Month in Review [January 2014]

In order of viewing:
1) Sightseers [2012] – 7/10
Sightseers [2012]

2) Disconnect [2012]– 8/10
Disconnect [2012]

3) Don Jon [2013] – 7/10
Don Jon [2013]

4) The Last Stand [2013] – 7/10
The Last Stand [2013]

5) Oblivion [2013] – 6/10
Oblivion [2013]

6) Resolution [2013] – 6/10
Resolution [2013]

7) Her [2013] – 8/10
Her [2013]

8) Dallas Buyers Club [2013] – 8/10
Dallas Buyers Club [2013]

9) We’re the Millers [2013] – 6/10
We're the Millers [2013]

10) The Wolf of Wall Street [2013] – 9/10
The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

11) Upstream Color [2013] – mindfuck/10
Upstream Color [2013]

12) Ain’t Them Bodies Saints [2013] – 7/10
Ain't Them Bodies Saints [2013]

13) Short Term 12 [2013] – 7/10
Short Term 12 [2013]

14) The Act of Killing [2013] – 8/10
The Act of Killing [2013]

15) Fruitvale Station [2013] – 8/10
Fruitvale Station [2013]

16) The Spectacular Now [2013] – 7/10
The Spectacular Now [2013]

17) Prisoners [2013] – 8/10
Prisoners [2013]

Video Games Completed:
1) Assassin’s Creed II [Xbox 360] – 8/10
Assassin's Creed II [Xbox 360]

2) Gone Home [PC] – 9/10
Gone Home [PC]

3) Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360] – 8/10
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360]

4) Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate [PS Vita] – 6/10
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate [PS Vita]

5) Outlast [PC] – 8/10
Outlast [PC]

6) Resistance: Burning Skies [PS Vita] – 5/10
Resistance: Burning Skies [PS Vita]

TV Shows Finished:
1) The Sopranos [Season 5] – 10/10
The Sopranos [Season 5]

2) 30 Rock [Season 6] – 8/10
30 Rock [Season 6]

Books Finished:
1) “Life Itself” by Roger Ebert – 9/10
"Life Itself" by Roger Ebert

Best of the Month: For movies, The Wolf of Wall Street was every bit as crazy as I hoped. It came in at #4 in my top 10 films of 2013 list. I spent a fair amount of January catching up on last year’s films via Redbox and Netflix, of which Disconnect, The Act of Killing, Fruitvale Station and Prisoners impressed me the most. For video games, I absolutely loved Gone Home. It’s a short playthrough — about the length of a movie — but it provided an unforgettable experience.

Worst of the Month: I hesitate to call it the *worst*, but Upstream Color completely baffled me. I may have to give it another go someday, especially after reading Alex Withrow’s great interview with the actor, Andrew Sensenig. Nothing I watched last month was inherently bad, but Oblivion and We’re the Millers were run-of-the-mill sci-fi and comedy films, respectively. For video games, Resistance: Burning Skies was an uninspired FPS that I only completed due to its very short length. When compared to Killzone: Mercenary, its weaknesses are especially glaring.

How about you? What was your favorite film/game from last month?

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Terence Winter (screenplay), Jordan Belfort (book)
Genre: Biography/Comedy/Crime
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Running Time: 180 minutes

The Wolf of Wall Street is exactly what I expected it to be — a wild, drugged-out ride through the career of a larger-than-life criminal. Sex, drugs and profanity profilerate the screen. It’s so over-the-top in its debauchery that it’s bound to infuriate those sensitive to such content. One of the very first scenes, in which Leonardo DiCaprio snorts cocaine off the backside of a hooker, tells you all you need to know about what the next three hours hold. If that doesn’t deter you, well, sit back and enjoy one of the craziest films you’ll see all year.

Set in the late 80s and into the 90s, the film follows the rise and fall of a cocky young stockbroker named Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio). While he starts out fairly mild-mannered as a married man, he begins spiraling out of control after accepting a profitable job selling penny stocks. As his wealth begins to accumulate, so does his lavish lifestyle. He forms his own company, Stratton Oakmont, hires a handful of friends (mostly drug dealers) and then molds them into successful brokers. Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) becomes his right-hand man, and Belfort scores himself a new hot wife, Naomi (Margot Robbie).

The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

Belfort’s excess and fraudulent behavior catches the eye of FBI agent Greg Coleman (Kyle Chandler). The two of them play a bit of cat-and-mouse as Belfort starts shoveling his money to a Swiss bank account. He always seems to be one step ahead of the game, yet he simply doesn’t know when or how to stop. Naturally, his habits lead to his downfall.

Does Belfort change? No, not really. The more money he makes, the more out of control he gets. He throws spectacular parties for his employees, most of which are full of cocaine, Quaaludes and orgies. He’s a pretty awful guy all around, yet DiCaprio manages to make him so damn charismatic. Leo’s performance here is both batshit crazy and also one of the best in his career. Watching him dance, scream and jumble around while strung out on ‘ludes is worth the price of admission alone.

The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

The supporting cast is absolutely terrific as well, with no weak links anywhere. Jonah Hill often goes into frightening territory with his character, but his drug adventures with DiCaprio make for many of the film’s best moments. (On a side note, who would have ever thought Hill would have *two* Oscar nominations? Dude deserves them though.) Matthew McConaughey has a great scene in which he acts as a bit of a mentor to Belfort, leading him in an awkward-but-amusing chest pounding chant. Rob Reiner, Spike Jonze and Jon Favreu all have notable bit parts, but perhaps the biggest surprise of the film is Margot Robbie. This Australian actress is the perfect counterpart to DiCaprio, even managing to steal a scene or two from him. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on in the future.

The Wolf of Wall Street‘s excess may be a bit too much at times, and it does bear quite a few similarities with Goodfellas, but Scorsese is still in top form here. The dark humor is so twisted and off-the-wall that I found myself laughing often, and quite frankly there is never a dull moment within the film’s three hour runtime. If you can handle the vulgarity, this one will not disappoint.