REVIEW: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

CAST

Oscar Isaac (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Jessica Chastain (Mama)
Alessandro Nivola (The Eye)
David Oyelowo (The Butler)
Albert Brooks (The SImpsons Movie)
Catalina Sandino Moreno (Magic Magic)
Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother)
Elyes Gabel (Game of Thrones)
Jerry Adler (Prime)
Christopher Abbott (Girls)

In 1981 New York, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is the owner of an up-and-coming company which has suffered the hijacking of several trucks, each carrying heating-oil worth thousands of dollars. One driver, Julian (Elyes Gabel), is severely beaten when his oil truck is hijacked by two unknown assailants. Abel’s wife, Anna Morales (Jessica Chastain), beseeches Abel to fight violence with violence, but Abel refuses. Morales and his company are under investigation by Assistant District Attorney Lawrence (David Oyelowo), who seems determined to expose price fixing, tax evasion, and various other illegalities committed by Morales and his competitors in the heating oil business.As a way to secure financial independence for himself and trump his competitors, Abel, with the help of his attorney, Andrew Walsh (Albert Brooks), brokers a deal with a group of Jewish Chassidim, led by Josef Mendellsohn (Jerry Adler), to purchase a fuel oil terminal on the East River. This will allow Morales’ company to directly import fuel oil from barges and to store far more oil in the summertime when fuel oil prices are lower. He places a large down payment of 40% on the property with the agreement that he will close in 30 days—if he fails to do so, the Chassidim will sell the terminal to one of Morales’ competitors and keep the down payment.After moving into a new home, Morales prevents what appears to be an attempted burglary, but the next day one of his daughters finds a loaded handgun dropped in the bushes by the perpetrator. Suspecting this intimidation is coming from his competitors, he begins to confront them one by one; each one denies any intimidation and theft to drive him out of business. The head of the Teamsters encourages Morales to arm his drivers with handguns and fake permits that he can secure for him. Morales refuses, believing that such a move could bring down even more heat on his operation from the authorities and potentially ruin his legitimate business connections with a bank financing his business.Returning to work after weeks of rehabilitation, Julian is again accosted by criminals, this time on the Queensboro Bridge in broad daylight. Carrying a firearm without Abel’s knowledge or permission, he engages in a shootout with the hijackers, which results in the police arriving and chasing Julian and the other assailants, who all escape. This incident once again shifts Morales and his company into the spotlight of not only ADA Lawrence, but also the bank, which informs him that due to the impending criminal indictments and this unfortunate public incident, it can no longer finance his purchase of the terminal.Desperate, and needing $1.5 million to close on the property, he approaches his competition, Saul Leftkowitz and his granddaughter, who agree to give him a $500,000 loan for 20% interest and equity in the company for the term of the agreement. He manages to scrounge up another $200,000 by taking out a mortgage loan against an apartment building that he and his younger brother own together. With time winding down quickly, he intercepts a radio call for help from one of his drivers, who states his truck is being hijacked. Being nearby, he pursues the stolen truck. Eventually catching up to and attacking one of the hijackers, Morales demands to know who the mastermind is. The hijacker denies he was hired by anyone but reveals that he sold his last stolen shipment in Far Rockaway. Morales confronts one of his competitors, who has facilities in Far Rockaway, threatening to alert the federal authorities as the stolen fuel is marked. The competitor agrees to pay Morales more than $200,000 for stolen fuel oil.As Morales is getting closer to his $1.5 million goal, he visits mafia-affiliated Peter Forente (Alessandro Nivola) to ask for another $600,000. Forente agrees to give Morales the loan, but on very unfavorable terms. Dismayed by having to leverage his company to such a high degree in order to secure the loan, Morales begins to inform his wife, only to learn she has been “skimming” from the company for years and has been hiding the money, which is sufficient to cover the amount of money that Forente had agreed to lend, in a secret account.Having the money he now needs, Morales and Walsh pay off his creditors and secure the terminal. As Abel, Anna, and Walsh are looking over the property, they are approached by an angry Julian carrying a gun, who blames Morales for his problems, believing that he should also be entitled to some of Morales’ good fortune. Despondent by his being a wanted man, Julian commits suicide in front of Abel, Anna, and Walsh. As the police show up with ADA Lawrence to investigate the suicide, Morales expresses that the broader investigations into his firm are hurting his business, and that they should find a conclusion at some point. Lawrence agrees in general terms and suggests that this new fuel oil terminal will propel Morales’ business and give him “political influence.” Lawrence then suggests that Morales might be able to help him with his higher aspirations. Morales claims that he has always done “the most right thing”.A Most Violent Year is a slow burning crime thriller that is seeping with great performances and a brilliant script. I highly recommend it.

REVIEW: DRIVE (2011)

CAST
Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)
Carey Mulligan (Wall Street 2)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Albert Brooks (This Is 40)
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
The unnamed driver (Ryan Gosling), who lives in an Echo Park, Los Angeles apartment, works repairing cars and as a part-time movie double. Managed in both jobs by auto shop owner Shannon (Bryan Cranston), the duo also provides a getaway driver service. With Shannon organizing the events, the driver gives criminals only five minutes to perpetrate robberies and reach his car. After meeting his new neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), the driver soon becomes close to her and befriends her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos), while Irene’s husband, Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac), is in prison. After her husband is freed, Irene still asks the driver to visit them.
Shannon persuades Jewish mobsters Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman) to purchase a stock car chassis and build it for the driver to race. Irene’s husband, owing protection money from his time in prison, is beaten up by Albanian gangster Cook (James Biberi), who demands that Standard rob a pawnshop for $40,000 to pay the debt. The gangster gives the young boy Benicio a bullet as a symbol that he and his mother are in danger. The driver, concerned for the safety of Irene and Benicio, steals a Ford Mustang and offers to act as the getaway driver for the pawnshop job.
While waiting for Standard and Cook’s accomplice Blanche (Christina Hendricks) to complete the heist, the driver sees a custom Chrysler 300 pull into the parking lot. Blanche returns with a large bag, but Standard is shot in the back several times and killed by the pawnshop owner. The driver flees with Blanche and the money. They are pursued by the Chrysler, which bumps them but skids in the fast turns and eventually spins out. Eluding the other vehicle, the driver hides with Blanche in a motel. Learning that the bag contains a million dollars, yet the TV news reports the robbery as no money stolen, the driver threatens to beat Blanche, forcing her to admit she and Cook planned to re-steal the mysterious money with the Chrysler. Minutes later, two of Cook’s men ambush them in the motel room, killing Blanche and injuring the driver before he manages to kill them both.
At the auto shop, the driver’s arm is bandaged from the shotgun pellets; Shannon offers to hide the money, but the driver refuses. He hunts down Cook in a strip club, smashes his fingers with a hammer, and threatens to kill him, forcefeeding him the bullet that was given to Benicio; Cook reveals that Nino was behind the robbery. The driver decides to return the million but Nino dismisses the offer and instead sends a hitman (Jeff Wolfe) to the driver’s apartment building. Entering the elevator with Irene, the driver encounters the hitman and spots his pistol. The driver kisses Irene and then brutally beats the hitman to death. Irene exits horrified and stunned.
In his pizzeria, Nino reveals to Bernie that the money was stashed at the pawn shop by a low level Philadelphia wise guy from the “East Coast mob” and since anyone tied to the robbery could lead the East Coast Mafia to them, they need to kill everyone involved. Bernie warns Nino that nobody steals from the Italian Mob. Nino becomes angered and explains how the Italian Mob has, in part due to his Jewish heritage, continually marginalized and insulted him. At the end, he convinces Bernie to follow his plan. Bernie then proceeds to murder Cook with cutlery from the restaurant, as he is the sole witness to their agreement. After Shannon refuses to divulge the whereabouts of the driver, Bernie kills him at the auto shop with a straight razor from his collection of killing tools.
The driver, disguising himself with a rubber mask from his stuntman job, follows Nino from the pizzeria to the Pacific Coast Highway and T-bones Nino’s car onto a beach, then chases him from the wreck to the ocean and drowns him. The driver goes to meet Bernie at a Chinese restaurant. He makes a phone call to Irene to tell her he is leaving, saying that meeting her and Benicio was the best thing that ever happened to him. At the restaurant, Bernie promises that Irene will be safe in exchange for the money, but warns the driver must always be on the run. At his car, the driver gives Bernie the money but Bernie attempts to kill him, stabbing him in the stomach. The driver survives and fatally stabs Bernie in the neck, then drives away, abandoning the money bag alongside Bernie’s body. Irene knocks at the driver’s apartment, but gets no response. The driver is shown driving away into the night, closing the film.
This is one of the most impressive movies I have ever seen and I will explain why. The cinematography in this movie is flawless with beautiful long lasting shots that really add to the dark vibe running through the movie and car sequences filmed better than any other movie I have seen. The story is also a huge plus in this movie and despite the movie being a decent length it does a great job at introducing the main characters and through fantastic screenplay you can understand the characters and their motives, the pacing is spot on as well which really helps with immersion and I was engaged through out the movie. Also through Ryan Gosling’s fantastic performance and brilliant direction by Nicolas Refn you learn so much about the “the driver” played by Gosling through facial expressions and hand gestures that tell you how he feels in a certain situation whether it be very panicked, calm or angry and he is also a likeable character as well despite him saying so little. Other great performances in this movie from Bryan Cranston as always, also great performances from Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman who play convincing villain’s and also think Carey Mulligan was great in this movie as well. But the most impressive thing in this movie is how nothing feels fake whether it may small irrelevant things like what a character may say or action they do usually through violence you can see this has a genuine effect on a character and it is something they don’t enjoy doing but have no choice specially with the one the villain’s Albert Brooks and Gosling as well. lastly I want to mention the score which is very 80’s like but is very catchy and also has meaning through out the movie as well. Overall this movie doesn’t gloss over anything whether it may the violence or anything else this movie is hugely entertaining movie and engaging movie which by far deserves a 5/5 in my opinion and despite it not being for everyone. if you like slower paced movies which are thrilling, violent, dark, extremely engaging and have compelling characters this is for you

REVIEW: THIS IS 40

 CAST

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Leslie Mann (17 Again)
Megan Fox (Transformers)
Albert brooks (The Simpsons)
Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Annie Mumolo (Bad Moms)
Robet Smigel (Pixels)
Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Tom Everett (Dances With Wolves)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon)
Bill Hader (Superbad)

This Is 40 is about, and in short, it’s exactly as advertised – Life at 40 with a family and other various responsibilities. Picking up some years after Knocked Up, Debbie and Pete (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd respectively) are seemingly stuck in financial quicksand. Pete’s record label is tanking as a result of his unwillingness to change with the market, and a string of internal theft leaves Debbie’s clothing store to hemorrhage money they don’t really have. Their financial burden is exacerbated by a mooch of an in-law, and a long lost parent pops into the mix to perplex their lives that much more… and all this doesn’t even take their normal everyday stress into consideration. Their 13 year old daughter, Sadie, (Maude Apatow) is at that odd stage of life where ‘priorities’ are defined as keeping up with the latest and artificial trends in our pop-culture driven society. Oh, and dramatically acting out because she feels like her family is ruining her life, of course. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Charlotte (Iris Apatow), their sweet little 8 year old that’s struggling with a sister that’s too ‘mature’ and ‘cool’ to give her the time of day, not to mention her argumentative parents.

Conceptually speaking, it all sounds dry and unoriginal, but Apatow injecting this premise with a series of relatable issues keeps things interesting. Not only that, but all of the craziness in their lives never feels tacked on just for the sake of it, and that’s a hard thing for any director to accomplish with such subject matter.

In Apatow’s latest however film, he’s able to make all of these moving parts play out like a symphony – Things begin with plenty of laughs, but as the relevant back story begins to fill us in on the issues that initiate the potential for their marriage to fall apart, Apatow finds a rhythm that effortlessly pulls us through all the highs and lows without making them feel like a burden.

Of course it’s all somewhat sensationalized for the sake of entertainment, but this is the director’s most hilarious, yet awkwardly personal film to date. Rudd and Mann may have been the characters who practically stole the show in Knocked Up, but they work just as well as the focus in a full length feature film. Their comedic timing is nothing short of flawless, but Apatow deserves another pat on the back here as well – The characters were made by design to bicker in ways that are so brutally honest with reality, that some people may not want to acknowledge that what they’re seeing on screen actually hits close to home.

The film’s in-laws, Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, who are entirely believable as the building blocks for much of Pete and Debbie’s ongoing strife. It was also nice to see Jason Segal back as, well, ‘Jason’, and Megan Fox was great as the sleazy, yet loveable floozy. She had a lot of fun playing the role, and it showed. Also another great turn from Melissa McCarthy too.