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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The Cat Returns (2002)

catDirector: Hiroyuki Morita

Writer: Reiko Yoshida, Cindy Davis Hewitt, Donald H Hewitt (Screenplay) Aoi Hiiragi (Comic)

Starring: (Voice Talents in English) Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Judy Greer, Andrew Bevis, Kristen Bel, Rene Auberjonois, Andy Ritcher, Peter Boyle, Elliot Gould, Tim Curry

 

Plot: After helping a cat, a young girl finds herself involuntarily engaged to a cat prince in a magical world where her only hope of freedom lies with a dapper cat statuette come to life.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Fantasy

 

Story: The Cat Returns starts when Haru a school student who has no luck saves a cat from a traffic accident only to find out that the cats have their own kingdom. As a reward for save Prince Lune the King Cat goes out of his way to make sure Haru gets everything she wants but this also includes marrying the Prince Cat.

Haru knowing how crazy this idea is must find the Cat Bureau a turn to Baron to find a way out of the arranged marriage as we learn about the cat underworld.

The Cat Returns is a film from the amazing Studio Ghibli that gives us a fairy tale that has elements of Alice in Wonderland going on throughout. We get what is a simple storyline about one girl not fitting in her own world finding herself in the middle of another one. I will say this is one of the weakest of the film I have seen from Ghibli but in no way is it a bad film.

 

Overall: Solid addition to the works of Ghibli that will for the cat lovers out there.

Rating60

 

 

Red Heat (1988)

redDirector: Walter Hill

Writer: Harry Kleiner, Walter Hill, Troy Kennedy-Martin (Screenplay) Walter Hill (Story)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Belushi, Peter Boyle, Ed O’Ross, Laurence Fishburne, Gina Gershon

 

Plot: A tough Russian policeman is forced to partner up with a cocky Chicago police detective when he is sent to Chicago to apprehend a Georgian drug lord who killed his partner and fled the country.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Crime Comedy

 

Story: Red Heat starts as we follow Ivan Danko (Schwarzenegger) a Russian police officer trying to crack down on the war of drugs in Russia, but when his partner is killed by Viktor Rostavili (O’Ross), Ivan must travel to America to get his on revenge. Over in America Chicago we meet cocky police officer Art Ridzik (Belushi) who is on his last warning and not helping himself.

The two have to work together to track down Viktor on the streets of Chicago as the two become the unlikely partners with very opposite personalities.

Red Heat is an action crime comedy that follows the traditions of the opposites having to work together to achieve a common goal. It isn’t the most original storyline wise but does the job to the best of its abilities. The settings are all good for Chicago being used with the reputation it has. The comedy misses in places as they don’t let Belushi free to do what he is best at.

As for the acting Schwarzenegger and Belushi do work well with each other even if the accents come of slight strange in places. The villain is pretty much generic performance and the police chief will we all know how they turn up to be the same in these films. The rest of the supporting cast is pretty generic for the genre but again nothing special.

 

Overall: Odd couple action crime comedy that hits in place and misses in others and just doesn’t bring the heat.

Rating

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Monster’s Ball (2001)

logoDirector: Marc Forster

Writer: Milo Addica, Will Rokos (Screenplay)

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle, Mos Def, Sean Combs

 

Plot: After a family tragedy, a racist prison guard re-examines his attitudes while falling in love with the African American wife of the last prisoner he executed.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

Story: Monster’s Ball starts by introducing us to Hank Grotowski (Thornton) who seems to be a friendly man around town, he has a son Sonny (Ledger) who enjoys his drink and prostitutes and also lives with his father Buck (Boyle). Buck has raised Hank to be racist against blacks including chasing them off his property. Hank is a prison guard and has got his son a job there too where he is teaching the ways of the system after personal mistakes.

We see that the prison is preparing for the execution of Lawrence Musgrove (Combs), we see how Lawrence is having his final visit with his family Leticia (Berry) and his son Tyrell. Promised one final phone call to his son Lawrence has this taken away from him by the warden and it is up to Hank and Sonny to look after Lawrence for his final hours. The execution itself goes through correctly the final walk doesn’t go as plan because of Sonny.

This failure leads to a domestic fight between Hank and Sonny before the next morning Sonny confronts Hank before killing himself. After this personal tragedy Hank quits his job leading to him to have his father look down on him but when he is trying to figure out what to do he finds Leticia on the side of the road with her son seriously injured after being hit by a car. For this first time Hank stops to help a black person showing that he is starting to change but it is too for the boy who dies because of the injuries.

Hank and Leticia both have suffered the loss of a child that they both were too strict which leads them both to have a common issue in their lives. It isn’t long before the two become friends and romantically involved, but things take a turn when they learn about the original connection they had in the past.

Monster’s Ball was a film that got all of the Oscar talk and then only managed to get a few nominations, it does tell a very powerful story about loss and moving on which comes off very well. It shows how a potential negative upbringing can make you make the same mistakes and that you will need to change before it is too late. The film also shows how a racial opinion can continue down through a generation without properly seeing the problem. I will say the story won’t be for everyone but it is one of the most powerful. (8/10)

 

Actor Review

Billy Bob Thornton: Hank Grotowski a good prison guard who has been raised to be racist but hides it for the most part, but when it comes out we see his true colours. Hank also has problems with his own son who he has been trying to help clean up his act but his strictness leads to tragedy. After his own tragedy he gets involved with Leticia who is also struggling with her own loss. Billy gives a great performance. (8/10)

 

Halle Berry: Leticia Musgrove whose husband in on death row and her child is overweight, but after her husband’s execution she wants to continue her life. Tragedy strikes again in her life when her son is hit by a car and dies leading to her getting a helping hand of Hank. Halle gives an Oscar winning performance here and shows why she got the award. (10/10)

Heath Ledger: Sonny Grotowski son of Hank who has had problems before but is trying to turn his life around. When things don’t go as Hank played he ends up making a point before killing himself. Heath gives a solid supporting performance and showed how good he was in his short time on screen. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Monster’s Ball has a supporting cast that all have different opinions on the situation of the world, we see the racist father, the locked up prisoner or fellow victims of the racism. Each member helps the final story unfold.

Director Review: Marc Forster – Marc does a good job directing this powerful drama putting out characters through a full range of emotions. (8/10)

 

Drama: Monster’s Ball is very powerful putting the characters through some tough moments in their lives. (9/10)

Romance: Monster’s Ball has an almost awkward romantic angle that helps change both the characters lives. (8/10)

Settings: Monster’s Ball uses the settings well to show the difference in living class of the two main characters. (9/10)

Suggestion: Monster’s Ball is one to try, it might not be for everyone but the ones who do watch it will find it very powerful. (Try It)

 

Best Part: Seeing the change in Hank over the course of the film.

Worst Part: Very depressing film.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars and winning Best Actress.

Box Office: $45 Million

Budget: $4 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

Tagline: A lifetime of change can happen in a single moment.

 

Overall: Monster’s Ball is a very powerful film that deserved the praise it got.

Rating 85

Scooby Doo 2; Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Director: Raja Gosnell
Writer: James Gunn
Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Peter Boyle, Tim Blake Nelson, Alicia Silverstone

Story Mystery Inc are back home in Coolsville and are having a museum opened in their honor. There is one problem with the open someone is out to ruin their reputation, making mystery inc look like fakes. Fred (Prinze Jr) Daphne (Gellar) Velma (Cardellini) Shaggy (Lillard) and Scooby Doo now have to find out who is haunting the town and regain their reputations as mystery solvers.

The suspects list includes the original Black knight ghost (Boyle), the museum curator Patrick (Green) ambitious reporter Heather (Silverstone) and Jacobo (Nelson) who escaped prison. One of these has released real monster of the past including Black Knight Ghost, Pterodactyl Ghost, Tar Monster and many more legendary foes.

Verdict The fans of Scooby Doo will enjoy this compared to the first one and it has a much more real straight from the cartoon feel about it. Having it in the home town add the idea of how they got together in the movie sense rather than how it was portrayed in the cartoon series. Having a lot of the foes from the cartoon makes things have an overall fun feeling about it. All children and Scooby Doo fans Will enjoy this movie because of its simple fun and story that is easy to follow.

Best quote Shaggy ‘ We are going to die’ Daphne ‘Think positive’ Shaggy ‘we are going to die quick’

Favourite character Shaggy just funny slacker

Stand out performance Shaggy – Lillard Most of his scenes are with a computer animated dog and pulls them off well

Best moment Some of the monsters creations

Worst Moment Some silly test tubes body swapping scene

My Rating 76%