Kurt Russell Weekend – Backdraft (1991)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glen, Rebecca De Mornay


Plot: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along must work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Too Slow


Story: Backdraft starts when a young Brian McCaffrey witness his firefighter father killed putting out the fire. 20 years later Brian (Baldwin) is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps much like his brother Stephen (Russell). Passing his tests Brian joins Stephen’s unit, the strictest in town.

As the number of fires increase, the number of firefighters are being cut and with each fire brings the investigator Donald Rimgale (De Niro) who uses slow methods but gets results. When Brian becomes worried about the safety of his brother’s actions he agrees to work with Donald to track down an arsonist operating within the city.


Thoughts on Backdraft


Characters/PerformanceStephen is the tough firefighter who enjoys the job knowing he and his team can save as many lives as possible. Brian is the brother of Stephen, son of a firefighter who became the photo of a generation after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but finds himself having to turn on his brother to investigate arson rather than fight the fires. Donald is a grizzled veteran who has seen the worst in fighting fire, he now leads the investigations into the fires, he works with Brian to locate the arsonist and reckless behaviour being portrayed by the firefighters. The rest of the characters fill the loyal unit, the ex-wife and potential lover without being a major part in the film.

Performance wise, Russell is solid but never reaches the levels we know he can. Baldwin just doesn’t capture the level of performance you would see from other members of the family while De Niro is good in the supporting role.

StoryThe story shows the life of firefighters struggling with the demands placed upon them by dwindling resources, the lives get put at risk. We get to see the investigation into an arsonist but sadly this isn’t the focus of the story. the focus is on the broken relationship between the two brothers who have gone in different paths when it comes to following in their father’s footsteps. The story is fine but too long in my opinion.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe firefighting scenes are brilliant action set pieces without a doubt but the crime side which should be a major side just doesn’t get the focus required. The mystery also suffers because of this too.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully to show the intensity of the fires for the firefighters while outside the fires it just feels like a normal city which could be any.

Special EffectsThe special effects are stunning for the creating of the fires, using mostly practical effects which still look amazing today.

Final ThoughtsThe special effects in this movie do save it from being awful but in the end the story is just too flat for my liking.


Overall: Flat story, too long but amazing effects.





ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – J – Joy (2015)

joyDirector: David O Russell

Writer: David O Russell (Screenplay) David O Russell, Annie Mumolo (Story)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini


Plot: Joy is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Interesting Story But Not Enough


Story: Joy starts with her grandmother Mimi (Ladd) introducing us to the family, her daughter Terry (Madsen) who is obsessed with soap operas, while Joy (Lawrence) always the extra creative still ends up with an air hostess job. Joy still lives with the rest of her family including her ex-husband Tony (Ramirez) as her estranged father Rudy (De Niro) needs to move back in.

Joy tired of just getting by she wants to bring back her ideas from her childhood and start making an invention that could stop her family from ever having to worry again. Joy starts by trying to build a new design for a mop with the support of all her family but can she make an impact in the industry.

Joy is a good story that shows how important it is to not give up while chasing a dream, I do like where this shows how determined Joy was but I would’ve liked to have seen more from after the events in the film showing more than we got. Making a movie about selling mops isn’t ever going to be easy and this falls to really pull us in enough to make us interested in what is happening.


Actor Review


Jennifer Lawrence: Joy was always a creative person but life just seemed to hold until final she decides to take the risk a try and make something that could change the world, she creates a mop and along with her father she tries to sale this into the world where she goes to make a future for her family. Jennifer is great in this role as the strong woman.joy charcyer

Robert De Niro: Rudy is Joy’s father and a business man himself, when she wants to go into business he stands with her to try and make this happen. He isn’t sure with every decision but doesn’t want to let his daughter down. Robert is on this film but doesn’t get too much screen time to really shine.

Bradley Cooper: Neil Walker is the sales manager at QVC who takes a chance on Joy’s idea by putting in on his network, he respects her aggressive approach and lets her be the one to sale the product. Bradley is only in a supporting role but doesn’t get enough screen time to have enough important impact.

Edgar Ramirez: Tony is the ex-husband of Joy but the two are still close friends, he lives in the basement and helps with the business and is the one who introduces her to Neil. Edgar is good but I would have liked to have seen more from him as he looked interesting.

Support Cast: Joy has a good supporting cast but I feel we could have seen more from all of them.

Director Review: David O RussellDavid doesn’t give us enough for what we know he is capable from behind the camera.


Comedy: Joy is classed as a comedy?

Settings: Joy uses the settings to make us feel like we are in the same time period.
: Joy is a film to try as we get to learn about the woman herself Joy. (Try It)


Best Part: Lawrence is brilliant.

Worst Part: Would have liked to have seen more.


Believability: Based on the real lady.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Awards: Nominated for 2 Golden Globes

Oscar Chances: Lawrence could get a nod but that is it.

Budget: $60 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes


Overall: Selling a mop movie, well this isn’t going to be that bad but not interesting enough


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.




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.




The Fan (1996)

Director: Tony Scott

Writer: Phoef Sutton (Screenplay) Peter Abrahams (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes, Ellen Barkin, John Leguizamo, Benicio Del Toro, Patti D’Arbanville


Plot: An all star baseball player becomes the unhealthy focus of a down on his luck salesman.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Enjoyable Thriller


Story: The Fan starts as baseball MVP Bobby Rayburn (Snipes) joins to San Francisco Giants on a lucrative contract to be the highest paid player in the league. We also meet diehard baseball fan Gil Renard (De Niro) who is over the moon with the latest signing believing his team could go all the way this year but is on his last legs in his job as a salesman.

When Gil’s life starts crashing around him, he loses his job, gets a restraining order from his kid and even his beloved team isn’t performing he starts to reach into dark places. On the field, Bobby isn’t reaching to levels of expectation with Primo (Del Toro) outshining him in the games, with this we see how both men are not having the best time in their lives.

When Gil becomes obsessed with trying to help Bobby find his form, things take a dark turn with potentially deadly consequences.


Thoughts on The Fan


Characters/PerformanceGil is a true extreme diehard sports fan, he makes sport, in this case baseball the most important part of his life. He has been struggling with his job and family life which has pushed him over the edge. Bobby is the typical arrogant overpaid sports star who believes he can walk into any team and become the star attraction, when things don’t go his way, he struggles with the fan backlash when he hits a slump.

Performance wise, Robert De Niro is fantastic in this role with the final third of the film showing all of his skills on the psychotic levels. Wesley Snipes also brings the cocky sports persona from White Men Can’t Jump to the next level with his performance. The rest of the cast are all great, with always reliable performances from John Leguizamo and Benicio Del Toro.

StoryWe all know how certain fans can go to the extremes when it comes to supporting their team, we all know how the star player can sometimes find themselves getting the fans turn on them. So what happens when a fan goes too far, what happens when a star breaks his slump for his own change rather than because of the fan? Well this shows us just what could happen and in a very stylish way.

Action/SportsThe action is mostly based on the suspense of the film with the sports drama side coming from how the extreme fans can act.

SettingsSan Francisco is the most part for the setting which shows us how difficult it could be to get by, the difference between sports players and fans as well as the amount of people an average person could blend into.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most interesting twists on sports drama, seeing the extremes we could see a fan go to for a player and a team. This does start slightly slow but I do feel that helps build the characters for the final third of the film.


Overall: Great sports drama that has the intensity needed for the story.