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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Daniel Day-Lewis Weekend – Gangs of New York (2002)

gangsDirector: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan (Screenplay) Jay Cocks (Story)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C Reilly, Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Lewis, Stephen Graham

 

Plot: In 1863, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father’s killer.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Breath-taking Drama

 

Story: Gangs of New York starts as ‘Priest’ Vallon (Neeson) leads an army of warriors into battles against Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting (Day-Lewis) to see who has control of New York City 1846. The battle is a spectacle with Bill coming out victorious with young Amsterdam witnessing his dad’s death. This is arguable one of the greatest opening sequences in film.

Amsterdam (DiCaprio) all grown up returns to New York in one mission vengeance but since he has been gone Bill has risen to higher powers than he left in. Amsterdam gets shown around by Johnny Sirocco (Thomas) who is low ranking member of the Bill’s gang giving Amsterdam a chance to rise through the gang to get closer to Bill ready for his moment to kill him.

Once discovered Amsterdam gets shamed but that only drives him to build his own army to take on Bill like his father did all those years ago.

Gangs of New York gives us one of the most brutal gritty revenge films of all time, but this is more than just a standard revenge film. There is a sense of honour between the men, the final third of the film where the true identity of Amsterdam is revealed to Bill could easily have been the end but Bill’s honour gets the best of him leading to the final battle. We do have a political side to this film that really does have moments that unless you know history could come off outside the main story we are interested in seeing. Overall this is one of those film that really is something special with how it is all made to give us an amazing fight scenes that feel real with every single swing.

 

Actor Review

 

Leonardo DiCaprio: Amsterdam Vallon witnesses his father death in battle against The Butcher as a child, sent away until he returns to New York as he carefully plans his vengeance against Bill. Amsterdam becomes part of Bill’s gang and soon finds himself as one of most loyal men by his side. Leonardo gives a brilliant performance in this leading role giving Daniel Day-Lewis a run for his money.amsteredam

Daniel Day-Lewis: Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting is the most powerful man in New York everyone be it friend or enemy shows respect for him as he takes whatever he wants. He is a man of honour as we see with how he handles Amsterdam’s father’s death. Bill lets Amsterdam come into his gang unaware of who he really is becoming a father figure to him. Daniel gives an Oscar worthy performance here where he only lost out this time around.bill

Cameron Diaz: Jenny Everdeane is an accomplished pick pocket who is one of the only people in New York that doesn’t have to answer to Bill because of the relationship through the time. She becomes the love interest of Amsterdam as they dream of a new life away from New York. Cameron shows that she can pull off the serious side of the film giving a great performance.jenny

Jim Broadbent: William ‘Boss’ Tweed is the man trying to run for control of New York on the legal side, he teams up with Bill to buy votes to show just how corrupt he really is. Jim makes for an ever so reliable supporting actor in the massive cast.

Support Cast: Gangs of New York has a massive supporting cast that has a string of well-known stars including Liam Neeson, John C Reilly, Henry Thomas and Brendan Gleeson to mention a few who all give fantastic performances helping the main characters in their goals.

Director Review: Martin ScorseseMartin is one of the best in Hollywood and this is one of his greatest pieces of work.

 

Crime: Gangs of New York puts us in the middle of a gang war trying to control the streets showing how they work together at times but against each other another.

History: Gangs of New York gives us a look at New York in 1846 while the characters are based on people it is the look of the film which is the stand out historical side of the film.

Settings: Gangs of New York recreates New York for the time making every single shot look like the actual time period in question.
Special Effects
: Gangs of New York uses brilliant effects to make every single swing in the battles seem real.

Suggestion: Gangs of New York is one to watch, it may well be long but one you really need to see. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Opening fight.

Worst Part: Slightly long.

Action Scene Of The Film: Opening fight.

 

Believability: Parts are others are fictional.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 10 Oscars not winning a single award.

Budget: $97 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 47 Minutes

Tagline: America Was Born In The Streets.

Trivia: Bill the Butcher has a scene with every main and supporting character in the film, a symbol of his vast influence in the Five Points.

 

Overall: Stunning gang story filled with magnificent fight scenes

Ratingcard

 

Jack Nicholson Weekend – The Departed (2006)

departedDirector: Martin Scorsese

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay) Alan Mak, Felix Chong (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Corrigan, James Badge Dale

 

Plot: An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Crime Thriller

 

Story: The Departed starts with the tradition introduction of all the characters starting with Frank Costello (Nicholson) who has been running Boston for years, we meet Colin Sullivan (Damon) who Frank has been grooming to become his connection inside the police force as we watch how fast he rises through the ranks. We also meet Billy (DiCaprio) who has come from the rough side of Boston but become one of the best cadets Queenan (Sheen) & Dignam (Wahlberg) have seen, who talk him into going undercover with the Costello.

We follow as Frank Costello and Queenan work with their informants as they each try to keep one step ahead of each other before all of the twists and turns are around every corner.

The Departed will go down as one of the greatest crime thrillers of all time, it is filled with plenty of twists and turns throughout. I am not usually a fan of the gangster genre but this one pulled me in from the start to finish because we never knew what would happen next. This was a remake of the trilogy of Infernal Affairs and I can safely say this squeezes all of the action from the three films into one. Each character is developed to keep on interested in all of them as we learn what the real motives are. I can safely say this deserved the Oscar praise it gained.

 

Actor Review

 

Leonardo DiCaprio: Billy is the special police trainee that gets recruited to go undercover in Frank Costello’s gang. He has come from the rough side of Boston but stayed out of trouble which makes him a prime candidate for this role. While undercover he gets pulled to levels he never thought he would have to go to get his mission complete and stay one step ahead of Sullivan who is tracing him. Leonardo is great in this undercover role showing how he needs to play both sides of the law throughout.billy

Matt Damon: Colin Sullivan is the man who has been working for Costello for nearly his whole life, he is put through the training to become his connection on the inside where he keeps Frank one step ahead of any activity against his men. He also has to track down the men who is undercover in the gang tracking keeping himself away from Billy’s attention. Matt shines in this role of the informant inside the department.colin

Jack Nicholson: Frank Costello is the gangster the authorities are after he runs Boston and keeps his men on the inside while never trusting too many people on the inside of his gang. Jack is wonderful as this gangster playing the role you expect from him and the freedoms he requires.frank

Mark Wahlberg: Dignam is one of the officers that is planting his undercover men in a desperate attempt to stop Costello once and for all. He is direct straight to the point but his temper could also be his weakness. Mark is great as the hot head authority character.didgna

Support Cast: The Departed has a huge supporting cast that all give brilliant performance in the plot filled twist filled story.

Director Review: Martin ScorseseMartin finally won his Oscar for this role and yes it is brilliant as he balances the stories from all three Infernal Affairs stories into one.

 

Crime: The Departed is a web of conspiracy between the cops and gangsters in the crime world.

Thriller: The Departed keeps us guessing from start to finish through the whole film.

Settings: The Departed uses the Boston setting for the film which shows the gritty side of the story.
Suggestion
: The Departed is a film that I feel everyone should have seen at least once. (Must Watch)

 

Best Part: Story keeping us gripped.

Worst Part: Nothing.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Won 4 Oscars including Best Picture

Budget: $90 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 31 Minutes

Tagline: Lies. Betrayal. Sacrifice. How far will you take it?

Trivia: The only remake of a foreign film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.

 

Overall: Simply brilliant crime thriller that keeps us on edge throughout.

Ratingcard

 

Hugo (2011)

rob challengeThis week in the challenge Rob selected Hugo for me to watch, this is one film that i always planned to watch one day but had never got around to see it.

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Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: John Logan (Screenplay) Brian Selznick (Book)

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Jude Law

Plot: Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Special Little Story

Story: Hugo starts in the Paris train station where we see young Hugo (Butterfield) an orphan who lives in the walls of the station. He is always out to keep away from Station Inspector (Cohen). Hugo has been working on trying to work on his father’s work and Georges Melies (Kingsley) has discovered the work and stolen his book. Hugo not giving up easily follows Georges and meets Isabelle (Moretz) who agrees to help retrieve the book for Hugo.

We learn that Hugo’s Father (Law) was trying to build this automaton with Hugo but the mystery of how to get the machine to work is one both of them are searching for before his father is killed in a freak accident. Hugo is left having to live with his Uncle Claude (Winstone) who teaches him about running the clocks but takes him out of school. We do continue to flash between the two time periods and in the 1930s Hugo must now earn his notebook back from Georges by working in his stale for all the parts he has stolen.

We watch how Hugo gets his first love interest as well as learning about growing up by working in the stands inside the train station as he could final get to finish his father’s work and unlock a secret about Georges.

Hugo is a story that is very easy to watch unfold and brings us a positive feeling through a negative time. I really didn’t know where the film was really going which is always a good part of a story. When we end up looking into the past of the film director it ends up going towards giving the people who deserve credit getting what they deserve. We also have the idea of learning and a building friendship with a clash of different backgrounds. There is also small parts to the story that show romances between minor characters. I think this will give everyone a feel good factor by the end, but I slightly too long especially having two different character explain about the directors past. (9/10)

Actor Review

Asa Butterfield: Hugo Cabret is our orphan who lives inside the train station, he is still trying to finishes his late father’s work which will help him unlock a secret somebody is trying to keep quiet. He spends his time constantly trying to hide from the station inspector who wants to send him to an orphanage as he keeps all the clocks running inside the train station. Hugo ends up going on an adventure with Isabelle. Asa does a great job in the leading role alongside a much more famous cast. (9/10)hugo

Chloe Grace Moretz: Isabelle is the young girl similar age to Hugo that tries to help him unlock the secrets that have been kept hidden. Chloe continues her career here with a good supporting performance. (7/10)isabelle

Sacha Baron Cohen: Station Inspector is the hapless inspector who is trying to keep the orphans out of the train station, he enjoys catching them, but Hugo always escapes his grasps. Sacha shows that he doesn’t need to do all these horrible comedy films because he is a very good actor. (8/10)inspector

Ben Kingsley: Georges Melies is the Godfather to Isabelle who has taken Hugo’s notebook, but the truth is that he is hiding a secret that he doesn’t want coming back out. Ben brings the heavyweight performance here having to show a true range of emotions through the film. (8/10)georis

Support Cast: Hugo has a mega cast of cameos and small parts that all help the story unfold, including Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer and Ray Winstone.

Director Review: Martin ScorseseMartin uses all his skills from the years and experience and brings us a great film. (9/10)

Action: Hugo doesn’t have the most action with most just being chases around the train station. (6/10)

Family: Hugo is one for the whole family to enjoy because they can have the moments of family, friendship and a final chase to be remembered. (/10)

Mystery: Hugo does create a small mystery but it isn’t the whole factor from the story. (6/10)

Settings: Hugo re-creates the settings perfectly for the time periods being used during the film. (10/10)
Special Effects: Hugo uses the special effects to help create the authentic look of the locations. (9/10)

Suggestion: Hugo is one for the family to sit down and watch together giving you a nice feeling by the end. (Watch)

Best Part: Learning about the early films.

Worst Part: Repeating the same story in the film.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: Won 5 Oscars and nominated for another 6.

Box Office: $74 Million

Budget: $170 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

Tagline: Unlock the secret

Trivia: Martin Scorsese and Christopher Lee are very good friends, but up until 2010 had never worked together. Lee’s response when he was asked by Scorsese to appear in Hugo was: “It’s about time!”

Overall: Brilliant Tale an achievement in story telling.

Rating 90

Top 5 Ted Levine Roles

Ted Levine has 69 credits to his name according to the IMDB; he usually plays a supporting role in film and is often able to perform at high levels without collecting all the praise that the stars of the film receive. Today is his birthday and I am going to look at my favourite five roles of his career.

5. General Woodman – Evolution

5

A rival General who wants to do everything by the military book, going against Ira and everything he stands for. Good authority villain role showing he can perform law characters either side of the fence.

4. Warden – Shutter Island

4

The warden of the mental hospital being investigated by Teddy Daniels, in this Martin Scorsese thriller.

3. Thomas Blackburn – Banshee Chapter

ted

Thomas is writer who has written about the Banshee Chapter who ends up uses the drugs from the experiments to his leisure before the truth finally starts to come out, he has to join forces with a reporter to uncover the truth. A small budget horror that really comes off for him.

2. Captain Leland Stottlemeyer – Monk

2

As Adrian Monk’s former partner and friend, Leland has help from Mr Monk to solve cases all over San Francisco as well as dealing with all the quirks that comes with. Leland has a great patience for Monk’s antics as well as running a police squad. Ted is great in this role with his serious side working well with Monk’s alternative side.

1. Buffalo Bill – Silence Of The Lambs

ted

In one of the greatest horror thrillers of all time Hopkins and Foster get nearly all the praise and awards. But it is Ted’s work as the deranged killer Buffalo Bill that is a brilliant performance that really does stand equal to them both.