ABC Film Challenge – Crime – L – Live by Night (2016)

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck (Screenplay) Dennis Lehane (Novel)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Remo Girone, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Chris Messina

 

Plot: A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.


Tagline – The American Dream has a price

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long & Complex

 

Story: Live by Night starts as we meet Joe Coughlin (Affleck) a former soldier in World War I, who returned to Boston to live the life of crime as an outlaw. When Joe gets blackmailed into killing his boss or risk having his boss learn about his secret affair with his girlfriend Emma (Miller) he finds himself in the middle of a battle he didn’t want a part of.

After the secret is revelled Joe is left for dead blamed for killing cops, after 3 years in jail he gets sent to Florida to track down Albert White, to stop his business and kill him for the new gangster running things in Boston.

With his being a success Joe ends up clashing with the Klux Klan while trying to continue to watch the money roll in to his bosses and even himself.

 

Thoughts on Live by Night

 

Characters – Joe Coughlin is our narrator our gangster, well reluctant gangster, forced into the world after his life as an outlaw gets him mixed up with the wrong people. We learn he is fantastic at handling himself in the meeting striking a deal and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The other characters seem to just be in chapters of his life, Emma is in Boston being a love interest, while Graciela business partner and lover in Florida. Chief Figgis is the man that will let Joe conduct business and to be honest we don’t get to learn enough about them to care about.

PerformancesBen Affleck is the only lead performer in this movie, he is fine through the film, he doesn’t reach the levels we know he can. When you dive into the supporting cast we get a host of known names and even unknowns who get the same amount of time that are solid without anyone standing out.

StoryThe story follows Joe Coughlin as he starts out as a thief and becomes a gangster, this should work and I would have been fine with this, the problems build up as we see how many different situations Joe must solve to get the next chapter of the story through, because we don’t get enough time to see the problems he must overcome and everything just becomes glimpses into the gangster life without doing anything new.

Action/CrimeWe have plenty of shooting going on, though the final one does feel like a level of Grand Theft Auto. This does from us into a gangster heavy crime world where the prohibition is ongoing through America.

SettingsThe settings place us in the prohibition era America, be it Boston or Florida nothing does seem out of place with these locations.


Scene of the Movie –
Final shoot-out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not giving us the time to know the supporting characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a messy gangster film, it has the moments of potential but in the end just jumps too fast to grab us to care about certain moments which do seem to have a bigger impact on the story.

 

Overall: Disappointing, ending Affleck’s streak behind the camera.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – L – Leviathan (2014)

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Writer: Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin (Screenplay)

Starring: Aleksey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Roman Madyanov, Anna Ukolova, Aleksey Rozin

 

Plot: In a Russian coastal town, Kolya is forced to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house will be demolished. He recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man’s arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Moving Drama

 

Story: Leviathan starts as hard working engineer Nikolay (Serebryakov) is facing the loss of his home and livelihood at the hands of the corrupt mayor, calling on lawyer Dmitriy (Vdovichenkov) to fight the law, he takes his first steps down the road to get what is his.

As the fight between the two parties continues, Dmitriy brings new information to the table, while Nikolay learns that his family isn’t as perfect as he once thought.

 

Thoughts on Leviathan

 

Characters – Nikolay is the hard-working man, he has earnt everything he has, his home, his workshop and his family, but now he must go against the town to keep what is his after they try to take it from him. Lilya is Nikolay’s wife, she is backing the decision against the town even if she has the one with a secret which could tear the family apart. Dmitriy is the big city lawyer that comes to take Nikolay’s case, he knows how to stay on step ahead of the mayor and will push back when needed.

PerformancesThe performances from the whole cast are great through the film, they commit to their roles with many of the drinking scenes including real drinking and reaction.

StoryThe story here stars by focusing on the idea of a singular town’s person fighting against the mayor to keep his home, but soon turns into a personal drama about his own battle to keep his family together through the struggles. The story does give us a good sense of community with how everything unfolds which makes us believe we are watching where the characters are going through life. The pacing of the story might however put people off as it moves at a slow pace.

CrimeThe crime side of the film deals with how the town want to just take a man’s home without him being able to fight them off, this does help show the descent the family will be going in.

SettingsThe film is set in a solo town which shows how united the characters can be during everything that happens.


Scene of the Movie –
The moment Roma gets along is beautiful shot.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing isn’t for me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good drama that does have a few pacing issues, it deals with very real issues and leaves us feeling the way you are meant to by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Powerful drama

Rating

 

 

Looking Glass (2019)

Director: Tim Hunter

Writer: Jerry Rapp (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas, Ernie Lively, Jacque Gray, Kassia Conway

 

Plot: A couple buy a desert motel where they find that strange, mysterious events occur.


Tagline – Seeing is deceiving.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Anti-Climatic

 

Story: Looking Glass starts when Ray (Cage) and Maggie (Tunney) take over a small motel to help then get over their own loss. With Ray working on the renovations of the motel, they have a soft opening, which sees them attract their first guests.

When Ray discovers secret corridors with windows into each room, which he becomes interested in watching through, then the mysterious events start happening, starting with a pig dumped in the swimming pool.

 

Thoughts on Looking Glass

 

Characters – Ray has just purchased the motel to try and start over with his wife, he is a handy man by trade, using his time to fix up the motel. He learns about secret windows watching through them, he sees strange events happening and wants to get to the bottom of the events going on around his motel. Maggie is the wife of Ray, she is happy to move away from their past, but struggles to trust Ray after his own past. Howard is the local sheriff that keeps visiting searching for the former owner, he is overly friendly too often for the couple. Tommy is a regular that uses the motel for his liaisons while on the road.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is having one of his weaker performances here, he just doesn’t make his character feel like it is one of the own Cage like ones. Robin Tunney does a solid job in the supporting role, as does Marc Blucas and Ernie Lively.

StoryThe story follows a couple that take over a motel only to start dealing with strange events surrounding something that happened before they got there. The story starts off feeling like a mystery about what once happened here which is interesting enough right, well it soon takes a turn down a path where seemingly nothing actually happens here, a woman goes missing, Ray becomes a peeping Tom and a nosey cop gets too involved with the motel, this story seems like a bad soap opera episode because it seems like we get a starting thread of a story only for it to go no where. We seem to just end the story without any real twists or investigations going on, it just felt like a bunch of random stuff happening.

MysteryThe mystery is presented, only we don’t spend any time watching what happens which only ends up leading us rather flat about what we have just watched.

SettingsThe film is mostly set at the motel which shows how you will never know what could happen in a motel.


Scene of the Movie –
The meeting in the desert.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Did you do it, did I do what? This scene lasts an awkward two minutes, it felt like a lifetime.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that ended up going in no particular direction and ends up feeling like just a bunch of stuff happens, instead of a storyline.

 

Overall: Messy, directionless and empty.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – L – Life (2015)

Director: Anton Corbijn

Writer: Luke Davies (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Peter Lucas, Lauren Gallagher, Alessandra Mastronardi, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley

 

Plot: A photographer for Life Magazine is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Look at the Hollywood Life

 

Story: Life starts as Dennis Stock (Pattinson) enters a party where fresh face actor James Dean (DeHaan) is away from the crowd which grabs the attention of Dennis who believes he can make James a star with a report in Life Magazine.

As Dennis looks to learn more about James he starts to put his career on the line as his boss John Morris (Edgerton) calls off the job unless James starts playing along because his attitude shows him distant from the rest of the Hollywood community as he is waiting to hear if he can get the role in Rebel Without a Cause. The two become friends and Dennis gets to look behind the curtain of the life of James Dean before he became the big star.

 

Thoughts on Life

 

Characters – James Dean is one of the most iconic actors of all time, taken too soon but seeing this we learn about the time before East of Eden was released as we focus on whether the film would make him the star, he comes off very isolated and not ready for the spotlight. Dennis is a young photographer looking to make a name for himself at Life Magazine where he is granted set access unlike many other reporters, he wants to be the man to get the first big story on James before he hits the big time but has his own life problems to deal with.

PerformanceRobert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan are both brilliant in this movie, they show that the two could be giving heavyweight performances for years to come.

StoryA film about Hollywood is not always the most interesting, focusing on a small part of an iconic actors life could also become a stumbling block, we do have mostly conversation about what the two men would like from this one article and see just how humble at times James Dean was. This won’t be for everyone because it does come off slow at times but is still interesting.

BiographyThis small snippet into James Dean’s life before super stardom is interesting because we could see this in many actors now and understand who they really are.

SettingsWe see how James Dean didn’t like the famous settings around a Hollywood stardom and this reflects in everything we have seen for the settings in this movie.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does feel slow in places.

Final ThoughtsWonderfully acted look at one of the talents Hollywood lost to early.

 

Overall: Must watch for fans of Hollywood stories.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – L – Lake Placid 3 (2010)

Director: Griff Furst

Writer: David Reed (Screenplay)

Starring: Colin Ferguson, Yancy Butler, Kirsty Mitchell, Kacey Clarke, Jordan Grehs, Michael Ironside

 

Plot: Killer crocodiles and their offspring terrorize residents of a small community.


Tagline – Don’t forget you’re lunch!

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Awful Sequel

 

Story: Lake Placid 3 starts with the Bickerman’s cleaning out the estranged Aunt’s house, Nathan (Ferguson) a scientist performing research in the area, his real-estate wife Susan (Mitchell) and their son Connor (Grehs) who ends up taking up the same hobby of feeding the baby crocodiles in the lake.

2 years later the crocodiles have grow and now they are extra hungry looking for more prey, bigger prey starting with the elk before getting a taste for human flesh, Nathan must reluctantly work with hunter Reba (Butler) to eliminate the threat to the area.

 

Thoughts on Lake Placid 3

 

Characters – Nathan Bickerman is a researcher studying the elk in the area, he has seen the numbers crumble and believes at first it is hunters, once he learns the truth he must destroy the crocodiles and save his family as well as the town. Reba is the mysterious bad ass hunter that breaks the rules for hunting, she leads a group into the woods including a young man searching for his girlfriend. Susan is the wife of Nathan’s she is a real-estate agent in the area and tends to do most of the parenting towards their son. Ellie is the college student on a weekend away that is the motivation for Brett to be on the trip.

PerformancesColin Ferguson in the leading role is ok you don’t believe most of what he is doing and this is going to be the problem for most of the performances, you just can’t see them having any sort of interaction with the crocodiles, the screaming is just there and the only performance worth watching is the bad ass hunter in Yancy Butler though this is more a hunter with an attitude.

StoryThe story here is very simple, we have a stupid kid feeding baby crocodiles for two years when all of a sudden they need larger amounts of food which brings them to land to pick off the random people they find. For the most part we have the stupid character decision going on as well as awful editing choices which cover up the best parts of the movie, the actual attacks. We don’t have any redeemable characters. for a creature feature we do like to care about at least one of the characters as the crocodiles are meant to be the evil in the story, though they are just looking to hunt. For a creature feature this does fall flat because of the weakness being shown in the film.

Action/Comedy/HorrorThe action is mostly trying to run away from the crocodiles or defending themselves with whatever weapons they can find, it is claimed to be a comedy though you will only laugh at the deaths or the acting, where as the horror in the film is the creature feature side of things which don’t get scary.

SettingsWe are setting in a lake side town which has the locals who believe they know everything while they get picked off one by one, it is filled with the land that you could expect a predator to enjoy.

Special EffectsThe crocodiles CGI special effects are awful and you tell this is a knock off sequel to a good original.


Scene of the Movie –
Topping up the crocodile.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just kids.

Final ThoughtsThis is the third and the worst chapter so far in this franchise of films, it has no humour, awful effects and basic characters.

 

Overall: Sequel you can avoid.

Rating