Mean Streets (1973)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova, Victor Argo

Plot: A small-time hood aspires to work his way up the ranks of a local mob.


Tagline – You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Scorsese 101

Story: Mean Streets starts as we follow small time criminals, Charlie (Keitel) and his boys Michael (Romanus), Tony (Proval) and Johnny Boy (De Niro) as they go through their normal days of threatening people for money and trying to reclaim the money the loaned out, all while doing their wheeling and dealing.

Charlie is trying to get his men involved in bigger jobs, despite the local crime bosses not liking all of his work, we follow them to see what they will do to stay relevant in this criminal world.

Thoughts on Mean Streets

Characters – Charlie is the ambitious criminal businessman, he mainly does small robberies with his crew and follows this up with scuffles in bars, he has dreams of moving up the ranks of the criminal underworld with his crew and this is his chance to make that happen. Johnny Boy is the reckless partner in crime for Charlie, he is usually the first one to swing a punch, though he can finish without anything stopping him. Tony is another member of the crew, he owns a bar and doesn’t want any illegal activities happening in his bar. Teresa is the girl next door and partner of Charlie, he reputation puts Charlie’s rise to power in doubt.

PerformancesRobert De Niro and Harvey Keitel are both wonderful in the leading role, showing the tough nature his character requires to become a threat in the film. The rest of the cast all feel like they are part of this criminal world too.

StoryThe story follows two criminals trying to put themselves on the map within the criminal world, trying to impress the local gangster, which sees them finding themselves getting in more trouble than it is worth. This story does show the old school criminal activity world which sees how the people in this world are trying to make a name for themselves by impressing others, we mostly follow them around the city as they try to cause troubles and stop anything getting out of hand, though it isn’t that much to deal with.

CrimeThe crime side of the film puts us into the underworld that the characters will be operating in.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn that shows that we are in a tough neighbourhood where the criminals will always be fighting for control.


Scene of the Movie – Pool hall hustle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not that much going on.

Final Thoughts This is a typical crime world film that shows how criminals are all operating through the film.

Overall: Simple and basic crime film.

James Bond Month – Live and Let Die (1973)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Writer: Tom Makiewicz (Screenplay)

Starring: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison

 

Plot: 007 is sent to stop a diabolically brilliant heroin magnate armed with a complex organization and a reliable psychic tarot card reader.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Bond Movie

 

Story: Live and Let Die starts when three secret agencies are killed, James Bond (Moore) is set to investigation the three locations, Harlem, a Caribbean island and New Orleans. His investigations lead him to tarot card psychic Solitaire (Seymour) who is being controlled by heroin magnate Kananga (Kotto).

We watch how Bond must take on a fresh villain with his own plans to bring chaos to the world, this time lives are at risk and he must do everything he can to stop the plan from taking over America and the world.

 

Thoughts on Live and Let Die

 

Characters – James Bond is back with a slightly different look and swagger, he goes undercover in a location you wouldn’t expect to see Bond, dealing with a heroin dealing company, he still gets his girls along the way and manages to escape each person trying to kill him. Kananga is the heroin magnet with a masterplan which has involved killing undercover agents that have gotten to close to his operation, he however is obsessed with tarot cards that will help him make the right decisions. Solitaire is the tarot card reader that can see the future unless she make love, so until she meets Bond, she sees him as a way out of the control of Kananga.

PerformancesRoger Moore steps into the shoes of Bond and while he does bring a different dimension to the character, he doesn’t hit the full quality levels Connery did. Yaphet Kotto in the villainous role is good in the role without ever feeling like a complete threat. Jane Seymour is good in her role even if the character never seems to fit the complete story going on.

StoryThe story here takes James into battle against a drug lord trying to reshape the drug world, James must go through the black neighbourhoods while dealing with his voodoo beliefs and a tarot card worshiping mad man. For a Bond movie this is one of the weaker stories, not because of the performances, but because the case just seems very basic with no peril, it’s a drug lord over any mastermind world dominance plan. It does feel like a bi of a reboot with the new actor, showing him complete an easier case rather than continuing the battles against the bigger enemies, we do try to get a henchman which should bring peril, though he is more comic relief and the whole boat chase feels like something out of a comedy.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is good for the basic moments, the airplane moment is great fun, though the boat race is comical for the most part.

SettingsThe film does use more recognizable location which is nice, the Harlem and New Orleans settings stand out for this discussion because they make us feel like James is just a police detective.


Scene of the Movie –
The airport sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The villain, while interesting, he never feels like a threat.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun Bond movie, not good one, but one you can easily watch without feeling completely out of the previous world created.

 

Overall: Simple to watch Bond.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

Writer: William Peter Blatty (Screenplay)

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, William O’Malley

 

Plot: When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.


Tagline – Now… Open your eyes to..

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly a Horror Classic

 

Story: The Exorcist starts as we meet Father Merrin (von Sydow) working overseas on an arachnological dig, uncovering something evil, Father Karras (Miller) is facing a question of faith after seeing the different effects passed over by the church and single mother Chris MacNeil (Burstyn) caring for her daughter Regan (Blair).

When Regan starts acting strange the doctors aim to look for a solution with test and even a psychologist, with them failing Chris turns to the church where Father Merrin and Father Karras look to exorcise the demon that has taken over her body.

 

 

Thoughts on The Exorcist

 

Characters – Chris MacNeil is an actress and single mother working on her new project when her daughter becomes sick, she is a concerned mother that wants answers getting ever more frustrated with the lack of results being found. Regan is the daughter is Chris, she is like any other young teenager that becomes possessed by a demon, first however she goes for medical procedures to see if it is medical before the priest come to help with the problem. Father Karras is the local priest and psychologist within the church, he can study Regan’s case with a scientific and a religious side and has been having a crisis of faith after his mother’s death. Father Merrin is the experienced priest that has been through exorcisms before he is the one that gets bought in to try and cure Regan, teaching Karras along the way.

PerformancesThis is a performance heavy movie, Ellen Burstyn is excellent in her role as the concerned mother, Linda Blair (with help from another actress) gives us one of the creepiest scary performances in horror history and the two different stages of their careers in the film performances from Max von Sydow and Jason Miller are a delight to see.

StoryThe story here shows us what is happening to a teenage girl once she becomes possessed by a demon, where this story is intelligent, is by going through the medical and mental issue which are known for being used first. Away from this and the slow build as things become even more shocking and terrifying as the film unfolds shows how story telling in horror isn’t all about jump scares, it can focus on the idea of possession becoming more powerful. The film creates the right characters for the film by giving each of our main characters enough time to develop to feel like they are going to be playing a major part in the movie too. This will become the level all horror story tellers will be looking to get close to.

HorrorThis is a horror movie that uses the slow build and horrific moments to shock us to our core as we see the procedure behind an exorcism and just how the demon can take control.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well because they put us in a location where it could happen in the middle of a big city, which only adds to the horror we are seeing.

Special EffectsThe effects that we go through are some of the best effects we will ever see in cinema for the time, practical all the way through the use of make up shows us just what could be achieved to create the horror.


Scene of the Movie –
The exorcism scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me So many different edits of it.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the classic horror movies that can be enjoyed in terror by anyone in the audience, at 45 years old it still stands the test of time.

 

Overall: True classic.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – R – Robin Hood (1973)

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

Writer: Larry Clemmons, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, Frank Thomas, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, David Michener (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Roger Miller, Peter Ustinov, Terry Thomas, Brain Bedford, Monica Evans, Phil Harris, Andy Devine, Carole Shelly

 

Plot: The story of the legendary outlaw is portrayed with the characters as humanoid animals.


Tagline – Oo-de-Lolly Golly What a Movie!

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Disney

 

Story: Robin Hood starts as we head to Nottingham to meet the humanoid versions of the Robin Hood legend, Robin a fox with Little John being a bear, we see how they are trying to fight back against the Prince John a lion who uses the Sheriff of Nottingham a wolf to take the taxes from the poor leaving the country being near broke. We play into the idea of how Robin Hood fought back against this prince in a hope to bring King Richard back to his rightful place.

 

Thoughts on Robin Hood

 

Characters – Robin Hood is the legend we know in British folk law, stealing from the rich giving to the poor, a brilliant archer that finds a way to get away with any crime that comes his way and now he stands up for what everyone can’t. Little John is the trust second and partner of Robin Hood, they have excellent chemistry which helps us see there plans come together. The Sheriff of Nottingham does Prince John’s dirty work, taking the money a striking fear in the locals. Prince John continues to take the money from whoever has any to continue his reign of terror.

StoryThe story plays loosely into the idea of Robin Hood, to make it family friendly of course, this is Disney. We see how the poor were treated badly by the Prince of John and being told through different animals adds to the predator that this could be considered through these characters. It is an easy to follow story, which does have a side to how serious things could get, but never offers the true peril of the situation.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventures of Robin Hood are the stuff of legends and this is nothing away from this, even if it has a comic tone to everything going on.

SettingsThe film recreates the Nottingham setting for the Robin Hood era well to show the divide between the castle of the Prince and the homes of the poor.

AnimationDisney were the top dogs for animation and this never looks like it misses any beats with how the look of the film looks.


Scene of the Movie –
Archer tournament.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too loose with the legend.

Final ThoughtsThis is Disney doing their magic in the 70s without a doubt, a fun and enjoyable movie throughout.

 

Overall: Fun family enjoyment.

Rating

 

 

Classic Franchise – Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Director: J Lee Thompson

Writer: John William Corrington, Joyce Hooper Corrington (Screenplay) Paul Dehn, Pierre Boulle (Story/Characters)

Starring: Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Nathalie Trundy, Severn Darden, Lew Ayres, Paul Williams

 

Plot: Ten years after conquering the Earth, ape leader Caesar wants the ruling apes and enslaved humans to live in peace. But warring factions of apes led by a militant gorilla general as well as various human groups threaten the stability.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Conclusion to the Franchise

 

Story: Battle for the Planet of the Apes starts with a 5-minute flashback to what has happened through the previous films. We move into the near future, where Caesar’s uprising has seen the apes learned to talk and are still being taught with humans living as slaves.

Caesar looking for answers about his parents arranged to travel back to the destroyed cities but in his absence the gorilla General Aldo (Akins) tired of the humans being welcomed leads his own uprising against Caesar as we are left to see who has control of the planet of the apes now with Governor Kolp (Darden) till fight on behalf of the humans too.

 

Thoughts on Battle for the Planet of the Apes

 

Characters/PerformanceCaesar now leading his colony of apes, still wants answers from his past about the future but now he must deal with a battle from within as well as a battle against man. He is a strong leader, looking for answers that don’t mean war but peace between all kinds. General Aldo is the inpatient leader of the gorilla army that wants to end the peace and exterminate all humans, he challenges Caesar on every opportunity. Lisa is the wife of Caesar who tries to guide him in the peaceful path rather than returning to the fighting world.

Performance wise, Roddy McDowall does continue to do a good job in the leading role, with Claude Akins doing a good job in this villainous ape role. The rest of the performance are good before working for what the film needed.

StoryThe story continues on the story of Caesar and his uprising against humans, we get to fill in part of the blanks into why the planet was now run in apes in the first film. the film takes on three sides of the battle the ape that wants peace, the humans that want their planet back and the general who wants blood to rule the land. I think this all comes together how you would imagine the apes took power of Earth.

Action/Sci-FiThe action sequences are all generic to how you would expect them to be with the future world not at the levels you would expect it to be, this far down the timeline.

SettingsThe settings are pretty much just fields, they could be set up to be anywhere in the world.

Special EffectsThe effects are simple enough when needed only.

Final ThoughtsI like how the story has been writing the history we could once have been heading towards, I think this is smart story telling in the long run.

 

Overall: This is a nice ending to the franchise even if it isn’t the strongest member of the franchise.

Rating