ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – G – Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Director: James Foley

Writer: David Mamet (Screenplay) David Mamet (Play)

Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce


Plot: An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.

Tagline – Lie. Cheat. Steal. All In A Day’s Work.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Drama


Story: Glengarry Glen Ross starts as we see how a real estate office is struggling to close deals, Blake (Baldwin) is hired to put down the firm law on the employees, office manager John Williamson (Spacey) tries to be strict with his staff as we see struggling aging expert Shelley (Lemmon), upcomer Dave Moss (Harris) the hot shot Ricky Roma (Pacino) and George (Arkin) that are given one week to make as many closes as possible.

As the pressure gets to the men things only get worse when the contracts are stolen which shows the true characters in the ruthless business.


Thoughts on Glengarry Glen Ross


Characters – Ricky Roma is the best estate agent in the office, he closes the biggest deals in the office which fills him with all the confidence in the world. Shelley Levene is the eldest member of the office, he has been down on his luck recently knowing this could be his last chance to keep his job. Dave Moss is the hot-head of the office that goes against the ultimatum about the jobs and comes up with a plan to make sure he gets the best leads. George is the timid member of the office but a fantastic salesman, he gets talked into Dave’s plan. John Williamson runs the office handing out the leads while making sure the teams get good sales. Blake is the man that puts the ultimatum down on the office, he is blunt when it comes to doing the deal.

PerformancesThe cast here is filled with award winners, the highest calibre of actor in the industry at that time. Pacino, Lemmon, Baldwin, Arkin, Harris, Spacey and Pryce are all fantastic it is unfair to single anyone out for more praise than any other.

StoryThe story follows 24-hours in life at the office of a real estate agents as the are pressured into improve their sales which includes dealing with a robbery that throws everything up in the air. This is a character driven story as we see how people can react under pressure as it comes from a play and you can feel that about the story all the way through. The story doesn’t get over complicated as we see how things unfold and it shows the desperation man will go for his own greed.

Crime/MysteryThe crime that takes place is partly how the deals get done and how the contracts get stolen which leads to the mystery to just who is the person behind everything.

SettingsThe settings are kept simple, the office, the bar and a house for discussions, this keeps everything grounded through the film from start to finish.

Scene of the Movie –

That Moment That Annoyed Me Blake being in more scene would have been good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fantastic assembled cast that give powerful performances that just deliver from the first frame until the final frame, simple fantastic cinema.


Overall: Fantastic from start to finish.





Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

sunshineDirector: Christine Jeffs

Writer: Megan Holley (Screenplay)

Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr


Plot: In order to raise the tuition to send her young son to private school, a mom starts an unusual business — a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service — with her unreliable sister.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Charmingly Delightful Comedy Drama


Story: Sunshine Cleaning starts as we follow single mother Rose (Adams) who works as a cleaner just to make sure her son Oscar (Spevack) gets everything he needs while dealing with the teachers telling her he needs special attention.

Needing to put her son into a private school Rose works with police officer Mac (Zahn) who sets her up with a job cleaning up crime scenes with her slacker sister Norah (Blunt) and the two-start seeing the money fly in as Sunshine Cleaning business is born.


Thoughts on Sunshine Cleaning


StoryThe story being told here is a story that shows that people out there will work hard to make the life they want they may need to go through difficult stages of life to reach it. We see two sisters whose lives clearly haven’t gone the way they had planned them out both feeling like they are just grinding to make ends meet rather than having their chance to live. The story is put together perfectly to tell what is needed from the story that can be enjoyed by all.

Comedy/Drama The comedy drama mixes together to make light of the serious side of the story where we can get the laughs coming from everyday life rather than forced life situations. This story will make you laugh, smile and cry with the characters.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters of Rose and Norah are great examples of two sisters struggling through the whole story, we get good laughs from their father looking after Rose’s son but otherwise all the characters do end up feeling like they could all be everyday people. When you look at the performances Adams and Blunt are brilliant as the sister with chemistry to burn between them proving they are two of Hollywood’s heavyweights.

SettingsEach setting is a different crime scene in need of cleaning which is where our characters get to see just the different lives people have lived. The settings are just as important as the two relationship between the sisters which shows the struggles the girls are both going through.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the sweetest and nicest dramas you will see, it is filled with real life struggles everyday people go through.


Overall: Brilliant drama that people should go out there way to see.




Million Dollar Arm (2014)

millionDirector: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Tom McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Joe Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Tzi Ma, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal


Plot: A sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: What Sports is All About


Story: Million Dollar Arm starts JB (Hamm) a sports agent trying to make his own company reach new levels with his partner Aash (Mandvi) only to find himself stuck behind the higher-level competition. Losing the star client to the competition the two search for a new potential income as they search for new clients in new fields.

JB new idea is to bring over Indian cricket players and turn them into baseball pitchers within a year and recruiting pitching coach Tom House (Paxton) now he needs to find a scout to travel with him to find the best prospect.

JB must work with Vivek (Jariwala) to get his equipment retired scout Ray (Arkin) and Amit (Pitobash) a baseball coach in India who wants to work him for free. The search for the Million Dollar Arm is on sweeping through India. With the competition in full flow they find two players Rinku (Sharma) and Dinesh (Mittal) to take back to America.

As the two boys struggle with the new culture JB must keep the business together while the two players must learn to improve their skill in 6 months can it be done and the seemingly impossible risk can become sports new miracle.


Thoughts on Million Dollar Arm


StoryThe story follows the true story of how one sports agent takes the chance to bring Indian crickets to America to become baseball pitchers. On the surface this is a marketing campaign but the story itself gather heart because of the bond between JB and the boys. This is an underdog sports story with glimpses of the clash of culture between both sides of the world. This shows you can succeed with the effort and determination of the people who support you and that you could find success in any story.

Sports/DramaThe sports drama is very interesting because baseball isn’t a sport I have any interest in watching but the scouting and training in any sport do interest me a lot, this had my full attention as we see how it can be the personal life that cane make you a better athlete when it comes to competing because having the people supporting you can make you succeed.

Characters/PerformanceJon Hamm as the selfish sports agent that takes a risk with a new investment but his character never seems to support the boys he takes the risk on once they are back in America. Jon Hamm give us a great performance stepping up from television to the big screen. Sharman, Mittal, Pitobash, Mandvi and Jariwala all give great performances in their roles as we see the characters must deal with a new culture as well as new sport in what is a once in a life time opportunity. Alan Arkin has a small role but gets good laughs as the retired scout.

SettingsThe settings are used excellently with to show the different cultures being used through the film as we see the American fast forward glamorous lifestyle while India shows how together the people are with the religious beliefs going on there.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very interesting and compelling sports drama about showing how you can achieve what seems impossible to others by just take the chance, I feel everyone who likes a success story will enjoy this one even if you are not a baseball fan.


Overall: Delightful sports drama that can be enjoyed by all.




Paul Bettany Weekend – Firewall (2006)

firewalDirector: Richard Loncraine

Writer: Joe Forte (Screenplay)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Carly Schroeder, Jimmy Bennett, Mary Lynn Raskub, Robert Patrick, Alan Arkin


Plot: A security specialist is forced into robbing the bank that he’s protecting, as a bid to pay off his family’s ransom.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Solid Thriller


Story: Firewall starts as we see family man Jack (Ford), wife Beth (Madsen) and children Sarah (Schroeder) and Andy (Bennett). Jack works for a bank and prides himself on the software security. When Jack finds himself targeting first by online fraud he finds his late night meeting with Bill (Bettany) has alternative plans by taking his family hostage.

The plan is for Jack to go about his normal day while the kidnappers stay at Jack’s home to force him into helping them rob the bank. The problem comes with Jack as his bank is in the middle of a potential merger being handled by Gary (Patrick) who hasn’t taken too fondly of Jack.

While Jack tries to find a way to get his family safe he tests Bill’s patience while also trying to keep his career safe against the new take over can he make it all work out and save his family?

Firewall is a crime thriller that is a bank heist with a twist, yes we do get the idea where the bank worker has to do robbery, but what works here is the cyber side of the heist comes slightly original. The idea of having the family as bait also works but knowing the family will be killed means he has to fight back. The problem comes with a lot feelings of repetitive ideas which while solid easy to watch.


Actor Review


Harrison Ford: Jack has been working for a bank that he has helped grow from the ground up, on the verge of a merger that will have him and his partner having to make a difficult choice. With that going on Jack also finds himself being the victim of a plot to rob the bank where his family’s lives are put at risk. Harrison is good in this role but nothing we have seen it before from him.jack

Paul Bettany: Bill is the man holding Jack’s family hostage as he has carefully planned this, he comes of charming but equally as dangerous when it comes to tricks. He will kill his own men for being incompetent and will risk hurting Jack’s children to make sure he gets the money. Paul is good in this role where we get to see him take the role of British villain.bill

Virginia Madsen: Beth is the wife of Jack who has to spend the time with Bill’s men while protecting her children. Virginia is solid in this role without being too impactful.

Robert Patrick: Gary is the man planning the merger, he doesn’t like Jack after first impression which leaders to Jack having to impress him while protecting his family. Robert is good in this supporting role but I think we need a final scene with him.

Support Cast: Firewall has a supporting cast that you would expect to see in this type of film.

Director Review: Richard LoncraineRichard gives us an easy to thriller that doesn’t take enough risks.


Crime: Firewall enters us into the world of a bank heist that really shows both sides of the battle.

Thriller: Firewall keeps us one edge as we try to see how the Jack will solve the problem.

Settings: Firewall uses the settings to make everything simple for the story without making anything original.
Special Effects
: Firewall has a couple of solid effects when needed but doesn’t turn to them too often.

Suggestion: Firewall is one to try as it will tick all the basic ideas down correctly.  (Try It)


Best Part: Bill twisted message with the cookies.

Worst Part: Not much new.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Tagline: Everything He loves Is About To Be Used Against Him.


Overall: Enjoyable thriller that never really tested.




The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)

logoDirector: Don Scardino

Writer: Jonathan M Goldstein, John Francis Daley (Screenplay) Chad Kultgen, Tyler Mitchell, Jonathan M Goldstein, John Francis Daley (Story)

Starring: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin, Jay Mohr


Plot: A veteran Vegas magician tries to revive his career after his longtime partner quits, he gets fired from his casino act, and an edgy new “street magician” steals his thunder.


Verdict: Magical fun?


Story: We start by following our young Burt Wonderstone as he deals with school bullies, neglectful parent and meeting his partner as he gets his first magic kit. We fast forward till when they are hits in Vegas with their partnership shining through all their hard work. After ten years of doing the same show over and over their friendship is wearing thin. When a new street magician comes along with his new era of magic the two friends have to start upping their game by embracing the new era of magic and give up their old act. After their big act goes horribly wrong the friendship ends but Burt wants to continue his act as a solo artist. After Burt’s career hits rock bottom he tries everything to make his comeback.

This story has a very real look at how the magic scene has been changing over recent years, it looks at how the pure magic show has become out dated with the new edgy magic. We also look at how you should be respecting the people who opened the door to a talent. This all comes together to make an original idea even if it plays out like something we have already seen. It lets the comedic actors do what the fans of theirs will enjoy but in the end doesn’t let them show off all their skills. (6/10)


Actor Review


Steve Carell: Burt Wonderstone magician who is so caught up in his own success and after a new magician becomes an overnight sensation Burt has to learn to cope with the new era of magic. This gives Steve the basic for him to use his comic skills but he never really goes anywhere original. (6/10)


Steve Buscemi: Anton Marvelton partner with Burt who is the man behind the tricks but after the friends go their separate ways he tries to help the world. Steve shows that he can fit into many different types of roles and his comic timing as an awkward character always comes off. (7/10)


Olivia Wilde: Jane dragged into becoming the assistant of the pair and has to overcome her stage fright to but still feels out of place on stage with the act. Olivia continues her rise as a constant solid supporting actress. (7/10)


Jim Carrey: Steve Gray new street magician whose new extreme magic changes the game in the business, but his over the top tricks will push the old school magicians to go to their next levels. Jim takes a step back as the edgy magician role where he gets to have plenty of fun at how silly that type of magician can look. (7/10)


Support Cast: All of the supporting cast add something to the overall storyline, be it the boss in Vegas, or other magicians who help Burt find his way again.


Director Review: Don Scardino – Don does a solid job with directing the film using clever ideas for the magic and manages to keep it all at a fun level. (6/10)


Comedy: Has a few laughs but nothing outrageously funny. (5/10)

Settings: Vegas makes for a great setting for the film as it shows how the magicians have reaches their dreams and want to get it back. (9/10)

Suggestion: This is one to try, it isn’t the funniest film but the fans of the actors will enjoy this. (Try It)


Best Part: The final trick

Worst Part: Some of the Steve Gray tricks are awkward.

Believability: It looks at the change in real magic which is real but the rest is a little bit too much to believe. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $22.5 Million

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Tagline: Abracatastic!


Overall: Magic, Stars but not Sparkle

Rating 60