A film originally recommended to me during my last year at art-school. I caught Lone Star (1996) a few years ago and found it to be a richly rewarding film with a lot of depth. I thought this time around I could really do the film some justice after a few more years exploration of the Western. Released during the mid 1990’s when the genre had seen something of a resurgence, beginning with Pale Rider (1985) going through to, well Lone Star and Buffalo Soldiers (1997) it would not pick up much traction until a few years ago with True Grit (2010) and Django Unchained (2012) that began to rework and understand the genre for a new audience in a time of uncertainty and political tensions. Also just in time for me to catch a few at the cinema too.
So what makes Lone Star stand the test of time to some of the more forgotten films that played fast and loose with the tropes and language of the genre, they maybe fun and action packed. It also stands alone from the pack, at a time when the life in the genre had run out of steam once more it takes the history of the genre and the state of Texas becoming more introspective. You could say it’s another modern version of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) – more on that later. Beginning with the discovery of a pair of off-duty army officers who discover a skeleton, only a few meter’s away there’s a sheriff’s badge to go with it. Could this be relic from the old West now celebrate on film, or is the body of a more recent officer of the law?
We then travel back in time to the 1960’s finding it’s like the good old days with a crooked sheriff Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson) who holds the Rio county in his pocket. He’s foul-mouthed, racist and greedy, he knows the power that his position gives him and abuses it to his own advantage. The other officers just let him do get away with almost anything. Except Buddy Deeds (Matthew McConaughey) who has a conscience that doesn’t agree with the status quo. Sounds familiar when you look back at the genres golden age, a crooked sheriff and a straight-laced deputy, if only they could stand up to the corruption.
Except this doesn’t feel like the old West, its more like the new West that rose from the ashes of the civil war, corruption, the cattle boom and the demise of slavery. We have a more serious Western, or you could say straight drama that’s set in the same location as the Alamo. With a mystery at the centre of the film being led by Buddy Deed’s son Charlie (Chris Cooper) who wants to prove his suspicions right and put this case to bed before politics takes over for the upcoming election for Sheriff.
Whilst the case is going on, we take a closer look at the town of Rio County, the people who inhabit it. From the school that sees the parents fighting the teachers to educate their own ideas of the country’s history. The old saying that histories written by the winners really does shine through in these scenes. Mexican parents want a more honest account of the events leading up to the Alamo and beyond before they lost land to Texas. Whilst American’s want to hold onto the myth, a fabric and important part of their own past, informed by celebration, dime novels and of course the films that blurred that history into something far bigger and yet more vague in the process.
We focus on one of those teachers, Pilar (Elizabeth Peña) who previously had a relationship with Charlie. It’s like he returned from her past to haunt her now when she picks up her son who had been arrested. We also see tensions between her and her mother Mercedes Cruz (Miriam Colon) who has her own fight with her staff who are not helping the immigrant crisis. She identifies herself as a Mexican American, wanting to speak English North of the border, trying to assert that in others is a fight. You can already see it’s not just a murder mystery, we have the border problem – which has still not gone away. The discussion around what kids should be taught in schools, the identity of the county and the State of Texas.
The local Army base is also depicted, and it’s not just about following orders and the chain of command. We have a Black Colonel Del (Joe Morton) whose latest posting has brought him back home to his estranged father – Otis (Ron Canada) whose part of the counties history and as we see the demise of Charlie Wade. The father son-relationship has it’s moments that are about to repeat themselves in Don’s own son who aspires to go to join the army. Whilst a current soldier who sees the army as a form of security in a society that wont accept the colour of her skin.
You can see a lot is going on in this film, longer than the average Western, it gives time to develop all these facets of a town that is in a state of constant change. Attempting to grapple where they all are. For Charlie it’s too things, the truth behind the death of his predecessor that has taken on mythic stature, which ultimately he won’t try and break, the truth for him and to shut the case is enough. There’s little he can really do once the truth is out. Like that finally revealed by Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, as much as he tries to set the record straight he can’t fight the myth, defeated by a journalist who refuses to publish it, knowing the power of the truth in the face of myth. Charlie understands that power far more than the old Senator who attends his old friends funeral. It’s bigger than him or anyone can really imagine.
With so much going on and little action it’s an incredible change in tone, placing this Western in the Revisionist category, one that maintains the language but has moved on in time. You can no longer settle your disagreements like men with guns outside, times have indeed changed. It’s a film that takes it’s time to spend time with characters and really get into the meat of what’s going on in that part of the world. It’s a nice change too to see where the genre has come from the rebirth in the mid-eighties that celebrated the genre to a film that really interrogates it and ask, where has it all gone.
Another film I have been meaning to catch for some time, after seeing Enemy (2013) a few weeks back I was spurred onto catch Nightcrawler (2014) a sure sign that Jake Gyllenhaal is hitting a stride of successful films, much like Matthew McConaughey, who knows it could be Gyllenhaal picking up a heap of trophies soon or is he just laying the groundwork for greater things to come. I was advised to watch Nightcrawler when it was dark, which is harder this time of year with the shorter nights I decided to just go for it. The whole atmosphere of this film makes things darker without the need of even drawing the curtains. The moment that you see Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) an unemployed internet educated loner tries to get a job, using unconventional methods that just alienates prospective employers.
He’s a creepy pasty looking guy who is driven to get a job, a head filled with business jargon. Not a guy you want to meet in the office and stuck in a conversation with. After a few failed job interviews (if you can call them that) more like sales pitches, finds his calling on the dark streets on L.A. when he sees a car crash being filmed by amateurs, known as nightcrawler’s, feeding on the suffering of the victims. He’s find his calling (if you can call it that) begins what is disturbing yet compelling film. Scoring his first scoop and selling to a local news station for the night-shift lead by Nina Romina (Rene Russo) who is grateful for the footage that is raw, unpolished. Even more scary is that Bloom shows potential which she encourages. Herself a rating hungry, a reflection of the modern media hungry for anything that grabs their audience’s attention.
You could say Nightcrawler is a culmination a few a films film, or an extension of them. Going back as early as Peeping Tom (1960) that sees a wanna be film-maker taking the art of film to levels of voyeurism we had not seen on-screen. The desire to see raw emotion, to see the power of danger and the moment of death in the eyes of the victim. Moving forward we have both Network and Taxi Driver (both 1976) which have their influences. It took me a while to really see the connection between Lou Bloom and Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) who travelled the streets of New York at night. However his aims were more honourable, to save those who had fallen into a world of despair, trapped you could say. He was an outsider who wasn’t really able to have a proper relationship, much like Bloom I don’t really see this as an extension, more a strange coincidence between both films. Moving onto Network the news station that is hungry for ratings, driven by a career hungry Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) now in the form of Romina who is at an equally struggling station, much more prophetic than Nightcrawler which reflects those ideas back in the 1970’s.
Moving away from the comparisons to the more technical aspects of the film, it’s visually a very striking film with the contrast cranked up reflecting the intensity of the film’s content. A fast-moving soundtrack to match how fast the amateur film-maker is improving, the lengths he goes to in order to get the best footage. With the aid of intern Rick (Riz Ahmed) the audiences way into the film and able to question Blooms motives and drives. Like many of us he’s also been out of a job needing something, anything to get him back on his feet. Able to maintain some level of morality which becomes blurred over the course of the film, when the drives of money, ratings and success. Something that really attracts Bloom as he gets better and better, using his police scanner and Rick on the sat-nab he’s on the tail on incidents that affect the white middle class, striking fear into the audience. Its something that is not immune to American audiences, I have seen myself people slowing down on roads to get a glimpse of traffic accidents, to see the damage, hopefully see some blood, cinema is no longer able to compete with this lust for danger that TV news can cater to, if you go for the lowest common denominator.
All this comes to a climax when Bloom gets to a shooting in an affluent borough, entering the house to capture all the gruesome detail. He crosses the line between us and the police, seeing what the public only imagine. Usually our imaginations are left to run wild. That no longer happened the footage is slightly pixellated and transmitted. Also crossing the line between news coverage and withholding evidence from the police, We know we shouldn’t cross into a crime-scene, Bloom allows us to do just that, like a video game brought to our screens. The line between reality is being blurred, no longer are we kept behind the police tape, we can breakthrough that to see all the gruesome detail we are hungry to see.
It’s an incredible film in terms of the lengths that the characters go to, none of them get away scot-free from the world of sleazy journalism is brought to life here. My experience of American news is pretty slim, I’m reminded of the poor coverage of Fox News when their expert of Muslims believed that there were no go areas for non-Muslims in Birmingham, all nonsense, but enough to engage the audience, playing their primal fears, getting them hooked and ultimately boost their ratings. Here we see the other side of the news world, as it gathers local stories, satirised by Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) that saw car crashes becoming leading stories. All part of cinemas comment of news media today. I was left shocked at what I had seen as it goes steadily worse, I was more gripped. Was I being pulled into that world, wanting to see the events unfold hungry for the story to appear on the news? I really don’t know and that what makes this film so compelling, the characters mostly immoral which allow us to question them and our own desire for stories, are we as desperate those in the media for stories or are we just programmed in a way now that want them, like a baby wants feeding?
- NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) (mettelray.wordpress.com)
Yes I have finally caught the height of the McConaissance which was a build up to a well deserved Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club (2013), after years of poor rom-coms behind him Matthew McConaughey finally has been coming good in recent years, its safe to say this is continuing with Interstellar (2014). He can just do no wrong really at the moment.
It’s a subject that has always been swept under the carpet, anything associated with homosexuality has been mocked, never really taken seriously until that disease took its first few victims including Rock Hudson where the film starts, the disease is at the forefront of this film and we are not allowed to forget it, rightly so too. We meet electrician Ron Woodrow (McConaughey), who loves his women, drink and drugs, loves lives when all said and done, an opportunist you could say. Whose life is about to change in ways he never thought possible when hes diagnosed as HIV positive, before it develops into Aids. A disease at the time that was defined those who caught it, homosexuals, a stigma that has only started to fall away as more people contracted the disease. With increased awareness and education of the disease. Woodrow is given thirty days to live after his initial diagnosis, which he is not wiling to accept with his boots off. You have to admire that kind of bravery, to be diagnosed with a horrible disease that changes your life drastically, cutting your life span by more than half (at the time of the film) and stick his middle finger up to the doctors.
There’s talk of a drugs trial that could potentially protects other blood cells from becoming infected, being a trial there are always strings attached, one being that Woodrow is not eligible unlike unlikely friend Rayon (Jared Leto) a gay transvestite who has been on the trial. Woodrow learns his options are small for drugs, which have to be FDA (Food and Drug Association) approved. The ones he’s after, which could improve his quality of live, even extend it aren’t which frustrates him, the law is stopping him do what he wants, to live. Leaving for Mexico where he meets unlicensed doctor Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne) who gives him the cocktail that improves his quality of life and the first batch of drugs that could improve the lives of hundreds of sufferers.
And so begins the film really, Woodrow’s journey really from selfish electrician to an expert (of sorts) on drugs to improve the lives of others who have contracted the disease. Teaming up with Rayon, taking a 25% cut in the buyers group that targets their audience with a package which comes with a price, its kind of insurance you could say that allows a steady supply of drugs to ease the pain. The kind of drugs that are otherwise restricted to the public who need them.
The main relationship between Ron and Rayon is very rough around the edges, both needing the other to live. Rayon’s presence begins to wear down Ron’s homophobia down to something he can deal with. No longer a fear more of an annoyance. This relationship is a great product of the service that’s delivered in the film. Both actors Leto and McConaughey underwent massive transformation for the film shedding the pounds to become these believable men who suffer and find the strength to carry on. Just incredible really and added up to awards glory too. With Jennifer Garner in a role that really feels right for her, I can take her seriously now> Its like she’s made it into grown-up films now.
Woodrow takes on the country and shakes it up in hopes that is wakes up to the situation on the ground, men and women were dying, suffering when there are drugs out there that are crying out to be bought and used that can improve and extend lives. There will always be a fight between governments and drug companies as to which drugs they buy. Just recently a number companies had five minutes each to prove why the N.H.S. should spend money on their cancer drug. I wouldn’t like to have made that decision, which to turn down and to accept. Even harder when you can see the benefit of drugs in another country not available in your own. It could be argued there is an agenda behind this film, and there is, looser drug regulation for prescription drugs.
Ok with that agenda identified I can wrap up Dallas Buyers Club as a deep film that can take is self both seriously and not, Ron clearly can. There are laughs and all in tone with the material as he comes to accept his lot in life. Fighting back at his old friends who soon turned against him. For trailer trash he certainly has a head on him to get things going in the direction he wants. The determination to overlook preconceptions to help others and make some money. Taking on the system and shaking it up, something we all want to do at times.
I’ve decided to write of review of Contact (1997) for two reasons, one, after seeing Interstellar (2014) a few weeks ago I felt it was time to take in this film with similar themes. Whilst also reply to a request by Mark Kermode for similar reasons. It’s always a joy to take in this film, one of the first science fictions films that I actually saw when I was younger that has stayed with me. A film that was not all about the action, more adult dealing with a few strong ideas which are still relevant today. It hasn’t really aged since it was released nearly 20 years ago, yes it’s that old if you look at the release date.
To consider this all of this in the light of Interstellar (2014) the relationship of father and daughter is very strong at the start and end of the film, an astronomer who lost her father at an early age, a person who encouraged her ambitions, seen early making contact with anyone on the radio. Whilst a faith in the unknown is really at the heart of the film. Interstellar is more about hope for a better future which the father is in search of, whilst his daughter now grown up is finding the truth behind that the science. There is more an emphasis on the battle between science and religion when a message from the Vega system is picked up by adult Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) which even in the umpteenth viewing still excites me, you can feel the energy in the room as they piece together what is going on, the impossible is happening for her team. Probably helped by the transmission being played on repeated, this was actually happening.
There is also the threat of higher-powers, the government and funding which has the ability to make or break what is happening. In the form of David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) who is mostly out for his own glory. Whilst coming from the opposite side of the spectrum a younger Matthew McConaughey as “a man of the cloth, without the cloth” is looking for the truth beyond all the technology that we have in our lives. Something that is ever more prevalent today, surrounded by even more technology than we can shake a stick at. I’m typing this review up on a mac-book, the reach of science is practically encroaching. A fear that was predicted back in the mid-nineties has come true, and are we happier – are you? I’m not even sure why he shares top-billing in this film, only in a handful of scenes compared to Skerritt who is always stealing Arroway’s thunder as the film progresses.
There is none of this in Interstellar which is determined by the preceding events in space as they look for prospective new homes for the people of Earth. Faith is replaced by a love and that attachments it creates between people. Contact is concerned with the consequences of a higher power, alien or god-like which is seen in the mass gathering as the fear becomes more real as we piece everything together, the message from the ‘Vegans’ (not those who eat not meat products) much from the help of the mysterious S.R. Hadden (John Hurt) who knows more than he’s been letting on, practically pulling strings from behind the scenes.
Contact is very much a product of the period, surprisingly not special effects driven, even with Robert Zemeckis directing, coming off the back of Forrest Gump (1994) playing with the fabric of television media to play out this film, superimposing Bill Clinton into a number of scenes, making the events all the more real. Theres an awareness of the governments involvement in the events, taking control, escalating it to a national security issue, we’d probably have the US navy out in the ocean today if the film was re-made today, ready to defend the nation…and the world.
Taking Contact on it’s own merits, it’s a grown up serious piece of sci-fi that dares to wonder what if, and how in the case we do make it happen, the consequences of that first recording to the actual first contact. With breath-taking special effects that match the wonder of the film, holding up well 17 years later as Foster travels through a wormhole to meet the messenger. It doesn’t really think about 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Unlike Interstellar which is more unashamed of what it does as it explores another dimension, the very future of the human race. The father-daughter relationship is something is the main similarity, however more a plot device in the earlier film to allow the final act to work for the audience. Not a communication point that allows a conclusion to be made. For me it’s about religion versus science, who wins? Well thats down to us, not James Woods as he fights for the truth at the investigation, a leap of faith is needed, do we believe it was an illusion or in-fact she travelled across space and back in 9 hours.
I’ve given myself an hour to properly digest this epic film that really does deliver on visual spectacle if nothing else. I’ve known from just the trailer (which I’ve tried to avoid) that it references both Contact (1997) and more importantly 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). It’s hard to really see Interstellar (2014) and not think of these two films. We seem to be getting more and more sci-fi with the message of saving the planet before it’s too late. More so here when its time to up-sticks and find somewhere else to live. It’s not an easy task when the world population has been reduced from one of materialist wealth and greed to one of pure survival, the world’s stock of basic food-stuffs is down to corn, which we see plenty of that throughout the scenes on mother earth that seems to want to get rid of us in sandstorms.
When single father of two Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) stumbles across a secret Nasa plan to find a new home for the human race, which is left in the dark about the project, seen as political futile, when its more important to put food on the table. The project lead by Professor Brand Nolan regular Michael Caine who by chance alone believes that the ex-pilot Cooper is needed to pilot the mission aboard the Endurance along with the professor’s daughter Brand (Anne Hathaway). For Cooper it’s a decision that doesn’t come lightly, his son Tom takes the news far better than Murph who is very much like her father develops feelings of abandonment. Left in the care of grandfather Donald (John Lithgow) who is able to see the bigger picture, knowing his son wants to make a difference.
The Endurance team leave planet earth with such hope and aspirations, knowing that they may never be coming back home, their families will probably never see them again. They have three possible planets to check out, thats after going through a wormhole that was conveniently found just next to Saturn. This is where the science really begins, already having our first serving courtesy of Professor Brand we have to let the science go over our heads to a certain extent to enjoy the visual splendour (not created in a computer). I do understand some of the science, having seen my share of sci-fi over the years, there are still moments I’m left scratching my head. But then If I was left thinking about all the techno-babble I would be missing the amazing planets that they visit. The lone spacecraft which Endurance docks travels through space.
Much like 2001: A Space Odyssey the science is still very much possible, none of what we see on-screen is too far away, apart from TARS (Bill Irwin) the onboard computer who accompanies the crew, more human than the computers we are used to. Predicting the level of sophistication that is in are grasp, give to take a century. Matched by McConaughey’s down to earth approach to the film that keeps everything grounded and engaging for the audience who is taken back and forth to earth (missing out the wormhole).
For this film to work minus the science (with the plot-holes) would be far less enjoyable. Nolan doesn’t patronise the audience with quick ideas, its researched properly, with added entertainment factor, it’s not supposed to be fully factual, it’s a film at the end of the day, if you wants facts read a book or read a science article. The science makes it all seem more real. I have to admire Nolan’s push for the celluloid film which is a dying medium, wanting to be authentic as possible. This way he was able to move away from the digital hold, allowing him to rely on good old-fashioned tricks of the light which you can really tell the difference when placed up against a C.G.I. blockbuster. We see little of space, but when we do, it’s wondrous and all spectacle, it’s an event of a film.
To say this film has faults I would probably shoot for the science which can go over your head at times like I mentioned earlier, it wouldn’t be Nolan without it. The cast is held together by McConaughey and Jessica Chastain as the older Murph, who fight for the truth when it is finally revealed we are left uncertain which way the film will lean. The rest of the cast are not really important, with a few pages of dialogue each.
From the reviews I’ve already read I was still left unsure how the reunion would come together. Where there is hopelessness at the beginning of the film, as if Nolan is against anything technological (not just digital film) he does have a point as much as we don’t want to admit it. My own mobile provider is practically forcing me to have an upgrade. The need for material goods is incredible that we loose sight of what is really important, the need for food, water, shelter and good health. Which without we would be screwed. Unlike Gravity (2013) which I can never watch again unless I’m wearing 3D glasses, I could easily watch this over and over for just the visuals which are heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick who had not even heard of C.G.I. The need to improvise really pays off here, hearing stories of how Anne Hathaway stood on one leg to float about, all the old tricks work and hold up. The ludite in Nolan really pays off, because he works hard at his craft, he didn’t earn the title as the next David Lean from Michael Caine for no good reason.
With the sad passing of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman I had to find the time to watch his only Oscar-winning performance as Truman Capote in the dark Capote (2005) a film that I was previously wasn’t concerned about, thinking I would have far longer to get around to this film. Unaware of the actors battle with drugs that abruptly took him away. Leaving behind him a career of incredible performances in both Hollywood and art-house films, knowing at the time he was still very much hard at work.
Nonetheless I felt compelled to now view Capote with a renewed sense of respect for the actor who I already respected. His performance is completely transformative, going down the dramatic route of loosing weight, much like the Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (2013). Hoffman’s attention to the role goes into overdrive, taking on a high-pitched voice which at first unnerves the audience, not used to the writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood which was the focus of the film.
When a family shooting in Kansas in 1959 catches the attention of Truman Capote he is compelled to use this news story as the basis for his next book. Like most artists, starting with the inspiration, not sure of the final form until it starts to take hold and forming, as he and friend fellow author Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) go on a research trip, at first in the guise of a magazine. There is an unusual fascination with the events for Capote as he meets the investigating detective Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) who wants very much to solve the case in a town that is not used to such tragic events.
The fascination for the case becomes almost a fetish for Capote as he seeks out all the evidence, to visit the girl who discovered the bodies of the family to the men who are finally brought in. Wanting to share their story with the world. Which for most would be just another newspaper story to sell the paper. Here we have another aim entirely to show to the country what can happen when things go wrong for people, their actions and the consequences.
Forming a careful bond with the convicted men who now await their final sentence, the book that Capote aims to write will remain incomplete until he has the truth of what happened, which lies with Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.). The relationship is based on power and desires, all one way, leading to years of internal struggle and turmoil for Capote as he writes what is to become his last novel. Even with friends around him he finds it hard to really open to them.
Hoffman is mesmerizing as a man who is far smaller than him, taking on the life of a legend of modern literature, instead of the Audrey Hepburn classic for which he is more fondly remembered. We find the man, openly homosexual in a time that is still not ready to accept his lifestyle, being incredibly bald in his direction to seek out the truth, a truth that may cost him his sanity and happiness. Visually the film is very muted in tone with the dark subject matter. In a writers world, as one seeks out his newest project and another on the sidelines is being pushed into the limelight for To Kill a Mockingbird which later saw Harper Lee spending the rest of her life in seclusion. The writers life is full of struggles to get a book in the form they want, which can cost more than you first hope. The line between journalistic professionalism and distance is blurred in the endeavour for a story, from which you may never return.
- Capote (2005) (arajani.blogspot.co.uk)
- Capote (2005) (atandrewlawrence.blogspot.co.uk)
- Capote (2005) (mashlyn.wordpress.com)
- Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005) in tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967 – 2014) (criticafterdark.blogspot.co.uk)
- Truman Capote, In Cold Blood, PSH (cindybruchman.wordpress.com)
- Capote (2005) by Bennett Miller (sebasnadilo.wordpress.com)
- Capote (pnabarro.wordpress.com)
- Capote (2005), directed by Bennett Miller (filmtreelog.wordpress.com)
- Capote (2005) Directed by Bennett Miller (mylawyerwillcallyourlawyer.blogspot.co.uk)
I began with the intention of setting out view that the character of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) from The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) was likeable. It’s not an easy question to answer with a straight yes or no. In short he’s not a likeable guy, but why? That’s the harder part to answer, because usually if you don’t like the lead or the hero, then you turn off or walk away, not caring for whatever happens to them. They’ve done nothing to deserve your sympathies. Unlike Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) who always wanted to be a gangster, ended up in over his head and gave evidence against his friends in court in Goodfellas (1990). There is none of that here in the cold hard world of making cash on Wall Street. We do have that same template, the aspiration for a better life, that comes at great cost to all involved, not just financially but emotionally and some physically. It’s DiCaprio’s incredible knock out of the park performance that saves this man of excess to be forgiven, and that alone.
And at the end of that we can stick around for an incredibly long-winded three-hour film, which reminds me more of Scorsese‘s Casino (1995) a more visually excessive film that moves at breakneck speed over the course of an individual who is caught up in a whirlwind of a messed up world. I can see where part of the film that were shaved to even ensure an 18 rating, could still be taken down at least another half an hour or so. The overall length reflects the excesses of the corrupt stockbrokers lives. Starting out at the bottom before the financial crash of the 1980’s which saw Belfort back to square one, after learning how to live the life of a stock broker thanks to his first boss Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) who was his role model. Even though it was a small role for McConaughey it does make quite an impression on not just Belfort but the audience. McConaughey is definitely going through a golden period of regeneration in his career after slipping into a rom-com slump for a most of the last decade.
Turning to (Donnie Azoff) (Jonah Hill) Belfort’s partner in crime, with a lust for the high life, the security and luxury that comes with money in its excess. Both becoming addicted to drugs in all forms. Together and with the rest of the crooked high-flyers they enjoy a torrent of sex and drugs which on its own could account for a third of the films length, which is a lot when you take into account all that is a lot.
With all the excess there is a moral centre to it all in the form of those on the outside, the family of Belfort who can see beyond the short-term gains. Mainly in the form of his father Max Belfort (Rob Reiner) who know that the “hens will come home to roost“. His first wife Teresa Petrillo (Cristin Milioti) who like us doesn’t understand all of the sales and stock market mumbo-jumbo can see what damage could be done, the potential for harm. Even his second wife Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie) begins to see the bigger picture when children are involved.
It’s like DiCaprio has been saying over and over again on the promotions circuit, it is a cautionary tale. Pausing in character to address us, as if to see him reliving the events telling us that he has learnt his lesson, but at the time the lust for money, power, drugs and material possessions drove him to near destruction. It never celebrates any of it, as bright and as colourful as it looks, we can see how the lifestyle cannot be sustained. Something we have seen more recently with the 2008 recession. Gordon Gekko’s idea that “Greed is good” is once again questioned, and instead of waiting 20 years for sequel, the consequences are laid out for us.
The Wolf of Wall Street is everything I’ve just been talking about and also extremely funny, with all the f-bombs and other colourful language which is synonymous with a Scorsese film. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course at times you think, less of the language, before thinking, he’s paint an honest as he can picture, with added style and effect. We see a return to form for Marty which he never really lost, it’s the subject matter that dictates the tone which we have not seen since The Departed (2006) which was a master-class in acting for all concerned.