Posts Tagged ‘ Kyle Chandler ’

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street
Release date: January 3, 2014 (India)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Cristin Milioti, Jon Bernthal, Jean Dujardin, Kenneth Choi, P. J. Byrne, Kyle Chandler, Margot Robbie, Joanna Lumley

Wall Street spells exuberance for some, and misery for some. Not necessarily forming mutually exclusive entities. The Wolf of Wall Street bears similarity in structure with Scorsese’s own Goodfellas and Casino, a formula so potent it won’t let your mind wander outside the ostentatious bounds of its irreverent characters.

Michael Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) is Jordan Belfort’s first employer. He gives him the sound advice of jerking off at least twice a day to cope up with the numbers (In my opinion, everyone should try doing it) He also suggests he loads up on cocaine and hookers. Jordan (Leonardo DiCaprio) starts picking up traits of his manic boss and thus the transformation of a soft-spoken Jewish begins.

Black Monday hits hard and Belfort ends up losing his job in a month. On a chance meeting with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and a few funny anecdotes later, they recruit Belfort’s friends who have been selling marijuana into stockbroking positions. Belfort teaches them the tricks and they start picking up on the bullshit factor and a million dollar firm is floated. They evolve from a shady boiler room to an office on Wall Street. The money flowing in leaves the novice ‘stockbrokers’ are left dumbfounded.

Their pinksheet stocks are a hit and they keep taking hits, drags, lines and hooker fucks almost every time they sell a share. The initial buildup of Jordan’s character appears a tad cheesy, but it doesn’t get slotted. The cocaine snorts inject the adrenaline just before each of his motivational speeches to his staff. The money laundering and all other associated crimes are more or less victim-less. Which means no one is actually shown suffering because of their sham. The boring technicalities of the financial markets are left out smartly, in favor of superbly hilarious drunken/drug-induced/sexual stupors.

The non-fictitious Jordan Belfort’s escapades and scams are presented with an element of fiction. The names of his close associates and wives have been altered, probably just to avoid any defamation lawsuits after the film’s release. (That’s just a rough assumption) Then there are unabashed lines like, “Her pussy was like heroin.”, When you’re sailing a boat built for a Bond villain you’ve got to play the part.”; I laughed, and a lot. It’s a polite “Fuck you” to the idealistic way of living.

The repetitive pattern of the course is avoided by strong writing. For example, when Donnie fucks up one time (Of course I am using the word ‘fuck’ liberally in this review) and he tries to get Jordan high before the news reaches him from outside, Terence Winter turns a possible death-scare into insurmountable comedy. Modern Popeye, the stockbroker man is brilliant. But the film has a foreseeable end, and you are just left waiting for the court of justice’s execution.

Stratton Oakmont, Belfort’s company reaches an unknown conclusion, and when the “chickens come home to roost” the screenplay, acting and direction emerge individually stronger than the film in entirety. The ensemble cast is not just strong in their performances, even their parts have meat in them. The fourth wall breaking isn’t much of a hassle, but the imaginary dialogue between Jean-Jacques Saurel, the Swiss banker played by Jean Dujardin and Belfort is incredibly done.

Belfort gets the title of “wolf” from a magazine interview, and the arc shows him as a wolf. He wants to be the strutting lion, and yet gets subdued by the end. The Wolf of Wall Street is outrageously and unbelievably enjoyable, not just popcorn fluff. No overdrawn moral outtakes here.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty
Release date: February 15, 2013 (India)
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Reda Kateb, Kyle Chandler

Disclaimer: Given the delay in the date of release, I’ll keep the review short and refined.

Zero Dark Thirty is a period film on the “War on Terror” waged by the United States of America in the post-9/11 phase capturing the successive global terror activities and the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden. On closer perception, it is the story of CIA officer Maya’s (Jessica Chastain) sole determination: she’s focused on leads based on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts ever since she got out of high school.

It is also the story of Maya’s struggle: being placed at the ground base in Pakistan at a young age, and losing a close accomplice, Jessica (Jennifer Ehle) to a suicide bomber inside the well-protected CIA camp. Consequently, it is also the story of Maya’s belief in her gut or practically speaking, her research in the form of her insistence on Osama’s presence in Abbottabad.

The detailing is excellent here. Bigelow captures the minutest of emotions in the torture cells, Marriott blasts and almost everywhere else. The geographical and linguistic specifications are very precise and authentic. The narrative also makes use of the major events such as London blasts, Invasion of Iraq, the WMD disaster, Marriott blasts along with the Empire State bomb findings.

Jessica Chastain and Reda Kateb snatch away all the acting honours in this film. Chastain is believably real and convincingly feisty in her portrayal of her character. There aren’t any major breathing gaps to fill the frames in between, but the writing keeps the narrative dry enough to not let the viewer slack off. The raid at the end is distinctly engaging, depicting the simultaneous rage of contradicting emotions where the SEALs come across innocent children and women inside bin Laden’s house.

The final shot is perhaps the most apt visual of this entire saga. Maya is on a plane, and the pilot asks her for the destination and she ironically remains silent and starts weeping. Bigelow’s direction is complemented perfectly by Greig Fraser’s cinematography. Possibly, the only brickbats the film faces are for the editing team, (Sorry Katheryn, you face the brunt too.) The timing of a few cuts and the overall pacing is damaged in the process.

Notwithstanding the flaws,  Zero Dark Thirty is not just a great history film, it’s also one of the finest films of our times.

My rating: ****1/2

Broken City

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Broken City
Release date: January 18, 2013
Directed by: Allen Hughes
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Kyle Chandler

In a city that could have been any place except New York as well, morals are compromised for benefits and that’s what forms the basis of Broken City. Set in the bylanes and bridges, especially bridges, of New York tells a tale of a few in-the-spot bureaucrats who’ve all got their own personal dilemmas.

Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is involved in a controversial shooting incident while on duty with the New York City Police. He is let off by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) and police authority  Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) Seven years later, Taggart is a private eye detective now and he’s running high on debts. After much fending and seeking, he’s contacted again by Mayor Hostetler, who’s also involved in a few potentially disdaining decisions. He offers him $50,000 to spy on his wife, Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and find out who she’s having an affair with.

Cathleen is a human rights commission head who simply says something about ‘not being bullied by the powerful’ at a summit and without any background you’re expected to believe that the statement was against her husband’s bet to sell off Bolton Village (a part of NY city) for four billion dollars. Soon Kathy (Alona Tal) – Billy’s assistant figures out that she’s having an affair with rival Councilman Jack Valliant’s (Barry Pepper) man Friday Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler) And there’s obviously more to it than what meets the eye.

Ben Seresin’s cinematography is particularly capturing and riveting, and there are 5 shots of the same bridge. It must be pivotal, but I don’t even know what it’s called. (I’M NOT FROM NY FOR GOD’S SAKE!) The performances of all actors are fine, but there’s not much depth to the actual protagonists’ characters. There’s a reasoning and backstory to the lead’s secretary, his in-laws and even a third party bigshot. The plot is holding but it isn’t knock-you-out-of-the-seat moment when you’re expecting something to pay you off with the entire suspicion angle with Paul Andrew’s murder.

The film delivers to its title but isn’t much what you’ve never seen before. The background score, casting and the look of the film provide the strength to what it lacks in entirety.

My rating: **1/2  (2.5 out of 5)

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