Tag: Leonardo DiCaprio


Sea of Shadows

June 18th, 2019 — 8:18pm

***

Sea of Shadows-sp

This is an interesting documentary film which is at times quite exciting and dramatic although some of the fine points were difficult to understand. It appears that in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the vaquita, a small whale-like mammal, is on the verge of extinction. The reason being that a Mexican cartel encourages rogue fishermen to set up fishing nets to capture another species, the totoaba, since the Chinese mafia will pay very large sums of money for the bladder of the totoaba because of supposed medicinal powers. The vaquita which die in these fishing nets are now near extinction with only 15 or 20 of them still alive. A group of environmental activists attempt to rescue the few remaining vaquita. Things get exciting as the Mexican navy gets involved, responding when the environmentalists identify the rogue fishermen. There are some very dramatic scenes shot by a drone as the criminal fishermen are confronted. But things become more complicated and quite scary as there is a sinister crime boss involved. The director and filmmaker, Richard Ladkani, risks his life along with the environmentalists as they, at times, arrange undercover meetings which are secretly recorded with the various participants and criminal elements.

This film project which was mostly supported by one of the executive producers, Leonardo DiCaprio, at times becomes an expose of the Mexican navy and the Mexican government itself. This film may make a difference in exposing corruption in Mexico as well as in saving a species on the verge of extinction. (2019)

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

The Great Gatsby

May 12th, 2013 — 6:18pm

The Great Gatsby****

The Great Gatsby-rm– When a film comes out with a hundred million dollar budget and is based on  one of the great novels of the 20th century, plus it has Leonardo DiCaprio (and also has a 3D version –which we didn’t see), there are too many expectations to live up to. Putting all this aside, there is a very intriguing storyline (thank you Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as director and co screen writer Baz Luhrmann (who also directed  Moulin Rouge). Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio)  is offered to us as a combination  of an obsessed,  eternal optimist, somewhat unbalanced and a tragic figure. The object of this intriguing and complicated figure’s attention is another man’s wife and that is Daisey Buchanan (Carrie Mulligan). The other man is the truly very rich Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) who has one of those thin mustaches which make a person look evil but he turns out to be much more multifaceted. Then there is Nick Carraway (Tobey Maquire), the guy through whose eyes we are seeing the story and in fact has written it all down at the behest of his psychiatrist (Can’t forget to mention the importance of a shrink.) Maguire’s perplexed and concerned facial expression contrasts with the the range and intensity which DiCaprio emotes throughout the film. So where did this big budget go? Aside from perhaps in DiCaprio’s and the other all star cast’s pockets, it paid for the  magnificent scenes of extravagant parties in the estates on the Hamptons in Long Island,  period costumes and  rich interiors, expensive  autos, realistic NYC skyline and bridges all of the 1920’s, all  perhaps a little overdone. Some of it must  have been CGI as there were probably hundreds if not 1000 artists listed in the credits. There was also a 3D version. One of us had the thought that this could have effectively been done as a much less expensive film noir version in black and white and still captured the drama and clever turnabouts in the plot. Interestingly, the music background was contemporary with lots of stuff by Jay Z rather than the jazz or flapper music of the 1920’s. In the end a lot of people are going to see this film, enjoy it and remember it. (2013)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance

Django Unchained

January 12th, 2013 — 8:50pm

Django*****

Django Unchained – rm

This is another  Quentin Tarantino revenge movie but yet it is like nothing that we have ever seen before. The brilliance of Tarantino ,who wrote the screenplay and directed the film, is that the movie is not what it seems to be.  It begins looking  like  fanciful story that is a “shoot em up western” – maybe the so called spaghetti western (because they were made also by filmmakers of Italian background,) where some guys come to town on some mission and all sorts of things happen. The movie is initially set in Texas two years before the Civil War. A German-American dentist turned bounty hunter  (Christopher Waltz) ambushes a transport of a few slaves because there is this one slave, Django (Jamie Foxx)  who can recognize three criminal  brothers who he is trying to track down dead or alive  to collect a bounty on their head put there by  the federal government.  The next thing you know, we are being drawn into the world of plantation slavery and the vicious, cruel, sadistic manner  in which white people in the South were treating the blacks (a word by the way was never used since the “n word” prevailed.) Because the viewer can only take so much of this painful inhuman treatment, the film is laced with clear satire and if you can believe it , humor. Then, when the revenge factor kicks in there are endless shootings of mainly white guys with gushes of blood all over the place to the background of what seemed to be haunting western music. The story has it’s twists and turns and didn’t resolve itself for  2 ¾  hours. In the end we are left with an indelible view of the horrors of this period of our history served up to us in satire. In addition this film was a magnificent showcase for outstanding acting performances. Christopher Waltz may very well get himself a second Oscar as the conniving but sensitive dentist bounty hunter. Jamie Foxx evolved from captured slave to an unforgettable John Wayne type hero wearing a pair of shades. Kerry Washington did a great job as Brunhilda the German speaking slave who didn’t say much but her eyes told her story.  Samuel L. Jackson was not recognizable at first by us but he nailed his role as a true “Uncle Tom” at the plantation who ultimately identified with his masters. Finally, Leonardo Di Caprio as the mean rich  Mississippi plantation slave owner really got into his part and must have done a great job since we hated his character.  We didn’t feel that way about the film. In fact, we felt quite the opposite. (2012)

 

 

Comment » | 5 Stars, Action, Drama

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

January 23rd, 2012 — 8:29am

****

What’s  Eating Gilbert Grape?- nf  It is hard to believe that the same actor who we recently  saw play J Edgar Hoover this year was the playing a developmentally disabled 18 year old boy in this movie, who looked and acted like a kid even half that age. . Of course it was nine years ago, but nevertheless Leonardo DiCaprio well deserves the Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor he received in 1992 for his portrayal of Gilbert Grape’s (Johnny Depp) younger brother, Arnie, in this emotionally touching movie. The screenplay is based on the book, both by Peter Hedges,  and takes the viewers into a sleepy rural town. We meet Gilbert Grape’s family which consists of  Arnie and his two teenage sisters all of whom live and devote their lives to their mother who is at least a 500 pound women who has hardly moved around the house since her husband ended his life several years before. At first we couldn’t believe that this was an actual morbidly obese actress playing this mother and thought we were witnessing amazing special effects. However later we found out from the discussion about the film on the Netflix DVD that Darlene Cates was chosen for this part after an appearance on the Jessie Raphael TV show about obese women. She was able to bring to the screen role a sense of the despair she felt about her condition but yet the love and dependency in regard to her children. The storyline provides a setting about which most of us are unfamiliar, a set of characters who are quite unique but yet we can be touched by them and relate to each of their conflicts and attempts to find themselves. Mary Steenburgen plays the older women who have a need for attention from the Depp character. Juliette Lewis is a younger woman who is passing through town and encounters Gilbert Grape and ultimately his family. Her connection with Gilbert allows him to appreciate the possibilities he could have for himself. Director Lasse Hallsstrom and his cast all seemed to have sensitivity to this story and the film is beautifully made. While it may be geared toward sentimentality, it definitely works and has the potential to be unforgettable. You cannot help but be moved and inspired by the love and connection of the family throughout their challenges and changes. (1993)

 

 

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

J. Edgar

December 18th, 2011 — 8:25am

***

J Edgar rm-   There are very few Americans who can be recognized without their last name. J. Edgar Hoover is one of them. Clint (Eastwood) is another such name who directed this biopic about the man who served nine US Presidents and is the person most responsible for the establishment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as we know it today. Enter Leonardo , not DaVinci but DiCaprio who certainly deserves consideration for an Oscar nomination for his magnificent depiction of J. Edgar from his early days in law enforcement until his death as the revered, feared and even despised leader of the FBI. Hoover is shown initially to be a patriot and a sincere crime fighter but his passion and his hate of those he felt were enemies led him ultimately to gather power, overstep his authority, attempt to glorify himself and use his position to blackmail and intimidate anyone who was in his way. Perhaps the most revealing part of this character study was the demonstration of this man to have a stunted emotional growth. He is shown to be completely under the sway of his mother (Judi Dench ) and at least in this version to have an inability to have an adult relationship  with women. His comfort and attachment to Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer ) whom he hired, befriended, made him his Associate Director of the FBI and ultimately lived with,  is a major part of this film. Hammer should be up for a supporting actor award winning performance as he ages from dapper young FBI agent to sickly old man during the course of the film.  It is suggested but never fully clarified wither they had an overt sexual relationship but nevertheless the irony is in your face that J. Edgar sought out other peoples’ secrets which he used against them while he had a very big one himself. This character’s ambivalence and underdeveloped personality makes it hard for us hate him , love him or identify with his persona. If anything we feel sorry for him. Despite the fact that there was nothing in the film to keep us on the edge of our seats, the 2hours and 17 minutes of the film did not seem boring  with credit to Clint’s ability to keep things moving and his skill in telling his story. (2011)

1 comment » | 3 Stars, Biography, Drama

Revolutionary Road

September 6th, 2010 — 2:17am

* * *
Revolutionary Road
– sp – Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite since Titanic but this time they play an almost middle aged couple who have moved to the suburbs and struggle with their identity and the meaning of life. The relationship is not pretty but the acting and directing is outstanding. Unfortunately despite a skillful script by Justin Haythe who was the guest at our film course, we did not care that much about the characters.(2008)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

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