The early critical response is way up there. The only potential downside is just that: a letdown given great expectations. Tarantino has made one great film after another, so I’m hopeful — this year has been full of dogs so far. Opens July 26.
…a film executed in whirlwind non-stop frenetic fashion that will hold you from start to finish. …But I found the story too monotone, or put another way Birdman has trouble breaking free of its self-imposed Alcatraz.
The Revenant builds on the expertise set forth in Birdman, and adds a stronger story. Birdman’s enclosed spaces have been blown out and replaced by vast, wide-open, windswept and snow-covered landscapes, and realized by an absolute mastery of the lens and anything put in front of it. From a moviemaking point of view, The Revenant is pure wonderment. This is an impressive film.
Something else I liked was that this is a Western put in stark, brutally realistic terms — a true rarity. So there is no doubt The Revenant is a great film. But there were a couple storytelling issues I ran into. A couple 5-minute days, for example. I mean, I know it’s winter and the days are short, but they aren’t that short. Another small problem toward the end nagged me slightly. And ultimately, the story, with all its applied nuance, is fundamentally a one-dimensional revenge picture, with a pair of characters at the core who could have been more interesting to say the least.
The Revenant will win the Best Picture Oscar, and I don’t have a big problem with that. 8/10
Catch Me If You Can (2002) is my favorite latter-era Spielberg movie, and my favorite Leonardo DiCaprio performance. And while the true story is “supremely entertaining” (Stephen Holden), it is greatly enriched by deeper elements including Frank Jr.’s relationship with his father, and the loneliness of life on the run. Performances by DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, and Christopher Walken unify with first-rate production and a great story into one superlative movie-watching experience.
2013 is turning out to be a bad year for movies. Some of the most anticipated films the year have disappointed me — American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, and now The Wolf of Wall Street. I found The Wolf to be a very entertaining movie — for the length of a normal movie. For no good reason, though, it’s three hours long. Now I have no problem with long movies — as long as there’s a reason for it. Last year’s best film, Django Unchained, clocked in at 2 hours 45 min., and I can’t imagine cutting a thing out. It was a rich film that required every last minute to tell its delicious tale. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Breaking the Waves and Mulholland Drive are further examples that come to mind, ones made greater by the time they occupy, not lesser.
Not the case with The Wolf of Wall Street. I agree with critical consensus that this is a very entertaining film — but for only about the first half. The second half on its own is not terrible — though there are some ridiculous, B-movie sequences that are put forward — but after about the half-way mark the film has said as much as it will by the end. The last hour of the movie adds nothing fresh, and it ends up suffocating under its own extruded weight.
And that’s a pity. Trimming this movie down to the lean mean fighting machine that it deserves to be would have resulted in a champ. As it is, I can only recommend it with the caveat that you peel yourself away for the last hour or so. But of course I must judge the entire film, and on balance it’s thumbs down. 5/10
She by Spike Jonze is the next, and probably the last, big 2013 release — I sincerely hope I won’t be disappointed again.
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Anyone who’s been to the theater in the last month or so has probably seen this. It looks like it could be good; I’m anticipating it as both Scorsese’s Wall Street and a modern rethinking of the disappointing Great Gatsby from earlier in the year. The Wolf of Wall Street opens Nov. 15.
The much-anticipated Baz Luhrmann spectacle The Great Gatsby is a miss. There are occasional moments of beauty, but the inspired style found so long ago in Romeo + Juliet has given way to a banal grandiosity familiar to those who endured his last effort, Australia.
Gatsby is thin on story, and given the content presented runs a full hour overlong. As I watched, a feeling grew in me that this picture is hollow at the core. And another thing — coupling this one with The Cider House Rules (an even worse disaster), I’m wondering if Tobey Maguire in central billing should henceforth stand as a warning to stay away. He is beginning to tire as a filmmaker’s stamp of official sentimentality. 4/10.