Tag Archives: Martin Scorsese

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Wolf_of_Wall_Street_Poster“The Wolf of Wall Street” lets you relish in unparalleled no holds barred debauchery while increasingly disillusioning the fun and games with the nasty reality of the situation along the way.

The film is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a guy who kicked off his career on Wall Street with the best intentions, but threw all of his morals out the window in exchange for money, women and drugs. Jordan founded Stratton Oakmont and reveled in the lucrative business of selling fraudulent stocks at his costumers’ expense, but there was just so long he could carry on making scenes, crashing cars and drowning himself in Quaaludes before the FBI caught on.

Having read the real Belfort’s memoir, I walked into Martin Scorsese’s feature adaptation knowing what the character is capable of, but apparently I wasn’t capable of imagining the true extent of Belfort’s antics while reading the book because on screen, the behavior is above and beyond. There’s no reason to like the guy. He cheats on his wives, robs innocent people of their hard-earned money and is absolutely wasted the large majority of the movie, but at the same time, it’s so easy to understand why he gets away with it for so long. He’s a total charmer and an absolute blast to hang out with.

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Interview: Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and the Team Behind Wolf of Wall Street

Wolf_of_Wall_StreetIt isn’t easy getting a movie made, even for guys like Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. Then again, considering the duo was out to make a movie about a notorious stockbroker with an insatiable sexual drive, obsessive lust for drugs and habit of indulging in highly debauch activities, it is somewhat understandable that studios were hesitant to bring Jordan Belfort’s story to screen.

The Wolf of Wall Street covers Belfort’s (DiCaprio) rise in the stockbroking realm in the 1990s. He walks in hungry for money, but strives to attain it honestly. However, the instant he gets a taste of life with the big bucks, it flips a switch and he’s got no problem throwing all of his morals out the window in exchange for enormous paychecks, an endless supply of Quaaludes and the ability to keep his firm on top, even if he has to scam his clients to make it happen.

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Interview: Hugo’s Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz And More

What better way to spend the most magical time of year than by seeing a particularly magical and inspiring movie? No, this isn’t a review – that you can find right here – but there’s really no way to talk about Hugo without being swept right back up by that incredible adventure.

Based on Brian Selznick’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo tells the tale of a young orphan named Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who keeps the clocks running in a 1930s Paris train station by day and tries to finish his deceased father’s work by night, restoring an old automaton. In attempt to find the pieces to fix the elaborate machine, Hugo targets Georges Méliès’ (Sir Ben Kingsley) train station toy stand. And yes, that’s Georges Méliès as in the iconic filmmaker of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Méliès catches Hugo in the act and after finding some stolen goods and Hugo’s notebook of automaton instructions, rather than merely reprimand him, Méliès is so distressed by his findings he takes and threatens to burn Hugo’s notebook. However, with the help of Méliès’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), Hugo not only comes closer to fixing the automaton, but fixing Méliès, too.

In honor of Hugo’s November 23rd release, a large portion of the gang assembled for a press conference. Producer Graham King, screenwriter John Logan, the station inspector Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisette the flower shop owner Emily Mortimer, Moretz, Butterfield, Kingsley and novelist Brian Selznick all came out to talk about working with Scorsese, dabbling in film history while making a film and so much more. Check out some of the highlights in the transcription below.

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Review: Hugo

Part of the beauty of filmmaking, is the ability to transport viewers to another reality. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, filmmaker Georges Méliès seized the opportunity to put stop tricks and painted film cells to use, combining his skills as a magician and filmmaker to, quite literally, bring dreams to life. Ultimately, we’re still doing the very same thing today, but with the wildly advanced technology and more thorough understanding of storytelling, director Martin Scorsese has created one of the most successful attempts at bringing an audience into the movie with Hugo.

It’s the 1930s in Paris, France. After losing his father (Jude Law) in a terrible fire, young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is forced to live with his only relative, his uncle, Claude (Ray Winstone). A far from responsible drunk, Claude pulls Hugo out of school and shows him the ropes at work, teaching Hugo to keep the clocks running at a Paris train station. And it’s a good thing, too, because when Claude leaves Hugo to his lonesome, it’s up to Hugo to keep things timely.

When he isn’t tending to his train station duties, Hugo is hard at work at the one thing his father left behind, an automaton. Hugo regularly snatches up food and milk from the train station vendors and also frequents grumpy old Georges Méliès’ (Ben Kingsley) toy stand, a place prime for automaton part collecting. When Méliès catches Hugo in the act, he demands the boy empty his pockets. Amidst the usual mess of rogue toy parts is a notebook with automaton drawings and instructions that oddly rub Méliès the wrong way. When Méliès takes Hugo’s precious notebook, Hugo turns to Méliès’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), for help and the two discover they have a lot to offer one another, Isabelle helping Hugo get his automaton up and running and Hugo giving Isabelle a taste of adventure.

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Better on the Page: ‘Shutter Island’ Demystified

Shutter Island was the hottest new thing from Martin Scorsese for quite a while, not just because it featured a massive topnotch cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, but because the film was delayed. We got all pumped for October 2nd, 2009 just to find out we’d have to wait until February 19th, 2010, only a month and half before the big day. Why did the news sting so badly? Because I took the time to read the Dennis Lehane novel it was adapted from and absolutely loved it.

I’m not a big reader to being with. I was one of those kids in high school who immediately ran to Blockbuster or sifted through the CliffNotes library in search of an easy way out as soon as a book was assigned. Textbook reading kept me busy through college, but upon entering the real world, in my very first job post-graduation particularly, I realized there was a lot of down time to be filled. I worked as a local news “news assistant,” which is basically a camera person and producer combined. I’d sit outside a courthouse for hours waiting to catch a ten second quote from a defendant or in the parking lot of a police precinct until I could get a shot of a perp stepping into a cop car. Combine all that downtime with my movie obsession and you get my favorite hobby, reading books being adapted to film.

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Review: Shutter Island

Handling a major plot twist is no easy task. Letting it go unnoticed is not fun for the audience, but slipping and providing a hint so substantial will make the investigation work too easy. Shutter Island runs into trouble with both, but particularly the latter. Dennis Lehane’s novel is so effective because it requires the reader to use the mind and develop his or her own perception. Martin Scorsese’s film, on the other hand, blatantly lays out all of the details and attempts to throw you off track with elements that feel misplaced.

Two ‘duly appointed Federal Marshals’ (in DiCaprio’s Boston accent, of course) are assigned to investigate a missing persons case. But this is no ordinary missing person. Rachel Solando is a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital on Shutter Island, a facility for the insanely dangerous. From the moment they step foot on the island Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) get a taste of the amalgamation of warmth, eeriness and violence Ashecliffe has to offer.

Employees like Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and Deputy Warden McPherson (John Carroll Lynch) are eager to help with the investigation, but it’s clear their keenness has its limits. As the investigation continues an intense storm bears down on the island and Teddy begins to uncover the hospital’s darker side, which he suspects involves immoral medical experiments. Additionally, Teddy’s own demons come to the forefront in the form of debilitating migraines and sinister dreams of his late wife. The further he digs, the clearer it becomes that something is amiss at Ashcliffe and he’s about to be consumed by it.

Shutter Island is reliant on its eeriness as is Ashcliffe Hospital. From the moment the film begins, a bold score provides a backbone for a series of grayscale images and a terribly troubled looking DiCaprio. Those colorless moments are contradicted by more vibrant shots of the facility grounds. The beautiful courtyard is peppered with disturbed patients demonstrating their lunacy, offering a successfully troublesome paradox.

The uneasiness breaks down as the job of creating apprehension is passed on to the hospital staff. Rather than offer subtle hints that something isn’t quite right, Dr. Cawley and his team provide an overdose making the audience’s game of playing detective nearly effortless. The twist isn’t given away completely, but viewers are put on the right track much too early taking the suspense out of the latter portion of the film.

Occasionally Teddy’s dream sequences help break up the monotony of him and Chuck lurking around the hospital premises. This is where the cinematography is at its height. Director of Photography Robert Richardson is on point the entire film, but it’s during Teddy’s fantasies that the imagery becomes the key to making the occurrence so powerful. These dreams are very strange and somewhat hard to digest. This is appropriate considering the nature of the material, but Scorsese takes it a step too far showing a few overly graphic scenes involving children. Rather than purport the intended effect illuminating the drastic plight of the characters, its high degree of aversion removes the viewer from the moment.

That’s the film’s sole disconnect. Even with the lack of tension, Shutter Island is still engaging, which is largely due to stellar performances. First and foremost, DiCaprio is the heart of this film. For any sane individual the happenings on Shutter Island are nearly impossible to understand, but DiCaprio’s ability to effectively portray every asset of Teddy’s disturbed mind makes it seem impossibly real. The rest of the cast does a fine job, but the two that stand out are Emily Mortimer and Jackie Earl Haley both of whom are responsible for the film’s most memorable and threatening moments. The sole character that doesn’t have a lasting effect is Chuck. This is the result of poor adaptation work rather than a weak performance. Not enough attention is paid to the connection between Teddy and Chuck making Teddy’s dedication to Chuck unjustifiable.

Regardless of the errors made throughout the film, the ultimate sentiment will rely on the reaction to the ending. There is a twist and it’s a big one. Rather than pave a smooth path to the finale, Scorsese jerks the audience around between blatant revelations and confusing diversions. Eventually the all too obvious hints overcome the attempts at maintaining the uncertainty and the outcome is less rewarding than it could have been.

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Interview: Emily Blunt is The Young Victoria

It’s always a challenge to accurately portray a particular character. The actor must appease the expectations of the director, the writer and the producers. Yes, he or she must also gain the approval of the audience, but that’s after the fact. In the case of a period piece, the actor must think beyond the filmmakers and consider the approval of any administrations involved, having the character resonate with unfamiliar foreign audiences and, most importantly, having an in depth knowledge of who this figure really was in every facet.

The Young Victoria stars Emily Blunt as the princess who ascends the throne at just 18 years old. Looked upon as young and easily influenced, an assortment of royals, even her own mother (Miranda Richardson), pressures her to make decisions for their personal gain rather than the good of the country. It isn’t until her budding relationship with her cousin Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) transitions into a marriage that she realizes, unlike everyone else in her life, he has no intentions of being controlling and overbearing, just to be her loving husband and equal.

ComingSoon.net had the opportunity to attend a roundtable interview with the actress who enlightened us on the burdens and joys of taking on such a dynamic and historically significant character.

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