Jun 062014
 
Django Unchained (2012)
Django Unchained poster Rating: 8.4/10 (1,024,786 votes)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington
Runtime: 165 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Western
Released: 25 Dec 2012
Plot: With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Watched on May 26, 2014 from Redbox.

This one was OK. We’d both wanted to see it, and it wasn’t a wasted couple of hours, but we’re glad we didn’t pay the full theater price to see it.

Why people tout this movie as a work of genius is beyond me. A 3 hour long runtime was a lot for the material at hand. The story is predictable and the characters (barring Stevens and Calvin) pretentiously self-righteous and boring.

While the film did possess panache in delivery, as all Tarantinos do, it lacked a central character and premise strong enough to make it engaging. The intelligent script and characterization that is a hallmark of films such as “Reservoir Dogs”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Death Proof” etc is dampened due to Django’s portrayal as a virtual mute with an attitude.

A remake of a 1966 Spaghetti Western Jamie Foxx plays the title character, a slave taken on by bounty hunter King Schultz (Christophe Waltz) in order to help find his former overseers. Once free Django joins Schultz in a professional capacity and is Django is able to embark on a more personal search.  Continue reading »

Wolf of Wall Street-A Movie Review

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Feb 122014
 

wolfofwallstreetThis is the true story of the outlandish rise and non-stop pleasure-hunting descent of Jordan Belfort, the New York stockbroker who, along with his merry band of brokers, makes a gargantuan fortune by defrauding investors out of millions. Belfort transforms from a righteous young Wall Street newcomer to a thoroughly corrupted stock-pumper and IPO cowboy. Having quickly amassed an absurd fortune, Jordan pumps it back into an endless array of aphrodisiacs: women, Quaaludes, coke, cars, his supermodel wife and a legendary life of aspiration and acquisition without limits. But even as Belfort’s company, Stratton Oakmont, soars sky-high into extremes of hedonistic gratification, the SEC and the FBI are zeroing in on his empire of excess.

In Theaters: December 25, 2013; MPAA Rating: R (for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence); Genres: Drama, Crime, Biopic, Adaptation; Run Time: 2 hours and 59 minutes

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writing Credits: Terence Winter (screenplay), Jordan Belfort (book)

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, Cristin Milioti, P.J. Byrne, Ethan Suplee, Kenneth Choi, Jake Hoffman, Christine Ebersole, Shea Whigham, Barry Rothbart, Danny Abeckaser

Me and Lay watched this movie at the AMC Regency 20 in Brandon. The theater was less than half full, yet amazingly a couple had to sit in our row, and talk through the entire movie, and the woman had to fire up her cell phone screen from time to time. (And these were adults.) Continue reading »

Inception-A Movie Review

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Jul 202010
 

Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible — inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Thriller; Running Time: 2 hr. 28 min. Release Date: July 16th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout.

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas

Director: Christopher Nolan

Lay and me went to watch this Saturday night at the AMC Theater in Brandon. The theater was somewhat crowded, but for once, the crowd was quiet and respectful. We enjoyed this movie, but you’d better be paying attention. Nolan uses the construct of showing the story in bite-sized pieces, and in no particular order. I often find this style annoying, but this movie shows there are situations where it is an appropriate approach, and it does add to your experience by keeping you a little off-balance. (Use the restroom right before the movie starts, and don’t drink the large soda…you will miss something.)

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a security agent of the most unconventional kind — he guards people’s subconscious thoughts. Wealthy clients pay him to make sure their dreams remain uncompromised, since the dream realm is where we all hide our deepest, most valuable secrets.

Cobb, an expert in dream extraction, also pilfers ideas from his clients on the side. He hates to live so unscrupulously but he’s running from a horrific incident in his past that leaves him unable to return home to his family and work a normal job.

Now, suddenly, a wealthy Japanese client, Saito (Ken Watanabe), is willing to grant Cobb his ultimate freedom, so that he can be reconnected with his children. All he must do in return is something infinitely more difficult than dream extraction: dream inception. Specifically, he must plant an idea in the head of the heir to the world’s largest energy fortune, an idea that will allow Saito’s own business empire to thrive. But dream inception requires not just a dream-state, or a dream-within-a-dream state, but a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream state. Not easy.

I found the concept interesting and a bit creepy, as a week or so ago I awoke one night realizing that I had experienced a dream within a dream myself. I’ve never been any good at remembering dreams, and don’t remember these, but I did repeat to myself on waking the experience so I could at least recall that. I don’t recall ever having that experience before.

To do this, he recruits a team of veteran dream thieves, along with a precocious young architect (Ellen Page), and sets about entering the mind of the heir (Cillian Murphy) during a cross-Atlantic flight. But just 10 hours, you say? That can’t be enough time to implant an idea in someone’s head? Ahh, but in Nolan’s dream world, one hour of real-time is like 10 hours of dream-time. And one hour of dream-time is like 10 hours of dream-within-a-dream time.

From there, things get tricky for our thieves, as layers upon layers of dreams start piling up, and the integrity of the dream system they’ve created becomes increasingly fragile, with potentially devastating effects.

It’s great entertainment, but far too busy, and still ends up slightly incoherent.

To be clear, that idea is amazing, the product of a capable, fertile mind. But like all dreams, the vision seems to have been hard for Nolan to reproduce and convey while still making sense. That’s Inception itself: a breath-taking kaleidoscope of fractured, fragmented emotions, thoughts and images, but with a few loose ends here and there.

Another problem is that, at times, the film feels like it’s been neatly cleaved in two — the story about Cobb and his wife, and the larger heist story. While the narrative works to bring the two together, they each could serve as the basis of separate films. In fact, we found the scenes involving Cobb’s personal story a bit annoying.

Leonardo gives a fine performance. While the rest of the cast performs as expected, it must be said that Ellen Page disappoints as the architect student. The character’s just a bit too flippant and immature.

The visuals are first class, and Nolan has convincingly played around with things as fundamental to our universe as gravity and time, all without relying too heavily on CGI.

It’s a fantastic effort, and a sure-fire blockbuster. Lay said it was the best film we’d seen this year, and as I thought about it, he may be right.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
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Blood Diamond

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Apr 222007
 

Blood DiamondA fisherman, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond.

Directed by
Edward Zwick

Genres
Adventure, Drama, Thriller

Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, Kagiso Kuypers, Arnold Vosloo, Antony Coleman, Benu Mabhena, Anointing Lukola, David Harewood, Basil Wallace, Jimi Mistry, Michael Sheen, Marius Weyers, Stephen Collins, Ntare Mwine

Leonardo DiCaprio has become one of the premiere American actors. With a set of natural instincts that lends a non-showy, believable quality to all of his performances, versatility, and movie star size charisma that fills up the screen and emotionally hooks the viewer into his character and story, it is hard to think of another male American actor (with the exception of Johnny Depp) who is consistently giving an audience its money worth; these two gentleman have taken the reins from Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, as those two Oscar-winning future legends of the silver screen gracefully age into more mature roles.

In Blood Diamond, it is Mr. DiCaprio’s performance that raises this film above it’s standard Hollywood fare of a script (although it is a solid script) into something memorable. His performance here as an opportunistic diamond smuggler equals that of the one he gave earlier in the fall as “Billy Costigan” in The Departed, although the two characters couldn’t be more different from each other. It may be his best performance yet, and in terms of sheer charisma and memorability it certainly rivals his mega-star making performance as “Jack Dawson” in Titanic.

I liked Blood Diamond a great deal, but do not think it is a great film. A good movie? Yes. Very mainstream and formulaic, but it is raised up quite a bit by DiCaprio’s character and his terrific realization of it. If I had read this script beforehand, I never would have thought of Leo for this role- possibly George Clooney or some other star known for “roguish charm,” but not Leo. But now, having seen it, I can’t imagine anybody else as “Danny Archer;” it is a fully realized, winning performance.

Mr. Hounsou was wonderful as well, and I liked the chemistry between the two men in their scenes together. He was able to make the audience feel the gamut of emotions his character experiences during the course of the movie- pride and hope, fear, outrage, resignation, mistrust, desperation, and determination, and beautifully rises above the somewhat limiting way his role was written.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
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Titanic

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Jun 262004
 

Titanic (1997)

Fictional romantic tale of a rich girl and poor boy who meet on the ill-fated voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ ship.

Directed by
James Cameron

Genres
Drama, History, Romance

Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Bernard Hill, David Warner, Victor Garber, Jonathan Hyde, Suzy Amis, Lewis Abernathy, Nicholas Cascone, Dr. Anatoly M. Sagalevitch

VHS

This was the blockbuster of 1996, but rightfully so. It was a very well told tale, and I think well cast and acted. The background of a well known true story gave this depiction a nice hint of plausibility.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
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