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

 

 

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The Lost City of Z (2016)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray (Screenplay) David Grann (Book)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid

 

Plot: A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow but Interesting Historical Drama

 

Story: The Lost City of Z starts as Colonel Major Percy Fawcett (Hunnam) is assigned to leave his family, wife Nina (Miller) and young child Jack to go to Bolivia to help map the land. Joined on the mission by drunk expert Henry Costin (Pattinson) but the land isn’t what they thought as they learn the inhabitants are not interested in having the white man on their land.

Braving it through the jungle Percy returns to England a national hero. Telling his stories Percy gets pushed into returning with other explorers to discover what is in the depths of Amazonia. Not making it back to his lost city Percy returns only to find World War I has broken out halting any future missions to search until the war is over, Percy dreams of being able to return to the Lost City of Z but can he make it and keep the loved ones happy.

 

 

Thoughts on The Lost City of Z

 

Characters/PerformancePercy Fawcett is a respected soldier, one of the highest ranked, he is pushed into mapping Bolivia for England where he leaves his family for years on end only return before heading back to Bolivia. He becomes one of the great explorers of the time but his balance on discovery and family is truly tested. Henry Costin becomes Percy’s trusted second on all his expeditions, he might have a slight drinking problem but he will always fight by his side and discover by his side. Nina is the wife of Percy who must spend most of the time raising the children while her husband is away, she does wish to join him with the family but understands the risk it wold have on the children. Jack is the eldest son that grows up while his father is away, he is the first to stand up against everything his father does but also believing he deserves more than he gets from the government.

Performance wise, Charlie Hunnam gives what I think is the best performance of his career here with Pattinson continuing to show he is capable away from the Twilight disaster for him. Miller is good in the supporting role which is a slightly stronger female character than normal and Tom Holland does well in his supporting role.

StoryThe story follows Percy Fawcett’s expeditions to Bolivia, how not every mission went well, but most importantly how he just wanted to learn. We do see the struggle to balance personal life and his exploring life as well as getting the respect of the British Government when it comes to the missions. This is a very interesting look into this explorer and his life’s work.

Action/Adventure/Biography/History – The action side of this film is mostly the battle sequences we are not used often which is good, the adventure shows just what a new discovery could feel like for these explorers. The biography and history is looking at of the explorer between 1900 and 1930 with what they learnt along their travels.

SettingsEach setting used shows us the different adventure and the difficult time it would have to be to find that one location in a previously unmapped location, we have beauty spots, but also the conflict of war.

EffectsThe effects used are mostly in the conflict scenes and are few and far between, but the ones used are all good when used.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the underrated movies of the year, it does tell an interesting story and one that could be enjoyed by all that watch.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but underrated movie.

Rating