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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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – N – Nina (2016)

Director: Cynthia Mort

Writer: Cynthia Mort (Screenplay)

Starring: Zoe Saldana, David Oyelowo, Kevin Mambo, Ronald Guttman, Chuma Gault, Allison Sarofilm, Mike Epps, Keith David

 

Plot: The story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson.


Tagline – Singer. Activist. Survivor. Legend.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Biopic 101

 

Story: Nina starts as we see Nina Simone (Saldana) performing one of Nina’s iconic songs as we see how the rise and fall of the iconic star happened through the different eras of music, now in the early 90s, she finds herself in a rehab centre needing to clean herself up after learning she doesn’t have al the money she has earnt in her career.

Becoming friends with Clifton Henderson (Oyelowo) who she makes her manager to help keep her appointments in order and keeping her on the right medication, the two fast become friends as Clifton learns about what drove Nina down the spiral she went down.

 

Thoughts on Nina

 

Characters – Nina is the iconic jazz and classical musician that broke boundaries, we follow her in the mid-90s where she is considered an icon but has fallen out of the limelight after struggling with her personal addictions to drinks. She hires a new manager to help her try and turn her life around, though her paranoia towards people in her life doesn’t help her and her sickness needs help from Clifton. Clifton is an orderly at the rehab centre Nina stays at, she trusts him, making him the only one she does, he gets recruited into being her manager as he helps to try and turn her career around and bring her back to the spotlight, where she deserves to be. The rest of the characters we meet are family, lawyers, promotors and celebrities that Nina would have met in her life.

PerformancesZoe Saldana did face backlash for her choice in the role because her background isn’t the same as Nina’s, away rom this conversation this is a performance that show Saldana isn’t all action with this being her strongest acting performance of her career. David Oyelowo is great too as he seems capable of stepping into any role he wants challenging Chadwick Boseman for biopic-man title. The supporting cast are great too where they help with the important scenes in the film.

StoryThe story focuses on the real people of Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson as they try to help bring Nina’s career back on track. This is where the story becomes disappointing to see, sure it is great to see how she was aiming to make her comeback, but we don’t learn enough on the first rise, the struggles she faced and what led her down the addiction problems, which are always the more interesting part of any celebrity’s lives.

Biopic/MusicThe music shown here are the iconic songs of Nina Simone’s career and if you didn’t know she sang them you will by the end of the film. the biopic side of the film does show us a crucial part of Nina’s life though it would have been nice to learn more about getting to this stage.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show where Nina heads to recover to get in the mood for her music and creative energy, they do end up looking like locations you could imagine the celebrity would be around.


Scene of the Movie –
The return gig.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning enough about her original rise to fame.

Final ThoughtsThis is the standard biopic, we get to see the once famous star try to turn their career around, though we don’t learn enough about their career in the first place.

 

Overall: Standard biopic.

Rating

 

 

Ron Perlman Weekend – The Book of Life (2014)

Director: Jorge R Gutierrez

Writer: Jorge R Gutierrez, Doug Landgale (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube

 

Plot: Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical

 

Story: The Book of Life starts with a school trip being told the story of two Gods Xibalba and La Muerta making a wager to see who gets to rule the land of the living and the land of the dead, their bet follows two young Mexican boys Manolo and Joaquin betting on who will marry Maria.

Manolo is from a bullfighting family and wants to be a musician, while Joaquin becomes General known for fighting off bandits. When everything gets out of hand in the battle between Manolo and Joaquin, Manolo ends up in the land of the dead to save Maria.

 

Thoughts on The Book of Life

 

Characters – Manolo is from a family of bullfighters, he is expected to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps even though he dreams of being a musician. He is part of the bet, he has the better heart trying to win her heart through music, he travels through three worlds to win her heart. Joaquin is the brave fighter, he has been selected by the evil to win Maria’s heart given the medal of everlasting life meaning he can’t die, this adds to his confidence he possesses. Maria is the woman the two are fighting over, she is independent as they come willing to lead her people without needing a husband by her side.

StoryThe story does seem to follow what we saw in Coco in places, this one did come first. We have the central character of Manolo that is expected to follow on path not allowing him to follow his own dream of music. We have the travel through the land of the living, the dead and the forgotten. Where we go to be different is by including Gods that can make a bet to keep them entertained. This story does feel magical from start to finish.

Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/MusicalThe adventure that Manolo goes on is wonderful to see through the different lands of Mexican culture, this does have good comedy going on through the whole film mostly from the side characters. The fantasy world of the land of the dead and forgotten look beautiful to be travelling through. The songs are delightful to listen to even if some are remixes of famous songs.

SettingsThe settings takes us to Mexico, as we follow the culture of the land, both past and present.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic, different and what we are used to seeing too, the colours stand out and the different lands have a unique look.


Scene of the Movie –
Forgive song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I had just watched Coco a few weeks again and knowing that movie just stole most of the ideas annoys me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical animation that leaves you with a happy thought about what you have just seen.

 

Overall: Magical and beautiful.

Rating

 

 

I Kill Giants (2018)

Director: Anders Walter

Writer: Joe Kelly (Screenplay) Joe Kelly, J.M. Ken Niimura (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Madison Wolfe, Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots, Sydney Wade, Rory Jackson

 

Plot: Barbara Thorson struggles through life by escaping into a fantasy life of magic and monsters.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Fascinating

 

Story: I Kill Giants starts as we see Barbara (Wolfe) doing experiments to see which giants will get attracted to which scents, she lives with her sister Karen (Poots) and brother Dave (Parkinson) and she doesn’t have any friends. Barbara spends her days preparing for battle with giants, who she believes walks around the world, with a new friend Sophia (Wade) she reveals her secrets.

As the new school psychologist Mrs Molle (Saldana) tries to figure out Barbara, Barbara starts becoming more distant from the real world in her fight against the giants with Sophia supporting her, just how much is an escape from reality?

 

Thoughts on I Kill Giants

 

Characters – Barbara is the school girl that lives in a fantasy world where she prepares to fight giants, she is a loner at school, distant from her siblings, she doesn’t let people in her life no matter how hard some try, it is clear she is dealing with some sort of personal grief or trauma, but what has caused it, is what we want to know about her character. Mrs Molle is the new school psychologist that wants to help Barbara, she knows there is a bigger problem and will dedicate more tie to learn the truth about her problems. Karen is the older sister of Barbara, she is trying hold the family together looking after her siblings, she is suffering as well, but must stay strong. Sophia is the new girl in town, she wants to befriend Barbara and shows the patience a true friend would when they are suffering.

PerformancesMadison Wolfe is fantastic in this leading role, we see just how she shows how hiding the grief can make you seem enthusiastic and determined when deep down all you want to do is cry. Zoe Saldana is great in this role where we see her being a calming influence instead of the action heavier role she has been known for. Imogen Poots and Sydney Wade are both good in the supporting roles in this film too.

StoryThe story follows a school girl that is battling giants being very distant from the world. this story goes in a direction I personally wasn’t expecting and this only make this better on every level. We can learn and work early on that something isn’t right with Barbara’s life, we get hints and you can see she is dealing with something a child that age shouldn’t have to experience. By the end of this story you may find yourself emotional exhausted and believing me when I say, this will be one that will stick with you for long after it finishes.

FantasyThe fantasy side of the film shows us just how the world Barbara is creating works, with giants, traps and preparation for battle against them.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a small coastal town in America, it shows how people can know each other, but not know the truth about what is going on in life.

Special EffectsThe effects are save for anytime Barbara is battle the giants, we don’t get to see them completely as this does only let her see them.


Scene of the Movie –
The final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It seems strange the school didn’t know the truth.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the biggest and best surprises I have seen this year, I feel it is a must watch and one you will need to prepare yourself for.

 

Overall: Must watch emotional rollercoaster.

Rating

 

 

Matthew Fox Weekend – Vantage Point (2008)

Director: Pete Travis

Writer:  Barry L Levy (Screenplay)

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Said Tahgmaoui, Zoe Saldana, Edgar Ramirez, Bruce McGill

 

Plot: The attempted assassination of the American President is told and re-told from several different perspectives.


Tagline –  If you think you’ve seen it all…Look Again

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Relentless Action Packed Film

 

Story: Vantage Point starts in Salamanca, Spain where the world leaders are meeting for President Ashton (Hurt) anti-terrorist agreement which would bring nations from around the world together. Rex Brooks (Weaver) is controlling the media side of the story, with Angie Jones (Saldana) on the grounds.

President Ashton surrounded by secret service agents including Thomas Barnes (Quaid) who has saved the President in the past and flanked by Kent Taylor (Fox). When the President in shot a bomb is set off outside the plaza leave many dead including our reporter Angie.

We rewind to follow the events from Thomas’s perspective, his struggle to suit up and put his life on the line for the President. We continue to follow different vantage points we learn the bigger picture of the events of this day.

 

Thoughts on Vantage Point

 

Characters – Thomas Barnes is a secret service agent, he has saved the President before and his mindset has been questioned before, but he is excellent at his job, he must act quickly to learn the truth about who tried to assassinate the President. Kent Taylor is a fellow secret service agent, the one that supports Barnes’ return to duty, he goes in pursuit off the suspect doing his duty for the President. Howard Lewis is a tourist that is having a difficult personal life and was using this trip as a break from his family, he is filming the events becoming a crucial witness to the events. Rex Brooks is the television news director, controlling her reporter on the stage, the cameras in the arena, she has a history with trying to get Barnes to talk about his lifesaving moment in the past. President Ashton is about to agree on the biggest counter-terrorist agreement in world history, he will be making history at this event. We continue to follow other people too including the mysterious woman Veronica that becomes one of the prime suspects.

PerformancesThe performances here are good throughout the whole cast, not a single person truly becomes the main character of the film so, no one takes centre stage. Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt to name the biggest names are able to show how to make an impact with limited time.

StoryThe story follows the panic which follows an attempted assassination attempt of the President, we follow the different viewpoints, we flashback to different points where each vantage point does take us to the next stage of the story, keeping us guessing on each moment of the events of the day. This story does show the pure panic that would follow an assassination attempt and bombs going of at such a public event. The real-time feeling gives us an extra dimension to this film which makes this a real edge of your seat story which keeps us guessing.

Action/CrimeThe action comes thick and fast in this film, we have a car chase through the tight streets and plenty of foot pursuits the drive the movie as we are left to figure out who committed the crime.

SettingsThe settings give us the opening feeling of hope for the world, this setting then shows us how perfect it would be for creating the chaos required for the terrorist actions.


Scene of the Movie –
Car chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Forest Whitaker’s jump, it doesn’t suit the running rescue.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most underrated action films if you want something that doesn’t make you think to much but does keep you guessing this is one for you. It is a relentless film that doesn’t give you too much time to breath.

 

Overall: Action fans just go and watch this.

Rating