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.
What filmmakers have never understood is that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is not about the parties. Their hands get all sweaty at the idea of filming those grand, balloon-filled ballrooms. The Great Gatsby is a classic because it’s not just a backdrop brought forward, not just about showering shirts down from a magnificent closet.
The opening titles of “Django Unchained” announce: “1858. Somewhere in Texas. 2 years before the Civil War.” A chain gang of slaves struggles through the dark, interrupted by an educated, polite individual. In short order the hunt for wanted men and a beloved wife will reveal the underbelly of cinematic depictions of the old West, plantation life, and American myths.
Director Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar takes on the portrayal of that famous, if not infamous, F.B.I. director from its beginnings as the Bureau of Investigation in 1935 until Hoover's death. A fine director of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Flags of Our Fathers, among other outstanding films, unfortunately Eastwood fails here to energize a largely sedentary Hoover.