Tag Archive: martin scorsese


UK Release Date: 17th January 2014

Stars: Martin Scorsese (director), Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze, Jean Dujardin

Plot: A New York stockbroker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, corporate banking world and mob infiltration.

The partnership of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have been responsible for some of the greatest films of recent years: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island. They never bring a dud to the floor and this is why The Wolf of Wall Street is a must see already! It’s been three years since the pair worked together and now they’re working with a script from one of modern television’s great writers, Terrence Winter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire).

Recently, Leonardo DiCaprio has been performing out of his skin with his performances in Django Unchained and The Great Gatsby earning him bucket loads of critical acclaim. The wonderful thing about his performance in the former is that he was allowed to just let loose and run with it: it looks as though he’ll be allowed to do the same here and it looks to be one of his more comedic roles…but just as brilliant.

A few years ago, Matthew McConaughey could only have dreamed of being in a film like this. Now, with resurgence complete, he seems an obvious candidate. Joining an all star cast in this biographical crime drama about the life of Jordan Belfort. Expect Oscar buzz, but whether nominations or wins will arrive remains to be seen.

Was that a DeLorean?

Leonardo DiCaprio recently announced that he is to take a break from acting after he has been busy making three films in the last two years. While The Great Gatsby and The Wolf on Wall Street are yet to be released, Django Unchained is in cinemas now.

Since getting his break in the film world back in 1993 playing a mentally challenged teenager in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Leonardo DiCaprio has gone on to become one of the most consistent, most versatile and most sought after actors. DiCaprio is one of my favourite actors so I have compiled a list of his top five most iconic performances. And it was incredibly hard, there are some big performances and big films that miss out, but feel free to tell me what you think in the comments. Here goes…

 

5. Jack Dawson – Titanic

As much as I don’t like Titanic and I don’t buy into the whole audience love for it that comes with the film there is no doubting that Titanic was the film that made DiCaprio ‘king of the world’ and really launched him into the limelight. Playing the young and poor Jack Dawson made DiCaprio an international heart throb and opened so many doors for him, allowing him to take his career in any direction he liked. The success that Titanic became has made sure that nobody could ever forget DiCaprio.

4. Calvin Candie – Django Unchained

Django Unchained marks the first time that DiCaprio plays the villain, and what a fine villain he makes. Calvin Candie is one of the most unlikeable character’s in film; he has so many moral issues and just because of the time period of the film he’s a despicable human being. But DiCaprio plays him with such menace and intensity that you just want to see more and more of him. It’s one of DiCaprio’s most enthralling and guiltily enjoyable performances.

3. Jim Carroll – The Basketball Diaries

Believe it or not, DiCaprio did have a career before Titanic. In 1995, a film was made of Jim Carroll’s juvenile diaries chronicling his kaleidoscopic free-fall into the harrowing world of drug addiction. While there may be a few problems with the film (it’s not one of DiCaprio’s best) DiCaprio puts in a fantastic performance as the drug addicted teen and it is one that highlighted his acting talent very early on and it was plain to see he was made for stardom.

2. Howard Hughes – The Aviator

The Aviator is another biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and this one actually got him an Oscar nomination. DiCaprio shows Hughes’ rise to success in the field of aviation and film production and even more convincingly, brings us down with Hughes’ decline of mental health. It’s a wonderful film directed by Martin Scorsese and quite rightly got nominations over the board for the film as a whole and DiCaprio’s mesmerising performance.

1. Danny Archer – Blood Diamond

Another role that got DiCaprio nominated for an Oscar. This is one of his best performances and Blood Diamond is one of my favourite films that he has done. DiCaprio got critical acclaim for mastering the difficult South African accent and really puts in a flawless performance that shows his character develop from selfish smuggler to a hero. It’s a wonderful performance which is truly moving by the end of it, DiCaprio puts on a wonderful show.

So that’s my top greatest roles taken on by Leonardo DiCaprio. As you can see there are some brilliant movies that miss out: Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Departed, Shutter Island and Inception. For me, all this does is make clear that DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of his generation with a filmography to match!

Not many directors ever get THAT famous among mainstream cinema fans. It really, I believe, takes someone special and a great storyteller, someone who is good enough to make sure that every single one of their films stands up on the big screen to both critics and fans alike; the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese and Danny Boyle have been able to do this and are a few of the most famous directors around but are there any new directors around who could one day join the ranks of the best directors EVER? For my choices I have limited the candidates to have directed, at most, 3 feature length films or have shown enough in two or just the one feature film that they have great potential as a director. In no particular order, let’s have a look.

 

Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson has to be the first person I mention because it was him that influenced me to write this blog. I recently saw Johnson’s latest film Looper and along with his previous two feature films (Brick and The Brothers Bloom) Looper was both written and directed Johnson and also starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt (although JGL’s appearance in The Brothers Bloom was a cameo). Looper has really announced Johnson on the scene as one of the best story tellers around. I won’t go into too much detail but if you read my review of the film here, you will get an idea of just how good Johnson is. He has managed to revolutionise the science fiction genre and the whole theories surrounding time travel. I think Looper will inspire a new generation of film makers and if Johnson continues to direct at this high standard he will be regarded as one of the best ever.

 

Joss Whedon

If you don’t know who Joss Whedon is by now where have you been all year? Whedon has a vast amount of experience in television and film working as a screenwriter for many years and having created hit shows such as Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse. Yet this year Whedon was welcomed with open arms to the masses as he directed this year’s highest grossing film Marvel’s The Avengers. Whedon’s only previous feature film was Serenity (a continuation of the Firefly universe) and, of course, flopped at the box office. However, I thought Serenity was great and there is no doubting Whedon’s talent for writing believable characters and dialogue. With him signed on to oversee Marvel’s phase 2 and direct The Avengers 2, the world is his oyster.

 

Marc Webb

Marc Webb is the only director on this list who I would not class as a science fiction director (despite the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man could be described as science fiction but I think that the superhero genre is now a genre in itself rather than a subsidiary of sci-fi but that’s a whole other argument). Webb arrived on the scene with the incredible, hilarious and touching story in (500) Days of Summer and then, like I mentioned, went on to have another summer hit this year with the reboot The Amazing Spider-Man which was more than capable of holding its own against The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Webb seems to specialise in relationships and he has this amazing ability to capture moments in relationships and develop them over time that I haven’t seen in a long time. I hope he continues to work in other genres but keeps his focus on character.

 

Neill Blomkamp

These last two are a little more unknown than the previous candidates but that doesn’t mean they are not as good. Blomkamp has, at the time of writing, only directed one feature length film with Disctrict 9. However, the praise that District 9 gathered and all the rave reviews about it really reshaping the genre of science-fiction and the sequel to his debut smash is highly anticipated, despite his next film being something completely unrelated to that. His next film is another trip into sci-fi and stars Matt Damon and is entitled Elysium. If this does as well as District 9 then stardom really does beckon for this man.

 

Duncan Jones

And finally we have Duncan Jones. Jones’ first film Moon is one of the greatest directorial debuts I have ever seen. Moon is a true masterpiece and Sam Rockwell’s performance along with the directorial skill of Jones is enough to grab the audience without having a mass of characters. His follow up Source Code was purely his directing and this time he had no part in the writing of the film yet still managed to pull off a great action film and again, a magnificent piece of directing because seeing the same 15-20 minutes over and over again can become tiresome for the audience but Jones manages to sustain interest. His next project is a biopic of Ian Fleming and Duncan Jones could well have another hit on his hands.

For years and years Danny Boyle has been my favourite director. With so many great and bigger names in the directing world at the minute (Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, Martin Scorsese etc. etc…) Boyle does seem to fly under the radar because of his low profile and because of the fact that, despite being critically acclaimed and having won numerous awards, he continues to work and remain in his homeland of British film. For the past few months Boyle has been kept busy with his latest project; this time it is not a film though. In just under two weeks the whole world will be watching as the Olympic games kick off in London and the opening ceremony has been put together and directed by Danny Boyle himself, no pressure. It’s been a long but very worthwhile journey for the lad from Lancashire.

Before getting into the film world Boyle began directing theatre projects; he directed plays for both the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company so right from the very beginning he was clearly ready to take on big projects. After that Boyle got into television and directed a few episodes of various television series such as Inspector Morse and Mr. Wroe’s Virgins. Then he finally got his big break in the world of movies with Shallow Grave, a crime thriller starring Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor.

In 1996 Danny Boyle was responsible for directing one of the greatest films ever without a shadow of a doubt; Trainspotting. Again he teamed up with Ewan McGregor who this time took on the lead role and helped to make Trainspotting what it is, often voted the best British film of all time. Trainspotting received one Oscar nomination for it’s scriptwriting and Boyle was unjustly left out of the Best Director nominations. It was always going to be difficult to carry on the wave of success that Trainspotting brought him and his next couple of films were pretty far from that standard; first was A Life Less Ordinary (again starring Ewan McGregor) and The Beach. Originally Ewan McGregor was cast in the lead role for The Beach but rumour has it that Hollywood executives wanted to push through Leonardo DiCaprio as he was the current Hollywood pretty boy and hot property so DiCaprio got the role and, to this day, Ewan McGregor still hasn’t worked with Boyle since that dispute.

Anyway, Boyle returned to his best with horror film 28 Days Later… and followed that up with Millions. Since these two projects Boyle has continued to direct to the very highest standard. It took three years after Millions for another Danny Boyle film to be released but it was well worth the wait. Sunshine is a sci-fi film about a team of astronauts who are trying to reignite a dying sun to save the planet and it is absolutely brilliant! It was also named as one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite films of recent years, pretty high praise indeed!

In 2009 Danny Boyle finally won an Oscar for his direction on Slumdog Millionaire which pretty much cleaned up at the 2009 Oscars; as well as Boyle’s directing Oscar it also won for it’s cinematography, film editing, original score, original song, sound mixing, adapted screenplay and it won the big one, Best Motion Picture of the Year. This time round as well, Boyle was able to follow the success of Slumdog Millionaire with another one of my favourite films, 127 Hours which got nominated for six Oscars (including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film).

After the Olympics Boyle will return to the big screen with Trance, a crime thriller starring James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson. He is also working on a follow up to 28 Weeks Later… which he has stated that it should be called 28 Months Later… in theory. Boyle has also expressed in interviews his desire to work with Ewan McGregor again on his next feature film. I hope that he does but I really hope that he continues to make prominent British films and remains to make them of the highest quality!

With so many movies made it is inevitable that nobody will enjoy all of them. There are also some movies that are frequently named as the best movies ever made and whilst I think that some of them live up to the hype (The Departed, Back to the Future, Toy Story) there are some classic films that I do not like despite the majority of people thinking they are absolutely perfect. Here are a few of my controversial choices:

Pulp Fiction is ranked at number five on IMDB’s list of Top 250 films and is commonly referred to as one of the best films ever made and Tarantino’s best. I don’t think this is Tarantino’s best work, in fact of all the films I have seen of his this is my least favourite, I much preferred Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill. I was expecting to be blown away by Pulp Fiction when I finally got round to watching it because of the way people spoke so highly of it, yet I was left bored and unentertained. I think the storyline is very weak and the dialogue is dull and unnecessary; it lacks the punch that Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds packs. And the way fans of the film bang on about it being a non-linear structure you would think it would be the only film to ever have done that and it doesn’t even add anything to the story by editing it in this way.

Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring Robert De Niro in an Oscar winning performance, is another film that left me feeling like I had missed something. As I have mentioned inĀ  previous post I do really enjoy the first half of Taxi Driver, the way that the character is created and we get insight into this person and his life is very very good drama indeed. But then the gear changes in the film and the wheels seem to come off; I know some people like it but I just feel like it makes no sense, it becomes boring and where it tries to become exciting it fails. I would definitely place Taxi Driver up there with one of the worst gunfights in movie history for its climatic action scene.

Star Wars is undoubtedly one of the most iconic films in history. Many of the characters have become staples in popular culture: Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca, Han Solo. Everybody knows Star Wars, that much is true. But I don’t see what all the fuss was about. I am a fan of science fiction so that’s not the problem here; I like Star Trek and Back to the Future but I failed to see the hype surrounding this massive franchise. I felt very underwhelmed and very bored, Han Solo who is supposedly one of the coolest characters around disappointed me as did many of the others. I really wanted to like Star Wars but found it impossible.

Recently Trainspotting was voted top in a poll of best British films to be released under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

I think that this is a little bit of an injustice. Trainspotting is possibly the greatest British film released under any reign. Scratch that. Trainspotting is one of the greatest films EVER made in any language, any country, any genre. Trainspotting is as close to perfect as I have ever seen a film reach.

Released in 1996 to rave reviews from all angles Trainspotting tells the story of Renton, a guy deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene who tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends. After working together on Shallow Grave Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor teamed up to make an absolute classic based on Irvine Welsh’s novel.

Superstar director – Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is one of Britain’s greatest directors and is one of my favourite directors working today. Christopher Nolan, the Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino get the majority of attention and are perhaps the most famous of directors but Danny Boyle always has been and remains one of the best. Since Trainspotting he has churned out hit after hit including 28 Days Later, The Beach, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours and while all are very impressively filmed and are gorgeous to look at nothing quite touches all the senses in the same way that Trainspotting does.

Trainspotting introduced Ewan McGregor to the masses and he has gone on to have a very long and prestigious career in film. I am a fan of the Scot and his performance here as Renton is flawless. He gives possibly the best narration to a film ever (along with Ed Norton’s narration in Fight Club) but his presence on screen is fantastic; he really submerges himself deeply in the character’s life and his performance is both harrowing and hilarious at the same time. If McGregor is to be remembered for any film role, it should be this one.

One of the greatest friendships ever caught on film.

McGregor laid down the gauntlet for his fellow cast members to compete with and they picked it up and ran with it. Ewen Bremmer as the dimwitted and closest friend of Renton, Spud, gives a humorous turn while keeping in tune with the dark subject matter. Johnny Lee Miller has gone on to star in American television series’ such as Dexter but he will always be known as Sick Boy and Kevin McKidd manages to put in a great performance as Tommy to the extent that you feel sorry for him but you don’t really care about him. It’s strange. But Robert Carlyle as Begbie, a short tempered frustrated possible homosexual, is amazing; Carlyle always gives a safe performance but he offers up a lot of laughs in an otherwise serious film.

The friendship between Renton, Sick Boy, Tommy, Spud and Begbie is completely believable and authentic. All the relationships are recognisable and take away the drug use (or include it) and you probably know people just like this group of friends in Trainspotting. To me, one of the most important parts of a film is character interaction, development and relationships and each and every one is spot on. The friendship between Renton and Spud is probably my favourite because even though Renton lets Spud go to jail whilst he remains free and later on Renton does them over, you can tell that the only one of that group that Renton really cares about is Spud and I think that is touching really.

The realism captured on film of the drug addiction, Scottish life, friendship, death and sexuality is incredible. Trainspotting could well be real, it is filmed that well, it could well be a documentary with Ewan McGregor’s voice over warning everyone about drugs and the addictiveness of them so it is hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. Some of the scenes become incredibly hard to watch because of the haunting events unravelling but you can’t peel your eyes away from the screen; the dark images will stay with you for as long as you live.

Luckily though, Trainspotting, while dealing with a lot of serious and dark themes does manage to pack in the laughs as well. There is a lot of humour for viewers to find there and the ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene manages to be both horrible and hilarious at the same time, absolutely cringeworthy as well as Spud’s ‘dinner table accident’ scene later on.

I can’t express in words how good Trainspotting is. It’s probably not a film for the faint hearted but it’s nothing like any other film ever made.

Combine the greatness of Danny Boyle and the quality of actors like McGregor and Carlyle to name just a couple and you are in for something fantastic right from the word go.

Trainspotting IS one of the best films ever made. No question.

Here we go; I hold the controversial opinion that Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is ridiculously over rated and really quite a boring film. Taxi Driver is commonly thought of as one of the greatest films of all time but its not something I agree with. I recently got round to watching Drive starring Ryan Gosling and I couldn’t help but notice a few similarities between the two.

Both films centre on a man who’s job revolves around driving: Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle is a former marine who served in Vietnam but comes back to New York and takes up a job as a taxi driver, hence the name of the film; Drive‘s Driver, portrayed by Gosling, is a movie stunt double who moonlights as a driver in the criminal underworld. While both characters come from different backgrounds and are of different mental stabilities they are both loners at heart and form a relationship with a woman in the film.

For a large majority of both films not a lot actually happens. The first half of Taxi Driver and Drive both try to build character with not much action. When I was watching Taxi Driver I thought that it was at its best when it was doing this, we were following Travis around on his various journeys getting to know the man behind the wheel before the much anticipated shoot out at the end. Drive introduces us to the Driver’s world straight away and for the first half an hour there is very little dialogue but the audience still get a sense of character. Because of the lack of action at the beginning of both films they rely on the character and the actors’ portrayal of their characters and fortunately this works well for both films; Ryan Gosling had a great year in 2011 and Drive is a fantastic performance of his, while Robert De Niro is flawless as Travis Bickle.

So up to the halfway point both films are very similar and then something happens which, for me, makes Drive a much better film than Taxi Driver. About halfway through Taxi Driver (maybe later but I haven’t seen it for a while so I forget) loses all sense of direction and seems to have no idea where it is going. Suddenly, Travis Bickle outrightly becomes the psychopath he is remembered for but I feel as though this comes from nowhere. Taxi Driver forgets its narrative arc and throws its plot out of the window in my opinion.

Drive steps it up a gear as it enters its final act; the action feels real, the Driver’s motivation feels real. The whole film makes sense in terms of its narrative. In the beginning Drive sets off on its travels and, at the end, reaches its destination, the same can’t be said for Taxi Driver. Gosling’s Driver’s motivations are obvious and relatable, his journey is a complete arc and his actions are emotionally fuelled. Drive is a blood pumping film; the action is well spaced throughout the film and at times catches the audience off guard, tricking the audience into thinking they will see one thing but they see another.

In my opinion, Drive and Taxi Driver are similar films and anyone that has seen both of them can notice why similarities may be drawn. I do believe that Drive is a much better film to watch and be entertained by. Where Taxi Driver offers a depiction of breakdown of society or mental state, Drive sticks to filmic conventions and offers up an enjoyable treat which does not become boring by any stretch of the imagination.

Given the choice, I’d be watching Drive every time.

Simple maths... DiCaprio + Scorsese = Brilliance.

It has been reported that Leonardo DiCaprio is set to reunite with Martin Scorsese for the fifth time in his career. The film, this time, is a drama named The Wolf of Wall Street.

The film is based on the memoirs of white collar criminal and motivational speaker Jordan Belfort. DiCaprio is being tipped to play the “hard partying, drug addicted stockbroker” who served time in prison for security fraud and money laundering.

DiCaprio and Scorsese have previously worked together on Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island resulting in brilliant films every time. This is what we have come to expect when one of the world’s best directors teams up with one of the world’s leading actors and the same will be expected of The Wolf of Wall Street as it’s release gets closer.

Leonardo DiCaprio last starred in J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood, in hope for Oscar recognition but his performance fell short and the film whilst still received well, did not do as well as had been hoped.

With two films scheduled for released in December 2012 it seems likely that Dicaprio will gain another Oscar nomination considering that both films are prime Oscar-bait. One of them, The Great Gatsby, also stars the brilliant Carey Muligan and is being directed by Baz Luhrmann. The second, and the one with the most hype surrounding it’s release, is Django Unchained. This is Quentin Tarantino’s latest project and stars DiCaprio as the villain. With Tarantino’s last film, Inglorious Bastards, gaining Christoph Waltz an Oscar DiCaprio will be hoping for the same to happen to him.