Currently browsing the "Leonardo DiCaprio" tag.

Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I wish I could say I was a ‘Tarantino fan’. But sadly, I am not. Mostly because I’m generally squeamish when it comes to violence, and decidedly traditional when it comes to story structure. So imagine my surprise at finding several things to genuinely like (or at least, appreciate) in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, even though it doesn’t have much by way of story and does indeed take a bloody turn, albeit toward the very end of a decently-paced 2 hour, 40 minute epic. Quentin Tarantino films (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, etc.) are still very much an acquired taste, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood goes down somewhat easier for the non-fan, thanks to the stellar performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. They are a joy to watch as fading television western star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt), two guys struggling to adapt to changing times in “Hollywood” – the place, and the industry – in the summer of 1969.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s latest film The Wolf of Wall Street is basically three hours of sex and drugs and pure unadulterated greed. It is another “based on a true story” flick, only this one is all about one truly despicable guy and his equally morally deficient friends and family. Sure, the “wolf” is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who does all he can to make the greedy jerk human, but at the end of the day, it is a relentlessly long slog through a lot of pretty unsexy sex fed by a veritable pharmacy full of Quaaludes, coke, and top shelf alcohol. It’s a pretty underdeveloped story of a bunch of late 20th century conmen who made a killing by lying though their teeth and their years of living the “high” life in every sense of the word.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a glitzy and fantastical cautionary tale about excess and heartbreak. It’s a literary classic brought to 3D life with decent actors, lavish party scenes, and a cool soundtrack that somehow manages to infuse contemporary rap into the rhythms of the Roaring 1920s. So why didn’t I like it all that much? Perhaps because, ultimately, I felt as disconnected and disillusioned as the characters themselves. They didn’t make me care. Or cry. Or laugh. Or feel much of anything. Granted, the book never grabbed me either, unlike my favorite high school read, “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Now that movie (with Gregory Peck) never fails to move me. It’s as brilliant and enduring in its simplicity as Gatsby is boring and fleeting in its grandiosity. That said, if you do like “The Great Gatsby” novel, then you may glean something more from the movie than I did. My literary-minded seatmate thoroughly enjoyed it.

Django Unchained

I am not a huge Tarantino fan. I was when he started out with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but then he went through a phase that I can only call his “look at me, ma! I’m a Hollywood director” period, where he got funding to make whatever was in his adolescent head. Then came the critically acclaimed Inglourious Basterds, and I swore I’d never go to another of his films, ever! But, something inexplicably drew me to see his latest, Django Unchained, and I can only say, I forgive you Quentin. It turns out to be a very entertaining mix of Mel Brooks, Sergio Leone, and Gordon Parks, with a lot of gore (and the controversially prodigious use of “the N word.”)

J. Edgar

What a strange man, that J. Edgar Hoover! And yet – for nearly 50 years – he managed to wield tremendous power and influence as the controversial head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. This biopic seeks to show us how, and why.

Inception

How to describe Inception? It’s like a riddle wrapped inside an enigma that’s all part of a dream that’s made into a movie. If your brain hurts now, just wait til you see the movie – assuming you do see the movie. As interesting as it is – it’s not for everybody.