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Wylie Writes’ Ten Best Movies of 2013

March 2, 2014 1 comment

BestOf2013

By: Addison Wylie

Now that we’ve recognized the bad movies that were slingshot at audiences last year, it’s time to move on and engulf ourselves in the cream of the crop.

2013 introduced a wide variety of great films to audiences.  I feel like I say that every year, but as I scour my selected picks, the only thing these movies share are the odd genre they’re grouped in.

Take documentaries, for example.  Audiences were shown terrific autobiographies that opened their subjects like books.  André Gregory: Before and After Dinner was one that caught my interest.  Gregory is a writer, an actor, a director, an all around theatrical wiz, yet he presents himself as such a humble human being who could easily sweep the average movie goer off their feet.  Director Cindy Kleine doesn’t have to stretch to find a comfortable groove for this pleasant doc.

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Nicky’s Family wasn’t necessarily a straightforward autobiography like André Gregory: Before and After Dinner, but it told a revolutionary story involving Nicholas Winton.  Winton, who rescued Jewish children before WWII, is shown in high regard with Matej Mináč’s film.  Nicky’s Family may look like something you’d find on PBS on a Sunday afternoon, but the doc’s importance could impact a sold-out stadium.

Rounding out the list of sensational documentaries was Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel, a film that snuck onto our radars when the year was winding down.  The message about the importance of safety during extreme sports follows alongside snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s inspirational story.  Walker’s doc is incredible, and you’ll never want to take your eyes off of it.

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There were a few independent films that caught my attention and impressed me with their storytelling.  The Oxbow Cure, for instance, is a film that moves deliberately slow.  However, Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas were able to chill me to the bone with their frigid settings and drawn out creeping.

Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil was a fantastic feature film debut, providing superb performances from actors who could rationalize their drastic arcs quite well.  Sean Garrity’s Blood Pressure was a worthy-enough thriller with an anchoring turn from Michelle Giroux.  The film has its flaws, but I enjoyed myself all the way through this low budget drama.

And, Tower.  I desperately wanted Tower and actor Derek Bogart to receive more recognition for their contributions to Toronto’s indie scene.  It was an uncomfortable, often amusing and unhinged jarring character study from filmmaker Kazik Radwanski.  I’ve seen a lot of fine performances from lots of actors in 2013, but Bogart’s portrayal of a disconnected wanderer stuck with me all year round.

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Of course, I had some mainstream picks.  I thought The Wolf of Wall Street was great fun.  It was a lengthly film, but it showed audiences that Martin Scorsese is still a gutsy filmmaker willing to tackle any genre at any given time.  August: Osage County was another strong contender.  It’s ensemble cast knocked the film out of the park, and frequently had me in stitches.

Blue is the Warmest ColourThe Spectacular Now, and The Way, Way Back were three coming-of-age films that were unforgettable.  All three featured moving performances from everyone involved, the creative minds behind the flicks were fearless, and nothing was sugarcoated.  Movie goers could sense the filmmakers treating the characters with earnest gratitude, which helped sustain the staying power of each flick.

But, enough lollygaging. Let’s take a look at what fleshed out the top spots of 2013.

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Underrated Movies:

Everyday is Like Sunday
It’s A Disaster!
Nicky’s Family
Texas Chainsaw 3D
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Honourable Mentions:

#15. Tatsumi
#14. Charles Bradley: Soul of America
#13. To The Wonder
#12. Nebraska
#11. Short Term 12

Wylie Writes’ Ten Best Movies of 2013

#10. Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers acts as a statement about the impatient youth of today, and about the need for constant change amongst a modern younger generation.

It’s also a stylistic blast and an interesting conversation starter.  Filmmaker Harmony Korine reassures his fans that he isn’t leaving, and he brilliantly introduces younger audiences to a new way to look at movies.

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#9. Her

Spike Jonze’s poignant work is a personal film about an impersonal society. 

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#8. Downloaded

Downloaded is a fantastic documentary on the brink of a remarkable level involving the rise and the inevitable fall of the file trading peer-to-peer service Napster.

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#7. 12 Years a Slave

An absolutely brutal, but rewarding watch that’s extremely well acted by its vast ensemble.

Filmmaker Steve McQueen shows an anthropological side to the relationship between an owner and his slave, as well as a fascinating, stomach churning outlook on how easy it was for people to consider other people “possessions”.

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#6. We Are What We Are

Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are shows a hauntingly humanistic portrayal of something that’s downright unfathomable: cannibalism.  The film is an excellent slow burn with a jaw-dropping payoff.

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#5. A Hijacking

Unfortunately overshadowed, A Hijacking is a riveting docudrama that I hope gets the respect and attention it deserves despite ingredients that some may be seasick about.

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#4. Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club is an all around exceptional piece of work with flawless lead performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. 

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#3. Mud

Like the film’s stoic bluegrass backdrop, Mud resonates quietly.  It’s an outstanding movie with phenomenal acting and careful direction.

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#2. Before Midnight

Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight is brilliantly observant with its authentic portrayal of two people who love – and will always love – each other.  The screenplay is simply one of the best.

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#1. The Place Beyond the Pines

A complete 180° for filmmaker Derek Cianfrance.  This sweeping drama about redemption, fatherhood, and “doing the right thing” is absorbing and never drops the ball.  A true classic in the making.

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‘Ten Best Movies of 2013’ Artwork by: Sonya Padovani

Wylie Writes’ Ten Worst Movies of 2013

March 1, 2014 1 comment

AWBadMovies2013

By: Addison Wylie

As the Oscars approach this Sunday, the time is finally here to reflect on 2013 through a pair of lists – my picks of the best and the worst.  Let’s get the duds out of the way to make way for the flicks that’ll be remembered for years to come.

2013 introduced me to a new type of “bad”.  It was a sub-version spawning off of the type of hatefulness I only save for my bottom three choices.  These films treated its audience like imbeciles and expected us to lap up what they were serving and laugh our faces off – no questions asked.  Instead, they were either smug or flat-out negative.  You can expect to see those soiled diapers at the end of this role call.

Even though I have a main “bottom ten”, I made sure I included some dishonourable mentions in order to cover those who thought they were saved by the odd late entry.  However, there were plenty of stinkers that fell off that additional listing as well.  So, let’s talk about them.

I appreciate filmmakers wanting to be brave with how to tell their film’s story, but some approaches left me befuddled.  In The Wagner Files, someone thought it was a good idea to portray composer Richard Wagner’s life through a broody soap opera with CSI inspired cutaways.  With Thursday Till Sunday, the idea of realistically showing a crumbling family through a mundane road trip backfired immensely because, well, it made the film a bore as well.

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Mainstream films took weird chances too, thinking the audience would applaud their efforts to connect to movie goers.  “Audiences loved Wedding Crashers and adore the Internet, so let’s make a movie called The Internship and have Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson work at Google.  Hilarity is bound to ensue, right?”

This logic also applied to smart aleck genre bending films.  Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters flopped because it wanted to have its cake and eat it too by offering audiences a parody of what movie goers would expect and balancing it out with Resident Evil inspired action sequences.

Funny or Die’s iSteve, an attempt to make a satirical biopic about Steve Jobs, was amusing for the first few minutes, but soon ran out of steam as each joke was pounded into submission.

Children weren’t safe either.  Disney’s haphazard cash-in on the Cars franchise Planes was a wreck without a single sign of creativity in sight.  From Up on Poppy Hill had the visual zest of a vibrant family film, but managed to lull it’s audience into a nap with miscast dubbing and laboured storytelling.

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I won’t lie.  I kind of wished my list would have a Lindsay Lohan triple play.  It would just make matters a bit more interesting with an added novelty.  Unfortunately, I saw worse things than Paul Schrader’s confused drama The Canyons.  Lohan does, however, make two appearances on my bottom ten.

So, without further wait, let’s take a look at the worst of the worst.  Just remember filmmakers, this was a year where James Nguyen made a sequel to his unintentional cult hit Birdemic: Shock and Terror.  Notice how I haven’t mentioned Birdemic 2: The Resurrection until now?  Nguyen made a better movie than all of you.  Think about that for a moment.

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Overrated Movies:

The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Conjuring
Fast & Furious 6
Frozen
When Jews Were Funny

Dishonourable Mentions:

#15. Pain & Gain
#14. The Great Chameleon
#13. Jack the Giant Slayer
#12. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology
#11. InRealLife

Wylie Writes’ Ten Worst Movies of 2013

#10. G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Trying to piece together the film after watching it is a mission in itself.  Trying to follow it as it unfolds on screen is damn near frustrating.

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#9. Adriatico My Love

Nikola Curcin’s romance is unjustifiably cruddy and a cross between a travelogue and a family vacation home video circa 1992.

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#8. Peeples

Peeples is an atom bomb of a comedy and one of the worst Tyler Perry productions movie goers have seen yet.

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#7. Scary Movie 5

Scary Movie 5 is not a funny movie.  I have a hard time justifying this rush job as “a movie”.

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#6. The Frankenstein Theory

Getting a deservedly short theatrical run, The Frankenstein Theory is an uninspired and stupefyingly obvious play-by-play of 1999′s The Blair Witch Project.

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#5. Fondi ’91

I feel embarrassed for Fondi ’91 and for all who were involved with its ill-fated production.  This is a prime example of a movie that needed more rehearsals and more pre-production planning before heading into its slapdash shooting.

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#4. After Earth

Hollow and wooden, with very little to latch on to.  I can’t comprehend After Earth and I’ll never understand it.

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#3. Grown Ups 2

Grown Ups 2 has a neanderthal brian.  It’s another one of these movies where it eventually turns into the cinematic equivalent of Sandler looking at himself in the mirror and winking.

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#2. Identity Thief

Identity Thief is a recipe for disaster – and the movie has no idea.  Who thought it would be a good idea to generate laughs from an irksome, hoarding, annoying, selfish sociopath?

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#1. InAPPropriate Comedy 

Infomercial spokesperson Vince Offer has somehow managed to weasel his racist tirade into cinemas for the world to endure.  Or, for those masochists who boldly seek ways to stress out their patience.  It’s a movie that makes you angry at everyone involved.  It’s not bold or audacious-  just terribly crass and stupid.

If Movie 43 is the worst movie you’ve seen all year, then you’re not ready for InAPPropriate Comedy.  And, I say that because I care about you.

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‘Ten Worst Movies of 2013 ‘ Artwork by: Sonya Padovani

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment

By: Addison WylieHGCatchingFirePoster

It was nice to see a young adult book series stick to its gritty tone and not feel the need to make it lighter for a mainstream audience.  That’s exactly what The Hunger Games did with its first venture to the big screen.

It did, however, succumb to attributes that felt reminiscent to other franchises with a widespread teen audience.  One of these beats being complications with affection between two strapping young lads and a strong willed heroine.  I guess that’s what happens when the franchise is being touted as “the next big thing” for that core crowd.

The second instalment to The Hunger Games story – Catching Fire – is even darker than the first film.  It even affects the movie’s colour palette which has a deeper hue to the riveting visuals.

That said, it doesn’t feel as if Catching Fire is trying to purposely separate itself from other films based on books; this is coming from someone who has never picked up a Hunger Games novel.  It completely stands on its own, but movie goers don’t see this as an intentional decision made by producers.  It’s to stay faithful to source material that has an impending sense of doom.  At least, that’s my estimation.  Fans will be the ultimate judges.

What feels like a large portion of Catching Fire is dedicated to the film’s build up.  Katniss Everdeen (played with force by Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (played effectively by Josh Hutcherson) are now dealing with post-game ceremonies, public appearances and keeping up the facade of the “perfect power couple”.

Scenes between Lawrence and Hutcherson are reserved and moderately paced to fit their growing relationship in the film.  After all, they’re still learning about each other.  These exchanges are competently acted by both leads and have a genuine essence of watching two people warm up to one another.

Then, there are the politics behind the confidence and the celebrity statures Katniss and Peeta have to keep up.  Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and Lenny Kravitz reprise their roles as the couple’s support team and personal relations committee.  They too are putting on an act and have their stakes raised as quickly as Katniss’ and Peeta’s.

Catching Fire is a film that takes place in its own dystopian universe, but these tricks of the trade materializing each strategy brings that much needed realistic depth to the sequel.  These scenes of planning and manipulating while trying to cast emotions aside are actually more captivating than the action itself.

When Katniss and Peeta are thrown into a new game of survival against past winners of The Hunger Games, I was still interested but I wasn’t as excited as Francis Lawrence’s movie wanted me to be.

Everyone competing in the grand game is a great performer ranging from Jenna Malone’s catty Johanna Mason and Jeffrey Wright’s conserved tech wiz Beetee Latier.  However, it’s as if everyone’s been directed to downplay nearly every element of the battle.  When the brawl gets lively, it catches us off guard and it’s fleeting to boot.

I can appreciate the filmmaker wanting to apply the same taut poker faced suspense that worked wonders earlier in the film.  But, when these characters are faced with more critical life-or-death circumstances, I expect to see everyone sweat a bit more.

The Hunger Games was a good film overall and a pleasant welcoming into a new world.  While Catching Fire’s second and third acts are not as enthralling as I hoped they would be, the sequel is still a notch above its predecessor.  This series is heading in a progressive direction.  Bring on Mockingjay!

About Time

February 8, 2014 Leave a comment

By: Addison WylieATposter

Everyone knows of Richard Curtis’ work one way or another – usually more so with a predominant female audience.  Those women have usually caught these films when they’ve wanted to watch a cute chick flick with friends or they’ve caught the films on television during a cozy night in.  Fellas, most of you have likely been dragged – er, have volunteered – to watch these romances with significant others.

I may sound like I’m pigeonholing Curtis’ career into something that only panders to gender, but consider this a minor backhanded compliment.  The British filmmaker makes classic romantic comedies and have swept up audiences with pleasing results.  For instance, Love, Actually went on to accumulate a massive audience of men and women and is now essential viewing around Christmas.

About Time can join Love, Actually as a crowd pleasing knock out.  This time, he tells a love story that has more science fiction to it – although it’s still all done using his fluffy, smile inducing dominance.

It’s no surprise that the film is adorable in ways only British charm tends to be – more or less acting as a warm fuzzy.  The likability laces Curtis’ writing and is in full effect as we root for our good natured ginger leading man Tim Lake (played with all the right stuff by Domhnall Gleeson).  He finds out through his father (played by Bill Nighy) that all the men in the Lake family have a knack that allows them to travel through the past and return to the present.  Tim’s only wish is to find a girlfriend and hopes this newfound power will give him the extra do-overs he’ll need to impress the ladies.

Soon, he meets Mary (played by Rachel McAdams) and by harmlessly manipulating the past in order to re-capture their first sights of each other, they start to grow fond of one another.

To be blunt, About Time covers its ass quite well when it comes to the film’s time travel explanations.  Bringing time travel into any story makes for a daring and sometimes impossible juxtaposition to pull off.  Curtis keeps the physics simple and only explains the thoughtful logic when absolutely necessary.

The time traveling leads to situational comedy with easily acceptable sweetness by the performers.  Gleeson is amiable as he tries to figure out how to wiggle out of awkward exchanges.  His nervous quirks have a good fit within the character and his romance with the equally enjoyable McAdams.  The laughs never feel like Curtis is asking too much from his viewers.  These are genuine laugh-out-loud moments.

About Time, however, is not afraid to become serious.  And when it does, it doesn’t feel like a drastic dampening.  Curtis is out to make his audience feel to the point of tears – be prepared.  This is a movie where the filmmaker asks if you’re crying yet.  If you’re not, he has a final play that will have you choking up.

These more emotional moments aren’t contrived or out of place.  I never felt like Curtis was wringing me out for emotion or being too persuasive with this deeper material.  He supplies just enough to get his actors working on the other half of the job to truly move the audience – it works in spades.

Whether you’re willingly ready for a warm chick flick or paying back a favour to your partner for taking them to see that glaring action blockbuster, you’ll be taken with About Time.  It plays all the right notes without falling into the banalities of a formula.  Everyone performs well and the nuances are all spot on and honest.

Days after you see this well made movie, you’ll still hold it higher than any other romantic comedy you’ve seen in recent memory.  And, during television re-watches on those cozy nights, I bet you’ll think About Time is still actually a lovely film.

Her

February 3, 2014 1 comment

By: Addison Wylieherposter

“Bittersweet” is the best word to describe Her.  Spike Jonze has taken our bad habits with technology and projected them to frame an original love story with messages of poignancy.  It’s a personal film about an impersonal society.

The characters on-screen are closed off to everyone around them.  Among them is writer Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix who is a spitting image of Napoleon Dynamite’s “womanizing” brother Kip).  People are enjoyably and passively soaked into their own world via their devices, and don’t show any attachment – or interest – to the outside world.

As audiences acknowledge that Jonze’s vision of the future isn’t too far off from how we live now, we also fathom how secluded we’ve become because of how modern technology provides everything we need – including social activity.

It’s not just people who are shutting themselves out.  Virtually every location in Her is concealed.  Walkways are cavernous, buildings tower together to make a domed environment, and Twombly’s work and living space closes him off with limited interactivity.  It’s not until he begins talking with his new personalized operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson playing the role of “Samantha”) that he begins breathing in the outside.

Jonze doesn’t show us our antisocial dirty laundry in a cynical way that scolds us for being shallow.  In fact, the most impressive quality about Her is that it doesn’t mock or speak down to its audience.  The filmmaker recognizes and observes our society’s current state, and accepts it.  Her is simply a “head’s up” to one of the paths our lives could take if we continue ignoring.

Twombly, who’s gradually trying to muster the strength to sign off on his divorce papers, opens up to Samantha – a relationship buds.  Since his OS is the only entity who can see into his documented life through his computer, Samantha is the only one who “gets” Theodore.

Her ways aren’t used to manipulate our lead into a gullible twit.  Her inquisitive talks involve Theodore in a way that only his ex-wife could.

As Her flies along, Samantha and Theodore’s relationship blooms.  They both admit that their involvements with each other are introducing them to new things.  Especially Samantha, who is quickly evolving as she writes her own work and experiences Theodore’s sheepish attentiveness.

The connection between Phoenix and Johansson is strong and constantly watchable.  That says a lot since one half of this duo is never seen on screen.  Johansson does a terrific job at developing her audible performance, but Phoenix is sensational as an apprehensive one-man show.

Jonze, who also wrote the script, gets inside the head of someone who is sheltered and successfully establishes them over time in an authentic manner.  His screenplay says beautiful statements about the ups and downs of love, growing up and growing apart, as well as having an observant eye for gawky sweetness without hitting any easy targets.

The competency in the writing continues after the exchanges between Theodore and his OS.  Conversations between Theodore and his friend Amy (played by Amy Adams) are very dear and tender.  Amy, who is also having a tough time herself figuring out the game of “love”, finds her talks with Theodore to be cathartic.  The friendship between these characters is well drawn with real feelings of aggravation and lightheartedness.

If I have a main criticism towards Jonze’s script, it’s regarding the brewing of a dicey “fourth act”.  Around the 90-minute mark, Jonze approaches a possible wrap-up that feels like a natural close to this story.  However, he drives past the exit.

The remainder of Her is constructed well and continues to hold our attention, but there are a couple of moments where it feels as if Jonze is thinking on-the-fly and trying to cover up his missed opportunity.  There were instances where I thought, “where exactly is this going?” only to be surprised to see the final outcome offer movie goers a touchingly humanistic conclusion to this delicate love story.  As an afterthought, I suppose I kind of liked that feeling of not knowing where Her was leading me.

Her is bound to sink into our subconscious soon after watching.  It goes to show that a filmmaker doesn’t have to put up a fuss to establish an opinion on modern day romance and why personable connections are important.  They also don’t have to make a stink about materializing irony and poking at known introverted faults.  Approaching the topics with elegance and civility earns Jonze splendid scenes of emotion and humour.

Spike Jonze, who has shown in early music videos to be an untamed visionary, has grown up to be a delicate filmmaker who can sensibly talk about issues while building an interesting story around them.

I would say we need more filmmakers like Spike Jonze in the world, but I like how we have only one artist like him.  Like Theodore’s Samantha, he’s a wonder of a storyteller who is a marvel to behold.

August: Osage County

February 1, 2014 1 comment

By: Addison WylieAugustOsageCountyposter

As far as films with an ensemble cast go, August: Osage County is among the best.

Its star studded line-up filled out by Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis (just to name a few) is enough to get movie goers in seats.  What pays off even more are the exceptional performances during the constant sparring between these highly dysfunctional family members.

The Westons have a large family and appear to have it together from afar.  To get a closer look at their nippy relationships would require Jeremy Renner’s cumbersome hurt locker suit.  Streep takes over the role of uncensored Violet, and its her sniping attitude along with the heavy Southern heat that start the tension fuelled arguments.

As the family reunites to mourn the loss of one of their own, skeletons can’t help but fall out of the family’s individual closets.  Secrets, brutal truths, and hidden motivations are revealed at a painstakingly uneasy roll out – all done on purpose with jet black humour and no signs of soapy qualities.

The revelations in August: Osage County are being adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name.  It’s playwright Tracy Letts has written the film adaptation and filmmaker John Wells takes the directorial helm.

The audience doesn’t feel like we’re watching a straight copy of what theatre goers have already caught.  Wells has given the film it’s own cinematic atmosphere while staying faithful to the bottled restraint of scenes featuring the family placed at one setting for a long duration.

The dinner table is where most of the airing out occurs, and the actors have been given pages of dialogue to memorize.  Yet, this superbly written scene is one for the books as we’re slowly pulled into the distressing and occasionally funny tempers.

Wells doesn’t let the written work discourage his filmmaking abilities and he’s able to rise to the complicated adaptation.  Some scenes are a little too literal with their meanings and character development, but it hardly steps over a line.

I did leave August: Osage County trying to figure out what the overall point of it all was.  It’s unclear and scattershot as to what audiences are supposed to draw from it.  Is it here to teach a lesson or is this Letts’ twisted idea of entertainment?

Either way, it’s a rare case where I wouldn’t mind revisiting this complicated family to figure it out.  I wouldn’t mind at all.  Given how unlikable these characters are, that’s rare for this critic.

It’s a statement towards how impressive the stacked cast is with this material as well as how the film’s sweltering and dusty locations have been utilized.  Underneath it all is a group of artists painting a twisted portrait of kin who resist becoming their elders but can’t help falling into order anyways.

The Wolf of Wall Street

January 31, 2014 2 comments

By: Addison WylieWoWSposter

You have to hand it to Martin Scorsese.  At age 71 with dozens of classics under his belt to which he directed, he still has the courage to make a provocative fireball of a movie like The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Wolf of Wall Street chronicles the fast track lifestyle of real life wall street broker Jordan Belfort.  Belfort is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who soaks in the shadiness with a boisterous role that challenges the actor in unimaginable ways.

It can be argued that living a filthy rich life whilst being surrounded by dazzling women is not too far of a stretch for the charming actor.  However, this is definitely the first time a film has asked DiCaprio to play a hard-edged, untrustworthy loud money grubber who has to hold a balance between being charismatic and being a smarmy ass.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Scorsese’s film exposes Belfort and his excessive ways in too much of a positive light.  According to The Wolf of Wall Street, partaking in lots of partying as well as snorting and huffing a lot of drugs didn’t put Belfort on too much of a crash course.  The film proposes that his debauchery may have made him more likeable towards co-workers and opened more business opportunities for the millionaire.  Scorsese doesn’t shy away from any consequences, however.

We see that Belfort’s work is all fun and games, but it never detracts from why these activities are considered lewd and criminal.  We like watching the insanity unfold and watching these guys get into trouble during the calamities, but the audience never wishes to be involved in any way.

It’s the American dream turned on its ear.  The satire is always noticeable and Scorsese doesn’t rub our face in it – no matter how wild the film’s life gets.

Terence Winter (who is adapting from Belfort’s autobiography) does a fine job at keeping the attitude of his screenplay upbeat but also maintaining the criticalness of what happened in Belfort’s turmoil.  You may question how much the screenwriter has elaborated for heightened visuals, but The Wolf of Wall Street doesn’t step away from the central truth of a situation.

What I admire most about Scorsese’s latest is that he isn’t afraid for his film to dabble in other genres.  It’s almost protocol by this point for biopics to be a little stuffy for fear that the film may disrespect the subject.  It’s better to play it safe than to stick your neck out and possibly be offensive.

Given the nature and riskiness of Belfort’s acts, Scorsese comprehends that a lot of what happened could have stronger resonance if the zippy tone oscillates between being a routine recap and trailing into a slapstick cartoon.  And, that’s what the filmmaker does fantastically.

Understandably, labelling specific sequences as simply “slapstick cartoons” undercuts the impact of these scenes.  There’s more to them outside of the comedy.  There’s one extended scene where Belfort and his cohort Donnie Azoff (played to great effect by Jonah Hill) ingest expired drugs.  The delayed hallucinogenic trip, however, makes the boys pay a price at a tricky time.

The physical comedy is brilliantly played for hilarious results, all the while mirroring the characters’ high stakes.  It’s one of the most memorable movie moments from 2013.

These funnier times don’t deter the momentum though.  The film manages to still make stockbroker politics into a topic that is easy for us to follow, and we get loads of hearty moments from the supporting cast.

Along the way, the movie touches upon office behaviours that teeter on fraternity antics.  Scorsese even humours the fact that Belfort could’ve been seen as a god amongst the penny stocks, prostitutes, and copious amounts of blow and quaaludes.  Scorsese, being a smart guy, doesn’t plunge too much into that heavy-handed symbolism and focuses more on the qualities of Stratton Oakmont that made employees feel protected and invulnerable when faced with any sort of measure.  It’s when the film has to take on another balancing act: utmost joy and foreboding misfortune.

The Wolf of Wall Street is a three hour film that moves along nicely.  That isn’t to say the film could be trimmed here and there to make the overall experience even more digestible to the average Joe who’s only here for the office antics.  But, if those movie goers are game enough to endure unthinkable inhabited wackiness and dirty money, they’re going to be thrilled with where the movie takes them.

To those who may find the crassness to be a bit much: there’s still a razor sharp script apparent and enough praiseworthy performances and versatile direction to send you home with a smile.