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

 

 

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Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese

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

Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorrain Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow

 

Plot: The story of Henry Hill and his life through the teen years into the years of mafia, covering his relationship with wife Karen Hill and his Mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVitto in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic but Not for Me

 

Story: Goodfellas starts as Henry Hill tells us all about why he wants to be a gangster from a young age, we learn how he got a chance in his early teenage ages, where he made more money that his father and after spending his time in jail he is all grown up. Henry (Liotta) works with Tommy DeVito (Pesci) under the James Conway (De Niro) who all answer to Paul Cicero (Sorvino).

Henry rising up the ranks has built himself a reputation and once he starts dating Karen (Bracco) who becomes his wife. When Tommy murders a high-ranking member of the Mafia James and Henry help him cover it up as they continue to build their reputation. This is the rise and fall of Henry Hill as the truth about his identity comes outs.

 

Thoughts on Goodfellas

 

Characters/PerformanceHenry Hill is telling us the story, he is quiet man who wants to be a gangster, we follow his story as he rose the ranks in the Mafia, we see how far he goes and what he needs to do to clean up the mess he finds him in. James or Jimmy is the top ranked of the three, he makes the deals and makes sure everyone stays in line. Tommy is the hot head that shots first always leaving the others in danger.

Performance wise, De Niro is great in what is a supporting role in a genre he is brilliant in. Liotta is the star of the show and is fantastic through the whole film. Joe Pesci gives one of the most iconic gangster performances of all time here.

StoryThe story of one man’s life inside the Mafia is always interesting but the reality is it can only be seen a number of times before we know how it will all unfold. Yes, this is one of the most popular of all time but I do feel it is just fine for a non-gangster film fan.

CrimeThe crime world we enter into is everything we would have come to expect and it is easily the strong point of the film.

SettingsThe settings all fit the time the film is set in showing the environment the characters are in.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic and I can see all the good points about the film but it just isn’t a film I will want to watch again.

 

Overall: This is a classic of the genre.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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