You’ll be howling at sheer brilliance of The Wolf of Wall Street! Here’s why… #film #review #filmreview

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After you’ve picked yourself up from your chair following the three plus hour rollercoaster ride of entertainment that is The Wolf of Wall Street, you’ll reflect (for hours, possibly even days) on what this film contained before coming to the inevitable conclusion that Di Caprio and Scorsese have a) the best bromance in Hollywood, and b) that The Wolf of Wall Street really is a modern day masterpiece.

Unbelievably, this is a true story and follows the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort a Long Island penny stockbroker who served 36 months in prison for defrauding investors in a massive 1990s securities scam that involved widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, including shoe designer Steve Madden.Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.35.59

Now this all sounds like thrilling, serious stuff, and of course it is, but cleverly intertwined with this is the knowledge that Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his merry band of stockbroker men, lived the most zany, outlandish lifestyle that really does only exist in the movies until their time is up.

Martin Scorsese is back to his very best in this punchy screen sensation that reminds us of the great and the good films from the late 1980’s and early 90’s. It’s hard not to describe this as Goodfellas meets Wall Street where DiCaprio plays our modern day Gordon Gekko to perfection! Although The Wolf of Wall Street is not for the feint hearted (it contains lewd behavior, copious amounts of drug taking, full frontal nudity and enough swearing to send your granny to an early grave) you cannot help but love and laugh through every minute of it!Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.35.11

Proving he’s the most qualified and under awarded man in Hollywood history Leonardo DiCaprio pulls off another stellar performance as Jordan Belfort, from the wide eyed rookie stock broker taken under the wing of Rothschild Bank to the greedy owner of his own unorthodox company, we see a true transformation of character right before our eyes, that will have us laughing and crying at the same time, and secretly urging him to come out OK in the end.

Jonah Hill again is perfectly cast as Belforts’ sidekick Donnie Azoff, the ‘loveable douchebag’ who supports his colleague and mentor to the end (sort of) and is often happy to remain the brunt of the jokes and rakes in the rewards of living this lavish lifestyle laid out for him. Margot Robbie is a surprise as the trophy wife Naomi Lapaglia who dons a fantastic New York accent and bombshell look to not only bring Jordan Belfort to his knees in lust, but to also secure her place as Hollywood hot property. Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.34.12

The only downside to The Wolf of Wall Street is that there are some excellent cameos throughout that you just wish would have hung around longer. Jean DuJardin plays the shrewd and straight talking Swedish banker who appears in the latter part of the film, and is a world away from his silent Oscar winning star in The Artist. But the real master cameo performance is Matthew McConaughey as Belforts’ first boss Mark Hana. In only a fraction of screen time, he captures the essence of the craziness of life on Wall Street in the late 80’s and hooks Di Caprio’s impressionable character onto the biggest drug of all, money. Its outlandishness will have you howling in your seat with laughter and re-creating a certain ‘chest chant’ for days to come!Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.35.24

The Wolf of Wall Street may be sexist, brash, punchy and full of what was wrong with the world pre-crash, but you’ve got to admit once watching this film, that they had one hell of a ball in their work hard, play hard lifestyles. The costumes, the humour, the references and the brilliant acting all captures this era perfectly, and with this creates, as previously stated, a modern masterpiece, three hours promises to whizz by like three minutes and you’ll be grinning and laughing all the way home. This film really has set the bar for 2014.

4.5 Stars

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Pull up a chair, crack open a beer and watch #drinkingbuddies #LFF #LondonFilmFestival #Filmreview

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.14.35Drinking Buddies is set in and around the working and running of a brewery, where Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers. She’s in a relationship with a wealthy older man (Ron Livingston) and his fiancé (Anna Kendrick) is keen to get their wedding plans moving along. Their friendship is very strong and they have a lot of similar interests, such as the beer they produce and they both share similar playful senses of humour. Their lifestyles revolve around drinking with their co-workers, and for the audience its hard to know whether or not what they share is friendship or something that little bit more.  Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.15.06

The film is directed and produced by Joe Swanberg and is an honest and real depiction of friendships and relationships amongst late twenty-somethings. There is sexual tension, tomboyish playfulness and blurred lines around the line drawn between men and women who just enjoy each other’s company. The drama you witness within Drinking Buddies feels real and void of any “film like” over- dramatization; no dramatic realization that one person is with the wrong partner, and no overly thought out inner battles over whether or not each character should be with one another. Some would say it is exactly how you or I would deal with the various situations that present themselves – sit on them until absolutely necessary then apologize profusely! – With the right balance of humour, relatable trials and tribulations of modern day relationships and that awkward feeling where you’re pretty sure there’s underlying sexual tension between you and a friend – this film manages to capture issues that often burden the general public more than anything and yet depict it in such an enjoyable way.Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.15.53

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are incredibly believable as the lead characters who share this surface based brother/sister /best friend style friendship; and a lot of this is to do with the heavily improvised scenes which not only make the audience feel like they’re catching a glimpse through the keyhole of a group of peoples lives but also help you to dispel any potential distaste towards Wildes beautiful and likeable girl next door persona. You can understand why Luke likes Kate, she’s one of the boys, and is always the one up for some fun. What you do question within this film is why there isn’t any suspicion or doubt from each of their characters other halves. Their tactile approaches to each other can be a little hard to swallow sometimes and yet you’re still routing to see if they eventually take the brave step to cross that all important line.Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.18.29

What these characters represent is often the realistic approach to potentially something better suited to ones self. Its clear to the audience that Luke and Kate would be perfect for each other, yet they never dare to do anything more than think about it. You will leave this film questioning whether or not there are regrets about someone or something that you have had the opportunity to pursue in days gone by, and having taken the safer option, maybe regretted after.

What the director manages to do with Drinking Buddies, is give its audience a glimpse into the days of the lives of people not so different to you and I, everyday jobs and simple pleasures that we all have, essentially, life is a simple construct and sometimes its not really worth the complication. With this in mind Swanberg delivers a film that is fun to watch, quirky in its own right and most importantly get you thinking. Its style is simple and poignant, so wont be everyone’s cup of tea, not much happens throughout, but what does happen manages to get you routing for those you’re watching, laughing at similarities that you most likely will see in yourself, and leaving hopefully with a smile on your face.

Drinking Buddies hits cinemas 1st November.

4 Stars

Step into another world this week with The #MortalInstruments #outthisweek #film #filmreview

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So what happens when you grow up as a normal teenager and suddenly one night you start drawing symbols all over the wall? Well you get pretty freaked out… and who do you turn to? Your mum of course, but she’s keeping secrets from you and suddenly disappears. Things really aren’t going to well are they? Its tough being a teenager, its even tougher being a Shadowhunter teenager as Clary Fray (Lily Collins) finds out…Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.44.21

Based on Cassandra Clare’s bestselling novel, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones looks like the successor to all the Twilight and Hunger Games books that have started to send screaming fans into a frenzy. This big budget Hollywood film has a predominately British led which is refreshing, and although it opened here yesterday with the help of the cast and director stepping through a major global promotional tour, its currently slightly underperforming over in the US.

However we shouldn’t take that too literally because despite the doom and gloom that some are saying about this film, its really rather enjoyable. You have a strong female protagonist (quite like what audiences related to with Bella Swan in Twilight) and there are lots of laughs and one liners – some more forced towards the end – plus there are demons, ghouls and a whole underworld that is living right under Brooklyn… what’s not to love?! Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.43.16

The film keeps you guessing and is a classic case of a first film in a series where characters are being established and so there are only three main parts, Clary, Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Simon (Rober Sheehan). The rest come and go and one assumes we will see more in the second installment. There is so much going on in this film that you can’t really help but be swept up in it all and despite it feeling ever so slightly over long in form, its not unwatchable, quite the opposite.

What fans of the book may feel is that this film has tried to be so true to the original content that it maybe fits a little bit too much in it, in order to be truthful, and that unfortunately provides more of a clumsy outcome in parts. Others may feel that the casting isn’t quite what they imagined, and in the press conference Jamie Campbell Bower was particularly vocal with his thoughts on the matter saying that some rather nasty social media reactions to his casting “were based on image and image looks alone and that was two and a half years ago, and I think as an actor and as a performer I’m very much aware of the fact that my job is to change both physically and emotionally and that was what hurt the most, that people were judging me based on nothing.” Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.42.44

Although there are clear issues with this film and it won’t please everyone, there are lots of great elements to it, the CGI is out there but not too over the top and the characters are believable, watchable and sympathetic. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is certainly for the younger audiences out there, but even if you don’t believe in magic or demons, there’s still a rollercoaster ride for you to watch…just remember to not walk out of the cinema when the unforgivable comment about the musician Bach is made, just take a deep breath and carry on. When you watch the film, you’ll know what we mean.

3 Stars

The Great Gatsby – A party like no other #filmreview #film #cannes2013

An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Long Island-set novel, follows mid-Westerner Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he documents his lavish encounters with neighbour Jay Gatsby; who seems to have all the wealth and wonder in the world, but remains childishly unsatisfied without one thing, the woman he adores, Daisy (Carey Mulligan).

Following all the hype about the decadence of this film, fans of Baz Luhrmann’s work will not be disappointed with the spectacle that this film delivers in the first half at least. Taking the concept of the ‘roaring twenties’ to its literal extreme, as the film begins you are introduced to a booming New York full of promise, prosperity and parties! Intercutting re-purposed original footage with some of Luhrmann’s newly developed settings; the audience follows Nick Carraway as he discovers and becomes a part of this world. Slowly, through the eyes of Nick, we discover the main nouveau rich players in this story, starting with Nick’s cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton).Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 11.52.04

Upon entering this world, we are faced with an immense sense of overwhelming intensity, the editing is fast paced from one character to the other and at times you’ll feel breathless trying to keep up. You will find yourself trying to take in the scenery in front of your eyes and attempt to keep up with the storyline as well. This puts you straight in Nick’s shoes, a new world, new people and a whole new lifestyle.

Tom Buchanan is expertly played by Joel Edgerton, and is dominating in every scene, bringing a sense of rich, butch, manliness, which is neither endearing nor trustworthy. With him is Daisy, brought to life by Carey Mulligan, an interesting choice for the part, she makes a promising entrance making the character feel care free and wistful as we meet her – quite like a bubblegum princess – but as the film progresses ever so slightly fails to demonstrate the complexities and shallowness of the literary Daisy that fans of the book will have built in their minds. Alongside these characters is Jordan Baker (newcomer Elizabeth Debriki), Daisy’s best friend, this other than Gatsby is probably the best casting of the whole film – looking like a real product of the time and acting with the arrogance and elegance you would expect from a flapper socialite. Debriki carries herself in a scene-stealing manner that, like Edgerton, dominates any screen time she has.

Onto the main man, for a modern day Jay Gatsby, Leonardo Di Caprio is the best choice. Smart, mysterious, yet at times vulnerable with a buffoon like quality; the moment the actor raises a glass to the crescendo of music with a beaming smile at one of his lavish parties, you can only imagine teenage girls once again placing posters of this man up on their wall as teenagers of over fifteen years ago did with his last outing with Luhrmann.Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 11.52.21

Bringing all these characters together really does make one hell of a party, and if there’s one person who likes to put on a party bigger than Jay Gatsby, its Baz Luhrmann. This is what the audiences are most looking forward to out of his films, and if we’re honest, this is what the film is entirely sold on. Three scenes of stunning clothing, expensive jewelry, amazing choreography and stereotypical nods to the era that had it all. Once the audience is introduced to the world of Jay Gatsby’s parties, you really see the trademark Luhrmann come to life.

As much as this spectacle is what Luhrmann fans are craving, the novelty can only go so far. Part of the films downfall is its pressing focus on style. Sadly there is not enough substance to support it. Throughout the second half of the film, the parties dim down and you are left with the love triangle story. When you watch it unfold, you become more attuned to the flaws in the film.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 11.51.46Firstly, the extravagant sets that populate the initial part of the film feel more contrived and fake, as there are less people in the room. You find yourself feeling like you are watching a play, with purpose-built backgrounds and a very clear distinction between what is a real location set and what is constructed. Once you see this, you feel that there are more contrived elements to the film, everything is so detailed and so precise – particularly thinking back to the blocking of every character from extra to main – Looking back at Luhrmann’s other films, particularly Moulin Rouge, he managed to create a fake Paris that felt real, you could almost smell the stinking sewers of Montmartre and taste the champagne being poured into the glasses on screen, perhaps it was the limitations on technology that allowed him to be more artistically experimental and in this case as more has been offered to Luhrmann on a plate, it feels like he’s used it because he can and not because it’s right. Whatever the reason, with The Great Gatsby, something just doesn’t quite marry up – and this is similar to the issues that one may find with Joe Wrights Anna Karenina.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 11.45.50Alongside this, you feel so distracted by the set that the fundamental plot line gets lost, and where you would expect to feel real emotion towards the situation Jay and Daisy are in, and build dislike towards Daisy’s fickle nature, you just don’t care. There are tender moments, such as when they meet once again after five years, and this is where DiCaprio shines with relatable buffoonery and nervousness. But that is about it, suddenly there is a lacking of focus and complexity within the acting and you do feel like the actors are sadly moving around a room to hit their mark and deliver their lines, rather than providing a real rival performance to the Redford/Farrow Great Gatsby that people know and love. Perhaps a much simpler setting could have allowed time to focus on the real story at the heart, and provide a more complex character study, which those fans of the book will crave more.

Depending on what you’re looking forward to most within this film, you’ll either love The Great Gatsby for its decadence or loathe it for its lacking in substance. Whichever way you look at it, you’ll definitely be seeing something different to what is in the cinema at the moment. However, The Great Gatsby is another problematic product of too much hype in the build up and not enough clout in the end product. Fans of Luhrmann’s work will enjoy seeing him bring another film to the cinema screens, however may still feel he peaked at Moulin Rouge and has struggled to live up to that success ever since. But if there’s one thing you do take away and treasure forever from this film, it’s the incredible soundtrack, just like Baz intended; it’s the perfect accompaniment to any party.

3 Stars.