Captivity (2007)


Arriving in ’07, this is a poor excuse for a horror film and a poor excuse for a film generally. It’s not even a torture porno genre that’s in any way smart, fun or scary like ‘Saw’ for example, it’s just lame.

Model and A Lister Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert) gets abducted one night and wakes up finding herself in a locked cell and subjected to random torturous tests by a bulky masked man. Eventually she finds hope in the scratched walls by seeing next door is another cell inhabited by Gary (Daniel Gillies). Together they try and escape but more may be going on behind the scenes.

All in all this is such an insanely dumb film. Writing and just sense wise, how is a celebrity famous enough to sell products with just her first name not kept secure or even have an entourage with her; I mean as if she’s clubbing alone or wandering down a horror looking alley by herself. She’s a character with no personality and even attempts to shed light on her through TV interviews feel stupidly obvious to try and relate the next scene to her fear etc.

The room is a million miles away from being atmospheric or synonymous like the dingy ‘Saw’ bathroom. It’s like some go-go gadget cell that seems to be able to cater to anything the captor wants. How on earth he can control a locker or drawer to shut when he’s not there is anyone’s guess. At one point she’s on top of a building mass of sand which feels less claustrophobic and more silly, she ends up willingly dressing in clothes given to her or having sex with Gary simply because he’s there and put himself in the death line ahead a couple of times.

Let me go onto the  whole ‘twist’ idea, which is so horrendously stupid and may be something quite unexpected but that’s because you just don’t care enough to get into the film. As if random past successions of girls got kidnapped and all wind up having sex too. Also Gary says things like she doesn’t know if Jennifer’s real, but they’d already tried escaping out of a crawlspace together, as a common note – dialogue is trashy and ill thought through creating no energy or interesting spark.

The film possesses a pathetic female character and sadly the gorgeous Elisha Cuthbert dwindles in a role that sees her doing little more than whining, screaming or banging on clearly solid walls in a vain attempt to get out of a bricked space. She’s there to look gorgeous and that’s it, a scream queen she ain’t. If you want smarts then look to the Mary Elizabeth Winstead character from ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ to see how females in similar situations are better acted/written.

It’s just disgusting at how bad this film is more than anything, not even the slightest hint of threat or horror like tension settles in and what you’re left with a weak and utterly dull dumb flick.

2.5/10 – 2 of these points are because Cuthbert was in it.


Still Alice (2015)


Emotional, powerful and wonderful, ‘Still Alice’ doesn’t dumb down or soften the dramatic narrative of a character with a mental illness, it shows all the strengths of Alice with a lot of the low points of suffering with her condition. Adding to this delicate strong story is a stunning performance from Moore that makes the film hit even harder.

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a professor of linguists and a thriving working woman with three children and a busy husband, John (Alec Baldwin). Alice learns that she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease and her world and future is immediately tested as she tries memorising words, keeping on top of lectures and being present with her family.

The story is brave and quite unflinching and for this worrying disease it needs to be. Based on the novel by Lisa Genova you see how character can be tested when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The plot is fantastic in not making the entire thing a sob fest and making you feel pity for Alice, it shows the side of human nature that powers through, the will and reserve to try and stay positive and Alice at times does indeed try and be strong and make quips about her condition.

Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer joined together for the screenplay and directorial duties and they present a brilliant film. Credit too has to go to Glatzer who was suffering with ALS and couldn’t speak during shooting so used technology to talk to crew and cast. He has now passed but I’m sure he’d be proud of the work he and Westmoreland created. The soft look to a lot of the film makes the film more touching and real, their use of flashbacks to younger times as photographs are looked at are short but poignant in making you realise the horror of losing track of your life. The majority of the film does focus on Alice, even when other people are speaking and that’s a great directing decision as it lets you see her reactions, her processes and her progressions.

Alzheimer’s is something I am admittedly terrified of, memory loss and just forgetting yourself and the people around you is a generally scary thought. The film brings up those senses of dark absence spots in your mind a lot, forgetting little things to not knowing the layout of your own home. It’s an emotional film and it does make you more aware of this condition which Alice beautifully states is worse than cancer, maybe hard but fair in the grand scheme of things when she goes on to say why she feels that way. Alice is a character to root for, admire and cry for, her disease is a weakness but the film doesn’t zoom in on that, it tries and succeeds in keeping her heart in tact and the end of the film is near perfect in running with that idea.

Ilan Eshkeri’s score is poetic in the lullaby tones it maintains. A good portion of the movie repeats the similar sounds he composes and that works to benefit the story. The music in fact compliments the theme of the film really well, it’s present but not distracting, you know it’s there aiding in the emotion of what you’re seeing but it’s not too filled with strings or piano making it scream SAD. The score does shift pace briefly at a path that may open up for Alice as she watches a video of her past self instruct her to do something and that entire scene is tense and tough.

Julianne Moore is outstanding. The performance she gives deserved that Oscar, the way her character journeys from intellectual, assured mum and doctor to broken, scared and lost is phenomenal. The little looks on her face as she cannot remember words to the sobbing as she realises what she has all show Moore as the capable and brilliant actress she is. It’s a resounding role she immerses herself in and she doesn’t overplay the disability, she’s subtle and just right. Kristen Stewart proves that Bella was the bland factor and not her acting as she steps forth and acts damn well as the honest, dreamer of the family, trying to be an actor and help her mum at the same time. Alec Baldwin is great as the sometime supportive and sometime distant husband, the reality of the situation hitting later in the film as Baldwin nicely breaks the stern look and displays emotion.

A heart-breaking feature that doesn’t shy away from the subject matter even if little things in the story get lost to spend more time on the condition. Moore is fantastic and ‘Still Alice’ is bold, defiant and a life affirming film.


Scarlett Johansson


From my Acting Brick Road series, it’s time for the assassin Avenger and The Island escapee to step up to the plate and see what I believe her best, worst and favourite movie roles are. Scarlett Johansson….come on down –

BEST PERFORMANCE: I haven’t yet seen ‘Under the Skin’ but want to see it to view how different she can be as an actress, as it does look like a unique odd yet brilliant film. Aside from this unseen possible gem, it comes down to either ‘Lost in Translation‘ or ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’ as her peak performances. I am slightly edging for the latter as a more interesting role for her, where she portrays Griet with subtlety and beauty and vulnerability, that you can believe she immerses herself into the role of this muse.


NOT SO BEST PERFORMANCE: ‘The Perfect Score’ just isn’t very good (my review of that here) and she doesn’t do anything of note in it to at least forget that the film isn’t very good. It’s a cliched sex symbol-forbidden fruit character that does nothing to try and rid stereotypes and in general the film could have been so much more if they tried a little harder with the script. Shame that Scarlett has this in her filmography.


FAMILY FRIENDLY: The superhero franchises are big for all ages now so her contract as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff is an appearance large enough to get her seen by many. She has also been in ‘Home Alone 3’ in the early stages of her career and since then has voiced for ‘The Spongebob Squarepants Movie’, played a college grad in ‘The Nanny Diaries’, shown a family side nature in the endearing warm movie ‘We Bought a Zoo’ and of course her role as Romanoff will continue with ‘Avengers 2’ coming next year!


MATURE ROLE: She’s busty and seducing in ‘The Spirit’, ‘Match Point’ is also filled with desire and brooding danger but I think the most adult orientated movie she’s shown up in is ‘Don Jon’. The entire movie, even with the heart of relationships attached, is about obsession and addiction to porn, sex and the rituals of Gordon Levitt’s main character. Johansson’s Barbara is a feast upon the eyes for the audience and Jon. The movie is smart, funny and assuredly sexy with no let up for younger ages to sit and watch proceedings unfold.


MY FAVOURITE FILM: I do love ‘The Avengers’ but I will stick with my heart and head and choose ‘The Prestige’ by Christopher Nolan as my favourite film that she has been in. It’s wise and stylish with an edge and suspenseful air to the events to keep the intrigue at a fine level. Her hiring as an aide to Jackman is nice and works well until the rivalry of him and Bale interferes with her character and boils over too. It’s a great thriller like narrative with twisting turning ideas and a setting to include great details to gift the movie a distinctive look.


AWAY FROM THE BIG SCREEN: She has appeared as herself in an episode of ‘Entourage’, she has turned up for SNL episodes and has done voice work for ‘Robot Chicken’, aside from these she is more a film persona than switching a lot between TV and the big screen. She has shown up on Broadway though and played in ‘A View from the Bridge’ and ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’.

She’s appeared in a Justin Timberlake music video and showcased her knack for singing in ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘Her’ but here she is away from film in her own music video for her own song, Falling Down. A haunting style tone buzzes around this soft pop song.

Here she is having great fun with Samuel L Jackson for a skit with Little Ant and Little Dec on the British Saturday night show ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’, she plants a cheeky kiss on one of the lucky lads, being just all around nice and dealing with a question about being hot!

See more brief analysis’ of other stars in the movies over on my Acting Brick Road page. Go on, you know you want to!


Zooey Deschanel



Head on over to my page if you’d like, another face has been added and it’s a nice face! It’s Zooey Deschanel’s turn to have her film/TV career looked at. Click here and scroll down the actors I’ve selected so far and keep on a scrollin’ to find Zooey at the bottom to see what my favourite film of hers is and there be some links of her away from the big screen down there too! Here’s a taster of the acting brick road format: 


BEST PERFORMANCE: She’s marvellous in ‘500 Days of Summer’ and brilliantly quirky in ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’. Her performance as one half of honeymoon loved up then troubled couple in 500 days is splendid though and you still like her even though the film is being seen from the male point of view in a relationship. 

NOT SO BEST PERFORMANCE: ‘The Happening’ is a film that should never have even happened, another M. Night Shyamalan idea that tried being too clever and twisty for its own good. Killer plants for Pete sake, terrible. She isn’t great in it, she seems wooden and her chemistry with Mark Wahlberg is bad too. A movie that cost me too much at the cinema and I won’t ever forget it!

FAMILY FRIENDLY: She’s done voicework  for the penguin surfing animation ‘Surf’s Up’ and ‘Elf’ is a classic christmas film that could be watched over and over again where her blonde looks work in the romantic interest and co-worker element for Will Ferrell’s naive Buddy elf. It’s also an opportunity for her to demonstrate her singing talent. ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ even with it’s emotional story is a film that would be family viewing material. She’s a woman who will easily get offered for these kinds of films as she’s got a recognisable voice. 

MATURE ROLE: The film that stands out would be ‘The Happening’ which features suicide, blood and swearing. However bad the film may be it still is a thriller and would be too suspenseful for younger ones. ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ is also a more adult feature with a lengthy running time to make kids fidgety and a story that is more aimed at older eyes.

The Acting Brick Road


I have created a page that is focused on looking at movies of certain past and contemporary actors, that I have seen. I will look at their best performance, a performance of theirs that’s not so great, something they’ve done that’s family friendly and something more adult orientated to try and show how diverse the actor can be, if they haven’t done something NSFW or a kiddy sort of film then I’ll leave that out. I will also look to TV, chat shows and sketches they may have done to look outside the film world to see how they appear off the big screen and on something smaller.

It will basically let you follow follow follow follow follow the acting career of certain actors.

At the moment it’s Oscar orientated with a look see at nominated figures but once Sunday is done with the range will be opened up more!

I will be trying to keep this updated every day with a new face to add to the growing list. Go on, step away from that fallen crashed house and the withered feet of the dead witch and take a more interesting path down the acting brick road.