ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – O – O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Screenplay) Homer (Poem)

Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Chris Thomas King, Charles Durning

 

Plot: In the deep south during the 1930s, three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them.


Tagline – Sometimes, you have to lose your way to get back home

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wacky Comedy

 

Story: O Brother, Where Art Thou? Starts when three prisoners Everett (Clooney), Pete (Turturro) and Delmar (Nelson) escape from prison, going on a race across country in search of a treasure before it goes for good.

Along the way the three must figure out how to stay ahead of the law which puts them in a series of comical events along the way until they run into a salesman Big Dan Teague (Goodman) who is puts them against their match.

 

Thoughts on O Brother, Where Art Thou?

 

Characters – Everett is the brains of the three, he isn’t the strongest with this either, he tries to keep the guys together as they need to stay away from the law, he pushes them to take risks along the way too. Pete is the other fellow escapee that wants to be in charge, he will follow Everett as long as he can follow his dreams to get to the money. Delmar is the dumbest member of the group he makes all the mistakes along the way putting the friends in a bigger problem in search for the money. Big Dan is one of the many characters they meet along the way, one that makes a big impact on the adventure.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is good in the leading role, going against the typecast of a pretty guy which he has been making a reputation for himself, John Turturro showed us once again that he can make any role work well, with Tim Blake Nelson getting the best lines which shows he can hang with the biggest names in Hollywood. The rest of the cast do bring us plenty of the laughs with the extremes of the characters.

StoryThe story follows three criminals in search of treasure and their hapless journey across country to locate it. They meet a string of colourfully people along the way, some who help and others than hinder.  This does follow the trends of comedy films which leaves our character into a mixed of events to make a simple journey never going the way they are planning them to. We do get a few twists along the way which change our opinions on the characters too.

Adventure/Crime/ComedyThe adventure takes our three convicts across country meeting the colourful characters along the way, this shows us the criminal world they are from and dealing with the people from, we also get the comedy involved in the film from just what happens along the way.

SettingsThe settings take us across a string of different Southern America towns which plays into he backward way of thinking the people in the area would have.


Scene of the Movie –
The KKK rescue.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t see enough of the lawman after them.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wacky crime comedy that will see people in the audience laugh at times, it will however turn people in the audience off too.

 

Overall: Crime comedy with enough laughs along the way.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – N – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

This is under N because of the writer Nicole Holofcener.

 

Director: Marielle Heller

Writer: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty (Screenplay)

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone, Gregory Korostishevsky, Jane Curtain

 

Plot: When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliantly Acted

 

Story: Can You Ever Forgive Me? Starts in 1991 when struggling author Lee Israel (McCarthy) finds herself out of a job and money is making her life difficult. Lee turns to drink where she meets Jack Hock (Grant) a fellow struggling writer as the two drink their problems away.

Lee discovers a personalised letter in one of her books and learn of the money it is worth, she starts to write her own letters claiming they are from the real authors and making plenty of money out of this plan, until the letters start getting questioned.

 

Thoughts on Can You Ever Forgive Me

 

Characters – Lee Israel is a middle-aged author that has been struggling for inspiration for a couple of years, with her latest books struggling to sell, she lives with her aging cat in a small apartment, turning to drink whenever times get hard. Jack Hock is an alcoholic con artist that turns into a drinking buddy for Lee, he pushes her to take more risks, while continuing his own reckless behaviour. Anna and Alan are two of the many dealers that are put in a position of becoming conned by Lee’s letters.

PerformancesMelissa McCarthy is an actress that goes to weak comedy films too often, this is a change for her in a serious role, we get to see that this actress has talent and this could be a career best. Richard E Grant shines in the supporting role giving one of the best supporting performances of the year. The supporting cast are great through the film where they don’t get as much screen time.

StoryThe story here follows the fraud that Lee Israel created with fake letters and stolen letters from famous authors, selling them to cover her own failures in life. We only focus on the time which caused her to start doing this action, until the moment she gets caught and the consequences of her actions. This does show us how desperate people can become when the reach the end of their means, how naïve the people who buy could be for buying letters just because people say they are real and just how important friends will be in your later years. This does play out in the way you would imagine which keeps it feeling realistic for everything that is going on with the criminal events.

Biopic/Comedy/CrimeThe biopic side of the film shows us just the scandal side of Lee Israel’s action which is all we need to see from her story, it does have moments of comedy which will make us chuckle without being a full blown comedy, it never needed to be this. The crime side of the film is the actions Lee was committing for money

SettingsThe film is set in New York which would be a prime location for authors from around the world would be located in the early 90s.


Scene of the Movie –
Courtroom.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While we do only focus on a small part of Lee’s life, it might have been nice to get a glimpse in the first 40 odd years to see where things might have gone wrong.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliantly acted movie that shows McCarthy is one of the strongest actresses in the business, it shows a true crime story and makes us want to see how far she gets.

 

Overall: Wonderfully acted and engaging story.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – K – BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Director: Spike Lee

Writer: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (Screenplay) Ron Stallworth (Book)

Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace

 

Plot: Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events.


Tagline – Based on a true story

Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliantly Entertaining

 

Story: BlacKkKlansman starts when Ron Stallworth (Washington) becomes the first black police officers in Colorado Springs, he starts in the record room before pushing for undercover work, which soon leads him to try and go undercover within the Ku Klux Klan, the problem is that he is black, meaning he needs to get a white cop to be him, Flip Zimmerman (Driver) steps into this position.

As the undercover job gets deeper into the Klan, Flip gets to communicate with David Duke (Grace), while Ron starts to date Patrice (Harrier) who is a major player in the Kwame Ture (Hawkins) movement.

 

Thoughts on BlacKkKlansman

 

Characters – Ron Stallworth was the first black police officer in the Colorado Springs department, he gets a plain records room job to start with before wanting to make an impact by going undercover, first within a black student union movement, before finding a way to get involved within the Ku Klux Klan, he uses he words to trick them into believing he is white, white using his partner to go along with the meetings. He wants to make a difference and sees his work as his best chance too. Flip Zimmerman is the detective that works with Ron on the undercover job, he becomes Ron when it comes to the meetings with the klan. Patrice is a woman that Ron meets in the black student union, one that do let Ron in believing him to be part of the movement. David Duke is the leader of the KKK, he is being challenged for leadership, while still be worshipped for his work in the movement

PerformancesJohn David Washington is brilliant in this leading role, showing his strength of his character while making his character feel cool in the what he is doing. Adam Driver shows us once again how talented of an actor he really is by stepping into this role and making it work with ease. Laura Harrier is everything we needed in her role, though we could have had a few more scenes with her in. Topher Grace is a strange choice on paper for David Duke, though he does work out to be a great choice for the role.

StoryThe story here follows a black cop going undercover within the Ku Klux Klan, well doing the talking on the phone before his white partner becomes the member using his name. This does show a law man being put in the middle of the two movements with the black student union group clashing with the KKK and just how he works within both sides to learn if they are going to be a threat to civilians, let alone each other. The story is based on the real man involved, which does put a slightly comical spin on how the action of the KKK plays out which does lighten the mood for a serious situation, which again works for the story which can be enjoyed by all with becoming too serious.

Biopic/CrimeThe biopic side of this film does show on Ron managed to trick the KKK into believing he was a white man that could join them even though he was a black undercover cop. The crime side of the film shows three main groups of people we have the KKK, we have the black student union and we have the police who were all causing problems on different scales during the time.

SettingsThe film keeps the action of the film in the correct looking location which helps with the realism of what we are seeing in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The photograph.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The propaganda in the final shots

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun story that brings a serious issue to the front and centre, it is wonderfully acted, but never preaches the problems like it could have easily done.

 

Overall: Important but laid back biopic.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – J – Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Director: Barry Jenkins

Writer: Barry Jenkins (Screenplay) James Baldwin (Novel)

Starring: Kiki Layne, Stephen James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach

 

Plot: A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.


Tagline – Trust Love All the Way

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant, Emotional and Memorable

 

Story: If Beale Street Could Talk starts as Tish Rivers (Layne) is just breaking the news to her love Alonzo ‘Fonny’ Hunt (James) about her pregnancy, the problem is that he is in jail. Sharon (King) is ready to support her daughter, while Joseph (Domingo) only worry is about his daughters age.

Tish wants to bring the baby into the world, first they must get him out of jail with his case being one that will only see the black community looking guilty off. We get to see how the case unfolds and how the two lovers feel in love through their lives.

 

Thoughts on If Beale Street Could Talk

 

Characters – Tish is the young woman whose life is about to change forever, she falls in love and becomes pregnant, she is about to embrace the next chapter of her life, only her partner is put in jail. She must find a way to get him out of jail ready to be the father the baby will require. She might not be the smartest or most skilled person, though she is filled with all the love required to be a mother. Fonny is the man in jail on a rape charge, he isn’t coping well in jail as we see just how friendly, genuine and hard working he is trying to become in life. Sharon is Tish’s mother, who will do anything to make sure her daughter and Fonny are together to raise their child, showing the most support of either sides family. We get to meet the people who are big parts of both Tish and Fonny’s life both before and after the incident to see their reactions to everything that does one.

PerformancesKiki Layne is fantastic in the leading role showing the innocence of the change in her life, the love her character is feeling and the uncertainty of her own future. Stephen James is wonderful to in this role of the wrongfully accused man. Regina King gets the most difficult scenes which will see her in search for the truth which will explain why she is the Oscar nominated star of this movie. The rest of the cast complete this movie wonderfully well bring their strength to each scene they are in.

StoryThe story here follows the pregnancy of a young woman in Harlem, while the father is falsely imprisoned waiting for a trial. We get to flashback to how they first met, fell in love and how they are continuing to support each other through the current situation. We do have to face the idea that we need to learn what really happened with the crime, who it was that committed the crime and why Fonny was the one expected to take the fall. The pacing of the story flows by as we do get to see just how difficult the lives of the people involved would have been. It is the subtle look at how the racist nature was still around, but how the families would continue to give themselves their best life.

Crime/RomanceThe crime idea of the film deals with how people would have been just framed for a crime. The romance is the most important part and the strongest part of the film as we see how the two lovers would have done everything to be together.

SettingsThe film shows us just how the black community would be together in locations around America, they became closer and stuck together when they see how they are treated from outsiders.


Scene of the Movie –
The tension of the police meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough focus on the criminal case.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful story of love, commitment and the difficult times faced back the black community in America.

 

Overall: Beautiful movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – I – In the Line of Fire (1993)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Writer: Jeff Maguire (Screenplay)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, Fred Dalton Thompson, John Mahoney

 

Plot: Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan couldn’t save Kennedy, but he’s determined not to let a clever assassin take out this president.


Tagline – An assassin on the loose. A president in danger. Only one man stands between them…

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliantly Tense

 

Story: In the Line of Fire starts as we meet seasoned veteran of the secret service Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) who wants to get back in the field, granted he returns to protecting the President after getting a mysterious phone call from Mitch Leary (Malkovich) who is threatening to murder the President.

As Frank tries to stay ahead of Mitch, the game of cat-n-mouse starts to catch up with him, as Frank starts to see his career fall apart on political grounds and Mitch now has Frank exactly where he needs him.

 

Thoughts on In the Line of Fire

 

Characters – Frank Horrigan once worked on President Kennedy’s detail, now older he is reaching the age where his secret service work is usually behind the desk or in the field, not around the President, after receiving a threat towards the President he positions himself on the detail again, which puts his experience on the line to protect the president. Mitch Leary is the psychotic man who is threatening the President, he wants to play games with Frank as his master of disguise helps him blend into a crowd. He always believes he is ahead of the game with his planned calculated with each movement. Lilly Raines is the new agent that must work with Frank, she is mostly the question about female agents through the eyes of an older member of the community. Al is the current partner of Frank who has been struggling with the reckless behaviour he has been working with.

PerformancesClint Eastwood in the leading role is great because he is the perfect age for this movie which makes us understand that he is good man still trying his best for the President. John Malkovich is stunning as the villain as we believe each word and action his commits to this role, being haunting and calculated throughout. Rene Russo offers us the young agent role, she does well with what she has to do without taking from the spotlight shone upon the lead two. The rest of the cast are good and know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

StoryThe story here follows the aging Secret Service agent that is caught up in a cat-n-mouse assassination attempt from an anonymous criminal. The story gives Frank a backstory of regret as he was one the President Kennedy service team and he will forever deal with the pain that he couldn’t save him, this adds determination to his character and it also gives Mitch a motive to beat the man who would ne known to have failed twice. This story shows us how to make cat-n-mouse style story where the villain will do anything and will spend time mocking the hero when he fails to capture him. We do get a heavily influenced America is great theme though which in places can be annoying to see. The pacing and use of foreshadowing works well in the film too showing us just what we are waiting to see where things go.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is mixed because most of the scenes involves an aging actor that is meant to not be able to handle the physicality of the job anymore. The crime side of the film is where we get the most interesting side of everything which shows us just how far one man is willing to go to put his name in lights by killing the President.

SettingsThe film uses the settings show to us how compact any situation where the President would be attending can become with threats from nearly every corner.


Scene of the Movie –
The rooftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too patriotic like no one else could have helped.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great crime thriller that shows us just how deadly a villain can be when they are completely set on completing a mission, we have two brilliant performances from Eastwood and Malkovich that will keep you on edge throughout.

 

Overall: Must watch crime thriller.

Rating