ABC Film Challenge – Crime – L – Live by Night (2016)

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck (Screenplay) Dennis Lehane (Novel)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Remo Girone, Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Chris Messina

 

Plot: A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.


Tagline – The American Dream has a price

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Long & Complex

 

Story: Live by Night starts as we meet Joe Coughlin (Affleck) a former soldier in World War I, who returned to Boston to live the life of crime as an outlaw. When Joe gets blackmailed into killing his boss or risk having his boss learn about his secret affair with his girlfriend Emma (Miller) he finds himself in the middle of a battle he didn’t want a part of.

After the secret is revelled Joe is left for dead blamed for killing cops, after 3 years in jail he gets sent to Florida to track down Albert White, to stop his business and kill him for the new gangster running things in Boston.

With his being a success Joe ends up clashing with the Klux Klan while trying to continue to watch the money roll in to his bosses and even himself.

 

Thoughts on Live by Night

 

Characters – Joe Coughlin is our narrator our gangster, well reluctant gangster, forced into the world after his life as an outlaw gets him mixed up with the wrong people. We learn he is fantastic at handling himself in the meeting striking a deal and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The other characters seem to just be in chapters of his life, Emma is in Boston being a love interest, while Graciela business partner and lover in Florida. Chief Figgis is the man that will let Joe conduct business and to be honest we don’t get to learn enough about them to care about.

PerformancesBen Affleck is the only lead performer in this movie, he is fine through the film, he doesn’t reach the levels we know he can. When you dive into the supporting cast we get a host of known names and even unknowns who get the same amount of time that are solid without anyone standing out.

StoryThe story follows Joe Coughlin as he starts out as a thief and becomes a gangster, this should work and I would have been fine with this, the problems build up as we see how many different situations Joe must solve to get the next chapter of the story through, because we don’t get enough time to see the problems he must overcome and everything just becomes glimpses into the gangster life without doing anything new.

Action/CrimeWe have plenty of shooting going on, though the final one does feel like a level of Grand Theft Auto. This does from us into a gangster heavy crime world where the prohibition is ongoing through America.

SettingsThe settings place us in the prohibition era America, be it Boston or Florida nothing does seem out of place with these locations.


Scene of the Movie –
Final shoot-out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not giving us the time to know the supporting characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a messy gangster film, it has the moments of potential but in the end just jumps too fast to grab us to care about certain moments which do seem to have a bigger impact on the story.

 

Overall: Disappointing, ending Affleck’s streak behind the camera.

Rating

 

 

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Bradley Cooper Weekend – Burnt (2015)

Director: John Wells

Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay) Michael Kalesniko (Story)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Riccardo Scamarcio, Omar Sy, Sam Keeley, Emma Thompson, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander

 

Plot: Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Cooking Drama

 

Story: Burnt starts as we see Adam Jones (Cooper) a chef who has worked under the best before he blew it all with drinks and drugs, he cleans himself up, earns enough money and returns to London to take down Tony (Bruhl) restaurant and hotel.

Turning to his old friend Conti (Goodman) and working Michel (Sy), Helene (Miller), David (Keeley) and Max (Scamarcio) Adam goes in search for the next top chefs around London to work in his kitchen after saving Tony’s ass when the top food critic Simone Forth (Thurman) visits his restaurant. Adam is in search for his third Michelin Star.

 

Thoughts on Burnt

 

Characters/PerformanceAdam Jones is the typical aggressive competitive chef, he wants to be known as the very best but is also on a redemption story. he walks the very thin line between being the best and being a complete ass toward the people who work for him. Helene is the next top chef without a reputation in London, a single mother that keeps her reach all her potential that Adam sees in her. Tony is a friend of Adam’s who reluctantly gives him a chance to turn his kitchen around once more. I do think the rest of the characters all play into the story perfectly too.

Bradley Cooper is great in this role, he gets to show he confidence, aggression and emotions through the film. Sienna Miller is good throughout but like the rest of the cast who all give good performance, they all do get over shadowed by Cooper’s performance.

StoryWhen you are a skilled person with talent can easily come off the rails and search for another chance in life. This is a story of redemption at the core showing you will not be able to run from your past but you can always change your future and the people you work with.

Comedy/DramaThis is a comedy drama that does take a serious matter and add little moments of comedy without being a laugh out loud attempted film.

SettingsMost of the film is in and around the kitchens the chefs work in, this is good because we get to see how chaotic the kitchen can be.

Final ThoughtsThis film was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be, I do think people can enjoy but I can also see why people will find it hard to get through.

 

Overall: Cooks up a delight that can be devoured by the fans.

Rating

 

 

High-Rise (2015)

Director: Ben Wheatley

Writer: Amy Jump (Screenplay) J.G. Ballard (Novel)

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy, Keeley Hawes

 

Plot: Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not My Thing

 

Story: High-Rise starts with Dr Laing (Hiddleston) moving into a new high-rise apartment, it doesn’t take long for him to meet the neighbours including Charlotte (Miller), Wilder (Evans), Helen (Moss) and the owner of the building and apparent recluse Royal (Irons).

The longer Laing spends in the building he learns all about the difference between people with in the building find some easier to get on with than others but can he cope with all the drama surrounding them.

 

Thoughts on High-Rise

 

Characters/PerformanceLaing is the stranger moving into the high-rise, he tries to stay on the outside of all social standards in the building but finds himself trapped seeing both sides of the battle within the building. Royal is the king of the castle, he wants to open the door to Laing as he is tired of the crowd he finds himself around. Charlotte is a resident in the building, a single mother that is always trying to go in within the building.

Performance wise, Hiddleston is good without being breath taking best, with Jeremy Iron strange king of the castle being the highlight of the film. Miller is solid without doing too much.

StoryThe story focuses on the different levels of social standard within one building from the view of the outsider trying to piece together what he has seen, this isn’t the most interesting story and turns to the quirkiness of the film to try and attract the audience.

SettingsMost of the film is set on the different levels of the High-Rise building that shows us the different social levels each level has as they slowly descend into obsession.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very weird film and I can clearly see an audience enjoy this movie, but for me I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy what was going on.

 

Overall: Awkward and weird to say the least.

Rating

 

 

The Lost City of Z (2016)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray (Screenplay) David Grann (Book)

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid

 

Plot: A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow but Interesting Historical Drama

 

Story: The Lost City of Z starts as Colonel Major Percy Fawcett (Hunnam) is assigned to leave his family, wife Nina (Miller) and young child Jack to go to Bolivia to help map the land. Joined on the mission by drunk expert Henry Costin (Pattinson) but the land isn’t what they thought as they learn the inhabitants are not interested in having the white man on their land.

Braving it through the jungle Percy returns to England a national hero. Telling his stories Percy gets pushed into returning with other explorers to discover what is in the depths of Amazonia. Not making it back to his lost city Percy returns only to find World War I has broken out halting any future missions to search until the war is over, Percy dreams of being able to return to the Lost City of Z but can he make it and keep the loved ones happy.

 

 

Thoughts on The Lost City of Z

 

Characters/PerformancePercy Fawcett is a respected soldier, one of the highest ranked, he is pushed into mapping Bolivia for England where he leaves his family for years on end only return before heading back to Bolivia. He becomes one of the great explorers of the time but his balance on discovery and family is truly tested. Henry Costin becomes Percy’s trusted second on all his expeditions, he might have a slight drinking problem but he will always fight by his side and discover by his side. Nina is the wife of Percy who must spend most of the time raising the children while her husband is away, she does wish to join him with the family but understands the risk it wold have on the children. Jack is the eldest son that grows up while his father is away, he is the first to stand up against everything his father does but also believing he deserves more than he gets from the government.

Performance wise, Charlie Hunnam gives what I think is the best performance of his career here with Pattinson continuing to show he is capable away from the Twilight disaster for him. Miller is good in the supporting role which is a slightly stronger female character than normal and Tom Holland does well in his supporting role.

StoryThe story follows Percy Fawcett’s expeditions to Bolivia, how not every mission went well, but most importantly how he just wanted to learn. We do see the struggle to balance personal life and his exploring life as well as getting the respect of the British Government when it comes to the missions. This is a very interesting look into this explorer and his life’s work.

Action/Adventure/Biography/History – The action side of this film is mostly the battle sequences we are not used often which is good, the adventure shows just what a new discovery could feel like for these explorers. The biography and history is looking at of the explorer between 1900 and 1930 with what they learnt along their travels.

SettingsEach setting used shows us the different adventure and the difficult time it would have to be to find that one location in a previously unmapped location, we have beauty spots, but also the conflict of war.

EffectsThe effects used are mostly in the conflict scenes and are few and far between, but the ones used are all good when used.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the underrated movies of the year, it does tell an interesting story and one that could be enjoyed by all that watch.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but underrated movie.

Rating

 

 

Layer Cake (2004)

layer cakDirector: Matthew Vaughn

Writer: J.J. Connolly (Screenplay) J.J. Connolly (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Jamie Foreman, Tom Hardy, Sienna Miller, Tamer Hassan, Kenneth Dranham, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw

 

Plot: A successful cocaine dealer gets two tough assignments from his boss on the eve of his planned early retirement.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slick Thriller

 

Story: Layer Cake starts as we meet the guy (Craig) we never learn his name who has taken advantage of being a business man within the drug world, he keeps everything strictly business with a plan to get out of the business with his latest deal completed. When his boss Jimmy Price (Cranham) sends for him to find his daughter Charlie (Lunghi) while also working with loose cannon Duke (Foreman) on the latest job. The problem is the Duke has started an international war with his latest attempt to get a score. Can our guy get through all of the troubles and out of the business with his life?

Layer Cake enters into the type of film I personally don’t enjoy too much and that is the drug crime world ones, that isn’t going to judge whether I think this is a god or bad film. I liked how the usage of drugs was minimal to no existent in the film. The story is filled with twists and turns along the way which really does keep us guessing as we see where the final outcome of the film will take us. I did find myself enjoy this one and would suggest to people to watch.

 

Actor Review

 

Daniel Craig: We never learn the name of this character but he is our leading man through the story, a smart business man in the world of drugs. He finds himself stuck doing one last job before trying to get out of the business but this job leads him into going against all of his business plans. Daniel is good in this leading role showing he was ready for the next step up.

Colm Meaney: Gene is the second in command to Jimmy who has always been the middle man between the guy and Jimmy until the two have to work together to clean up the mess. Colm is your always reliable supporting character.

Kenneth Cranham: Jimmy Price is the supplier that the guy works for, he hires him to find his partners daughter and deal with the Duke a loose cannon. He is loud and will do anything to make sure he makes extra money. Kenneth is solid as this gangster character who has too much for their own good.

Sienna Miller: Tammy is a mystery girl that comes into the guy’s life that seems to have a plan that should be keeping her ahead of anyone else. Sienna is good and bursts onto the big screen with this role.

Support Cast: Layer Cake has a big supporting cast that does have a lot of familiar faces in that all become part of the bigger picture with our leading man, all giving good performance throughout.

Director Review: Matthew VaughnMatthew shows off all his style in this film showing how he can handle multiple story branches around the main one going on.

 

Crime: Layer Cake puts our characters in the middle of the drug world where we don’t know who to trust.

Thriller: Layer Cake does keep us guessing to what will happen next through the story.

Settings: Layer Cake keeps nearly all of the settings being what feels like the criminal underworld location which works out nicely for the film.
Special Effects
: Layer Cake has good effects when needed but only uses them for the occasions needed.

Suggestion: Layer Cake is one I do feel or the gangster fans will enjoy. (Gangster Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Craig shows he is ready to a leading man in this role.

Worst Part: Slightly too much going on.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $4 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

Overall: Slick crime thriller from start to finish.

Ratingcard