Entries tagged with “Leonardo DiCaprio”.

The name of J. Edgar Hoover not only marks half of century of the history of defending the law and making justice in the United States, but still raises passions until today. The developments after the terror attacks on 9/11 have brought back to the front stage of the public debate the balance between rights of the the citizens to be protected and the rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and about the role of the federal government and its agencies in protecting freedom for the many while respecting the rights of the few. ‘J.Edgar’ the movie clearly belongs to the genre of the biographical documentary, and according to your beliefs you may get out of this film liking or hating it. There is one thing that is hard to deny in my opinion – this film has passion too, same as the character it describes. One may admire J.Edgar for his dedication to the ideals of making out of America a country of law and order according to his own vision or for building out of nothing one of the best government agencies in the US and the world, or one may hate him because of his obsessional search for a no. 1 enemy, or for the methods he put in the service of the cause.  One cannot deny reading the biography or watching this film that he was a man of passion.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1616195/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1616195/


There are things that I loved and things that I hated in the way this film was written (by ) and directed by . The parallel running of the auto-biography of the character as dictated 40 years later to a young colleague is smartly run in parallel with the ‘present’ of his late age career at the time of the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. One character is already old, the other ages and the story advances. I should actually say one triplet of character, as the extraordinary  (whom I do not like, but I cannot prevent myself to admire) is very well supported by  as the never consumed lover who turns into the eternal secretary of Hoover and  as the eternal friends who also figures up – as rumored by history – as potential lover. All are supported by a  as Hoover’s pious mother, as splendid as you expect. What I liked less is the ex-screen off-screen story telling, hard to digest even under the pretext of Hoover dictating his memoirs at the sunset of his life, or the schematic sound of some of the dialogs – even bad guys seldom speak on cliches as some of the characters here do. Overall the excellent acting and the well kept pace overwhelm the dark sides of the production.


(video source Clevver Movies)


At the end of the day we get another story big as a cinemascope screen of an American hero. Or anti-hero. Depending of course on your beliefs and on the way you relate to the character and the different threads of the story.   Hoover appears as a historic character who had to be obsessed with a Public Enemy no. 1 be they real or imaginary. In parallel he lived his personal drama of (historically alleged) homosexuality, the dark secret of the blackmailer who could so easily be blackmailed. One cannot deny that he built a fabulous crime fighting institution which definitely remains his principal legacy. However, Hoover was also for almost half a century a Gatekeeper, even one who loved to present himself as a popular hero, in comics or movies. Here is a very different kind of movie about him. One which leads the viewer at the end to ask the question of what was The Gatekeeper defending his country against.

‘Inspired by a true story’ seems indeed to be the mantra for the majority of the films in the Academy Awards race this year. A few days ago I saw ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and now this ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ which together with ‘American Hustle’ are among the strongest competitors in the race and are all inspired by biographies and true stories that took place in the last few decades of the previous century. Even ’12 Years a Slave’ is inspired by a true story and biography but from the previous century. While I liked much less ‘Dallas’ I feel ‘The Wolf’ is quite comparable – both are remarkable movies, both throw light on some dirty and corrupt aspects of the American society, both bring to stage characters which use and trick the system at the same time. While ‘Hustle’ has a more original idea, ‘The Wolf’ has Scorsese and DiCaprio.


source www.imdb.com/title/tt0993846/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt0993846/


The real life Jordan Belfort is probably a much less likeable character than the one brought to screen by Leo. He made his fortune in the 80s and early 90s by pulling the strings and walking the dark alleys of a system which was building financial castles on sand and where the real money was made almost exclusively by people like him. The whole movie can be actually considered as a sharp critical view of a society that creates and makes heroes of such individuals. This is however a moral judgment and it belongs exclusively to the viewers – actually the film makers were quite insistent that the many scenes of debauchery in the film were as close to what really took place in Belford’s corrupt empire and faithful to episodes from his auto-biographical book. Scorsese can use the excuse that he just makes a film which is fun, interesting, entertaining based on the real life story and the conclusions are yours, Mrs. or Mr. Viewer.


(video source Paramount Pictures)


It’s rather amazing for me that things that I really dislike in other movies work so well under the hand of Scorsese. The use of the out-screen voice for example which I typically hate works here pretty well, as it gives an auto-biography touch to the whole story. I would hardly bear three hours in a cinema theater if it was not a very well told story, with heroes and action that keep me quiet in the chair. Leonardo DiCaprio amazes me again and again, especially when Scorsese directs him. His hero is mean and cynical and does abhorrent things and yet he is simply fascinating.  The most questionable thing in the film seemed to the ending, which I frankly did not understand. Maybe it tried to make a point that I missed, maybe it just described the anti-climatic years of the rest of the life of an individual past his wild years – I do not know. It came however too late to spoil my immense appreciation for this film.

I saw yesterday Tarantino‘s Django Unchained. The film deals approximately with the same historical period as Spielberg‘s Lincoln, but what a difference!

Spielberg and Tarantino are without any doubt two of the most important American directors today. Both come from the let’s call it commercial cinema like let’s say both had remarkable blockbuster successes which translated into financial success enabling them to produce and direct everything they dream. Both use this success to explore with their personal craft tools, style and talent – various genres which they change and put their own imprint in. Both made films about the Second World War and about the Holocaust, and now about U.S. history, and the horrors and abolishing of slavery.


source www.imdb.com/title/tt1853728/


Concerning the movies about the Holocaust and the Second World War I think Spielberg and Tarantino are tied at the highest possible level. Schindler’s List was impressive and Saving Private Ryan is simply  the best war movie I’ve seen, while Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds rewrites with a Tarantinesque chutzpah and expressiveness  one of the final pages of the history of the Second World War.

Lincoln and Django produced me completely different reactions. Spielberg appears to wish to say by all means that ‘I can do serious films’ and the result is Lincoln – a rhetorical film, in which characters make speeches even when they are in bed with their wives, a film in which I miss the thrill of discovery and emotion and the fluency of the story telling I love in Spielberg. On the other hand Tarantino tackles that time in history in Django with his usual boldness and lack of complex, he uses violent action cinema and makes a deep reverence to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. The result is a sparkling film that is both  fun to watch and passes the message.


(video source The JoBlo Movie Network)


This is certainly a violent film, but maybe I should say something about Tarantino’s violence (on screen) the way I see it. The exaggeration and complete lack of realism in the violent choreography of Tarantino’s movies is his way of saying – do not take me too seriously. There is something more in this film however – the introduction creates the message of abhorrence towards slavery in a manner at least as efficient as Lincoln’s speeches in Spielberg’s movie.

There is a lot of good cinema in Django which makes the film enjoyable also for the passionate of quality cinema. Jamie Foxx‘s rendition of Django, the liberated slave who turns into a professional killer in order to save his wife is dark and compassionate at the same time.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson are a fabulous pair of suprisingly bad guys, and Tarantino himself and Franco Nero show up in minor but memorable appearances. And the story telling … well … it’s good like in the good Spielberg movies.

Django is my preferred 2012 film about the period of abolition of slavery.



Islands are terrific settings for thrillers. We know it from our own cinematographic experience, and we know we are in claustrophobic territory from the very first scene of this film, with the Shutter Island somewhere out of Boston in the mid-50s appearing in the mist under the gray oppressing skies. In Polanski‘s Ghost Writter or in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the first series of Millennium there was a bridge to connect the island with the continent, here there is no bridge and a storm will soon cut any connection with solid ground and any way for the characters to get back to the safety of their routine existence. If there is one.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1130884/


There are a lot of Hitchcock quotes in this film of Martin Scorsese, we almost may characterize it as a Hitchcock film directed by Scorsese. The setting of the film in the 50s reminds immediately the great films of the master of the suspense from that period, and the main character, a US marshal sent to investigate the impossible disappearance of a patient in a special asylum, where criminals are treated for insanity using modern psychoanalytic methods behaves for a while as one of these Hitchcock heroes whose sanity is placed under doubt, but we know that it is not them but the world around that became crazy, and tries to pull him into its lack of sanity. Is this the case here? Leonardo DiCaprio plays the lead role, I am no fan of his, but I confess to have liked immensely his acting here.  In a film where nothing is really what seems to be, where the reality and terms of reference change slowly to be completely swapped by the end, his solid but very nuanced acting is critical and sustains the film from start to end. DiCaprio is present in every scene in the film, because what we see is what he sees, and what he feels starts to infuse into us viewers as the film progresses. His perception of reality becomes ours, his flashbacks bring his past under our eyes, his visions and nightmares end by hunting us.


(video source fsilverscreen)


There are many beautiful scenes in this film, ideas, shots, dialogs that are all memorable. Acting from actors like Ben Kingsley or Max Von Sydow as two of the psychiatrists in the prison-asylum is positioning their characters against the evolution (or is it an involution) of the hero in search of the truth, which becomes a search of his own identity. If I am to explain why I was not completely happy with this film I would maybe blame its duration, the rule of ‘way over two hours’ which seems to have been legislated in Hollywood lately applies here as well, with no clear benefit. It’s maybe a way to say – this is a serious and heavy movie- but there is no need to have said it in this case because the film is serious and catching and the final is hard to forget anyway. Less is better, here is another rule which could have applied. Scorsese makes great films, they need not be excessively long also.


With Inception Christopher Nolan ends a decade in his carrier marked by a series of movies which brought together the best in the traditional Hollywood cinema with intelligent scripts that explore the space beyond reality. His latest film is closer of all his precedent movies to the one that opened the decade and his first success – Memento that he made in 2000 – in being a challenge for the cinema viewers who are asked to do more than just relax and eat popcorn while the story runs for itself.  The sophisticated story of dreams control requires attention beyond the usual visual effects satisfaction granted to science-fiction blockbusters watchers.

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/

The idea that reality may be a controlled dream of ourselves or of some supernatural divinity, that the world is the subjective summation of thoughts and feelings of all living is not new in philosophy, literature or cinema. It gets however more and more attention lately, also due to the increased popularity of virtual reality computer programs and communication. The script of Inception plays well into the genre, with a team of dream controllers taking the apparently impossible mission of getting into the brain of a corporate shark heir in order to change his mind about the destiny of the corporation. The rather non-important pretext allows Nolan to develop a sophisticated web of action scenes in which reality, dreams, dreams in dreams, and yes, dreams in dreams in dreams play the most important role. All the structure is carefully build, and the logic seemed to me perfect during the viewing, and very well supported by visual effects as well as by the explanations given by the characters.

(video source hollywoodstreams)

Yet, this is not enough in my opinion to justify the super-hype created around this film although I agree there are not much better in view around this year, and especially not the #4 where it stands now in the IMDB all-time viewers preferences. With the narrative structure put aside we are left with a rather schematic set of characters, some of them incompletely developed despite the almost 2 and a half hour of duration, with a love story which we have seen too many times for us to be impressed despite Leo’s presence, and with a sometimes questionable choice of actors (Ellen Page?). For a film with such an innovative structure it is surprising how much stuff is borrowed from the typical Hollywood bag of tricks. Action scenes seem to clone a Bond film, and if the story pretext has any importance we never know actually how the intrigue ends but we are served with a very conventional and sentimental rosy style ending instead.On the good side Leonardo DiCaprio is better and better in each film he acts. As in Memento the idea of the movie is mind-blowing. None of them succeed in being the great film they aspire to be, Memento was too cool (in the negative sense, lacking human touch) and Inception is too conventional in the details of its execution. Both are however films to remember coming from a director who does not seem to know how to make forgettable movies which is certainly no little thing.

Detailed information, viewers and critics opinions (404 critic reviews to date!) can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/.