Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: Frank Pierson (Screenplay) Leslie Waller (Book)

Starring: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen, Charles Durning

 

Plot: A man robs a bank to pay for his lover’s operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.


Tagline – This movie was not dreamed up by a screenplay writer. It couldn’t have — not with all the bizarre things that actually happened that day in a real bank, with real hostages and with Sonny Wortzik – the most unreal person who ever wanted to rob a bank

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tension Biopic

 

Story: Dog Day Afternoon starts as Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (Cazale) attempt to rob a bank, they are polite with how they handle everything not wanting to hurt anybody in the process. What seemed like a simple bank robbery takes a turn when officer Moretti (Durning) calls to negotiate a peaceful outcome.

With Moretti trying to keep Sonny calm we learn just how unprepared Sonny is, as the hostage situation soon turns into a media circus spiralling out of control. We soon learn Sonny’s motivation for the robbery which gains him the support of the public leaving us to wonder how it will end.

 

Thoughts on Dog Day Afternoon

 

Characters – Sonny has planned the bank robbery, but he has only planned for the robbery not a hostage situation, he is working to stay in control as he befriends the hostages never get violent enjoying the media circus that surrounds the situation. His motivations are good and over the course of the movie we start to support his actions. Sal is the partner in the robbery, he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he is a man of few words and doesn’t seem like he is completely all there in the head. Sylvia is the head cashier, she doesn’t want to leave her girls behind becoming the voice of reason at times between the two sides.

PerformancesAl Pacino is fantastic in this role, he showed everybody just how talented he is, the career he was about to have and how he can control, dominate a 2-hour movie. John Cazale is great in the supporting role, he shows must of his feelings in expressions which is what his character requires. Penelope Allen is strong too, while only being a supporting role she is strong throughout the film.

StoryThe story starts with the robbery starting and finishes with the outcome, we have no build up no aftermath which is what we needed for the film. while I know it isn’t real time it does feel like real time as we follow the events as Sonny and Moretti try to stay one step ahead of each other. This is based on a real event which was the circus event shown in the movie, this is one of the stories that drags you in and makes you want to see where things will go.

Biopic/CrimeThis is a biopic that shows one event on Sonny’s life, this is the only part we need to see because it is the event that changes his life. The crime is a bank robbery which goes from simple to complicated for Sonny quickly.

SettingsThe whole film is set at the bank, this is the only setting we need because it shows how the situation could get out of hand because Sonny has been backed into a corner.


Scene of the Movie –
Attica, Attica.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I couldn’t find one.

Final ThoughtsThis is an acting masterclass from Pacino, this is his best performance of his career, it shows a story that was based on the real events which keep us on edge throughout the film. This is easily one of the best movies of all time.

 

Overall: Brilliant Thriller that stands the test of time.

Rating

 

 

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The Mercy (2018)

Director: James Marsh

Writer: Scott Z Burns (Screenplay)

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Colin Firth, David Thewlis, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Buchan, Anna Madeley

 

Plot: The incredible story of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst and his solo attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The struggles he confronted on the journey while his family awaited his return is one of the most enduring mysteries of recent times.


Tagline – Based on the true story.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nicely Paced, Lacks Impact

 

Story: The Mercy starts when inventor Donald Crowhurst (Firth) who has been working on boating equipment for years decides he wants to try and circumnavigate the globe alone, with no experience of sailing behind him. His wife Clare (Weisz) supports his decision believe he knows what he is getting himself into and Rodney Hallworth (Thewlis) handling the press and Mr Best (Stott) financing the trip.

While on the adventure, plans don’t go to plan and alone Donald must make a difficult decision to cut the corners to both save his life from danger and break the records set out on front of him. When his journey gets studied questions arise and soon the mystery about his pace come to light.

 

Thoughts on The Mercy

 

Characters – Donald Crowhurst has been inventing equipment for boats for years, the one things he desires more is to go around the world, which he puts into motion by building the fastest boat, but with no experience can he do the impossible? Clare is his wife back home and mother to their children, she faces the anxious wait for him to return from his journey, while dealing with the idea he might not make it back and the increased public spotlight thrown on the family because of his success. Rodney is the press officer arranging the sponsors for Donald and bring in the press to tell his story to the world, he becomes more involved the better and faster Donald does.

PerformancesColin Firth is the star of this show, he does much of the work in solo takes showing the endurance he is facing in the middle of the ocean, the moments of beauty and the moments or loneliness shine through in his expressions. Rachel Weisz is good and shines in a couple of scenes, but doesn’t show her full skills. David Thewlis is always an excellent supporting performer too.

StoryThe story follows an unlikely sailor taking on one of the riskiest and most dangerous journey a sailor can take alone. He brings hope to any sailor with the idea, but the truth will leave that hope shattered in one of the biggest mysteries in the sailing world. this is based on a real-event which is interesting to see unfold, my problem with the way the story is told, is that we don’t really know what happened and never get any real evidence either way, which by the end leaves you playing into theories over the truths.

Adventure/BiopicThe adventure plays into the idea that Donald could be going on a journey that could inspire anyone. The biopic side of the film shows how the family was dealing with the journey, but what Donald did on the boat can’t be answered.

SettingsThe film creates the time period well and the time spent on the boat feels like the adventure it was meant to be.


Scene of the Movie –
The wildlife shots.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing the truth.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting biopic that shows a mystery that was never truly solved, it is paced nicely but lack that point of solving the mystery only making suggestions.

 

Overall: Solid biopic with great performances.

Rating

 

 

Natalie Portman Weekend – Leon (1994)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Peter Appel

 

Plot: Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Assassin Film

 

Story: Leon starts as we see just how deadly of an assassin Leon (Reno) is, you know the usual easy job to show he can pull tricks to confuse the enemy. Leon lives in a small apartment in New York where he has neighbours with middle child Mathilda (Portman) feeling out of place with her abusive father and sister. When we see how her father has gotten them in trouble with Stansfield (Oldman) he murders the whole family.

Leon reluctantly welcomes Mathilda into his home but they soon make an agreement that Leon will train Mathilda to be a ‘cleaner’ just like him so she get kill Stansfield and the men that killed her family.

 

Thoughts on Leon

 

Characters – Leon is the loner assassin that is brilliant at getting the job done and spends his free time keeping his planet in the sun and watching old movies in the cinema. He has a code, no women or children which is why he takes Mathilda in so he can teach her the ways and help her get revenge on the man who killed her family. Mathilda is the 12-year-old girl that has never fitted in her family and is being abused by her family, she sees her family murdered and her only hope is Leon, she wants to be trained to be like him so she can get revenge. We get a lot of different characteristics from this character that acts a lot older than she should but it makes sense because of her childhood being ripped from her. Stansfield is the cop that killed Mathilda’s family, he is a dirty cop with a love for classical music that doesn’t care who he kills to keep his business alive.

PerformanceJean Reno is fantastic in this role, he plays a character perfectly to make us see his kindness to go against his heartless nature as a killer. Gary Oldman makes for a brilliant villain as we see just how emotionless he can be. Natalie Portman gave us her first performance here and it is one of the best child actor performances you will see which makes you understand why she has had such a long career.

StoryThe story follows the idea that a lone assassin teaming up with a young girl who has become a victim of a dirty cop as their friendship blossoms the revenge becomes personal. This is easily one of the best relationship between two people from different worlds coming together for a common goal without anything needing to get complicated.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of the film shows the world of assassins, dirty cops and innocent victims as we are left on edge waiting to see what will be happening to our characters.

SettingsNew York always makes for a wonderful setting as we get to see how the overcrowding can let hitmen get away easily.

Scene of the Movie – Mathilda’s Gift for Stansfield.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing, really.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the best movies of all times, it shows how to make a lone assassin movie can be one of the best of all time.

 

Overall: Brilliant, masterpiece movie.

Rating

 

 

Natalie Portman Weekend – Jackie (2016)

jackieDirector: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Noah Oppenheim (Screenplay)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E Grant

 

Plot: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Look Into Jackie Kennedy’s Life

 

Story: Jackie starts one week after the assassination of President John F Kennedy and Jackie (Portman) wants her husband remembered the way she wants, calling on journalist (Crudup) to write an article on what she will do next.

Jackie recounts the intimate accounts of the aftermath of the assassination as Jackie herself must come to terms with her husband’s murder while the country comes to terms with the death of their President. Jackie wants to make sure her husband gets a funeral a leader of state should receive.

 

Thoughts on Jackie

 

StoryWhen you look at American history there is two shocking assassination we have seen of Presidents and JFK was the first world saw, we have seen how people have speculated, remade the event for years to come but we have never looked at Jackie’s part during the event. This is where the story shines because unlike the nation she is experience the death of her husband who was going to make America a country that was moving onto greatness. Looking at the intimate details of what it was like for Jackie after the event was refreshing and enjoyable to see from start to finish because you fully understand every decision she made.

BiographyLooking into this tragic time for Jackie Kennedy was something we have barely seen before as most of the focus is on JFK’s death. looking at how Jackie has to deal with the tragic events is something this film gets so right we can enjoy she just how powerful she was too.

Characters/PerformanceWe have real people being portrayed once again in this film so it is hard to look past the people’s decision making process through the events. Portman is leaps and bounds above the rest of the cast shining through every single scene she is part of, it is when you look past Portman’s performance you get good performances from the rest of the cast that all do great without being considered to be on Portman’s level.

SettingsEach setting used in the film makes us feel like we are part of the chapter of the life of Jackie Kennedy after her husband assassination. We fully believe this is unfolding on front of us as the story continues.

Final ThoughtsThis is an important look at one of the most shocking moments in American history.

 

Overall: I think this will be a film many people will miss but they will miss out on something very important.

Ratingcard

 

 

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Director: Charles Laughton

Writer: James Agee (Screenplay) Davis Grubb (Novel)

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden

 

Plot: A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he’d stolen in a robbery.


Tagline – The Hands Of ROBERT MITCHUM in “The Night of the Hunter”

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic

 

Story: The Night of the Hunter starts as we meet religious con man Harry Powell (Mitchum) who meets soon to be executed prisoner Ben Harper (Graves) who has hidden $10,000 after a robbery gone bad. Harry sets out to meet the widow Willa (Winters) so he can take the money, but the only people who know where the money is are the children John and Pearl.

When Harry proves just how far he will go for the money the kids must escape him before he takes the money leaving them high and dry, the question remains, can they stay ahead of Harry.

 

Thoughts on The Night of the Hunter

 

Characters – Harry Powell is a religious conman, he moves from town to town preying on the religious beliefs while looking for rich widows he can take for everything. Harry knows how to play people into believing everything he says which is why he is successful in his actions. Willa is the latest widow Harry sets his sights on because of the money hidden by her late husband, she believes what he preaches when it comes to dealing with God and purpose in life.

PerformancesRobert Mitchum is full of the menace for this leading role, he shows how manipulative his character is with every scene he is in. Shelley Winters is good in this role while it is the child stars that shine at times in this film.

StoryThe story follows a conman on his latest attempt to make a quick buck off a struggling family. This becomes a battle for one up each other between the kids and Harry which is entertaining to see, as we learn just how determined Harry is and how the kids will not stop working together when they lose their father.

CrimeThe crime side of the story is following Harry and his actions to make sure he gets the money he desires, we see how calculated he is when looking to achieve this.

SettingsThe settings show us the simple life the family once lived, but soon the turns into a race to stay alive.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Seems to skip a few important scenes at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is considered a classic and you can see why because it does give you the idea it helped build a side genre in film, the film has unfortunately been parodied too often to keep the impact it should be making.

 

Overall: One classic that should be seen by all.

Rating