Paris, je t’aime (Movie Review)

KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!

I have a confession to make. I’m not that proud of it, but I feel like I need to own up to it if I ever want a chance at a happy, productive life.

As a general rule, I’m extremely uninterested in watching non-American movies.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a xenophobe. Some of my best friends are non-American (Me, for example). And I’m not saying that all foreign movies are bad either. I grew up with Spanish-language movies (Of which there are many great ones) and, being Canadian, I’ve seen and enjoyed my fair share of Canadian movies. Foreign movies like Hot FuzzIn Bruges and Pan’s Labyrinth should all be mandatory viewing in elementary schools the world over, in my opinion.

LSD-fueled terror is essential to any grade schoolers’ education.

Now that I think of it, it might actually be more appropriate to correct my confession: I don’t necessarily dislike foreign films, but I’m usually wary of movies from mainland Europe, mainly because of the darker, more introspective and, dare I say, pseudo-intellectual style that these movies tend to have. Look, I get that not every movie can be a goddamn Wes Anderson film, but does that really mean we have to sign off on Serbian Film?

I mean shit, I know that it’s extremely prejudiced and ignorant of me to assume that an entire continent’s worth of film production resembles Cannibal Holocaust, but I still can’t help giving these movies a wide berth. That’s why I decided to review Paris, je t’aime, (Paris, I Love You) a 2006 French anthology film, to kind of ease myself into European movies.

As it turns out, it really wasn’t that far from my comfort  zone (And really, why the hell would it be?) but I figured it was still worth reviewing.
 Paris, je t’aime 

 Directed by: Bruno Podalydès, Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, Gus  Van Sant, Joel and Ethan Coen, Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas, Christopher  Doyle, Isabel Coixet, Nobuhiro Suwa, Sylvain Chomet, Alfonso Cuarón,  Olivier Assayas, Oliver Schmitz, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Wes  Craven, Tom Tykwer, Frédéric Auburtin, Gérard Depardieu, Alexander Payne

 Produced by: Emmanuel Benbihy, Claudie Ossard

 Written by: The aforementioned directors, Emmanuel Benbihy, Rain Kathy Li, Gabrielle Keng Peralta, Gena Rowlands, Nadine Eid

Genres: Mainly Romance, Comedy, Drama

 Starring: Bruno Podalydès, Florence Muller, Cyril Descours, Leïla Bekhti,  Gaspard Ulliel, Elias McConnell, Marianne Faithfull, Steve Buscemi, Axel Kiener, Julie Bataille, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Barbet Schroeder, Li Xin, Leonor Watling, Sergio Castellitto, Miranda Richardson, Javier Camara, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Martin Combes, Paul Putner, Yolande Moreau, Nick Nolte, Ludivine Sagnier, Maggie Gylenhaal, Lionel Dray, Seydou Boro, Aïssa Maïga, Bob Hoskins, Fanny Ardent, Elijah Wood, Olga Kurylenko, Emily Mortimer, Rufus Sewell, Alexander Payne, Natalie Portman, Melchior Beslon, Ben Gazzara, Gena Rowlands, Gérard Depardieu, Margo Martindale

Plot(s): Paris je t’aime is an anthology film, meaning that it’s not just one continuous storyline, but a series of several (In this case, eighteen) short films, each with their own storyline, director, writer and actors. In this case, each one of the films are named after the Parisian neighbourhood where they take place (Although scenes were also filmed in Switzerland, Germany and Lichtenstein).  Some notable short films in Paris, je t’aime include:

  • Steve Buscemi getting assaulted in a Paris subway station.
  •  A beauty product salesman (Barbet Schroeder) trying to sell a product to a Chinese hairdresser (Li Xin).
  • A young man (Cyril Descours) coming to the aid of a young Muslim woman ( Leïla Bekhti) after she is bullied by a couple of racists. 
  • A mime propositions women, gets rejected.
  • Maggie Gylenhaal develops a crush on her hashish dealer.
  • A vampire (Olga Kurylenko) terrorizes Frodo Baggins.
  • An American tourist (Margo Martindale) reflects in broken French on her vacation in Paris.

I feel like the most important thing in a movie like this, that is, a romantic movie that also serves as an homage to the City of Lights, would be to make sure that it doesn’t stray into sappy, overly sentimental territory with occasional pretty vistas in Paris littered throughout. Indeed, there are times in the early going when PJT can stray dangerously close to being kinda eye-rollingly sweet, but it never really crosses the line and remains a very entertaining movie, while also juggling different themes and genres without letting it get out of hand.

Well, at least until the “Porte de Choisy” sketch (The one about the Chinese hairdresser) , which tries way too fucking hard to be quirky, a constant pain in the ass of mine since Napoleon Dynamite.  It throws all these bright, disorienting colours at you and tries to make its’ point (About beauty in uniqueness, or something) so incoherently that it felt like it was directed by Baz Luhrmann.

To it’s credit though, the only real hiccup the movie hits after that is the weird vampire scene with Elijah Wood and Olga Kurylenko. And I don’t even know if I would really call that one a hiccup, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to feel after watching it other than confused and somewhat disturbed.

Otherwise, though, the movie does a fantastic job of making the audience go through a whirlwind of emotions throughout, possibly because of the slew of different directors used. The comedic skits (I feel like these comprised the majority) are very well done and never unnecessarily dry or dark, meaning that we end these short films with a pleasant lighthearted feeling, which makes the scenes that ARE  a little darker and hard hitting that much more of a punch in the gut. I suppose this can leave the audience feel a little bit numb, which isn’t really a positive, but hey, this isn’t really that big of a complaint.

Another minor flaw can be found in the writing, in that I think that it can try a little bit too hard to be deep and introspective occasionally, which can be muddling for my poor reptilian brain to process, but for the most part, it’s a smart, intelligent and funny script that competently does what it needs to do to set things up for the enormous ensemble cast, which mostly consists of European actors unrecognizable to the average North American moviegoer, which is kind of a damn shame, because they do a pretty freaking great job countering some of their more well known counterparts, such as Bob fucking Hoskins, Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Willem Dafoe and, be still my beating heart, Natalie Portman. Every actor, A-lister or otherwise, does an excellent job of really drawing the audience in and making these characters interesting, which is somewhat tough to do when all you’re given is around ten-ish minutes to make an audience care about that character.

“How hard could it possibly be? I’m Natalie-fucking-Portman!”

Conclusion: While not without its’  fair share of flaws, Paris, je t’aime makes up for them, mainly on the strength of the performances and the emotional journey the viewer is taken on.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie Review)

Pictured: A scene in Captain America in which fake Robert Redford plays a character whom real Robert Redford would fight valiantly to defeat. Or at least donate a shit-ton of movie to help defeat.

And to think that if you were to come up to me after I watched those god-awful Fantastic Four movies and try to convince me that the guy who played the Human Torch would ever star in a superhero movie again, I would have laughed, and laughed and laughed…

 Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Produced by: Kevin Feige

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Based on: Captain America by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Sequel to: Captain America: The First Avenger

Series: Marvel Cinematic Universe (9th installment)

Genres: Superhero, Action Thriller

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson,Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily  VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson

 

Plot: Two years after the battle of New York in The Avengers, the cryogenically preserved title character, World War II superhero Steve Roger, code-name: Captain America (Chris Evans) is keeping himself busy trying to catch up with 65-ish years of pop culture and news, and carrying out missions for S.H.I.E.L.D., the shadowy spy agency led by one-eyed badass Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), accompanied by deadly super-spy Natasha Romanoff, code-name: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a lethal S.T.R.I.K.E. team led by Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo). During a mission to rescue hostages being held by Algerian mercenary Georges Batroc (Georges St-Pierre! Seriously!!!), Cap discovers that Fury tasked Romanoff not with saving the hostages, but with extracting data from the ship’s computers for Fury.

When Cap confronts Fury about this, he is briefed by his boss on the brand new Project Insight, which consists of three enormous helicarriers linked to spy satellites, designed to eliminate terrorist threats before they get serious. In other words, it’s Dick Cheney’s wet dream. Fury tries to sell Rogers on the project, but Steve, still an advocate of fun little things like “freedom” and “fair trials”, is disturbed. However, when Fury tries to decrypt the files that Black Widow stole, he is not only denied access, but, on his way to a rendezvous with fellow agent Maria Hill, he is assaulted by a hardass Soviet assassin known only as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). After the attack, Rogers is unable to reveal any information about the attack to senior S.H.I.E.L.D. director Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), who declares him a fugitive. Rogers, accompanied by Black Widow and his friend, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) embark on a journey to uncover the truth about the Winter Soldier… And some bad apples who have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.

Anybody who’s going into this movie thinking that it’s gonna be your typical Saturday morning cartoon-turned superhero movie (Avengers, Thor, Amazing Spider-Man the first Captain America) should know that they will be not disappointed, but kind of jarred by the tone of this movie. Right off the bat almost, the audience is shown that this will not be a light-hearted almost-comedy like Marvel movies tend to be, as Captain America, Black Widow and the Winter Soldier often get into prolonged, somewhat brutal fight sequences with terrorists and S.H.I.E.L.D., which often end in graphic death, not exactly something you’re used to seeing in superhero movies.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Tarantino film, and the movie has its’ lighthearted moments. Especially the comedic scenes between Cap and Natasha, but this is in no way, shape or form a movie that I would be comfortable taking my hypothetical  children to see. When I saw it, there were parents in the theater who were clearly regretting taking their very young kids to see it.

This isn’t meant to be a discredit to the movie though. I love me some graphic violence, and it makes sense to me that the different superheroes of the MCU should each have their different film genres (Iron man gets sci-fi action comedies, Thor gets fantasies, Hulk gets tragic dramas and Captain America gets gritty semi-political action thrillers).

Sure, the plot does suffer from a little bit of the Thor: The Dark World malaise of making the plot a little bit more complicated than it really needs to be (And, in fact, the two screenwriters for this movie also co-wrote the second Thor movie), but it’s really not so bad in this case. The plot is mostly airtight, with the often risky political overtones actually feeling important to the story and not shoehorned in for a phony sense of urgency. I, personally think that they should’ve  played up the whole “spying on innocents” angle, but that’s probably just my pesky left-wing liberal bias.

And maximum kudos to the Russo brothers, who had previously been known for directing episodes of Happy Endings, Community and the good seasons of Arrested Development, for crafting a movie that is way out of their comfort zones, with some kickass fight scenes that may be some of the best I’ve ever seen, even including an awesome fight scene at the beginning between Cap an UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre. You aren’t gonna see any of that shit in Arrested Development.

As for actors, There isn’t a weak link among the cast. Chris Evans is everything you’d want in a charismatic superhero lead, and has grown a lot as an actor since his nauseating performance as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. Scarlett Johansson is great as Black Widow and Anthony Mackie makes a great impression as a Marvel newcomer. Robert Redford is wonderful as the somewhat shady Alexander Pierce, and Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier is probably the best Marvel villain so  far apart, of course, from Loki.

Conclusion: Dark and violent while also funny and entertaining, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best MCU movies released so far (I’d put it just behind Iron Man in second and The Avengers in first) and the best movie in Marvel’s second phase.

9/10

A message of congratulations to the Toronto Blue Jays

Wow, you almost can’t tell that Sergio Santos just turned in the worst relief appearance in Blue Jays history. Almost.

Dear Toronto Blue Jays front office, management and players:

You played a fantastic pair of games yesterday. You have nothing to be ashamed about. Honest! Most teams would tremble at the thought of facing the mighty Minnesota Twins. Never mind that Joe Mauer schmuck. Most anybody would be damn near terrified to face the wrath of such perennial all-stars such as Chris Herrmann and Kurt Suzuki. No wonder you all  pitched around Josmil Pinto the way that you guy did. I would have too. Sure, he’s barely hitting .200, but it’s still early and a superstar like him is bound to break out at any time.

Seen Here: Josmil “The Destroyer of Worlds” Pinto.

It’s a wonder that you made it to the seventh inning with a lead, frankly. Even with the marvelous four innings that Dustin McGowan threw, giving up only three runs, six hits and four walks, you still held on to a pitiful 5-3 lead. Don’t get me wrong though, you should all count yourselves very lucky to hold a lead against a team that smart money has picked to finish second-last only to the Astros in the American League.

John Gibbons doesn’t need to blame himself for this. It’s not his fault that his brilliant strategy of “taking good, solid pitchers like Neil Wagner and Brett Cecil out of the game way before they’re out of gas” didn’t work out. All revolutionary actions are bound to hit a rough spot at some point,mainly due to the fact that they’re highly illogical,  but they’re also eventually recognized for the sheer brilliance that they are, no matter how much of a toll they take on your bullpen.

Or, in some cases, your life expectancy.

And could you really blame Sergio Santos for his implosion of Ricky Romero-like proportions? I’m not even gonna joke about this anymore, because there is no positive way to spin this. Three wild pitches in an inning? Are you fucking serious? I’ve seen Little Leaguers pitch better innings than that.

I’m sorry that this post is so irrelevant to my usual topics and filled with pretty mean-spirited sarcasm, but I really needed to vent about this and it was either using this creative outlet or screaming wordless cries of pain.

Game of Thrones Death List (Part 2 of 3) SPOILERS AHEAD

DISCLAIMER: Game of Thrones spoilers lay ahead. If you haven’t caught up with the rest of us, then a) seriously reconsider your life choices and b) read a different post on my wonderful blog. I can’t even type that without snickering. 

Also, I haven’t read the novels, so don’t spoil anything for me, pretty please. 

 

I originally had this series very neatly laid out. It was to be divided into three posts, each with three characters, and each to be released after the first three episodes of the season. However, I didn’t count on George R.R. Martin doing something unexpected: He actually killed off someone who deserved to die. There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.

If there’s one message I’m taking away from Game of Thrones, it’s to have a private wedding when I get married. Also, if you hear this song at any point during a wedding, it’s time to get the fuck outta there.

Anyways, time to get on with it!

 

Petyr Baelish

Also known as “Littlefinger”. Nice soul patch, dickhead.

House: Baelish

Allegiance: Himself

 

I tried to like Littlefinger.  I really really did.

He’ smart, witty, and there was a sympathetic element to him, especially concerning his past with Catelyn Tully and his history with the Starks. He seemed like the kind of guy who could be sympathetic and one of my favourite characters, but still be an ambitious semi-antagonist to the Starks.

And then, he revealed his true colours. A treasonous, petty, honourless  little shit who desires nothing more than to make those more privileged than him suffer,  and who betrays Ned Stark and doesn’t exactly endear himself to the audience by creeping on Sansa Stark and giving Roz to Joffrey, a psychotic sexual sadist, who fills her full of crossbow bolts. Nice. Also, deciding to marry Lysa Arryn dosn’t exactly do your image any good.

Tywin Lannister

For God’s sake, could somebody punch this old fuck’s smug face in already?

House: Lannister

Allegiance: Tommen Baratheon now, I guess.

 

Genocidal, ruthless and cold towards even his oh so important family, the Lannister family’s patriarch is probably the most powerful person in the kingdom, and will do anything in his power to make sure his house comes out on top, which is weird, considering that the only people in his family that he seems to like are his late wife Joanna, his brother, Kevan and his son, Jaime, kind of.

Indifference towards his family isn’t Tywin’s only crime though. He psychologically tortures his youngest son, Tyrion, orders the massacre of all but two of the Targaryen children, hardly batting an eyeash when Gregor Clegane does so in addition to a raping spree and, most famously, he orders the infamous Red Wedding, resulting in the destruction of the Stark and Tully families. He props up Joffrey’s regime, though it is unsure what his next move will be now that that’s over.

Personally, I’m hoping he hooks up with Olenna Redwynne. I think they make a cute old couple. even if one of them is an amoral genocidal asshole.

To be continued…

 

My Game of Thrones Death List (Part 1 of 3)

Can you imagine how much more disturbing this would be if this death list was comprised of real people?

DISCLAIMER: Game of Thrones spoilers lay ahead. If you haven’t caught up with the rest of us, then a) seriously reconsider your life choices and b) read a different post on my wonderful blog. I can’t even type that without snickering. 

Also, I haven’t read the novels, so don’t spoil anything for me, pretty please. 

Sunday night was the season premiere of what is currently the best show on television bar none, Game of Thrones. Being an extremely intense fan of the show, I tend to go a little bit overboard with my GOT fandom. I have been known to spend several hours finding online quizzes to determine which noble family I would belong to. I think most of the quizzes placed me in house  Arryn. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Lisa Tully and Robin Arryn aren’t the most appealing relatives, truth be told.

Anyways, since I recently watched the infamous “Red Wedding” episode in order to catch up, I, overcome with intensity and emotion following the callous murder of  some of my favourite characters (Damn you, George R.R. Martin!!!), I stole a page from Kill Bill and made a list of characters that I hope die this season because, well, they’re just awful, awful people. Obviously, these characters aren’t gonna be killed off, because they’re all fantastic characters and the show would become about a million times less interesting, but nonetheless, here’s my Game of Thrones death list.

Melisandre

Also known as “The Red Woman”, the “Lady of Light” and “Shadow Demon Vagina Wench”.

House: N/A

Allegiance: Stannis Baratheon

One of the lessons I’ve taken away from Game of Thrones is to never trust deeply religious gingers.

Melisandre is the creepy companion of the One True King, Stannis Baratheon (Who, unfortunately, is also unhinged) and is convinced that he is the chosen one who will convert the Westerosi people to into followers of R’hllor, the Lord of Light, of whom she is a devout follower. Now, I’m all for people being religious if it improves them as human beings and if they don’t screw with anybody else’s business. Melisandre, however, is clearly not of the “live and let die” persuasion, forcibly converting Stannis’ men and his wife, beginning an affair with Stannis (His wife is completely okay with it, but his wife’s also an insane hermit who keeps stillborn fetuses in jars) and, most weirdly, giving birth to some sort of shadow demon that murders Stannis’ brother and challenger to the Iron Throne, Renly Baratheon.

She is crazy, ruthless, manipulative, and is completely in favour of murdering innocents if she thinks it’ll further the Lord of Light’s cause. She’s gotta go.

Gregor Clegane

Also known as “The Mountain That Rides”, which, if nothing else, makes me feel really sorry for his horse.

House: Lannister bannerman

Allegiance: Joffrey Baratheon

Truth be told, we haven’t actually seen too, too much of Gregor Clegane, but we have heard some pretty awful stories about him massacring Elia Martell’s children before raping and murdering her, disfiguring his younger brother Sandor as a child, attempting to murder Ser Loras for beating him in a joust (Though he did decapitate his horse in a fit of rage) and slaughtering the Stark prisoners at Harrenhall.

Lord knows that I’m not the biggest fan of “The Hound” (Although he is growing on me), but his brother is much, much worse.  I, for one, hope Oberyn Martell takes sweet, sweet revenge on this psychotic piece of shit.

And speaking of psychotic pieces of shit…

Ramsay Snow

Anybody else think he looks like a sociopathic hobbit? Just me? Alright, moving on then.

House: Bolton

Allegiance: Joffrey Baratheon

The illegitimate son of the coward, Roose Bolton, Ramsay Snow didn’t really look like much other than a deadly archer who looked like he was going to save Theon Greyjoy (A shoo-in for this list if I didn’t feel so sorry for him) from his rapist torturers, whom Ramsay killed mercilessly. However, as it turned out, Snow was his captor, and imprisons him once again, this time personally torturing the would-be conqueror, flaying him alive, beating him until he calls himself “Reek” and, worst of all, cutting off his Theon’s dick and mailing it to his family in the Iron Islands, which prompts Yara Greyjoy’s rescue mission.

I could almost tolerate his massacre of the Ironborn, because they were such shitheads, but he also burnt down Winterfell (And murdered the Ironborn) for no apparent reason other than the fact that he gets off on it, or something. The North will never be safe as long as this twerp is still breathing.

To be continued…

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Movie Review)

Say “Ralph Fiennes” out loud for me right now. If you pronounced “Ralph” with an “L”, then I know something you don’t know! … “Saoirse Ronan” is still a complete fucking mystery for me though.

So, I finally got to see Wes Anderson’s new movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Before beginning the review, I must confess that I’ve never actually seen a Wes Anderson film before. I knew him only as the weird, quirky guy that uses a lot of colour and makes a lot of movies with Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Edward Norton. But hey, I’m nothing if not intrepid, so I decided to take a chance, not go to some crowd-pleaser like  Noah, Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Lego Movie (Which may be because I hate watching animated movies in theaters, but that’s a topic for another post) and take a chance on this weirdo and his Ralph Fiennes-headed movie.

Boy am I not regretting that decision right about now.

 

 The Grand Budapest Hotel 

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Produced by: Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven M. Rales, Scott  Rudin

Screenplay by: Wes Anderson

Story by: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness

Genres: Dark Comedy, Mystery

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff  Goldblum,  Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu  Amalric, Jude Law, Harvey  Keitel, Bill Murray, Lea Seydoux, Jason  Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson,  Owen Wilson

Plot: The Grand Budapest Hotel opens in the fictional European republic of Zubrowka in the year 1968, where a famous unnamed writer (Law) is vacationing at a decrepit relic of a hotel named, you guessed it, the Grand Budapest. The once decadent and celebrated hotel has fallen onto difficult times, being, as mentioned, decrepit and, as a result, business has suffered. While there, the writer meets the elderly proprietor of the hotel, a man named Zero Moustafa. Moustafa, a fan of the writer’s work, invites him to dinner where the writer inquires about how the old man came to own the hotel and why the hell he hasn’t closed the dump down.

Moustafa’s story began in 1932, when young Zero (Revolori) was hired as a lobby boy at the Grand Budapest, a lucrative, decadent hotel with a mysterious, anonymous owner where he is mentored by the hotel’s eccentric concierge, Monsieur Gustave H (Fiennes). The looming specter of war in Zubrowka does nothing to faze Gustave  an extremely devoted concierge, who goes the extra mile to make the clientele feel comfortable and ensure that everything runs smoothly. He is, however a bit of a, well, an oddball. In order to make any anxious older blonde ladies feel welcome, personally makes them feel physically and emotionally at ease… With his penis.

Sadly, one of his more frequent penis-clients, Madame D (Swinton in terrific old lady makeup) dies under mysterious circumstances. Accompanied by Zero, he arrives at Madame D’s wake, where it is revealed, surprisingly, that he has inherited an invaluable painting from Madame D, the priceless Boy with Apple. This decision does not sit well with Madame D’s family, especially her villainous son, Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Brody), who coveted the painting and wants him dead.

As far as the story goes, I have no real complaints with the movie. I’ve always been a fan of the mystery-comedy genre since I saw the Pink Panther movies as a little kid….

And then, Hollywood discovered the reboot and everything went to shit.

…  And, in truth, it does seem to have a similar style to those movies, so yeah, maybe it provides a healthy bit of nostalgia for me, but regardless of my weirdly old-fashioned tastes, it’s humour should appeal to pretty much anybody. It’s zany enough to appeal to little kids, dry and subtle enough to appeal to older folks, and, surprisingly, dark enough to appeal to sick, twisted weirdos like me. Is this type of somewhat wide-reaching humour a staple of Wes Anderson movies?  Because if so, I need to have a marathon one of these days, this stuff is just wonderful.

One minor quibble I have is that the plot got a tiny bit muddled near the end, which left me a little bit confused, but truth be told, I couldn’t really give less of a shit. The humour, as well as the wonderful use of colour more than make up for anything my pathetic lizard brain couldn’t comprehend. There is just way too much positives to really make a serious complaint out of something that can be remedied by just paying a little bit less attention to the colour of the elevator, or whatever.

Acting: The cast in this movie is goddamn insane. All of Anderson’s usual crop of actors make an appearance in roles of varying importance, and they are all very good at their respective parts. The two leads, however are played by Wes Anderson newcomer Ralph Fiennes, who is absolutely brilliant as Monsieur Gustave, and should, so far, be an early favourite for an Oscar nod.

Although it’s easy to be considered an Oscar favourite in March when this piece of crap is the next best non-animated movie in theatres.

This is the first big role for American actor Tony Revolori however. And I gotta say, he knocks it out of the park as young Zero Moustafa. It’s a rare thing when I approve of an actor under the age of eighteen, but Revolori is funny, fun to watch, and in rare occasions, kind of sad. Irish actress Saoirse Ronan is also wonderful as Zero’s love interest, and Adrien Brody is clearly having a blast as the cartoonishly evil, yet still sinister antagonist, Dmitri.

Which is good to see, considering the career choices he’s made lately.

 

Conclusion: Vibrant, colourful and hilarious, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is an epitome of pure joy. If there is one movie you must see this week, go on and take a chance on Wes Anderson. Captain America isn’t going anywhere.

9.5/10

 

The Wolf of Wall Street (Oscar Movie Review)

Yeah, we get it, you’re richer than us, you slimy douche.

Now that I’m done writing about baseball for a while, I’m jumping back on the (Long  departed) Oscar review train and reviewing a movie that I saw before the actual ceremony, but that I put off reviewing (Along with Her and Philomena) for some inexplicable reason until now, which is odd, because I happen to have some pretty strong opinions on it. I also have, like six more Oscar reviews coming after this one (Namely the two aforementioned moviesFrozen, The Great Gatsby, Blue Jasmine, and The Great Beauty) and a couple of Razzie reviews.

Actually, now that I think about it, forget the Razzie reviews. Life’s just too short to waste an afternoon devoting myself to an analysis of A Madea Christmas and Temptations of a Marriage Counselor.

Besides, I’ve gotta free up some time to go to a couple of other movies I really wanna review, namely The Grand Budapest Hotel, because it has seriously piqued my interest, and Noah, because ditto and I’m a sucker for religious debate, and, just from looking at the movie’s ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, I can tell that  this is a movie that will be argued about for a long time.

+1000 points for not having Russell Crowe sing.

Anyways, let’s just get to this insane freaking movie, shall we? It’s got Leonardo DiCaprio in it, so it must be great, right?

 The Wolf of Wall Street 

 Directed by: Martin Scorsese

 Produced by: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Riza Aziz,  Joey McFarland, Emma Tillinger Koskoff

 Written by: Terence Winter

 Based on: The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

 Genres: Black Comedy, Crime Drama

 Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie,  Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin

Oscar nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay (Winter), Best Supporting Actor (Hill), Best Actor (DiCaprio), Best Director (Scorsese), Best Picture

Plot: The film opens to stockbroker Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) showing his exploits off to the audience, namely his opulent salary, highly entertaining workplace, unreal home on the Gold Coast of Long Island, and his beautiful ex-supermodel trophy wife, the beautiful Naomi Lapaglia (Robbie). Oh, and his ability to consume insane amounts of prescription and not-so-much-prescription drugs. How did he get to where he is in life? Well, let him tell you through narcissistic narration!

The setting flashes back to 1987, when Jordan is just busting into Wall Street as a  low-level commissioned stockbroker (Or whatever) at L.F. Rothschild. While working there, his boss (McConaughey) suggests that he adopt a lifestyle based around cocaine, casual sex and masturbation in order to relieve tension and stay on top of his job. This works out well for him and the firm until Black Monday (A global crash of the stock market), after which the firm closes down and Jordan finds himself out of a job.

Jordan ends up taking a job with a Long Island boiler room, where he takes advantage of the lax regulations of penny stocks and earns his fortune. Eventually though, he quits this and starts Stratton Oakmont with his buddy, Donnie Azoff (Hill), a burnout with similar tastes in drugs, and starts aggressively scamming people out of millions of dollars, which ends up attracting the attention of FBI agent Patrick Denham (Chandler).

When outlined neatly, as I like to think I just did, the plot is pretty airtight. Sure, it can be a little bit hard to follow, especially when he explains all the fiscal jargon that goes into stockbroking and running a scam, but as far as I know, there aren’t any holes in the plot. Martin Scorsese directs the movie excellently, like he do, although the editing was kind of haphazard.

Honestly though, the movie is three hours long, and it only really heeded to be two and a half hours long. You could skip, let’s say, from the 30-minute mark until, say, the 90-minute mark, and you will have missed nothing except a lot of sex scenes and other scenes of debauchery that didn’t need to be there.

Now that I’ve mentioned it, I guess I should mention my biggest problem (And, I suppose, one the biggest controversial aspects of the film) with this movie, which are the gratuitous sex and drug use depicted in the first half of the movie. Now, if any of you are thinking of calling me a sheltered, conservative prude, I’d like you to take a moment to remember that I’m a 17-year old straight kid. Do you honestly think I’d have a negative reaction to a nude female body without a good reason? Especially when that nude female body belongs to Margot Robbie? Get real.

No, it’s not that these scenes are evil, or immoral, or whatever. It’s just that we’re given so many of these scenes in such a short period of time (An hour is a shirt period of time in a Scorsese flick) that it just ends up losing any shock value that it might have previously possessed, to the point where I realized that I had just been watching an extremely explicit orgy in an airplane that involved several gorgeous women  and Leonardo DiCaprio (Because come on, nobody’s that straight) and felt absolutely nothing emotionally or otherwise. That really sucks, because a) I like seeing hot women in various states of undress (I just realized that this post is starting to make me sound like a huge pervert. Thank God for internet anonymity!) and b) There are so many ways that these scenes could have been used constructively but weren’t.

SPOILER BEGIN

One example in this movie of a well-placed sex scene is the one near the end of the film where Jordan is banging his wife for the last time before she leaves him. This is a great scene because it exposes Jordan Belfort as the pathetic human being that he has become, begging his wife for sex and whimpering, if I remember correctly (Screw double-checking!). I fail to see how a scene detailing how Jordan and Donnie “double-teamed” some woman in an office is supposed to convey as much importance, though.

SPOILER END

With that said, I feel like I should mention that, in all fairness, the movie cuts down on most of the filler after the halfway point, and became miles more engaging. It doesn’t elevate it to legendary heights or anything, but it’s still excellent. It’s just a damn shame that the second quarter of the movie, or so, is so fricking weak.

And as for the complaints about this film being “amoral”, I have these two points to mention to anybody using this weak excuse to discredit a movie.

  1. What exactly did you expect from the guy who directed Taxi Driver and Goodfellas?
  2. Get off your fucking soapbox.

And with that, Kenny Rollins was awarded the “Resisted swearing at his audience for 1000+ words” award.

Yeah, this movie is amoral. So was Pulp Fiction, and it’s a universally loved movie. If you wanna criticize this movie, try focusing on its’ legitimate flaws and try not to base your argument on a completely subjective feeling like morality.

Acting/Writing: As you will soon be able to tell from the briefness of this section and the interminable nature of the last one, I don’t have nearly as much to say  about the actors. They do a great job with what they have (Which is also great). What else do I need to say?

The two Oscar nominees shine, obviously, with DiCaprio giving a great (If not too close to being his greatest) performance, even channeling a little bit of his role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape at one point, and Jonah Hill further distancing himself from his links to Judd Apatow and turning in a wonderful darkly comic performance. Australian actress Margot Robbie is fantastic too, and kudos to her for managing to hold her own on the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio while being somewhat of a newcomer. Also, she’s the hottest human being on the goddamn planet.

What nominations did it deserve?: 

  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Winter): Yeah, I can see it being nominated.
  • Best Supporting Actor (Hill): Yup.
  • Best Actor (DiCaprio): He deserved the nomination, even if he didn’t deserve to beat his co-star, MConaughey.
  • Best Director (Scorsese): It’s no Aviator, but sure.
  • Best Picture: Actually, no. I think it’s flaws are too numerous to ignore, and I think that it’s kinda sad that it was nominated over, say, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Final Rating:

7.5/10