It's a good hour into The Wolf of Wall Street, following a deep dive into Jordan Belfort's early days in the stock market game — that being the most appropriate word for it — and festive indulgence in the most carnal manifestations of human desire, that we're hit with the title card, "18 months later..." Here, it is solidified that the years we have spent inside Martin Scorsese's world of toxic capitalism have all been, up to this point, set-up. Fuel. This brief flash of text, the longest instance of silence in the cacophonous sewer system that is Belfort's story, is the first real sign that a fire is coming.
By this time, Scorsese's willful defiance of the "show, don't tell" method has introduced us to every one of the doe-eyed crook's countless vices. He has no qualms stealing from those who can't afford it, lying to those who trust him, cheating on his wife, cramming every substance known to modern science into his bloodstream, and wholeheartedly endorsing (to his adoring audience) all of the above. All the while, we bound between delight and disgust. The delight comes not so much in the material victories of Belfort and his cronies — that has the latter effect, in fact, as every antic is so vividly laced with Sodom-level depravity — but in watching them like zoo animals. In fact, The Wolf of Wall Street's principal undoing might be that it is simply too much fun.
For that, we have to thank Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio had managed terrific performances all his career, but this is one of the first in years to actually surprise us. Opening his tale as an ambitious and firm-shouldered young buck, the likes of which you'd find in any Horatio Algers novel, and devolving into the Financial District's answer to Beetlejuice, the actor exhibits corners of his performing ability that we have always dreamed we'd see. In the months leading up to DiCaprio's turn as the dastardly dandy Calvin Candie in last year's Quentin Tarantino picture Django Unchained, fans anticipated an unprecedented kookiness that never seemed to show. Turns out, DiCaprio was saving that mania for Wolf of Wall Street, in which he lambasts justice and judgment in the form of an elastic child at his most tempered and a rabid kangaroo on those nights of the especially hard partying.
And of course, there's that scene with the Quaaludes. Without giving too much away — although the experience is so visceral that all the contextual spoilers wouldn't rob the scene of its emphatic humor — DiCaprio manages a feat of physical comedy so extensive, demanding, and gutterally f**king hilarious that you'll wonder tearfully what might have been had the rising star shirked Titanic for a career in slapstick. But the surplus joys derived from this scene might, in fact, be Wolf's undoing. In a story that is meant to lather on the horrors inherent in the human's propensity for self-serving greed and gluttony, it can soften the blow when we're allowed to take a break from our disgust to spend a few moments in vivid, unabashed delight. Yes, the scene in question involves drug abuse, intoxicated driving, criminal activity, and a near-death experience. But it's so damn funny that we're kept from toppling down into what might have been the darkest crevasse of the film's story and enduring the pathos that might come with it.
The dilution of Wolf's message comes at the hand of its comedy (with no affair a bigger culprit than the one described above) and its tendency to meander. Although Scorsese works to shove the very idea of "excess" down our throats with seemingly endless scenes of Belfort and his pals harassing flight attendants and dehumanizing little people, the ad nauseum effect doesn't always hit home as powerfully as imagined, instead allowing the viewer to fizzle out from time to time through Wolf's three-hour tour. We're drowned, slowly and steadily, in Belfort's tragic pleasures while, as the "18 months later" interstitial suggests, we keep expecting to combust with them.
It's always a risky endeavor for a film or television show to indict crooked characters not through narrative penalties but through a tacit communication of their behavior or psychology as bad news. The risk comes in the form of audiences challenging artists for letting their villains get off scot-free, or even for glorifying undesirable lifestyles. Ultimately, while Belfort does get some semblance of his comeuppance, he wins in his nefarious game. The Belfort we leave at the end of our journey adheres to the tenets he spouts from the beginning, reveling in a legion of former colleagues beaming at him in collective awe and new students of his self-centric theology zealously eating up his every word in hopes of becoming the very same kind of demigod. To Scorsese, and to any an audience member willing to estrange him or herself from the bounties of wicked humor, this is just the fire we were promised. Belfort's image is ignited by the instances of theft, deceit, betrayal, substance abuse, sexual crime, and a spiralling descent into sub-human madness. But there are a few too many laughs along the way to keep the flames from reaching their full, hottest potential.
But hey, when you're complaining about a movie for being too much fun, you've got a pretty good movie on your hands.
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Fans of The CW’s Arrow and the DC Comics Universe have been talking about the introduction of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) for months. Originally, Barry would be introduced on Arrow, and then the show would air a backdoor pilot for The Flash for The CW’s spinoff series following the super fast superhero. However, Deadline recently reported that The Flash would get a stand-alone pilot. After watching Barry’s introduction on Arrow, we have to agree that Gustin deserves his own pilot because he was fantastic.
In “The Scientist,” Barry arrives in Starling City as an assistant CSI tech from Central City to help investigate a robbery at Queen Consolidated. Throughout the episode he befriends Felicity Smoak — more like sparks fly between these two — but doesn’t win over Oliver, who finds out that Barry lied about his reason for being in Starling City. By the end of the episode though, Oliver, Dig, and Felicity realize they need Barry’s help. In the next episode “Three Ghosts,” Barry proves his worth as part of the Green Arrow team.
Despite such a short stint on Arrow, we already love the chemistry between Gustin and Emily Bett Rickards, as well as the possibility of a Barry and Ollie bromance. We’re almost sorry that Barry will be leaving Starling City to have his own show. In actuality, we’re extremely excited for The Flash. Gustin can totally pull off the transition from Barry to the titular character. Besides, we can always hope for some crossover episodes.
Give Martin Freeman an empty room and he'll give you comedy. The best parts of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — an admittedly mishandled movie in large — involved his subdued grimaces, his Chaplinian waddling, and the way he carried himself with equal parts neurosis and snark in every scene. If there is one primary misstep of An Unexpected Journey's terrifically improved sequel, The Desolation of Smaug, it is the spiritual absence of Bilbo Baggins.
Freeman's good-natured but disgruntled Hobbit takes a backseat to the Dwarf team in this chapter of Peter Jackon's three-part saga, distributing the heavy lifting among the front lines of the bearded mooks. Thankfully, we're not shafted with too much "Thorin's destiny" backstory, instead focusing on the trek forward, through far more interesting terrain than we got last time around. The Dwarves voyage through a trippy woodland that'll conjur fond memories of The Legend of Zelda's unnavigable forest levels and inside the borders of Lake-town, a man-occupied working class monarchy that is more vivid and living than any place we have seen yet in the series. And while Unexpected Journey's goblin caverns might have been cool to look at, none of the quests in Desolation feel nearly as close to a tangential detour. Every step the Dwarves take is one that beckons us closer to the central, increasingly engaging story.
Desolation is not entirely without its curiosities. While Gandalf's mission to meet the Necromancer serves to connect the Hobbit trilogy to the Lord of the Rings movies, the occasional cuts over to the wizard's pursuits are primarily distracting and just a bit dull. Although we're happy to welcome the Elf race back into our Middle-earth adventures, it's easy to imagine a version of this story that didn't involve side characters like Legolas and Kate... I mean, Tauriel... and still felt whole (perhaps even more cohesive). The latter's love affair with hot Dwarf Kili seems like a last minute addition to the canon, and one not built on anything beyond the cinematic rule that two sexually compatible attractive people should probably have something brewing alongside all the action.
But the most egregious of crimes committed by Desolation is, unquestionably, the shafting of Bilbo Baggins to secondary status. Yes, he proves himself a savior to his fellow travelers four times in the film, but long stretches of action go by without so much as a word from the wide-eyed burglar. When he finally takes center stage in his theatrical face-off with Smaug — an exercise in double-talk reminiscent of Oedipus outsmarting the Sphinx — the film picks up with a new, cool energy, with a chilling fun laced around the impending doom of their back-and-forth. We've been waiting since the first frames of Unexpected to see how the dragon material will pay off, and it does in spades... albeit in the final third of Desolation, but with equal parts gravitas and fun, to reunite us with our Tolkien passions once more.
Benedict Cumberbatch's dragon doesn't do much to subvert expectation — he's slithering, sadistic, vain, manipulative, and vaguely Londonian. But tradition feels good here. Smaug's half hour spent toying with the mousey Bilbo (who does get a chance to showcase his aptitude at small-scale physical comedy here) is terrific in every way.
Its Hobbit problem aside, Desolation proves itself worthy of Bilbo's past proclamation. "I'm going on an adventure!" more than pays off here, in the form of mystifying boat rides, edge-of-your-seat efforts in dragon slaying, and the most joyful action set piece we've seen in years. Twelve Dwarves, twelve barrels, and one roaring river amounts for enough fun to warrant your trip to the theater for this latest outing into Middle-earth.
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French police officials have confirmed Kate Barry, the fashion photographer daughter of singer/actress Jane Birkin and late Bond theme composer John Barry, died after falling from the balcony of her apartment in Paris on Wednesday (11Dec13) Detectives are currently investigating the tragedy after Barry's body was found on the pavement outside the apartment block, where she lived on the fourth floor.
Reports suggest she may have taken her own life.
Barry, who was actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon's half-sister, was raised by Birkin's lover Serge Gainsbourg after her parents split the year she was born (67).
The 46 year old leaves behind a son, Roman de Kermadec, who is 26.
Barry's work appeared in British Vogue magazine and the Sunday Times, among other publications.
"We went to see Barry Manilow's house in L.A. when he was selling it. It was amazing. The real estate agent handed us a glass of champagne as soon as we walked in." Kate Moss reveals she and husband Jamie Hince have been house hunting in Los Angeles.
Stan, the bullheaded and ridiculously large-chinned patriarch of the Smith family, decides to team up with Roger the alien and Hideki, an eccentric party host who always "trusts his gut." Hideki's gut literally rumbles when something feels right. Later on, Stan and Roger’s guts rumble when they come up with the idea of a cake-cutting device that will slice individual pieces in an instant. They should get that gut rumbling checked, that's not normal.
After that opening, the entire episode revolves around the death of Snot's father. Yes, the whole gut thing is tossed aside in favor of Steve's idea to go on a road trip to Snot's dad’s funeral. Nerdy Steve convinces Snot, Barry and Toshi.
At this point, the episode "changes" into an indie movie. The screen gets dim and grainy. Those little lines and dots you see on old films occasionally flash on the screen. It's a minimal effect, but a clever one. Their road trip starts off the group picking up a hitchhiker (he's a meth addict and takes off when they pull over). Snot is totally indifferent about this trip, since he never cared for his negligent dad. Toshi travels to a corn field, stripping off his shirt and glasses, wrapping a leaf in a bandanna style around his head. It doesn't make sense because it’s indie, remember?
Stan, Barry and Snot stop at a motel to rest up. A cool, blue haired-girl catches the attention of Steve at the motel. Blue Hair (voiced by Zooey Deschanel) is a quirky girl — we're indie now, remember? She shoots Polaroid photos at random locations, blows bubbles out of a smoking pipe and says she wears ice skates to weddings. Steve decides to spend time in a hot tub rather than continue to the funeral.
The episode ends when Steve realizes his error, hitchhiking on an 18-wheel truck to meet up with Snot and Barry at the funeral. Steve makes it, but doesn't get off. He tells the truck driver to keep going. The episode ends. No sense. Indie. During the credits, Stan, Roger and Hideki celebrate their idea with a giant cake. Their guts rumble and the three of them pull two guns each, pointed right at their business partners. "What now?" Stan asks. The screen goes black. A gunshot's heard. Roger says that Hideki was shot.
The Futureheads frontman Barry Hyde is trading in his guitar to pursue a long-held dream of becoming a chef. The British rocker became interested in the culinary field after working with Juniper's Pantry owner David Gill, who organised the Gourmet Tent at the Split festival the band organised.
After Gill advertised for a trainee chef, Hyde applied and has been working at Juniper's Pantry deli in Sunderland, England for the past few weeks.
He tells NME.com, "I'm at the bottom of the ladder. I get to wear the whites (uniform), but I mainly do preparation, get shouted at and clean up after messy chefs."
Hyde compares preparing food to making music and explains he draws on his talents to help him.
He says, "There are similarities between music and food. They are both about creating something that exists in a moment in time, then it's gone and it's never quite the same next time you do it."
The 32 year old is hoping his new-found career takes him around the world to learn "about different country's cuisines," but stresses it doesn't mean the end of The Futureheads.
He continues, "I don't think we'll ever break up. It's just that we've been doing he band almost constantly for 10 years and we all wanted to do something different. We'll definitely be back, but for the moment we're on hold and I'm concentrating on this."
Actor Shia Labeouf has been encouraged to settle a financial dispute with his uncle out of court for the sake of his family. The Transformers star and his mother Shayna filed suit against her brother, Barry Saide, earlier this year (13), accusing the defendant of reneging on a deal to repay an $800,000 (£533,330) loan in installments beginning in January, 2011.
Saide hit back at the legal action with a countersuit, insisting his famous nephew was trying to bankrupt him, despite allegedly lending the pair money before the actor made it big.
The case was heard in New York's Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday (18Mon13), when Justice Eileen Bransten urged to two sides to reach an agreement privately, telling them, "A resolution would be better for the family."
LaBeouf's lawyer, Robert Gage, claimed the actor and his mum had offered to take a 25 per cent stake in Saide's employment companies as an alternative for the cash repayments, but he reportedly failed to honour that agreement either - and now it's too late.
Gage told the judge, "We're beyond that (company deal) now."
However, attorneys for both sides agreed to continue talks in an effort to work out a settlement.
When directors set out to make a film, chances are they have a production designer in mind. The look is what brings a film to life, and it's why we plunk down our cash. The Hunger Games franchise has a super-high coolness quotient when it comes to that: the demented hair, the gowns made of flame, and its mash-up of sartorial styles.
Now imagine you've been asked to do the costumes for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. What films do you watch for a little inspiration? Here are two scenes that run the gamut from Hogarth to Post Apocalypse, and could easily pass in Panem.
Blade Runner visualized a future awash in nostalgia, the actual storyline of the film. It was high-tech pulp fiction. So when Sean Young sidled onscreen in a shimmering futuristic 1940s day suit and V for Victory hairdo, production designers all over the world slid to the front of their seats.
Hollywood has been guessing at what 18th century fashion looked like in motion since the advent of cinematography. Stanley Kubrick's 1975 masterwork Barry Lyndon is considered an apt interpretation. He even filmed it in candlelight. There are traces of Effie Trinket in there, for sure.
Boybands including One Direction, Jls and new supergroup Mcbusted led the way during Britain's Children In Need telethon on Friday night (15Nov13) by helping to raise cash on live TV. One Direction took to the stage to perform their hit track Best Song Ever, marking the third time they have appeared on the annual fundraiser, and bandmember Harry Styles revealed how much the organisation means to them, saying, "We grew up watching it... If you grew up watching something, it's so important, so we love getting involved."
His bandmate Liam Payne added, "We've watched Children In Need since we were children and we are so proud to be a part of it. The children the charity supports are a complete inspiration."
The pop stars later filmed appeals for donations on the set of popular U.K. soap opera Eastenders, while another boyband, JLS, performed a medley of their hits on the show's set.
New supergroup McBusted, made up of members of McFly and Busted, also performed, along with rapper Tinie Tempah, singer James Arthur and Ellie Goulding, who belted out the official Children in Need single How Long Will I Love You.
Singers Kylie Minogue, Sir Tom Jones, Cheryl Cole and actress Olivia Colman were also among the famous faces who filmed appeals featured during the show.
The telethon had raised in excess of $22.5 million (£15 million) to aid disadvantaged kids as WENN went to press.
Officials at the Children In Need organisation also hosted a star-studded concert in London earlier in the week (beg11Nov13) to raise money for the cause. The show was masterminded by Take That star Gary Barlow and featured acts including Kings of Leon and veteran crooner Barry Manilow.