Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

August: Osage County (2013)

Image Rights belong to Smokehouse Pictures and The Weinstein Company
Image Rights belong to Smokehouse Pictures and The Weinstein Company

August: Osage County – Film Review

Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson

Director: John Wells

Synopsis: A family is brought together in a time of crisis and chaos and confrontations begin to ensue

Review: With a collection of wonderful actors all in one film, including three time Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts leading the cast, what could go wrong in this tale of a family get together? Well surprisingly, a lot can in this rather depressing tale of a family reunion, one that instead of giving you joy, saps all the happiness out of your soul.

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by Tracy Letts, telling the story of the Westons and their extended family. Father Beverely disappears in an accident and in the resulting crisis, the family members gather together in a time of sadness. You would think this family would be unified in their sadness but the reality is far from it.  Violet Weston (Streep) along with her three daughters Barbara (Julia Roberts),  Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrive to help support their mother who is suffering from cancer and has a narcotics problem. The already gloomy intro of the film sets the benchmark as this family reunion quickly descends into verbal assault matches, intense squabbling and family fighting, and the complete breakdown of family relationships. It starts melancholic and just progressively gets worse.

Almost every character endures one moment in which they are brutally put down by another. Watching these characters fall apart in front of you just saps the joy and happiness out of your soul and replaces it with complete doom and misery.  The films has one or two moments where you may think the doom and gloom is going to be lifted but it is short lived as the dreary and melancholic mood sets in once more and this feeling continues to hang around for a long time after the film has ended.

To the film’s credit, the acting is of a decent order. Meryl Streep has already sealed her place in the Hollywood Hall of Fame as an outstanding actress.  Streep is an actress who could look in a mirror and would get an Oscar nomination. Nevertheless, she does a brilliant job of bringing this emotionally damaged character to life. There are some humorous moments with her character when she puts her daughters down, but these are few and far between. Julia Roberts is another who gives a strong performance as the strong willed daughter of Streep’s character. She is not afraid to stand up to her bossy mother and she pulls it off well.  Both Streep and Roberts have landed Oscar nominations for their roles and they are both well deserved.

Two strong performances from the leading ladies however, do not save the film from the melancholic and depressing tale that it is. The rest of the cast were very indifferent, including an unusually subdued performance from Benedict Cumberbatch. It is sad to watch as this family tears itself apart in the face of adversity and it just sucks all and any of the happiness and joy out of you.  It’s just a sad and depressing tale of family misfortune, and squabbling and one that you would hope does not happen within your own family.

A well acted (for the most part) drama, but the story will probably make you want to tear your own hair out as you watch the relationships within this family disintegrate.

C+

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

wolf of wall street
Image is property of Red Granite Pictures, Appian Way Productions, Sikelia Productions, Emjag Productions, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures

The Wolf of Wall Street – Film Review

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Joanna Lumley

Director: Martin Scorsese

Synopsis: Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort who starts work as a trainee stockbroker before going at it alone by starting his own stockbroker company. He soon acquires a vast fortune through various methods and it is not long before the authorities are on his trail

Review: What do you get if you cross one of the best directors of the current generation, with one of the finest actors working today? Simple really, you get this hilariously entertaining, enthralling account of the life of Jordan Belfort. A life that involved involving stockbroking, money laundering, debauchery and raucous behaviour throughout its three hour running time. Scorsese, in one of his funniest films to date, brings the story of Jordan Belfort to life in an uproarious way that will have you entertained from start to finish.

The story of Belfort is a man who begins his profession as a stockbroker, and through a series of twists and turns eventually sets up his own company that continues to grow and grow making millions upon millions of dollars. Money, money, money, is always at the forefront of his thoughts. However not all of this money has been acquired by legal means. The excitement grows as the FBI are soon on the hunt for Belfort to question. Through this three hour tale, Scorsese gives us a little insight into what the life of someone who works on Wall Street may entail.

Belfort is wonderfully portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. He has several monolgues in the film where it almost feels like he’s talking to you as the viewer and he’s taking you along for the ride. Furthermore whenever he has a microphone in his hand, you pay close attention to what he’s saying. There are (hopefully) no aspirations among audience members to follow DiCaprio down the path he’s taken, but you watch with excitement as his journey unfolds. The ambition that comes from this character ensures the audience are on board with his endeavours.

Another strong performance in the film comes from Jonah Hill in probably his best film role to date. His work in Moneyball earned him his first Oscar nomination, and this performance here earns him another nomination.His character adds  another level to the hilarity that is has already been put on screen. He has some golden moments in this film, one scene in particular with him and DiCaprio that should have you in hysterics. From scene one to the final end scene, this film is packed to the brim with hilarious moments.

Plenty of these scenes are filled with hard drug use and outrageous behaviour that may be too much for some but these scenes while they may be crude in nature, are brilliantly shot and wonderfully acted by everyone involved, including a great cameo appearance from Matthew McConaughey. Margot Robbie also gives a great performance as Belfort’s poor wife Naomi. As the film goes on, she has to put up with her husband’s decadent lifestyle and gets increasingly frustrated by him.

Despite the crude behaviour that is packed throughout this film’s run time, it does not condone the shocking behaviour that is seen. There are consequences for this sort of behaviour and the film really hammers that point home. It’s three hour run time is maybe a bit too long but overall with first class performances from DiCaprio and Hill, combined hilarity throughout, The Wolf of Wall Street  was one raucous and side-splitting piece of story telling that definitely adds itself neatly to the collection of the wonderful filmography of Martin Scorsese.

A solid performance by DiCaprio, with a tremendous supporting turn from both Hill and Robbie, with masterful direction as usual from Scorsese.

a