ABC Film Challenge – Crime – L – Live by Night (2016)

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck (Screenplay) Dennis Lehane (Novel)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Remo Girone, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Chris Messina

 

Plot: A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.


Tagline – The American Dream has a price

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long & Complex

 

Story: Live by Night starts as we meet Joe Coughlin (Affleck) a former soldier in World War I, who returned to Boston to live the life of crime as an outlaw. When Joe gets blackmailed into killing his boss or risk having his boss learn about his secret affair with his girlfriend Emma (Miller) he finds himself in the middle of a battle he didn’t want a part of.

After the secret is revelled Joe is left for dead blamed for killing cops, after 3 years in jail he gets sent to Florida to track down Albert White, to stop his business and kill him for the new gangster running things in Boston.

With his being a success Joe ends up clashing with the Klux Klan while trying to continue to watch the money roll in to his bosses and even himself.

 

Thoughts on Live by Night

 

Characters – Joe Coughlin is our narrator our gangster, well reluctant gangster, forced into the world after his life as an outlaw gets him mixed up with the wrong people. We learn he is fantastic at handling himself in the meeting striking a deal and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The other characters seem to just be in chapters of his life, Emma is in Boston being a love interest, while Graciela business partner and lover in Florida. Chief Figgis is the man that will let Joe conduct business and to be honest we don’t get to learn enough about them to care about.

PerformancesBen Affleck is the only lead performer in this movie, he is fine through the film, he doesn’t reach the levels we know he can. When you dive into the supporting cast we get a host of known names and even unknowns who get the same amount of time that are solid without anyone standing out.

StoryThe story follows Joe Coughlin as he starts out as a thief and becomes a gangster, this should work and I would have been fine with this, the problems build up as we see how many different situations Joe must solve to get the next chapter of the story through, because we don’t get enough time to see the problems he must overcome and everything just becomes glimpses into the gangster life without doing anything new.

Action/CrimeWe have plenty of shooting going on, though the final one does feel like a level of Grand Theft Auto. This does from us into a gangster heavy crime world where the prohibition is ongoing through America.

SettingsThe settings place us in the prohibition era America, be it Boston or Florida nothing does seem out of place with these locations.


Scene of the Movie –
Final shoot-out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not giving us the time to know the supporting characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a messy gangster film, it has the moments of potential but in the end just jumps too fast to grab us to care about certain moments which do seem to have a bigger impact on the story.

 

Overall: Disappointing, ending Affleck’s streak behind the camera.

Rating

 

 

I Think We’re Alone Now (2018)

Director: Reed Morano

Writer: Mike Makowsky (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Paul Giamatti

 

Plot: The apocalypse proves a blessing in disguise for one lucky recluse — until a second survivor arrives with the threat of companionship.


Tagline – In the End…Chaos Will Find You

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bleak & Beautiful

 

Story: I Think We’re Alone Now starts as we meet Del (Dinklage) who after a sudden apocalypse which has left everybody in his town dead, is in the middle of cleaning up the neighbourhood, burying the dead, cleaning up their homes, this has been the best thing to happen to him.

Del’s perfect life gets an unlikely visitor in Grace (Fanning) a young woman who is also looking for her own place in the abandoned world, the two reluctantly decide to help each other, which only forces Del to change his ways, can he cope with having someone else around.

 

Thoughts on I Think We’re Alone Now

 

Characters – Del is a recluse that never got on with people and with the apocalypse giving him the chance to be alone, he spends his days cleaning up his home town, moving the dead bodies, cleaning the homes and trying to make the town livable again. His quiet life is turned upside down, when a stranger arrives, he is left with the question of deciding whether he can live with someone else or just keep his lonely life. Grace is the young woman that turns up in Del’s town, she is just looking for more people in the world which brings her to try and help bring Del out of his lonely way.

PerformancesPeter Dinklage is fantastic in this leading role showing us just how content his character is because life hasn’t changed too much in his characters life. The idea where he can make us care about this lonely character going through the motions shows his talent. Elle Fanning is great too, she brings life to the film because of her energy to this bleak world.

StoryThe story here follows one man that has been given the perfect life in his eyes after the world goes through an apocalypse, he is cleaning up his town making it how he believes it should look even with all the people dead. This side of the story is portrayed perfectly because never have you seen someone so content in this world, even Wall-E was depressed in this type of world. his life changes when a stranger arrives and he is torn between wanting to be left alone and having somebody else around who might not follow his method of living. This story doesn’t give us the full explanation to what killed everybody and strangely enough we don’t need it, just be thankful it isn’t a zombie one. The idea that the world hasn’t always been as accepting as Del would have liked is clear too, which makes us understand why he likes being alone, while having that craving of human interaction once Grace turns up in his life. We tackle ideas of isolation through the apocalypse and address how people can be affected by this in normal life, almost becoming accepting of it. The story does go down a road we have seen before which never reaches the full levels of similar films, which is nice because it keeps everything grounded from the views of Del and the world he is happy in.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery side of the film comes from seeing and wondering just what caused the apocalypse, why Del survived it and whether he is the only one left, this only gets more questions for the audience to ask when Grace arrives in his life. The sci-fi element of the film comes from seeing just what the world would look like with a sudden death apocalypse.

SettingsThe film creates one of the most haunting towns possible for being empty, Del marking up houses, to his visits to the library show us just how empty the world is, though full for Del.


Scene of the Movie –
Watching Del go about his day.

That Moment That Annoyed Me People could be annoyed by not knowing the true reason why the people got died.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautiful and bleak apocalypse movie that keeps the story simple, the performances fantastic and you just wanting to see more of the world created.

 

Overall: Dinklage shines bright here.

Rating

 

 

The Beguiled (2017)

Director: Sofia Coppola

Writer: Albert Maltz, Irene Kamp (Screenplay) Thomas Cullinan (Novel)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke

 

Plot: At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. Soon, the house is taken over with sexual tension, rivalries, and an unexpected turn of events.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Thriller

 

Story: The Beguiled starts as the injured Union soldier Corporal McBurney (Farrell) is taken into a girl’s school run by Miss Martha (Kidman), teacher Edwina (Dunst) and their students Alicia (Fanning), Amy (Laurence), Jane (Rice), Marie (Riecke) and Emily (Howard) as they look to treat his wounds before turning him over the confederation soldiers.

Working together the women decide against turning him and keep him around the house to help out while he finishes he recovery, but when there is a sexual tension between McBurney and the girl’s things take a turn that no one could imagine.

 

Thoughts on The Beguiled

 

Characters – Corporal McBurney is a soldier hiding from the civil war after he is injured. He has a speedy recovery in the school but grabs the attention of the women but this will only make his life being put in danger. Miss Martha runs a strict school, with no men around, she reluctantly helps McBurney being the doctor of the house. Edwina is the teacher that takes a shine to McBurney which ends up being the straw that breaks everything down. The students are all different ages showing the levels of innocence we could see broken.

PerformancesColin Farrell gives one of his best performances of his career here being kind one moment and the broken man the next. Nicole Kidman is great in her role too as the head mistress of the school, she shows the mentoring figure of films just how it is done. Kirsten Dunst also continues to give us the mature performances we like seeing from here now. The young actresses who have been giving us good work in other projects all do great here too.

StoryThe story follows how the women of the school must keep themselves safe during the Civil War from the men who might come into their lives, we only focus on one who disrupts their calm life leaving nothing the same once they are finished protecting themselves. It is a slow-paced story but it flows past quickly making us want to see where things will go next.

SettingsThe film is set inside the girls school, this takes us away from the battlefield the war has been creating make us see how distant these women have become from the world too.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that shows the effects of the Civil War on the innocence people while people were fighting.  

 

Overall: Thriller that is edge of your seat from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

The Neon Demon (2016)

neonDirector: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Poly Stenham (Screenplay)

Starring: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

 

Plot: When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: UMMMMM ZZZZZZ I Think

 

Story: The Neon Demon starts young naïve model Jesse (Fanning) who at the tender age of 16 moved the LA to make a name for herself, striking up a friendship with make-up artist Ruby (Malone) she finds her way to model agent Roberta Hoffman (Hendricks) who starts her on her trail to stardom.

As Jesse stars to rise up the ranks in the modelling world she meets all the other models that have all gone to their own lengths to get into the world, but will she let this new world consume her.

The Neon Demon is a film I can honestly say I really just didn’t understand or of the bits I did understand I feel it comes off like a poor version of Starry Eyes. The film is full blown artsy with lots of long shots of pretty much nothing happening other than music. In the end I found myself wanting this to be a lot shorter and have a more rounded story.

 

Overall: Artsy messy film really

Rating20

 

 

Maleficent (2014)

logoDirector: Robert Stromberg

Writer: Linda Woolverton (Screenplay) Charles Perrault, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, Milt Banta, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm (Original Material)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, Kenneth Cranham

 

Plot: A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darkly Fantasy

 

Story: Maleficent start with narration that informs us that we have two different kingdoms that are at war who could only be separate by good guy or a villain. We meet Maleficent the good kind young fairy part of the fantasy kingdom. The young Maleficent gets to meet her first human when young Stefan enters into the world and as time goes by the two become friends and eventually fall in love.

Maleficent (Jolie) fully grown becomes the guardian of the Moors and after starting to grow apart from Stefan the war between humans and fairies was ready to come to ahead. Stefan (Copley) rising through the kingdom gets a chance to become king along with the rest of the loyal followers of the King all they had to do was bring Maleficent head to him. Stefan’s desire for power sees him betray Maleficent by taking her wings.

Maleficent fuelled by rage brings darkness to her kingdom while see waits for her chance to get revenge on King Stefan. When King Stefan has a baby Maleficent puts a curse on the baby that upon pricking her finger on a spinning wheel she will fall into sleep never to awaken until she has true loves kiss. Maleficent continues to watch Aurora (Fanning) grow hoping for the chance that when she will get cursed. As Aurora continues to grow Maleficent becomes a friend with and turns into the Godmother and even tries to lift the curse but with no luck. Aurora is doomed to need to find true loves kiss to survive.

Maleficent manages to take an old story of Sleeping Beauty and turn the story on its head, much like Oz the Great and the Power did. This time we learn that the evil from that story had a motive and wasn’t just purely evil. We learn that anyone that gets hurt in love could break and the results could turn into something that looks like this. We do get the traditional Disney ‘true love’ theme running throughout which does get used too much but on the plus side we get to see the real meaning behind it. This tries to make everything seem like it is a lot darker than the first story but in the end just sends up round in circles and coming off very been there seen that *cough* Frozen. (5/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Angelina Jolie: Maleficent fairy who gets betrayed by a human filling her with darkness against that human before putting a curse upon his baby daughter. Over time Maleficent becomes the fairy godmother watching over the young girl before trying to lift the curse. Angelina shines in this villain with a heart role, playing both sides throughout the film we get to see what she is capable off. (8/10)

 maleficent

Elle Fanning: Aurora the young girl who becomes cursed, while her good nature changes Maleficent making her want to lift the curse. Elle is a great actress coming through but we don’t get to see enough of her character in this film. (6/10)

aurora

Sharlto Copley: Stefan a childhood friend of Maleficent who gets consumed by power which ends up making him betrays her on his way to become king. Once he is king Maleficent puts a curse on his baby girl which ends up pushing him into darkness trying to get revenge on her. Sharlto is a good actor normally but I do feel like he looks kind of lost in this role. (5/10)

stefan

Support Cast: Maleficent has a supporting cast that includes Maleficent loyal slave and three pixies who are there for comic relief, most of the rest of the characters are there to look the part and never really get involved in what is going on.

 

Director Review: Robert Stromberg – Robert does a good job visual with his direction debut but really doesn’t make a true classic from which the source material could be considered. (7/10)

 

Action: Maleficent has a few fantasy fights but nothing over the memorable. (5/10)

Family: Maleficent is a dark tale to take the family to see and might not be suitable for the youngest family members. (5/10)

Fantasy: Maleficent takes us into a beautiful fantasy world that changes with the mood of Maleficent. (9/10)

Romance: Maleficent plays the old romance and true love storyline which feels tired through this one. (5/10)

Settings: Maleficent each setting is brilliantly created for the characters to live in. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Maleficent has good effects to create the worlds. (9/10)

Suggestion: Maleficent one for the family really, and also for the Disney princess fans. (Family or Princess fans Watch)

 

Best Part: The Effects are brilliant.

Worst Part: Seen the story before.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Oz The Great and the Powerful

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for One Oscar in Costume Design..

Box Office: $758 Million

Budget: $180 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

Tagline: Don’t believe the fairy tale

 

Overall: Maleficent is a fantasy film that ticks all those boxes but ends up falling short with the original story ideas.

Rating 60