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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ABC Film Challenge – Crime – Sexy Beast (2000)

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Writer: Louis Mellis, David Scinto (Screenplay)

Starring: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, James Fox, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White

 

Plot: Brutal gangster Don Logan recruits “retired” safecracker Gal for one last job, but it goes badly for both of them.


Tagline – Sometimes It’s Hard To Say No

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Insult Heavy Crime Thriller

 

Story: Sexy Beast starts as we meet retired safecracker Gal (Winstone) living the life of luxury in a Spanish villa which he enjoys relaxing by the pool enjoying his retirement. His retirement is put to the test when brutal gangster Don Logan (Kingsley) arrives in Spain to try and force him into doing one more job for him, he won’t take no for an answer.

Reluctantly taking the job, Gal returns to London and as most heist style movies, things don’t go to plan.

 

Thoughts on Sexy Beast

 

Characters – Gal was once the go to safecracker, now he is in retirement in Spain loving his life in the sun with his pool and friends, he has zero interest in returning to the game even after Don Logan pushes him. He stays relaxed through each scene because he knows his answer will always be no. he does reluctantly return for this last job mostly to get rid of Don. Don Logan is the brutal gangster, he knows who he wants for the jobs and this time it is Gal, he will not take ‘No’ as an answer, he will get violent and his outbursts will be the things you remember the most. Teddy is the man that the job is for, a fellow gangster that wants the best men for the job. DeeDee is the wife of Gal, she will stand by Gal in every decision even after the endless insults thrown their way.

PerformancesRay Winstone is great in this leading role, he is the perfect choice for a cockney criminal who knows there is a better life out there away from London. Ben Kingsley clearly steals every single scene in this movie with his performance that is filed with so much anger and aggression, you won’t be able to take your eyes off him. Ian McShane is great too where he brings us a calmer gangster who is also filled with anger. These three take most of the spotlight away from any other performers in the film.

StoryThe story follows a retired criminal that gets forced to return to the game for one final job by an aggressive gangster, where this film does stand out from the other films in this genre, is that our hero Gal is 100% not interested in returning as most film give us the idea of ‘ok, I will do it’ on an easier formula. The story does have a nice twist on how things go and gives us the characters we could believe are from this world. if you are looking for a heist storyline, you will be disappointed though as this film focuses on the idea of getting the man to do the job.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime world we enter giving us gangsters which will not take no for an answer, we don’t learn enough of their previous lives in the world though, only going on reputations.

SettingsThe film uses Spain for the setting which gives us the retirement feel for a Brit to take, the sun increases the idea of the heat in the scenes.


Scene of the Movie –
The heated argument.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of heist action.

Final ThoughtsThis is a true British crime film, it has great characters and a stunning performance from Ben Kingsley.

 

Overall: British Crime 101

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – R – Remember the Titans (2000)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Gregory Allen Howard (Screenplay)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Ethan Suplee

 

Plot: The true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Sports Drama

 

Story: Remember the Titans starts as a typically white American Football team gets assigned a new African American head coach Herman Boone (Washington) even though he is replacing highly successful coach Bill Yoast (Patton). The two have different approaches which involves bringing both the races together for a mixed Football team.

Julius Campbell (Harris) represents the black captain, while Gerry Bertier (Hurst) represents the white captain, the two must learn to put their racial differences behind them and accept themselves as equal and take the league by storm.

 

Thoughts on Remember the Titans

 

Characters – Coach Herman Boone has been breaking boundaries in the racial divided in American Football high school coaching career, not he comes to a white school to continue to break his boundaries bringing the two different races together to try to become champions. Coach Bill Yoast was the coach that ran the team who has championships behind him, but gets drop to assistant coach under Boone, he continues to show his skills running the defence side of the team and learns along with Boone to improve their coaching. Julius Campbell is the black captain that works with the white captain to get rid of the divide between the races to win his own championship. We have plenty of different characters in the team that have their own opinions on the racial divide between the players.

PerformanceDenzel Washington in the leading role is fantastic as the coach that inspires a team to put their differences aside to try and win a championship. Will Patton is great too standing toe to toe with Washington on the side lines with the powerful scenes when needed. The rest of the young cast are great too because we have a lot of stars who went onto have huge career too.

StoryThe story is based on the true story of the African American coach that overcame a racial divide in a sport to turn a team that clashed over their skin colour to become a unit and a force in the league. This story shows how the younger generation who were raised to believe one thing can be taught the right thing when it comes to treating other people, by using sports to put those differences behind them.

Biopic/SportsThe biopic shows the strength this team and coaches had to become fighters when everyone else wanted them to fail. The sports side gives us good moments of American Football, but nothing we haven’t seen before.

SettingsThe settings show us how America was still riddled with racial difficulties during the 70s and different states act differently towards everyone.


Scene of the Movie –
The night they played the titans.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The whole girlfriend of Gerry seems tacked on.

Final ThoughtsThis is another one of the brilliant inspirational story that shows sports can bring people together through the hard times.

 

Overall: Wonderful inspiring sports drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – V – Vertical Limit (2000)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Robert King, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Robert King (Story)

Starring: Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Temuera Morrison, Ben Mendelsohn, Alexander Siddig, Izabella Scorupco

 

Plot: A climber must rescue his sister on top of K2, one of the world’s biggest mountains.


Tagline – Hold Your Breath

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Edge of your Seat Thriller

 

Story: Vertical Limit starts with the personal climb tragedy that Peter (O’Donnell) and Annie (Tunney) go through, the siblings go their separate ways, three years later work brings them back together on K2, as Annie is part of billionaire Elliot Vaughn’s (Paxton) team planning to climb to the top for an advertising opportunity.

When the weather turns, the crew on the mountain gets thrown into a cave in the middle of the mountain with no escape, Peter will now lead a team to rescue his sister in a race against time and the weather.

 

Thoughts on Vertical Limit

 

Characters – Peter is the brother of Annie, he had to make a difficult decision which led to his father’s death becoming distant from his sister in the process, now a wildlife photographer in extreme conditions which reunites them on K2, when she becomes trapped, Peter puts together a team to rescue her before it is too late. Annie is the sister and just as experienced climber ass Peter, she works on K2 for the billionaire that arranges tours, she has records on climbing the mountain too. She is on the team which gets trapped on the mountain, needing to remain in control while the rest look to survive. Montgomery Wick is the expert climber that has spent years searching for his lost wife on the mountain, he doesn’t work with others unless it is a rescue mission, he will get Peter to his location at the quickest pace. Elliot Vaughn is the billionaire that climbs for money, this expedition is planned as a marketing campaign for his new airline, he doesn’t care about lives as much as the other people on the mountain.

PerformancesChris O’Donnell in the leading role is good, he shows the knowledge while the innocent panic one would have while trying to save a loved one, Robin Tunney shows the strength needed for her part spending most of the film opposite Paxton who once again showed why he could become any role in a film. Scott Glenn gets the strongest scenes because of his outside persona created by his character, which does need a moment of emotional strength.

StoryThe story here follows sibling mountain climbers that have become distant after a tragedy, now one must rescue the other one on one of the most dangerous mountains in the world K2. This is a survivor story which shows how dangerous in the first-place mountain climbing is and just how much more dangerous rescue mission can be. Each character in the film has their own reason for being on the mountain which gives us a reason to follow and support each character through the mission, though this does end up feeling strange when we see what happens to most of the rescue team. For the most part this is a simple to follow story that does the directions most survival movies go without needing to make anything complicated, showing us the good and bad in people.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences in this film are fantastic, clearly the highlight of the film, we see the climbers hanging on for dear life, avalanches and explosion which the teams must survive, which plays into the adventure of climbing one of the most dangerous mountains in the world.

SettingsThe settings in the film only make this more breath-taking, the views from the mountain, mixed with the locations the people are trapped or climbing show us just how dangerous this is.

Special EffectsThe effects are weak though, we have one moment with a helicopter where you can almost make out that it is shaking like a rodeo machine.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning about the explosives in the sun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The forced foreshadowing from the opening sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable survival movie which will grab to the edge of your seat from the moment things go wrong until the gripping conclusion.

 

Overall: Survival Film at its best.

Rating

 

 

Bedazzled (2000)

Director: Harold Ramis

Writer: Larry Gelbart, Harold Ramis, Peter Tolan (Screenplay) Peter Cook, Dudley Moore (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor, Miriam Shor, Orlando Jones, Paul Adelstein

 

Plot: Hopeless dweeb Elliot Richards is granted seven wishes by the Devil to snare Allison, the girl of his dreams, in exchange for his soul.


Tagline – Meet the devil. No one’s ever been able to resist her. Until now.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Comedy

 

Story: Bedazzled starts with Elliot (Fraser) a good natured young man that is lonely in his life, while his co-workers not liking him, he is in love with another co-worker Alison (O’Connor) but doesn’t have the courage to talk to her. Showing his desire to be with Alison it attracts the Devil (Hurley).

Elliot takes up the offer and goes about trying to find the perfect wish to make him happy taking him all over the world and through different scenarios.

 

Thoughts on Bedazzled

 

Characters – Elliot is the lonely leading man, his personality has pushed his co-workers away from him as they just want to avoid him. He meets the Devil who offers him seven wishes to fix his life and get the girl of his dreams Alison. His wishes take him into a string of different lives that his current life could never see him in. The Devil is here to help give Elliot wishes, she plays on his worlds to make each have a game breaking flaw, while pushing him into different direction, looking sexy along the way. Alison is the woman that Elliot loves, she works with him at a higher level. She doesn’t notice him, we don’t learn much about the real Alison as we see her in the different wishes.

PerformancesBrendan Fraser was bursting into the spotlight around the release of this film, he gets to show the comedy skills he has through this film which is fun and enjoyable to watch. Elizabeth Hurley is great in this role, she brings us the sexy seductress the film wants the devil to be. Frances O’Connor does well with what she gets with all the different versions of Alison she is left to play.

StoryThe story follows one man that doesn’t fit in everyday life, he is tired of being alone and wishes for his life to change, bring him into a deal with the Devil. We see how Elliot must learn to make the correct decisions in his life rather than just wish for a quick fix to his own life. This does have meaning and is a remake of a popular film, which could turn fans of the original off, but this is a good modern telling of the story.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy through the film does have good moments, most of these come from the different wishes that Elliot goes through. The fantasy ideas come from the devil giving out the wishes.

SettingsMost of the film is set in San Francisco giving us another big American City which helps for people to understand where we are, we do get other settings which look correct for the wishes.

Special EffectsMost of the effects work for this film, we mostly see them when we jump between wishes.


Scene of the Movie –
Moving on.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Some of the wishes feel cartoonish.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun comedy that hits more than it misses, we see Fraser at his best and Hurley looks as sexy as we know she can do.

 

Overall: Comedy that can be enjoyable by a modern audience.

Rating