Hollywood logic dictates that the best movies are always released in summer and in December. The term best being relative to the bottom line, but hey, they ain’t giving these things away. They put them out when they think they’ll sell. The problem being of course, December always gets piled up with some of the most anticipated, then we scramble to cram them all in. Or attempt to, as I will get to later. So in the spirit of the extended season; I give you the gift of my reviews.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The second installment of three, in the film adaptation of the very short novel clocking in at around 300 pages or so. Why do we need three movies to cover such a tiny tale? Only Peter Jackson knows. This time around we get much the same as the first, journeying, fighting, lots of action sequences that tend to meander more than one would like. Much like this movie. Smaug is cool, the giant spiders are too, but I can’t help think I’d seen it all before. Could’ve waited for DVD on this one.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Another second installment, hence the 2 in the title. Ron Burgundy is back and is getting the band back together. As good as the first movie is, it’s on my best comedy list, I went in with high expectations. Which may be why my disappointment is matching. The film never catches traction with any one story line, a big chunk of the jokes fall flat, and the inclusion of some insightful, if obvious, points about the 24 hour news cycle are not enough to carry us through. Big disappointment. Definitely could’ve waited for the DVD.
American Hustle. A movie based on the ABSCAM sting operation of the late 70’s, sort of. I have no idea what parts were based on that particular operation or what kind of caper was being pulled at any given time in the movie. And I don’t care. This movie so mesmerizes you with performance and motivation of character you almost don’t even want the story to get in the way. The cast is rather large, and Russell gets all the credit in the world for making each member count, even the supporting roles. I don’t know if I’ve seen anything like it since Robert Altman regularly performed this magic trick in the 90’s.
This film is funny, powerful, exciting and complex. Bale, Cooper, Adams, Lawrence and even Jeremy Renner, are all so good and so relatable we can’t help but feel for each and every one of them. This is a very special movie and will no doubt end up being one of my all time favorites.
Wolf of Wall Street. Another movie based on real events, or at least a real person. Person being charitable, as Jordan Belfort, the aforementioned Wolf, is only a person in strictly philosophical terms. Much has been made about this film as social commentary and a necessary exploration into the greed of our financial markets. In reality, this movie has as much to do with Wall Street as Goodfellas has to do with the pharmaceutical industry or internships. Wolf of Wall Street ends up being nothing more than another Scorsese crime drama. Which should be a good thing, but sadly, it is so poorly executed in concept, I don’t think it ever had a chance. DiCaprio is allowed off his leash and runs wild with mouth foaming intensity. Scorsese sits back and lets the camera to roll. I get it, his seemingly un-edited direction is meant as an accompaniment to the debauchery and indulgence we see onscreen. Maybe a fine experiment, but it is a failed one. Watch it on DVD and marvel at what might have been.
Saving Mr. Banks and Her, are as of yet unwatched. But I do plan on seeing them soon.