While we were on our recent Caribbean cruise, the captain of the Celebrity Summit cruise ship gave a wonderful lecture, that amounted to a discussion of how he uses the five principles to guide the massive ship, and is that he is especially fond of conflict avoidance. Afterward, we asked him for his Message in a Bottle (which will be posted on L&L Magazine, and the education website, Vision-Revision. It is short and sweet. It appears below.
Friday, January 3, 2014
The Wolf of Wall Street— Directed by Martin Scorsese/starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Cristin Milioti/screenplay written by Terence Winter from the autobiographical book by Jordan Belfort/3 hrs/rated R
Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der, Barbara Rich & The Other Guy
(BR) Please, NO CHILDREN! NO TEENS! This is borderline porn, and I’m not sure about the border. We need better border patrol! Having said that, The Wolf On Wall Street is a great tribute to the real truth about decadence in this era of brokerage scams and bank shenanigans. I guess I’ve been subtly aware of the “F&^%B^#S” that goes on in Wall Street, but the extremes that this movie takes you to really wakes you up to the reality of how far some will go for the sole purpose of making money. The Jordan Belfort character is worshiped by his followers offering nothing more, at the end of anyone’s rainbow, except making money without regard for rules, regulations, or morality. DiCaprio’s performance is riveting. In fact, there are no weak performances in this movie. I even thought Cristin Milioti was beautiful as Belfort’s first wife. I was also struck by the incredible amount of dialogue that DiCaprio had to memorize. He was in almost every scene, and once you get a salesman talking, there is no stopping him. The truth of the matter is that nobody wants to see a criminal glorified, but it’s hard not to allow yourself an appreciation of a guy who could sell an ice cube to an Eskimo, and make the Eskimo think about going into the ice cube selling business. The real life Belfort only served 22 months for his crimes and kept a bundle of his money. I hesitate to give this one five binoculars, but four and a half seems fair…except for DiCaprio. In a year when male performances excel, I think that he should win an Oscar.
(OG) Sex, drugs and all the excesses that go along with a lifestyle that puts making money above everything else, is what this movie is about. I am glad someone made a film that deals honestly with this theme, but I don’t know how Martin Scorsese got away with an R rating. Wolf stretches the credulity of the rating system. It opens with Leo DiCaprio blowing a cocaine-like substance up the anus of a young woman’s backside. Yes, that is the OPENING SCENE. From there, you see Jonah Hill masturbate at an office party (he’s not trying to conceal anything, either) and while the characters discard any semblance of social contribution, (with orgies and wild partying that would make Dionysus blush) the audience is heartily entertained. It was one of those films where you can’t decide if it’s a comedy or a tragedy, but most in the audience didn’t really care. Please, don’t get me wrong. I loved this movie. I thought the acting, directing, and editing were superb. I’ve always been a fan of DiCaprio (and Scorsese for that matter). Maybe this will be Leonardo’s year for awards. He certainly has some stiff competition though, but in his role of Jordan Belfort, I don’t think anyone could have done better. The only problems for him clinching an award or two come in the form of some very steep and talented competition and an uneasiness that permeates the theater as the viewer nears the third hour. How much is too much? This true story doesn’t give us an answer, but at least it appears to ask the question. I give this one, four and a half binoculars with five for Leo, as well as my vote for best actor in a very, very tight race.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
American Hustle--Directed by David O. Russell/starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner/written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell/ 138 min/rated R
Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der, Barbara Rich & The Other Guy
(BR) American Hustle has a wild, crazy kind of energy and it keeps you chasing after something but you don’t know exactly what. This is a 1970’s story about ABSCAM, con artist scams and bribery schemes that were newsworthy, at the time. The fashion and the hairstyles is what amazed me. I thoroughly enjoyed going back in time to bad comb-overs, perms, and puffy pompadours. The hair stylist alone deserves an Oscar. And those barely there dresses! I don’t know how those girls kept them on. This was a great, dynamic ensemble, too. But make no mistake, Christian Bale and Amy Adams were the nucleus of this team. I also have to mention that I was thrilled with the selection of songs. I found myself dancing in my seat while listening to this mix of ’70 tunes, which afforded me the luxury of nostalgia. Jennifer Lawrence again, proves her versatility, adding a New Jersey housewife to her litany of characterizations. Jeremy Renner nailed the mayor-role, and this is the best acting I’ve seen him do. Bradley Cooper’s role as a government agent is all over the place, with an ego that propels his character to extremes. In conclusion, I give this film four binoculars.
(OG) I couldn’t help but compare this movie to The Sting, the Robert Redford/Paul Newman classic, and I’m certain that a Sting-look-alike comparison will not offend either Singer or Russell. They did a great job writing this snug script. It was nice to see Jeremy Renner doing a different kind of acting than he’s had a chance to do in previous films, and Christian Bale was phenomenal, and completely immersed in his character (even gaining some weight to fill in his pot-belly). Both Adams and Lawrence demonstrate their versatility and Bradley Cooper’s character—a complex and creative cop character—allows him to deliver a full spectrum of emotions. I think we’ll see this ensemble cast working together in the future, as a kind of male/female rat pack without the need of a “chairperson of the board.” I agree, this is a four binocular film, with a possible five for Christian Bale. I expect his name to be at the top of the awards lists throughout the season.