Tag Archives: movie review

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

10 Jan

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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 10.34.43

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 10.33.48

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 10.35.11

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

Still out at the cinema and worth seeing Drinking Buddies @DBmovie @oliviawilde @MrJakeJohnson @AnnaKendrick47 #film #movie #review #LFF

15 Nov

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Drinking 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 2013-11-15 at 15.27.20

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.

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 2013-11-15 at 15.27.36

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 is still out in selected cinemas, so catch it if you can.

4 Stars

The Lords of Salem – Film Review

8 Apr

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The Lords of Salem is the latest offering from Rob Zombie (Halloween, Halloween II). The writer, director, composer and rock music icon brings to screen a “chiller” film which follows the story of Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio station DJ, who receives a wooden box containing a record given as “ a gift from the Lords.” Heidi listens to the ‘painful’ music, and eventually plays it on air during her show, which sends both herself and other ladies listening in Salem into a trance like state triggering flashbacks of the towns violent ‘witch riddled’ past.  Something is definitely afoot in this historic town, and as the film develops we find out whether Heidi is going mad, or if the Lords of Salem really are coming back to reek havoc and revenge on Salem.

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The film starts out in quite a compelling way. Expectations aren’t high as horror films in general are very subjective depending on how much you take to the genre, but within the first thirty minutes the film seems relatively accessible to all. We follow the central character Heidi – a recovering drug addict, with a minor level of local celebrity due to her position as a well known DJ as she sets the scene of her everyday life: sleeping, struggling to wake up at a decent hour, living in a managed apartment block and working in quite a cool job covering the late shift with two other DJ’s. There’s a good level of intrigue into how the story is going to progress, and Sheri Moon Zombie holds her first leading lady role quite well. She represents a character who isn’t flawless, but not too damaged at the same time. She doesn’t dwell obviously on her previous past addictions, yet we are aware of it. She lives a relatively solitary life, yet is friendly to those around her and so you believe who she is, and why the story is centering around her.

Rob Zombie also eases the audience in to Salem’s dark history with flashbacks to a group of women (The Lords) practicing demonic rituals back in 1692, and provides the link from history to the modern day story by showing these women ultimately casting a curse over Salem and the descendants of the Judge condemning them to death. These flashbacks appear periodically throughout the film, helping the story move along, however feel more and more surreal as time passes.

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Throughout the film you realize that Heidi herself is directly affected by the history of Salem, and particularly when she hears the music from this record that she cannot help but play again and again. Its interesting to see her natural human inquisitive nature to this strange gift and how the symptoms she experiences force her to question her sanity and well being and puts her own history with drug addiction back in the forefront of both her own mind and that of those around her who care about her. This slow demise keeps the audience engaged and inquisitive enough to keep watching the film, but unfortunately, its at this point that Rob Zombie decides to inject his own movie “rock n roll”, which sadly makes the film much more problematic than it actually needs to be.

One of the great problems, of The Lords of Salem is its spiraling tumble into absolute absurdism. You know it’s never a good sign when the audience burst out laughing during a horror/thriller movie. The two just don’t normally go together, but sadly was the case during the Lords of Salem. As the ‘Lords’ get closer and closer to returning to Salem and completing the curse, the characters that come with them get more and more bizarre. The landlady of Heidi’s apartment block seems initially as a sweet and caring aid, but with the appearance of her “multi-accented” sisters, they almost become a comedic trio, full of stereotypes reading palms, tea leaves and minds….

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The flashbacks also become more absurd and begin using every demonic reference in the book – previous devil spawn incantations, burning witches on pyres, goats, upside-down crosses phallic symbols and references and lots of unnecessary nakedness. The problem here is that although these are obviously referenced in history books or occult resources, they don’t all need to be featured in one film and certainly not for the sake of being featured. Time and time again the audience found themselves looking around at each other as a lot of this didn’t make sense. The grand finale of The Lords of Salem felt very likened to the LSD scene in the musical Hair. It featured lots of oversized characters that just seemed to have been raised from the pits of hell for no real reason other than to provide an eclectic setting to finish the film, which frankly left the majority of the audience baffled.

Overall, if you’re after something surreal then maybe The Lords of Salem is one for you. It doesn’t build tension enough to feel like a true horror/thriller film or provide enough believable reference to make you feel that given the history this film could be based on any sort of fact – or made to look like that. It’s not a hard watch and it certainly will keep you guessing, but whether that is guessing in a good way or bad way remains to be seen.

I GIVE IT A YEAR – Brand new clip….

22 Jan

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Looking for a good fun British comedy to brighten up the gloomy January days? Well, why not check out one of the new clips from I Give It A Year…

Its out in cinemas on the 8th February, and stars Rafe Spall, Rose Byrne and Anna Faris….

A Bit more about the film….

I Give It A Year is the hilarious new comedy from Working Title Films, the producers of Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the writer of Borat.

Starting where other romantic comedies finish, I GIVE IT A YEAR lifts the veil on the realities of the first year of marriage, and stars Rose Byrne Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 15.04.31(Bridesmaids), Rafe Spall (One Day), Anna Faris (The Dictator) and Simon Baker (The Mentalist).

Since they met at a party, ambitious high-flyer Nat (Byrne) and struggling novelist Josh (Spall) have been deliriously happy despite their differences. Josh is a thinker, Nat’s a doer..but the spark between them is undeniable.

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 15.05.51Their wedding is a dream come true, but family, friends and even the minister who marries them aren’t convinced that they can last. Josh’s ex-girlfriend, Chloe (Faris), and Nat’s handsome American client Guy (Baker), could offer attractive alternatives.

With their first anniversary approaching, neither wants to be the first to give up, but will they make it?

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln – Review

21 Jan

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Probably the most anticipated film of the awards calendar, Lincoln is set to hit cinema screens (finally) in the UK on the 25th January. Having cleaned up in terms of the nominations at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Oscars, expectations are high on this biopic looking at the last few months of American President Abraham Lincoln’s life as he attempts to pass the 13th Amendment through the House of Representatives and abolish slavery forever.

With a stellar cast including Academy Award nominees Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field and honest Abe himself, Daniel Day-Lewis, from the moment the public first got a glimpse at the posters for the film, we all Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 13.08.42knew that this was going to be something special. With Steven Spielberg at the helm and Tony Kushner drafting the screenplay, this dialogue heavy insight into one of the most riveting moments of American history is in my mind, not one to be missed.

At a whopping 150 minutes however, I can almost guarantee that this film will divide audiences. We as a country are aware of this historic moment, and are all grateful for its passing. However, unlike American children and children before them we’re not brought up learning about this in great detail. So audiences in the UK are interested in this story, and invest trust in it’s telling because of Spielberg and Daniel-Day Lewis’s portfolio of previous work, but we’re not necessarily as passionate as our friends across the pond. You may think this about a number of dramatized storylines, which we have watched over the years in cinema, but with a highly anticipated world release, audiences perceptions once they have seen this film, will be vastly different because of the style in which it takes.

For example, in my screening alone, there were many different opinions. Some loved it like myself, whilst others felt the pace too slow and wondered where they would get two and a half hours of their life back from. The question is, what is it about this film that makes us all wonder whether or not it’s worth a watch?

The good elements are its simplicity in the storytelling. Spielberg in various interviews talks about his fascination with Lincoln from childhood, and his repertoire of historical films such as Schindler’s List and Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 13.09.09Empire of the Sun speak for themselves. But with Lincoln as a much-loved president who achieved so much in his time in office, the starting point was finding the right angle in which to tell his story. Should the film become an epic tale of boy, to man, to President? Or is there something a little more focused that shows all those key elements in a shorter period of time. Abraham Lincoln had a very rare quality about himself where he’s almost mythical, what we do know of him are his achievements, and that he was loved by the people, but we didn’t know enough about the man himself, he seems to almost be a representative of America’s beliefs and maybe just an emblem, but not in some respects a real living breathing man. So it’s this side of him and the forgotten family man that Spielberg brings to our screens so expertly.

This film couldn’t have been made without Daniel Day-Lewis in my opinion, and I’m sure this is shared by others, the ultimate method actor, immersive in every sense of this character, I found myself looking, after the screening, at pictures of the real Abraham Lincoln and completely amazed by the resemblance. Clever make-up you may think, but without Day-Lewis’s masterful approach all the make up in the world wouldn’t have made you forget you’re watching a film and feel like you’re peeping into a glimpse of history quite like this. From his shuffles to voice and passive nature, you cannot fault Day-Lewis’s characterization and awards a-plenty should be placed firmly in his hands.

Hot on his heels, and in parts edging his performance out, is Tommy Lee Jones as radical pro-abolitionScreen Shot 2013-01-19 at 13.08.18 supporter Thaddeus Stephens. His quick tongued, imposing authority guides us through the House of Representative scenes mesmerizingly when Day Lewis is not present. The surprising humour within this film falls mainly on the shoulders of Jones, whose quick quips and great uses of words which instantly make you chuckle such as ‘nincompoop’ are well executed with effortless ease and gives a welcomed light relief in parts. This Texan actor is back to his best in this film and like Day-Lewis picks his key moments to truly shine and provide award worthy performances throughout. Rounding out the rest of the cast, there are no performances big or small that fall through the cracks. Every character is carefully considered and acted with dedication and conviction, most notably through David Strathairn, James Spader and Hal Holbrook.

What people may not like about this film however, is its theatrical format. Taking a step back from glossy visuals, Spielberg and Kushner have opted for a narrative heavy portrayal. With this comes a lot of information about legislation and you realize just the sheer volume of characters that are featuring throughout. My recommendation is that you go back for a second viewing, it is well worth it to fully Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 13.07.56understand the complexities of the Amendment and indeed this film. However Spielberg devotees may find this quite tough to handle. From the opening scene you feel like you are about to embark on another Saving Private Ryan-esq extended battle scene, but this is only a momentary glimpse, which isn’t returned to until Lincoln goes back to truly experience the aftermath of the Civil War.

Some of the disappointment in this format may also be down to the marketing of the film, which is really a continual gripe of mine.  The trailer (arguably quite rightly) showcases some of the more epic scenes of the film, however the majority of the time you’re watching less grandeur scenes of men in cold rooms stoking fires, sitting around desks and trying to work out how to work to procure votes – the film has sharp and quick moving dialogue which is a lot to take in and follow, but it is none the less still engaging and clever, just perhaps what is not expected initially.

So, should you go watch this film? Well, yes, its pacing may seem problematic, but the content is so strong that you will find Lincoln strangely exciting and in some parts heart-warming. This is essentially the story of Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 13.07.26a strong minded man who could foresee what was best for the future and not just now, and with a gentile manner and determined heart, this ensemble shows the public just why Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s best loved Presidents. It’s a turn away from Spielberg’s normal formats, but one should view that as an exciting new chapter in his body of work. Finally if you walk out with a new interest in this historical story, you can also read the book which Spielberg used as his main reference guide for the film, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kerans Goodwin.

4 Stars