REVIEW: The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street movie

The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Terrence Winter (screenplay), Jordan Belfort (book)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie and Kyle Chandler

There was a man sitting in front of me during The Wolf of Wall Street who was in such anguish during the entire three hours that he asked his girlfriend multiple times if they could leave “this foolishness.” She sat almost entirely in silence, whispering something along the lines of “If you wanna leave, leave,” a couple of different times.

Loud bursts of hysterical laughter also popped up throughout the theater during the movie as well, as a bunch of white collar Wall Street crooks in the ’80s and ’90s made a debauched spectacle of their privileged lives in ways that nearly transcend vulgarity.  Several people walked out, though the agonized boyfriend/husband sat it out until the end.

Continue reading

2012 Oscar Nominations: Luke’s Picks

Unlike Matt (whose predictions can be found here), I take the Oscars a little seriously. My numbers are usually pretty good too, but I’ve yet to win any big predictions competitions and that bums me out just a little. That being said, this year’s race looks pretty flat and uncompetitive, with most of the nominees and frontrunners decided months ago. There are, however, a few nominees that could steal the scene from The Artist, which is expected to sweep.

2012 Academy Award Best Picture predictionsBest Picture

Nominees: War Horse, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, The Artist, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help

Will Win: The Artist. It’s the frontrunner because it’s an easy pick for Hollywood. While most of the other best picture nominees have a few deterrers, The Artist is unanimously adored at least to some fashion. The nostalgia crowd pleaser also happens to have strong technical components AND a few acting nominations, which sets it apart from other possible winners like Hugo, The Help and The Descendants that only fare well with one of the two. Don’t be too surprised if The Help crashes the party with an upset. Continue reading

REVIEW: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Crazy Stupid Love
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra and John Rehqua
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon

Awkwardly titled, Crazy, Stupid, Love is quickly able to overcome its likely audience pandering label, genre conventions and doubt in a strange arrangement of casting. The film is short of crazy, far from stupid and talks more than enough about love.

Whatever one’s expectations of Steve Carrell’s latest comedy are, they are sure to ditch them within the first scene when Cal Weaver (Carrell) underreacts to news of his wife demanding a divorce at date night. A short time later Cal finds himself in a posh youth hang out where he watches in awe of other men scrambling up women while he sips his cranberry and vodka through a straw. His drunken antics soon draw the attention of hotshot Jacob Palmer (Gosling) who offers to turn his sad life around and get women for no other reason than to move the plot along Hitch-style. Continue reading

REVIEW: Super 8

Super 8
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler and Riley Griffiths

Science fiction might be a genre that appears to always be looking ahead, embracing the latest 3D technology, CGI backgrounds or scientific discoveries; but at its core it has always looked at its influences and initial pioneers to give direction to stories that span light years, universes or complex human-political analogies away.

With the names J.J. Abrams and Steven Steven Spielberg attached to a summer monster movie, it appeared we’d be expecting the same expectations-breaking story: big blockbuster, big effects, big noises and big disappointment. Collaborations like Spielberg and Bay’s Transformers series didn’t give us much hope, but Abram’s recent works like Star Trek certainly did. A young gun with a visual track record and a producer with the know-how is a great comparison to Peter Jackson apprenticing Neil Bloomkamp with his District 9, which isn’t the only comparison Super 8 draws with the movie.

To put it briefly: instead of attempting to rewrite the genre as Abrams has done with TV, they flip the pages back, finding the core and simplicity in great story telling with a soft $50 million budget. Continue reading

The Best Performances of 2010

1. Annette Bening- The Kids Are All Right The kids might just be all right, but Annette Bening as a modern lesbian mother seeing her family spin out of control no matter how tightly wound her controlling character may be is more than all right, she’s fantastic. Her ability to play the character with such effortlessness and ease makes the audience forget they are watching film and instead submerse themselves into the troubles, anxieties and and love that her character Nic feels as she undergoes a common, but crucial stage in life. Key Scene: Even with so many to choose from, one scene one can’t forget after watching the film is the humorous yet explosive scene of seeing her daughter come home on a motorcycle with “donor-Dad” and finally releasing her feelings about his unwanted parenting.

2. Christian Bale- The Fighter– Bale steals scenes left and right in The Fighter, much like they were stolen from him in The Dark Knight. As the crack-addicted former boxing star of Lowell, Mass., he must now watch as his brother Micky chases after the dream with a clearer head.  Adding in humor only makes his character the sad clown, one that, unlike The Joker, you really feel for.  Key Scene: Bale singing a song with his mother (Melissa Leo) in the car after the two had just had a big argument.  The full spectrum of these two characters’ relationship comes to light thanks to this explosive and charming scene.

Continue reading

The Best Movies of 2010

Communication and identity were big themes in 2010 (and every other year), right alongside isolationism on top and kids (and their toys) growing up to mounting uncertainty.  The films, as they always do, reflect that.  The best ones had none of the problems that their characters often face, and though there are thousands of tireless idiosyncrasies among this year’s releases, it’s the bigger connections that are important, and we’ve left one out.  All of the films on this list are wonderful, if each in their own way.  So here’s a toast to the great, the weird, the insightful, the funny, and the heartbreaking, and here’s hoping Transformers 3 doesn’t prevent 2011 from being just as good if not better.

1. Black Swan- Taking lessons from classics like The Red Shoes and Repulsion and then adding in more frantic body horror, Darren Aronofsky has us follow Nina the ballerina on her nightmarish journey toward perfection in her preparation for the leads in Swan Lake. In this unlikely companion piece to 2008’s The Wrestler, we dive deeper into the depths of an athlete’s mind and body at war with itself while Nina tries to find her inner dark side to play the Black Swan.  The battle is projected onto the environment with hallucinations and onto Nina’s weary body in the form of scratches, bruises, and emerging feathers.  Aronofsky himself wages a successful battle between perfect technique and dark, brooding instinct.  He, along with a never-better Natalie Portman, creates a new masterpiece full of feverish dance sequences, controlling mothers, and fierce competition for his catalog.  Like his protagonist, he flies past the competition and lands atop the pile of 2010’s best films.  Read Full Review Continue reading

REVIEW: Tron Legacy

Tron Legacy
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by: Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, and Michael Sheen

To satisfy every little boy’s and possibly girl’s dream of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” comes the film Tron Legacy. At one point or another, or maybe this applies more to Generations X and Y, the curiosity of what it would be like to be sucked inside a computer, video game or live in a digital battleground has crossed millions of minds, including the film’s star Jeff Bridges who admits taking on the role for these reasons. But Tron Legacy, for as zippy, fun and visually creative as it may be, seems to be a tad more analog than anything else.

Nearly three decades after the first Tron film caused financial fiasco for Disney, Tron Legacy returns as a little less of a gamble with a chance to pick up on the 3D dazzling sci-fi business set up by Avatar the same time last year. Continue reading