A Most Violent Year
Premise: Taking place in an industrious early 80's New York City, an owner of a heating oil company is trying to secure funding for a new plot of land to help his business grow. Hey, wait! Don't leave! I swear it's actually interesting! Didn't you see the title of the movie?
-The most compelling angle of this entire film is that it's a "crime story" (in a way; at least it feels like it) with cops and district attorneys and guns and stuff, where the protagonist is a guy trying to get ahead in the world by doing the *right* and *legal* thing. He goes out of his way to not take shady business deals or use violence to counteract the violence against him. He's just a hard-working guy trying to build an empire and maintain it for the long run. C'mon, wait! I swear it's good, I swear!
-This movie made me interested in something as boring as buying oil depot real estate the same way that Locke made me interested in a guy organizing a cement pour entirely from his car. I guess it goes to show that a good screenwriter can make pretty much anything interesting if they're good at what they do. I can't wait until I'm eventually praising a film about an office supplies manager attempting to pull off the biggest inventory hustle of his career, while juggling his broken marriage and his crippling debt.
-The acting is really good on all fronts. I've been on team Oscar Isaac for a couple of years now, and I like what Jessica Chastain does with her roles for the most part. And as far as hiring an old guy for a minor role, I'll take Albert Brooks over most over minor role old guy actors.
-I dug the music swell that came out of nowhere that kept happening at pivotal moments. I started to notice it was an ongoing thing like the third time it happened, and I'm sure they kept happening as a specific theme came into play, but I'd have to watch it again to really interpret its significance. For now, I just liked how it sounded, ok?
-It had some great French Connection quality foot chases. One really good one. The French Connection had foot chases, right? Note to self: watch The French Connection again soon.
-It definitely has a slow start, and it takes a little while to really get into it. It's a slow build to an entirely captivating struggle, but a slow build nonetheless.
-The film doesn't make much effort to inform you of anything directly. It took me a while to figure out who the main character actually was and what his business is. In fact, despite this movie taking place in one of New York's most violent years on record as a backdrop, they don't ever implicitly *tell* you when the movie actually takes place. Luckily, I read about the movie before I saw it and heard it takes place in 1981, but if I hadn't, I could have assumed that this took place in any number of years. I mean, it's not like I'm an 80's fashion connoisseur. I guess Jessica Chastain looked like Michelle Pfeiffer from Scarface, but that's the only clue I really had going for me. But then again, I suppose there's nothing wrong with treating the audience like they're smart enough to figure things out on their own. It just added to the slow start, that's all.
-Not that it really took away from the acting, but a few people had inconsistent New York accents. "Hey, I'm walkin' heaaahhh!"
Final Thoughts: I'm just happy/surprised that I saw five movies in January, and none of them were bad! When does that ever happen?!
8.5 out of 10
I'm almost 100% positive that they throw up a big "1981" text at the beginning of the movie, right after the first tanker hijacking. I think that's one movie detail Chandor wouldn't allow to just exist in the background to be sussed out by attentive viewers (like the crimes that are continually relayed on the radio when Abel is driving around - e.g. "A serial killer in midtown Manhattan struck again yesterday...")
OK, if that's true, then I must have taken the longest blink of my life. I swear on everything and anything I never saw that text. But I could be wrong (somehow?) if you seem that confident that he did. I don't even know anymore! (starts crying)