Archives for posts with tag: Leonardo DiCaprio

Grade A

From the talented and eccentric mind of Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained” is a violent, surreal story of an ex-slave (Jamie Foxx) teaming up with an extremely well-spoken bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to get back the wife of Foxx who was sold to a barbaric slave owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).   This being a Tarantino movie, going from point A to point B is done in an unconventional way which makes it hard for the audience to guess exactly what happens to the main characters (this is a good thing).  Along the journey, we are treated to Tarantino’s style of writing and directing: mimicking some camera movements of the 1970s; copying the look of the film stock of the 1970s; and the rich, expansive, mostly witty  dialogue.

Although Waltz and Foxx are the main characters, it is the relationship between DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson (DiCaprio’s head slave) that is the most interesting.  The roles of master and slave seem to switch back and forth at various times, and I believe many viewers will be very puzzled by this; but it’s really simple — the DiCaprio and Jackson characters go way back, and the decades spent living together obviously led to a mutual respect, trust and love for each other.  They have essentially become father and son.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Django Unchained” is the scene when Foxx is hanging upside down, completely helpless; and one of the bad guys is about to castrate Foxx using a red hot knife!

Tarantino fans won’t be disappointed with this movie, as it has everything you’d expect from a movie written/directed by him.  Although part satire, and therefore cannot be completely taken seriously overall, the movie’s depictions of punishments of slaves are very disturbing; and disturbing people is something Tarantino doesn’t shy away from.

— M

 

Revenant: one who returns after a long absence, or after death; a ghost.   Leonardo DiCaprio plays the title role in “The Revenant,” a scout/hunter in the early 1800s in the American wilderness who is badly injured in a Grizzly Bear attack.  Deep in hostile, Native American territory, DiCaprio’s hunting party decides to leave him and go on to the safety of the nearest fort.   Three men are left with Dicaprio (one of whom is the son of DiCaprio’s character, and another who is a hunter played by Tom Hardy) so that they may take care of the injured man and, if and when DiCaprio dies, give him a burial.  Days pass and DiCaprio manages to hang on, much to the disappointment of Hardy, who only thinks of himself and his need to escape the precarious situation he volunteered for.   Hardy decides to put DiCaprio out of his misery but DiCaprio’s son intervenes; Hardy kills the young man, then takes off with the other hunter under false pretenses of an impending attack by hostile, native tribes.

With the mantra of “as long as you keep breathing, you fight,” that is what DiCaprio does.   Slowly, very painfully, DiCaprio pulls himself out of the shallow grave that Hardy put him in.  What follows is a savage fight for survival against hunger, the freezing cold, and a war party of natives looking for a kidnapped daughter.    Each step, each breath takes DiCaprio closer to the man who killed his son.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Revenant” is the long, agonizing, cringe-inducing bear attack that DiCaprio endures.  Words cannot do justice to this scene…you just have to watch it.

Another memorable moment of this movie is the long, beautifully choreographed and directed scene of DiCaprio’s hunting party being attacked by an Arikara war party.  The camera goes into the heart of the fight, moving in all directions, going from one character to another, showing the brutality up close and from a distance, making the audience really feel as if we are in the middle of this barbaric struggle.

Of course, I have to mention the scene that had DiCaprio disemboweling a dead horse so he can go inside the body and keep himself warm during a snowstorm.  This memorable, movie moment reminds me of a scene in “Empire Strikes Back” that any “Star Wars” fan should be familiar with.

“The Revenant” has recently won many awards at the Golden Globes, and has received many nominations for the Academy Awards.  All the accolades this movie has garnered is not from hype.  This is a great movie about revenge and the will to survive, not just for DiCaprio, but also for Hardy.  To a lesser extent it is also about the destruction of Native American life and culture by the European settlers.   “The Revenant” is destined to be a classic.

— M

When Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the title role in the movie, “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” is about to describe what his most addictive drug is, I already knew what it was before he said it.  We see DiCaprio snorting a line of cocaine using a rolled up, hundred dollar bill; and then he unrolls the bill and says that money is his most addictive drug.  Oh yeah.  Once you get used to those hundreds going through your hands and flowing into your pockets, you can get hooked fast, and will want more.  It alters your perception of money to the point where 5 dollar bills start to look like toilet tissue.  I know…I speak from experience.  The pursuit of money…being addicted to it…that is the heart of “The Wolf Of Wall Street.”

This movie is based on the true story of a New York trader, Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio), who cheated his clients of millions of dollars by turning them on to stocks that were virtually worthless.  It didn’t matter if the stock crashed because DiCaprio and his crew of traders made a killing from the commissions.  The money flowed in like a tsunami, and with it came drugs, prostitutes, delusions of being above the law, and the attentions of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI.

DiCaprio gives a great performance of a man who has both likeable and disgusting qualities.  I admired his drive and focus to be financially successful so he can have a better life for himself and his wife.  His ability to sell is amazing, and he had the guts to go out there and get what he wanted.  Unfortunately, he lied and cheated his way to making his millions, financially devastating many honest, hard working people.  Still, his downward spiral in life as his morals took a back seat to drugs and money is thrilling and shocking and funny.  The movie is part comedy, don’t forget.  So is life.

Director Martin Scorsese shows us his great talent as usual, creating a movie that moves rapidly and gives us fast snapshots of a man’s rise and fall.  The momentum does wane somewhere in the last half of the third act.  This is a 3 hour movie, and it feels like it.  The first 2 hours comes and goes quickly, but that last hour will have you checking your watch often.  That said, “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is worthy of 3 hours of your time.  Unless you have an aversion to sex, drugs and cursing.

Some people complain that this movie has too many of the three things I just mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Um…these guys are stockbrokers.  Traders.  And the worst kind, too (the ones who prize money above their souls).  They are type A-1 personalities, and acting like Caligula is the norm.  What do you expect?  This is the life they had.

One of my memorable, movie moments of “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is the scene when Matthew McConaughey was telling DiCaprio what stockbrokers did: sell stocks and make tons of money from the commissions, and have no idea if the stock is going up or down or sideways.  Of course, they tell their clients that they know what they’re doing.  People, let me tell you something: stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies…they’re all a gamble.  You all should know that before you get into them.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is…go read the first paragraph.  And after you’re done with that, go down to the last paragraph.

What brings your perception of money back to reality is when you lose money.  Then that $5 bill that you once thought of as toilet tissue is now 2 loaves of bread, or 2 dozen large eggs, or a gallon of milk, or a very nice Hallmark card in which you can write to your parents how wonderful they are in taking care of you since you were born, and how you can never repay them for all the love and kindness they’ve given you despite all your flaws.  I know…I speak from experience.

— M

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