Tag Archives: Martin Scorsese

Best of 2017 (So far)

27 Aug

Yes, I know it’s well past the halfway point of the year, but I’m lazy and have been splurging too much on TV instead of at the cinema so have patience with me. Looking back on the year we have seen a lot of good, bad, and ugly films hit theatres (looking at you, Emoji Movie) and so now it’s time to separate the wheat from the tares and give a rundown on what has stood out for me so far.  I’m not taking into account documentaries here – just narrative stuff and, as always, I’m counting anything that had a widespread theatrical release this year (so you might see some stuff leftover from late-2016 awards season):

 

10 –  Silence (Director: Martin Scorsese

Scorsese again brings his A-game to the table and creates a meditative, profoundly moving drama about the nature of faith. 7/10 

 

9 – Okja (Director: Bong Joon-Ho

Director Bong Joon-Ho puts a fresh spin on the human vs animal story trope and gets amazing performances from Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Seo Hyun-Ahn. 7/10 

8 – Raw (Director: Julia Ducournau)  

Blistering performances delicately combine with top-notch direction and impressive visuals to create a compelling and intimate take on teenage sexuality. Not for the faint of heart. 7/10 

7 – Wind River (Director: Taylor Sheridan)

A western thriller set deep within a Native American reservation, Wind River delivers the goods and once again proves Taylor Sheridan as one of the most powerful storytellers in the genre. 8/10 

6 – Free Fire (Director: Ben Wheatley

I haven’t had this much fun watching a shoot em’ up since I first saw the epic finale from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Director Ben Wheatley heats up the action gradually over the film’s run time, but the juicy dialogue and impressive action never take a backseat to the consistent suspense and well-timed bits of humor. 8/10 

 

5 – Get Out (Director: Jordan Peele) 

It would be so, easy for this film to go bad. Creating an original and genuinely spooky horror flick is tricky enough, but Jordan peele outdid himself with his directorial debut and dared to spice up the genre with just the right amount of nuanced racial satire. Looking forward to seeing what Peele does next.

4 – It Comes At Night (Director: Trey Edward Shults) 

Speaking of horror, nothing all year had quite the same terrifying effect on me as It Comes At Night. A post-apocalyptic psychological drama that seems deep into your skull with the help of it’s claustrophobic cinematography and eerie-but-subtle score. 8/10 

3 – I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (Director: Macon Blair

There are few things everyone can seem to agree on in 2017, but one of them is the notion that people are becoming less and less nice to each other. A genre-infused piece that shows Macon Blair’s inherent directorial sensibilities,  I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a deliciously clever and innovative take on the vigilante revenge story. It’s also incredibly suspenseful and drop-dead hilarious.

2 – The 4th (Director: Andre Hyland) 

Besides being the funniest movie of the year so far, The 4th might also be the most honest. Taking place over the course of 24 hours and shot on location in the streets of Los Angeles, the story unfolds around our hero Jamie as he tries to fight the increasingly unlucky happenstances around him in order to throw a cookout for Independence Day.  It’s also a brutal examination of the effects our modern passive-aggressive attitudes have on one another. 8/10

1 – Person to Person (Director: Dustin Guy Defa) 

An interconnecting film structured by many distinct stories and characters, Person to Person is reminiscent of great independent NYC films from the past while still containing a fresh spark of modernity that resonates long after the credits. play 8/10

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10 MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS 2015

2 Jan

Goodbye 2014 and hello to 2015.

 

Another great cinematic year has come and gone, and 2014 was one for the record books (you can check out my top 25 films of the year here). While we wait to see what film gets the Best Picture Oscar and who gets snubbed come February 22, lets take a look at some upcoming projects for 2015.

 

10 – Z For Zachariah 

Who’s in it – Margot Robbie, Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Directed By Craig Zobel.

Why? Zobel’s Compliance was one of the best micro-budget thrillers I had seen in a long time.  It looks like he is upping the ante here with some major A-list talent.

Release Date – Unknown for now, but I’ll be catching this at Sundance in late Jan

9 – STAR WARS EPISODE 7 

Who’s in it – All the original stars (Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill) along with an exciting batch of rising talent (Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega). Directed and written by JJ. Abrams.

Why? After the disappointing trilogy made up Episodes 1, 2 and 3, the pressure is on Abrams to revitalize the classic franchise and restore balance to the force (and our faith in big-budget franchises).  Besides, Hamill needs something to do with his career other than voice video games.

Release Date –  Dec 18 

 

8 – Black Mass 

Who’s in it – An ensemble cast of Johnny Depp, Juno Temple, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Sarsgaard, Sienna Miller, and Kevin Bacon. Directed by Scott Cooper.

Why? After Cooper’s terrific but terribly underrated Out Of The Furnace, I’m extremely curious to see how he handles this FBI crime novel adaptation with such a talented cast.

Release Date – an Oscar friendly Sept 18 

7 – While We Are Young / Mistress America 

Who’s in it – Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver / Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirk. Both films written and directed by Noah Baumbach.

Why? – Baumbach has two films in the pipeline for 2015, and they both look fantastic. While We Are Young received lots of praise after it’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last September, and Mistress America is slated for a Sundance Film Festival premiere.

Release Date – March 27 / no word yet on a theatrical release for Mistress America, but I’ll catch it at Sundance in late Jan.

 

6- Everest 

Who’s in it – Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright. Directed by Baltisar Kormakur.

Why? – The story about a group of mountain climbers becoming trapped on the world’s tallest peak during a snowstorm has me all sorts of excited. Plus, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Release Date – Sept 18 

 

5 – The Martian 

Who’s in it – Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara. Directed by Ridley Scott.

Why? – Besides the big-name cast and director, this adaptation about the colonization of mars could continue on the trail of smart Oscar-friendly sci-fi films like Gravity and Interstellar. Or it could be a total flop like The Counselor or Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Release Date – Nov 25

4 – The Revenant

Who’s in it – Leo Dicaprio, Tom Hardy. Directed by Alejandro Inarritu.

Why? Birdman showed that Inarritu could directed something in another genre besides the super-serious drama, and this western thriller will surely showcase the talent of two of today’s biggest actors.

Release Date –  Dec 25 

3 – The Hateful 8 

Who’s in it – Samuel Jackson (of course), Channing Tatum, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Zoe Bell, Bruce Dern. Directed by Quientin Tarintino.

Why? –  Besides being one of the most recognizable auteurs among non-cinephiles, Tarantino is one of those directors that just seems to get better with age. I’m curious to see how he tackles a more traditional western post-Django Unchained.

Release Date – Nov 13 

2  – Knight of Cups 

Who’s in it – Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Cate Blanchett. Directed by Terrence Malick.

Why? Terrence Malick’s epic made my list last year only to be shelved for a Berlin Film Festival premiere in 2015. A teaser trailer shows Malick’s typical visual style paired with an eccentric cast and wild party tone reminiscent of Spring Breakers. Hopefully, it will be worth the extra wait.

Release Date  – Unknown for now but likely to have an awards run Late October or November

 

1 – Silence 

Who’s in it – Adam Driver (again!!), Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

Why? – Scorsese’s adaptation of a Japanese novel about Christian priests enduring persecution overseas is sure to be one of his most personal and controversial films. And this is from the guy who directed Willem Dafoe as Jesus.

Release Date – Unknown, but likely sometime in November 

 

So there ya go. Good stuff on the horizon. What upcoming films are YOU most excited to see?

 

 

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

19 Dec

After the 2011 release of the children’s film Hugo, directing legend Martin Scorsese is back in action and gives us a wild examination of one man’s greed and addiction. The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler and Margot Robbie is one of the last Oscar-hyped films of the year, and I’m happy to say it lives ups to its high expectations.

The story is centered around businessman Jordan Bellfort, a young, enthusiastic stockbroker who, after the market crash of 1987, is forced to move into the realm of trading penny-stock. By using his aggressive, high-energy technique to sell cheap stock to those with little understanding of the market, Jordan makes his way back on top and creates his own company – Stratton Oakmont. As the film progress we see Jordan’s  wealth grow while simultaneously seeing the resulting amounts of on-screen chaos his money buys. There are your typical white-collar hookers, parties and yachts, but there is also a scene involving midget-tossing, a gay orgy, public masturbation, mountains of cocaine and Jonah Hill swallowing a live goldfish (and this is the edited theatrical version).

Scorsese directs the action with a magnetic ferocity and the script by Terrence Winter is nothing short of brilliant. But make no mistake, this is Leo’s film and he gives one of his best leading performances of his career (Any other year and Dicaprio would have the Best Actor Oscar locked in his name, but 2013 has been incredibly competitive).

And yet, despite it being one of the most engrossing of 2013, there is a sort of shallow emptiness to the film. Maybe its because of its explosive nature, or the fact that the already-packed film had to be severely cut in order to meet a theater-friendly 3 hour running time. For whatever reason, Wall Street just doesn’t have the same smarts or character development that previous Scorsese masterpieces have unlike The Departed or Goodfellas. Despite it being so juvenile and cartoonish, The Wolf of Wall Street is easily the most entertaining thing I have seen all year.

Similar to: Goodfellas, Pain and Gain, Spring Breakers

Rating 8/10