A Late Quartet (2012)

Director: Yaron Zilberman

Writer: Yaron Zilberman, Seth Grossman (Screenplay) Yaron Zilberman (Story)

Starring: Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots, Madhur Jaffrey

 

Plot: Members of a world-renowned string quartet struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos and insuppressible lust.


Tagline – No arrangement is more beautiful…or more complicated.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Performances

 

Story: A Late Quartet starts as we meet the world famous quartet, Juliette (Keener), Peter (Walken), Robert (Hoffman) and Daniel (Lerner) who are planning their next performance, as they like to bring their crowd something new each year.

When Peter is diagnosed with Parkinson’s he is left to make a difficult decision to face retirement, meaning he needs to find a replacement, which sees the rest of the quartet going in search for their own roles in the quartet, while deciding how they can carry on going.

 

Thoughts on A Late Quartet

 

Characters – Juliette is married to Robert and while being part of the quartet, she is going through her own problems after Robert cheats on her, she must figure out whether this choice of a musicians was worth it or not, as well as trying to reconnect with her daughter. Robert cheats on his wife Juliette as he must try to make amends of his error, while trying to improve his position within thee quartet. Peter is the one that becomes sick, he is thinking about retirement and while he is getting his treatment, he learns the rest are caught up in the middle of a relationship mess. Daniel is the most talented member of the quartet, he ends up making his own mistake in life which causes even more problems within the quartet.

PerformancesWe have a stunning cast here with two Oscar winners and another nominee, Keener, Walken, Hoffman all show why they are considered the best of the acting world, while Mark Ivanir and Imogen Poots brings us performances that can keep up with their successful cast mates.

StoryThe story here follows one of the most famous quartets in music, they have 25 years of history together, when the oldest member becomes sick, the remaining three must decide whether to find a new member, while dealing with their own personal problems which could bring about the downfall of the quartet. Sure, some of the relationship drama isn’t anything new, but knowing the couple must continue to work together shows how personal and professional lives can easily clash when it comes to being successful in this field. One side of the story we could have seen more from would be the music side.

SettingsThe film is set in New York a perfect choice for this quartet to be located and performing in.


Scene of the Movie –
The performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t get enough focus on Peter’s illness.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderfully acted drama that shows the lives of a quartet.

 

Overall: Beautifully acted drama.

Rating

 

 

Evan Rachel Wood Weekend – The Ides of March (2011)

Director: George Clooney

Writer: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon (Screenplay) Beau Willimon (Play)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright

 

Plot: An idealistic staffer for a new presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.


Tagline – Ambition seduces. Power corrupts.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: All-Star Political Thriller

 

Story: The Ides of March starts as we follow Stephen Meters (Gosling) leading the campaign for presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) under Paul Zara (Hoffman), they are going against Tom Duffy (Giamatti) who is running the campaign for Senator Pullman (Mantell). We are heading into the final week of the campaign as things start to heat up.

When Stephen learns the dirty side to politics, he is caught up in the middle of doing the right thing and getting the win for his candidate, learning that this game is just as dangerous when it gets turned against him.

 

Thoughts on The Ides of March

 

Characters – Stephen Meyers is the ambitious campaign manager who is wildly considered one of the best in the business with his ability to handle the media and remain calm through any situation. His life is turned upside when he becomes a pawn in the dirty tactics involved in an election race and he will need to roll his sleeves up to fight back. Governor Mike Morris is the man Stephen is working for, he is the underdog in the race and seems like the perfect candidate, only he has secrets which could ruin his campaign. Paul is Stephen’s boss, the man who took a chance on Stephen, he values loyalty over anything else and doesn’t always trust the people around him. Tom Duffy is the campaign manager on the opposite side, he does like the ideas Stephen is playing and wants him on his team, he is the first one to play him into his own game. Molly is the intern on the staff that could bring down the whole campaign with her secret. Ida is a journalist that will do anything for a story which will get her on the front page.

PerformancesIn the performances we have a list of all-star actors that show us just how an ensembled cast can make a movie so enjoyable. We have Ryan Gosling taking centre stage, George Clooney playing a role her is perfect for and Hoffman and Giamatti that are just acting masters with these roles showing just how talented they are.

StoryThe story here follows a younger political man o the verge of his biggest campaign victory, when he gets shown the darker side of politics. Now this is an interesting story as we see how the innocent man must get dirty to survive the game and how the seasoned veterans of the game know every trick that will come their way. The mix of this keeps us on the edge of our seat through the film, the weakness in the film comes from the non-Americans struggle to keep up with who is one which Republican or Democratic side of the discussion and what level this is for the presidential candidate races. Unless you know the American political system you might fall short knowing everything going on here.

ThrillerThis film does keep us on edge through the events of the campaign, this is what we want and the twists in the darker side of the political system become clear by the end.

SettingsThe film throws us into every potential political arena you can think of, we get plenty of discussions some in secret others in an open forum to just what goes on behind the scenes of a campaign race.

 

Scene of the Movie – This will be my campaign.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not understand the American political system.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good political thriller that will keep you guessing from start to finish, it has a brilliant cast that all shine too.

 

Overall: Keeps you guessing from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – A – A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Director: Anton Corbijn

Writer: Andrew Bovell (Screenplay) John le Carre (Novel)

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Bruhl, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe

 

Plot: A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror.


Tagline – Inspired by true events

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burn

 

Story: A Most Wanted Man starts in the aftermath of 9/11, intelligence agency around the world are trying to stay on top of all known terrorists, with Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) following a Chechen immigrate in Hamburg with his team, leading his German team on tracking his known connections, before the US get involved with Martha Sullivan (Wright) checking on the investigation.

When attorney Annabel Richter (McAdams) uses her contacts with bank manager Tommy Brue (Dafoe) to help Karpov become a resident of Germany, Gunther continues to watch over to see if he is a threat even with the added pressure of America.

 

Thoughts on A Most Wanted Man

 

Characters – Gunther Bachmann is the German agent that is tracking known terrorists, his team has connections and keeps eyes on most of the suspects with their latest one being one wanted worldwide, he must figure out if this man is a danger or not. Martha Sullivan is part of the American team searching for the terrorist, she is trusting Gunther to do the right thing only she isn’t sure what he is going to do. Annabel Richter is an attorney that is trying to help the suspect get into Germany, she is just doing his job using her connection to help make his move go smoother. Tommy Brue is the bank manager that has been dealing with multiple nationalities through the years, he gets involved in trying to get the transfer of money done.

PerformancesPhilip Seymour Hoffman in the leading role steps into the German character with ease, showing the composure to take his character to be the standout of the film. Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe fill the supporting roles well through the film.

StoryThe story here follows the German and American intelligence agencies as they are trying to figure out if an immigrate is a potential terrorist suspect, both sides have difference of opinion on what is true and they must try to stay ahead of each other the best they can. This story does try to come off like an intense spy thriller that seems to get bogged down too easily, by making everything seem like it is just an everyday incident, this does move at a slow pace which only brings down everything because they do just seem to pick a random person, that could have reason to suspect from the early point in the film.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows how the authorities operate to try and tackle potential criminal actions, it does show that they could be above the law at times too.

SettingsWe have the German backdrop for this movie, showing how they are planning to operate to keep tracks on terrorists.


Scene of the Movie –
Pick up.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It just seems dull.

Final ThoughtsThis is a spy thriller that never seems to get going, it tries to play along with the idea that we are building, but we soon lose the attention because it is more of a political spy thriller over anything going on thriller.

 

Overall: Slow burning thriller that just doesn’t get going.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – S – Scent of a Woman (1992)

Director: Martin Brest

Writer: Bo Goldman (Screenplay) Giovanni Arpino (Novel)

Starring: Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, James Rebhorn, Gabriele Anwar, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Benture, Bradley Whitford

 

Plot: A prep school student needing money agrees to “babysit” a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated.


Tagline – Col. Frank Slade has a very special plan for the weekend. It involves travel, women, good food, fine wine, the tango, chauffeured limousines and a loaded forty-five. And he’s bringing Charlie along for the ride.

Runtime: 2 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Special Drama

 

Story: Scent of a Woman starts as prep school student Charlie Simms (O’Donnell) takes a weekend job caring for blind veteran Lt Col Frank Slade (Pacino), with Charlie’s future on the line at school after a prank by the rich kids on the headmaster, he wants the weekend to help him focus.

Frank has other ideas, he wants to go to New York for one last weekend of living the highlife before killing himself, he needs Charlie to be his guide on this journey. This weekend will change Charlie’s life as he gets the guidance he needs to help him through his difficult time.

 

Thoughts on Scent of a Woman

 

Characters – Lt, Col, Frank Slade is a short tempered blind veteran, he loves a drink and can identify a woman’s fragrance with the slightest smell in the air. He knows the people in his life don’t care about him much anymore, but Charlie gives him the guide he needs for this one last adventure. Charlie Simms comes from a poor family of hard workers, he earnt his place in the school with a scholarship, this is now at risk if he covers for the rich kids, but his Thanksgiving job of looking after Frank gives him a life lesson he could never learn in a classroom. The rest of the characters we meet are people that Frank wants to see once more, Charlie’s classmates and the women that Frank believes he can impress.

PerformancesAl Pacino won his Oscar with this performance, he commits and convinces throughout this film, showing he can break out from the cop or gangster roles you could see him being known for. Chris O’Donnell is great here too showing he was one of the main young actors waiting to come in the early 90s. the rest of the performances are great through the film showing us that the host of talent knew how to make an impact in a small amount of screen time.

StoryThe story follows a school student that must look after a blind veteran who wants to commit suicide after one last weekend. This story gives Charlie life lessons that he needs as he approaches a dog eat dog world, but also shows Frank that not everyone has given up hope on him and the service he gave to his country. This shows us how one weekend can change lives, an adventure that is unlike anything Charlie could have imagined.

SettingsThe film takes our characters from a smaller town to the big apple, this as I say a lot if always a wonderful location for learning about life in a way you could never imagine.


Scene of the Movie –
Ferrari

That Moment That Annoyed Me Charlie doesn’t seem to have any real friends at school and you feel this should have been addressed.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful drama that deserved the praise it got, it has brilliant chemistry between the two leads as you understand both their problems in life. This is one of Pacino’s best performances and a must watch for any of his fans.

 

Overall: Must watch drama.

Rating

 

 

God’s Pocket (2014)

Director: John Slattery

Writer: Alex Metcalf, John Slattery (Screenplay) Peter Dexter (Novel)

Starring: Christina Hendricks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eddie Marsan, Caleb Landry Jones, Jack O’Connell, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins

 

Plot: A blue collar worker tries to cover things up when his stepson is killed in a suspicious accident, but a local reporter senses that something’s amiss.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Drama

 

Story: God’s Pocket starts as we meet the different characters from this small town of God’s Pocket. We have Mickey (Hoffman) a meat salesman who works with Arthur (Turturro) stealing product before selling it as his own, his wife Jeanie (Hendricks) and her son Leon (Jones) along with reporter Richard Shellburn (Jenkins) who has been reporting on the town for 20 years.

When Leon is killed in a work accident the town surround the family with their sympathy. When Jeanie questions what happened it brings Richard to look deeper into the story as well as Mickey using his mob connection to try and learn the truth, but in this small town can secrets be kept?

 

Thoughts on God’s Pocket

 

Characters/PerformanceMickey is a man that finds a way to make ends meet either side of the law, when his step-son is killed he works on finding out the truth but must deal with his own problems with money. Jeanie is the grieving mother that demands the truth about her son’s death, she is also becoming distant from her husband Mickey. Richard is a journalist know all around the town, he has reported on the events of the town for years now and gets called into learn the truth of the events around the death. Arthur is Mickey’s connection to the underworld where the two work on robberies.

Performance wise, Hoffman is great in what was his final complete film, Hendricks is also good throughout the film with Jenkins giving us his best reporter like role. Turturro was also good throughout the film.

StoryThe story shows the three day events leading up to a funeral, we see everyday people dealing with a sudden death as they search for the truth, make their own mistakes and try to cover up their mistakes. This is a slow-moving film that tries to give us a real life series of events that follow the people involved but isn’t a casual watch.

CrimeThe crime side of the story comes from Mickey’s side along with the crime surround the accident. We have the crime world but otherwise this is more focused on the dramatic stories that characters live through.

SettingsWe like the small town setting which helps us see just how well the people of the town know each other.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good drama even if it is slightly slow in place, it is filled with good acting and a story that almost feels like it could come off as a comedy slightly better.

 

Overall: Good drama, good acting but nothing memorable.

Rating