American Animals: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #44

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

One of my favourite types of movies are those based on true stories. These feature Goodfellas, Selma, BlackKklansman, Hidden Figures and, most recently, American Animals. I saw the trailer and it looked somewhat interesting. I was lucky enough to attend a screening in London followed by a Q&A with director Bart Layton. It was a fantastic experience and I had an amazing time. Here is my review of American Animals.

Directed by Bart Layton and starring Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters is a cinematic depiction of a true crime caper. When Spencer Reinhard begins studying at the University of Transylvania, he discovers a book in the library that is worth $12 million. He tells his best friend, Warren Lipka, who decides the pair, accompanied by Lipka’s other friends, will steal the book and make their millions. However, unforeseen circumstances play their part and the heist goes horribly wrong.

Evan Peters took on the role of Warren Lipka, the brains behind the heist. Evan Peters was very well suited to play Warren Lipka and he was great in this film. Peters acting ability is so brilliant and his talent shone throughout this film, particularly when he was expressing his feelings, like the desire to steal the book or the anger when it all falls apart. Warren’s primary partner in crime was Spencer Reinhard, played by Barry Keoghan. I preferred Keoghan in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (review here), but Keoghan doesn’t have much range. His voice is quite monotonous and depressing and, while that suited the latter part of the film, the half of Spencer being happy and actually kind of enjoying life was just mismatched to Keoghan’s acting ability.  Jared Abrahamson played Eric Borsuk, a quiet and reluctant member of the heist. He was well played, especially for being a quiet and shy crew member, but I felt there could have been more of his character. The final heist member was Chas Allen, played brilliantly by Blake Jenner. Allen’s character was reluctant to join and was the most vocal member of the group when it came to not doing the heist. I loved the way that Jenner played Chas as he immersed himself in the role and delivered a good performance.

american-animals

Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) plans out the heist and getaway.

The music was brilliant throughout the movie. Though it was a little cliché in places (Using ‘A Little Less Conversation’ for the dream heist scene), it overall used good music that was suited to the movie and made it more enjoyable to watch. The best use was ‘Who By Fire’ by Leonard Cohen, for when the police come to arrest the guys for their crimes. It beautifully juxtaposed what was happening in the movie and made for a great scene.

Since the story is something that happened in real life, you can’t really critique it, but you can discuss how it was portrayed on the screen. Honestly, Bart Layton did such a brilliant job with the direction of the film. The opening was so stylish and created a tone of mystery that had me hooked for what would be shown throughout the film. The use of cutting between the men in real life in the present after the crime (with the real Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen in the film) and them describing what happened with Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan playing the younger versions of the men who carried out the heist. The scene transitions were sleek and carried the film nicely, leaving me more invested into what the film was showing. The film showed how the boy’s memory was unreliable and it had the same scene but with different little details in places that made the film more interesting to watch. One of the best parts of the film was seeing how the heist was planned out and how it took place. It was also great to see a Reservoir Dogs reference by code names like Mr Pink (and Chas getting mad about it like Steve Buscemi did). When asked yesterday, Layton explained that one of his biggest influences for the style of his direction in American Animals came from ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, a 1975 movie starring Al Pacino. In Dog Day Afternoon, a bank robbery goes horribly wrong from the start. You can see how Layton draws inspiration from Dog Day Afternoon to bring the story of American Animals to life.

Overall, American Animals gets an 8.2/10 from me. I actually cannot wait to watch this film again. It may have been a little dull in places and could have had more development but makes for a brilliant movie that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else movie related you could want. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a Black Mirror episode review. See you then!

BlacKkKlansman: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #31

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! Just as a heads up this review will discuss some dark themes, so you have been warned.

The summer holidays have whizzed past us and another year of school begins. To mark the end of a hectic summer, my friends and I all caught up to watch a movie and a meal. Despite ideas to watch the Incredibles 2 or The Meg, we opted for BlacKkKlansman, the latest hit from Spike Lee. It was a great end to the summer and with it, the final year of our secondary school lives before we all head off on our separate ways begun.

From director Spike Lee and a cast including Adam Driver and John David Washington is the cinematic version of a true story of racism in 1970’s America. Ron Stallworth is the first African-American police officer to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department and sets out on the ambitious task of infiltrating and exposing the Ku Klux Klan. Naturally, he can’t infiltrate them himself and so enlists the help of fellow police officer, Phillip Zimmerman, who will act as the version of a white Ron Stallworth in real life while Ron Stallworth himself keeps in contact with the Klan via telephone. The pair soon learn about a plot that the Ku Klux Klan are organising against a large meeting of African-American students and do everything within their power to stop any destruction and harm being caused.

John David Washington playing Ron Stallworth was a fantastic decision on Lee’s part. I personally had never heard of him before, but he was well suited for the role. His acting was spot on, and his character arc was really interesting to watch unfold. Phillip Zimmerman was played by Adam Driver. I think he was a bit of a dull character, or at least by Driver’s acting. He didn’t really do much for his character and was very rigid in terms of emotional acting. Laura Harrier played Patrice who was basically the love interest in this whole true story. She was a great character who Harrier played wonderfully, but I would have liked to have seen more of her. She was just seen as the protester who was inappropriately touched up by the dirty police officer and the love interest of Ron. Patrice carries more of a symbolic role than that and she deserves to have had a bigger role. Next, I’ll be reviewing what I thought of how people portrayed the members of the Ku Klux Klan. I don’t agree with their views or actions but here I will discuss what I thought of the acting. The Grand Wizard, David Duke, was played by Topher Grace. Personally, Grace is one of my favourite actors and his portrayal of David Duke was a fantastic performance from Grace. He brought his classic charm to a harsh and hated character. Jasper Pääkkönen played a Klan member called Felix. Felix’s character was played by Pääkkönen as a true Klan member as he was fully against anyone who didn’t have pure American blood in them. Pääkkönen’s portrayal was commendable as he brought a roughness to the character that made him more unlikable than the other Klan members and, despite his Finnish heritage, his American accent was good. Ryan Eggold played Walter Breachway, another main Klan member. Eggold showed a nicer and somewhat kinder man who was a Klan member and it was a good performance from him.

sddefault

Ron Stallworth tricking Grand Wizard David Duke into thinking he’s a white supremacist.

Though I know beforehand that it was set in the 70’s, Blackkklansman’s music came as a surprise to me. From Prince to Looking Glass, the music was something to enjoy. The best song has to go to ‘Too Late to Turn Back Now’ by The Cornelius Brothers. A week later and that song is still stuck in my head. The soundtrack was composed by Terence Blanchard and was actually pretty good. It had some good pieces of music but was very repetitive and fell into the same trap as Kingsman, where the main theme was replayed and altered to fit the emotion and mood of a scene.

The story and plot were interesting, especially as it was a true story. The real-life Ron Stallworth is a true hero for his work and it’s about time his story was told. The film was slow to start, but as soon as you get yourself in it and the tone has been set, it’s actually a really amazing experience. The whole bomb plot going down was a longer-lasting sequence than what I expected. Having said that, the whole bomb plot sequence was fantastically well done. It kept you on the edge of your seat whilst not being too much or bombarding you with too much. Blackkklansman had a nice balance of everything you’d want from a movie. It had good comedy, some action, an interesting but a little cliché love story. There’s something for everyone with an important lesson in it.

It’s definitely worth talking about the ending of the film. Ron Stallworth is hailed as a hero and has successfully exposed the Ku Klux Klan. We then cut to 38 years later, in Charlottesville, America. As some of you will remember, in August 2017, there was a ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Charlottesville, where the Ku Klux Klan launched an attack promoting their ideology of white supremacy. The ending showed some graphic and horrendous scenes that left the entire cinema in shock and silence. Blackkklansman certainly left a mark on everyone, teaching a valuable lesson with it; everyone is equal, no matter what their race, gender, religion or anything else is.

Blackkklansman gets a 7.6/10 from me. It was an eye-opening look at the history of racism in America and how it still continues today. Despite being slow to start, the film keeps you hooked and interested, as well as teaching us all a lesson. Spike Lee has made something that needs to be seen by everyone to truly appreciate how good this film is.

Thanks for reading this weeks review. Follow me on Instagram, @ryans.movie.reviews, where I’m always posting the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures, regular polls and more! Follow my blog with your email to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. Join me next week when I review something. I haven’t decided what it will be yet. But it’ll be good. See you then!