Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Watch ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

I watched The Wolf of Wall Street the other night and afterwards there was one thought in my mind: If I run into any friends who mention it to me anytime soon, I’m going to say, “I don’t think you should go see The Wolf of Wall Street.”

I’m not going to say it’s because of the nudity or the treatment of women. I’m not going to say it’s because of the overuse of drugs. And I’m definitely not going to say that it’s because it glorifies boiler room trading scams. I’m going to say, “because it’s a waste of three hours.”

This movie is basically the underdeveloped, uncreative lovechild of Glengarry Glen Ross and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. There is so much that could have happened that never did. There is so much that deserved a closer look that got overshadowed by long scenes of our main characters being stupid on ludes. It’s not funny, it’s not exciting and it’s nothing that anyone will ever aspire to be. Sure, we all want to be rich and many people enjoy doing drugs, but that’s a scenario we’ve seen a billion times already. What’s worse is that we know how the story ends since it’s based on a memoir of someone’s actual life. You could read the wikipedia article on Jordon Belfort and have no need to see it played out on the screen.

All of that aside, the simplest problem with the movie is that it’s just too damn long. We don’t need to see people say the same thing 4 different ways in a conversation, we don’t need to see every single inch of Belfort crawling while intoxicated, we don’t need a flashback to his driving after getting arrested for a DUI. Basically, in the words of Bruce Willis, this movie is full of “chuffa”. It was one, great big chuffa-fest.

But ya know, there’s plenty of played-out controversy going on, if you’re into that sorta thing.

Grade: C-

Her (2013)

A computer programmer’s wet dream, Her (2013) stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely, divorced man who buys the first artificially intelligent operating system, referred to in the film as his “OS”. The obvious inspiration for this movie would be 1984′s Electric Dreams with Lenny Von Dohlen as Miles Harding, an architect who accidentally spills champagne on his computer which fantastically transforms his computer into a thinking being. The difference with Her is that the operating system is pre-programmed piece of software that learns, and caters itself to the owner’s interests and desires.

The color scheme and set design of this movie instantly reminds me of 1960s sci-fi: orange, gray, brown, yellow-green grass and trees, concrete structures, leather chairs and lots of sweaters.. But the most reminiscent is the creative exploration of a much-revisited theme of science of fiction and computers that comes across as something we really haven’t seen before in such a way.

Watch Her 2013 on Amazon: Watch It Now

Girl Most Likely

Bitch magazine’s Theresa Basile recently decided that this movie treated “faked suicide as a mere sitcom quirk” and how this is a “problem” but failed to give any explanation why, instead asking, “I don’t think I need to explain why, do I? Good.”

Well, yes, you do.

Let me be clear: you don’t need to explain it to people who agree with you, but rather for the people who don’t. That seems to be the general problem these days with leftist online rags, and I am sorry to say that this particular blog post to Bitch Mag falls into this category of knee-jerk, a very common modern reaction to anything non-PC or otherwise non-compliant to modern leftist standards and ideals. I might even go so far as to say that it’s useless anger taken out on an otherwise decent indie movie, maybe as a scapegoat to push a common recent social agenda of supporting “suicide survivors” as people in need of our help and support. I might add that I view it as a very noble cause….and because of that it seems a terrible way to push it would be to get angry with people who take suicide too lightly. There is a time and a place to get involved in the cause. Is an indie movie really going to be your instrument?

At the core, it’s just a movie. The writer, after all, is trying to be creative. By taking issue with something that actually *CAN* be trivialized due to the fact that many, MANY people attempt suicide to get attention, a movie critic opens themselves to the susceptibility of movie review trolling. And that is not to say that there aren’t real suicide attempts being had, because I know first-hand that there are, I’m just saying that maybe this character is making fun of the people in the real world who take suicide so lightly that they use it as a way to get something.

Also, suicide is not funny. But joking about dark things has always been a way of coping, sometimes even radically so. This realization may give you the skin to withstand treating such a dark subject as hoax, maybe just for one movie.

Zombie Short Film: “Project: S.E.R.A.”

Are you one of the fans of zombie movies? If your answer is YES, then you can’t miss this zombie short film: “Project: S.E.R.A.”. The story is about a girl, Gillean Eames, wakes up in a abandoned warehouse and witnesses her father got injected a biological virus and eventually turns into a zombie.

The director and writer of the movie, Benjamin Howdeshell whose also well known as assistant editor of “Resident Evil” series, “Death Race (2008)”, “Season of the Witch (2011)” and “Step Up Revolution (2012)”.

“Project: S.E.R.A.” just has 10 minutes length story; however, it not only has the special effects and sounds as Hollywood movies, but also has an extraordinary exciting story. Benjamin Howdeshell used different time lines and contradicted colors interlaced an entertaining and vivid piece for audience. The story has all kinds of elements that zombie movie fans will like, such as conspiracy, zombie turning process, hot girl with guns, and 360 degrees zombie shooting scenario!

Not bad, huh?!
Some people might have the question about the tile “S.E.R.A.”. What does S.E.R.A. mean? According to Benjamin Howdeshell explanation, S.E.R.A. represents “Simpson Eames Regeneration Agenda”. I can’t wait for the next one~!

(Note: Simpson Eames is the father of Gillean.)

Casts:
Julia Voth as Gillean Eames

As a Canadian actress, Julia’s likeness is used for the basis of the character Jill Valentine from Capcom’s survival-horror video game series “Resident Evil,” starting with the 2002 remake of the original game.

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Movie Review: Head Above Water (1996)

Looking for a Billy Zane noir movie that I couldn’t remember the name of, I stumbled upon this lost mid 1990s b-movie. I’d be lying if I said I’ve ever even heard of the title. There are a lot of great things that stand out in this movie, from the screenplay to the direction to the performances by all the actors to the cinematography and even to the soundtrack at some times. Cameron Diaz and Billy Zane have clear a chemistry and being so young and vibrant, they are a treat to watch interact on the screen. What’s great about the screenplay is that it moves quickly without feeling rushed and as a viewer I feel entertained and enthralled even before anything big happens 18 minutes into the film. And then it turns into a whole new film altogether.

Substance is lost when it comes to the aftermath of the discovery of Billy Zane’s character Kent by Harvey Keitel’s character George. The story doesn’t move as fast as I would like at this point and is a little redundant albeit entertaining for a good 30 minutes or so while the characters struggle with making the choice to either be honest but ostracized by the media or being dishonest and safe in the privacy of their lives while committing a serious crime. If the movie had explored this idea more thoroughly, philosophically and darkly, it would have continued into what it started out to be. But it soon moves away from the creepiness and thrill of the desperation that overcomes one of the characters and brings out a cold-blooded side with a stark intent on covering everything up and into a campy dark comedy starring Cameron Diaz (at least this was before she got big), and I have to say her performance turns to utter crap by the end of the movie.

While this movie is charming and entertaining overall, what bothers me about it is probably the same issue that most critics would have: there are times when it is very serious and times when it’s extremely campy. The musical score is probably mostly to blame for this, but it could really just be that the producers were looking to make something accessible by too many markets instead of just sticking to one. I can imagine the script originally being a thriller and being amalgamated into what it became. Some examples of this are the beginning being a very serious and drama-oriented mood which prepares the viewer for a murder mystery, then turns into a would-be black comedy with no real jokes for the rest of the movie, studded with moments of a classic horror film format. Again, it’s difficult to fit this movie into a specific genre and that makes it difficult to swallow as a viewer. The best movies, the ones that have won the awards for best picture usually, are the movies that don’t fail on this account. Even if you were to make a movie that is cross-genre and/or unique in terms of genre-fitting, it should still carry through from beginning to end in some cohesive format. Without it, as a viewer, I feel cheated or tricked into watching something that I wasn’t truly interested in watching from the beginning.

Remember Me Review

Judging by the attendance in the movie theater on Friday night, the 14-30-something ‘Twilight’ fans are getting their R-Patz fix from ‘Remember Me’, considering that approximately 95% of the audience was female between the ages of 14 and 40 and the remaining 5% (including my husband) were their male counterparts, dragged along for “date night”, otherwise known as “sit next to me while I swoon over Robert Pattinson, since ‘Eclipse’ doesn’t come out until June 30th. Further proof is the fact that the audience whooped and cat-called (yes, I said cat-called) when the preview for ‘Eclipse’ came on before the movie began, and there were whispers and catty comments about Kristin Stewart’s hair throughout the clips for her new film, ‘The Runaways’, in which she portrays a black, mullet-haired Joan Jett.

But if they were looking for Edward, they were to be only partially satisfied in their lust for the teenage vampire. Although many of Pattinson’s mannerisms as brooding, bad-boy character, Tyler, in ‘Remember Me’ were reminiscent of Edward Cullen, he definitely showed another side of himself (aside from not sparkling in the sunlight).

The movie itself was entertaining, smart and even fairly funny at parts despite its tragic plots surrounding sadness and loss, with mildly impressive showings from big names Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper. Newcomer Emilie De Ravin did an adequate job of portraying the motherless girl, raised by her father and afraid of relationships and finally finding love, but the spark between Pattinson and De Ravin was majorly lacking. Well, aside from the sex scene, which was pretty steamy, and threw those lustful ‘Twilight’ fans a bone, showing Rob P. naked in the throes of passion. Hot. Very, very hot.

But what really made the movie was the ending. It was an ending that grabbed you from behind, gutted you utterly and completely, and made you wonder how in the world you didn’t see it coming. Some are saying it hits too hard. You can be the judge, but one thing is for sure, Remember Me will be remembered. Not for outstanding acting, nor for witty dialogue. But for an ending that sticks with you, as a great twist or an appalling denouement.  Either way, it has left an impression, which to me, means the movie did at least part of its job.

I give it 3 3/4 stars.

Movie Review: Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

In this fast-paced courtroom drama noir remake of the 1956 film, Peter Hyams (End of Days) recruits Michael Douglas, Jesse Metcalf and Amber Tamblyn to star in a crime triangle where young, pulitzer-thirsty investigative reporter C.J. Nicholas (Metcalf) falsely implicates himself in a murder of a young street hooker to bring down a corrupt district attorney (Douglas). Peter Hyams has a knack for telling the story with ease, leaving no questions to the audience accept for the important plot-driven ones. At times the movie causes quite a stir and there’s no doubt that you’ll be rooting someone on during a chase.

Michael Douglas is confident and intimidating as usual. He’s one of these actors who manages to own the screen whenever he’s on it, and so does his character for that matter. A dauntless and presumptuous lawyer, Mark Hunter leads the District Attorney’s office in an undefeated-championship strategy for the office of governor and is being accused of planting evidence in order to win his cases. If this weren’t a remake, it might have sounded cliche, but we can look the other way instead. Meanwhile, C.J. Nichols decides he’s found a way to prove the corruption in the D.A.’s office and sets out to do it in a most unorthodox method of setting himself up for murder. Unfortunately for him, the corruption is quite heavier than he anticipated and he finds himself imprisoned for longer than he anticipated.

Jesse Metcalf is as strong an actor as Douglas as he portrays a conflicted but calculating and eager young journalist. The film allows both him and Douglas to show how the desire for fame and success can overshadow morals and ethical behaviors, sometimes just for the chance at finding the answer to a simple question. Proof is what everyone is after in this striking film and, for me, the proof I got out of it was that everyone in the movie can act and act well.

If Amber Tamblyn keeps going on this path, she is going to find herself with an even stronger career as well. Not only is she sexy and bold, but she pulls off almost every side of a young, dress-for-success female attorney and when it comes to her romantic involvement, her actions are quite believable because of her emoting and delivery. If she doesn’t get more work because of this film, I’d be very surprised.

While the editing is seamless, it sometimes lacks the time it takes for a break-taking moment to sink in, such as the romance between Metcalf and Tamblyn, most likely an intentional tool to keep the audience engaged with the real plot. However, it runs the risk of losing the audience’s connection with the developed characters, such as Metcalf’s supporting co-star Joel Moore who’s character is increasingly crucial to the plot, yet tossed to the background with no recoil from his best friend. This found me disappointed and mistrusting of how the rest of the movie would pan out. This is a common mistake that many filmmakers persue, especially in action flicks, a genre which Hyams is no stranger to. When is Hollywood going to understand that human life is valuable to the audience and when taken into consideration makes for a deeply felt connection with the audience and thus a better film?

Alas, the important part of this movie is the end, and it’s hidden well. Many times a director may attempt to throw the audience off with shots of various characters making suspicious faces, and instead this movie is, start to finish, completely in the moment with no looking back or over-indulging in mystery. This is the greatest part of Hyams’ direction and thus the greatest part of the movie.

A+

Pirate Radio Literally Rocks

“It’s ten o’clock at night. The dull dudes on the planet are sitting in their slippers and sipping their Sherries. But the people who love to rock and to roll are ready to ride the rocking rollercoaster once more.

“You are listening to Radio Rock, and I am The Count, and I’m counting you in as we count down to ecstasy and rock ALL DAY AND ALL OF THE NIGHT.” – The Count

In times tinted gray by a government’s disdain towards rock music, the Britain of the 1960’s seemed to be a place dull beyond imagination. People had only news and classical music as respite from their boring lives. The 2 hours of rock music were heavenly but short-lived. Yet from within the darkness, one ray of light shone through, captivating audiences all over Britain with 24-hours broadcasting of rock music every day, defying the protests of the British government. This is the premise of the film, Pirate Radio.

Seeing the title, the thing that immediately comes to mind is the assumption that rotten people are messing with one of our most essential means of communication. And yet the film isn’t about some mindless sabotage plan or some dastardly scheme to hypnotize the world through rock music. In fact, it is about something for the good of society, to bring rock to people who need uplift in spirits and to bring colour to a gray nation.

The film details the antics of a motley crew of rogue deejays and their efforts to keep broadcasting the rock music to the public whilst defying government minister Kenneth Branagh’s consistent efforts to shut down their station, Radio Rock. Quite a handful, but the cast of Pirate Radio manages to do all this with hilarious results.

The film begins by introducing us to Carl (Tom Sturridge), a boy sent by his mother to live with his godfather upon the ship which doubles as a radio broadcasting station. Then it moves on to introduce the rest of the cast, including Rhys Ifans as Gavin, “King of The Airwaves” and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as The Count, an egoistic American DJ and Jack Davenport as the strangely named civil servant named Twatt. The cast is too varied to be completely listed, but every single one played their part very well.

The reason for this may lie in the fact that the film’s director, Richard Curtis, sent them to “boat camp” before filming the movie. The actors were made to live and rehearse on the ship on which they would be performing. Cast and crew slept in small cabins and rehearsed throughout the day. In the evenings, they would eat, drink and play darts. During the camp, the actors really bonded and got the opportunity to meet ex-pirate DJ Johnnie Walker as well as Radio 2′s Chris Evans, to study various forms of broadcasting.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays The Count, turned out to be a natural DJ. Due to scheduling commitments he started on the production several weeks after shooting began. This meant that he had only one hour to learn how to be a DJ. However, with his reputation of taking risks and constantly pushing himself to do better, he not only managed to play the part, but excelled at it.

However, the film garnered mixed reviews from different sources partly due to the broadness of the film, including some sexual references and coarse language. In fact, Pirate Radio is an attempt to salvage the failure or the first film, The Boat That Rocked. The changes included shortening of screen time among other things. Still, many sites have a positive take on this film. The strength of this film is definitely in the soundtrack, which includes many songs from the bygone era of the 1960’s from The Beatles, Rolling Stones and other bands you may have forgotten. The immortal spirit of rock is demonstrated clearly both in the soundtrack and in the film and it is a rewarding experience for any movie-goer in my opinion. In other words, IT ROCKS, literally!

Movie Review: Zombieland

Oi, I just watched Zombieland and I’m pleased to say I didn’t spend any money on it as I would have felt it wasted on the talented actors who made a boring zombie flick. Making zombie movies is like being in a punk band: unless you’re cross-genre, there’s nothing you are going to write that hasn’t been written before. We’ve all heard the political dissent, we’ve all heard the three chord song structures, and we’ve all heard the fast drum beats on every song from a band before. So if you’re doing it, you’re doing it just to add to the universe, not so much to affect it in some huge profound way. That’s how I see Zombieland.

It’s sorta upsetting, to be honest. A friend of mine from Emerson College had once told me that voice-overs in movies were a cop-out, and I never stopped agreeing with the sentiment. A narrator isn’t needed if they’re just going to explain what’s happening on the screen, for one, and if they’re going to give boatloads of background information then why not just leave the story in the book instead of attempting to squeeze so much into an hour and a half? Zombieland was more the former and it became so much so that I almost walked out, but decided to multitask with a text-convo instead.

The thing that this movie lacked the most was zombie fighting. Zombie movies are about killing zombies and there just wasn’t enough of that here. Instead, the emphasis is on the charming and unlikely college romance that buds between the nerdy protagonist and a random hot chick he finds on the street. He’s literally one of the last men on Earth and the other one is Woody Harrelson, so…. why is she falling for the nerd? Not very realisti-..Oh, right, it’s a zombie flick. Ok, but then there’s this random scene where Bill Murray shows up as himself and the theme from ghostbusters takes up a good minute or two. THAT feels a little bit like a cop-out, and it takes away from the film since now I’m thinking about another film.

Zombie movies are notoriously bad. The strange thing about it is that one of the first was Zombi 2 1979 which was actually well directed and well acted and can be watched as a serious film much like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s true horror and makes your skin crawl just like a good ol 1970s grindhouse flick should. This emphasis on the joke of these movies takes away from the art that went into the originals (think about the special effects in those movies). Zombieland had some gore, but it was mild. The zombies were the fast-running kind just like 28 days later, which movies have been ripping off ever since. And then you have this geeky college kid telling geeky college kid jokes over the whole thing. It was embarassing, in a way. Worst of all was the lack of originality throughout the whole thing. The narrator’s rules on living in zombieland weren’t as funny as they tried to be and nothing in the plot was anything we haven’t seen before in other movies.

All in all, I found it to be a waste of time cuz it was only mildly entertaining at best and should have been a waste of the production company’s (Columbia I think) money, but instead profited $40 million most likely due to advertising, or maybe people just seem to like this sort of crap. Either way, I’m not surprised, nor was I entertained. Now, you wanna see a good zombie flick that pokes fun of zombie flicks, go see Planet Terror..

Movie Review: Twilight (2008)

You Better Hold On Tight, Spidermonkey

Arguably the best line in the movie, “You better hold on tight, spidermonkey,” says Edward as he climbs up the bark of a redwood with Bella on his back. And as they continue on through the forest, jumping, flying, arriving at high mast to overlook a scene of enormous, mountainous beauty, you would never guess that it was all CGI. These days, however, I’m beginning to accept that most of it is. See: Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, although Harry Potty is worse in that it’s overly colorful and horribly childish. It’s actually quite disturbing to find so many comparisons of Twilight to Potter, most presumably due to the furor engulfing followers of both. Is it too much to recognize the vast difference between the two? If I were part of the production of Twilight, I’d be pretty annoyed at America (although I can think of a kajillion other reasons to be annoyed at America, but that’s beside the point).

Fans of the book would be horrified at the adaptation on the screen. What is a clumsy, humorous protagonist character in the book is portrayed as sullen and lost, only to be found by her true vampire love (awe), which was probably what Melissa Rosenberg (screenwriter) wanted and Stephanie Meyer (novelist) hates. If you hadn’t read the book (and I hadn’t, sorry) then you might actually enjoy it far more (like i did).

The problems in the movie have nothing to do with acting or portrayal; nobody overdoes it, nobody falls short. Neither does any cinematography exhibit a lack of skill. The downfalls are found in the teeny-bopper, sexy soundtrack and the tag-line dialogue in the villains. This is a movie for 13 year old girls. And its overtones of sexuality are a little.. vague. My point being that if you’re going to go that route, why not go all the way and have some lesbian kissing? That way you’d reel in not just the girls but the boys too!



Alas, I’m glad you didn’t, because while the ridiculousness of the plot — girl is lonely, girl meets boy, boy is vampire, vampires are dangerous, girl learns the hard way.. and nothing has a logical explanation to it… maybe that’s what makes it good, that it’s a fantasy.

One of the most important concepts some filmmakers have trouble understanding is the color scheme of the storyboard. Twilight does not make this mistake. While it’s vivid, dreamy, and dark it’s also very colorful without losing faith in itself, a forest hue bundle that never fades. Another great example of this is Memento and, in fact, there’s some talk of it in the DVD extras. Ultimately, color-scheming is a marketing ploy and you can see the same scheme on the website for New Moon, although New Moon has a more sepia tone drawn in. Yet another example is The Illusionist. Come to think of it, the color scheme is exactly the same in the Illusionist.

Anyhoo, this is not an A1 movie. Neither is it bottom-of-the-barrel. The toughest part on the filmmakers must have been squeezing a 544 page book into a two hour movie, which is sort of long for teenagers. However, it reels in your inner teenage girl and doesn’t tire, even through the credits while Radiohead plays (scarily) and then moves to one of the worst Linkin Park songs I think I’ve ever heard.