The Wolf of Wall Street

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Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. (Source: IMDb)

Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, has certainly caused a stir among the critical masses. On one hand, this tale of excess – both mental and physical – has been lauded in certain circles; it has earned a Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for DiCaprio and Hill respectively, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Oscars 2014. And then on the other hand, a number of dissenters have pilloried the movie for being misogynistic, vulgar, navel-gazing and ‘boring’ (last one being Mark Kermode, 2014).

I am not sure if this says something about my personality, but I found The Wolf of Wall Street and, more significantly, Jordan Belfort, immensely compelling. Even when he is acting his most debauched, there was a part of me that felt a modicum of fist-pumping machismo for the character. Perhaps it is my fondness of DiCaprio that I only strayed from the side of the protagonist once – during a scene with his daughter – yet that is not to take anything away from a performance that would in any other year be a dead-cert for Best Actor; unfortunately for Leo he is up against Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. The energy DiCaprio brings to the movie is nothing short of incredible. In the past, he always embodied his characters, but there was the ‘he was Jack in Titanic‘ aspect to his on-screen presence. It’s thanks to his talent and Scorsese’s direction in The Wolf of Wall Street, that I feel this Leo’s coming of age role, and now he can be considered as one of the modern greats. Turns from Jonah Hill, Naomi Lapaglia (in her first role), as well as Rob Reiner and Jon Favreau were all brilliant, and there was even a fantastic cameo from a certain favourite around here, Matthew McConaughey, as Belfort’s career role model, Mark Hanna.

At three hours long, one could expect oneself to go on a mental stroll, however the pace, biopic-nature and playful yet dark tone of the movie is very reminiscent of Goodfellas, a comparison which has undoubtedly been drawn, but is relevant nonetheless. There are scenes of cringeworthy humour, shocking drug misuse and abuse, and a lens that falls often on bare naked ladies (no, not the 1990s pop band). However, I don’t for one second feel that Scorsese’s camera is any way misogynistic; the excess of Belfort’s life is a literal orgy of naked flesh, drugs, and money, with one capitalist fist-pumping scene after another. Yet, even though there are some women in this movie that are tools for Belfort’s pleasure, I feel the leering ends up being at Belfort while he is of his face on drug cocktails (and more drastic these scenes become), and not at the breasts on screen; they are very matter of fact breasts, if you will.

The Wolf of Wall Street was a fantastically fun movie to watch. It ticked all my taboo boxes, one of which I didn’t even know I had, and albeit for one scene of genuine darkness and abyss-staring, it was a romp and a half. It won’t win any of the Oscars for which it is nominated, but in an ideal world, 12 Years would have been released this later this year and Leo would get the recognition he truly deserves.

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10 films of Matthew McConaughey: From the sublimely bad to the sublime!

In his own words, Matthew McConaughey is undergoing a McConaissance of late, getting offered challenging roles and putting out some stellar performances. To celebrate the impending UK release of Mud, here are some highlights and low blows of the Texan’s career. We’ve both gone from loathing his output to thinking he’s the best thing since sliced bread, so here’s our ode to Matt.

The Bad…

He loves to get his lean on..
He loves to get his lean on…what a chilled guy.

1) Failure to Launch: It wasn’t so much that failure to launch was bad it just wasn’t any good. Sarah Jessica Parker and McConaughey have little to no chemistry together, the plot is just ridiculous, there is a scene where McConaughey gets bitten by a dolphin (wtf!). Oh and they didn’t capitalise the actors names in the poster. There really is no excuse for bad grammar..

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Terrifying…

2) The Wedding Planner: The late 90’s early 00’s was the era of the rom com by numbers and it doesn’t get more by numbers and more sickly than this McConaughey/Jennifer Lopez offering from 2001. This film is poorly written with horrible people doing horrible and cynical things. For some reason I have seen this film twice. Which means I hate it twice as much.

"Wait wait wait! Have you actually read the script?!"
“Wait wait wait! Have you actually read the script?!”

3) Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: This film really was an embarrassment for everyone involved (Jennifer Garner, Emma Stone and Michael Douglas!) and may be one of the worst McConaughey films on the list. The modern rom com’s take on A Christmas Carol was unoriginal, predictable and oh so so so cheesy. McConaughey puts in a solid enough performance but could do this role in his sleep.

Dat on-screen chemistry…

4) Tiptoes: If you haven’t seen this film please please please watch the trailer to get a taste of exactly what we are talking about. Did the actors hear “Gary Oldman”, “role of a lifetime” and sign a contract before reading the script?? This film is LITERALLY insanity from start to finish and is a blot on the careers of all involved.

5) U-571: To say this movie is historically inaccurate is an understatement. One of the turning points in WW2 was the discovery and subsequent cracking of a naval Enigma code machine used by the Nazis. U-571 tells us that it was a crew of Americans and their heroics, spearheaded by Lt. Tyler (ol’ Matty McC), that undertook this mission, when in reality it was Great Britain (and other European Allies) that apprehended the cipher machine. It is for this reason, Matthew, that we are including this movie and your performance in the stinky end of the list.

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Rule Britannia

The Good….

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No more fucking rom coms! I have my serious face on now

1) The Lincoln Lawyer: The Lincoln Lawyer was the changing of the tides for McConaughey. His first film after Ghosts of Girlfriends past, this was a notable shift for the Texan actor. The subject matter was heavy, the character complex and the emotional range more demanding that anything he had done in the last decade. McConaughey is fantastic and pulls, what is otherwise a rather bland crime thriller, up to be a rather decent and enjoyable film.

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“Put your hand up in the air if you think this is miles better than Wedding Planner!”

2) Magic Mike: McConaughey is one of many components that makes this film great but also manages to hold his own as the sexually enigmatic club owner. He effortlessly attacks this role and its difficult to imagine another actor doing a better job. A film definitely not just for the ladies.

Contact

3) Contact: While this probably kicked off Matt’s career in unchallenging, boring rom-coms, he gives a convincing performance as the voice of reason between science and religion. This is Zemeckis at his best, and we feel that this was one of the movies from the early part of McConaughey’s, non leaning on women, career that deserves some respect.

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4) Dazed and Confused: Same goes with Dazed and Confused, his first major film role. As someone that has been young, this film was a refreshing, relatable tale on adolescent experimentation, regardless of it being set in 1970’s Texas. We’ve all experimented with all manner of glorious things, even if we think we haven’t (your latex fetish must have come from somewhere, right?…). You can tell he’s nailing his performance because he standing up straight.

God I'm so serious and intense and awesome now
God, I’m so serious and intense and awesome right now

5) Mud: OK, hands up…We haven’t seen it yet! But having seen the trailer, listened to the critical noise and eyed up the cast list so we’re confident that this should be fantastic. Check out the trailer now for a glimpse of the McConaughey magic in action.

Watch this Space….

Dallas Buyers Club: Currently in pre production, McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a drug abuser, womaniser and homophobic, who in 1986 was diagnosed with AIDS and given 30 days to live. McConaughey lost enormous amounts of weight for the role and is almost unrecognisable as the emaciated Woodroof. If Dallas Buyers Club is good, and it could be really good, we predict this could earn McConaughey an Oscar nod. The academy go crazy for physical transformations, real life stories and characters with addiction. This has all three. Remember you heard it here first.

McConaughey as AIDS victim Ron Woodroof in Dallas Boys Club
McConaughey as AIDS victim Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club

10 films we can’t wait to see in 2013….

Ain’t them Bodies Saints

Exciting cast, interesting narrative and some positive rumblings from its Sundance Première.

Cast: Rooney Mara, Ben Foster and Casey Affleck

Director/Writer: David Lowery

IMDB Synopsis: The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met.

Est. Release: Aug.2013

Trailer: N/A

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Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in Ain’t them Bodies Saints

Runner, Runner

Ooo I do have a soft spot for the Afflecks. Ben Affleck can do no wrong for me at the moment.

Cast: Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton.

Director:  Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer)

IMDB Synopsis: A businessman who owns an offshore gambling operation finds his relationship with his protégé reaching a boiling point.

Est Release: Sept. 2013

Trailer: N/A

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The only proof this film is happening. No stills from the films or a trailer have been released yet

Anchorman: The Legend Continues

Please don’t be shit, please don’t be shit, please don’t be shit…

Confirmed Cast: Will Farrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Harrison Ford, Kristen Wiig, James Marsden

Rumoured Cast: Luke Wilson, John C. Reilly

Director: Adam Mckay (Anchorman)

IMDB Synopsis: The continuing on-set adventures of San Diego’s top-rated newsman

Est Release: Dec. 2013

Trailer: 

Elysium

Loved District 9, love Matt Damon and, if done well, this could be amazing.

Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster

Director: Neill Blomkamp (District 9)

IMDB Synopsis: Set in the year 2159, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station. The rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, and a man embarks on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

Est Release: Sept. 2013

Trailer: N/A

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Matt Damon in Elysium

Kick Ass 2

If the writing and the story is as good as the first then I’ll be happy. Sequels are tricky beasts so I hope this retains the simplicity and class from the original. 

Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz Plasse, Donald Faison

Director: Jeff Wadlow (Matthew Vaughn directed Kick Ass)

IMDB Synopsis:  The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins forces with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.

Est Release: July 2013

Trailer: 

Mud

Trailer looks fantastic. Matthew McConaughey has been reborn as an actor with some real weight. The supporting cast aren’t half bad either.

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson

Director: Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)

IMDB Synopsis: Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and to reunite him with his true love

Est Release: May 2013

Trailer:

The Iceman

Michael Shannon (his second feature on this list) stars; he is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. Fantastic cast. Compelling story. What could go wrong?

Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, James Franco, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer

Director: Ariel Vromen

IMDB Synopsis: The true story of Richard Kuklinski, the notorious contract killer and family man. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters have any clue about his real profession.

Est Release: June 2013

Trailer:

The World’s End

So excited by this!! The cast, writers and director are enough to have me pre ordering my cinema ticket already. If this isn’t funny then I give up.

Cast: Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine,

Director: Edgar Wright

Writers: Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg

IMDB Synopsis: Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.

Est Release: Aug. 2013

Trailer: N/A

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Freeman, Considine, Pegg, Frost and Marsan in The World’s End

Monsters University

Monsters Inc. was such a delight, I’m excited but scared for this sequel/prequel. Fingers crossed it will retain the magic and wonder from the original.  Trailers looks great though.

Voice Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi, Alfred Molina,

Director: Dan Scanlon (Cars)

IMDB Synopsis: A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

Est Release: July 2013

Trailer:

The Wolf of Wall Street

DiCaprio. Scorsese. Bosh.

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey

Director: Martin Scorsese

IMDB Synopsis: A New York stockbroker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, corporate banking world and mob infiltration.

Est Release: Nov. 13

Trailer: N/A

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Leonardo Dicaprio in the, first look still from, The Wolf of Wall Street