The recently deceased Nelson Mandela distinguished himself through his charismatic leadership of South Africa and his inspirational compassion and forgiveness exhibited under exceedingly difficult conditions. The world, that now mourns his passing, knows him most affectionately as Madiba/Father (from his Xhosa clan name), the first black elected President of post apartheid South Africa (1994).
Based on Jordan Belfort's book charting his rise and fall, "The Wolf of Wall Street" recreates the wild ride through the 90s of this penny stock trader, soon multi-millionaire never bothered by ethics. Leonardo DiCaprio's tour-de-force performance drives the film from work at a Wall Street corporation to a shabby office to his own Stratton Oakmont Long Island firm.
The time: 1961; the setting: smoky, folky bar in New York City. The player: Llewyn Davis, a folk singer with a penchant toward being irresponsible, arrogant and needy. Think of the recent title character of "Francis Ha," and you have Llewyn Davis only 50 years ago and with a guitar.
First, the confessions: I never read Mary Poppins. I giggled over those penguins when the movie first came out in 1964. I admit I was delighted at the thought that a nanny could save the day; in fact, I would have given anything to have had a nanny save my day as a child.
When a film begins in its opening seconds with these words on the screen, "Some of this actually happened," humorous playfulness is on the way. And "American Hustle" does not disappoint with its stellar cast, often playing against type, and a delightfully mischievous approach to the con game.
The second films of three are often the weak links, but not "The Desolation of Smaug." Sure, exposition is chunked into the first 20 minutes just to fill in the plot and references to "The Lord of the Rings" are forced. The second of this series is uneven but exciting.
Late in the shrewd, revealing documentary "The Armstrong Lie," writer/director Alex Gibney says, "We wanted to believe the beautiful lie. I wanted to believe it, instead of the ugly truth." Count me in that group as well as someone, naïvely and foolishly, celebrating Armstrong's spectacular wins--both in cycling and against cancer--over his long career.
Rarely does one living person participate in major international events over two and a half decades. But that's exactly what Yehuda Avner experienced as speechwriter and assistant to five Israeli Prime Ministers beginning in 1958. Director, co/producer and writer Richard Trank's informative, well-researched documentary "The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers" presents Avner on camera, narrating his behind-the-scenes observations.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the National Theatre of Great Britain has prepared a film nummy smorgasbord. On the screen of the Tivoli Theatre, playing only on Sunday December 8 at noon, you can join in the celebration.
"Out of the Furnace" wants to be a blue collar, gritty film, and it succeeds. Set in Braddock, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) in 2008, the future for the steel mill workers looks about as bleak as the sky and the town. Two brothers pursue different paths: Russell still employed at the mill, younger Rodney floundering, heading off to Iraq.
Near the end of the documentary "Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli," an expert observes that a good designer is the "intermediary between information and understanding," making the complex clear. As directors Roberto Guerra and Kathy Brew work through illustrative examples from the Vignellis' work, what that means becomes crystal clear.
Producers and directors Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger bring a welcome restraint to their documentary "Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Show." Anyone familiar with Downey's nationally syndicated show from early 1988 to July 1989 remembers the loud, confrontational, trash-talking host who blew smoke in guests' faces while screaming at them.