan
Stars: Matthew McConaughey,  Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain

Christopher Nolan is one of the great directors already, having more than earned that right with a collection of genuinely brilliant films. He’s also one of my personal favourites and with Dunkirk on the way, I thought I’d delve back into some of his work. Nolan’s got a reputation for being quite the cerebral director with films that often make his audience ponder, especially with extremely ambiguous endings and the celestial epic Interstellar from 2014 has all of that in an abundance.

The proceedings start on a farm, in an unnamed US state, with the focus on Cooper (Matthew McConaughey); a widowed, ex-NASA test pilot that’s now left caring for his family and father-in-law (John Lithgow). He has two kids, his eldest son Tom (Timotheé Chalamet) and daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy). The latter more like her father in nature with an added feistiness. It’s set in the near future, though the actual date is never specified, but it would be fair to say that the world isn’t in a good place. In the midst of a decade long crop blight with even Coopers crop of choice (corn) beginning to fail. Strange happenings begin to occur culminating with an energy anomaly that leads to Murph and Cooper tracking down strange coordinates to a secret NASA base.

Within this base is Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant scientist with an optimistic plan to save humanity. Well, two actually. One revolving around the simpler task (that should tell you something) of building a human colony on a suitable planet, whilst the other involves sending gargantuan spaceships into orbit with a sizeable portion of the planets population on board. Unfortunately for humanity, and despite his implied genius, the mathematical equation to make the second scenario feasible is proving impossible to crack. Which perhaps explains why Brand almost immediately asks Cooper (an old associate) if he’d be interested in leading the Endurance mission when their paths unexpectedly cross again.

The mission involves sending a four man astronaut team into a wormhole that’s formed near Saturn in order to confirm the findings from three potential, life bearing, exo-planets, within a solar system potential hundreds or thousands of light years away from ours. Professor Brand, you see, had previously sent ten other manned crafts through with only three signals returning and needs assurances of their suitability before forming concrete plans. Having long held aspirations of heading to the stars, Cooper of course, decides to accept the proposal in a final attempt to secure his children’s future and also save humanity, even if it does require him to perhaps leave them behind forever. This is really the key theme at the heart of Interstellar. Embedded within the epic sci-fi setting, is a powerful story about sacrifice, love and, more specifically, the relationship between Murph and Cooper.

It’s also very much a film of two halves. The first half focuses heavily on the plight of humanity and Earth, focusing on the mission and its progression up until the journey through the wormhole. The second half enforces a nice change of scenery and pace, switching to the more intimate environment of the spacecraft, but also the wondrous setting of the alien solar system. I have to say, I much preferred the second half of this film. It had a real emotional resonance that much of Nolan’s films have lacked in the past and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was close to blubbing when Cooper watched the 23 years worth of stored family vlogs from his children, this despite only having been separated for months (some crazy physics explains how that’s even possible and I’ll get into shortly). McConaughey’s multi-faceted acting performance in that scene alone was genuinely incredible.

Another reason for enjoying the second half though was the aforementioned mind bending physics and also the jaw dropping visuals (they were good before, but somehow got better). The teams forays onto alien landscapes were exhilarating and breathtaking in equal parts. Their risky journey to the oceanic planet to retrieve a homing beacon, where every hour spent equated to six months in Earth time (thanks to the immense gravitational effects of a nearby black hole) was an intelligent way of increasing the emotional stakes, and more importantly, all entirely possible in real life (if we could get close enough to a black hole that is). Whilst the show-off with Matt Damon’s, crazed, scheming scientist Mann on the stark, ice world brought a heart rending twist and a quick burst of action.

The most incredible moment from both a visual and story aspect however came when Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway, who was fantastic) and Cooper attempted to use Gargantua (the massive black hole) as a slingshot to reach the third and final planet in the solar system. At this point, Cooper chooses to make the ultimate sacrifice, jettisoning his part of the craft off across the event horizon of Gargantua along with the enigmatic and witty, blocky like AI character, TARS (Bill Irwin), who delivers a humorous performance very much in the vain of K-2SO. This sets up an even more mind bending, five dimensional trip that attempts to resolve the mystery of those earlier oddities in Murph’s room and also bring about a satisfying conclusion to the story. This ending divided opinions at the time and for many was so ambiguous and head scratching that it left more questions than answers.

Personally, I loved this damn ending, but I enjoy films that actually make me think. The key to everything in the end was both love and gravity. Cooper having interacted with the five dimensional being that created the black hole, discovers that he’s able to communicate with Murph, (thanks to said being/s creating a three dimensional surrounding to help him process things) using the love he has for his daughter and gravity itself to effect her environment and relay the necessary information to crack the equation. This is never properly shown might I add, but heavily hinted at, and ultimately, this makes it possible to get all or most of humanity off of the planet. It’s an ending that’s only rivalled by Arrival last year for me.

I can’t finish the review without heaping praise on both the cinematographer, Hoyte Van Hoytama and composer, the great Hans Zimmer. The score is so unbelievably beautiful in this film and there’s so many perfect little moments of genius where, for instance, the music will suddenly stop that add to film massively. The visuals are literally out of this world. The shot of the spacecraft passing Saturn was awe inspiring, as was the encounter with Gargantua’s event horizon and the planets all looked like realistic other worldly environments. The AI character TARS was also phenomenally well done.

I’ve prattled on quite enough, so I’ll keep the conclusion short. If you haven’t watched this for whatever reason then do yourself a favour and address that quickly. It’s an excellent piece of cinema with some really good performances, especially from McConaughey, Hathaway and Jessica Chastain (older Murph).