Tag Archives: Leonardo DiCaprio

The Revenant

The_Revenant_2015_film_poster

It’s only a couple of weeks until the Oscars now, and I finally get round to seeing one of the frontrunners-The Revenant. But after Alejandro G. Inarritu’s last film Birdman won Best Director and Best Picture can Inarritu possibly strike gold again a year later?

In 1823 a group of trappers are left stranded after an ambush by a Native American party. As they try to head back to safety hunter Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is badly mauled by a bear. While the majority of the group go onhead for help, John Fitzgerald -one of the men left to look after him- manipulates events to leave Glass half burried in a man made grave. Barely alive and heavily injured Glass must survive on his wits and his will for revenge to make it back.

This is a movie based on real events, and it’s an impressive story of one man’s struggle to survive against the odds. Battling aginst nature, animals and other men, Inarritu immerses you into Glass’ journey. You feel the brutal coldness of the wildlife and the harshness of the elements. Sometimes the movie feels like an endurance, which is probably exactly how Inarritu intended The Revenant to be.

There are impressive set peieces such as the attack on the trappers by the Native Americans at the beginning of the movie and the bear attack attack on Glass. The make up on display here is amazing, all of Glass’ injruies are shown in glory, bloody detail, if it wasn’t based on a true story you would think Hollywood was getting too ridiculous in it’s fight for survival stories. DiCaprio makes a strong bid for his long awaited Oscar for Best Actor, although I think his turn in The Wolf of Wall Street is still his most impressive performance. In supporting roles Tom Hardy is good but I was more impressed by Will Poulter as the conflicted, naive Jim Bridger.

However much I like The Revenant, I left feeling as though it was more a film to admire rather than love. Inarritu is a great director but as one of the front runners for Best Picture at the Oscars I feel The Big Short and Room are more deserving of the big win out of all the films I’ve seen so far. The beginning is great and so is the bear attack and the majority of Glass’ journey, but the film is 156 mins long and you really start to feel this in the second half of the movie. I was really intreaged by the subplot of the Arikara Native American party who is on their own search for revenge, but it ends up being a disapointment. And while I could suspend my disbeleief over Glass’ bear attack and recovering from being half buried alive (as these are based on real events), I was struggling more when Glass manages to survive gallaping off a cliff on a horse (the horse more realistically does not survive). There were also moments which I suspect were meant to be heartfelt and tear-jerking such as when Glass sees visions of his dead wife, but it ends up being more distracting and unintentionally funny.

Maybe this is what happens as a result of being the most hyped up movie of the Oscar season, by the time I got round to see The Revenant it was bound to be an uphill battle. Also after having seen The Hateful Eight, Everest and The Revenant in a space of a few weeks I’m getting a bit sick of movies set in the cold and the snow. Hopefully the next trend will be movies set in the Bahamas.

Rating 3.5/5 – stunning cinematography, direction and acting but way too long

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Comedy is not normally something I would associate with Martin Scorsese or with Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet thats exactly what they set to bring us in this black comedy based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort.

Taking a job as a stockbroker in 1987 Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) takes his first step in the immoral world of Wall Street and begins conning many people out of their money as he gets filth rich off their money and indulging in a world of cocaine, prostitutes and excess. However the party can’t last forever and soon Belfort’s dodgy dealings start catching up with him.

The Wolf of Wall Street does not open quietly, with Belfort indulging in dwarf tossing, receiving oral sex in a car and taking drugs out of a prostitute’s bum. Subtle it is not, and thank god for that. Scorsese pulls you into Belfort’s world of excess and you can’t help but be swept away by it all, no matter how obscene it all gets. For most of its running time the film is a brillant, almost slapstick comedy with DiCaprio’s Belfort at the dispicable centre of the action.

I was surprised at how hilarious DiCaprio was. I know he’s a great actor but I didn’t know he how funny he was or what a great phsyical performer he is.  My favourite scene was when Belfort-incapacitated by drugs and lying on the ground of his country club tries to make his way to his car outside. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on film in ages.

Although DiCaprio is the performance everyone will be talking about he is also surrounded by a great supporting cast. Standouts include Jonah Hill as a partner in Belfort’s firm Donnie Azoff (complete with comedy false teeth), and newcomer Margot Robbie also makes a memerable apperance as Belfort’s second wife Naomi and not just because of her now infamous full frontal scene. There is also a great cameo from Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna, Belfort’s former boss and mentor who is suitable bonkers with his chest pounding and advise to start taking drugs during the day, among other ‘interesting’ advise to relax.

Although the movie is at heart a black comedy the tone changes gear towards the last third of the film as the consquences of Belfort’s actions catch up with him, and his already messed up relationship with his wife falls spectacularly apart.

If theres any negatives to this film its that there is no one to root for in this film and there’s no moral to take from it (unless ‘if you’re rich you can get away with anything’ counts as a moral ) but Scorsese has dealt with many anti-heros before and by casting the naturally charismatic DiCaprio in the lead role you can’t help but get swept away by it all. His casting is vital to the movie as you need to believe that he could con so many people and be so blindly admired and followed by his collegaues.

Some viewers may feel that the film is glorfiying Belfort’s actions, especially as his victims do not get much of a voice in this film, although I find it hard to believe anyone would see this movie and want to emulate him. But maybe thats just me. Others may find that Belfort’s success after his conviction being a motivational speaker and writing his memoirs a bitter pill to swallow considering the lives he’s ruined. However in Scorese and Dicaprio’s hands you can’t help but be engaged in the story of Belfort, even if you are rooting for him to get his comeuppance too.

Rating 4.5/5 -Obscene, excessive and brilliant, Scorese and DiCaprio once again show why they are a team to be reckoned with.

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The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann is back with his fifth film, this time with an adaptatation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, but does the adaptation live up to expectations?

Its summer 1922 and a young man named Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) moves next door to the mansion of the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Gatsby is known for his lavish parties and rumours ciculate about his past.  Gatsby requests Nick to arrange a meeting with Nick’s cousin Daisy( Carey Mulligan), a lost love of Gatsby’s who is married to Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). However Gatsby’s attempt to recapture the past leads to tragedy.

Luhrmann has often been accused of style over substance, which I don’t agree with. However The Great Gatsby does at time seem more interested in the parties, the music and customes than the characters on screen. The soundtrack by Jay-Z is good but doesn’t blow me away like the ones for Moulin Rouge or Romeo and Juilet. And although the film looks pretty it’s not as mesmarising or memorable as it should be.

There is a good cast gathered together but they mostly come across as one note characters. Nick is such a passive character he might as well not be there half the time. However at least his bond with Gatsby is convincing, helped by the real life friendship between Maguire and DiCaprio. Tom is a good villian but does stray into a pantomime baddie. Carrey Mulligan is a great actress, and shined in An Education, Drive and in the classic Doctor Who episode Blink. Here she looks the part with her gorgeous gowns and hair, but the character is so frustrating (the same problem I have with the book). It’s hard to know what she really feels. Did she love Gatsby or is she just a coward? It’s hard to know why Gatsby’s been obsessed with her all these years.

Luckily the film has one ace up its sleeves, Gatsby himself. Leonardo DiCaprio lights up the screen whenever he appears (literally- in his first appearance fireworks go off behind him as he’s introduced to Nick and the audience-a great first appearance). DiCaprio is mesmorising whether he’s playing aloof and mysterious, a bumbling romantic or even wearing Gatsby’s iconic pink suit. Considering he plays a man whose been obsessing over a woman for five years (and brought a house to be near to her-potential stalker alert!) it’s a testimant to DiCaprio’s acting and the script that he is a sympathetic and engaging character. He is a man who tragically cannot let go of the past-leading to his downfall.

It’s one of the many themes of the film, which follows on from the book. Can you repeate the past? Is Gatsby a victim of Daisy’s cowardness? Is Gatsby right to expect so much from Daisy? Although the film itself is not a complete success it does prompt intresting discussions on love, class, money and the American dream.

Rating 3/5

Not up to the standard of Lurhmann’s red curtain trilogy but its worth seeing for DiCaprio’s outstanding performance.

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Django Unchained

I haven’t posted for a little bit, been  feeling a bit of the winter blues, which seems to have affected my wallet so was unable to see anything new recently. Luckily I’ve just been able to see Quentin Tarantino’s latest Western Blaxploitation Django Unchained.

It isn’t until I saw this that I realised how much I miss Tarantino when he’s away. His witty screenplays, exaggerated blood splattered violence and even his own best forgotten cameos.

So Jamie Fox is Django, a slave in 1858 who encounters Christopher Waltz’s Dr. King Schultz a German dentist turn bounty hunter (hey, could it happen!). He offers Django his freedom and a chance to rescue his Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) if he helps Shultz hunt down the Brittle brothers.

The film has a great cast, it’s fun to see Leonardo DiCaprio let loose at playing a villain as plantation owner Calvin Candie. Him and Samuel Jackson’s as Caddie’s loyal house slave, Stephen are a thoroughly disturbing pair. As the hero Fox is solid as Django but the film is really stolen by Christopher Waltz, possibly the nicest character in the whole film, and when your kindest guy is a bounty hunter who shoots one wanted man dead in front of his son you can imagine how horrible the rest of the cast is. Waltz brings warmth and humour into the film which is much needed in a film about slavery and violence. Tarantino’s film may be controversial for some for its violence but it just serves a reminder of just how bad slaves were treated (not that most of us should need reminding).

Surprisingly for a Tarantino film the lead female character Broomhilda is underdeveloped and I wish I could have known more about her apart from that she is Django’s wife and speaks German. Some flashbacks to her life as a slave without Django would have been good but then again that may have been distracting. Broomhilda is more a plot devise, she is what Django is aiming for.

There are many great scenes in this film; the funniest for me being the Ku Klux Klan scene which just goes to show one of the underlying themes of Tarantino’s film-racist people are just stupid.

Rating

4/5-Tarantino is back and hopefully he’ll have some Oscars for his efforts

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