Casino (1995)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese (Screenplay) Nicholas Pileggi (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Don Rickles, Alan King, Kevin Pollak

 

Plot: Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia underboss and a casino owner, for a trophy wife over a gambling empire.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Long Crime Drama

 

Story: Casino starts as we see the rise of mobsters Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Pesci) two friends that get involved in the casino industry, Ace is the calm face of the operation keeping the casino in order with the money going to the people it needs to, Nicky does the dirty work beating down the people who go against the casino.

As Ace runs the casino smoothly along with his new wife Ginger (Stone), he keeps the casino clean making more money than he would with other the books work. Nicky continues to do the dirty work as he wants to make as much money as possible from the casinos but his methods brings in the attention of the authorities, getting himself banned from every casino in Vegas.

Over the time the two clash over business as Nicky style flashes the spotlight on Ace, leading to the two friends becoming strained and broken.

 

Thoughts on Casino

 

Characters/PerformanceAce is sent to Vegas to run the books through a casino for the mob, he keeps the business going well but when his friend Nicky interrupts the business, Ace finds himself needing to defend himself through the trial. Nicky is the hot head that joins the casino industry to keep an eye on Ace’s back but soon he finds himself trying to take over Vegas by force which leads to the problems between the two.

Performance wise, De Niro and Pesci both give great performance in what is easily their strengths the crime world, the rest of the cast do great jobs through the whole film.

StoryThe story does balance both the stories of Ace and Nicky but you can’t help but feel this is very long, the film is nearly 3 hours long and is a giant flashback because we see Ace killed in the opening scene. This is a crime story you feel we have seen before and it was nice to see the balance between the violent and the calm reasons for running the businesses.

CrimeWatching how the crime world is run from the calm front and the violent front does come off interesting in places but is slightly rinse repeat.

SettingsVegas always makes for a wonderful setting for a crime story because we all know the vices within the city through the 70s and 80s.

Final ThoughtsThis is too long for the story being told, yes the performances are good but it in the end the drawn out story feels forced throughout.

 

Overall: Long crime drama.

Rating

 

 

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Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – Choose (2011)

chooseDirector: Marcus Graves

Writer: Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson (Screenplay)

Starring: Katheryn Winnick, Kevin Pollak, Nicholas Tucci, Bruce Dern, Richard Short, Alexi Wasser, Lenny von Dohlen, Cady Huffman, Billy Kay, Billy Magnuseen

 

Plot: A journalism student tracks a killer with the help of her detective father and a therapist.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Horror

 

Story: Choose starts as we see our serial killer hold a family hostage forcing the teenage daughter to pick which of her parents will be killed. We move onto meet journalist student Fiona (Winnick) who has taken an interest in the case going on and with her father being the Sheriff (Pollak) keeping her assured.

With the serial killer continuing to make people make an impossible choice while Fiona starts to make a connection with the killer and her own mother’s apparent suicide.

Choose gives us a good concept with a serial killer that forces his victims to choose between two of their loves having to give up one of them. On the downside we can see clearly which direction the story is aiming very early on and sadly Kevin Pollak plays his character like it is a comedy rather than a serious horror. I do think the horror fans out there will enjoy this enough but don’t expect anything truly breath taking.

 

Overall: Great spin on the serial killer weakened by the poorly acted characters.

Rating55

 

 

Bryan Singer Weekend – The Usual Suspects (1995)

sualDirector: Bryan Singer

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite

 

Plot: A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which begin when five criminals meet at a seemingly random police lineup.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simply Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: The Usual Suspects starts as we see Verbal Kint (Spacey) explaining what happened after a crime gone wrong, telling his story to Dave Kujan (Palminteri). We meet all of the suspects in a line up Keaton (Byrne), McManus (Baldwin), Fenster (Del Toro), Hockney (Pollak) and Verbal himself. We watch as the guys get questioned about a missing gun shipment.

While in custody the five criminals agree to work on a new job as we move between before and after the crime and learn that Keyser Soze a mythical criminal was involved. We are left to piece the puzzle parts together in a crime story that will leave your jaw dropping.

The Usual Suspects is one of those crime mystery thrillers that does down as one of the greatest off all time. The flow of this film is so smooth you never notice the time go by and the final act will leave you shocked with a twist you would never see coming. There are no negatives about this story it is simply brilliant because of how simple it all is even with the killer twist.

 

Actor Review

 

Gabriel Byrne: Keaton is the disgraced former cop that went into the life of crime, he retired trying to change his life and come up clean. His new life is ruined when he is questioned leading him to going on a new crime wave with a new group of criminals. Keaton becomes the leader of the new crew because if his calmness under pressure. Gabriel is great in this role where he shines without becoming to dominate in the leading role.keatn

Kevin Spacey: Verbal is our story telling the sole survivor of the job gone wrong. He gets bought into the job as the biggest outsider but through the story he makes the plans with his ideas but with his diplomatic immunity given to him by the DA he finds his story to giving Dave something else to chase in Keyser Soze. Kevin won an Oscar for this performance where he truly does give a brilliant performance.verbal

Chazz Palminteri: Dave Kujan is the customs officer trying to get to the bottom of what happened on the ship with Verbal is the lone survivor, he has been chasing Keaton his whole career but hearing the story from Verbal he finds a new ghost to chase. Chazz is great as the investigator in this film.dave

Stephen Baldwin: McManus has years of experience working with his partner in crime Fenster, he is a hot head but brilliant marks man. He is the first to suggest the guys work together on a job. Stephen is good as the loose cannon of the group.mcmanus

Pete Postlethwaite: Kobayashi is the lawyer for Keyser Soze who puts the pieces together to make this crime happen. He is always cool under pressure when it comes to the confrontation but loyal to Soze to the end. Pete gives the performance you would expect to see from him throughout.kobayashi

Support Cast: The Usual Suspects has a good remaining supporting cast that all work well even though they are only small numbers involved.

Director Review: Bryan SingerBryan gives us one of the greatest crime thrillers ever made showing he knows how to handle an ensemble cast.

 

Crime: The Usual Suspects gives us a crime story full of the criminals we see as the heroes

Mystery: The Usual Suspects keeps us wondering about what will happen next.

Thriller: The Usual Suspects brings us to the edge of our seats from start to finish of this film.

Settings: The Usual Suspects uses the settings you would expect to see with the key locations being the office where the story is being told and the boat where everything happened.

Suggestion: The Usual Suspects is one I think everyone should have seen at least once and enjoy. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Final act.

Worst Part: Nope

Oh My God Moment: Final scene.

Favourite Quote: Verbal ‘After that my guess is that you will never hear from him again. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that… he is gone.’

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Won Two Oscars including Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.

Budget: $6 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

Tagline: In a world where nothing is what it seems you’ve got to look beyond.

Trivia: The Japanese characters on the outside of the meeting room where Kobayashi is talking with Edie Finneran and others say “Kobayashi” and “bengoshi” (attorney); the ones in reverse on the window read “seikou” (success), “chikara” (strength), and “zaisan” (assets).

 

Overall: One of the greatest crime thrillers ever put to film that will leave you shocked with its final outcome.

Ratingcard

 

A Few Good Men (1992)

logoDirector: Rob Reiner

Writer: Aaron Sorkin (Screenplay) Aaron Sorkin (Play)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak, James Marshall, J.T. Walsh, Christopher Guest, Cuba Gooding Jr, Noah Wyle, Xander Berkley

 

Plot: At Guantanamo Marine Base, a private is attacked by 2 other marines and dies as a result. An investigation is conducted by Lt. Commander Jo Galloway and reveals to her superiors that she believes that the private was attacked by because he was going over the head of Colonel Jessup, the base commander and was threatening to reveal something unless he gets a transfer, so Jessup ordered a “code red” which is basically a type hazing done which is not legal. Galloway wants to be assigned to defend the 2 marines but her superior prefers that the whole go away quietly so he denies her request and has the case assigned to Lt. Dan Kaffee, a Naval lawyer who hasn’t tried a case in court and prefers to plea his cases out. But Galloway warns him that if he pleads the case out, Jessup will get away with murder. Kaffee decides not to plead the case out and tries to defend them but there’s no proof that Jessup actually gave the order.

 

Verdict: Courtroom Masterpiece

 

Story: Who doesn’t like a good investigation story? Well this gives us a look at how a team of lawyers need to uncover the truth about a marine’s death. We know who is meant to have committed the crime but we need to see who gave the final order. The team of lawyers are all very different and clash over every decision. They must put the differences behind them to work together to gain the evidence to prove the truth and it all comes to a clash in the courtroom creating one of the most iconic scenes in film history. It seems like quite a boring subject but put together it is one of the most engrossing stories in film. (9/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Tom Cruise: Lt. Daniel Kaffee top lawyer who comes off as a slacker, he has never lost a case but he now has to take one of the biggest of his career. Cruise nails this using his charm to get over how easy it all seems but also shows he can go toe to toe with the best in the business with the courtroom scene with Jack. (9/10)

 cruise

Jack Nicholson: Col. Nathan R. Jessup believes he is top of any chain, he gives out orders to anyone and his old fashion techniques will be his downfall. Great performance from Jack showing what one man with all the power can do. (9/10)

jack

Demi Moore: Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway officer who wants to take the case and wants to make it her own but if forced to work with Kaffee very much against her will. Good performance but sometime gets out shown by Cruise. (7/10)

 demi

Kevin Bacon: Capt. Jack Ross an old friend of Kaffee who is going up against him in court, he will do what is right in his role but he won’t go over any laws to make sure he wins. Good supporting performance. (7/10)

 

Director Review: Rob Reiner – Great directing throughout to create one of the most interesting films of all time. (9/10)

 

Crime: Searching for the truth has never been so interesting. (10/10)

Drama: Top drama showing how each line is leading to something much bigger. (10/10)

Mystery: We have to watch as the lawyers uncover the truth. (9/10)

Thriller: Brings you to the edge of your seat from start to finish. (10/10)

Settings: Most of the settings work well, but the courtroom is the highlight arena of choice. (6/10)

Suggestion: This is a must watch for all, it is a classic that has one of the most iconic film scenes of all time. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Tom v Jack in courtroom.

Worst Part: Not one

Favourite Quote: See Video

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for four Oscars including ‘Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound, Best Film Editing.

Box Office: $243 Million

Budget: $40 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 18 Minutes

Tagline: In the heart of the nation’s capital, in a courthouse of the U.S. government, one man will stop at nothing to keep his honor, and one will stop at nothing to find the truth.

 

Overall: Brilliant Thriller

Rating 93