In a dark and corrupt world, the rich and powerful are the bad guys, while those who strive to bring them down are destined to fail. With sin and vice running wild, the dirty police force are pushed into a war with the criminals they have spent so long supporting. Cymbeline (Ed Harris) is a powerful drug lord that one day decides he no longer wants to pay the police for their protection, pushing both sides to put their financial goals aside and embark in a bitter and desperate battle to rid the world of one-another.
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With this confident drama, J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) continues to evolve as a filmmaker, giving the mob movie a remarkably thoughtful twist with vivid characters and situations. This film holds us in a vice-grip, cleverly squeezing in on the characters and the audience with both emotional and moral dilemmas. And Oscar Isaac delivers yet another superbly textured performance, this time as a man trying desperately to remain outside the criminal world.
The title refers to 1981, when the crime rate in New York was at an all-time high. Abel (Isaac) has built his heating-oil company into a real contender, but has refused to indulge in the dodgy dealings of his competitors. Which has been difficult since he's married to Anna (Jessica Chastain), daughter of a notorious gangster. Then just as Abel takes out a loan to expand his business even further, he's hit by an indictment from the DA (David Oyelowo), which jeopardises the bank's loyalty. Meanwhile, his rivals' goons are hijacking his tanker-trucks and threatening his family. Although his chief competitor (Alessandro Nivola) denies this. And as things squeeze in on Abel and his lawyer (Albert Brooks), Anna urges them to take illegal action to get things back on track. After all, that's how business works in 1981 New York.
Isaac is utterly magnetic as Abel, a man who rejects the corruption and violence everyone else accepts as part of life. His interaction with an especially feisty Chastain is steely and riveting, as is his relationship with his young protege Julian (Elyes Gabel), a terrified hijacked driver whose storyline takes some surprising turns, some of which are a little obvious. All of the acting in the film is contained and bristling with emotion, giving the characters remarkable layers of texture that make them unusually believable and often startlingly easy to identify with.
Continue reading: A Most Violent Year Review
The big event awaited by Elliot's friends - a bum but friendly bunch that include a broke real estate agent, an ER doctor and an older guy with prostate cancer - is the arrival of their old friend, movie magnate Richard (Boyd Gaines), whose newest blockbuster just won a slew of Oscars. The jealousy that envelops all of is deadly, of course, but at least Richard lets them play at a nice golf course, so it's not all bad. Although Weber doesn't go the expected route by turning Richard into a preening Hollywood villain, that doesn't stop Elliot (who sells suits at the mall and cadges money from everybody he knows, including his nursing home-confined mother) from feeling bitterly resentful at his friend's wealth and success.
Continue reading: Second Best Review
Based on a script co-written by Cryer himself, Went to Coney Island on a Mission From God... Be Back by Five is a movie about, well, exactly that. Daniel (Cryer) and Stan (Rick Stear) head to the New York landmark in the dead of winter, based on a rumor they've heard about their childhood friend Richie. The long-missing Richie, it seems, has taken up residence under the boardwalk, joining ranks with the insane and otherwise homeless Coney Island-dwellers. It's Daniel and Stan to the rescue.
Continue reading: Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God... Be Back By Five Review
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