Tag Archives: michelle williams

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

The Greatest Showman is a musical drama directed by Michael Gracey in his directorial debut and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon. The film is inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum’s creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus and the lives of its star attractions.  The greatest showman is an important addition to the film industry as well as to audiences of all walks of life, as it depicts the life and horrors of the first and most popular circus in the world, at that time, which is now gone forever.

P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and his troupe perform a show at the circus (“The Greatest Show”). As the song continues, the background turns to black, with Barnum singing alone, leading to a flashback to Barnum’s childhood where he and his father Philo (Will Swenson), a tailor, work for the Hallett family, and he becomes infatuated with their daughter, Charity Hallett Barnum (Michelle Williams). Though Charity is being sent to finishing school, Barnum reassures her they will not be separated. The two keep in touch through letters until they meet again in adulthood (“A Million Dreams”), eventually marrying and raising two daughters, Caroline (Austyn Johnson) and Helen (Cameron Seely), in New York City (“A Million Dreams” reprise). They live a humble life; though Charity is happy, Barnum dreams of more.

Barnum loses his job as a clerk at a shipping company after the company goes bankrupt. Taking a risky bet, he takes out a large loan from a bank, deceiving the bank into accepting his former employer’s lost ships as collateral. He uses this loan to buy Barnum’s American Museum in downtown Manhattan, an attraction showcasing various wax models. Initially, sales are slow; on the suggestion of his children to showcase something “alive”, Barnum searches for “freaks” to serve as performers for his museum (“Come Alive”). This attracts a large audience despite protests and poor reviews, prompting Barnum to rename his venture “Barnum’s Circus”.

Searching for ways to further his reputation amongst the upper class, Barnum meets playwright Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and convinces him to join his venture (“The Other Side”). Carlyle is enchanted with Anne Wheeler (Zendaya), an African-American trapeze artist, but he hides his feelings. During a trip Carlyle arranged for Barnum and his troupe to meet Queen Victoria (Gayle Rankin), Barnum meets Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), a famed Swedish singer, whom he convinces to perform in America, with him serving as her manager. Lind’s first American performance is a rousing success (“Never Enough”). While Barnum gains favor with the aristocratic patrons, he begins to distance himself from his original troupe, refusing to socialize with them. Dejected, they decide to stand against their local harassers (“This Is Me”).

Carlyle and Anne Wheeler attend the theater together one night, only to run into Carlyle’s parents, Mr. Carlyle (Byron Jennings) and  Mrs. Carlyle  (Betsy Aidem), who insult Wheeler’s lowly status, causing her to leave. Carlyle chases her and tries to convince her that they can be together, but she rejects him despite her feelings towards him (“Rewrite the Stars”). As Barnum takes Lind on a US tour, Charity feels isolated from her husband as she stays home with their daughters (“Tightrope”). While on tour, Lind begins falling in love with Barnum, but when he refuses her advances, she calls off the tour and kisses him at the end of her last show, which is photographed by the press (“Never Enough” reprise). Barnum returns home to find his circus on fire, caused by a fight between the protesters and the troupe. Carlyle, who had tried to save Anne not knowing she had already escaped, is rescued amid the chaos by Barnum but suffers severe burns. Most of the sets and props are destroyed. Word of Lind’s cancellation and Barnum’s public intimacy also reaches New York, resulting in his mansion being foreclosed upon and Charity taking Caroline and Helen back to her parents’ home.

Depressed, Barnum retreats to a local pub, where his troupe find him there and persuade him to rebuild the circus. Barnum has an epiphany that causes him to realize the circus was for his friends and family rather than for himself (“From Now On”). Meanwhile, the injured Carlyle wakes in a hospital with Wheeler by his side as they share a kiss.

The story get better and better when Barnum moves forward with a plan to save all — along with his friends and family, they work on creating The Greatest Show.  I found the remainder of this film touching and inspiring. The music was fantastic, the acting brilliant and the story worth every second of my time watching.  Hugh Jackman is a true inspiration and a very talented performer.  The Greatest Showman did not get it’s fair due, as I felt it should have been nominated for best picture, best actor and best director as well as best song.  I love this movie and highly recommend it to all.

[The Best Showman is Oscar nominated for Best Original Song, “This Is Me”.]


ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (2017) – My rating: 7/10

All the Money in the World is a 2017 crime thriller directed by Ridley Scott and written by David Scarpa.  It is based on John Pearson’s 1995 book, Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty. The film depicts J. Paul Getty’s refusal to cooperate with the extortion demands of a group of kidnappers from the organized crime Mafia group ‘Ndrangheta, who abducted his grandson John Paul Getty III in 1973.  The story is history and the outcome is well known.  I found the film a bit drawn out but well documented.

In 1973, 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Paul), (Charlie Plummer) grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, (Christopher Plummer) the world’s richest private citizen, is kidnapped in Rome by an organized crime ring. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of $17 million. Via flashbacks, it is shown that Paul’s parents, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) and John Paul Getty Jr. (Andrew Buchan), were divorced in 1971 due to Getty Jr.’s drug addiction. Gail rejected alimony in exchange for full custody of her children in the divorce settlement. Just living off her meager salary, she doesn’t have the means to pay the ransom. She visits Getty’s estate to beseech him to pay the ransom but he refuses because he feels that paying would encourage further kidnappings on his family members. The media picks up on the story, with many believing Gail to be rich herself and blaming her for the refusal to pay the ransom. Meanwhile, Getty asks Fletcher Chace (Mark Wahlberg), a Getty Oil negotiator and former CIA operative, to investigate the case and secure Paul’s release.

In the meanwhile, Paul is kept hostage in a remote location in Italy. Initially his captors, particularly Cinquanta (Romain Duris), are tolerant with him because his quiet and submissive demeanor causes them few problems. However, things grow increasingly tense as weeks go by without the ransom being paid.  Things get worse when one of the kidnappers accidentally shows his face to Paul, prompting one of the others to kill him for his foolish mistake. His burned and disfigured body is recovered in the river.  Investigators erroneously identify the body as Paul.

After repeated negotiations with Gail and Chace, and frustration from the captors at how long the process was taking, they lower the asking price to $4 million. Getty finally decides to contribute to the ransom, but only $1 million (the maximum amount he can claim as tax deductible). Additionally, he will only contribute if Gail signs a legal document waiving her parental access rights to Paul and her other children, giving them to Getty’s son.

The kidnappers cut off one of Paul’s ears and mail it to a major newspaper, claiming that they will continue mutilating him until the ransom is paid. Berated by an exasperated Chace, Getty finally relents and agrees to pay the full ransom, also voiding the parental agreement with Gail.

You might think this is the end of the saga, but it isn’t.  What happens next is both exciting and unexpected.  Also, the film explains what happens to John Paul Getty (the grandfather), his money and his grandson.  You will also learn what’s is store for the kidnappers and John Paul Getty, III’s mother and siblings.  In my opinion, “All the Money in the World” is a descent movie, which you can probably catch on DVD by now.  I urge you to check it out!

[All the money in the World has Oscar nominated Christopher Plummer for Best Actor]

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016) – My rating: 8/10

manchesterbytheseaManchester by the Sea is an intense movie but not for some time. You will sit though some pretty boring dialogue before you get to the real gist of what’s going on. I kept wondering, why all the rave reviews? Eventually, there came a time in the story when the events changed and as a result, everything else was effected, including my thoughts about how mundane I thought Manchester by the Sea was.  It turned out to be a monster of a movie with brilliant acting, just don’t expect more than a good, sad story.

From the onset of Manchester by the Sea, you see Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), who seems to have an extremely lax attitude, working as a super or janitor with no satisfaction as he idly moves from task to task.  He seems robotic, unambitious, uncaring and unmotivated as if life has little meaning.  Suddenly, he gets a phone call that requires him to go back to his original home in  Manchester where his brother, Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler) has just passed away, unexpectedly.  Once there, we get the true story of Lee’s current situation.  His late brother has a 16 year old son, Patrick Chandler (Lucas Hedges)  who is still in high school and is now in need of a guardian.  Lee struggles with having to take on the responsibility of guardianship.  The reasons for Lee’s behavior and lackluster existence is the heart of the story, Manchester by the Sea. We find that Lee had real roots in Manchester that he could never go back to.  In order not to spoil the surprises, twist and turns in this story, I will say no more.

I find Manchester by the Sea to be a very sad story but one that is profound, touching and heartfelt.  It is definitely worth seeing.  Casey Affleck was brilliant as Lee Chandler.  Michelle Williams also delivers a fantastic performance as Randi Chandler.  Check it out!

[Manchester by the Sea is nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor,  Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Writing: Original Screenplay]