Once again, it seems I’ve been away a while but here we go again with plenty more mini-reviews.
1) Casino (Martin Scorcese)
”Ace’ Rothstein (De Niro), a professional gambler, is enlisted by the mob to run the Las Vegas casino, The Tangiers, aided by his friend Nicky Santaro (Joe Pesci), an erratic and unstable mob enforcer.
If this mix of The Mob, De Niro, Pesci and Scorcese sounds familiar…that’s because 4 years previously they made a little film now as ”Goodfellas”. Unsurprisingly Casino features many of the same trademarks; ex-positional voice-overs, a wonderful and well used soundtrack, a focus on the importance of family and the cost of it falling apart and of course a lot of ”f***s”.
This is a great film, thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing. I just feel it suffers due to the obvious comparisons to make with ”Goodfellas”, an arguably superior film. However, the real gem in this movie is Sharon Stone as Ginger, Ace’s hustling, self-involved and self-destructive wife. Also, the brutal and typically violent final 10 minutes is a wonderful piece of cinema.
VERDICT: ”For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.”…That’s from Goodfellas?…Fine, how about this?”Funny how? What’s funny about it?”…Goodfellas again?!…Just see the movie!
2) Macbeth (Justin Kurzel)
Michael Fassbender, as Macbeth, with Marion Cotillard, by his side as Lady Macbeth, lead an all-star cast in this Shakespearian adaptation. I cannot imagine that this story has ever been told in such a visually stunning and compelling way. The cinematography is fantastic, each scene is perfectly framed and fantastically lit. Coupled with the fantastic performances and clever directing and this really is a captivating film.
VERDICT: Maybe brush up on your Macbeth and your Scottish accents first. It will serve you well and I wont be testing you on it either.
3) Focus (Glen Ficarra and John Requa)
This crime/drama/comedy follows Nicky (Will Smith), a veteran con-artist, as he mentors Jess (Margot Robbie) a inexperienced but talented grifter.
Lead by heavy-hitter Will Smith and up’n’comer Robbie it is no surprise this film did well at the box office. The film is slick and stylish and anchored by charming performances by the cast, and a nice final twist. The real problem here is that there is no new ground being trodden, everything here has been done before and often better. As with many films today ”Focus” suffers from an over-abundance of style, flare and showmanship to make up for its lack of substance. Despite this, it is a fun watch and entertaining if you catch it on TV but I wouldn’t make a concerted effort to seek it out.
VERDICT: ”I can convince anyone of anything. I once convinced a man that an empty warehouse was the federal reserve, so I’m good.”
4) Wild (Jean-Marc Vallée)
Based on memoirs of Cheryl Staryed, ”Wild” follows Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) as she attempts to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, in an attempt to heal her many wounds.
Told as Cheryl follows the trail and keeps a journal and featuring many flashbacks, often just as heart-wrenching as they are warming. These flashbacks introduce us to Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern), to produce some of the best scenes of the film. They demonstrate just how far Cheryl fell and the opportunities she wasted to provide the satisfying pay-off as she develops through her trail. The performances of Witherspoon and Dern are phenomenal, drawing you further in to Cheryl’s world with depth and feeling. Without these two performances, the films would not have succeeded. This really is a must see, especially for the isolated and beautiful scenery of the Pacific trail.
VERDICT: ”Honestly? I’m lonelier in my real life than I am out here.”
That’s all for now folks, come back soon. Like and share if you enjoyed the read.