ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – U – The Untouchables (1987)

Director: Brian De Palma

Writer: David Mamet (Screenplay) Oscar Fraley, Eliot Ness (Book)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia, Robert De Niro, Richard Bradford, Jack Kehoe

 

Plot: During the era of Prohibition in the United States, federal agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop ruthless Chicago gangster Al Capone, and because of rampant corruption, assembles a small, hand-picked team to help him.


Tagline – The Chicago Dream is that big 

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Crime Classic

 

Story: The Untouchables starts in the prohibition era America, Al Capone (De Niro) has risen to the top of Chicago controlling everything, even with a war between the gangs going on. Eliot Ness (Costner) a federal officer bought into try and tackle the problems.

Learning quickly, he can’t trust anyone on the force, he must make his own team with experienced beat cop Jim Malone (Connery), accountant Oscar Wallace (Smith) and straight out of the academy George Stone (Garcia) fill this roles, as the team look like they have started to put the pressure on Al Capone.

 

Thoughts on The Untouchables

 

Characters – Eliot Ness is from the Federal treasury office to try and tackle the illegal affairs involving alcohol being bought into Chicago. He puts together his own team knowing who he can trust, but he also puts his own family’s lives at risk. Jim Malone is the seasoned veteran that is still just an honest beat cop, he gets recruited to the team because Eliot sees him as one of the few he could trust on the force. He knows the ins and outs of what is going on, using his information to help with the investigation. Oscar is an accountant that joins the team, he knows the best way to get Capone would be to investigate his finances. George Stone comes straight out of the academy to join the team, they know they can trust him because he hasn’t been put in a position to become corrupted yet. Al Capone is the legendry gangster ruling over Chicago with his alcohol trafficking, he will do anything to stay on top in this business, killing anyone that gets in his way.

PerformancesWe have an amazing cast here, with Kevin Costner in the leading role shining through the film, Sean Connery taking the supporting role comes up with one of his career best performances. Andy Garcia showed everything the talent he had with his role in the film and Robert De Niro was still in the prime of his career as one of the best, if not the best gangster character actors in the industry.

StoryThe story follows the events of the prohibition era America when agent Eliot Ness attempts to take down Al Capone and his organisation. We see how the police force must overcome their own corruption to try and stay ahead of the bootleggers and how Capone will just pull the trigger on eliminating anybody that tries to stop his business. We do learn from how the four man team have all come from different backgrounds and will be risking their lives to take down Capone. This does fit into learning about the history of the events and how people will always be looking to profit from somebody else.

CrimeThe crime world we enter sees how the prohibition era America became one of the most dangerous with gangs at war trying to gain control of the situation, how the cops tried to take them down and just how far they would go to keep business booming.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago with the recreation of the 1930s looking wonderful and like we are part of each and every scene.


Scene of the Movie –
The lobby scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Crash landing is a cheesy scene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant crime classic that will still be the one getting talked about in the modern era of cinema as one of the best.

 

Overall: Must watch crime classic.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – T – Traffic (2000)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Stephen Gaghan (Screenplay) Simon Moore (Miniseries)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones

 

Plot: A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America’s escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron’s wife attempts to carry on the family business.


Tagline – It’s a dirty, dirty war! And no one comes away clean

Runtime: 2 Hours 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burning Crime Thriller

 

Story: Traffic starts by following two Mexican Cops Javier Rodriguez (Del Toro) and Manolo Sanchez (Vargas) who aren’t part of the drug trafficking side of the business, though they must turn a blind eye. America is trying to clean up the drug war by hiring judge Robert Wakefield (Douglas) to take the battle to them, while DEA agents Ray Castro (Guzman) and Montel Gordon (Cheadle) are dealing with an informant. As a drug lord is taken away his wife Helena (Zeta-Jones) must deal with the consequences of her husband’s actions.

With the four sides needing to think of their futures, Javier makes a desperate decision, Robert needing to deal with his own personal problems including his daughter crack addiction, Montel wanting to be on the front line without losing more people and Helena wanting to continue her husband’s business either after being watched by the authority.

 

Thoughts on Traffic

 

Characters – Javier Rodriguez has been working on the Mexican side of the drug battle, one of the good cops that gets pressed into making a big decision which could affect his partner and his own family. Robert Wakefield is being lined up to lead the battle on the drugs from the American side of the war, his promotion is huge for his career, but his own teenage daughter has become a drug addict spiralling out of control, leaving him in the position of needing to win the war or save his family. Montel Gordon is the DEA agent that has been on the ground trying to get to the truth about who is behind the drug deals going on. Helena is the wife of the drug lord who wants to keep the business alive even after her husband is taken to jail, knowing her kids will need the money for their own futures.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are good through the film, while most of the big character barely ever connect with each other, the separate performances from Bel Toro, Douglas, Zeta-Jones and Cheadle are all strong for the film.

StoryThe story here follows separate stories involved in the drug war going on between Mexican and American sides of war as see the people on the ground, the people in political officers and the dealer’s family. We do jump between the stories a lot which can make it hard to keep up with everything because the jump between them and lack of connection can be disconnecting for the audience. It does give us an insight to the drug war that is on going between the countries and how the people can be drawn to extremes to get their own fixes. The cops will be pushed too far without having any power when it comes to taking down the criminals without crossing the lines. With plenty of questions being asked it would have been nice to have more answered.

CrimeThe crime world we are thrown into shows us just how the criminal world of drugs operates be it with the deals, the legal system or the users and how the problem is looking to be solved.

SettingsThe film does take us to many different locations as we get to see how everything operates, we see the Mexican dealer’s life of luxury home, to the political offices taking on the war to the dens where the users get attracted too.


Scene of the Movie –
Seth is being excused today.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many stories going on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong look at the drug war, it does have too many stories going on at once which can drag you down because each character feels like they are meant to be important in their own way.

 

Overall: Over saturated movie

Rating

 

 

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Director: Drew Goddard

Writer: Drew Goddard (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Caliee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Chris Hemsworth

 

Plot: Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell.


Tagline – All Roads Lead Here

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderfully Stylish Movie

 

Story: Bad Times at the El Royale starts as a priest Daniel Flynn (Bridges), a singer Darlene Sweet (Erivo), a vacuum salesman Laramie (Hamm) and a woman on the run Emily (Johnson) all arrive at the El Royale, a hotel that sits on the state lines of California and Nevada, the manager Miles Miller (Pullman) does every job at the hotel and not everything is as it seems.

As the night unfolds the guest turn out to have their own secrets with on bringing along the psychopathic cult leader Billy Lee (Hemsworth) who only makes this worse for the guests at the El Royale.

 

Thoughts on Bad Times as the El Royale

 

Characters – Father Daniel Flynn is an ageing man whose memory just isn’t what is once was, he has selected the El Royale for his own reasons, which will become clear, he comes off like the calm presence you would imagine any priest, with a dark past. Darlene is a singer that is dreaming of her own big break, she uses the hotel as her halfway point in her latest gig, she is easily the most innocent resident at the hotel this night. Emily comes speeding into the hotel, on the run from someone, she is trying to help somebody and will do everything in her power to save them. Laramie is a vacuum salesman that has a secret, one we learn early on, he ends up being the catalyst for everything that happens at the hotel. Billy Lee joins the hotel late, he is the psychopathic leader of a cult that enjoys to torture and put people through games for his own pleasure. Rose is Emily’s sister who has been sucked into the cult, she will following Billy to the ends of the Earth for her devotion to him. Miles Miller is the hotel manager, well the only member of staff here, he has the secrets which will only make his come off shady, though he past will be the thing that sets him free.

PerformancesWe have a wonderful cast here with Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm giving us the performance we know from them, Chris Hemsworth continues to prove himself in a different genre once again. Newcomers Lewis Pullman, Cailee Spaeny and especially Cynthia Erivo who easily steals the scenes.

StoryThe story follows the group of strangers that end up at the El Royale hotel for one night, when the secrets of the characters comes out as the night unfolds which only gets placed in the middle of the battle with a cult leader who wants his members back. This story does keep you guessing and uses the different perspective of different scenes only adds to the story. We don’t seem to have a wasted moment here either which is important because the clues will be there ready for the completion of the film.

Mystery The mystery in this comes from learn each character’s motives for being in the hotel, we learn from each new revelation that, they have a different reason that will make them stronger and be able to twist what we first thought of the character’s actions.

SettingsThe film keeps nearly all the action in and around the hotel, the only time we leave is when we look at flashbacks to where the characters have come from. The hotel does have a stylish look which adds to the creepy nature of events within the hotel.


Scene of the Movie –
The roulette gang.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Could I find one? no.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful stylistic movie that has wonderful performances throughout, a story that keeps you guessing and even feels unique for a cinematic experience this year.

 

Overall: Must watch mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

Deliverance (1972)

Director: John Boorman

Writer: James Dickey (Screenplay) James Dickey (Novel)

Starring: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, Ed Ramey, Billy Redden

 

Plot: Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.


Tagline –  Four men ride a wild river. A weekend turns into a nightmare.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Thriller

 

Story: Deliverance starts when four city man Ed (Voight), Lewis (Reynolds), Bobby (Beatty) and Drew (Cox) head to the Cahulawassee river for a river-rafting trip down the river before the river is turned into a lake, Lewis leads the group being an outdoors man.

What seems like a pleasant enough trip takes a brutal turn when the locals force themselves on Bobby before Lewis kills one of them. The friends now face a race against time to make it out of the wilderness before the rest come for revenge in the deadliest chase of their lives.

 

Thoughts on Deliverance

 

Characters – Lewis is the outdoors man of the group, he is close friends with Ed and you feel like they have been on many an adventure together. He has the plans for the trip believing he doesn’t need to ask for help and when their backs are against the wall he must step up. Ed is the linchpin between the friends, the one they turn to when things are not going their way for advice and almost comfort, he does witness the attack on Bobby, left helpless to only watch. Bobby is an insurance salesman that joins the trip, he clearly isn’t used to being in the outdoors and goes through the worst ordeal of them all. Drew is the final member of the group or tries to play the morale and legal compass when things get out of hand.

PerformancesThe performances here give us four of the best actors of a generation at different stages of their careers, they are all fantastic in what they do too. Jon Voight stands above them all, but you can’t deny they shine in the moments they need too.

StoryThe story keeps things very simple, four friends go on an adventure rafting trip only for a peaceful trip to turn into a nightmare as they are attacked and hunted down by the local hillbillies. We have a moral discussion about what to do when you murder to protect yourself, seeing how difficult it can be for one man to get pushed to the limits of needing to take a life and an environmental discussion around the ideas of what would happen when rivers are being turned into lakes. This is one of those movies where the story never needs to get complicated, you truly believe the peril the characters are in too.

Adventure/ThrillerThe adventure the friends go on, takes out characters on a rafting trip, one that was meant for pure happiness and endurance, they got the endurance, but a race against time too. We are kept on the edge of our seats from the moment the attack happened, because we don’t know how many people are going to be looking to hunt them down.

SettingsThe film takes place in the wilderness of the American countryside, this is used for the beauty of the settings and the peril of the situation with the nature and the locals being the threat.


Scene of the Movie –
The clifftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel like there would be bigger scars after what happened to Bobby.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the greatest thriller to ever be made, it has four excellent performances and shows that we can have horror in moments that should be calm.

 

Overall: Brilliant from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Devil’s Path (2019)

Director: Matthew Montgomery

Writer: Matthew Montgomery, Stephen Twardokus (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Twardokus, JD Scalzo, Jon Gale, Michael Hampton, Steve Callahan

 

Plot: Two men encounter each other on a dangerous gay cruising park trail, and quickly find themselves caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Twist Filled Thriller

 

Story: Devil’s Path starts as two men Noah (Twardokus) and Patrick (Scalzo) both go to a notorious gay cruising park about to go about the business of the quickie hook up, before getting attacked by two men.

As the two men search for safety and to stay one step ahead of the attackers, the two men get to know each other, learning they are different than what they were expecting from the hook up, the dangerous game of cat and mouse only adds to the intensity of whether they can make it out alive.

 

Thoughts on Devil’s Path

 

Characters – Noah heads into this forest to search answers, he is acting like the rest of the men as he locates somebody to help him in his search, he carries tarot cards which he uses as a conversation starter, he has his reasons which will become clear after spending time with Patrick. Patrick is another man in the woods, he is looking for the quick hook up even if he does have a secret which will keep his time with Noah there for a reason. We don’t meet anyone else for more than a couple of scenes, even with the two men hunting down our couple.

PerformancesWe have two main leads in Stephen Twardokus and JD Scalzo who both give strong performances as we see how they go through the uncomfortable meet, while trying to learn the truth behind each one being in the woods.

StoryThe story follows two singletons heading into the woods in search of a quick hook up only to find themselves needing to hide from two men searching for them, only for everything to get turned on its head, when the true motivation of being in the woods comes out. This is a thriller that deals with the twist and suspense elements, it isn’t going to be as routine as two people hiding or fighting back the whole time, we get the twists which help us reach the final goal. The story does feel like it is well written with each moment having an importance to the final outcome of the film without having any pointless filler too.

ThrillerThe will keep you guessing as you are never sure what to think about either of the two men, who is holding a secret or not, which is nice to be watching things unfold.

SettingsThe film is set in the woods, it is known as a location for hook ups which is all we need to know.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Running shaky cam.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that will keep you guessing and will surprise you with how it all ends up playing out.

 

Overall: Smart thriller.

Rating