The Way Back (Movie Review)

Title: The Way Back (2020)

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Screenplay Writer: Brad Ingelsby

Stars: Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar, Michaela Watkins, and Brandon Wilson

Genre(s): Drama | Sport

Runtime: 1 hour 48 minutes | Rating: R

IMDB STORY LINE:

Back in high school, Jack Cunningham had everything going for him. A basketball phenom, he could have punched his ticket to college or even the pros, but, instead, he chose to walk away from the game, forfeiting his future. Jack’s glory days are long gone…but, as it turns out, not forgotten. Years later, he gets the chance to take back his life when he is asked to coach the struggling basketball team at his alma mater. Jack reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself, and as the boys start to come together as a team and win, he may get his last shot at redemption. Written by Warner Bros

Now let’s talk about the movie… That’s why we are here, right?

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★★ (5 Stars)
Writing/Story: ★★★★★  |  Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★  Cinematography:  ★★★★★ 

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

This was such a powerful script. If you are looking at this film as a sports film, it holds up. The story surrounding the basketball scenes are really good. It’s an underdog story where the worst team in the league ends up winning it all. I loved that.

If you are looking at this film for the human, emotional aspect… WOW! The dramatic aspects of this script along with the truly heartfelt acting take the movie beyond just good and make it a great film.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

The Way Back stars Ben Affleck and if I’m being 100% honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of his. I liked him in Good Will Hunting and he was ok in Gone Girl and a few other movies. Although, for the most part, he is just ok. He tends to play the same character in everything he is in. I guess that is why I was so surprised when I watched this movie. Ben Affleck gives us an AMAZING performance. It is the best acting I’ve ever seen him do. The emotion he puts into the role is so beautifully devastating and real. Knowing that he has suffered from addiction in his real life, I can only imagine that some of these scenes had to be extremely hard for him to do.

Cinematography ★★★★★

I have nothing bad or good to say about the cinematography. I think that because the script was so good and the acting was even better, I didn’t notice the cinematography, but that means it was also good enough not to be noticed in any negative ways. So, it gets five stars too.

FUN FACTS:

* The movie's original title was 'The Has-Been'.
* Like Jack, Ben Affleck has also struggled with alcoholism.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE:

“You want to know why they’re leaving you open? It’s because they don’t think you can hit the ocean from the beach.” ~ Jack Cunningham

TO SUM IT UP:

Four little words say it all, “I LOVED THIS FILM!”

Have you seen The Way Back yet? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If not, I highly recommend seeing it for yourself and forming your own opinion.


JOKER (2019) ~ Movie Review

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HERE

Comment below and tell me what you thought of Joaquin Phoenix as THE JOKER!!!


SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★★ (5 Stars)
Writing/Story: ★★★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★★★ Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★


IMDB STORY LINE:

In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck embarks on a downward-spiral of social revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his infamous alter-ego: “The Joker”.

WARNER BROTHERS STORY LINE:

Joker centers around an origin of the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.

MY 2 CENTS:

This film is fantastic. It probably isn’t for everyone. I know it received a lot of negative reviews and a bunch of criticism for the amount of violence. However, it I feel that it also deserved some praise – both for the writing and the acting. I think the risks taken by writers Todd Phillips and Scott Silver were great. Before seeing the film, I was a bit concerned. I had heard that there was talk about extreme unnecessary violence. I had no idea what to expect. However, after seeing the film, I can honestly say that wasn’t the case at all. After watching the John Wick movies, which are just riddled with violence to the point that it is hard to remember a scene without violence, this film is more drama than violence. In fact, the first time Arthur Fleck ever kills anyone, it is in self-defense. Sure, it is clear in that moment you can tell he is enjoying it… and that is where you start to see the typical evil of The Joker come through.  

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

WOW! The origin story for The Joker has always been a bit confusing for me. I never really understood it and it has always seemed a bit unrealistic and contrived. However, writers Todd Phillips and Scott Silver really developed a believable, heart wrenching backstory that allows the audience not only to understand why and how Arthur Fleck becomes The Joker, but to also sympathize with his situation and even root for him at times.

This film really forces the audience to think about mental illness, how we as a society often fail to give the appropriate care, attention, and medical treatment to those that really need it. Arthur Fleck is functioning in society, it’s a struggle but he is doing it. Then, when the funding for his state funded therapy is cancelled and he can no longer talk to his therapist and get his medications he spirals downhill.

Cinematography ★★★★★

The camera angles used during some of the scenes were truly beautiful and helped to pull the right emotional strings of the audience. One scene in particular was when Arthur was dancing down the steps and the camera is lower down, staring up at him. The joy he is portraying is both frightening and delightful at the same time.

Another case would be when Arthur has been beaten down and the camera is low on the ground with him. As an audience member, being down there on the ground with him, you feel his pain, his fear, his anger, and just a complete rush of helplessness.

The way this movie was filmed really made me feel like I was watching a Martin Scorsese film, such as Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, or even Raging Bull. After seeing the film, I read some reviews that said this same thing. However, were other people complained about this, I really liked it. I’ve always really liked Martin Scorsese’s film style.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Joaquin Phoenix was brilliant in this film. I can’t think of another actor that could have played this role in quiet the same way or with the same amount of emotional connection. There are so many moments throughout the film where I was just swept away emotionally, and brought to tears even, because of what Arthur was going through. It isn’t because I agree with the violence and the killing, but its in the moments, such as the first time he attempts standup comedy, or when he is beaten down in the street (more than once) where as an audience member feel his fear, his pain, and his torment.

In an interview, Phoenix stated that perfecting the Joker’s laugh was the toughest part of playing the character and I can completely see why. Laughter is usually associated with joy and delight and comedy, however, when he laughs you see his struggle with pain, depression, and anxiety. It is in complete conflict with the act of laughing. He stated that he watched videos of people who suffered from pathological laughter in order to get it just right.

Joaquin Phoenix stated that he had been “interested in the light of Arthur for lack of a better word. It wasn’t just the torment, it was the joy, his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love. I don’t think of a character as tormented.” Ultimately, I feel that Phoenix was able to bring out all of Arthur’s deepest emotions and make him a character that audience members can both related to and sympathize with.

FUN FACT:

Robert De Niro‘s role as Murray Franklin, the talk-show host who gives Arthur Fleck his big break, and even the name The Joker, is an ironic role reversal from De Niro’s role in The King of Comedy (1982). In that film, De Niro played Rupert Pupkin, an unsuccessful, mentally-unstable comedian who stalked and kidnapped his favorite talk-show host, Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis).

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a comedy.”

TO SUM IT UP:

This film is a dark, terrifying, gritty, raw, and often uncomfortable character study of a man who has been mistreated, abused (both emotionally and physically), and overlooked by everyone in his life. This film dives into how the circumstances of life and long-term abuse have affected Arthur Fleck physically, emotionally, and mentally. I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen so you can get the full effect of the amazing camera angles and larger than life closeups.

Have you seen JOKER? If not, you should. If you have, let me know your thoughts, in the comments below. As always, I recommend seeing this film for yourself and forming your own opinion.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

JOKER (2019) Trailer: