El Dorado (1967)

Director: Howard Hawks

Writer: Leigh Brackett (Screenplay) Harry Brown (Novel)

Starring: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Paul Fix, Arthur Hunnicutt, Michele Carey

 

Plot: Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.


Tagline – Range War! A lawless time when no man dares turn his back… even to a friend!

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical Western

 

Story: El Dorado starts when Sheriff Harrah (Mitchum) turns to his former gunslinger partner Cole Thornton (Wayne) for assistance against a ruthless rancher Bart Jason (Asner) who wants to force another rancher off their land.

Cole meets a young man Mississippi (Caan) that proves he can handle himself in a fight, which sees him continue to build a team to take down Bart Jason once and for all.

 

Thoughts on El Dorado

 

Characters – Cole Thornton is the gunslinger for hire, he doesn’t mind which side of the law he works as long as he gets paid, his loyalty comes back to show that sometimes he doesn’t get bought, when his old friend comes asking for help, he will help people he does believe are getting into trouble for the right reasons and will fight for the people next to the people he trusts the most. Sheriff J.P. Harrah turns to his old friend for help, only to see him turn to the bottle after failing to help on the levels he most requires. Mississippi is the young bounty hunter that is deadly with a knife, he will need to use a gun if he is to work with Cole, who he wants to learn from.

PerformancesJohn Wayne is one of the most famous actors for westerns, he really is a commanding presence on screen even if he doesn’t always hit up the most realistic acting. Robert Mitchum gives us a performance that gets laughs at time and easily goes through the biggest arc through the film. James Caan does well when he gets his time to shine, though he does get overshadowed in places.

StoryThe story follows two men from either sides of the law that team up to take down a rancher and his men that are causing problems in the town. When it comes to westerns nearly every single story is the same, the law makers and reluctant gun for hire joins forces to take on a troublesome group of ranchers or outlaws or something, this is everything we have seen before without needing to offer anything new to the mix. We get a time jump which does come randomly which does disappoint too. We do have a mentor like position which ends up falling short in the way everything pans out.

Romance/WesternThere is meant to be a romance angle in this film which doesn’t seem very interesting in anyway, the western side of the film is everything you are expecting it to be without taking away any of the normal western traits.

SettingsThe film is set in the normal western towns which feels like the sets most likely were used in other films too.


Scene of the Movie –
Drunk J.P.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is just like every other western.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book western, it is easy to follow with stronger performances, but just offers nothing new to the genre.

 

Overall: Simple Western.

Rating

 

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

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – Rollerball (1975)

rollerballDirector: Norman Jewison

Writer: William Harrison (Screenplay)

Starring: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn, Pamela Hensley

 

Plot: In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Sci-Fi Sports Film

 

Story: Rollerball starts as we get to see how the sport of Rollerball is played with the star of the league Jonathan E (Caan) and his team picking up another win in the league. The sport of Rollerball is a mix of roller-skating, motorcycling and fighting diving into the violent desires of the audience.

Star player of the Houston team Jonathan E has the attention of the owner of the sport Bartholomew (Houseman)) who will be giving Jonathan his own show looking at his career as the team prepares for semi-finals of the season.

When the powers that be want to change the face of the sport they want Jonathan to retire from the game for the greater good for the world. When Jonathan doesn’t want follow through the league gets new deadlier rules Jonathan and his team must overcome the odds against them to win the title and bring down the corporations running the league.

 

Thoughts on Rollerball

 

Characters/PerformanceJonathan E is the star of a world-famous sport, he teaches up and coming players the game, while being a brilliant face for the sport for the media. He winning mentality is a threat to the people who run the sport but he will fight for trophies and his team mate’s lives. Bartholomew is your typical businessman owner of the league who wants to dictate how the league is run as well as not having anyone bigger than the sport.

Performance wise James Caan is great in the lead role showing the physical side of the sport as well as the brains to want to understand the bigger picture. John Houseman works as the businessman character too showing how corrupt the sport can become. Looking into the rest of the cast they all give good performances too.stars

StoryThe story shows once more a future world where people have found a dangerous sport to turn too while the rest of the world is under control from the corporate leaders. This at the core of the story is the look into one man having to stand up against these people to give the people of the world hope for the future that they won’t be controlled by the corporations.

Action/Sci-Fi/Sports – The action is big and grows through each game on the level of violence being taken into the game, we are kept on the edge through each game to see what the next big hit will be. The sci-fi side of the story comes from where the world is now turning to a sport to get them through their days.

SettingsThe Rollerball arena is a brilliant creation that shows just how deadly the sport can be, we also have plenty of futuristic looking settings showing us how this future will look.

Special EffectsAll the effects are well created to show the brutality of the sport with each game becoming more violent.genre

Final ThoughtsThis film is long and does play into the idea of corporate fear taking over the world nicely, the sport is entertaining to watch with the violent nature it has making it all come together to be an entertaining film.

 

Overall: This is a film that stands up there with the best of the sci-fi world created.

Ratingrating

 

 

Henry’s Crime (2010)

henryDirector: Malcolm Venville

Writer: Sacha Gervasi, David N White (Screenplay) Stephen Hamel, Sacha Gervasi (Story)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Judy Greer, Fisher Stevens, Danny Hoch, Bill Duke, Drew McVety, Tim Snay, James Caan, Vera Farmiga, Peter Stormare

 

Plot: Released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit, an ex-con targets the same bank he was sent away for robbing.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bland Heist Film

 

Story: Henry’s Crime starts when toll booth operator Henry Torne (Reeves) finds himself unwittingly drawn into being a getaway driver for small time robber Eddie Vibes (Stevens) only to get himself caught and spending 3 years in prison. While in prison Henry meets Max (Caan) who teaches him to focus himself on life.

Once free Henry finds himself searching for his meaning in life and what he searches into is doing the crime he was meant to have committed.

Henry’s Crime is a heist movie that tries to play into the comedy genre while missing the mark on every single joke. The heist does work as a film because it all adds together well. The film has a slow pace with the romantic angle coming off slow and over dramatic in places too. The motivation of Henry’s character does seem to get lost in places as we just have a character that doesn’t come off strong enough to be the lead character of a heist film.

 

Overall: This is a plain and forgettable heist film that wastes the talent involved.

Rating35

 

 

Misery (1990)

logoDirector: Rob Reiner

Writer: William Goldman (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall

 

Plot: Paul Sheldon, a successful novelist, is rescued after a snow storm by his “Number One Fan” and must rewrite his latest novel to her liking in order to stay alive.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the Best

 

Story: Misery starts with Paul Sheldon (Caan) finishing off his latest novel and enjoying a glass on Dom Perignon before returning from his distant cabin through snow filled mountains. The conditions get worse leading to Paul to crash his car and have visions of how he has been struggling with his latest work. Paul is saved from the car wreck by Annie Wilkes (Bates) his number one fan and nurse who takes him back to her house to fix him up.

Paul publicist Marcia Sindell (Bacall) concerned that she hasn’t heard from Paul phones the local Sheriff Buster (Farnsworth) who has to decides to investigate the potential missing persons. Paul gives Annie permission to read his latest novel which leads to him learning about the mental state when it becomes clear she is easily pushed to an extreme. We continue to see how Annie has become obsessed with the Misery character Paul has created.

When Annie finishes the book she finds out that Paul has killed off her beloved character causing her to have a break down. Annie forces Paul to burn the copy of the final book and then makes Paul write a new conclusion where Misery doesn’t die at the end. With the search continuing for Paul, we watch how Paul has to try and figure out a way to survive and potentially escape the Wilkes house. As time goes by Paul works on the book only to Annie’s approval and Sheriff Buster tries to discover whether Paul could still be alive after his car is discovered. Paul learns the truth about Annie leading to him fearing for his life but can he make it out of the predicament before it is too late.

Misery takes what is a simple idea and makes it into one of the most thrilling films ever made. The only bad thing I saw in the film was the fact that with today’s technology we would have seen Paul get free quicker but that is only how certain people will see the film if they are watching think why did he use his cell phone etc. the idea of being saved by a stalker works really well for the film as it drives it to the next level because it gives our character the feeling of safety before being put into a world of horror. The film also keeps you guessing of the mind set of Annie because we see how easily she can turn from pleasant to psycho with a click of fingers. This really is one of the best stories of film time and a King classic. (9/10)

 

Actor Review

 

James Caan: Paul Sheldon successful author who while completing his latest work ends up crashing car before being rescued by Annie. After being nursed back to health he finds that he is trapped in the house forced to bring his much loved character back to life. James gives a great performance as the slightly washed up writer. (9/10)

 paul

Kathy Bates: Annie Wilkes is Paul’s number one fan and after finding him after the crash takes him back to her house to nurse him back to health. After finding out that Paul has killed off her favourite character and heroine of the book series, she makes him rewrite the story. We also see how she has been keeping secrets that will show her real nature. Kathy gives a stunning performance that rightly won her the Oscar. (10/10)

 annie

Support Cast: Misery has a supporting cast of the Sheriff and his wife who are searching for Paul as well as a publicist who is concerned, we really don’t see any other characters.

 

Director Review: Rob Reiner – Rob does a great job directing this film making us wonder which direction every scene will go. (9/10)

 

Thriller: Misery keeps you guessing through every scene between Annie and Paul. (9/10)

Settings: Misery keeps the location isolated for the two characters making it impossible for Paul to escape. (10/10)

Suggestion: Misery is one to be watch by all, it is one of those films that manages to pull you in and sympathise with both sides because of their issues. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Bates performance.

Worst Part: Sadly it has dated, because if it happened today we would see a lot different in the film.

Oh My God Moment: Ankle scene.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Kathy Bates Won a Oscar for her performance.

Box Office: $61 Million

Budget: $20 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

Tagline: This Christmas there will be… Misery.

Trivia: Stephen King was initially reluctant to sell the film rights to “Misery” because he was skeptical that a Hollywood studio would make a movie faithful to his vision. However, King was impressed with one adaptation of his works, Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me (1986), and agreed to sell “Misery” under the proviso that Reiner would either produce or direct the film.

 

Overall: Misery is one of the classics in the thriller world and shows how Stephen King can write almost anything into being thrilling.

Rating 90