Wolf of Wall Street: based on the memoirs of a drugged-up banker that did a load of bad things. Most obviously, three hours is just far, far, far too long for this story, which is essentially: motivational speech, loads of drugs, party harder than Andrew WK, repeat x20. The premise is classic Scorsese – rise-and-fall – but they way in which it’s told, what he chose to film, and how he chose to film it is anything but. There’s so much skin, sex, sensationilsm, and alpha-male testosterone in here that it felt like Michael Bay defiling a Scorsese sceenplay. Another huge problem is that the main character – Jordan Belfort – isn’t even remotely likeable or interesting; just a one-dimensional, remorseless asshole. On the plus side the script it great, the casting is magnificent and Scorsese really gets the most from them. It’s also very funny, funnier than most comedies, although it does have a lot of time to play with. Sadly, it feels a bit cheap coming from someone that’s brought us films like The Departed, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, Taxi Driver… and it made me remember how good a film Boiler Room was. Scorsese – you’re above this. Studios – no director is above cutting empty & pointless scenes from! Not Scorsese, not Tarantino, nobody.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian: (Blu Ray) Monty Python sketch-fest that kind of follows an everyman called Brian, who is mistaken for the messiah and turned into a religious leader. While it was offensive / notorious / boundary-pushing – to the point of struggling to get funding – at its time of release (1979) it doesn’t hold up too well these days. Definitely feels a lot more like a bunch of loosely connected scenes rather than a proper ‘film’ as there’s no constant themes and the story jumps around / gets caught up in tangents. Most disappointingly, it’s not ‘rolling on the floor’ funny, although fans of Python’s erratic / crazy / shouty style will be entertained. There’s some nice nit-bits of historical facts and characters. The BD picture’s pretty grainy, looks a bit washed out but textures do show a lot of detail. The sound starts off well, but most of the scenes end up being a shouty din with a terrible mix – probably down to poor and aged source material. If Monty Python’s your thing then this is decent, but it’s nowhere near the best comedy of all time, or even the best of Python.
The Isle: captures a deviant romance developing between a very strange couple of pseudo-mutes. It starts off quite dry – difficult to ‘get in to’ – introducing the characters and strange setting. As the drama ramps up it starts to drag you in, mostly through the eerie atmosphere because there’s almost no dialogue. One of the characters slowly turns into a terrifying psychopath, and a couple of scenes near the Antichrist level of fucked up appear out of nowhere. The acting, particularly the main woman, is really good: such a shame she didn’t do another movie. There’s some frog, fish and worm mutilation thrown in for good measure. The lakeside setting and scenery are haunting & atmospheric and the no-frills direction really just lets the story do the talking. Director Kim Ki-Duk has a decent track record, including Bad Guy and 3-Iron, which is one of the most memorable Asian flicks I’ve seen. This is a good film; not for everyone but worth checking out if you can handle your cinema ‘out there’.
Revenge of the Nerds: two minutes in it was obvious that this film wasn’t going to be the barrel of laughs that it could have. The geeky laughing was about the only thing I found funny, and the rest of the film hasn’t aged well at all. It was probably good at the time, but is almost embarrassing now. The tags on this post tell more about the film than any paragraph could.