Wednesday 21 May 2014

Double Bill Mini Musings: Wolves & Ghosts...

The Wolf of Wall Street:
What's it about?
Martin Scorsese's latest epic about the outrageous life and times of stockbroker Jordan Belfort in the late 1980s and early 1990s - sex, drugs, money, power, women, mayhem, and corruption.
Who would I recognise in it?
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Jon Bernthal, Jean DuJardin, Joanna Lumley, and others.
Scorsese's film is his most brash and outlandish for quite some time, and deals directly with despicable people doing reprehensible things. Terence Winter's whip smart script invites us into this world and manages to elicit different reactions from different people, or a multitude from one individual viewer. Deep down, who doesn't want money and power and sex? The condemnation creeps in when, slowly, the excesses take over and the protagonists' sense of reality skews into obscene territory. These characters - based on real people - do horrible things and never know when enough is enough, but you can't examine that world, or tell that story, without showing it as it is. You can't - and shouldn't - censor it. You can't deal with villainy without meeting the villain, you can't show excess without having a little fun, you can't illustrate a huge downfall without going to extreme lengths.

Click "READ MORE" below for more Wolf of Wall Street, and The Conjuring...

Indeed, you may find the characters repugnant - that's to be expected - and if you really don't like it, nobody's forcing you to watch, but when you think about it there are worse characters in the likes of Goodfellas or Casino or other Scorsese films. Nobody kills anyone here. It may be a ludicrously vulgar world on-show, one which will likely offend most for a variety of reasons, but the film doesn't ultimately condone these actions.

For a three hour film it's surprisingly breezy, although the third hour does begin to flag in certain regards. Elements of the downfall feel underdeveloped, and it would have been nice to have a bit of wider context added for the side characters - a sort of 'what happened next' montage. However, considering there is a four hour version of the film out there somewhere, perhaps that missing footage helps with some of the film's minor issues. Some things go unresolved, which is a little frustrating, but ultimately it's an impressive filmmaking achievement. Top work from all involved in all aspects of the production, too. Great.

The Conjuring:
What's it about?
Supernatural horror based on real events and people from the director of Saw. A family is terrorised by a demonic spirit in their rural home and only a pair of paranormal investigators can help them.
Who would I recognise in it?
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lilly Taylor, Ron Livingston.
I was expecting it to be like many modern 'haunted house' movies, as in lots of loud noises following moments of silence, however it was much better than that. James Wan is skilled when it comes to establishing a creepy atmosphere, playing with audience expectations and building up a gradual sense of dread. The film keeps you invested in the characters, the events, and the dark mysteries held within the house, and does a pretty good job of unsettling you. There are a few jump scares littered about, but for the most part Wan takes a more delicate approach until it comes to the final act where - with the need to provide a suitable climax - the film descends into shock and awe territory. There are far too many haunted house/ghost movies about lately, but The Conjuring is one of the worthwhile examples. Good.

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