ABC Film Challenge – Crime – Y – The Yards (2000)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Matt Reeves (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron, James Caan, Ellen Burstyn, Faye Dunaway, Steve Lawrence

 

Plot: In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city’s subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he finds his aunt married to Frank Olchin, one of the big contractors; he’s battling with a minority-owned firm for contracts. Willie Gutierrez, Leo’s best friend, is Frank’s bag man and heads a crew of midnight saboteurs who ruin the work of the Puerto Rican-owned firm. Leo needs a job, so Willie pays him to be his back-up. Then things go badly wrong one night, a cop IDs Leo, and everyone now wants him out of the picture. Besides his ailing mom and his cousin Erica, to whom can Leo turn?


Tagline – He’s the target of the most merciless family in New York. His own

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: By the Books

 

Story: The Yards starts when Leo (Wahlberg) gets released from prison, needing to lock down a job his Aunt Kitty (Dunaway) sets him up with her husband Frank Olchin (Caan) who runs a railway construction company in Queens. Without the skills set, he can’t be given a job, but his bag man Willie (Phoenix) who is also Leo’s best friend recruits him to do the dirty work for the company.

When a job goes wrong Willie and Leo both commit an act of violence, only Leo can be identified, he must go on the run while finding everybody trying to hunt him down, trying to expose the truth before it is too late, with only is mother Val (Burstyn) and cousin Erica (Theron) to trust.

 

Thoughts on The Yards

 

Characters – Leo is an ex-con that is released from prison, he best friend and Uncle offer him two different jobs, one he isn’t qualified for and one would mean working against the law. He finds himself on the wrong side of the law after a job goes wrong needing to do anything he can to clear his name, while being considered the most wanted man in Queens. Willie is the best friend of Leo, he has made a career being the bag man for Frank which will see him complete the deals to make the business succeed. He ends up leading Leo down the wrong path, when it is him that makes the biggest mistake. Erica is the cousin of Leo and girlfriend to Willie, she is completing her education and gets caught between who to remain loyal towards. Frank runs the corrupt railway construction company that has nearly every political figure in his back pocket. He keeps himself looking clean, letting his men do the dirty work, leading to him being forced into a difficult decision. Val is the mother of Leo that has always tried to give him everything he could give him in life, left to suffer when he gets blamed for the crimes.

PerformancesMark Wahlberg is strong in the leading role, he gives us a performance that shows his regret, confusion and worries about the future he is meant to have once out of prison. Joaquin Phoenix brings us a performance which shows us just how he can make us hate a character. Charlize Theron in the supporting role shows us everything she needs to without getting the same spotlight as the rest of the cast, while James Caan works in the corrupt businessman role with ease. The rest of the cast are solid without doing anything outside the comfort zones.

StoryThe story here takes us into the world of corruption within the Queens railway service construction company that pays off to get jobs after doing their own dirty work to make others look worse, we follow one ex-con being placed into this world who sees the bad only to become the prime suspect in the investigation of a murder. The story does try to keep us guessing to what will happen and who Leo could trust only for it to become to run of mill in the genre to make it new or original. It might be loosely based on a real case, it however doesn’t offer enough to make things feel like we could see too much going on, rather than focusing on the cover up itself.

Crime/RomanceThe crime world we enter is the political corruption of construction which shows us how quickly people can turn on each other without doubt. The romance side of this story takes a back burner which is here to show how difficult of a position Erica is put into.

SettingsThe film is set in Queen which shows us how the community will come together to work together or turn on somebody.


Scene of the Movie –
The incident.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story is overly generic.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting crime story that does everything by the book without doing anything overly special.

 

Overall: Simple crime film.

Rating

 

 

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You’re Not You (2014)

Director: George C Wolfe

Writer: Shana Feste, Jordan Roberts (Screenplay) Michelle Wildgen (Book)

Starring: Hilary Swank, Emmy Rossum, Josh Duhamel, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Ritter, Julian McMahon, Ali Larter, Andrea Savage

 

Plot: A drama centered on a classical pianist who has been diagnosed with ALS and the brash college student who becomes her caregiver.


Tagline – Let go of who you were, and discover who you’re meant to be.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: You’re Not You starts on Kate’s (Swank) 35th birthday, a classic pianist that notice something isn’t right with her body, 18 months later Kate is in need of care, even with her husband Evan (Duhamel) needing to work, while finding a new carer to help with ALS care.

That new carer is college student Bec (Rossum) who parties every night and doesn’t come with an off switch. Bec is the only person Kate want to care for her as she is the only one that treats her like a person not a patient and after Kate learns Evan has been having an affair, it leaves Kate and Bec together to handle the caring and living the remaining time with the disease.

 

Thoughts on You’re Not You

 

Characters – Kate was a successful pianist, happily married and wonderful party host, she soon starts to get the first symptoms of ALS which comes on strong, she now needs constant caring, but is tired of the nurses that treat her like a patient, she chooses Bec who offers her friendship, while also offering Bec life advice in a time where she could be going with no direction. Bec is a directionless brash college student who gets given a chance to care of Kate, she becomes the biggest challenge of her life, teaching her responsibility and helping guide her in the right direction. Evan is the husband of Kate, he has tried to care for her the best he can, but can’t give up his job which has put a distance between the two, causing him to have had an affair.

PerformancesHilary Swank has two Oscars to her name, this performance here shows the talent she has once again, she is fantastic as the victim of the ALS disease. Emmy Rossum has made a name for herself on television, but here you feel she should have broken out because her performance is great to. Josh Duhamel is good as the character we want to hate through the film.

StoryThe story throws the spotlight on ALS, we follow one person suffering from the disease who knows the sacrifices people will have to make to care for her, we see how people who are sick do want to be treated like people rather than just patients and giving them, this treatment will make their remaining time worthwhile. We do have a story about how the older (but not old) woman helps give the lost student a direction for her life. This is a story about the battle against a disease which is taking people everyday, how the people around them need there for them to make the remain time in their lives positive.

SettingsThe settings in this film show the different lives both Kate and Bec have come from, how they are joined together in the same battle to support each other. I feel the settings help us understand the disease making made by the characters in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Enjoying a drink or two together.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The only thing I feel we would have liked more of would be the medical side of what could have been done to try and help as we have plenty of talks about experimental treatments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very good drama, we get to see how one person’s suffering could impact many people and how helpless they will feel while fighting it.

 

Overall: Powerful, heart-breaking and inspiring.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – Y – The Young Victoria (2009)

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Writer: Julian Fellowes (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong

 

Plot: A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.


Tagline – She was the queen of an empire, but her heart belonged to one man.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: The Young Victoria starts as young Victoria (Blunt) has been guarded from the world, knowing she will be next in line for the throne, Sir John Conroy (Strong) has been trying to get her to sign a regency order, meaning he would become king until she came of age, only for Victoria to refuse. We follow her 17th year as she starts meeting suiters for her husband, Belgium’s Prince Albert (Friend) being the prime candidate.

When King William (Broadbent) dies, it places Victoria in the position of Queen of England, Lord Melbourne (Bettany) must try to guide her in the decisions that she may face, while Victoria and Albert stay in contact through letters, that shares their love.

 

Thoughts on The Young Victoria

 

Characters – Victoria was raised to become Queen one day, forced to follow strict rules including walking down stairs holding somebody’s hand and sharing a bedroom with her mother. She is always under pressure about signing a regency, only to refuse because she knows that one day she will become Queen, she wants to make her rule, her own, which sees her wanting to pick her love, instead of following the rules the rest are trying to place for her. Prince Albert is the son of King Leopold of Belgium, the two fall in love and know that their union will keep the countries together stronger. Lord Melbourne is the advisor to Victoria, he has his own agenda which he wants to put into place, making him a danger figure in her connection to the common people of England. The Duchess of Kent is the mother of Victoria, who has been following the rules to protect her daughter and stuck following whatever John Conroy says.

PerformancesEmily Blunt shines in this leading role as the young Victoria, she brings the grace and determination to change the country through with her performance which you could believe the real Victoria doing to Britain. Rupert Friend as Prince Albert is wonderful too as he shows us the one person that would truly stand up against the Queen as many others would be in fear of her. Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson round off the main cast as they both are great in their roles through the film.

StoryThe story follows the firs year that Queen Victoria was on the throne, we see how she had to learn quickly with how the politicians would try to sway her, meet a husband and try to help sort out a country with big divides between the upper class and the lower class. We see that even at a young age she was able to make these decisions to bring Britain forward and mark herself down as one of the most important leaders the nation ever saw. After becoming a fan of The Crown this was an easy story to step into as smaller moments made sense, if you don’t know certain historic rules the Queen must follow, you might not get why certain scenes in the film happen.

Biopic/History/RomanceThis movie shows us how important Queen Victoria’s reign was, we might only follow around a year, but she wanted to start making changes early on which will later become her legacy, the romance that she goes through shows how the Albert came into her life and showed her, they could rule together if they challenged the rules they believed to be wrong.

SettingsEach setting used in this film feels like the true settings we would see the royals living in, each one shows just how they could be living in the upper class, with the set design showing the beauty within the buildings.


Scene of the Movie –
The ride around town which changed everything.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do have certain rules that never get explained, which people might not understand.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautifully shot biopic that shows us the first year’s reign of Queen Victoria, the difficulties she faced and how she overcame them all.

 

Overall: Must watch historical drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – Y – Yes Man (2008)

Director: Peyton Reed

Writer: Nicholas Stoller, Jarred Paul, Andrew Mogel (Screenplay) Danny Wallace (Book)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins, Rhys Darby, Danny Masterson

 

Plot: A man challenges himself to say “yes” to everything for an entire year.


Tagline – One word can change everything.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Comedy With Laughs

 

Story: Yes Man starts as we meet Carl (Carrey) a banker that doesn’t like to socialise with his friends, co-workers or seems to always say no to everything. when Carl bumps into an old friend Nick (Higgins) who has turned his life around by always saying ‘Yes’ to everything in life.

Carl ends up joining the same group deciding to take the whole year just saying yes, in this time he meets Allison (Deschanel) a musician who is completely different to himself and gets closer to his best friend Peter (Cooper), one of the few people that still encourages him to go out, the question remains just how extreme everything will go.

 

Thoughts on Yes Man

 

Characters – Carl lives a very restricted life, mostly because of his divorce and life not going any direction he is enjoying. This has made his friendship group dwindle down, after being encouraged to take the risk of the ‘Yes’ motivation group, he starts saying Yes to everything, from helping a homeless person to approving a bank loan to a stranger. Allison is the woman that Carl meets in the year after saying yes to something he never would, she is different to anything he would usually go for, being spontaneous on every opportunity. Peter is the best friend of Carl’s the one that will always try to push his friend to get out there and enjoy his life, he has been let down by Carl before and the friendship is what keeps them close together. Nick is the man that inspires Carl to follow through with the idea to say yes, he used to be like Carl and now he is enjoying his life.

PerformancesJim Carrey in the leading role is good for the most part, the problem with this is that he lets too much of his slapstick comedy going on and this role would have bern fantastic for a straight-faced actor to pull off. Zooey Deschanel is good as the love interest, she always is great to see as the girlfriend and she gets to show her singing skills at times too. Bradley Cooper was continuing to make a name of himself in supporting roles where he once again gets his timing right. The supporting cast all get good laughs through the film.

StoryThe story follows a man who believes his life isn’t going well stuck in a rut which he is happy enough with, when he gets given a chance to take chances he starts saying yes to everything which opens up his life to new opportunities. This does show us the meaning of life even if we see the extremes of it here, we get to see how taking chances with make for an enjoyable life however mad certain parts might be. We do see moments of people who will take advantage of that person, which isn’t ever addressed enough especially when one is a close friend, overall this story shows us just how important living life is, taking chance because you never know what you might find in life.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film comes from the reactions and participation in the events that Carl get put through, we do get laughs from the supporting cast with Rhys Darby as Norman getting the most. The romance side of the film comes from taking a chance, Carl had been divorced and not wanting to take a chance on meeting new people which saying yes offers him.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which is fine, it could have been set in any city because none of what is achieved makes a different to the actual settings.


Scene of the Movie –
Close stage.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Carrey sometimes goes to slapstick too quickly.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun motivational movie, sure it becomes a basic comedy and could have been better with somebody not known for comedy in the leading role, but it does everything it needs to.

 

Overall: Fun comedy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – Y – You’re Next (2011) (Revisited Spoiler Talk)

This is a Re-visited review, it will contain more spoilers that the normal review, to read the non-spoiler review click here

Director
: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett (Screenplay)

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimetz, Ti West

 

Plot: When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.


Tagline – Don’t bother locking the doors. Animals don’t use doors.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There will be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the Best Modern Slasher

 

Story: You’re Next starts as we follow a couple that get butchered in their remote woodland house, with the window painted with the words ‘You’re Next’ in blood.

We then get to meet our main family, the Davison’s who are celebrating the parents Paul (Moran) and Aubrey (Crampton) 35th wedding anniversary, bring their kids and partners together, Erin (Vinson), Felix (Tucci), Zee (Glenn), Crispian (Bowen), Drake (Swanberg), Kelly (Laney), Aimee (Seimetz) and Tariq (West).

What starts as a family dinner filled with conversations which soon turn into an argument, the family comes under attack, we see how the family comes together to think of a solution to escape, which only leads to the first deaths. Erin shows a different side to her, unlike anything her partner Crispian has seen before, prepared for an attack or at least to defend herself from attackers.

The family is now facing enemies, the number is unknown to them and we need to whittle the cast down a little bit more too, so bring us in the bad decision character, Kelly who runs out into the dark woods surrounding the house screaming for help, this moment feels designed to show us what the killers are capable off, not picking between the men or the women, just looking for the kills.

Continuing to show a darker side Erin sets up the remaining family members to defend themselves, while showing she can put up a fight by being the first to kill one of the killers after he breaks into the home.

We now know just what the killers and Erin are capable off, but a twist changes everything as one of the family members is behind the attack, the only one that is capable of fighting back is Erin and our new hero icon is born.

 

Thoughts on You’re Next

 

Characters – Erin comes off as the girl next door time, former TA to her boyfriend in her final year of her master’s degree, being an Australian actress, we keep this trait for her character too which brings in to the conversation at the dinner part of the film. when the attack starts, her training comes first nature as she looks to defend the family from the attacks, her skills for surviving were not known by anyone in the family before tonight.

Felix is one of the brother’s in the family he isn’t the best at combat and like all siblings argues with the others, he is the one that is behind the attack wanting the inheritance money from his family, Zee is the girlfriend of Felix, in on the plan, waiting for her time to get involved, we have her around a lot, but we don’t see her do much. Crispian is the boyfriend of Erin, the one that bought her to the party, seemingly the eldest brother and the one that disappears through the film, always feeling shady. The rest of the siblings and partners are used for the basic kills to show us just how the killers operate, as are the parents. The killers themselves in a Lamb, Tiger and Fox mask fill the menace required showing zero moments of hesitation when it comes to aiming for the kill.

PerformancesSharni Vinson is fantastic in this leading role, she takes over the mantel of the lone survivor in a horror film, kicks ass throughout the film, she is the true star of this film. when we start looking at the rest of the cast they all know exactly how to play their roles without taking away from the leading lady.

StoryThe story follows a family coming together for a wedding anniversary party only to come under attack from an unknown group of attacks them, it follows the panic and takes a twist which turns the tables on the attackers, with the deadliest threat being one of the members of the house. We do get the bad decisions which comes from the disposable characters which does give us the chance to see the kills impact and we do get a twist along the way about who the attackers are. For the slasher genre this breathed new life into the sub-genre and makes us want to see where the director/writer will go next.

HorrorThe horror elements of the film show us the killers getting the kills which are filled with blood and certain ones are original and will make you remember them, let talk the blender.

SettingsThe film is set in the simple location of one house in the middle of the woods, there is a walkable neighbour, though it does dispose of the people in that house in the opening sequence, which gives us the isolation needed for the attack to take place in.

Special EffectsThe effects used for the film are great, we have unique looking kills which will be ones that you do remember once the film has finished, see the blender again.


Scene of the Movie –
The blender, you will understand why.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The disposable characters while used to show the killers make the annoying mistakes.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern slasher movies out there, it can be enjoyed by horror fans, it has blood, gore and twist galore.

 

Overall: Must watch horror movie.

Rating