Posted in Uncategorized, tagged " Kyle Chandler, " Jon Favreau, Jonah Hill, Martin Scorsese, Matthew McConaughey, Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Bernthal, Shea Whigham, Spik, e Jonze, Joanna Lumley on December 24, 2013 |
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“THE WOLF OF WALL STREET” My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Dec. 25)
179 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Is “The Wolf of Wall Street” the result of some sort of show-biz wager?
It’s as if Martin Scorsese (arguably America’s greatest living filmmaker) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Scorsese’s latter-day DeNiro) accepted a challenge to make a three-hour movie that would entice us to laugh along with despicable characters – just because they thought they had the special juice to pull it off.
And there are moments when they come close.
“Wolf” is based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort, a poster boy for ‘90s stock market shenanigans, who made millions selling his customers worthless securities and ended up going to prison for his misdeeds.
Now I’m the sort of fellow who tries to find the essential humanity in just about everyone, but Belfort is the financial equivalent of Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot. He’s arrogant and greedy and virtually without conscience – capitalism at its most corrupt.
And DiCaprio and Scorsese have to sweat like stevedores to make him a palatable companion for 180 minutes.
This is a speedball of a movie that maniacally tears along from one scene of misbehavior to the next, hardly ever slowing down to contemplate just what message we’re to take away. Presumably Scorsese disapproves of Belfort and what he represents … but the film feels just the opposite. It seems a monumental celebration of greed and excess.
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“BROKEN CITY” My rating: C (Opens wide on Jan. 18)
109 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Not even an A-list cast can do much with “Broken City,” this year’s indifferent released-in-January thriller from Mark Wahlberg.
Written by first-timer Brian Tucker and directed by Allen Hughes (half of the directing Hughes Brothers who gave us “From Hell” and the solid doc “American Pimp”), this overcomplicated mashup of film noir elements and Big Apple misdeeds never finds its voice or presents a story compelling enough to grab our interest.
Private eye Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a cop — until he shot to death a homeboy who raped and murderd the sister of Billy’s girlfriend. Billy beat the rap but at the insistence of NYC’s garroulous Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) and Police Commisioner Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) resigned from the force.
Now, years later, Billy specializes in chasing cheating husbands.
Still, he’s surprised when Hostetler offers him $50,000 to follow the Mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and prove she’s having an affair. Billy finds that New York’s First Lady is indeed hanging around with another man (Kyle Chandler, late of “Friday Night Lights”). Not just any man, but the campaign director of a city councilman who hopes to unseat Mayor Hostetler in a fiercely contested election. (more…)
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“SUPER 8” My rating: B-
112 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
J.J. Abrams’ highly-anticipated “Super 8” is a riff on all those Spielberg-inspired films from the ‘80s in which suburban kids got sucked into other-worldly adventures.
“Goonies” is a big influence here. So is “E.T.,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and a half-dozen other titles.
As a work of homage, “Super 8” will have you tabulating references to all those movies. It makes for a diverting parlor game.
The film itself is a mixed bag. The first half is excellent, with Abrams and a spectacular cast of young performers delivering several strikingly original sequences.
And then “Super 8” becomes a movie we’ve already seen way too many times. It’s not awful, just discouragingly familiar.
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