The Wolf Of Wall Street


Viewed 28 January 2014 Cinema

I will generally watch anything featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, who I believe to be one of the best actors of his generation and has turned out some quite remarkable performances over the years … highlights being Stephen Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can and most recently his villainous turn in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.  The same could be said for his long standing partnership with famed director Martin Scorsese, easily one of the best in the business.  And so we come to this their latest collaboration, but does it live up to their other works?

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Based on a true story, DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort a man who becomes a millionaire during the eighties by working the stock markets to his favour, and lives life to the extreme, enjoying wealth, drugs, women, cars … and more drugs.  This hectic and outrageous film portrays Belfort as a man of excess, where he becomes addicted to a lifestyle that can only end badly.  Basically this is a rags to riches tale, and seems to follow the blue print of Scorsese own Goodfellas, swapping gangsters for crooked stock brokers but the theme remains the same. 

It’s a heady mix that Scorsese delivers with his expected style and expertise – fast and full of information, a wealth of side characters and cameos (was that Joanna Lumley?) and various stand out performances, including a hilarious Jonah Hill and a memorable Matthew McConaughey.  But of course this is DiCaprio’s movie and he’s is like a tornado – blowing through the movie and delivering one of his most crazy, complex and brilliant performances in years (think Gatsby on acid!).  Along with a director still at the top of his game and a shocking, riveting story (even if at times its unbelievably mad) this fired on all cylinders.  It also happens to be the funniest movie I have seen in a long time (the cerebral palsy sequence…yes, really). 

Jordan Bellfort may not be one of DiCaprio’s more likable roles, but the movie is a drug-fuelled ride of parties, sex, nudity and full-on-entertainment that’s very hard not to get caught up in.  Superb.

Verdict:  5 /5

Killer Joe


Viewed – 16 December 2012 DVD

The Exorcist I really must sit down and watch again.  Something was definitely lost when viewing it in a crowded cinema with more people laughing than I experience in a comedy.  Oh and was The French Connection really anything other than one pretty cool car chase?  I digress.  This is the latest offering from maverick director William Friedkin, a gritty, back-to-basics indie thriller starring Matthew McConaughey playing against type as a detective who moonlights as a contract killer.

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Joe (McConaughey) is hired by the desperate kid (Emile Hirsch) of a white trash family, who owing money to a local mobster, conspires to have his estranged mother murdered in order to cash in her life insurance.  Yet Joe catches the eye of innocent Dotty, the kid’s slightly simple-minded sister, and proceeds to seduce her whilst at the same time manipulating the family for everything he can get.  This is the kind of movie director John Dahl used to make a living out of (The Last Seduction, Red Rock West etc) but has a shadow of perverse sleaze and brutal violence that makes it have more in common with the controversial The Killer Inside Me.

I certainly got a lot out of McConaughey’s portrayal of the cool but deadly Joe and the movie is clearly in love with him.  Shame supporting characters are bare bones clichés and the kind of people I was hoping Joe would kill off one by one.  Hirsch of course is still the actor you get if you can’t afford Leonardo DiCaprio (or any pretty boy name actor for that matter) and the normally enjoyable Gina Gershon (with possibly her most degrading first appearance in a movie ever) is equally pointless.  Friedkin’s direction attempts cool, stylish and clever (some of the editing is purposely vague and choppy) but the down and dirty tone (with some quite sick ideas – felating a chicken drum stick??) and nasty violence overwhelmed what could have been a decent character piece.  Oh, and the ending just pissed me off.

Verdict:  2 /5