Daniel's Recent Reviews
A speculative four stars, in a way, as I thnk - like Casino - this film will be better on repeated viewing, despite being lesser work from the director of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. DiCaprio is good, but was not unduly snubbed from Oscar consideration this time; there are few scenes in which he's really good (the yacht scene with the FBI agents, for instance), but at other times he looks like he's just alternating between his Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro impressions, chewing scenery all the while. Still on the acting, I couldn't buy into Jonah Hill, but I thought Margot Robbie's performance was brilliant, and I was more impressed by the relative unknowns in this cast than by the leads. And one huge but sort of silly sign it was good: it's the first time in a long time that I've sat through a movie without hitting "pause" once... considering its three-hour runtime, that feels like a feather in its cap. Not Scorsese's best, but with some famous directors - Ridley Scott's another - a mediocre outing is still much better than the average junk we usually watch, and I think we take the high-level film-making for granted, nitpicking or wishing that great work could be legendary. It's no Taxi Driver - hey, what is? - but on the other hand, it's no Bringing Out the Dead either, and I'd give Scorsese a little credit for going outside his comfort zone: it's probably his least violent movie since Kundun. A very good movie that ought to gain more respect over time.
It took a really long time for me to connect with these characters and this story but eventually it felt worth my while. There are a few truly beautiful moments, but it's a film that struggles with pacing and tone - it flirts with the whimsy of Kelly's Heroes but becomes much more of a historical drama, in the end, (never mind that the drama never quite gets intense enough). The stakes never quite resonate - maybe because the ensemble's too big, and the story gets spread too thin between so many characters? - and as a whole, the movie is too glossy or something; it just doesn't feel important. But it's pleasant to watch and Cate Blanchett steals every scene she's in, so there's that. Another so-so George Clooney-directed movie, in all.
Daniel's Favorite Movies
It might be my favourite movie ever, and every time I watch it I see something new. Based on an amazing novel, this is one of the rawest films I've ever seen and it's at once exhilirating and terrifying. A seminal film of the 90s with a soundtrack among the best ever assembled, the movie is humor laced with horror - sort of like the drug addiction it uses as its subject, I would think. For everyone getting in on the No Country for Old Men hype, here's where Kelly MacDonald made her start... yeah, she's not Texan, just Scottish and ridiculously talented. Probably Ewan MacGregor's best movie, and when I read the book a couple of years after first seeing it, while I could imagine most of the characters a little differently, I couldn't shake Begbie's image from my head, which I think stands as a tribute to Robert Carlyle's performance. I could go on for days about this one, but it's a truly outstanding piece of art.
The music and Jack Black's character almost single-handedly take it to a four star film... then, on top of it all, it delivers one of the best character narrations in film history. Pulling off narrative tricks usually reserved for literature, you love, hate then love... or hate (?) the protagonist when the movie ends in such a run-of-the-mill fashion. I begged for the redemption, I begged for the Hollywood ending - but life goes on. Outstanding film - where have I been these last seven years??