One of my favorite actors, Willem Dafoe, is showing up in some great movies this year. You can see him in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. II. He has worked with some of my very favorite directors and has the most unique and iconic face. Nobody looks quite like him and you wouldn’t mistake any actor for him, because nobody looks like Willem Dafoe, except for Willem Dafoe. What makes him such a remarkable actor and why does he get to work with the best directors? Continue reading
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young stock broker with only one thing on his mind: Making money. After the stock market crash of Black Monday, he loses his job, but not his drive to become rich. Together with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), a guy he randomly meets at a diner, creates his own company and reinvents himself as the Wolf of Wall Street. Due to the higher commissions that come from selling penny stocks, Jordan and his team of weed dealers are able to grow and prosper. The bigger their company, the bigger the parties. However their excessive lifestyle of sex, drugs and fraud can’t go on forever. Especially when nosy and incorruptible FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) starts snooping around. Continue reading
I haven’t done this in a while, but I have watched quite a few movies lately, so I’ll reprise it this week and try to keep it up. It’s not like many people care anyway, but to the few good souls that actually read my stuff: Je suis désolé. After a month of basically non-stop horror, I wanted a week where I could basically just watch whatever, based on my mood and my snobbish sensibilities. And so I did. I was mostly successful in my intent, but of course you can’t avoid a couple meh flicks, nothing bad though, so that’s cool.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Frances Ha (2012) – 8 (IMDb 7.6) – Comedy, Drama, Criterion (USA)
Slacker (1991) – 7 (IMDb 6.9) – Comedy, Drama, Criterion (USA)
Richard Linklater’s Slacker is a film about a bunch of slackers, all seemingly living in the same area (boy business gotta be bad down there). It is only appropriate that the film has the same attention span and focus of a pot addict, since most of the films protagonists seem to be smoking some sort of substance. There is no real story or recognizable plot, the film sort of follows these slacker characters for a couple of scenes, then moves on the the next slackers, the “new” ones that made their appearance in the previous scene. Unfortunately, sometimes just when things were about to get interesting, the film changes subject and characters. Most of the slacker-dynamics are very similar: There’s the very talkative, almost annoying slacker, the quiet slacker, the stoned out of his mind slacker and so on. It’s just the actors that change. All in all, as with every Linklater film dialogue is king. While there are some interesting thoughts and discussions in Slacker the film is far from his strongest effort.
The To Do List (2013) – 6.5 (IMDb 5.8) – Comedy (USA)
I was ready to dismiss The To Do List as a bad teen comedy with no spine and guts, but I had to change my mind watching the film. Of course Aubrey Plaza was the deciding factor in me even giving it a shot, but I must say that I was more impressed with Johnny Simmons in this film. Set in the 1990s the movie is about a nerdy high-school girl graduating with top grades, but lacking sexual experiences. Being a very organized and serious girl, she decides to do a check list of all the sexual activities she needs to learn before going to college (and sleeping with her crush). What sets this film apart from standard genre fare is the ending (which I won’t spoil). Oddly enough, even though it’s supposed to be an homage to the 90s, the film feels more 80s than anything else in its structure, humor and characters. One issue I take with the film is Plaza’s character, which is not as likable and relatable and ends up feeling artificial and annoying. Not all the jokes work, but overall the film is entertaining enough especially if you like this type of films.
Casino (1995) – 6.5 (IMDb 8.2) – Biography, Crime, Drama (USA)
Directed by Martin Scorsese Casino is the story of two guys trying to make it big in Las Vegas in the casino business. Of course being a Scorsese picture, you know it’s going to be about the mob, the seedy underbelly of the Sin City, the Italian tough guys with strong accents and goofy voices. I’m not going to lie it’s a great film, but I was overwhelmingly annoyed by Joe Pesci’s voice-over. I detest his whiny voice. His lines were supposed to be funny, but made me cringe instead. Every time he was talking I checked out mentally and actively tried not listening to him. Aside from that I’d say the film’s strength lies in the great performances and the overall solid acting (including Pesci). De Niro is great, Sharon Stone is almost unrecognizable (which is automatically a good thing, right?). It’s an intriguing story, even if sometimes it just seems like a list of events and names. One last complaint is that the film is a bit too long. Some leaner editing, less running down facts and voice-overs would have made the whole thing more enjoyable. Still a great film on every other technical level.
Bitter Moon (1992) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.9) – Drama, Romance, Thriller (France)
As a big fan of Roman Polanski when I heard that he had done a Lolita-type story, I was immediately curious to check it out and I must say that I wasn’t disappointed. Bitter Moon is about a couple (Hugh Grant & Kristin Scott Thomas) traveling to India by ship. On their journey they meed a strange disabled man on a wheelchair and a drop dead gorgeous femme fatale (Emmanuelle Seigner), who is his wife. Of course Grant’s character wants to have an affair with the mysterious voluptuous woman, but the man in the wheelchair know this. So instead of forbidding him to touch his wife, he starts to tell him the story of how they met and how she basically ruined his life. The whole film is basically just Peter Coyote telling the story, but the story is so intriguing, sexy and twisted that it works. Like with every Polanski film you have to ask yourself if it’s not all just a bad dream. I was very impressed with this film, great casting and actors, an engrossing story, well-rounded, three-dimensional characters and a very romantic, yet dark atmosphere. Highly recommended.
If you thought this week’s mini-reviews were particularly inspired, you can thank the ridiculously adorable brunette that was irradiating the library with her beauty today. Or maybe it’s just the pretty pictures I added to this section. Yeah, it’s probably just the pictures.
After being confirmed for a 2013 Christmas Day release, and thus still eligible for the Oscar race, here comes the second trailer for Martin Scorsese‘s 165 minutes 80s epic The Wolf of Wall Street. Personally, I won’t be watching this, because I’ve heard it shows a lot more story, and since I’m already sold on the movie I don’t really need spoilers at this point. However some of you might be too curious to wait and so this one’s for you!
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. Like I’ve been saying all along this might just be the year Di Caprio gets his golden statue. Every year however the best actor category is one of the most crowded and difficult ones between Weinsteins, Academy darlings and locks it’s hard to say who’s going to win. It is also true however that the Academy has a tendency to make up for past “mistakes” and many feel that Di Caprio should have won best supporting actor for his portrayal of Calvin Candie in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained last year.
We’ll see how this all works out for Martin and Leo. First of all let’s hope the movie is good, but if the first trailer was of any indication we’re in for a treat.
This is how you cut a trailer. Here’s a first look at Martin Scorsese‘s newest film The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey among others. It looks to be a really exciting film like Wall Street (1987) meets Pain & Gain (2013). Lots of crazy stuff happening, there’s even Spike Jonze somewhere in there, didn’t even notice I have to re-watch it now!
The Wolf of Wall Street is based on Jordan Belfort’s book by the same title. The screenplay for Scorsese’s film was written by Terence Winter of Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos fame. In tune with this years’ theme of the ‘new’ American Dream, The Wolf of Wall Street will be released on November 15th in the US.