Movie Day was a huge success this year. HUGE, I say!
The planning, flow of movies, execution of the day, and friend-turnout was on point. It wasn’t overloaded with too many movies in order to digest the movies and truly have a good time. It was nice to see no true fatigue from theatre hopping.
Below is the promised run down of movie day. I hope it helps you in anyway and every way possible to plan your own movie day experience. I’d also love to see you next year. But for now, this year.
*Note: I’m not sure why the formatting is off, but I wanted to make sure it was posted anyway. Enjoy.
10:05am – THE WOLF OF WALL STREET – amc empire 25
I started off the day with The Wolf of Wall Street, as it had the longest running time. I wanted to be as alert as possible. It was supposed to be long, over the top, long, ridiculous, and long. It was all of these things, including excellent.
It begins with a voice over introducing the concept that we are watching Jordan Belfort’s memory of these events. Like Gene Wilder’s fake limp entrance in ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’, Martin Scorsese’s change of the Porsche color makes us question what is actually real. Are these the events as they actually happened or an exaggerated sales pitch from the Wolf himself? This adds to the allure of the movie ten fold.
The themes, story, editing, and cinematography are all excellent here, as we should expect from a Scorsese movie. The acting is especially great. The first to point out are of course Leonardo Dicaprio and Jonah Hill, who are the best I’ve ever seen them–comedy and/or drama. Aside from some of the most intense scenes I’ve seen all year, they are responsible
for the best slapstick too. I do want to also highlight Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, and Matthew McConaughey’s performances. Robbie’s Naomi wasn’t just your average bimbo/second wife. There was actual character growth throughout with an understanding of how she found herself in this situation. Additionally, her ability to “sell” to the greatest salesman using what she knew best was a great foil (similar to Jennifer Lawrence in ‘American Hustle’). At this point in his career, Chandler has become synonymous with “good ol’ American values,” but it works because of how sharp and focused he is throughout his performances. His scene with Leo on the yacht at the end of the film’s Act II was easily the best in the film if only from a pure acting standpoint. Interestingly enough, for me at least, McConaughey is the reason this film works at the ground floor. If Jordan’s ‘mentor’ isn’t as awful, wonderful, larger than life, and magnetic as McConaughy’s Mark Hanna, the rest of the movie and the tackling of his ambition is subject.
I find it interesting how much controversy surrounds this film. Sure, there is a ton of sex, drug use, swear words, and ridiculousness, but unlike other movies that come out with similar content, it all serves a true purpose. By no means it is condoning what these guys did, but the movie is told from the heightened memoirs of Belfort. If this was a Michael Bay or Bret Ratner movie, I would understand the issues. In the hands of the very established Scorsese, it’s a masterpiece depicting a part of our contemporary financial and social world.
2:00pm – BIG – amc empire 25
Post holiday season it’s very hard to get in two movies before noon and because I locked
in Big at 2pm, it informed my The Wolf of Wall Street placement. The role that earned Tom Hanks his first Oscar nomination was a nice follow up to Wolf in order to break up the day.
The thing is, as good as Hanks has been over his long and wonderful career, Josh Baskin is still one of his best performances to date. Now, aside from the things that are VERY 1980s (the hair, clothes, floppy disks, jargon) this movie holds up pretty well. The plot, themes, and performances are all still there and in top form.
In today’s market, this movie would have a hard time finding a true niche, as I think it couldn’t be the same movie if it was to be intended for kids or younger adults. In today’s movie world, Josh’s transformation would be this big, hulk-like- CGI extravaganza. In this perfect version, it’s all it needs to be, as it’s Tom Hanks’ performance that makes it all believable.
The movie wastes no time in getting to the premise allowing for little set up and more fun. The floor piano scene, baby corn eating, and final sequence are still as effective as ever. The idea of growing up and trying to keep that child in side of us alive, even if you’re an actual child is a theme that’s never going away soon. How do we preserve who we are, as well as enjoy what you have when you have it hit hard and fast through out the film. This is a classic for a reason. Also, I want a Zoltar machine.
*Note: When you type in ‘Big’ to google image search, you get a lot of actresses with large breasts.
4:20pm – HER – amc empire 25
Movie day was a week ago and I think this is the film that has stuck with me the most. It’s aesthetic, Arcade Fire soundtrack, and performances are so vibrant in such a seemingly melancholy film that it hasn’t let me. I wouldn’t say that it blew me away by any means. I did have trouble getting into it in places, but it posed some interesting questions that other movies or directors wouldn’t dare explore.
In the distant future, a Los Angeles letter writer falls in love with his human-esque operating system. Basically, Joaquin Phoenix is the movie and he’s incredible. His performance is haunting and full of a bitter sweet hope. Scarlett Johansson is also stunning in the film, even only as a voice over. She creates a full character with whom you can relate with without even seeing. Their connection is real and powerful.
In the world we live in our obsessions with technology is taking over the way we relate to others and socialize. This movie takes that to another level and does it well. I did have a hard time emotionally connecting to Phoenix’s character here and there, but I understood what the intention was throughout. He’s a sad, lonely, damaged man, who can be
unenjoyable to watch. Amy Adam’s character was a nice foil to his character, but was clearly used as a emotional plot device for him and never felt like an organic part of the environment (until the very end). In presenting this topic to us, his ex wife, Rooney Mara, is the outside opinion and her scenes with him, both flashbacks and lunch scene are the most important in addressing all of the thematic questions. Her limited screen time is put to good use, as it informs so much of his current situation.
I know that there are two schools of thought on this movie, which I saw in person during the viewing. A surprising amount of people walked out half way through. While I enjoyed it, I understand the distaste for the film. I appreciated what it was saying, how it said it, and why it was talking about it in the first place. There is so much emotional and thematic depth, I could talk about this movie for days, but it wasn’t active enough in the story telling. While that didn’t bother me, I can see it verging on boring for some people. I was a big fan of all the visual symbolism. Overall, I understand that it all can feel a little put on and, well, stupid, but I believe that Spike Jones has made something wonderful from it all. Yes, I think it’s worth seeing.
7:20 – ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES – amc lincoln plaza 13
I’m going to keep this one short because there isn’t much to say about this sequel. Since I walked in with only one expectation, to laugh a lot, I have to say I walked out pleased. Inherently, the first one is better, as it was new and, in turn, much more quotable. They weren’t trying to create “quotes” and the sequel was attempting to left and right. I went in looking to spend a good time with these characters in their world and I got it.
The plot was all over the place, but so was the original’s, so that’s not a good enough complaint for me. I didn’t think that the character of Linda Johnson was memorable enough (or funny enough) to make an impact, therefore the middle of the film fell a little flat. The commenting on their own jokes didn’t work for me. When Ron or Brick said something ridiculous, everybody would comment on it’s lack of sense. For me, it diffused the first joke, buy stacking too many jokes on top of one another.
The long and short of it is that it was funny, I laughed, and would see another one. Brick, Brian, Champ, and Ron are back and still making that sweet, sweet news. The lack of plot wasn’t a big enough deterrent. I mean, can you even really remember the plot from the first movie? The fight scene cameos were worth the price of admission. So was the shark song. Plus, I’m also a sucker for Christina Applegate. As the day’s penultimate film, this was the perfect choice to follow ‘Her’ and lead into the last movie of the day.
10:15p – AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY – amc lincoln plaza 13
Aside from showing at a reasonable time, August was chosen as the last for it’s raw material and showcase of acting. I have seen the play, so I was excited to see what the film would bring.
And in most places, it ‘brought it’. Obviously, the acting was excellent all around. Meryl was Meryl and Julia Roberts, although not as layered as I’d like to see, was very powerful in her role. The stand out performances were Chris Cooper, Juliet Lewis, and Margot Martindale. Infused with an extra bit of umph, their scenes pop off the screen. The other actors were all excellent, but with a jam packed cast, there’s little room for major shining. They all served their purpose plus a little more.
Tracy Letts adapted his own play and kept the major plot structures and story flow, but because he turned a three hour play into a two hour movie it had trouble breathing. All of the scenes, intense or not, felt stacked on on top of another, so many of the ‘twists’ didn’t land because too much had to be absorbed too quickly. The lack of tension throughout was a big issue as well. The power of these relationships and the craziness that ensues is partly a product of the packed house. Sure, the establishing shots truly show how isolated they are out in Oklahoma , but the tension in the house is diffused a lot by the editing. The dinner scene is fantastic, but would have been more effective with less editing and more wide shots. The editing took some of the wind out of the sails.
Finally, it’s called AUGUST: Osage County. Many of these people’s quick breaking points have to do with the heat. While they talk about it a lot, they don’t really, well, sweat. I needed more of a visceral heat to be a part of it all. Still, I enjoyed it very much.
It was a very solid movie day. The ups and downs were well paced and the breaks in between movies allowed for film digestion. It also helps that there weren’t any true duds, like last year. Realistically, what makes movie day work, is all of you guys out there. Your support by either reading my blog, liking my movie day statuses, using #movieday, or actually coming out makes it all the more fun.
I’d like to give a very special shout out to the following people:
Leigh Cesiro, Meg Doherty-Scannell, Jaime Bernstein-Ansaldi, Evan Most, Dave Alter & friends, Will Blashka, and Josh Rothberg. Thanks for coming out and making a day of it. You are more than appreciated. I hope you win all of your Oscar pools.
Well, there’s still more films to see, but until next movie day…
Keep on Watchin’!