Wolves among us

What a fantastic house of cards American Hustle is. Watching the movie is like watching a highly trained tight rope artist walk across the grand canyon on a length of string... while blindfolded... after a few drinks. From the opening line, “Some of this actually happened,” to the ending credits, the only thing you can be sure of is that you can’t trust anyone. It makes for a highly entertaining thrill ride.

This is Russell showing off, making an incredibly tight film that feels like a really good Scorsese film, in a year Scorsese decided to make an incredible mess of a film in the Wolf Of Wall Street. I won’t blabber on about what happens in the movie because there is a million reviews out there that talk about how great the cast is (it’s really great) and how well done the wardrobes are (yup), but I will say that Amy Adams is really incredible in this and deserves some love from the Academy for her performance.

If I was to make a top five list of the movies I’ve seen this year it would probably looks something like this:

  1. The Wolf Of Wall Street
  2. Frances Ha
  3. American Hustle
  4. Gravity
  5. Drinking Buddies

I just can’t stop thinking about The Wolf Of Wall Street. What a fever dream of a movie it is. I’ve rumors on the internet that the original cut was six hours long, and I can easily believe that. The movies length is just as important to it’s central theme as it’s content. Scorsese wants to keep you in your seat as long as humanly possible. He wants you to feel the excess, he wants you leave the theatre feeling like there is cocaine and sweat dripping off of you. The people who are saying that the movie is glorifying corrupt Capitalism are completely missing the point. You’re supposed to come away from the movie with a hangover. It’s all meant to overwhelm, and it really does.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill both shine in their roles as drug addled, sex addicted, Wall Street traders. There’s one particular scene in which an (how do I put this) incapacitated DiCaprio tries to get to his car that I really believe is Oscar Worthy. I could watch it a million times. Getting to see Leo really let loose with a character is a pleasure, and Scorsese puts his likability to perfect use. Jordan Belfort is the kind of guy that we have all been told to hate, he’s the model for what went wrong on Wall Street and one of the big reasons why the economy is as truly fucked as it is. But just Youtube the guy - tell me there isn’t something charming and charismatic about his manic presence. DiCaprio is able to embody this charisma in the film, and it may be his best performance to date.

Who knows if this is where the list will stand after I see the rest of this falls standout releases: Inside Llewyn Davis, Her and 12 Years A Slave. It always feels like a race to see all the big movies before Oscar nominations come out just so I can be actively participate in the discussion without having to worry about movie spoilers or risk sounding like an uninformed jerk for championing one movie for best picture without having seen at least the majority of movies nominated. Even without having seen a lot of the recent releases I can say that this year has been a fantastic year for movies.

It would be nice if we could people more excited about movies like Before Midnight or Frances Ha, but it warmed my heart to see as many people go out and see Gravity, which out did every other big budget action movie in spectacle, and did so without having to have a story with the world at stake. Big, tent-pole, releases are not going to go away, but here is to studios giving auteurs like Alfonso Cuaron the money to make something spectacular instead of wasting money on Big Budget Sequel 8: Electric Dreams.

That's about it for this edition of Justin Goes To The Movies, I may have more to say when I catch the last of the films that caught my eye over the last couple of months. I feel like in the last couple of years television has become the more interested medium for visual storytelling, with shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and others. What will be interesting to see is whether this trend will continue as we see a lot of these prestige shows come to an end, or will we have an indy renaissance in movie making like there was in the 90's - see: Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, David Fincher and others - hopefully we get both. There is a lot of great story telling out there right now regardless of the medium, and it's easier than ever to find  - I urge you to do so.