American Hustle (2013)

A film with amazing stars, phenomenal actors and actresses who are magnificent throughout the film. Stars such as Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner. They all are brilliant in creating this crime-ridden world with secrecy and plotting along the way. Christian Bale has to be at the forefront of this phenomenal cast, his acting is excellent as always.

Christian Bale Bradley Cooper Amy Adams Jeremy Renner Jennifer Lawrence

Two con-artists; a man who’s secret work is one of America’s best and a seductive, cunning woman on his side, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams); are forced to work with a very ambitious FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Sadly, the film sounds a lot better than it actually is. It could have explored this FBI takeover in a much more exciting way, but I was left just trying so hard to understand what was going on and it takes a lot of concentrate when it’s quite a long talky-talky film. I have to admit, the narration throughout the whole film, from the characters explaining what is happening, is essential to understanding everything, and I liked the addition. But overall, I just felt more could have happened, particularly with these amazing actors. It felt a bit empty, where I was waiting for something to happen. When the con occurred, I was pleased to finally welcome its arrival into the film, but I think I created way better cons in my mind guessing throughout the movie.

Saying this, I really liked the flawed characters. I think with these sort of actors you can’t not be invested in the characters on screen. I was constantly guessing who was playing a con, who could be trusted, who was going to be fooled. But it turned out, we already knew quite a lot in the film as it was going on. I really liked the addition of Jennifer Lawrence’s character, her cunning and bossy ways were intriguing to learn about in the film. The whole film does feel like if you add a bit of violence, it could have easily had Robert De Niro at the centre. But it didn’t quite hit the mark of one of his crime films.

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In conclusion, American Hustle isn’t a bad film but it isn’t great. It has an incredibly long build up, where you wait and wait for the ending and it’s not as revolutionary as I had hoped, although still good to be fair. American Hustle definitely had stardom over plot, style over substance. I don’t think I’ll be watching this one again, there was a bit of too much hope for something more.

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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

This drama is inspired by the true story of Ted Bundy – one of America’s most infamous serial killers during the 1970s. The film does seem to follow very closely to real-life events with embedded flashbacks of the televised trial from the 1970s at the end. However, with drama thrown in, not every aspect was shown in this film and there were some false identities too, so don’t take this as a truthful documentary of what actually happened to this “extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile” murderer.

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When first exposed with this film, my initial reaction was a confusion to the extremely long name. Although after watching it, it seemed a fitting name from the Judge’s own words from the 1970s when he sentenced this pathological killer. The sentencing of the film is one unusual yet mesmerising to watch in the cinematic elements with the speech performed by the brilliant John Malkovich. Something that cannot be denied is the excellence of the acting in this film. Whereas everyone is proclaiming that Zac Efron is the star of the film as Ted Bundy; I believe that the fiancé whose side the story is told from, is the most powerful performance on screen. This being Lily Collins playing the betrayed, broken Liz Kendall who fell deeply for Ted Bundy.

I do have a few reservations for ‘Extremely Wicked’. Where the trailer may make the film seem riddled with the killings of this guilty man, watching the film I felt a completely different presence that dominated. I couldn’t shake the feeling that every moment of the film, until the very end, just tried to plea the innocence of this man. It seemed to glorify a serial killer as innocent where doubt only shook at the very end. This was because those that believed innocence dominated the screen, where those proving his guilt shared much less time. I feel this is where the film did fall, they should have persisted more with the facts of guilt, rather than dramatizing a pathological liar with more innocence. I do understand this was an element of history, where people did believe his innocence due to his ‘looks’, although he was found guilty and if I was presented with the film only, I wouldn’t completely understand why until the end. Which is hauntingly creepy at the thought.

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Overall, this is not a terribly film, far from it. It’s a highly dramatized rendition of a prolific killer in America’s past. Acting is brilliant and you do become drawn into the opposing sides of Ted Bundy. Additionally, time does race past and you do need to pay attention to everything happening to grasp the full understanding of this version of Ted Bundy’s life from the point of view of his fiancé. Safe to say, Zac Efron is a completely different actor from his Troy Bolton days. 

Hotel Artemis (2018)

Set in Los Angeles 2028, the city is close to lock-down with riots and criminal activity at a high. In the middle of this crazy unsafe city, there’s a mythical hotel just for criminals. A place for them to hide and looked after during injury. A place that must be kept a secret. But there’s rules that must be obeyed: members only, rooms are not to be held for someone, guests must be at a minimum, no cops, and the no.1 rule, not to kill other patients. Safe to say this “normal Wednesday” has all rules broken pretty quickly, and only gets worse throughout the night.

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This was an interesting film, very unusually designed and created. ‘Hotel Artemis’ doesn’t have a plot what-so-ever. The film just seems to escalate and escalate to utter madness. It’s starts off as a “normal Wednesday” then slowly gets worse throughout the film until there is a breaking point and the film ends. The problem was we couldn’t see how this hotel functioned normally, so when it got to escalation, we could tell this wasn’t the “normal Wednesday” but there wasn’t anything we could connect to. You don’t really get much explanation for reasons, to why the future is the way it is, to the riots, to the need of Hotel Artemis, to anything really. Or to any of the characters, I didn’t really feel like I understood their presence, other than a few which felt a bit forced. The whole film feels so open-ended, with the beginning, middle and end. The whole thing was just unanswered. It also takes quite a while for the action, especially all that is seen in the trailer, to actually hit the screen of the film.

Because of this, the film feels extremely character-led, since there was no story to lead the film. ‘Hotel Artemis’ just seems to be delving into the life of the Nurse (Jodie Foster). The story of her past before the Hotel, her anxieties and her progress, the development of closure and the need for answers. But it doesn’t feel like a pressing issue for the character, it just feels like an ache of the protagonist throughout the whole film and it slowly reveals why. It is strangely done. The escalation was supposed to lead to the biggest criminal of the city arriving, the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum), but that was definitely a let-down. He really wasn’t a great character, not interesting or otherwise.

Sterling K. Brown and Sofia Boutella in Hotel Artemis (2018)

I can’t say this was the best crime film I’ve ever seen, but it’s not the worst. I was intrigued to what was going to happen, but a bit deflated by the forced escalation to not really understand it. It could have been so much more with the idea of a criminal hospital for members-only, but it didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. Instead, I only have more questions that I’m not too desperate having answered.

American Psycho (2000)

Another apparent top 100 films to see. ‘American Psycho’ follows a rich business man who puts on a pretend front with a hidden personality with desperate homicidal needs. Played by the phenomenal Christian Bale, Patrick Bateman is brought to screen as just an arrogant man demanding his way through life, but at night be becomes a predator with emotions of “greed and disgust” only, slaughtering his victims with knives, chainsaws and axes.

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Crazed lives of killing competitors, jealously, greed. Losing grip of sanity, bursts of anger outrages. A mad intensity rising throughout the whole film, escalating. We watch as all this happens to the main protagonist as he tries to stick to his strict routines and remain pretending he is just like everyone else, when rather there is something hysterical and homicidal burning inside. The ridiculously of getting away with the amount he does becomes almost comical, in his outbursts and claim to music knowledge to hide his true identity. Bateman is constantly on edge, creating this tense feel throughout the film, as you never know how he is going to react to such simple social interactions.

The film is fuelled on the narrative of the main protagonist, where we get the insight of this man’s mind. How his anger rages over who has the better business card or how the person talking to him is such an inconvenience. The narration is so formal, but definitely means we know more than those on screen, especially with how Patrick Bateman thinks. The music is also iconic in its rejection of Bateman’s actions. It’s odd how some parts even become comedic in his hysterical state and obvious distraction tactics.

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An 18 for all reasons possible. There’s gore, nudity, sex, drugs, swearing, etc. The language is quite vulgar and there are some graphic sex scenes. However, it’s understandable how this film has become so known and classic. It is a brilliant film in its creation. By the end, it all seemed misleading and confusing, although this just means the audience are even more drawn in. It’s a clever crime film. Christian Bale alone should be a reason of watch, as he is truly excellent in this role.

Taxi Driver (1976)

A Martin Scorsese film starring Robert De Niro, with all the other classic Scorsese tell-tells. The underbelly of New York city, violence, crime. I completely understand this is a film of its time, it is politically situated relevant to 1970s America. I would just say that one time for me watching this is enough, don’t think I need to be watching this film repeatedly, it’s not that kind of movie.

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I don’t really know how to explain the plot. It’s all revolved around a night-time taxi driver, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), driving around in the underbelly of a city. He becomes infatuated with one woman, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), but doesn’t quite understand the social ques of how to talk to her appropriately. He then falls down a track of “cleaning up the streets” himself as he’s on a mission we don’t fully understand or know what this unpredictable man is capable of doing.

This film feels like it doesn’t have a designated purpose, it feels unsettling and emotionally draining throughout the whole movie. As ‘Taxi Driver’ embodies the darkness and underbelly of the city, the film becomes an 18 rather quickly. It is full of violence, particularly by the end. The language is horrid; I’m not a fan of the language throughout this film, however it does just reflect the flawed protagonist in his unnerving state.

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‘Taxi Driver’ made me constantly feel uncomfortable, it was quite hard to watch. Especially as there wasn’t a hook to bring me in. It doesn’t start interesting and we just watch a realism type of film, with silent and very quiet real noises. The main protagonist is very untrustworthy, there’s an uneasy edge where you cannot quite understand or grasp who he is. This film is a film of iconic scenes, which are remembered in cinematic history from the 1970s. As I said, I wouldn’t watch this again, it feels quite slow. But it’s one of those classics.

King of Thieves (2018)

A film of an excellent classic cast, such as Michael Caine, Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Jim Broadbent, Charlie Cox (Daredevil). Based on a true story of a burglary, one of the largest in English history, a guessed £14 million heist of the Hatton Garden safe deposit.

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The trailer told a comical story of old men thieving their way through life, ready for one large heist. Although, the film was a lot more on edge than I thought it would have been. Everything goes drastically wrong when they all become too greedy and want everything for themselves. The characters aren’t great, they’re not really likable or trustworthy as they all back-stab and stir-the-pot making relationships worse. The characters made me feel very uncomfortable at times. The whole heist wasn’t that stimulating when it was thought of and designed into a plan, it just felt like a lot of talk.

To be honest, ‘King of Thieves’ is actually quite slow and boring at times. I felt myself just a little bored and uninterested by the whole mishap. The second half did become more interesting by the end, but it shouldn’t have taken that long. I was interested by the story as it was based on true events, I was interested to discover what was going to happen. But that was where my interest ended. The film frustrated me quite a lot, irritated by the characters and their attitudes. I felt a lot of sympathy was placed onto the main protagonist as well, which I am unsure whether it was supposed to be there or not. It felt unnecessarily forced. All the lies made it hard to keep up with and the talk just wasn’t interesting to listen to, some of it I didn’t even understand what they were going on about making it hard for me to pay attention.

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‘King of Thieves’ fell down due to the issue of the best parts (the ones most found comical at least) being shown in the trailer. Therefore, what is there to watch it for? Now that might be a bit harsh, it did have an interesting theme of truth, but I don’t think I’d watch it again. Sad to say with such a great cast! Maybe I just missed the whole point? “There’s no honour amongst thieves”.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Finally watched my first Quentin Tarantino film, this one seemed to be more my liking from the trailer. A revenge filled plot with hatred running through one woman’s eyes. After waking up from a coma after four years, our nameless protagonist (Uma Thurman) is on a mission to kill anyone involved in the murder of her unborn baby girl and her comatose state for nearly half a decade. She’s on the hunt for the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad working through a Death List.

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‘Kill Bill’ feels like a very raw film, with lots of crime and violence throughout. I do have to admit it was a bit overload on the blood splatter, didn’t need to be as overexaggerated as it was, spluttering everywhere (it is an 18). Although, I love the cinematic effects throughout the whole film, I thought they were magnificent and so original, different and clever. To begin with, the film is broken down into chapters, although that doesn’t mean the chapters are in a chronological order. However, it does not become confusing, only adds to the intrigue of the film and cleverly adds more and more to characters. We understand straight on she’s only on this path for revenge which seems understandable since she was shot in the head in her wedding dress… We know quite quickly she’s dangerous and skilled with not much empathy behind.

Kill Bill Vol.1

Secondly, there are also very clever cinema camera effects added. A whole chapter of the film is in a Japanese style animation, so intriguing as you delve into the past of the deadliest assassins in Tokyo (played by Lucy Liu). Other parts of the film have extreme colour saturation, bright colours to seem unnatural on screen. We know this is a film with all the cinematic effects. Additionally, parts of the film are even in black and white as we cleverly sneak from colour to monochrome. I loved all these effects, I just thought it made the film feel so original and exciting.

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As you can probably tell, I quite enjoyed my first Quentin Tarantino film. I loved how different it was and the whole essence of the film was brilliant. Nonetheless, the plot is a good one, it’s intriguing and interesting as we watch this woman on her deathly path. Finally, the ending it brilliant, begging for you to watch volume 2 straight away. And I might just have to.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold” – the tale of ‘Kill Bill’.