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.
The World’s End: five middle-aged friends re-unite to tackle the 12-stop pub-crawl that they never finished as teenagers. If you watched the trailer and thought that this looked a bit empty and silly then you’re completely right. No matter how good the director is (which he is), or how on-form the cast are (which they are) this is a great example that if you have a silly idea, you’ll probably end up with a silly film. It also has a few long stretches where there’s not many laughs – namely backstory. The cast are truly the best of contemporary British comedians, and a few bigger players thrown in: Paddy Considine and Pierce Brosnan, to name but a few – a well-picked bunch. The World’s End boils down to being a silly bodysnatchers movie that’s overflowing with 90s nostalgia, whilst pulling from some modern sources like Attack The Block, Hitchhiker’s Guide etc. Given the quality of Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect more from The World’s End, still, it’s a decent Brit-Com, and a good enough way to close out the ‘Cornetto trilogy’.
The World’s End pub crawl route:
- The First Post
- The Old Familiar
- The Famous Cock
- The Cross Hands
- The Good Companions
- The Trusty Servant
- The Two-Headed Dog
- The Mermaid
- The Beehive
- The King’s Head
- The Hole in the Wall
- The World’s End
The Toxic Avenger: when nerdy gym cleaner (S)Melvin is pushed in to a vat of toxic waste, he gets transformed in to a fugly ping tutu wearing superhero that cleans the streets of crime. This is basically the one film/franchise that is keeping the Troma video label alive and kicking… and with good reason. The comedy is great, and clearly influenced by Brooks / Nielsen, but with a ‘shoxploitation’ / comedy violence twist. The overall attention to detail and SFX are outstanding for a cheap film (very smart editing too), and there’s a ton of inventive gore, epitomized by the car head-crushing scene. Not a single section of society / public / animals are safe from ridicule or violence – everyone gets offended and/or killed off in Tromaville. In classic schlock/b-movie style there’s a lot of nudity and groping going on in this town, a midget being tumble dried, limbs being ripped off, body parts being deep-fried. The Toxic Avenger is great fun to watch, and should be a pre-requisite for all film fans, particularly b-movie lovers & aspiring film makers. It’s also worth hunting down the Director’s Cut for the extra gore-factor.
The Toxic Avenger Part II Review
Boardwalk Empire (Season 1): 1920s prohibition drama mostly following the racketeer Enoch Thompson, who controlled Atlantic City. There are lots, and lots of factions and institutions interacting with each other, not to mention around a dozen well-rounded, complex characters. It’s extremely well-cast; nobody stands out as being too little or too much, and with this many characters, they’re all physically distinguishable – a great job from the casting team. There are too many outstanding performances to mention in this cast of accomplshed actors, but I felt most sorry for Michael Shannon who does a magnificent job with the hardest character, a Prohibition Agent of extreme (almost comedic) faith and morals… Shea Whigam as Sherriff Eli Thompson also impresses with unbelievably great acting, and Jack Huston is superb as a ruined, deformed WWI vet. There’s an impressive level of throwaway period detail in the background, costumes, homes and through conversation. The visual effects to recreate the era are also impressive, and when tag-teamed with some brilliant old-fashioned music/entertainment it’s a solid nostalgia trip. Strangely, there’s an outrageously high level of gratuitous nudity for such a solid TV show, somewhat unnecessary, but hey, I ain’t complaining. This isn’t dip-in / dip-out TV, nor is it for the easily offended or faint hearted – it’s graphic, there’s adultery, sex, debauchery, racism, religion… and that’s just for starters. Boardwalk Empire is entertaining, dramatic, funny, and fascinating for the duration, and never really puts a foot wrong. Must see TV.
Due Date: After both being put on the no fly list two polar opposites have to share a car across America to make it back in time for the arrival of a baby. The first half is like a gag machine gun, then they swap some of the joke time for more serious character development and curveball story points ’til the end. Being in 99% of the scenes both actors needed to be bang on the money, and they were. Downy Jr’s reprises several of his semi-likable borderline mad man roles, and Galifianakis has impeccable comedic timing, nailing a fleshed out version of Alan from the Hangover. While it’s funny the trailer reveals a lot of the good stuff, definitely reducing the impact of at least 1/2 the jokes – in saying that, there’s much more packed away in the film. The humour cover all bases too: slapstick, black, stoner, witty and gross-out – never thought I’d see a dog do that. A bit like Art Race there’s a ton of great shots of America from being on the road. While it’s not quite as good as the hangover, it’s the same mish-mash of comedy, fraternity, and crazy random events that will make it a similar hit. The final product is gag after gag threaded together with a believable and melodramatic relationship that works quite well – and in the end, it’s Just an all-round funny and watchable film.
Easy A: A respectable girl’s social and financial situation improves as a little white lie snowballs out of control. Being Emma Stone’s (The chick from Superbad and Zombieland) first lead role, she holds the screen and story quite well – especially given that it’s a one-girl show. Sure every other character is a stereotype, and all the ‘school kids’ are in their 20s, but hey, at least they don’t need much developing – the eccentric family’s in there for nothing more than comedy value, and it works well. It doesn’t paint christians in a particularly good light, but what does these days? The soundtrack’s also spot on, and more generally, a lot of this film ticks the John Hughes boxes. For a modern comedy it got a pretty high number of chuckles from the audience. The story itself is a good idea but doesn’t stand up for much of the second half as it all turns a bit ridiculous – probably somewhere between Mean Girls and American Pie. There’s not that much more to say, it’s a quite entertaining, quite quirky teen comedy – girls can probably relate to more