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Tag Archives: Jean Dujardin

Wolf of Wall Street

“Wolf! … Wolf! … Wolf!” the crowd chants – they’re spellbound in the electric air, every time the boss addresses them they’re held breathless, energised … “pick up that phone!”  he shouts at them … “don’t hang up ’til you get what you want!” … with these words, they erupt into chaos and scramble for the phones … Welcome to the world of Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) – a born salesman who can sell anything to anyone – and he does. On his first day at work on Wall Street in the 1980’s, he learns from his boss, Mark Hanna (by Matthew McConaughey), that there’s money to be made – lots and lots of money. From that day on, he learns as much as he can and as soon as he’s qualified he sets out on his own to get his money – not earn it, just get it. He uses the stock market, entices people to buy, watches the market boom … then sits back while his commission rolls in. He slowly builds a following – his first disciple is Donnie Azoff (by Jonah Hill) – a canny business manager, capable salesman and loyal friend. Then comes Brad (by Jon Berthnal), Manny (by Jon Favreau) and Nicky “Rugrat” (by P.J. Byrne). Between them they build a hugely successful business – Jordan’s massive team of stockbrokers hang on his every word, eating out of his hand. Jordan’s father, Max (by Rob Reiner) handles the formal stuff in the business and the boys just do whatever they need to, but they keep the business flowing. Jordan’s success explodes, the money multiplies and his lavish lifestyle knows no bounds. He lives on the edge – sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – it’s full on. At one of his marathon parties, he meets Naomi (by Margot Robbie) and falls heavily in love – now his life is set – beautiful wife, beautiful home, beautiful career … it’s all easy … and so much fun. Soon, the FBI starts to notice him and they keep him under close watch. Agent Patrick Denham (by Kyle Chandler) is sure he’s running foul of the law, but just has to prove it. By the 1990’s Jordan’s got shoe designer Steve Madden wrapped up in his activities and the investors who love Madden’s shoes go crazy. To keep off of the FBI’s radar, Jordan sets up a Swiss Bank account and enlists the help of Naomi’s very British Aunt Emma (by Joanna Lumley) to manage things in Europe. How far can Jordan get before the Feds catch up with him?  Which one will happen first – he dies from his extreme lifestyle or the Feds find a way to nab him?

This is a true story – but whilst I have no interest in Jordan Belfort or his life, I do have a fascination for the marvellous performance by Leonardo DiCaprio here. This is a supremely marathon effort – a near-three hour movie that’s pretty much all him. It’s a physical role too. Jordan Belfort’s lifestyle leaves no stone unturned, he does everything to the extreme and the movie pulls no punches. It would have required significant physical and emotional strength by DiCaprio to complete – that’s impressive. I think it’s bit indulgent and unnecessary that Martin Scorcese needed to create a 3-hour movie – the story could have been as well told in less time, but nevertheless it’s well made, beautifully shot and carefully edited. Jonah Hill is strong too but many of the other performances are glossed over and deserve more time – Joanna Lumley is perfect as very English Aunt Emma and Margot Robbie plays Naomi perfectly – she looks stunning too. Rob Reiner seems to want to be IN movies these days too, not just direct them. The whole story is told well – DiCaprio’s physical performance is really good work. It’s a mystery and a shame that although the movie is universally recognised in the 2014 season for its excellent direction (by Martin Scorcese), screenplay (by Terence Winter), editing (by Thelma Schoonmaker), lead role actor (by DiCaprio) and support role actors (Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie), the American Academy of Motion Pictures largely ignores it. It has nominations, but no Oscar. DiCaprio won a Golden Globe and the movie won AFI Movie of the Year, Austin Film Critics Best Film, DiCaprio won Awards Circuit Community Best Actor, Boston Online Film Critics Association gave it one of the “Ten Best Films of the Year”, Boston Society of Film Critics said “Best Film, Director, Actor, Screenplay and Film Editing” … the list goes on. This movie deserves it.

Made in 2013. Directed by Martin Scorcese

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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Movies

 

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The Monuments Men

It’s wartime 1944 and signs of weakness are appearing in the Germans’ stronghold across Europe. The German Armies start to retreat east, back to their homeland – but they don’t leave things as they’ve found them. Their Führer, Adolf Hitler, a lover of fine art, has ordered that all art treasures (mostly paintings and sculptures) across Europe be collected from the churches and galleries in France and Belgium and brought to him in Linz, for his own personal collection and exhibition. His orders are carried out and those pieces that the Germans can’t take with them, they destroy in their wake, leaving a trail of empty halls and wreckage behind them. At the same time, art expert Frank Stokes (played by George Clooney) initiates an operation to find and retrieve as much of the art as he can. He forms a special squad of experts – art restorer James Granger (by Matt Damon), architect Richard Campbell (by Bill Murray) art teacher Jean-Claude Clermont (by Jean Dujardin), sculptor Walter Garfield (by John Goodman), British art expert Donald Jeffries (by Hugh Bonneville) and Preston Savitz (by Bob Balaban). Stokes has worked with all these men before and, although none are in active military service and they’re all out of shape, he knows this is the best team to get the job done. They must get to the front line and rescue the priceless art pieces before the Germans destroy them as they leave or the Russians steal them when they arrive. Quite straightforward really …

I enjoyed this movie. It’s sort of a Boy’s Own wartime jaunt through Europe, crossed with an Indiana Jones style search for art icons that dodges the inevitable Germans, features wartime exploits and is punctuated by strong mateship during combat. A meaningful piece it isn’t, but an enjoyable movie it is. None of the action scenes are believable, but overall the story is there. I’m not really sure what the “cold as ice” French Museum Curator, Claire Simone (played by Cate Blanchett) adds to the story, except perhaps to provide a source for one or two clues in the search and I guess as a token female character, but she plays the role well and does look great in the forties French fashion. The ensemble cast are very entertaining and the script is delectable – I love the way Clooney bounces off Matt Damon in this – as in several movies they’ve done together (obvious examples are “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Ocean’s Twelve”) and of course both Bill Murray and John Goodman are masters at this. It’s refreshing and entertaining to see Hugh Bonneville here, in a role other than his recent efforts as Lord Grantham in television’s “Downton Abbey”, which may well have typecast him. The movie does make some important points about the value of life compared to art, the deep respect and honour amongst soldiers and the futile wastefulness of war.  Even though George Clooney has directed much better movies than this one, it was awarded the 2014 Heartland Film “Truly Moving Picture” award.

Made in 2014. Directed by George Clooney.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Movies

 

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The Artist

It’s 1927, and George Valentin (by Jean Dujardin) is the toast of Hollywoodtown – he’s a suave, swashbuckling, highly popular star of the silent movies and is adored by millions across the world. He and his wife (by Penelope Ann Miller) have an unhappy marriage, but his reputation for the ladies is strong and he gets distracted by a young and ambitious starlet, Peppy Miller (by Berenice Bejo). His most loyal supporter is his butler/chauffer Clifton (by James Cromwell) and his constant companion is his Jack Russell dog. Suddenly, the talkies arrive, but although the studio is very keen, George is dismissive of this new movie “fad”. He continues to make his silent movies, but is devastated to realise that he is no longer up with the times and not only his career, but his entire life takes a turn for the worse, He seems to be washed up – and this is confirmed by his Studio Manager (by John Goodman). Meanwhile, the talkies love Peppy and her career goes from strength to strength, as does George’s love for her … The two eventually find happiness, thanks to the support they get from each other.  

This is a silent movie produced in black and white. It is loyal to the style of the silent movies with its mood-setting music and banner speech boards. The physiology and silent characterisation of each role is also beautifully reflective of the past movie era. However, overall it’s just not for me – I found it tedious and far too drawn out (although I understand this is the necessary style for the genre) – even the star dog’s antics weren’t quite enough to save me wishing it would soon be over. As is sometimes the case with movies that have scooped the “Oscar” pool, I can see that there is merit in the work to make this movie, but I would not rave over it. I thought the music score was excellent, the costumes are great and the cinematography was very good.  In fact there were several places where I was fully appreciative of the special effects of the camerawork. However, for me – overall, it’s only okay at best.

At the 2012 Academy Awards (Oscar) presentation, this movie won seven:  Best Achievement in Costume Design (Mark Bridges), Best Achievement in Directing (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (Ludovic Bource), Best Motion Picture of the Year (Thomas Langmann)  and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Jean Dujardin). It also received several other awards.

Made 2011: Directed by Michel Hazanavicius

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Movies

 

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