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Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo DiCaprio’

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

THIS IS A FREE RANGE SPOILER REVIEW. THE SPOILERS ARE NOT KEPT IN CAGES. THEY JUST RUN ALL OVER THE PLACE, INCLUDING THE FIRST COUPLE SENTENCES. SEE THE MOVIE FIRST.

ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD is an odd and beautiful movie from… Quentin Tarantino. It’s undeniably one that only he could or would make – it’s even in his now-trademark ‘wish-fulfilling rewrite of a historical atrocity’ mode – but it’s different. It’s not as mean and angry as the last three, or as carefully plotted as any of them. It’s sort of a hang out movie, a day-in-the-life of two friends, and a gentle tale of surviving a mid-life crisis, wrapped in a love letter to Los Angeles of the late ’60s, and to the then-fading leading men of the ’50s, with a chaser of gruesome violence. The fun kind, though. The cathartic kind.

Throughout his career, Tarantino has shown his affinity for cool shit like spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation movies, kung fu and crime novels. Here’s where he says “Fuck it, I also like old cowboy shows and procedurals and stuff.” When the guy who makes film exhibition and criticism a major element of his WWII epic does one that’s actually about the Hollywood film industry, obviously he’s gonna go buck wild. The amount of detail he puts into the fictional career of TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio, two episodes of The New Lassie) – to the point of needing a narrator to talk us through each entry from his Rome period – reaches the level of sci-fi world building. And of course Tarantino, being Tarantino, gives us a soundtrack that drips the sixties without one whiff of Creedence, Dylan, the Doors or Hendrix. Admittedly “Mrs. Robinson” is in there somewhere, but he leans more Deep Purple, Vanilla Fudge and Paul Revere & the Raiders. One of the few I knew was the Neil Diamond song. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Revenant

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

tn_revenantRight now THE REVENANT (from executive producer Brett Ratner) is being marketed as an Important Awards Contender type movie. It’s the year’s most Oscar-nominated film and the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama, so until THE BIG SHORT won the Producer’s Guild award the other day it seemed like the frontrunner for the coveted title of Answer To Trivia Question About Which Lesser Movie Got Best Picture Instead Of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

It’s the latest from Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the least fun of the Three Amigos, but the one who got best picture, director and screenplay last year for BIRDMAN. He’s also a guy who talks real passionately and is charming in interviews, but in print or out of context can sound like a pretentious asshole, for example when he said that his excellent new western is not a western because it transcends pathetic human genre:

“Western is in a way a genre, and the problem with genres is that it comes from the word ‘generic’, and I feel that this film is very far from generic.”

(Genre actually comes from the French word for ‘kind’ or ‘type’.)

But fuck all that. That’s a distraction. On its own, THE REVENANT is the kind/type/genre of pure, undiluted, immersive filmatism that I love. Unafraid to go long stretches without dialogue, or to have the minimal exposition mumbled through an unintelligible accent, it plunges us into a world (1823 fur trappers and hunters under siege by Arikara Indians) and doesn’t give us any instructions on how to get home. It trusts that the dense atmosphere and simple, action-based narrative will lead the way. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Wolf of Wall Street

Monday, December 30th, 2013

tn_wolfofwallstreetTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET is the incredibly entertaining new movie from director Martin Scorsese (Michael Jackson’s BAD), based on the memoir of scumbag fraudulent stockbroker Jordan Belfort (executive producer of SANTA WITH MUSCLES), adapted by Terence Winter (writer of a 50 Cent video game and 2 episodes of The Cosby Mysteries). Leonardo DiCaprio (POISON IVY) plays Belfort in the saga of his meteoric rise from innocent Wall Street rookie to multi-millionaire cokehead innovator in greed and callous thievery. After THE GODFATHER and all these other classics that show how organized crime operates like a business, here Scorsese flips it around to show how business acts like gangsters.

Man, we take it for granted after so many big, showy movies with great directors – or we don’t want to admit it ’cause he’s still got kind of a baby face and we remember when he made the teenage girls faint in their pants – but jesus, DiCaprio sure has turned into a good actor. WOLF is Scorsese picture #5 for him, and it seems for a while like he’s mostly doing his usual moves. He’s got the intensity, the energy, the accent that’s old timey and not very naturalistic but he goes so all-in that I buy it, the face that teeters between boyish and Benicio Del Toro. Early in the movie he even crash-lands a small aircraft and stumbles away, as if he’s doing callbacks to THE AVIATOR. He should do that in all his movies, it could be his “I’ll be back.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Summer Movie Flashback: Inception

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

tn_inception

2010
2010

The best way to explain the genius of INCEPTION is just to describe what’s going on at the climax. The main characters are all asleep on a jet, dreaming that they’re in a van that’s crashed and is falling off a bridge. All but the driver, Dileep Rao, are asleep and are also in a dream-within-a-dream where they’re tied together floating weightlessly in an elevator. Joseph Gordon Levitt is preparing to wake them up, the rest are asleep and in a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream about blowing up a snowy fortress. But Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page are asleep there because they’re actually in a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream where Leo is making the emotional decision to leave behind a SOLARIS-type living memory of his dead wife Marion Cotillard to go into a limbo to rescue his client, Ken Watanabe, who has lived a whole life there and is now an old man and forgets that he’s not in reality, because time passes at a different pace within each of these worlds. And there is a decades long slowed down music cue that tells Leo the van in the first dream is about to hit the water and wake them all up.

And here’s the kicker: all of this was understandable even on the first viewing for knuckleheads like me and the millions of people who made it a huge hit summer movie. I mean, you don’t have to like it, but it takes a silly motherfucker to deny the accomplishment of making such an effective mainstream thriller out of a concept this complicated. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Monday, June 24th, 2013

tn_greatgatsbyI’m kinda late on writing this one up, not sure if it’s even playing anywhere anymore, but what are you gonna do.

THE GREAT GATSBY is the story of this rich guy that’s in love with a gal that’s already married. It turns out he only got rich to try to impress her ’cause when he first fell in love with her 5 years ago she found out he was, as he says, penniless, and married this other asshole, etc. Leonardo DiCaprio (THE QUICK AND THE DEAD) plays the rich guy, Gatsby, Carey Mulligan (DRIVE) plays his love interest Daisy Buchanan, and Joel Edgerton (ANIMAL KINGDOM) plays her husband Tommy. But the main character is actually Tobey Maguire as whatsisdick, Daisy’s weiner of a cousin. (read the rest of this shit…)

Django Unchained

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

A couple weeks ago the studio “lifted the embargo” as they say, and all the online critics unchained their DJANGO reviews even though non-critics wouldn’t see the thing until Christmas. I think that’s a silly ritual because I wasn’t gonna read that shit! This is the new Quentin Tarantino movie, you go in fresh. I already know I want to see any movie he makes, I don’t gotta read everything about it first. In case you’re different I’ve tried to mark the biggest spoilers in this review, but as usual I recommend seeing the movie first.

DJANGO UNCHAINED is the most straight forward movie Tarantino has ever made. It follows one main character from first scene to last, doesn’t cut away to another story or even jump around in time other than some very traditional flashbacks. There are alot of long conversation scenes, but it’s generally pretty clear what they have to do with the main plot of the freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx, STEALTH) becoming a bounty hunter and trying to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a plantation. And that’s not a misleading description, that’s really the movie, a racially charged western (or “Southern,” Tarantino likes to say) in the tradition of those CHARLEY movies I just reviewed.

So in a way it feels uneventful for a Tarantino movie, the first time he made one that was pretty much what I expected from the commercials. On first viewing it seems low in my rankings of the QT filmography, but that doesn’t say much. Tarantino sure knows how to entertain, and I happen to love this genre of badass black cowboys out for frontier justice against practitioners of the slave trade. For his first straight up genre picture that’s a good genre to pick. I love this movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

J. Edgar

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

tn_jedgarJ. EDGAR is the work of an unlikely biopic all-star team: Leonardo “The Aviator” DiCaprio playing the notorious FBI director (even though he’s an old man during alot of the movie), Clint “Bird” Eastwood directing, and Dustin Lance “Milk” Black on the keyboards. This topic required calling in the pros because J. Edgar Hoover was an asshole and a weirdo, but not in a charming or funny way, like Larry Flynt or somebody. And even though he was (according to many, including this movie) a  minority – a closeted and tormented gay man – there is nothing anti-establishment about him. He’s not a guy who bucked the system. He created the damn system. Hard to make that glamorous in a movie.

In fact, that’s kind of a reoccurring theme, he keeps complaining about movies glamorizing the “radicals” and “hoodlums” he fights against and is happy when they finally make ones that make kids want to grow up to be G-men. But this won’t make kids want to grow up to be FBI director. Sorry, J. (read the rest of this shit…)

Inception

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

tn_inceptionWow, I must’ve really misread the ol’ zeitgeist. I thought for sure with that depressing new Ben Stiller indie drama having come out on DVD last Tuesday GREENBERG was gonna be all anybody had on their minds for weeks. But the comments thread there almost makes it seem like you guys are more interested in this “Inception” business.

Director Christopher Nolan first made his mark on cinema with the black and white (read the rest of this shit…)

Shutter Island

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

tn_shutterislandSHUTTER ISLAND is alot like JURASSIC PARK. Outside experts are called in to a remote island where some unusual shit goes down. They’re shown the operation, the security setup, the layout. Then there’s a big ass storm so they can’t get off the island, the electric fences go down and the captives get loose and it’s bedlam. But it’s the criminally insane instead of dinosaurs, and it’s the guy who plays GANDHI instead of the director of GANDHI who’s their guide on the island. There are other minor differences, like for example this one is less about people staring in awe at dinosaurs and more about piecing together the traumatic events that haunt the hero, and figuring out how they tie into this mystery which unfolds in a surreal horror movie atmosphere and within the context of the 1950s, with the lingering horrors of WWII still in people’s minds as well as the fear of the hydrogen bomb and of communism, and most importantly during the psychiatric community’s bumpy transition from barbaric surgical methods to more modern psychotropic drugs and verbal forms of therapy. Otherwise though it’s pretty much the exact same movie, a blatant ripoff. (read the rest of this shit…)

Titanic

Monday, December 14th, 2009

tn_titanicHey, any of you guys ever seen TITANIC? It’s one of the later movies from the guy who did TERMINATOR. Bill Paxton stars as Brock Lovett, a deep sea explorer using THE ABYSS-style equipment to search the wreckage of the Titanic for a lost diamond. Along the way he meets Rose (Gloria Stuart), a 101 year old survivor of the famous shipwreck who teaches him valuable life lessons and what not. Also there are some flashbacks featuring Kate Winslet (HEAVENLY CREATURES ) as the younger Rose and Leonardo Dicaprio (THE QUICK AND THE DEAD), but don’t worry, he’s not supposed to be young Bill Paxton, he’s a different character.

Really, I’m surprised you guys haven’t heard of this. It was a pretty big deal at the time from what I remember. (read the rest of this shit…)