Watch This Not That- Oscar Leading Man Edition

Leonardo DiCaprio

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11169254_800Shutter Island

DiCaprio is amazing in The Wolf of Wall street no doubt.  He does well with the humor and cockiness, but to see him really delve into the human psyche watch Shutter Island. Based and well adapted from Dennis Lahane’s novel, this haunting movie has a Sixth Sense ending so it will take two viewing to truly understand what a great job the cast and crew did with the material. Dicaprio never falters easily moving his character from situation to situation. The movie would have suffered with a lesser cast, but DiCaprio leads marvelous ensembles through the dark world of mental health.

…Not That

Titanic_posterTitanic

We’ve all seen it. We all know its crap. Like Pearl Harbor, it’s not truly about the actual historical event that took place. Instead, it’s cliché movie romance a sucky ending. The whole movie is totally unbelievable. While it was great start for a young Leo on the big screen, it shouldn’t be remembered fondly.

Mads Mikkelsen

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Jagten-The-Hunt-posterJagten (The Hunt)

This Foreign Language Nominee is emotionally powerful, even if the ending is a bit obtuse.  Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a kindergarten teacher who is falsely accused of sexual abusing his students. The plot is well thought out and viewers see the consequences on the accusations on not just Lucas but on several of the key players. Mikkelsen plays no one stereotype blending together a variety of emotions and feeling. He shows how deeply complex the situation is and how society actually reacts to even the allegations of abuse. The movie is moving and you easily side with Lucas from the beginning.

…Not That

tumblr_m8g6kizSKC1r04lg2o1_500Casino Royale

As Far as Daniel Craig’s James Bond movies goes, this is the best one in the lineup. This was probably the first time most American ever saw Milkklensen. While many are now familiar with him as the creepy Hannibal, this movie really proved that he was a great villain. But it only gave you that one side to his acting ability. Plus, whoever truly cheers for the Bond villain?

Bradley Cooper

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MV5BMTM2MTI5NzA3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODExNTc0OA@@__V1_SX214_Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook was all anyone could talk about last year and with good reason. The movie is both funny and serious and worked well with both aspects. Cooper gave the performance of a lifetime with a relatable protagonist with bi-polar disorder. From subtle tics to full blown outburst, Cooper managed each with ease and often it was painful to watch his character go through these emotions. The empathy he made us feel for his character was powerful.

…Not That

MV5BNjkxMTc0MDc4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODUyNTI1MDE@__V1_SX214_American Hustle

Sure, Cooper easily glides into the role of the overly ambitious FBI agent with a perm. But it lacked the nuance of those as his character in Silver Linings. While it easy to argue that the issue is the character itself is the problem, it does not let Cooper shine. His character is just one of many characters where the roles are reversed. We are supposed to feel sorry for the bad guys and hate the good guys. But the movie doesn’t manage to do that, and Cooper’s character is an overblown hardass.

Con Vs. Con

‘Tis the season for con-man movies. David O. Russell shows down with Martin Scorsese as their two newest movies share a similar story though with different results. Russell presents us with American Hustle, a look at a ‘70s con artist couple and a crazy FBI agent. The movie is glitz and glamour but boring as toast. Scorsese goes less period piece and more extravagant with debauchery in the Wolf of Wall Street.

american-hustleAmerican Hustle has promise but fails to deliver.   The movie begins stating the fact that some of these events actually happened. Irving and Sydney are a sociopathic couple coning people to get rich quick. When they are made by the FBI, they are force to work with the Bureau to bring down corrupt politicians. But when the Mob crosses their path they are in over their heads.

The movie lingers too long and that’s after half of it is narrated by the three main cast members.  As for the humor, the best bits are in the trailer spoiling any fun when the scenes arrive in the movie. Instead it a laborious affair that doesn’t show case the best characters For once Christian Bale is too over tide top, or it could just be his character. Whichever the case, it was hard to feel sorry for him or even believe Irving as a character. And if I wanted to watch Bradley Cooper lose his mind, I would re-watch the Silver Linings Playbook. The best performances come from Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner. .Lawrence is amazing and any scene Rosalyn is funny and entertaining. Renner gives an earnest portrayal of a politician trying to his best for his town and gets talked into something he wasn’t prepared for. It is him that you feel the most sorry for in this movie. Not the two cons.

The movie does, from the first moments the producing studios logo appears, envelopes itself in the ‘70s. The decor, the clothing, the hair, the music: it is all spot on. In fact, the time period almost becomes another character as the film progresses because it truly does change what people do and how they do it. But this isn’t enough to keep it entertaining.

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the memoir of slime ball Jordan Belfort. He makes a name for himself unloadingThe-Wolf-of-Wall-Street-1 penny stocks and then eventually breaks into Wall Street introducing Steve Madden to the stock world. But his investor never sees their money as Jordan gets it all and blows it on a wide variety of out here activities.

This movie works because Jordan knows he’s a slime bag and doesn’t pretend to be something else. Hustle’s protagonist whines about being victims or circumstance though they enter their conning willingly and do quite well. Jordan, on the other hand, wants money and power and will never have enough. You hate him and he knows it; Leonardo DiCaprio plays off that well. The movie is basically him selling you his life. While you may not want to buy it, it’s quite amazing to watch.

The movie only suffers when Jordan gives speeches to his stock teams. His grandstanding is boring as you want to see what the heck the man will do next on cocaine. We don’t want to see the “work” side of the story. We want to see the extravagance and Jon Bernthal with his shirt off.

While neither movie’s character some to real justice, it is more acceptable in Jordan’s case. You watch the decline of his family and personal life. He loses so much even though he will buy someone or something to replace it. That the saddest thing; he doesn’t make a real human connection ever, and that is somewhat of revenge.

American Hustle has polish with very little substance while The Wolf of Wallstreet has no polish but it a lot of fun and a very wild ride. Hit Wallstreet before you go back to the ‘70s.