THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese 
Written By: Terence Winter 
Based on the Book “The Wolf Of Wall Street” By: Jordan Belfort 
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robie, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Shea Whigham, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Aya Cash, Christine Ebersole, Ethan Suplee,  P.J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Jake Hoffman, Rizwan Manji, Thomas Middleditch, Fran Lebowitz 

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.


This film at heart is more of a dark comedy than a drama. Yes, it’s based on a true story and there are many victims in this tale who barely get any attention. As the film’s protagonist is the con-man who ripped them off, but the film feels like no matter what it wants us to root for him and feel for him overall.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances and one of his out-and-out funny comedic performances. As we have never seen him this loose and open in a performance. that truly astonishes

 It’s not only him the film is filled with recognizable actors playing real-life people but while they are characters and three-dimensional they are also played so big that they come off naturally more comedic. Even though their crimes hurt many. As Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Jon Berenthal all have their times to shine and at least a scene to highlight. 

At a certain point, they are doing so many illegal things that you can barely tell what is right and what is wrong. As the business they build seems to get off on debauchery and the film treats it as both revelatory letting us participate In The mayhem and experience the 1980’s excess but also giving us enough details to see it as a cautionary tale and see the harsh aftermath for some.

This also is Margot Robbie’s debut and introduction to the public as a sex symbol. Just as Charlize Theron made her debut in the movie 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY. Here at first, you notice Ms. Robbie’s looks then you notice she is actually quite a good actress and one of the memorable ingredients to this movie. 

Now this tale could have been told in a smaller way but just like the main character it must be told larger than life and feel rather epic in size. As it is a rare film where we kind of root for the bad guys. Even if we know they are horrible. As we have been following them from the beginning and in essence living the life of excess with them in the film. So that even when we see them do bad things we have a weakness for them and want to see them succeed even at the expense of others. 

The film feels like a crime spree as it is episodic as we are taken throughout the crimes and how the businessmen stay afloat and the deals they have to make to keep laundering their money and stay on top. The film even follows their international adventures that open up the film to be more global and have more consequences. As they have their overseas adventures. Even with the law on their tails embodied by a character played by Kyle Chandler who seems to be incorruptible and always right behind.

The film even though his character later In The film asks if it is worth it. Being honest and in the straight and narrow. Still having to scrape by when you could easily turn a blind eye, do the wrong thing, and live in Luxury. 

This is the most electrifying and energetic director Martin Scorsese has been with a film. Also, his first film has come close to a comedy since AFTER HOURS. Though the film condemns the characters. The film also has a lot of fun with them. Leaving behind plenty of classic moments. 

The film gets to glorify and highlight the 80’s and 90’s excess and over-the-top nature of business and the stock market. A kind of juvenile version of the movie WALL STREET, but just as powerful and memorable. Only here do you see more behavior outside of the office than necessarily the more business side. Which marks the film all the more attractive. 

In the end, even for a somber tale,  the film is a good time. A misogynistic fantasy that offers what happens after you wake up from the dream and have to pay for it. As the film presents its a tale with the highs like being on drugs but then eventually you have to come down and sober up and the pain of what sobering up feels like. 

GRADE: A

THE PAPERBOY (2012)

Directed By: Lee Daniels 
Written By: Lee Daniels & Pete Dexter 
Based On The Book By: Pete Dexter 
Cinematography By: Roberto Schaefer 
 Editor: Joe Klotz 


 Cast: Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, John Cusack, Scott Glenn, Ned Bellamy

Eldest son Ward Jansen is a star reporter for a Miami newspaper and has returned home with close friend Yardley to investigate a racial murder case. Younger brother Jack Jansen has returned home after a failed stint at university as a star swimmer. To help give his life some direction, Ward gives Jack a job on their investigation as their driver. But into the mix comes the fiancée of the imprisoned convict who stirs up confusing feelings of love and lust for the young Jack. Meanwhile, Ward and Yardley’s investigation stirs up
deep-rooted issues of race and acceptance which could cause serious consequences for everyone involved.


This film that deemed to start out as a thriller, Quickly seems to spiral into a no man’s land that resembles more of a misguided Grind-house film more than anything else. The sad part is what seems at first to become earnest filmmaking quickly delves into some kind of camp classic

As the film continues the outline is about proving a man might be innocent. It mostly focuses not only on the politics, but the coming of age tale of Zac Efron’s character. It also concerns itself with building and defining the characters.

Now I am not the biggest fan of Lee Daniels as a Director yet, but watching this film. Just like in PRECIOUS. It feels like he puts in too many surrealistic seeming camera tricks and angles that become distracting and unneeded when the film could have just told the story.

It feels like a person just out of film school. Who feels the need to how off or insert things that aren’t really needed in a way to impress. Like a college student writing a paper with too many big words misused trying to impress. I see it as him trying and learning new things behind the camera thinking the audience will be amazed as much as he is using them. The other problem is it plays like a drama then wants to be a thriller, but only at certain times and wanting to represent race relations of that period.

In fact the film begins with Macy Gray playing a maid who is being questioned about a book dedicated to her. now it feels like an interrogation that is really used to give her character a reason to voice over the film. Other then that the opening scene amounts to nothing later in the film. No real reason to be there. There are a bunch of scenes like that throughout the film. Some are what help to bring out the ridiculousness of the film. This film could have been a sort of hard-boiled thriller and mystery if it didn’t seem to get distracted by becoming a Coming of Age film that has the look of a WONDER YEARS episode while parading Zac Efron around in his underwear. I am sure what might have worked on the page here comes off more silly and misguided. The film often times seems confusing or confused itself.

Pedro Almodóvar was several times approached to helm this project and seriously considered to make it his first English-speaking feature. He finally declined but, allegedly, he participated in early versions of the script. He might have been the one to balabce the camp with the drama and thriller elements without making it laughable.

Just as it could have been more believable if John Cusack’s character wasn’t as physically repulsive as he morally.

Alex Pettyfer was first choice for the role of Jack.

Tobey Maguire was cast as Ward but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts. Luckily for him.

Nicole Kidman replaced Sofía Vergara. Which might have pushed it into a more straight to DVD title though the lust factor would have been more understandable. Though explaining her characters origin and why a so called racist would correspond with her would take more then a bit of explaining.

It plays like camp, but tries to be taken seriously which makes it even worse. Though Nicole Kidman seems to be the only one who realizes or is comfortable with having fun and sending it all up, While trying to create a realistic character.

scenes like

Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron to combat his jellyfish stings.

Nicole Kidman masturbating in a jailhouse visit to John Cusack who also masturbates and we see the aftermath of

The film just feels dirty and unnecessary as it’s based on a hard-boiled mystery novel that seems to forget it’s premise. The film feels all over the place, for all of this ridiculousness and shocking scenes that come once on awhile between it is really dull, though gives Zac Efron no real reason to run around constantly only in underwear.

The film gives John Cusack a chance to embarass himself by looking really bad and dirty. Inhabiting a bad caricature of a character.

Matthew McConaughey’s character has an interesting arc that is shockingly Introduced then slightly dropped or pushed out of favor.

The key defining point of this tawdry tale is Nicole Kidman and her character. She gives the role her all and is impressive as a trashy femme-fatale. Overly made up with make up that looks like it was applied by herself an it is messy. She is a scary, but also a scene stealer. She deserves a oscar nomination for her determination and grounding as she stays true to the character throughout and somehow finds a way to fit in.While actually creating a character to care about

The film you think would be ripe for camp, bit it is so underplayed and then serious there isn’t room to enjoy it on a camp level.

In the third act the film revs up to be a thinker then just runs out of steam and ends with no great drama. Leaving us with a whimper.

While I can’t really recommend the film. I will say it is a film to see. To see something hopefully one of a kind. Some might find entertainment from it. Which is why I can’t completely fail it. I believe it shows lee Daniels a former film producer is still leading as a director At least he is trying unlike some directors

 Grade: D

TWO FOR THE MONEY (2005)

Directed By: D.J. Caruso
Written By: Dan Gilroy
Cinematography By: Conrad W. Hall
Editor: Glen Scantlebury

Cast: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Jaime King, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Ralph Garman, Gedde Watanabe, Carly Pope

Brandon Lang loves football: an injury keeps him from the pros, but his quarterback’s anticipation makes him a brilliant predictor of games’ outcomes. Needing money, he leaves Vegas for Manhattan to work for Walter Abrams advising gamblers. Walter has a doting wife, a young daughter, and a thriving business, but he has problems: a bum heart, a belief he’s a master manipulator, and addictions barely kept in check. He remakes Brandon, and a father-son relationship grows. Then, things go awry. Walter may be running a con. The odds against Brandon mount.


This film feels like a classic Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer film of the 80’s. Where they try to jazz up a subject that they over produce and make everything about the subject wise, spiritual and artistic. A way of life that at any moment can bring life or death. The subject here… Professional sports betting. So it ends up being Much ado about nothing. Though it makes it feel like it’s important what we are watching.

Based on the true story of Brandon Long.

The film is so far-fetched, but at times wants you to take it very seriously there’s no real stakes. Though the film tries to make the audience feel like there are big ones. As there is no real plot. There is a story, but not much. It’s just ridiculous while taking itself so seriously.

I give Matthew McConaughey credit for momentarily at the time breaking out of his usual romantic comedies to try something that requires a little more skill. Before he broke out more majorly around 2012. Too bad this dramatic material isn’t any better than the films he was starring in at the time. By rest assured the film still finds a reason to have him half naked half the time. Because other than being a genius bookie. He is a workout fanatic.

Though it has plenty of scenes showing Matthew McConaughey working out intensely that has nothing to do with the story. It’s a nice character trait, though we don’t really need as much time devoted to it. Though I suspect this was a way to cross promote the film to McConaughey’s heavy female fan base

This is the classic formula boy is talented he is taken to the dark side under the wings of a hero. Gets cocky takes a fall. Fights his way back up. The only thing missing is he doesn’t meet a girl and fall in love. Which gives him his confidence back instead on his own. Instead of through the love Is a good woman. Here he sleeps around (giving us again a bunch of scenes for him to have his shirt off with some day player actress/model who matches him in good looks) flirts with his mentors wife. Who gives him the good advice he needs in a more mothering nature. Since it’s Rene Russo and she Is top billed I am guessing that is why there is no real love interest. She plays that role without being physically intimate at all. It might be also because Rene Russo’s husband, Dan Gilroy, wrote the part of Al Pacino’s wife Toni especially for Russo and tailored it to fit her perfectly. He even used Russo’s real-life sister’s name Toni as the name of the character.

Al Pacino plays his mentor in his unfortunately now typical overacting and distracting hair and histrionics in his performance, but still gets the best one liners. He is not as embarassing here as he can be in other films.

The way the film was advertised is like this was going to be the dramatic team-up we have been waiting for PACINO – McConaughey when I think of good, possibly legendary dramatic actors to star in a film together those names don’t belong there. More so now that McConaughey has an Academy Award and accolades and is earning a more respectable pedigree due to the material he chooses to be in. But at the time he didn’t have any of that. In this film at the time, I could see If, Pacino was matched with Edward Norton or Johnny Depp even Matt Damon. Who at the time I would believe would have turned this popcorn time waster down. Though it shines a point that at the time when 2 stars were in a film together they played up that fact. Now that more and more co-star usually in superhero movies it seems more expected or not as much a spectacle as it once was.

It’s a shame that I like director DJ Caruso I loved his film THE SALTON SEA, but he hasn’t really made a film as original or noteworthy between this, DISTURBIA and EAGLE EYE. This film seems like a day job for him. No excitement no enthusiasm not flair. Any director could have made this film. That is how impersonal it feels

It’s a film that would have been hot in the 80’s well-remembered and not know why they like it so much, but for some odd reason do. Sort of like DAYS OF THUNDER. If you were to really examine it you would realize how bad it is. This film would fit right in as It seems to believe and exploit what was big and popular especially the attitudes of that time.

The film does have a lot of gloss. It’s shiny and pretty. This gloss is The kind of thing that is used to cover up mistakes or cracks in something or to hide Certain things, like the fact of how bad this movie is. They try I use foundation to cover up its blemishes, That if you look close you can see.

if you must see it please wait for television.

Grade: D

THE GENTLEMEN (2019)

stx-Gentlemen_2020-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1585164871838._SX1080_

 

Written & Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Story By: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson & Marn Davies
Cinematography: Alan Stewart
Editor: James Herbert & Paul Machliss 


Cast: Matthew McConauhey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Eddie Marsan, Henry Golding, Colin Farell, Michelle Dockery, Tom Wu, Jeremy Strong, Chidi Ajufo, Lyne Renee 

A talented American graduate of Oxford, using his unique skills, audacity and penchant for violence, creates a marijuana empire using the estates of impoverished English aristocrats. However, when he tries to sell his empire to a fellow American billionaire, a chain of events unfolds, involving blackmail, deception, mayhem and murder between street thugs, Russian oligarchs, Triad gangsters and gutter journalists.

Continue reading “THE GENTLEMEN (2019)”

MY BOYFRIEND’S BACK (1993)

myboyfriend_sback1-1600x900-c-default

Directed By: Bob Balaban
Written By: Dean Lorey
Cinematography By: Mac Ahlberg
Editor: Michael Jablow 

Cast: Andrew Lowery, Traci Lind, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Dooley, Matthew Fox, Edward Herrmann, Mary Beth Hurt, Jay O. Sanders, Danny Zorn, Cloris Leachman, Matthew McCognahey 


Missy McCloud is the most beautiful girl in school and Johnny Dingle has been in love with her for years. One night, Johnny is killed trying to win her over, and soon he comes back from the dead, and wins Missy’s heart

Continue reading “MY BOYFRIEND’S BACK (1993)”

WHITE BOY RICK (2018)

whiteboyrick

Directed By: Yann Demange
Written By: Andy Weiss, Noah Miller & Logan Miller
Cinematography By: Tat Radcliffe
Editor: Chris Wyatt 


Cast: Richie Merritt, Matthew McCognahey, Bel Powley, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Brian Tyree Henry, RJ Cyler, Eddie Marsan, Jonathan Majors, YG 


The story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

Continue reading “WHITE BOY RICK (2018)”

KILLER JOE (2011)

killerjoe02large_a_l

Directed By: William Friedkin
Written By: Tracy Letts (Based On His Play)
Cinematography By: Caleb Deschanel
Editor: Darrin Navarro 

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple, Marc Macauley

Finding himself in considerable debt, Chris a Texan drug dealer, decides the only solution is to murder his mother to collect the insurance money. Getting together with his father, the ex-husband of Chris’ mother, they decide to hire Joe Cooper a contract killer, who also happens to be a police detective. The plan is that the money will go to Chris’ sister Dottie. However due to the size of the contract fee, Chris agrees that Joe can take Dottie as a retainer until the insurance comes through.

Continue reading “KILLER JOE (2011)”

WHITE BOY RICK (2018)

whiteboyrick

Directed By: Yann Demange
Written By: Andy Weiss, Noah Miller & Logan Miller
Cinematography By: Tat Radcliffe
Editor: Chris Wyatt


Cast: Richie Merritt, Matthew McCognahey, Bel Powley, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Brian Tyree Henry, RJ Cyler, Eddie Marsan, Jonathan Majors, YG 


The story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

Continue reading “WHITE BOY RICK (2018)”