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Run! Bitch Run! (2009)
A flawed pastiche of more inspired originals
It's clear from the cinematographic style, the slightly faded colors and referrals in the movie, it's the intention of the director to pay an homage to cult classics like 'I Spit on Your Grave', 'Last House on the Left' and the revenge sexploitation theme. The styling of the 3th act is inspired by Kill Bill without the martial arts (Kill Bill for younger movie buffs was already a tribute to the cult genre).
Although the director tries to do what Tarantino has done many times before (and far much better), the problem is Run! Bitch Run! doesn't add anything to the genre and is merely a lazy copycat.
Frankly it's boring to watch, because you know what's coming if you've seen the originals so it's redundant if you've seen the classics of the cult genre.
The Grand Tour (2016)
More of the same with lesser content
I was a fan of the original series Top Gear, however during the years the emphasis of car reviews was shifted towards more showing of super cars. In the later season super cars seamed like the only ones on the market and doing stunts became the number one occupation of the original trio.
Sadly, The Grand Tour continues on the previous allure. Very few car reviews except for super cars which only the very happy few can buy anyway and the stunt department is even more present with some outrageous stunts like using beach buggy's like a cable car.
Although still entertaining, The Grand Tour is heading in a direction in which it will be hard to think of what stunt next to dazzle the viewer. Very low on content, very high on being outrageously spectacular but ultimately The Grand Tour is like a Big Mac. It's nice to swallow, but it's junk TV and like the presenters say: 'What have we learned: nothing.'
Neurons to Nirvana (2013)
A subjective view misleadingly presented as unbiased
I write this review from the viewpoint as a qualified social worker who has both academic knowledge but also practical work experience dealing with drug addiction. Besides I also experimented personally with psychoactive substances.
The positive part of this documentary is that it shows clear and factual arguments governmental rules on which substances are legal or illegal are NOT based on which substances are more or less harmful to the individual or society. Alcohol and tobacco are without any doubt harmful, yet they are freely available for a simple reason: in the short term they provide high tax revenue for the government (which is offset by the negative cost in the long term: health issues long cancer, liver disease and so on).
The negative part of this documentary is that it is clearly biased toward legalizing some or more psycho-active substances, based on the fact that some may actually have positive effects in a therapeutic setting (for instance psilocybine which is found in magical mushrooms shows a short term serotonin boost, which is what most anti-depressants aim for).
The problem is however, most people in this documentary are academics, so they've spend a lot of time on research and indeed would probably use these substances in a responsible manner. To expand their consciousness, as a tool for creativity, for therapeutic use.
However, most of these academics probably only know the problem with the use of psycho-active substances (mdma, psilocybine, LSD, THC ... ) from a paper point of view, not from having personal experience in dealing with drug addicts like I have.
Making some of these substances more available to the general public in a non therapeutic setting, for recreational use without supervision, would lead to another wave of wasted teenagers who think it's okay to use these substances because they are free to buy and use. Yes, they might have benefits, but not if they are used purely to escape reality. The documentary also fails to point out clearly that although some psycho-active substances are not addictive in a way the body the craves for it, but they can be psychologically very addictive. Someone who would for instance trip on magical mushrooms for several days a week will loose touch with reality.
Amsterdam and Holland have long been very liberal strongholds for tolerating marijuana, magical mushrooms, head shops and so on... but recently more and more restrictions came into place (not because the pharmaceutical industry wanted to make more profit so they wanted to ban coffee shops) BUT because of the increasing amount of accidents cause by the use of psycho active substances.
Finally there is another argument that is nearly not touched in this documentary: most trippers believe because something comes from nature it's less harmful than chemicals. The problem however is, when one eats for instance raw magical mushrooms the dosage of the active substance can vary widely depending on the species, time of harvest, and so on. Even marijuana which is sold in most coffee shops in Holland has NOTHING to do with wild marijuana. Weed sold for profit on the black market is bread to increase THC (otherwise a smoker might find he's not getting 'high' enough).
Although this documentary is surely interesting to watch and I do very much appreciate the comments of Gabor, please be aware it is surely NOT unbiased. Although it states it does not want to advocate the use of psycho-active substances in the end this is what it achieves. For a rebellious teenager watching this it might seam as if government is lying and they were right along to smoke another joint.
A very flawed attempt to Americanize a Chinese art-house classic
Obviously their was a decent production budget and energy spend on this martial arts movie set in ancient China. Much effort went into (re)creating sets, costumes and choreography. That's the good part...
However, it's out of place to go through all the effort to evoke a historical time period, only to let all Chinese characters speak English (in a time period where only very few Chinese intellectuals would be able to speak any other other language than Chinese). Either the producers didn't have faith in a movie audience to read subtitles or to accept a movie with any other spoken language than English. The original movie did manage to do that however: to appeal as well to a mainstream audience AND lovers of exotic foreign language martial arts movies.
Sword of Destiny doesn't do anything which hasn't been done much better before. Martial Arts in itself as a genre, having being so popular mainly in the 70s and 80s has explored about any camera angle, fast montage and special effect. Tarantino already directed the ultimate homage in Kill Bill.
Sword of Destiny, although with some credits to the production in itself never amazes, unless you've never seen a martial arts movie before. Like in the previous Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon there is a lot of cable work and floating going on. As if fast paced and shot martial arts scenes weren't enough, in this series the fighting characters are elevated to near super heroes, resulting in choreography and fighting scenes which aren't credible anymore.
This is exactly where for instance Bruce Lee-flicks were far superior: as a viewer you saw incredible sequences but yet they remained credible. In Sword of Destiny the character has seized to be human and becomes a fantasy.
Sword of Destiny finally ends up being neither: too slick to be accepted by a die hard audience of authentic martial arts movies, too Americanized to appeal to lovers of historical art house costume movies.
Going through all the effort to evoke an ancient Chinese period and let all Chinese characters speak English is simply foolish.
Sword of Destiny is exactly where American mainstream cinema has gone wrong: in a cash-in attempt to 'Americanize' classics in other countries, they end up with would-be blockbusters without soul or authenticity what so ever. You watch it, you forget it: it's not good, not super bad either, it ends up being a movie you hardly remember the next day, unlike the original.
Don't believe the hype
When watching this 'documentary' (which isn't accurate as this is more a linear collage of archival footage), I kept wondering when will the director take a stand or provide in some analysis? 180 minutes is long, very long to keep staring at footage most interested in social history will have seen before.
But, this is literally what it is and remains: 180 minutes of archival footage back to back without any narrative what so ever. If one watches this docu hoping you'll learn more about the life of Ceausescu you won't because most interested in this topic will already have seen thetypical news footage.
What is missing is in depth analysis, interviews, arguments pro and against. Basically anyone, given enough time and resources can collect a whole bunch of video footage about a certain person, collage it and then you'll get this result. If anything it makes the figure of Ceausescu more confusing than clear and those who don't know any better might even think he wasn't that bad at all and was set up in the end to fall.
A well deserved punch in the stomach of conservatism
I just saw this movie in a nearly full capacity packed 300 seat theater. Very rarely I rate 10 out of 10, but this piece of film art blew me away from beginning to end, so what more can a viewer expect out of cinema.
Five teenagers grow up in a very conservative Turkish village. From early age it is expected that they will marry with a boy the elders prefer, rather than loose themselves in foolish romance. What makes the movie so appealing is the outstanding acting performances of the five teenagers and the realistic way the plot develops. Mustang at the same time offers a laugh and a tear; the viewer is offered the perspective of young ladies growing up, discovering their sexuality and being told that this is a bad thing.
Of course some critics will argue that this movie might give viewers a wrong impression about Turkey. This kind of criticism would be the same as stating when a director portrays a story about any kind of bad situation in a certain country, a viewer might get a wrong impression about the country as a whole. This way not one movie should be set in any country in the world because some viewers will always generalize a specific situation.
This movie is clearly set in a small rather isolated agricultural village in Turkey; it clearly isn't set in Istanbul (the more modern capital of Turkey). The director also does a very good job of not pointing the finger towards Islam (the main religion in Turkey).
What is questioned in this movie is not so much about religion, it is conservatism as a concept which is questioned.
A must see movie, one of the best if not the best I've seen in 2015 and the only one I saw in 2015 I rate 10/10.
Un début prometteur (2015)
A ridiculous script leads to a light hearted comedy without laughs
I saw this in avant-premiere at the Ostend Filmfestival in Belgium.
I had a very hard time staying awake, not because I was tired, but because the storyline was so badly developed I could not relate to any of the characters. Frankly, this movie is so bad I really had to force myself not to run out.
Martin (played by Fabrice Luchine) is full-time drunk and cynic. How he turned into a drunk is not developed in the movie. Also, for the drunk he portrays he looks quite well and nicely dressed throughout the movie.
The acting of Luchine might be compared to a wooden Indian: nearly emotionless he utters his fews lines, his best accomplishment in the movie learning his younger brother to make cocktails. The younger brother of 16 falls head over heels in love with the main character, a woman of over 30 played by the Belgium actress Veerle Baetens. Also nearly no development of the story here: he simply falls in love and that's it. She seams to be a gambler -also not well developed in the script- and gets a loan from the younger brother (which he borrowed from his older brother the drunk). Well, I think it's easy to predict where it goes from here.
If I give this movie still 2 / 10 it's thanks to the effort of Veerle Baetens to still try to turn this ridiculous movie into something. But what is it? It's not funny, so it's not a comedy, it's not compelling enough to be a drama, it's simply a script that goes no where and which is very badly developed to grab the viewer.
When I heard the reaction of other audience members at the Filmcafé, well I was sure I was not the only one who thought this is a terrible film. Well, some other audience members could not comment on it because they admitted they had dozed of...
Walked in with huge expectations but came out slightly disappointed
Dheepan won the Golden Palm in Cannes recently so it's normal you walk in expecting to see a great movie, if not a masterpiece. However, I feel either the competition in Cannes was pretty average OR the Golden Palm went to Dheepan for political reasons, being the current refugee crisis Europe is facing which makes the movie highly actual.
Don't get me wrong: Dheepan is certainly not a bad movie. The story line about a Tamil rebel in Sri Lanka escaping to France with a fake id and a fake wife and daughter seams promising at first. Everyone is acting top notch but where the movie fails is the stereotypical portrayal of the suburbs in France, making it seam as these are only drug territories and there is literally in the movie not one normal human being around. The movie completely goes out of the bend in the last 15 minutes in which the main character suddenly becomes a Travis Bickle Taxi Driver copycat and starts shooting anyone in sight. At this point the movie becomes plainly a bad action movie, because the way it is shot is not even better than your average action movie. Probably the director was intending to show some sort of catharsis or wanted to give a moral message how people become violent, but frankly even Death Wish or Taxi Driver did a much better job of showing a 'good' person turning nasty.
So, I do have pretty mixed feeling about Dheepan and I suspect heavily the Golden Palm was awarded more from a political point of view than an artistic one.
Easy A (2010)
A John Hughes homage and a lot of overacting
I really don't know what all the fuzz is about except for Emma Stone delivering solid acting.
The story is far fetched about a high school student who is rumored to be a slut and she decides to go along with her new reputation. The director tries to mimic the feel of the earlier John Hughes movies, even bringing an homage to it by including extracts of The Breakfast Club and Ferris Buellers Day Off, but in the end delivers a rather hysterical take on high school. Except for Emma Stone as the lead, nearly all actors overact annoyingly.
Easy A desperately tries to deliver a high school comedy with some more depth, but in the end gives you a headache. Who likes this kind of movies, should watch the original rather than this poor copy; check out 'The Breakfast Club' or 'Ferris Buellers Day Off'... both far superior to this.
A sweet sour daring piece of film making
I refer readers to other comments for more details on the story line itself.
I want to add however although this movie is presented in cinema 'vérité' style (meaning wanting to give the viewer the impression that what is shown is simply reality itself -for instance like the most famous example 'The Blair Witch Project'- the entire movie is however scripted with anonymous actors.
But, this is also the drawback. Although as a viewer one expects to see real life situations as they would have been filmed on the fly while the director picks up random passengers calling a cab, all scenes are an act and one can not feel but a slight disappointment when the illusion is revealed.
Like another reviewer points out correctly; some of the stories, especially the lighter ones in which the director doesn't directly seek to comment or criticize the regime in Iran are funny but feel as a warming up and slightly out of place or only as a counterbalance for the more full on portrayal of what is 'really' happening in Teheran.
It's only from the second act (portraying how all kinds of imposed restrictions and censorship from a government lead to a black market and circumventing censorship) and the dialog with the child that has to meet the same restrictions posed on film-making for an assignment like the director needs to oblige to, the movie becomes a direct statement and outcry for the freedom of thought and expression.
Personally I think that the movie, if it would have been truly a documentary with real passengers, it might even have been a stronger piece of capturing reality. But probably this approach would have been far too dangerous, as the privacy of the passengers would have been breached which might be very dangerous in a clear dictatorship like in Iran.
Now, with a scripted movie sometimes it comes across as a director showing a clear 'see, I can still make movies' to the government that imprisoned him for making movies. I wonder how Iranian government will react when they surely will find out that the director made another one.
Much of the appeal and the praise for the movie can be seen as applauding for the clear message in the film, which is all about the right to question an opposed reality. One can not help feel sorry for imprisoned artists, no matter where. Europeans and Americans might applaud this movie the loudest, but the Edward Snowden or Julian Assange story shows that this movie is not only about the Teheran situation.
Propaganda happens everywhere: be it in Teheran, Islamic countries in general or in western consumerism and capitalism countries.
Most governments try to portray a positive view about one's own culture ('The American Dream', 'Freedom of expression'), head into war either praying to Allah, God or other metaphysical spirits for good luck and strive to export their cultural values elsewhere, at the same time alienating cultures which hold other values.
In Teheran filmmakers can not show men wearing a tie, which might seam strange and unsettling to westerners, but from a Teheran culture point of view, the tie is a sexual symbol pointing to the genitals. As such, one can also ridicule the western view in which men are obliged to wear a tie as dress code, which biologically is nothing but an arrow pointing to one's genitals. Now, how strange is that?
The director however does a very good job of portraying to which surreal situations censorship may lead. Purely technical and from a script point of view it is certainly not a brilliant movie, the loud applause and praise comes from those who are very much into the 'freedom of expression' propaganda and the idea of filming an entire movie in a cab has been done before.
Never the less, it is a must see movie, because it drags the viewers as peeping Tom's into a culture that may vastly differ from their own. One might find that people from other cultures and convictions are first and foremost human.
Hugely underestimated drama with Aniston in her best performance yet
You may, as I, when you hear the name Aniston think of bitter sweet sentimental comedies, or her type cast performance as a cutie in the TV- series Friends and decide not to watch this movie. Fair enough, I thought the same, but thanks to a friend I watched Cake anyway.
Aniston pulls of a striking dramatic realistic performance as a pain patient, struggling with a grief process. In her support group the suicide of a fellow patient makes her question her own will to live. Hallucinations due to pain medication abuse drive her to suicidal behavior.
This is NOT a typical cute Aniston feel good movie. On the very contrary: this is a realistic portrayal of someone struggling with life and trying to sedate herself with regular pharmaceutics. It never turns a sentimental route and it had me sitting on the edge of my seat, seeing a mature actress give away the performance of her lifetime.
Even, if you like me don't like the general Aniston vehicles, do watch this one, you are in for a gloomy yet striking surprise. I simply can't understand why this movie isn't rated much higher: I guess the typical Aniston fans were shocked to see her in a role that is very much the opposite of her own image. And after seeing this one, I must disagree with my previous valuation of Aniston as an actress. Cake shows her liberated from the chains of typecast, but it seams the ratings of her 'feel-good' fans drag the ratings of this movie down. Watch it, then decide for yourself.
American Sniper (2014)
A movie one can rate on 2 different levels
As a European, to me it's clear this movie is pure American military propaganda. Celebrating a sniper who shot over 100 people in a country that was invaded under false presumptions. As such the American invading army can never be heroes, they are occupiers shooting people who merely defended their country, like Americans would protect their territory. It's however a big step from defending one's own territory, to invading a foreign country and trying to glorify the people, including military personnel involved in it.
On a second level one can watch the movie pure as an action flick. It's well made with some suspenseful scenes and the atmosphere of being in a war is well captured. The character itself isn't that well developed however... yes, he has some doubts when shooting children but there is no much psychological exploration going on here. It's kind of a cliché: man thinks he has bigger things to do being a sniper, than taking care of his pregnant wife.
Is the man a hero? Surely one can not be a hero if one invades foreign soil under false pretext and snipes people who are merely defending their territory. But guess the US needed a movie like this, so the can still believe they are the policeman of the world, with plenty of heroes around.
Spring Breakers (2012)
Totally underrated small masterpiece of a rogue director
It did not surprise me as a European viewer, this movie would be poorly received by especially the Americans.
In my interpretation Harmony Korine manages to provide another blow in the face of The American Dream (as he had done in each of his previous movies). In 'Spring Breakers' he does this by
1) showing the (dark) other side of young people living in a mostly religious community, who on the surface pose as devote followers of Christianity, but who on the other hand follow superficial material values and who are ready to do anything to 'get it'
2) portraying the decadence of the 'Spring Break' phenomenon of which sex, drugs and partying are the main components, in strong contrast to what American parents believe their children to be
The movie is unsettling and many will be mislead by the poster, promising slick mainstream action and softcore sex. But Korine serves a dark tale and takes another serious stab at the heart of America.
Surely not your average 'entertaining' action flick, but a disturbing sociological portrayal of modern America.
Uninspired and full of typical horror clichés
I just saw Welp on a Halloween Night in Kinepolis Belgium.
A group of young scouts goes out for camp in the woods where a mysterious werewolf type of boy was sighted.
The production, the atmosphere and the acting are all relatively good for a director's debut, but Welp fails miserably by having an uninspired scenario and a story line full of clichés.
It's run of the mill, average, never surprising but luckily the photography manages to breath some atmosphere in it.
Horror buffs will immediately associate the forest camp setting as drawn from Friday the 13th (but this time with a younger bunch of scouts), while the rest of the story feels like a less haunting and gory Texas Chainsaw Massacre (minus the Texas family).
Just about any horror cliché is present: - forest setting (check), - young people on camp (check), - the gorgeous blonde (check), - masked mysterious figure in the woods (check), - booby traps in the woods (check), - gorgeous blonde gets tied up on a hook (check), ...
Frankly, there was one cliché missing: gorgeous blonde shows her tits. Might have made the movie better...
While this movie is getting some hype in the press in Belgium (for obvious reasons -chauvinism and tax shelter money is in it); as a (Belgium) viewer I could not stop wondering: is this really the best one can do with evaded tax money and should this kind of uninspired ultra commercial movies be government sponsored?
Because it's far from art and it's not even above average entertainment.
[REC] 4: Apocalipsis (2014)
The inspiration has evaporated by now
While the first REC was a very atmospheric, genuinely scary movie with some new genre elements added, especially in the way the action was captured, by now the REC series has slipped into the cliché trap.
This time around it's zombies on a boat. The director tries to emanate the claustrophobic feeling of a setting like the isolated camp in The Thing, but falls short.
The production is quite good for a horror movie, especially the acting stands out, but one can not help but feeling this is a cash machine franchise that has been milked too far by now. It's still a far better production than most straight to video horror flicks, but by now REC is not the captivating (low budget) horror sensation of the first movie, it's slightly better than run of the mill zombie movies.
Not essential and only if you are a big fan of the series.
Waiting 11 years for this? Kind of a bittersweet present after all this time.
Having seen the cinematic trilogy masterpieces 'Koyaanisqatsi', 'Powaqqatsi' and 'Naqoyqatsi', fans of Godrey Reggio, the director who pretty much invented his own genre, expected a lot of this.
Does it deliver? Of course, as usual the photography is stunning and this time in black & white. BUT in comparison with the trilogy, Godfrey spends a lot of time developing the first part, taking nearly half an hour for close-ups of one gorilla and people.
Then it is followed by his usual wide angle and time lapse photography of mostly urban waste land.
The mood as usual is kind of depressing, but in contrary to his famous trilogy the opening sequence takes far too long and may I use the word 'boring'. The whole film feels kind of uninspired of new ideas. It more feels like a recycling of old ideas, with the same moral message. Godfrey Regio used to be cutting edge at the time, now Godfrey Regio seams to be happy repeating what has been done before and even much better.
Viewers who did not see his trilogy will still feel surprised, but those who do know the previous work can't help but feeling disappointed.
The Trip to Italy (2014)
When you take two comedians and sent them on a trip without script
I should have known better after seeing the first movie, but when I read this one was about Italian gastronomy, I was lured into seeing it.
Well, this is the result when you have plenty of budget to eat in some fancy restaurants and sleep into luxurious hotels but you have no script.
Coogan and Brydon improvise their way through, pretentious and self centered, desperately trying to be funny but both fail at it miserably and come up at best with some lame predictable impersonations of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. They must have thought, hey we are in Italy let's do that.
If you are planning to see this movie to be overwhelmed by beautiful Italian landscapes or cuisine, don't bother: see any documentary of Discovery or National Geographic on Italia and you'll be less bored and annoyed.
One can not escape the idea that Coogan and Brydon are especially laughing their pants of with the viewer who pays for their vacation.
Grace of Monaco (2014)
A fairytale on top of a fairytale
When you're buying a ticket to a movie called 'Grace of Monaco', then you are expecting a biopic right? However, the movie starts with the message that this is a fictional story based on non fiction events.
Those expecting a full run down on the rise and fall of Grace will be hugely dissatisfied: the story chronicles a political dispute in Monaco about taxes. The director suggests that Grace had a critical role in the outcome of that dispute... but this might also be a fairytale on top of a fairytale (that is probably the fictional part as mentioned at the beginning of the movie).
If anything this movie does not demystify Grace, it only adds to the legend now even accrediting her for solving a major historical problem in France.
Probably would have been better anyway if the tax problem would not have been solved and President De Gaulle would have invaded Monaco because since then it serves as a tax free haven for drug lords and the super rich (who would rather buy another Lambo or Ferrari, rather then to pay the state for redistributing money).
So to me it's puzzling why a mediocre actress who marries royalty in Monaco gets so much attention: it's obvious that the charity goals of Grace are half baked, because she chose to live in abundant luxury herself in a country which hosts mostly tax evaders. So presenting her as some kind of angel figure or a royal Mother Theresa is laughable at best.
Kidman has a good run trying to mimic the angel like posture of Grace, but the lines smother her with cheesy dialog and real drama is nowhere in sight. I missed 10 minutes because I fell asleep but was still perfectly able to follow the storyline... so don't expect any surprises. I asked my companion and he said I did not miss anything... so there you have it.
Impressive special effects but lacks capturing storytelling
Although the new adaptation of Godzilla tries to stick more to the original Japanese story than the previous Hollywood adaptation, in the end it suffers from the blockbuster mentality.
The main characters do not manage to drag you into the story, nor do you experience their fear. It's like watching fireworks: the human perspective is lost. You could not care less what happens to the characters in the story.
In stead you are watching a high tech spectacle which is only appealing the first half hour when the fear of the monster is mostly suggestive. The main characters who could have offered a public point of view on the battle are shoved to the background.
I was wondering what the director was trying to prove here: what is the point of introducing human characters if they nearly do not interact in the battle with the monster.
The previous adaptation is often ridiculed for it's humorous undertone, but this one is too bloody serious. How bloody serious can one be about a monster with a radio active breath which gets bigger with each remake?
Overall I found it a huge waste of movie budget and especially of the overpriced 3D tickets which make the film even darker than it is already.
Zombie TV (2013)
Premiere Brussels Fantastic Movie Festival
I just saw this in an all night movie marathon together with one of the most rowdy crowds you'll find on movie festivals.
People cheer, boo and scream out for more nudity and gore. It must be very tough for a director watching the immense response of the viewers which can go either way.
So what about Zombie TV? It's not really a feature movie but a collection of sketches and short stories all themed around the zombie phenomenon.
Some parts are outrageous like the virgin guy who wants to touch the mega-boobs of a zombie, another series is about zombie gymnastics and a pink lady zombie who stretches the skin of wanna-be zombies (without special effects). There is song and dance by the Zombie God, encouraging people to give up human existence for a less stressing and care free existence as a zombie.
This all adds up to a highly surreal mix of zombie fun.
The problem is: there is simply not enough material and ideas in the sketches and short stories to make the whole movie appealing. Good ideas are repeated so towards the end it gets boring.
The very best part was actually shown before the movie (and I don't know if this will be part of the official release): about a man crucified by a non who tortures him for making sleazy movies. A daring, short movie mingling sex with religion and sin.
Never the less it seamed the audience had a good time with it, but watching this alone would be a whole less lot of fun.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Under par Scorsese overacted by Di Caprio
Three hours is simply too much of a half good thing. Scorsese probably wanted to emanate in the montage the coke fueled consciousness of stock broker Di Caprio who can't decide if he wants to portray the main character as a parody or as a biography.
How many drug and sex inspired scenes can one endure in three hours, without getting bored by the repetition? After the first amusing hour, the movie goes over the top and hysterical and one can't help to be relived of the ramblings. The Wolf of Wall Street wants to be dramatic and funny at the same time but only achieves half of both. You'll get a few laughs out of it (mostly out of embarrassment) , but if this wasn't announced as a Scorsese in big letters, one would probably not think it's a Scorsese movie in the first place.
Not 'bad' by any means, but under par for Scorsese.
The Selfish Giant (2013)
A masterpiece that will hit you like a brick
The Selfish Giant shows basically how capitalism works: not by making an academic movie with statistical figures, but by telling the highly capturing dramatic story of two teenagers in an English community who need to collect scrap to make ends meet.
They are no longer motivated in studying, because the bills need to be payed by the end of the month. At school they are expelled because of their frustrated behavior. Their family is in ruin due to the stress caused by not earning enough money.
In their quest for scrap they see how the best thief's also gain the most money. So eventually they turn to criminal behavior. Not by choice, but by necessity. Making money becomes separated from doing 'the right thing' to do.
The director does a good job not telling this as a straight forward moral tale, nor using sentimental 'tricks', nor trying to pretend that all ends well. But telling it as an illustration on a human level in an ordinary community where the downside of our economic model is not theory but reality.
Lincoln not one of Spielberg's best
This is foremost an intellectual (talking) movie. I don't mind but this doesn't mean a movie should feel too long for the content. Of course the presidency of Lincoln and the subject (abolitionism) is worth a movie but an entire movie on the process to get rid of slavery? The murder on Lincoln is never explained, nor where he came from or what his background was.
On the other hand, Lincoln is not portrayed as a romantic hero because he simply wasn't. He corrupted officials, seamed to think that democracy is also engaging in war when the enemy does not agree, humiliating your political opponents and finally ask them to sign the 13th amendment. Finally celebrate the idea of democratic voting.
Where the movie fails is it takes 2 1/2 hours to tell the story, the figure Lincoln seams to appear from no where suddenly fighting against slavery. The process behind the man's motivation is taken for granted.
The acting is top class, the action scenes are very scarce but effective, but since the movie is titled Lincoln I expected to see a more complete biography.
Hit and Run (2012)
Forgettable feel good road movie
This a a prime example of the 'New' Hollywood. A storyline and characters who are never really offensive. Some violence, some romance, but nothing out of the ordinary and a typical all-will-be-well-in-the-end. As a result, the movie is easily watchable and the characters never 'stick' to the viewer. It's not bad, but not great either: the next week you'll hardly remember it. As a road movie it doesn't work well: time is too short to show you long unwinding vista's. As a romance movie: well, it's just to sweet. Or how do you explain that a character who is out of a job and really doesn't seam to do anything has a relationship with a well educated and beautiful woman (or perhaps this is what the male audience wants to dream of). As an action movie: the chase isn't that exciting. As a result this 'fusion' movie tries to incorporate all, but fails to deliver well in any department.