Quick Take: The Wolf of Wall Street

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The signature Scorsese-voice-over narration is delivered by broker Jordan Belfort(Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Wolf of Wall Street which guides the viewer through his incredible rise to wealth starting the in late 1980’s to his later fall. Through shady stock dealings and money laundering conducted by his raunchy, raucous, debauched company Belfort lives a life of scamming and adrenaline chasing. There isn’t a drug that Belfort doesn’t ingest with gusto and frightening frequency or a woman either. The narrative voice-over device recalls the final scene of Goodfellas in which Ray Lilotta breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience. That technique is employed in this film right off the bat, which leads to it not being as powerful. Perhaps the light treatment of the story is due to the nearly unbelievable amount of partying the brokers engage in. The film abounds with prostitutes and cocaine depicted with filthy abandon. If the framing wasn’t so well done some might dare call this smutty. The ensemble cast is very entertaining, especially the unexpected inclusion of Joanna Lumley who slyly winks at her Absolutely Fabulous past. This film has an ambiguous theme of greed being destructive all the while making it look like a(mostly) grand old time. Watch The Wolf of Wall Street to see DiCaprio; his performance after ingesting antique quaaludes is physical comedic dynamite.

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Inventory 2013 & Thoughts

2013 was a cruel year, it was.  This is not a confessional booth, but the events of the past 12 months took their toll on me. There were many unexpected deaths of loved ones, which cut into my heart repeatedly.  A prolonged, demoralizing legal battle made things even worse.  Bereavement and expensive litigation can really thrown a person off their game, which is what happened to me. Then I moved across country to start a new phase in life (with two freshly broken fingers), which is exciting but a huge upheaval.  I left everything behind because I realized this year, why the hell not?  Why live in a place where your career is marginalized, you fear for your safety, the standard of living is astronomically, prohibitively expensive and is filled with ghosts? The only constant good I have had in my life were my family, especially my loving, supportive husband, and a few good friends to help me through.  Starting this blog was a fun diversion for me and I thank all who have read my words.  It is a humbling honor to have strangers take the time to read my thoughts and I am so grateful for that.

The following list is of all the films/television programs which I watched during this past year.  I did not get out to the theater as much as I would have liked; kicking myself for missing Before Midnight.  Many of the films listed I have watched more than a few times.

Onward and excelsior towards 2014!

In Theater:

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  • 12 Years a Slave (2013) – Steve McQueen
  • Amour (2012)  – Michael Haneke
  • The Bling Ring (2013) – Sophia Coppola
  • Blue Jasmine (2013) – Woody Allen
  • The Great Gatsby (2013) – Baz Luhrmann –  in 2D
  • The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)  – Derek Cianfrance
  • [Safe] (1995) – Todd Haynes –   MoMA screening
  • Trouble Every Day (2001) –  Claire Denis –  BAM screening
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Martin Scorsese

Fiction Film:

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  • All About My Mother (1999) – Pedro Almodóvar
  • Anna Karenina (2012) – Joe Wright
  • Bachelorette (2012) – Leslye Headland
  • Behind the Candelabra (2013) – Steven Soderbergh
  • Benny’s Video (1992) – Michael Haneke
  • The Blues Brothers (1980) – John Landis
  • Boogie Nights (1997) – Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Carlos (2010) – Olivier Assayas
  • Enter the Void (2009) – Gaspar Noé
  • Flight (2012) – Robert Zemeckis
  • Frances Ha (2013) – Noah Baumbach
  • The Flower of My Secret (1995) – Pedro Almodóvar
  • Goodfellas (1990) – Martin Scorsese
  • Holy Motors (2012) – Leos Carax
  • The Iceman (2012) – Ariel Vromen
  • I Heart Huckabees  (2004) – David O. Russell
  • In the Realm of the Senses (1976) – Nagisa Oshima
  • La Jetée (1962) – Chris Marker
  • Lust, Caution (2007) – Ang Lee
  • The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) – RZA
  • The Master (2012) – Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Melancholia (2011) – Lars von Trier
  • Oldboy (2003) – Chan-wook Park
  • Only God Forgives (2013) – Nicolas Winding Refn 
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) – Carl Theodor Dreyer
  • Robot + Frank (2012) – Jake Schreier
  • Shutter Island (2010) – Martin Scorsese
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – David O. Russell
  • Skyfall (2012) – Sam Mendes
  • Sleepwalk with Me (2012) – Mike Birbiglia & Seth Barrish
  • Sophie’s Choice (1982) – Alan J. Pakula
  • Spring Breakers (2012) – Harmony Korine
  • Sylvia (2003) – Christine Jeffs
  • Tiny Furniture (2010) – Lena Dunham
  • Velvet Goldmine (1998) – Todd Haynes
  • Wings of Desire (1987) – Wim Wenders
  • Zodiac (2007) – David Fincher

Documentaries:

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  • 30 for 30 – ESPN
  1. 9.79* (2012) – Daniel Gordon
  2. Broke (2012) – Billy Corben
  3. June 17th, 1994 (2010) – Brett Morgen
  4. You Don’t Know Bo (2012) – Michael Bonfiglio
  • The Amish: The American Experience (2012) – David Belton – PBS
  • Blackfish (2013) –  Gabriela Cowperthwaite
  • The Central Park Five (2012) – Ken Burns, Sarah Burns & David McMahon
  • Dig! (2004) – Ondi Timoner
  • The Five Obstructions (2003) – Jørgen Leth & Lars von Trier
  • From One Second To The Next (2013) – Werner Herzog
  • Let There Be Light (1946) – John Huston
  • Pina (2011) – Wim Wenders – in 2D
  • The Queen of Versailles (2012)  – Lauren Greenfield
  • Room 237 (2012) – Rodney Ascher
  • Shoah  (1985) – Claude Lanzmann (first four and a half hours)
  • Sound City (2013) – David Grohl
  • Standard Operating Procedure (2008) – Errol Morris
  • Stories We Tell (2012) – Sarah Polley
  • This Is Not a Film (2011) – Jafar Panahi
  • Wagner’s Dream (2012) – Susan Froemke

Television:

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  • Arrested Development (2013) – Mitchell Hurwitz
  • Breaking Bad  (2008 -2013) – Vince Gilligan (I watched the entirety in 21 days!)
  • Game of Thrones (2011 – present) – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
  • Survivor (2000 – present) – Charlie Parsons (It’s amazing that each season there are still contestants who don’t know how to make fire. Learn to make fire! You are going on a survivalist show; learn the basics!!)
  • Top of the Lake (2013) – Jane Campion
  • Treme (2010 – 2013) – David Simon

 

Holiday Picks: Auntie Mame & Goodfellas

During the holiday season certain films are standard viewing like A Christmas StoryScrooged, and The Sound of Music. I enjoy these films very much but find myself drawn to two others in particular.  Auntie Mame and Goodfellas are my holiday favorites not for festive reasons exactly, especially the latter, but for the satisfying repeat viewing factor.  These two films could not be more dissimilar; one is the kooky tale of an eccentric, single woman who is unexpectedly left to care for her nephew and the other is one of the best gangster films ever made. Both of these films contain scenes during the Christmas season but neither are about the holiday. It is difficult to parse out why I like these films so much during this time of year, as they are not in the holiday genre as such, but that is why personal preference is so hard to explain.  As my favorite film professor used to say, “No one cares what you like, that is subjective; what is your criteria for assessing a work?”  In this case it really does come down to the comfort of watching something I know will be quality viewing, over and over again. The holidays are about warmth, happiness and rituals; these films are part of my tradition.  May the winter holidays bring you good cheer, as these films do for me.

Auntie Mame (1958)

Goodfellas (1990)