Gallagher Says – Slumdog Millionaire

This is one of my favourite films. I have loved it ever since I first saw it four years ago. I first got it after seeing Danny Boyle’s film Sunshine. I had watched that film because I liked to watch a lot of Science Fiction, and I was watching various movies with actor Cillian Murphy in them. I was further interested in watching Slumdog Millionaire because of its awards showing.

I generally find Best Picture winners to be pompous, overblown pleas for awards. I find the best picture nominees to actually seem more interesting than the winners. That aside, Slumdog Millionaire is a genuinely good movie, not apparently made for the academy award voters.

The story is told in three separate timelines. The first one is Jamal’s torture at the hands of the police. They have reason to suspect he has been cheating at a game show and are trying to force a confession. The other storyline follows Jamal’s progress through the game show as he is reminded of it by the officers. The third jumps through Jamal’s life, showing how he knows the answers to the questions.

The largest portion of the film is spent on Jamal’s life leading up to the point of the game show. We are shown his childhood with his brother and the loss of their mother. They meet up with an orphan girl and travel, having different adventures and struggles surviving in India.

Jamal’s goal is to survive and rejoin the girl, Latika. In this sense, the film is an epic love story. It spans years and shows how life is always getting in the way of their love. The other storylines aren’t a snooze either. The interrogation scenes are tense and revelations of character. The game show scenes are more fun, but they also show Jamal’s fight against the world as the host and crowd seem to mock him.

This film almost feels like it was made for me. It has so many elements that play into my tastes. It opens with scenes from just before the end. It is told with multiple storlines out of chonological order. It is a character piece centered around showing one person and their environment.

My favourites from the film: The aforementioned elements. I love the way the film is cut. Scenes of Jamal’s torture scenes are cut between torture and first entering the game show. The dialogue snaps back and forth between the characters, and they all have unique voices. The music in this film fits perfectly in ever scene.

My less enjoyed parts: I love everything, so I really don’t have anything to put here. I include some negatives in the next section. It is honestly in my top two favourties of all time.

My Recommendation: The only things bad I can say about it is that there is some repetitive imagery and Danny Boyle often uses a jagged frame rate in scenes of intensity. The jagged frames are also blown out and have some kind of lower quality filter on them. So unless you want to watch something absolutely beautiful to look at, then I’d say this movie is awesome for anyone.

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Simon Says – On Edge

​FADE IN:

EXT. BRUCE TRAIL – EVENING

BILLY is a boy around eight years old. He is wearing a blue jacket and a cap tight over his eyes. In one hand, he swings a stick back and forth.

SWISH! SWISH! CRACK!

The stick shatters and splinters fly everywhere. Billy laughs and continues down the trail. He scoops up a new stick but sees the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. He walks over till he’s about six inches away from the cliff face.

Grabbing ahold of a tree, he leans out as far as he can go. He stares down the sheer rock face. He looks at the rocks that jut out here and there. A lonely cedar is sprouting from a crack halfway up.

Billy gets dizzy for a second and almost falls, but he catches himself. He frowns, backing away from the edge. Once he’s a few feet away, he turns and jogs down the trail, whirling his stick above his head.

EXT. BRUCE TRAIL – FIVE YEARS LATER, EVENING

Billy is a teen now. He’s leading a blindfolded girl, CAROLINE, along the trail. He brings her to the edge of the escarpment and pulls the blindfold off.

Caroline smiles at him then glances down. She jumps back. Billy laughs, and she punches him in the arm. Rubbing his wounded arm, Billy points down the rock face to the cedar growing in the crack. It has grown into a small tree.

As Caroline watches the cedar wave in the wind, Billy begins to walk away from her, balancing along the edge. Caroline looks over as he makes a turn and holds out his arms.

Caroline shakes her head at him. Billy pretends to lose his balance. Caroline covers her face with her hands, but when she peeks between her fingers, she sees him give her a bow.

Caroline runs over and pulls him away from the edge. Releasing him as he stumbles to regain himself, Caroline runs down the Bruce Trail. Billy rights himself then glances around. After spotting her, he begins to chase.

EXT. BRUCE TRAIL – SEVEN YEARS LATER, EVENING

Billy is in his early twenties. He hasn’t shaved in quite some time. He walks over to the three he once held when he was younger. He leans out and looks over the edge.

The cedar has dried up and withered. Billy falls back against the tree and pulls out his phone. He looks at his last message to Caroline. “I feel so alone”. That was three weeks ago.

He glances over the edge. The trees at the bottom are tall, but they stop growing ten feet away from the cliff. Billy glances down at his phone then drops it onto the leaves covering the forest floor.

He stares out across the landscape to the road way down in the valley. He straightens himself and stands. He spreads his arms out as wide as they can go and closes his eyes.

His phone buzzes.

Billy opens his eyes. He glances over at his phone.

The light blinks.

Billy sits down with his legs over the edge of the cliff. He picks up the phone and checks the message. It’s from Caroline. “Hi. Srry its bn so long. How r things”.

Billy leans back, lying on the ground. He holds his phone above his face as he texts back.

EXT. BRUCE TRAIL – TEN YEARS LATER, EVENING

Billy and Caroline are holding hands as they walk along the trail. Caroline sees the tree by the edge and runs over to it. She wraps her arm around it and stares out across the valley.

Closing her eyes, she breathes in the fresh air. She opens her eyes again and glances behind her. Billy is missing. She is startled then notices him down at her side.

He is on one knee and holding out a ring. Caroline puts her hand to her mouth. She smiles and nods. Billy slips the ring onto her finger.

Caroline pulls him up to his feet, and they kiss.

EXT. BRUCE TRAIL – TWENTY YEARS LATER, EVENING

CHARLES and ALICE are teenagers. They run along the trail. They glance over at the tree and come to a stop. They turn back, and Charles points at the tree.

Billy and Caroline are walking along arm in arm. Billy nods to Charles. Turning to each other, the teens roll their eyes. They shakes their heads then continue running down the trail.

Billy and Caroline walk over to their tree. Caroline points across the valley. They turn to each other, smiling.

EXT. BRUCE TRAIL – THIRTY YEARS LATER, EVENING

Billy pushes Caroline along the trail in her wheelchair. Billy stops a couple of feet away from the edge. He drops down to one knee and pokes Caroline’s arm.

Caroline is resting in her chair. She doesn’t stir at Billy’s poke. She inhales deeply. A smile spreads across her face.

Billy smiles. He tries to get up, but he can’t make it. Placing a hand on their tree, he shuffles closer to it. He pushes himself up onto his feet.

Resting against the tree, he looks up its trunk. The bark is gnarled and old. It has weird bumps here and there, and a large branch has broken off.

EXT. BRUCE TRAIL – FORTY YEARS LATER, EVENING

The trail is silent. The tree stands tall over the edge of the cliff. The wind picks up and starts to gust. The tree sways.

Its roots start to pull up. The wind begins to scream.

CRACK!

The roots rip up from the ground, and the tree topples over the edge of the cliff.

FADE TO BLACK.

Gallagher Says – Vanilla Sky

​Full disclosure, I have a goal to see every single one of Tom Cruise’s films. I’ve now watched all but three of them (I’m sure you’ll get the update when that changes). The latest film I watched was Vanilla Sky.

Recently I had watched a number of Cameron Crowe movies. After watching films like Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous; I was hoping Vanilla Sky would be an enjoyable ride despite the mixed reviews it received. It didn’t live up to the those expectations. I wouldn’t say it was bad, but it wasn’t great.

The film follows a man that was born into a wealthy home and inherited a magazine publication from his father. He blows off his responsibilities and tries to live a life seeking only pleasure. This all changes when he meets the perfect girl, but a jealous ex won’t let him go so easily.

A large portion of the film is dedicated to showing you his loss of grip on reality as you never know when he is dreaming or awake. This made the film interesting because we delve into his psyche as he deals with love, rejection, and a disfigurement.

All these add up to establish an interesting character piece with twists and turns and a dabbling in philosophy. Once I’d finished the film, I thought the ideas and story were interesting. The back and forth between reality and dreams made it intriguing and added an element of mystery.

The main problem is that many of the scenes drag on with no apparent goal or purpose, or many of the scenes establish some theme or character growth but then keep going on and on. I feel the film would have benefitted from a tighter edit. At times the film just feels as superficial as its lead.

My favourites from the film: Despite the lack of a firm storylineand the slow pacing, I still enjoyed the way Cameron Crowe handles his characters and their interactions. I enjoyed seeing MichealShannon’s small part as a police officer. I thought it was neat to see Tom Cruise spend a good portion of the film in a mask and prosthetics. Tom Cruise and Kurt russell’s scenes together were probably the highlights of the film.

My less enjoyed parts of the film: The seemingly lack of direction for portions of the film. It’s heavy-handed approach to most of its themes. Cameron Diaz’s part as the psycho ex was awkward. I think the movie would have benefitted from a more concrete and straightforward plot to keep the viewer going till the main reveal takes place.

My recommendation: It’s a good film if you have just over two hours to spend on a visually interesting, melodrama and just want to sit back for the ride. If not, similar but stronger films that deal with the same types of things would include; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind if you want a RomCom, Inception or The Matrix if you want a sci fi action film, or Jerry Maguire if you need your Tom Cruise/Cameron Crowe fix.

Simon Says – The Interrogation

​FADE IN:

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM – AFTERNOON

The room is dark. A single lamp sits on the desk, providing the only illumination. A rough looking MAN in his late forties leans forward into the light.

He seizes the lamp head and twists it, so that the light blasts into the face of the little GIRL sitting across from him. She is wearing a pink dress with a flower print sticking out of the pocket.

She tries to shield her eyes from the light.

MAN: So where are they? Where’d you hide them?

The girl shakes her head. Tears run down her cheeks.

GIRL: What you say?

The man falls back into his seat and exhales.

MAN: I know you tried to smuggle them out of here. Where are they?

The little girl calms. She contemplates this before answering.

GIRL: What muggle?

The man slams his fists on the desk. The girl begins crying again.

MAN: I’m not playing games here. Turn out your pockets.

The girl pushes her hands into her pockets. Giving the man a sneer, she lifts her hands and drops a bottle of bubbles, a crushed daisy, and three mini chocolate bars onto the desk.

The man leans forward and lifts one of the chocolate bars by the corner. It is squashed and misshapen. He raises a walkie-talkie to his mouth.

MAN (CONT’D): She has them, sir, but I don’t think you want them back.

SIR (V.O.): Throw them out. Let the girl go. It’s over.

The man nods for a beat then realizes he hasn’t answered.

MAN: Roger that, sir.

He lifts the chocolates and gives the girl a disapproving glance. She grins up at him while she twirls a curl of hair. 

He turns away and drops the chocolates into a garbage can. He steps back to the desk.

MAN (CONT’D): Alright you can go. Just don’t…

He stares at the girl, eyes bugging out of his skull. She’s holding a tiny pistol and has it pointed at him.

GIRL: How’s about you open the safe, and I won’t pop a cap in your ass.

She tilts her head and giggles. The man stands there motionless. The girl becomes serious.

GIRL (CONT’D): Daddy says I flip the boom switch if you don’t do it.

The man raises his hands.

MAN: Okay. Okay. Let’s stay calm.

He walks over to a safe in the back wall. He twists the dial and pops it open. He lifts a cotton bag of money and brings it back to the desk. Sitting down again, he lifts the money onto the table.

MAN (CONT’D): There’re homes to help little girls if your daddy is mean to you.

The little girl takes the bag of money and hops out of her chair.

GIRL: Oh, no. He’s great. He lets me have chocolates.

She smiles at him.

GIRL (CONT’D): Thanks for the money, mistah.

She turns and skips off with the money. The man hears people scream and yell as the girl enters the other room.

FADE OUT.

Gallagher Says – The Gift

​This was a film I wanted to see right from the first trailer. I had become interested in keeping an eye on Joel Edgerton after seeing him star alongside Tom Hardy in Warrior. After a look at his filmography, I realized I had seen him in small parts in Smokin’ Aces and the Star Wars Prequels.

Needless to say, I was intrigued to see his directorial debut. The film was released. I was busy with college, and I forgot about it. This Christmas I saw it for sale and remembered my interest in it.

My interest increased when I saw that Jason Bateman was also in it. I recently watched all of Arrested Development, and without delving too deeply into that, I loved it. So the promise of seeing him in something this serious encouraged my purchase of the film.

All that aside, the real star of the film is Rebecca Hall. I was surprised at first how much we were following her day to day experiences. The primary conflict of the film is the clash of personalities between Jason Bateman’s Simon and Joel Edgerton’sGordo, so after Rebecca Hall’s Robyn served as the instigator in their continued interactions, I figured we’d stick with the men.

That wasn’t the case. I thought it was a strange choice and the reason for the slow pacing, but as the film developed and we hear more of the men’s history together, I began to realize that following Robyn’s involvement in the standoff was actually genius.

We empathize with Robyn completely because she is just like us. We know what she knows. We see what she sees. We feel what she feels. I won’t give away how the story plays out because it has some great twists and turns.

My favourites from the film: Watching Jason Bateman playing a very serious role, but it was like a more serious Michael Bluth of Arrested Development. Rebecca Hall’s performance and the decision to tell the story from her perspective. The photography.

My less enjoyed parts of the film: The pacing early in the film was slow/inconsistent. The perspective wasn’t apparent to me early in the film. There were some unnecessary jump scares/misleads. Joel Edgerton’s performance was odd (I wouldn’t say it was bad. There was something about it that I felt was inconsistent)

My recommendation: Not for those looking for something fast paced or with high stakes. This film is a slow burn with very intimate, relationship based stakes. I wouldn’t even recommend it as a thriller, but more as a tense relationship drama with an air of mystery.