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.

Franchise Weekend – From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) Robert Kurtzman (Story)

Starring: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo

 

Plot: Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in a truck stop populated by vampires, with chaotic results.


Tagline – How far can Too Far go?

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blood Splattered Blast

 

Story: From Dusk till Dawn starts after Seth Gecko (Clooney) is broken out of prison by his brother Richard (Tarantino) before they commit a daring daylight robbery as they race towards the Mexican border. They have a hostage which Richard soon kills, meaning they must find another one. The brothers pick a family the Fuller family, whose loss of faith priest father Jacob (Keitel) and his children Kate (Lewis) and Scott (Liu) are just travelling.

Once across the border the five head to a bar known as the Titty Twister for bikers and truckers alike, but soon they must put their differences aside when it turns out to be a vampire hideout, where they must fight to daylight.

 

Thoughts on From Dusk till Dawn

 

Characters – Seth Gecko has just been sprung from prison by his brother, he wants to get across the border to complete a deal which would see them both have freedom, he is the one that remains in control wanting to keep everything calm, which would mean not leaving a pile of bodies behind them. He does deliver the threats which would see them as a danger, though he does just want things to be simple. Richard or Ritchie is must more of a loose cannon, he is paranoid and this makes him more dangerous, as he will kill people putting their safety at risk. He is protected by his brother, as he doesn’t seem like he is capable of putting a plan together himself. Jacob was a priest that has lost his faith after his wife’s death, he I taking his family on a vacation and gets forced into helping the brothers, he wants to keep them safe, willing to risk his own life to make this happen. Kate and Scott are his children, they are dealing with their own loss the best way they know how to and being supportive to their father. Santanico is the beautiful dancer that will stop a bar with her dance, she is one of the leaders of the vampires who has been waiting for the food in human form.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is great to see in this role, after this we only usually see him in smooth talking roles, rather than a rough criminal, showing he could become any role offered to him. Tarantino in this film is creepy and putting himself in the supporting role does hide any restrictions he might have as an actor. Harvey Keitel is great showing a character that is meant to be hating his life choice, but remaining strong for his children. Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu are both solid enough in the supporting roles without getting too much more to work with, while Salma Hayek turns heads with her performance.

StoryThe story here follows two criminals trying to get to Mexico, the family they force to help them across the border and the bar they find, filled with vampires that they must fight to survive the night. Where this story stands up on its own, is by making it a criminal tory to start with, having no hints of horror or vampires involved, as we just watch the two loose cannons trying to get to safety, by pulling the rug out from under us to thrown us into the horror idea is genius switch of pace for the story. we do have themes going on especially with the Jacob character needing to find his lost faith which finding it will become the big part in fight the vampires. The story also exists in a world where vampire stories do exist, which gives them ideas on how to fight back, which was the main attraction to the 90’s horror stories.

Action/HorrorThe action in the film involves the fighting with the vampires, we get to take everything to a new level for this side of the genre, with the blood splatter in the action, which the horror gives us because we vampires which are a staple of horror, but we do focus on the action over the scares.

SettingsThe film uses the getting to the location setting of the camper van which does show us the road trip feel to the film, but it is the bar that will be one that is always going to be hard to forget, being a run down biker and trucker bar.

Special EffectsThe special effects are some of the best you will see in the vampire genre, it shows that you can get plenty done with practical effects, with the only weakness come from the human to vampire transformations, which look CGI and have dated.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The transformations have dated badly.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most fun vampire movies you will ever see, it has plenty of blood flying around the screen and will keep you entertained from start to finish.

 

Overall: Purely entertaining vampire movie.

Rating

 

 

Taxi Driver (1976)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Paul Schrader (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks, Peter Boyle

 

Plot: A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, while attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic, Maybe Not?

 

Story: Taxi Driver starts we meet Travis Bickle (De Niro) a war veteran struggling with sleep and finding peace in night shifts as a taxi driver as he becomes fascinated by campaigner Betsy (Shepherd). Travis also isn’t happy with the state of New York City and wants to see it cleaned up.

When Travis decides to get himself protection he starts to look to clean up the streets himself to protect a preadolescent prostitute Iris (Foster) which leads to the violent outbreak of his.

 

Thoughts on Taxi Driver

 

Characters – Travis Bickle is the lonely unstable former marine that is suffering from insomnia deciding to take a job as a taxi driver at night, he wants to clean up the street and his anti-social behaviour makes his isolation become a violent outrage against the city. Iris is an underage prostitute in the city that keeps crossing paths with Travis and is the one that Travis most wants to protect. Betsy is the love interest of Travis, well the woman he takes out twice only to show us how difficult he finds it to socialise.

PerformanceRobert De Niro does carry this film with a performance that could be the best of his career. Jodie Foster is brilliant in her role where she shows how talented she was at a young age. The rest of the cast are good throughout the film as De Niro works with them all.

StoryThe story here looks into loneliness in the Big Apple, a man that doesn’t fit in and wants to clean up the streets which he believes are not going the way he believes he should. We look at the underworld of prostitution and see the colourful characters that come out at night but in the end it just feels like a study of New York itself.

CrimeThe crime underworld being shown in this film is good as we see one man want to clean up the streets in his own way.

SettingsNew York is a setting I always love seeing used for settings and in this film we get to see the darker side of the Big Apple.

Scene of the Movie – You Talkin to Me?

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact the film has been put on the all time greats list.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film I have only ever heard wonderful things about and sure the acting is fantastic throughout, the idea of a man feeling like he needs to clean up his neighbourhood is good to but when you look at the full picture it mostly just feels slow and dated in the storytelling process which spends over an hour building in one direction only to head off into another one for the second half of the film.

 

Overall: Brilliant acting, but storytelling leaves questions marks.

Rating

 

 

Lies We Tell (2017)

Lies We Tell is released on Digital 2nd April 2018 and will be Exclusively at ASDA on 16th April 2016

 

DVD Extras including

·        Deleted Scenes

·        Cast & Crew Interviews

·        Behind the Scenes Footage

·        Raindance Premiere Footage

 

Director: Mitu Misra

Writer: Ewen Glass, Andy McDermott (Screenplay) Mitu Misra (Story)

Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Sibylla Deen, Harvey Keitel, Mark Addy, Jan Uddin, Reece Ritchie, Gina McKee, Nicholas Farrell, Emily Atack

 

Plot: A trusted driver must deal with his dead boss’ Muslim mistress, her dark past pulling him into a life-and-death showdown with her notorious gangster cousin/ex-husband.


Tagline – The only men who get caught are those who don’t love their wives enough..

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Character Piece

 

Story: Lies We Tell starts with loyal chauffer Donald (Byrne) taking his boss Demi (Keitel) to his secret rendezvous with his mistress, with the busy done, he ends up dying leaving Donald with one last request, clean up the evidence of the mistress.

The mistress Amber (Deen) a Muslim lawyer from Bradford, that has a past of her own which has seen cousin KD (Uddin) become a notorious gangster in Bradford. Amber turns to Donald to help her through the problems she is facing from the streets.

 

Thoughts on Lies We Tell

 

Characters – Donald is the quiet chauffer for a billionaire, he is in the middle of a divorce while dealing with his own personal problems. He is asked to cover up the mistress of his boss only to get drawn into the world of gangsters and Muslim beliefs. Amber is the mistress and lawyer in the city, about to have a big career move, only for her past to come back and cause her problems when it comes to the traditions of her own religion. KD is the cousin of Amber, he has a past that plays darker than you would think, while his part as a gangster is generic, it is his belief in his religion which would cause the darkest side of his character.

PerformancesGabriel Byrne is good in his role, he makes his character feel withdrawn from early on and this is needed for the character he is playing. Sibylla Deen is the unknown of the main cast, she is the star of the film, she balances the characters problems so well through each and every scene. Jan Uddin gives us a villainous gangster figure which is something needed, but his aggressive moments are the best for him.

StoryThis a movie that has a story that doesn’t go in any direction you are expecting, there is a lot more going on when it comes to looking at Muslin marriages that you will be prepared for. While Donald is a man that comes protect and guide Amber, he doesn’t need to turn to violence for this. We are seeing how Amber is trying break from religion and the struggles a woman has to achieve this over a man that can do anything.

Crime/RomanceThe crime world is only scratched on through the surfaces of this movie, we have a gangster that believe he can get what he wants, but from what we can tell Donald and his boss are all legal with their actions. The romance isn’t on the same levels as what you would think, we look at arranged marriages, affairs and lost love over most other things in this film.

SettingsThe main setting for this film is Bradford, this is fresh from just giving us London again, we have the gangs and the traditions that are felt by some and not others on display showing us that they could be anywhere in your own neighbourhood.


Scene of the Movie –
Graveyard driving.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The wedding side of things didn’t seem to make sense by the end. Not because of the tradition, but location.

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime movie that turns to the characters on the highest level of the film, watching what Amber and Donald go through are the driving force and make this different to what you are expecting.

 

Overall: Something different to what you are expecting.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – Y – Youth (2015)

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Writer: Paolo Sorrentino (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano

 

Plot: A retired orchestra conductor is on holiday with his daughter and his film director best friend in the Alps when he receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform for Prince Philip’s birthday.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Drama

 

Story: Youth starts as we arrive in this Swiss Alps luxury resort where retired orchestra conductor Fred Ballinger (Caine) and his best friend film director Mike Boyle (Keitel). Fred uses the annual trip as a chase relax and get treated, Mike is working on the next screenplay with a group of students.

Fred’s relaxing holiday gets changed when Mike’s son divorces his daughter Lena (Weisz) meaning she is spending her holiday with him, he does enjoy this company though otherwise he would be alone. Fred does get requested to perform at Prince Philip’s birthday by Queen Elizabeth II but refuses at first, but the Queen won’t take no for an answer but his reasons will help Lena through her own problems. Fred also ends up having a holiday relationship with young actor Jimmy Tree (Dano) who understands Fred’s frustration because he is feeling them too as an actor.

The holiday will give new feelings, directions and moments for these four, ones that you can only get from relaxing and enjoying yourself once in a while.

 

Thoughts on Youth

 

Characters/PerformanceFred Ballinger is a world famous musical conductor that is requested by the Queen to perform, but he has retired now and all he wants is peace and quiet in this relaxing holiday in the Swiss Alps, he hasn’t been the same since he lost his wife and wants to continue he love of music with the next generation. Mick Boyle is a screenwriter and director who is also Fred’s good friend, he is on this holiday to teach a group of students. Lena was spending time with her father before going on her own holiday but those plans fall through as her life is turned upside down and now she needs her father more than ever. Jimmy is an actor who is also dealing with the problem of being remember for only one thing but he is young and wants to be remembered for more.

Performance wise, this is fantastic performance from Michael Caine showing just how talented he is even in his older years, Keitel is also great in the supporting role where we get to see how can be a supporting actor and not take away from the lead. Weisz and Dano are both great too where we can see just how wonderful they are.

StoryThis is a story showing how people of all ages can achieve new things, they have made bad mistakes but most of, you can learn from it all. This is a strange paced movie that does tell a nice story of the four characters down on their luck finding more from their lives.

Comedy/Music/RomanceThe comedy works in places, mostly because of the strangeness going on through the film, the music is all about how Fred finds it anything with the romance coming from the experiences the four have had.

SettingsThe Swiss Alps make for a beautiful setting, with the hotel and spa making it all look complete for the escaping from the reality of their lives.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautiful looking, wonderful acted movie that is well worth watching to learn about moments of life.

 

Overall: Lovely drama.

Rating