ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – M – Mother (2009) Movie Review

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Writer: Eun-Kyo Park, Bong Joon Ho (Screenplay) Bong Joon Ho (Story)

Starring: Hye-ja Kim, Won Bin, Goo Jin, Je-mun Yun, Mi-seon Jeon, Sae-byeok Song

Plot: A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl’s horrific murder.


Tagline – She’ll stop at nothing.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dark Crime Thriller

Story: Mother starts as we meet young man Yoon Do-joon (Bin) whose mother (Kim) always watches over him, making sure he doesn’t get into trouble, he best friend does tend to get him into trouble and when a 12 year-old girl gets murdered, Do-joon becomes the prime suspect.

With Do-joon in jail waiting for a trial, his mother isn’t as convinced that he is guilty and pleads with the lead detective Je-moon (Yun) an old school friend to help find the truth, before deciding she is the only one that can clear his name.

Thoughts on Mother

Characters – The Mother who never gives her name, always watches over her son, making sure he doesn’t get into trouble, dealing with his disabilities, when he gets accused of murder, she is the only one that will believe he is innocent and goes in search of answers, a determined figure that isn’t going to let her son go to jail for something he never did. Do-joon is the mentally challenged young man that people do take advantage off, his mother does watch over him to try and stop this happening, but he is accused of murder and even here he is taken advantage off, when looking for a suspect. Jin-tae is one man that has always used Do-joon, he is the closest thing to a friend and once he teams up with Mother, he starts helping her find the answers she is looking for, in his own violent way.

PerformancesHye-ja Kim is excellent in the leading role, she shows all the desperation her character is going through, along with the constant worry she is experiencing for her son. Won Bin plays his role with a natural feel, showing us that he can be taken advantage off, but he is capable of everyday function, the rest of the cast are great through the film, never looking out of place in this everyday life that has a sudden incident.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that will do anything to try and get her son of a murder charge, a crime he didn’t commit, but was made to be the prime suspects because of his behaviour of the night of the crime. This does show us how an overprotective mother will do whatever it takes to prove the innocence of their child, how not every crime is cut and dry and shows us just how the bigger story could have many bigger issues going on in the background. We are kept guessing to how this will unfold, with a list of potential suspects growing as the story unfolds, though we never seem to address how the police pushed Do-joon into a confession, knowing he wasn’t capable of understanding the situation fully.

CrimeThe crime is the murder of a 12-year-old girl, we don’t see it, we don’t learn about what was done to them, we just know they were killed and that the killer is still at large, unsure of their own motivation for committing this crime.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a small town, one where everybody does know the strengths and weaknesses in people, one where any news moves quickly and people are always looking for a quick answer.


Scene of the Movie – The visit to the homeless man.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not addressing how Do-joon was treating in his interrogation.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderfully dark crime thriller that brings to life a story about proving innocence at any cost.

Overall: Wonderfully Acted Thriller.

The Limey (1999) Movie Review

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Lem Dobbs (Screenplay)

Starring: Terence Stamp, Lesley Ann Warren, Luis Guzman, Barry Newman, Joe Dallesandro, Peter Fonda, Nicky Katt, Melissa George

Plot: An extremely volatile and dangerous Englishman goes to Los Angeles to find the man he considers responsible for his daughter’s death.


Tagline – Vengeance knows no boundaries.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Poorly Shot Thriller

Story: The Limey starts when volatile Englishman Wilson (Stamp) heads to LA after receiving news from Eduardo Roel (Guzman) about the news of his daughter Jenny’s (George) death, Wilson wants answers and starts to investigate the man believed to be behind it Terry Valentine (Fonda).

As Wilson doesn’t take long to get close to Terry, he finds himself being put on a hitlist by his fixer Jim Avery (Newman), with the personal battle between the two, with Wilson refusing to stop before getting revenge.

Thoughts on The Limey

Characters – Wilson is a violent English criminal who has spent time in prison for violent crimes, he is a free man now, which sees him travel to America in search for information behind his daughter’s death. He isn’t going to go down quietly and wants to get the message across personally in his attempt to get revenge on the person he believes was behind her death. Terry Valentine is the record producer that Wilson is targeting, he lives in the hilltop looking down on the city with his latest project on his arm, he lets Jim deal with his problems. Jim Avery is the fixer for Terry, he has the connections to solve problems, he doesn’t explain how, he just gets things done for him. Elaine is the only friend of Jenny’s Wilson meets, she explains how things were around the town, giving him somebody to talk to about the situation.

PerformancesTerence Stamp is the highlight of the film as the relentless father who wants the truth, he brings confidence to every scene, where his character is the most important part of every scene. Peter Fonda as the record producer playboy works well with the rest of the cast never looking completely out of place.

StoryThe story follows a criminal who wants revenge for the death of his daughter, which sees him investigating her life before getting involved with a battle against a record producer. The story is the easy revenge idea, nothing wrong with that, we get the flashbacks to the memories with the daughter, which all work well. When it comes to how the story is shot, we are left with most of the problems, it feels very jerky, nothing seems to focus on what is going on in each scene, with the conversation sequences almost showing the endless pauses, rather than giving us a proper conversation. It does feel like the story is trying to be more down to Earth and grittier than a flashy revenge thriller.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of this film follows the criminal willing to do anything to solve the mystery about his daughter, in the criminal underworld.

SettingsThe film is set in LA, which does show the luxury like Jenny would have been living in and how the different levels of people will be living in while there.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The Cockney rhyming slang is bad.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that brings a grittier approach to revenge, only to find itself poorly shot even if the cast doesn’t put a foot wrong.

Overall: Gritty Thriller.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – D – Dogman (2018) Movie Review

Director: Matteo Garrone

Writer: Ugo Chiti, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso (Screenplay)

Starring: Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Nunzie Schiano, Adamo Dionisi, Francesco Acquaroli

Plot: A timid dog groomer living in a poor suburb sells cocaine on the side and stays out of trouble, while trying to deal with his unstable, violent acquaintance who is a menace to the whole neighborhood.


Tagline – Everyone has a breaking point.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Crime Film

Story: Dogman starts as we meet the timid dog groomer Marcello (Fonte) who prides himself on his ability to keep the neighbourhood dogs in good condition, though he also moonlights as a cocaine dealer, with one of his biggest clients Simoncino (Pesce), an aggressive criminal.

When Simoncino forces Marcello into helping him commit a crime on his neighbour, he is left with no choice but to help, seeing his own life spiral out of control.

Thoughts on Dogman

Characters – Marcello is the timid dog groomer, dog lover and will always do everything to make sure animals are safe, he is reluctantly selling drugs to the side, slowly getting himself dragged into a life of crime, which he doesn’t want to, but things just get out of control forcing him to need to finally stand up to the bully criminal. Simoncino is the druggie criminal that is always pushing Marcelle into either supplying for him or helping break the law, he uses his build to intimidate him into committing the crimes.

PerformancesMarcelle Fonte in the leading role is great, we get to understand the struggles he is going through with a bully of a criminal around, which also shines through in his kindness towards the animals. Edoardo Pesce fits the bullying criminal performance well, showing how his presence would use his intimation to get what he wants.

StoryThe story here follows a timid dog groomer that has found himself in the middle of a crime ring after one of his drug dealing clients starts pushing him to his limits, he is torn between what to do and will still always protect his dogs. This is a nice crime drama that shows us just how far somebody might get pushed to fit in or stay out of trouble from the person trying to control the situations. It does show how the poor neighbourhoods will be forced into doing anything to survive, which does give motivation for why Marcello does have to lives.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows how Marcello is getting pushed into things he is uncomfortable about doing.

SettingsThe film is set in the one small Italian village which shows how the residents do know each other and how things around the city might not know the criminal side of the behaviour.


Scene of the Movie – The cage.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t learn enough about the supporting characters in the area.

Final Thoughts This is a nice crime drama that shows however much you might push someone, they will be willing to fight back if you push them too hard.

Overall: Nice Drama.

The Karma Effect (2020) Movie Review

The Karma Effect – Smart Crime Tale

Director: Jimmy Dasaint

Writer: Jimmy Dasaint (Screenplay)

Starring: Bobby Rand, Nacirema Ledom, Edward Ferguson, Tiona Brown, Markee Djordan, Lauren Mack, Cathy Dance

Plot: One man’s journey to find the man responsible for his sister’s death.


Tagline – Sometimes our enemies are the ones we love

Runtime: 1 Hour 6 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Karma Effect starts as Manny (Ferguson) looks to go about his day of taking dealings off the book around Philadelphia, wanting to make sure his girl Nikki (Ledom) is safe at home while he is on job.

When Karma (Rand) arrives at Nikki’s home, he forces Manny into getting his money, holding Nikki hostage until he does, which will see Manny needing to run around town looking to collect favours.

Thoughts on The Karma Effect

Characters & Performances – Manny is a wheeler and dealer around town that holds people up for the money they owe, but doesn’t become violent when they don’t. he finds himself needing to collect money to pay off a mysterious visitor holding his girlfriend hostage, using his connection to make it happen. Edward Ferguson brings us an everyday man that fits in as the family man and the connection around town. Nikki is the girlfriend that finds herself being held hostage, wanting to know why and making sure she stays alive. Nacirema Ledom does well in her role, which isn’t just a victim in distress. Karma is the man that is holding Nikki hostage demanding money, he has his motive for being here and it will become clear as the story unfolds. Bobby Rand gives the calming performance needed for being in control of what is happening.

StoryThe story here follows a man who must spend the day tracking down money to pay off a man that is holding his girlfriend hostage for an unknown reason, using all his connection to get this done. This is a story that plays out like you would imagine for the most part, seeing the connections coming in good for the money, while having a big mystery about why the person wants the money in the first place. Where this story truly stands out is with the final act reveal, which will make you think back to every single interaction we have seen earlier in the film. The story does have a bigger message behind everything and is based on a true story too.

 

The Karma Effect is a crime thriller that gets turned on it’s head in the final act which makes you want to re-watch each interaction.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – Y – White Boy Rick (2018) Movie Review

This is under Y because of director Yann Demange.

Director: Yann Demange

Writer: Andy Weiss, Logan Miller, Noah Miller (Screenplay)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, RJ Cyler, Jonathan Majors

Plot: The story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: White Boy Rick starts as Rick Wershe Jr (Merritt) is getting tired of his father Richard (McConaughey) behaviour in the questionable business ideas. Rick finds himself looking to make a deal with the Curry crew with Lil Man (Majors) running the operation.

What starts out like smooth sailing for Rick, soon turns sour as he finds himself in the middle of a battle between arms dealers and drug dealer, along with FBI agents Snyder (Leigh) and Byrd (Cochrane) trying to bring the Curry family down, forcing Rick to work for them.

Thoughts on White Boy Rick

ThoughtsWhite Boy Rick follows the teenage years of the drug lord named White Boy Rick, a teenager that stepped into the arms dealing game to protect his father and soon finds himself as an informant, turned drug lord of the area. The story shows us how one young man became one of the most famous criminals for never hurting anyone. Showing how a teenager rose to the top by playing the game that the authorities placed upon him. We do go down the road of not getting much sympathy for Rick because most of what happens is his own downfall, despite showing the kindness to help people, including his sister. The performances in the film are strong throughout, seeing McConaughey taking the supporting role does work very well in the film too. The timeline we get to follow do show quite a few years of how the world was changing, which seems to show one or two big moments per year before moving on, which takes away the position of power Rick managed to gain.

Final Thoughts White Boy Rick is an interesting look at the rise to power of the teenage drug lord, well acted but does seem to skip over the smaller points on his rise.