As we return to campus for the second half of the year we not only come back to the good old grind of schoolwork, but the company of our friends. If you’re planning on getting back to the weekly ritual of $5 movie night on Tuesdays like I am and weren’t in the theaters much over break, here are my top movies from winter vacation that really impressed.
Wolf of Wall Street
Anything you’ve heard about this film is probably – no, definitely – true. Strictly a film for the appropriately mature, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Jordan Belfort, a former stockbroker and criminal responsible for several accounts of fraud and stock market manipulation. From the start of his infamous career to the unexpected end, this crime/comedy/drama that is based on a true story will never leave you in a lull, even considering the three-hour running time. With a plethora of drugs, sex, humor and emotion, DiCaprio gives a performance worthy of being labeled a modern-day Great Gatsby. If your interest isn’t piqued, the rest of the cast includes Jonah Hill, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Kyle Chandler, and a cameo by Matthew McConaughey. I saved the best tidbit for last: this is a Martin Scorsese film. Enough said.
I have to start by saying that this film was not exactly what I expected. It’s not that it was better or worse than what I had predicted, it was just different. Similar to Wolf of Wall Street, this is another hybrid crime/drama with a little less comedy mixed in now and again. Director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) has picked back up his award-winning ways with 82 nominations and 43 wins (including Best Picture) for his newest project about an FBI agent who uses two conmen in an attempt to bring down some high-profile New Jersey mafia members and powerbrokers. When it comes to cast, this one is really hard to beat. From the top to the bottom you’ll see more than a fair share of familiar faces, including Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Michael Pena, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. The best way to describe this film is a power struggle of wits. You won’t find any action or violence (surprisingly), but the mental powers on display from just about every corner of the ring is enough to keep you glued despite the two-and-a-half-hour time investment. Don’t be surprised to see a cameo from an old-school gangster by the name of De Niro either.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
It may not have been my absolute favorite viewing of the movies that I saw over break, but it’s still another awesome installment in a legendary saga. All of the usual suspects and then some return for the second of the three Hobbit films’ cast, which includes Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Luke Evans and Benedict Cumberbatch, who provides the voice of Smaug. Bilbo, Gandalf and the merry band of dwarves continue their quest to reclaim the dwarven stronghold home of Erebor. With new villians, quirky characters both new and old, and unmatched cinematography, fans of the series will not be let down.
The worst part of this movie is the cliffhanger ending. We have to wait close to another year for the conclusion of another historic trilogy from the great Peter Jackson.
Wolf of Wall Street is my favorite of the three if I had to choose one. DiCaprio is just about unmatchable, especially with Scorsese in charge. Usually movies that hit around two hours plus have dips in the action or story – not the case here. In fact, I was surprised three hours had gone by when it was over. Obviously, I missed some movies like Paranormal Activity and Lone Survivor, which I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about, but unfortunately have yet to see it. Hopefully this helps when you’re debating what to use that glorious $5 on come Tuesday!