ABC Film Challenge – Crime – R – Raising Arizona (1987)

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, holly Hunter, Trey Wilson, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Sam McMurray, Frances McDormand

 

Plot: When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family’s quintuplets, their lives become more complicated than they anticipated.


Tagline – Their lawless years are behind them. Their child-rearing years lay ahead.

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Laugh Out Loud Comedy

 

Story: Raising Arizona starts as we meet H.I. McDunnough (Cage) a petty thieve that has a habit of robbing convenience stores, he falls for police officer Ed (Hunter) and after his third spell in prison he decides to settle down with Ed and hope to start a family.

When the couple learn they can’t have children, their lives take a turn for the worse until rich businessman Nathan Arizona Sr (Wilson) has 5 babies, believing they can help, they steal one of the babies and the events of the film follows them trying to keep the baby and avoid the law.

 

Thoughts on Raising Arizona

 

Characters – H.I. McDunnough has been in and out of prison for the last decade each time getting closer to the arresting officer, deciding he wants to go clean he gets married and plans to start a family, only for his past to come back and haunt him forcing him to return to the life of crime. He is a character that has fallen into the life of crime and just can’t get out of it. Ed is a police officer that hasn’t had the best life, she falls for H.I. getting married and wanting to start a family. She learns she can’t have child, turning to a life of crime to get her own child. Nathan Arizona Sr is the father of the five babies willing to pay anything to get his son back legally or not. Gale is one half of criminal buddies pairing of H.I. that after breaking out of prison turns to his friend for help.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is wonderful in the leading role, where we see him show moments of his crazy level while giving a performance you will remember. Holly Hunter is great too where we see her create a performance where you feel for the pain and confliction her character goes through. When we look at the supporting cast we do get good performances from everyone that will give us enough to enjoy what we saw.

StoryThe story here follows an unlikely couple that decide to take a child because they couldn’t have one of their own. We follow the build up to their relationship and focus on how the couple’s life had the ups and downs before the incident.  By using a very real situation people could go through by not being able to have children and showing the fact the adoption process isn’t the fairest on the people that would offer a good home is important for the film. the hapless events the couple go through adds to the story and as with most of the Coen bothers movies we get lots of arcs that come together to add up to a final act which pts everything together.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film comes from the events that the couple must go through, usually coming from H.I. actions in what is a crime world where he is a petty criminal taking any advantages he can.

SettingsThe film takes us to the open America where money would be tight leading to the mistakes being made by the people who are just desperate for anything to come their way.


Scene of the Movie –
The diaper chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The baby forgetting scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic crime comedy that shows us just how talented the Coen Brothers are, we get to see the best of Cage and a story which can be enjoyed by all.

 

Overall: Crime Comedy that is a must watch.

Rating

 

 

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The Runner (2015)

runner-scoreDirector: Austin Stark

Writer: Austin Stark (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sarah Paulson, Peter Fonda, Connie Nielsen, Wendel Pierce, Bryan Batt, Christopher Berry

 

Plot: In the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill, an idealistic but flawed politician is forced to confront his dysfunctional life after his career is destroyed in a sex scandal.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Political Drama

 

Story: The Runner starts as Louisiana is dealing with the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, politician Colin Pryce (Cage) wants to supporting his state who are not getting supported after the spill which is take jobs from the good people. His fight gets national attention as he starts to fight for the people whose lives are being destroyed.

When it is made public that Colin has had an affair behind his wife Deborah’s (Nielsen) back the state turns on him forcing him to resign and come back stronger as he continues to fight for the people of Louisiana he could make a comeback unlike anyone in the political world.

 

Thoughts on The Runner

 

StoryThis is a very political drama story 101 job we have one man who was great for the people lose his role for affair and goes through tough tests before looking to make the comeback, you have nothing overly interesting going on here in what is a standard political drama.

ThrillerWhile this is more drama based you are kept wondering how Colin can bring his career back around by continuing to do the right thing.

Characters/PerformanceColin is based on a real person who does want to do the right thing for the people but isn’t the most morale correct when it comes to his personal life, this makes him an easy target in a political story. we do have other characters who are all part of the decision-making process that Colin goes through but none really make an impact. When you look at the performances they are all average without being any of the actor’s high points.

SettingsThe settings are all real to the Louisiana as we see the different levels of working classes all dealing with the same problem after the BP oil spill but none of the locations come off feeling memorable.

Final ThoughtsGrab your text books and you will see how to make this movie with ease adding nothing special within the film.

 

Overall: Not the best, not the worst just forgettable.

Ratingard

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – W – World Trade Center (2006)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: Andrew Berloff (Screenplay) John McLoughlin, Donna LcLoughlin, William Jimeno, Allison Jimeno (True Story)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello, Jay Hernandez, Jon Bernthal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: Two Port Authority police officers become trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center.


Tagline – A True Story Of Courage And Survival

Runtime: 2 Hour 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: World Trade Center starts like every other day for police officers John McLoughlin (Cage) who sets the assignments for his department which include Will Jimeno (Pena) and Dominick Pezzulo (Hernandez). Today is going to change their lives, today is September 11th the day the World Trade Centers Twin Twos get hit by the planes, while being part of the rescue team the crew find themselves trapped.

When the dust settles Will and John are the only ones still alive with their loved ones Donna McLoughlin (Bello) and Allison Jimeno (Gyllenhaal) waiting to hear if they were in the towers when they went down. The two must support each other in hope that they would get rescued as New York and America comes together to rescue their own.

 

Thoughts on World Trade Center

 

Characters – All the characters in this film are based on real people, we have real victims from 9/11 being portrayed. John McLoughlin is the experience police officer that leads his men into the Twin Towers in a rescue attempt, he is a father of four which is one of his greatest motivations to survive once he becomes trapped in the rubble. Will Jimeno is the fellow officer that becomes trapped with John, he is a parent too with a second on the way, he is injured but uses the company of John to stay awake. We do have the wives and loved ones and fellow officers that helped in the rescues to being portrayed here showing the heroes involved on those days.

PerformancesNicolas Cage shows in this role that he still was a brilliant performer along with Michael Pena stepped to a leading role. We have fantastic performances from the whole cast if we are being honest.

StoryThe events of this day shocked the world like no other events, the stories of the survivors being found was a race for hope for anyone who might have had someone in the towers. We do focus on just two officers that became trapped as they fought to survive while waiting for rescue. Watching how the rescuers worked to save people trapped, the family waiting helplessly for news on their families, add this together and you get a powerful drama that showed the heroics during that tragic event.

History/ThrillerThe events of this movie are one of the most if not the most famous terrorist attack in modern history, seeing how the two officers just had to rely on hope to survive shows us just how the country was bought together to find a people which does make this edge of your seat waiting to see if they make it or not.

SettingsJohn and Will are trapped for the most part of this movie, it shows how hopeless the situation looked for the men, outside we see the aftermath of the attack.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the movie are fantastic to show the horror of the moment the towers came crashing down on the people inside to the surviving in the rumble and re-creation of the devastation.


Scene of the Movie –
For the visual the collapse is shocking to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is still hard to watch because of the shock of the event.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama that shows how the city came together during the time of need.

 

Overall: This is a must watch but it is hard to re-live those moments.

Rating

 

 

Looking Glass (2019)

Director: Tim Hunter

Writer: Jerry Rapp (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas, Ernie Lively, Jacque Gray, Kassia Conway

 

Plot: A couple buy a desert motel where they find that strange, mysterious events occur.


Tagline – Seeing is deceiving.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Anti-Climatic

 

Story: Looking Glass starts when Ray (Cage) and Maggie (Tunney) take over a small motel to help then get over their own loss. With Ray working on the renovations of the motel, they have a soft opening, which sees them attract their first guests.

When Ray discovers secret corridors with windows into each room, which he becomes interested in watching through, then the mysterious events start happening, starting with a pig dumped in the swimming pool.

 

Thoughts on Looking Glass

 

Characters – Ray has just purchased the motel to try and start over with his wife, he is a handy man by trade, using his time to fix up the motel. He learns about secret windows watching through them, he sees strange events happening and wants to get to the bottom of the events going on around his motel. Maggie is the wife of Ray, she is happy to move away from their past, but struggles to trust Ray after his own past. Howard is the local sheriff that keeps visiting searching for the former owner, he is overly friendly too often for the couple. Tommy is a regular that uses the motel for his liaisons while on the road.

PerformancesNicolas Cage is having one of his weaker performances here, he just doesn’t make his character feel like it is one of the own Cage like ones. Robin Tunney does a solid job in the supporting role, as does Marc Blucas and Ernie Lively.

StoryThe story follows a couple that take over a motel only to start dealing with strange events surrounding something that happened before they got there. The story starts off feeling like a mystery about what once happened here which is interesting enough right, well it soon takes a turn down a path where seemingly nothing actually happens here, a woman goes missing, Ray becomes a peeping Tom and a nosey cop gets too involved with the motel, this story seems like a bad soap opera episode because it seems like we get a starting thread of a story only for it to go no where. We seem to just end the story without any real twists or investigations going on, it just felt like a bunch of random stuff happening.

MysteryThe mystery is presented, only we don’t spend any time watching what happens which only ends up leading us rather flat about what we have just watched.

SettingsThe film is mostly set at the motel which shows how you will never know what could happen in a motel.


Scene of the Movie –
The meeting in the desert.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Did you do it, did I do what? This scene lasts an awkward two minutes, it felt like a lifetime.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that ended up going in no particular direction and ends up feeling like just a bunch of stuff happens, instead of a storyline.

 

Overall: Messy, directionless and empty.

Rating

 

 

Mandy (2018)

Director: Panos Cosmatos

Writer: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouere, Richard Brake, Bill Duke

 

Plot: Mandy is set in the primal wilderness of 1983 where Red Miller, a broken and haunted man hunts an unhinged religious sect who slaughtered the love of his life.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Craziest Film of the Year

 

Story: Mandy starts as we meet Red Miller (Cage) a lumberjack who lives with the love of his life Mandy (Riseborough) living in the woods away from the world. religious cult led by Jeremiah Sand (Roache) sees Mandy and wants to make her the connection to his higher power, taking her and forcing Red through a traumatic night.

With Mandy murdered on front of Red, the cult leaves, but when Red gets free, he sets out on a revenge mission which will show that he is a deadly hunter with weapons that will give the most damage to anyone who was involved in Mandy’s murder.

 

Thoughts on Mandy

 

Characters – Red Miller is a lumberjack who lives a quiet life with the love of his life, this is shattered when she is murdered, causing him to go on a bloody revenge mission, he will not stop until he has killed everyone involved in his loves death. Mandy is the love of Red’s life, she is a dreamer and perfect for how Red sees life. Jeremiah Sand is the leader of the religious cult, he goes to the extremes for his belief searching for the higher power he believes he has made contact with, he followers will give their life for his. The rest of the characters we meet fill up the quota for the religious cult showing their devotion to their leader.

PerformancesNicolas Cage has been known for taking stranger roles in recent years, this is by far the craziest one yet and it is one that he shines in, you just can’t keep you eyes of his characters behaviour in this film. Andrea Riseborough does add the mystery to her character early one, which would make us understand her draw. Linus Roache gives us one of the more disturbing performances as the religious cult leader, one that is as unsettling as it should be.

StoryThe story her can be bottled down to a revenge thriller as we follow one man whose love of his life is murdered and he goes after the religious cult behind the murder. This is the simple side of the story, what we get sends us down roads we never imagine seeing as we focus on just how obsessive the cult truly is and how the one man will use anything and everything he can get his hands on to get his revenge. There are a few questions about how religious cults can be misleading to anyone that falls into one, while this does balance the line between what could be and what is very finely before we see the explosive bloody end.

Action/HorrorThe action in this film takes place once the revenge angle starts, we see Red go into battle with any weapons he can, with fight sequences that are as bloody as the are entertaining. The horror comes from seeing just what the cult will do, what the cult are doing and what the cult believe in.

SettingsThe film takes place in the 80’s in the woods which takes us away from people, making us understand just isolated both sides of the battle want to be.

Special EffectsThe effects are a perfect blend of practical bloody effects and well used CGI moments that don’t take away from the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Nicolas Cage’s crazy being used to perfection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slightly too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the craziest films you will ever see, it does something many directors haven’t been able to do, use Nicolas Cage crazy performance correctly. You will see some of the strangest images that you brain will not be able to take everything in.

 

Overall: Just bonkers fun.

Rating