John Leguizamo Weekend – The Infiltrator (2016)

infiDirector: Brad Furman

Writer: Ellen Sue Brown (Screenplay) Robert Mazur (Book)

Starring: Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, Daniel Mays, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs, Michael Pare,

 

Plot: A U.S. Customs official uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Crime Drama

 

Story: The Infiltrator starts as we meet Robert Mazur (Cranston) who has been working as an undercover US Custom officer who has just taken down a drug ring which for the time offers him a chance to walk away from field work. When one of Robert’s co-workers Emir Abreu (Leguizamo) comes to him with information of a Colombian drug lord Robert must decide whether to follow the lead.

Robert takes the job where he must go undercover as a banker for the Colombian drug lord where he must work with Abreu who he sees as a loose cannon to take down Pablo Escobar. The further Robert goes undercover the deeper he finds himself wondering just how far he will get pushed by the drug lords.

The Infiltrator gives us what seems to be just another look at a brave man who goes undercover to bring down a crime lord. We do have heavyweight performance from Cranston yet again that could easily get Oscar attention. I also think we get a great supporting performance from Leguizamo. The film gives us plenty of focus on the effects of going undercover on the personal life as well as the professional side of everything but it does sadly feel like just another story we have seen similar before.

 

Overall: Great performances to a crime story it feels we have seen before.

Rating70

 

 

Frost/Nixon (2008)

frostnixonDirector: Ron Howard

Writer: Peter Morgan (Screenplay) Peter Morgan (Play)

Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones

 

Plot: A dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Compelling and Fascinating Drama

 

Story: Frost/Nixon starts going through the historical events behind Richard Nixon’s resignation after Watergate. With his resignation, British journalist David Frost (Sheen) sees it as a chance for a rating winning interview by hosting an interview with Richard Nixon (Langella). We follow how Frost turns to John Birt (Macfadyen) to secure the interview with Nixon letting Swifty Lazar (Jones) handling it from his end.

Frost must find a way to get funding and the interview put on air with James Reston Jr (Rockwell) and Bob Zelnick (Platt) joining his team to make this happen as we see how this side understands just how important this interview could be for America.

We follow the lead up to the series of interviews that have been pre-agreed subjects with only one of the four being open to the Watergate incident, this becomes a battle between the two men to get the first punches in seeing how each other will react to either question or answer.

 

Thoughts on Frost/Nixon

 

Characters/PerformanceLooking at the characters in this story they are all based on real people with former President Nixon and David Frost being the ones we get to connect with most, the background staff on each side have different opinions on how the interviews and research goes is show brilliantly.

Performance wise Langella and Sheen give arguable two of the best in leading performances of any pairing of modern cinema, they carry this film with their compelling performances. When you dive into the supporting cast Rockwell, Bacon, Platt, Macfadyen or Hall they are all great too not overshadowing the lead pairing.stars

StoryConsidering this story we must look at the deeper story before the events of the film, you do need to understand the basics of the Watergate incident to understand just how important this interview actually was. The build-up itself to the interview shows how much is at risk and seeing how both sides tried to keep one step ahead of the other is captivating throughout.

Biography/HistoricalLooking at this pivotal moment in both Richard Nixon and David Frost’s lives is what makes this hit on every level because one risked everything to make the truth came out while the other risks everything to be put back in the positive light of the country.

SettingsEach setting used through the film make us feel like we are part of the theatre experiences which is how this story first got told, we do get to see how the time in question would have looked in each and every scene.genre

Final ThoughtsLooking at history this event is one of the most impactful moments in American history and this shows just how it was finally exposed.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for all the film fans out there.

Rating

 rating

 

Neruda (2016)

NERUDA is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital from 10th July.

Director: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Guillermo Calderon (Screenplay)

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Mercedes Moran, Emilio Gutierrez Caba, Diego Munoz

 

Plot: An inspector hunts down Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, who becomes a fugitive in his home country in the late 1940s for joining the Communist Party.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Edge of your Seat Historical Thriller

 

Story: Neruda starts in the years following World War II, Senator Pablo Neruda (Gnecco) and Nobel Prize-Winning poet going against the President of Chile, he gets called a communist and must face jail or life on the run. Pablo choices to go on the run while still fighting for his beliefs with Inspector Oscar Peluchonneau (Bernal) assigned to ruin him.

We see how Neruda used his abilities as a poet to stay one step ahead of the police with people happy to open their door to a man they considered a great man, with this Inspector Oscar learns how Neruda can be staying in hiding and learning to follow the clues about this man wondering if he is as much of a criminal as the President makes him out to be.

 

Thoughts on Neruda

 

Characters/PerformancePablo Neruda is a brilliant poet, famous throughout Chile, he was a senator but must give up his limelight life once he is accused of being a communist but he remains on the run with the connection that still respect him for his work. Oscar Peluchonneau is the man that is tracking Neruda, handpicked by the President as he stays calm during his pursuit as he learns more about the man he is tracking.

Performance wise, Gael Garcia Bernal is good through the film as the inspector tracking down Neruda. Luis Gnecco is the star of this film effortless stepping into the shoes of the poet.

StoryThe story of the cat and mouse between Neruda and Oscar is an interesting watch, because we do learn about the man hunt for an accused communist who was respected by too many people to be turned on by them all. We see both sides of the hunt too, if you hadn’t heard of this poet and his battle to stay free, then you will get to see how he achieved this now.

Biography/CrimeLooking into the life of Pablo Neruda is an interesting view point because now we can see how this man was considered a criminal having to live a life on the run when he didn’t commit any crimes.

SettingsThe settings show us how Neruda could stay hidden for so long and how he kept his reputation through this time.

Final ThoughtsFor all the history fans out there, this is a film you will be enjoying learning about a nationwide man hunt that is well known through Chile.

 

Overall: This is an interesting historical drama learning about a great poet that escaped the country.

Rating

 

 

The Lost City of Z (2016)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray (Screenplay) David Grann (Book)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid

 

Plot: A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow but Interesting Historical Drama

 

Story: The Lost City of Z starts as Colonel Major Percy Fawcett (Hunnam) is assigned to leave his family, wife Nina (Miller) and young child Jack to go to Bolivia to help map the land. Joined on the mission by drunk expert Henry Costin (Pattinson) but the land isn’t what they thought as they learn the inhabitants are not interested in having the white man on their land.

Braving it through the jungle Percy returns to England a national hero. Telling his stories Percy gets pushed into returning with other explorers to discover what is in the depths of Amazonia. Not making it back to his lost city Percy returns only to find World War I has broken out halting any future missions to search until the war is over, Percy dreams of being able to return to the Lost City of Z but can he make it and keep the loved ones happy.

 

 

Thoughts on The Lost City of Z

 

Characters/PerformancePercy Fawcett is a respected soldier, one of the highest ranked, he is pushed into mapping Bolivia for England where he leaves his family for years on end only return before heading back to Bolivia. He becomes one of the great explorers of the time but his balance on discovery and family is truly tested. Henry Costin becomes Percy’s trusted second on all his expeditions, he might have a slight drinking problem but he will always fight by his side and discover by his side. Nina is the wife of Percy who must spend most of the time raising the children while her husband is away, she does wish to join him with the family but understands the risk it wold have on the children. Jack is the eldest son that grows up while his father is away, he is the first to stand up against everything his father does but also believing he deserves more than he gets from the government.

Performance wise, Charlie Hunnam gives what I think is the best performance of his career here with Pattinson continuing to show he is capable away from the Twilight disaster for him. Miller is good in the supporting role which is a slightly stronger female character than normal and Tom Holland does well in his supporting role.

StoryThe story follows Percy Fawcett’s expeditions to Bolivia, how not every mission went well, but most importantly how he just wanted to learn. We do see the struggle to balance personal life and his exploring life as well as getting the respect of the British Government when it comes to the missions. This is a very interesting look into this explorer and his life’s work.

Action/Adventure/Biography/History – The action side of this film is mostly the battle sequences we are not used often which is good, the adventure shows just what a new discovery could feel like for these explorers. The biography and history is looking at of the explorer between 1900 and 1930 with what they learnt along their travels.

SettingsEach setting used shows us the different adventure and the difficult time it would have to be to find that one location in a previously unmapped location, we have beauty spots, but also the conflict of war.

EffectsThe effects used are mostly in the conflict scenes and are few and far between, but the ones used are all good when used.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the underrated movies of the year, it does tell an interesting story and one that could be enjoyed by all that watch.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but underrated movie.

Rating

 

 

Chariots of Fire (1981)

chaiotsDirector: Hugh Hudson

Writer: Colin Welland (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Daniel Gerroll, Ian Holm

 

Plot: Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dated Sports Biopic

 

Story: Chariots of Fire starts in 1919 Cambridge University as we follow Harold Abrahams (Cross), and Aubrey Montague (Farrell) in the elite university of England. Here we get to see how fast the Jewish Harold is, also in Scotland we get to see Eric Liddell (Charleson) a rugby player turned runner that is also in the elite of the racing speed but he is a devote Christian who doesn’t believe in playing sports on a Sunday.

What follows is seeing the paths both Eric and Harold take to become the best in the nation as they become favourites for the British team heading into the Olympics. The two become rivals but their own personal beliefs could become a barrier in going for the gold medal.

 

Thoughts on Chariots of Fire

 

Characters/PerformanceHaving the characters based on the real people makes it difficult to say anything bad about them, we have two men who have been forced to put aside their difference in religious beliefs to make an impact on the sport they love taking part in. this is a story of success which is easy to enjoy for all that are involved.

Performance wise everything is good without being anything truly special by anyone involved through the film.stars

StoryThis is a story about how two men put aside their difference to make their way to the top of the sport of athletes, it is easy to follow but does come off slightly too posh in places when you look at how the British come off.

Biography/SportsLooking into the way we follow the two men’s journey to the Olympics we get to see how the races unfold which is all good but I would say this is one of the more average biopics that I have seen.

SettingsThe settings show us the upper classes going into the sport of running, which is all good with the races at the Olympics coming off great for settings.genre

Final ThoughtsMy final thoughts are that this is slightly too British showing you had to come from money to achieve in sports at this time, I also don’t feel the film does enough to show us all of the characters involved.

 

Overall: Nice but no cigar especially when we prefer the struggle to make it and become the story of success, rather than the winner.

Ratingrating