Against All Odds (1984)

Director: Taylor Hackford

Writer:  Eric Hughes, Daniel Mainwaring (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Alex Karras, Jane Greer, Richard Widmark

 

Plot: A gangster hires an ex-football player to find his girlfriend. When he finds her, they fall in love, and the twists start to appear.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Twisty Thriller

 

Story: Against All Odds starts as veteran American football Terry Brogan (Bridges) gets cu from his team, wanting to take legal action it is his former friend and gangster Jake Wise (Woods) that hires him to track down a woman Jessie Wyler (Ward) daughter of Terry’s former employer.

Terry ends up doing the job with both sides fighting to pay him to finds Jessie, Terry uses this as a chance for a paid vacation even after locating Jessie who he gets to spend time with and fall in love with. Soon not everything is as it seems and Terry finds himself needing to fight for his own life too.

 

Thoughts on Against All Odds

 

Characters/PerformanceTerry Brogan is a veteran American footballer, his career is about to be ended on the field due to injuries and after not saving money in his life, he finds himself with nothing. Terry finds himself needing to work for both Mrs Wyler and Jake Wise from different sides to locate Jessie but soon he finds himself in bigger trouble. Jessie is the daughter of the owner of the football team and former lover of Jake Wise, she has gone into hiding for her own reasons with Terry searching for her to hopefully return to the States. Jake is the gangster that has details on Terry which could ruin his legacy but offers him money to find Jessie for him.

Performance wise, Jeff Bridges is good as he always is through any film he steps into and shows that he was always going to be a big name, Rachel Ward is good but doesn’t reach the levels of Bridges and James Woods can always splay the creepy figure which is why we love him so.

StoryA former sports star needs money and takes a risky job for a shady figure to earn the money and not have his career exposed. This all seems like a simple enough story and one we can all follow nicely. We have twists along the way which try to put u in the wrong direction but otherwise everything is all simple enough to enjoy for an 80s style of film.

Action/Adventure/Crime/RomanceWhen we break down the genres we get plenty to go through but the reality is that because we focus on too many we don’t get a strong enough side to any of them with each part being the first part of the generic of any of them.

SettingsThe two main settings are LA which is the one we can all understand as being the glitz and glamour with the crimes taking place in while the Mexico setting shows us the calm before the storm.

Final ThoughtsThe 80s were a decade of films with unlikely heroes taking over the leading roles in action like films and this was no different, it can be enjoyed throughout the film.

 

Overall: Thriller that just says 80s all over it.   

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – G – The Great Beauty (2013) (Guest Review)

The Great Beauty (Sorrentino’s take on La Dolce Vita) is a statement on the socio-cultural state of Italy by examining the exquisiteness of its decay. When Italian author Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) turns 65 he begins to examine his nocturnal present, a lavish life consisting mainly of an extravagant, lively nightlife. Through keenly examining his present as well as his past he comes to extraordinary conclusions on Italy, beauty and himself.

 

Firstly, the film begins with quotations from Céline’s Journey to the end of the night, particularly striking was the following: “our journey is entirely, imaginary, which is its strength”. This is almost a slogan giving us more information on what’s to come. Imagination gifts us with the ability to envision anything even if we are yet to physically witness it. This capability of creating whatever circumstance we want in our mind allows us to change our lives on a micro and macro level. Sorrentino shepherds us into creating and imagining so we can be impacted by the true potency of the film.

 

Toni Servillo provides us with an urbane, suave Jep Gambardella. Another magnetic character animated via another all-star performance by Toni Servillo. Yet another loyal collaboration with Sorrentino. Jep’s dialogue is charming and comic. All the way throughout the film the dialogue seems to provide a stylish, confluent tone to the film. Although the dialogue may not be particularly realistic its fiction envelopes truths. What I also think is so wonderful about the development of the character is that the fact that he lives in Rome geographically speaking is irrelevant to him. Rather, what seems fundamental to him, is that he almost exists in Rome not as a city but as a community, a culture. This habitat gives birth to the ecosystem of disintegrating artists and wonderfully interesting characters that shape his world. An ecosystem although viewed as a bigger picture is absolutely interdependent on the individuals that it consists of. This is apparent by the emphatic use of character in this film.

 

The cinematography is Malick-esque but also has accents of Sorrentino’s role model Fellini. Sorrentino sticks to his guns not only with his long-time producers Francesca Cima and Nicola Giuliano, and main man Toni Servillo, but also with dependable cinematographer Luca Bigazzi. This allowed Sorrentino to easily place trust in the performance of all these collaborators leading to the realisation of an honest body of work. The cinematography shows this just as well as every other medium. Hardly ever staying still, the camera is constantly moving providing coverage in the most inventive of ways. The lighting is dynamic, every shot seems to ooze a musical imagery.

 

All the way throughout the film, Jep is either alone strolling the streets of Rome or with a group of the remaining curious characters. This alone conveys the apparent themes of the sacred and the profane. A part of European sociology highlighting the ideas that life consisting of unity and individualism. This seems to be something Sorrentino is hugely attentive of. No medium represents this better than the music. A mixture of operatic score and European techno music, the soundtrack narrates the story through these themes Sorrentino makes so important.

 

What’s more, the plot is a personal one with subtle emotional charge outfitted in extravagant, riotous imagery. The plot is enormously charismatic typical of the director and many other European cultural commentaries. One thing that could be wished for is a stronger narrative spine, more structure. This in my opinion would have served to provide a clearer purpose and backbone to the film.

 

The Great Beauty shows its understanding that there is a need for artistic purpose and conflict in our lives, but replies with the requirement not to get lost in oneself and to recognise the human need for collectivism. The film is at its very core a social study. Ultimately a celebration of unity and individualism and how beauty overlaps between both of them. A celebration of life. This film delivers style and substance, a true embodiment of brains and beauty.

 

 

 

Guest Authors Bio


My name is Yahia El-Tanani and I’m a 20-year-old Biomedical Sciences student at Newcastle University, England. I’m an avid artist and gym-goer. But I really enjoy the small things in life like firm handshakes, good food and hard work, and I hate (and I mean I hate) roses. More importantly than all of that is that I bleed film. Film is my passion, and I’m driven to become a positive influence and voice in the film industry. I’m exactly what it says on the tin. But enough small talk, go follow me on social media and don’t be afraid to have a chat. Why not be two complete strangers discussing our love for film?

 

Ps. Email is the quickest way to reach me J.

 

Instagram: @aka_milkyt

Snapchat: @yaya191

Email: yayaelta191@gmail.com

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – G – Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Director: James Foley

Writer: David Mamet (Screenplay) David Mamet (Play)

Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce

 

Plot: An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.


Tagline – Lie. Cheat. Steal. All In A Day’s Work.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Drama

 

Story: Glengarry Glen Ross starts as we see how a real estate office is struggling to close deals, Blake (Baldwin) is hired to put down the firm law on the employees, office manager John Williamson (Spacey) tries to be strict with his staff as we see struggling aging expert Shelley (Lemmon), upcomer Dave Moss (Harris) the hot shot Ricky Roma (Pacino) and George (Arkin) that are given one week to make as many closes as possible.

As the pressure gets to the men things only get worse when the contracts are stolen which shows the true characters in the ruthless business.

 

Thoughts on Glengarry Glen Ross

 

Characters – Ricky Roma is the best estate agent in the office, he closes the biggest deals in the office which fills him with all the confidence in the world. Shelley Levene is the eldest member of the office, he has been down on his luck recently knowing this could be his last chance to keep his job. Dave Moss is the hot-head of the office that goes against the ultimatum about the jobs and comes up with a plan to make sure he gets the best leads. George is the timid member of the office but a fantastic salesman, he gets talked into Dave’s plan. John Williamson runs the office handing out the leads while making sure the teams get good sales. Blake is the man that puts the ultimatum down on the office, he is blunt when it comes to doing the deal.

PerformancesThe cast here is filled with award winners, the highest calibre of actor in the industry at that time. Pacino, Lemmon, Baldwin, Arkin, Harris, Spacey and Pryce are all fantastic it is unfair to single anyone out for more praise than any other.

StoryThe story follows 24-hours in life at the office of a real estate agents as the are pressured into improve their sales which includes dealing with a robbery that throws everything up in the air. This is a character driven story as we see how people can react under pressure as it comes from a play and you can feel that about the story all the way through. The story doesn’t get over complicated as we see how things unfold and it shows the desperation man will go for his own greed.

Crime/MysteryThe crime that takes place is partly how the deals get done and how the contracts get stolen which leads to the mystery to just who is the person behind everything.

SettingsThe settings are kept simple, the office, the bar and a house for discussions, this keeps everything grounded through the film from start to finish.


Scene of the Movie –
Truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Blake being in more scene would have been good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fantastic assembled cast that give powerful performances that just deliver from the first frame until the final frame, simple fantastic cinema.

 

Overall: Fantastic from start to finish.

Rating