The BFG (2016)

This is a repost from last year, the BFG is now streaming on Netflix!

With highly advertised Summer films like The Secret Life of Pets out this Summer of 2016, this film has a lot to stand up to. Fortunately for the giant, he is 26 feet tall so he can stand up to audiences with confidence. Some movies like The BFG should not be over analyzed but rather surrendered to. It has been engineered to take you away as if you were in a dream. Some of the finest names in movie making, including Spielberg as director, have joined forces to do that. Set controls for the heart of childhood, The Big Friendly Giant is here to sweep you away.



Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton

Directed by

Steven Spielberg

Written by

Melissa Mathison (screenplay), Roald Dahl (based on the book by)

Other Info

Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Rated PG

There are two main characters: Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the BFG (Big Friendly Giant – voiced by Mark Rylance). Both characters don’t quite fit into their respective worlds and find a special friendship with each other. There isn’t much by way of plot but that’s not a problem. The tenderness between BFG and Sophie is so powerfully developed and delivered, they can do anything and it’s engaging. Just watch them opening “dream jars,” for example. The plot is thickest when the other, larger giants threaten to eat Sophie. When that’s not happening, Sophie and BFG spend quality  time in “Giant Land.” At some point, they solicit the aid of a “head of state,” (I’ll call her that to not spoil the surprise of who she is) and the bad giants are dealt with.

bfg1At one point, BFG tells Sophie giants have been walking about since the beginning of time. There is no growth or transformation in either character, it’s not that sort of film. We are meant to admire them like art hanging in a gallery. Along those lines, one should remember the book is by Roald Dahl, all his books are highly visual. You see a world that is a reflection upside down on a lake. You also see peoples’ dreams in little pixie sizes, squeaking. There are signature silly words here just like inWilly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In fact, when a rich human serves him toast and jam, he yells out, “Scrumtapdiliumpcious!”

The main reason The BFG is effective and entertaining because it’s simplified. This is how it should be with a Spielberg film. He’s been making movies since the 1970’s and should know by now a few things that work. He leaves the worthless stuff out. Through the 2000’s his direction was hit and miss. I recall a couple real misses as examples: Cowboys and Aliens and Super 8. I went in to both expecting the caliber of E.T. and instead got uninteresting, worthless movies. Bbfg2ut after all the modern trial and error, it’s great to see him hit the bullseye again with The BFG. I want to recognize the screenwriter Melissa Mathison as I type my review. She has been a collaborator with Spielberg on several project including ET. She passed away tragically from cancer last year. She was only 65. By way of trivia, From 1983 to 2004, Mathison was married to Harrison Ford; they had two children together.

In conclusion, this is the Summer of 2016, and as most movie viewers know there is some family film competition, including The Secret Life of Pets. While a CGI character, the BFG has a lot of personality in his face and body movements. Clearly byt looking at the actor, you can see they fashioned him after Mark Rylance. He’s well known for winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Rudolf Abel in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. The casting of Rylance in the BFG was an excellent choice. To me, he IS BFG. While it is performing slowly at the moment at the box office, I truly hope a lot of people get a chance to see this film.

Have you seen this film? Care to see it? Leave your thoughts about the film in the comments.

My review The BFG (2016) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – Podcast Review

Check out my non -podcast movie review. Only 7mins 30sec long. (I try to keep ’em short). I beg your comments if you have 1-2 minutes please. 2 way communication is my real goal here with all this.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

“A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe.” -IMDB


Chris Pratt Peter Quill
Vin Diesel Groot (voice)
Bradley Cooper Rocket (voice)
Zoe Saldana Gamora

Directed by

James Gunn

Written by

James Gunn, Nicole Perlman

Other Info

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Fri 01 Aug 2014 UTC
IMDB Rating: 8.1

My review Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – Podcast Review appeared first on Riley on Film.

Band of Robbers (2015)

This modern day telling of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer starts a little slow but once the wheels start rolling, it has an understated humor I found quite funny. It’s been compared to Wes Anderson films though Id say it’s not that dry. It’s a well developed and clever that works in an entertaining way.

Band of Robbers is a crime comedy movie written and directed by brothers Aaron and Adam Nee. In this modern-day retelling, the two iconic rascals are grown up and small-time crooks still searching for the fabled Murrell’s treasure that has eluded them since childhood. The story draws heavily from Twain’s classic novels, including characters, plot twists and even dialogue.

Though it comes off as low budget, the writing is excellent which helped me get into it. One of the coolest features was seeing modern day adaptations of Mark Twain’s characters like Becky Thatcher (a cop) and Injun Joe.

Final Thoughts
If you enjoy Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, you may really enjoy this silly film. While highly entertaining, I felt the characters were a bit too difficult to relate with. It’s probably because they took the Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer idea very seriously. For that reason, I did enjoy it but it lost some points with me. This film is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Go watch it them come back and tell me what you think. I’d love to read you take on this film.


My review Band of Robbers (2015) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Breaking Away (1979)

Grazie for this film! In a raw spirit of the late 70’s this film inspires and entertains and brings out the humanity in me. This is a “go to” film and will be until the day I die. A masterpiece you might say.

Known for An Innocent Man, Krull and Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, Peter Yates is the accomplished director who brought this vision to life. It’s college/career coming of age film with a gritty passion not seen much in the genre.

Dennis Christopher is pure oxygen as “Dave.” His plight is the plight of every young man in American between the ages of 16 and 20. I was right there with him. Hormones make you want to hump every girl you see and explore a new universe apart from what your parents have made for you at home. He’s a guy who’s ready to take on the world but the world won’t let him yet. There is a cast of thousands besides him including: Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Jackie Earle Haley Barbara Barrie, and Paul Dooley. They are ALL in top form in telling this story and MY how young the all look in 1979.

This film is the story of Dave and his friends just out of high school with nowhere to go. Their dads were “cutters” of concrete. They feel trapped in the identity. The film is about Dave finding himself. He pretends to be Italian to get girls and portray a more preferable identity. He also races a bike. Two strategic races make a metaphor for the content the film seeks to get across. Who are you when you’re young and who can you be when you choose to break away from assigned identity.

The italian classical music in this is uplifting. Dave is one of my favorite young men filled with angst in film as well as all literature. He is remarkable to watch. I feel like he is me, at that age anyway. The bike racing, the gang of guy friends stuff, the tension from his father to get out of the house, it’s all beautiful like a rainbow landing on ones face. I can’t say enough good about this film.

This film transcends time. It’s principles and contexts are so primal and universal to growing up and finding ones way in the world that it is truly timeless. I recommend to any and all, this is a remarkable “perfect” film like only a few others I have run across.


My review Breaking Away (1979) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous is now streaming on Amazon Prime. There’s a scene at the beginning of this film where the macro lens fixes on a turntable as the needle lowers on the Who’s “Tommy.” It’s so f***ing cool I want to eat pralines and cream ice cream every time I watch it. That just happens to be my favorite flavor, please imagine yours and you’ll probably get what I mean. This film is a breed apart. I can’t criticize much about it. It’s one of the great ones in my collection, what else can I say?

Director Cameron Crowe was born in 1957 and went to school in San Diego, California, USA. In the opening sequence you see the young writer William Miller (Patrick Fugit) with his mother (Frances McDormand) in 1969 walking down the streets of San Diego. That little writer is Crowe! At least, that’s what I suspect. Crowe has done so many amazing films, I’ll always see another pinnacle as the indubitable Jerry Macguire. Almost Famous is my favorite work of his to date.

Actor Patrick Fugit does a phenomenal job as an underage kid and writing prodigy basically sneaking on tour in the 70’s with a rock band, Stillwater. It’s a coming of age story about rock and roll and love on tour with a band. How f***ing cool is that? It makes me wonder what it would have been like to go on tour with REM in the 80’s. I’m 12 years younger than Crowe so my musical influences are from a bit later. That reminds me, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a thirty something music critic and his lines are the stuff of pure genius. He contends rock is dead.

The story continues to introduce Kate Hudson as a 16 year old roadie who William takes up with and falls in love. H elearns so much about rock and love from her. She is one of the best actors in the film. There is an older brother type rock hero role played by Billy Crudup. Mostly we find out the decadent stupidity of fame from what he does and says but it’s well played of course. In the end lessons are learned, hearts are broken, stomachs are pumped, and rock marches on.

My favorite scene is when the band and their entourage almost crash in their plane and the things they say thinking they are about to die are side-splitting as well as revealing.

I can’t think of a film like this because it is so thick with music and amazing actors. You really do go on tour with Stillwater. You experience it all. It’s like Pink Floyd’s the wall but with a professional dramatic screenplay of which you can discern the dialogue. I will always worship this film because it’s what I stand for: rock and roll and writing. Oh, one issue I have: too many Elton John songs: they don’t fit. One would be ok but not 4.


My review Almost Famous (2000) appeared first on Riley on Film.