Archive

Tag Archives: review

Wolf_Of_Wall_Street.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large

A lot of things have been written about the message being sent by Martin Scorsese’s latest film The Wolf Of Wall Street –mostly centering on its moral responsibility. The idea is that Scorsese seems to be almost promoting the reprehensible things in the movie by his decision to make a comical and exhilarating and entertaining film. The Wolf Of Wall Street is a film about terrible, narcissistic people in love with money, sex and drugs; Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie, ruined many people’s lives and was just egregiously villainous. To present his life this way can seem to some like a stamp of approval.

These are fair feelings to have even if I don’t believe this film is endorsing anything. I don’t dispute someone making these claims but what I do disagree with is this idea that art should only push an agenda that matches that of what an audience deems morally upright. The job of art is to let the artist make their statement regardless of feelings. I don’t know why Scorsese or the film’s screenwriter Terrance Winter made this film but, if I had to guess, I would say that they found this story fascinating and wanted to make a movie just as fascinating.

I’m against this idea of hand holding that seems to be popular amongst the thinkpiece writers and morally upright that says that entertainment about bad people needs to succinctly tell you why these people are bad and why they need to be punished. Once again, I understand it, but I’m against it. Critical thinking tells you why Jordan Belfort is an egomaniacal monster–in addition to the grisly and dark last hour of the film–and I don’t need my intelligence insulted in order for me to get why all of this is wrong.

The-Wolf-of-Wall-Street-Trailer7a

What I found compelling about this film is how it deals with addiction. The addiction to vice, to greed, to masculinity, to alpha dog statuses; it’s a movie that indulges and gets hooked to the idea of indulgence and getting hooked. You feel the highs and the lows because you need to feel it. You need to witness the adrenaline rush that comes with making millions and getting high, you need the dizzying peaks and the sordid valleys that this film takes you through. Everything about this film is visceral and intense. You’re taken for a ride in order to understand why the ride is so addictive. The drugs in the film feel like a director waxing nostalgic about his own coke addiction and, most of the time, it’s effective. And every excess is a drug here: the money, the dirty sex and the animalistic nature of testosterone-heavy males getting off on making money– it’s all a drug and it’s all addictive.

Speaking of which, I’m of the opinion that Wolf Of Wall Street is one of the more scathing indictments of greed and American capitalism that we’ve seen in a long time. It may not come off as the most responsible but it gets to the dark, inhuman underbelly inherent in these types of people. Rather than telling you why they’re bad, you see why they do it. I wouldn’t call it an endorsement but I get it. The adrenaline rush and excess that comes with this business is tempting, outrageous and enviable; you know it’s wrong and why but you’re sucked in anyway. It gets into a primordial state of your being: that’s why the chest thumping, beastly, frat-boy ra-ra-ra-ing is important. It’s in our nature to conquer, destroy and con and Jordan Belfort’s preacher-like sermonizing is the perfect cheerleading for this behavior. All that being said, all of this is ugly even when it’s flashy and enticing. The greed is so poisonous it infects the minds of everyone involved. This is capitalism’s faultiness laid out: an easily manipulated system that can equal insane levels of excess due to greed and oneupmanship.

This is probably the most ‘Merica movie arguably ever. It’s Goodfellas for yuppie White guys and it’s a perfect portrait of who these Wall Street brokers are and the country that they live in. It’s all fascinating and uncomfortable and sickening. You’ll want to look away but you won’t be able to. There is a lesson in all of this but it’s not given to you by the movie but instead by your own knowledge of Wall Street and your own knowledge of how these people destroy lives to live the way they do and how they get away. It’s a mirror to a society that is real and a tamer, more indicting movie wouldn’t do much but try and make ourselves feel better about it. But with a movie that has such a black hole of a heart it’s tempting that people would rather have that instead.

 

her-Spike-Jonze-trailer-Joaquin-Phoenixjpg

I wrote a review for Spike Jonze latest Her already so I won’t reiterate too much. One thing I do wanna say is that no movie brought out so many emotions in me than this film. I’ve always looked at Spike Jonze as a hipster eccentric–it’s what I love about him–so I wasn’t prepared for film that was so adult. Its approach to love, life and relationships felt personal, thought-out and erased of fluff. Even the tweeness in the film didn’t feel forced or nauseating. Her is a movie based in a world that we live in now (at the least, one we’re very close to) and rather than take a cynical approach, it took a caring one. I honestly believe that 12 Years A Slave was the best film released this year: it was the most important, brutal and honest portrayal of a dark history that I’ve seen this year. But Her was my favorite because it got to my own insecurities and made me feel ok. No movie that I’ve seen in a long time has made love and heartache seem so worth it more than Her.

Other great movies:

12 Years A Slave

Before Midnight

Francis Ha

Gimmie The Loot

Upstream Color

Fruitvale Station

Inside Llewyn Davis

The World’s End

Wadjda

 

There was no way that wasn’t bound to happen. Random Access Memories is an album that has been marketed to perfection over the internet and was instantly doomed to be a disappoint to the denizens of the same internet; it’s a vicious world. That being said, the album is nowhere near bad, but for a Daft Punk record–and one as hyped as this one is–it’s painfully average.

An album chasing the past but not just the grand past worthy of nostalgia but the past that involves those nights when your mom would parade you around her friend and your relatives during one of her dinner parties. There are times when the album really works (“instant crush” and “get lucky” for example) and there are times when the album just seems to be “there”, kind of meandering about. Much like, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, the album is pleasant and full of fine songs to tap your foot to but ultimately nothing jumps out. But, again, weren’t we all waiting on this inevitability. Believe it or not, the internet is full of snarky douches, contrarians and just plain assholes–sometimes all 3 (I know, I know. It surprises me too); so when it came time for everyone’s favorite cool kid duo to debut its latest record–and to do it in such dubious fashion–it pretty much started a countdown of “who could hate it the most”. Hype does nothing but dangle fish in front of sharks waiting to devour something and, short of fireworks shouting out of your computer and literally being ear-fucked, there was no way this Daft Punk album would survive. 

The album is solid, but that’s not what people want from a Daft Punk record. They know what they’re capable of and they expect it every single time. Fine I guess, except they’re forgetting that every Daft Punk record is like this. Dividing of people and differentiating in tastes. And that’s fine by me; all I need is a solid record for summer enjoyment. Plus, I mean, what’s more punk than daring people to hate your shit all the time.

In which I base all of my opinions of the new Wiz Khalifa album, O.N.I.F.C., on the album cover.

 

Man, what happened to this guy. He used to be like the guy in class who’ll crack jokes and then maybe sell you some weed afterwards. Now he’s just become… well, this. I mean I get it, he wants to be hip-hop’s Jimi Hendrix, but I think he might be trying to hard. The album–I assume–isn’t terrible or anything, I’m sure it’s not great either. It’s been a long time since those Kush And Orange Juice days and now that Wiz is the biggest thing since sliced bread, we’ll all have to get used to the man he is now. Change may be scary but it’s inevitable; it’s pretty selfish of us to expect the artists we love to always do the same thing (especially since we’ll always say it wasn’t as good as the first one). So while I may not be on the plane with Khalifa–and his Cruella De Ville coat–any longer, I still say do your thing brah. Oh and that “Remember You” song with the Weeknd is pretty good.

My frustration with AMC’s The Walking Dead has always been that I wanted to like it more than I actually did. It had all the things that usually appeal to me: based on a graphic novel, zombies, apocalyptic situations, it’s on AMC; yet despite all this, it always seemed close (but not close enough) to a great show. It is still a decent show however, so I marathon’d the show and caught up on as much of series as I could before the season premiere last night.

All of that leads me to last night’s episode, “seed”, which opens with Rick, Daryl, T-Dog and Carl breaking into a house and clearing all the walkers out–desperately searching for any food and resources they can find. It’s a scene without much dialogue that finds the gang sitting around the living room trying to figure out where to go from here, then more walkers show up and it’s time to vacate the premises. It’s evident that time has passed within the world of the show; people are older, Lori is more pregnant and there’s a more mature sense of camaraderie amongst the group. The action and grit are heavy in this episode, as the group finds themselves trying to turn a prison into their safe haven. From either taking out or locking out all of the walkers in the vicinity (in a fantastic sequence of teamwork and marksmanship I might add) to going full-force into the prison, which leads to a gruesome sequence involving Rick having to hack off Hershel’s foot after he’s bitten, not to mention the episode ends with the group finding a whole other batch of survivors holing themselves up in the prison.

By all accounts it seems as though The Walking Dead is well on its way to being a better show; one that’s not stuck in on slow motion, but time will tell as the season goes on. For the time being, I finally find myself enjoying the show the way I always wished I had from the beginning.

Sidenote: Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne according to the closing credits, is so badass with the way she kills walkers. Their really isn’t much to say about her whole side story with Andrea yet but I just wanted to add that in there.

Why? has always been an interesting band. Johnathan “Yoni” Wolf’s blend of melodic harmonies and endearingly rough rap styles have made them intriguing and addictive but overtime, as the amateur scruffiness of their younger days have be scuffed and shined over time, it’s become much harder to embrace them. That’s not to say their latest album Mumps, etc. isn’t good, just moreso stating that it’s not what it could be. 2008’s Alopecia was an instant obsession; blasted on repeat for that entire summer. The next release, 2009’s Eskimo Snow, wasn’t the best follow-up but it grew on me and I respected its focus on songmanship. Now after a small hiatus, Why? returned with a solid EP and album, that continues on that path of crafting great pop songs. Commendable and definitely worthwhile, Yoni’s just as great with words as ever, but his raps are what’s truly missed. He, and maybe everyone else, may not think so but his rap skill was just as intricate and engaging as anyone else’s; without them being a strong factor it feels incomplete.

There’s a difficulty with Looper, the newest film from writer-director Rian Johnson, that matches the difficulty with time travel. It’s a messy and often convoluted difficulty, yet somehow, it works-both the science and the film. Looper stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, the titular looper, a hitman in 2044 for the mob of 20 years further in the future where time travel has been created. Joe’s job consists of executing people who are sent back by the mob until he comes in contact with himself 30 years from now, played by Bruce Willis, on a mission to find a man known as the rainmaker. It’s messy and yet, like Johnson’s last Gordon-Levitt starring feature Brick, there’s a method and beauty to the mess. The film dabbles with the ultimate science fiction tool, time travel, and plays with it on unique levels. The film tackles the issue of what time travel means to the nature of things; the alternate realities you create and what happens when you ruin that cycle made out for life. Not to mention the subtler issues that start in the background then make their way into the foreground, like telekinesis and the cycle of troubled pasts found in the film through different characters. It’s a film that incites debate-from its plausibility to the timeline it sketches out. Plus, it’s pretty gutsy for an action movie like this to completely switch lanes and have the final hour mostly take place on a farm managed by a gun-toting and hard-shelled Emily Blunt, with her brilliant and disturbed child. Looper is dark, violent, frightening and, surprisingly, really funny-but above all this, it plays with your mind a little, leaving you unsure of what exactly happened. People will argue about it, for both good and bad reasons, and different theories can be made about what took place. That’s the beauty of it, it’s a rough film to digest but it is one that will leave you trying to piece it together. Comparisons to different sci-fi films are inevitable, but the first thing that pops to my mind when I watched it was the movie Inception, not because they’re that similar but because they both play with reality to a degree that leaves you unsure of whether or not you have the answers at all.

Overall Rating: A-

%d bloggers like this: