Leonardo DiCaprio

October 24, 2016

(Ep. 77): SR Podcast – October 2016

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES

On this spooktacular Halloween episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast, the boys discuss everything that goes bump in the night…from Deadpool director woes to a Captain Planet film from Leo. Matthew solves the mystery that is the Madea films. And the boys try to guess each other’s Halloween costumes in a segment we’re calling What Are You Supposed To Be. All that and more on this pumpkin spice latte version of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

NOTES
Madea film
Westworld
John Phillips
Pitch
Captain Planet by Leo

MUSIC
Halloween Theme by John Carpenter
It’s The Great Pumpkin Waltz by Vince Guaraldi
Who Can It Be Now by Men At Work 

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February 23, 2016

The Simplistic Reviews 2016 Oscar Prediction Podcast (Ep. 65)

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

You’ve heard from the experts…now hear from the madmen from Simplistic Reviews as they predict who will and who should win at the 2016 Oscars.  Don’t worry, the boys do their best to skate around the #OscarsSoWhite issue.  What, are you kidding?  They tackle it head on with enough irreverence that even Spike Lee flinch.  They also tackle other topics like R rated animation, Jennifer Lawrence on the precipise of being hated, and Harvey Fierstein…a lot of Harvey Fierstein.  All that and more on the Simplistic Reviews Oscar Prediction Podcast

NOTES
Harvey Fierstein in Independence Day
Morgan Freeman Car Accident

MUSIC
Hot Shot By Saun & Star
Across 110th Street By Bobby Womack
Strawberry Letter 23 By The Brothers Johnson

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April 3, 2014

Simplistic Sneak Peek Ep. 2

On the second episode of Simplistic Sneak Peek, the boys discuss Scarjo’s strange drug habit in Lucy, Mila Kunis’ cleaning habits in Jupiter Ascending, and Tom Hardy’s speech habits in The Drop.  You can watch the trailers comment free below then come back and listen to what Matthew, DJ, and Justin had to say about them in the video above.  So many directions…it’s like grade school.

Lucy

Jupiter Ascending

The Drop

December 29, 2013

The Wolf Of Wall Street

DEBAUCHERY

 I have previously joked about how I’d watch the trailer to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street in the morning because visually it was like doing a line of cocaine.  Little did I know that the feature length film would be the best example of truth in advertising since Pacific Rim.  The Wolf Of Wall Street is literally a three hour high, filled with every form of despicable DEBAUCHERY, decadence and self-destructive devilishness you could possibly think of.  This film was easily one of the most anticipated films of the year on our site, and I can confidently say that it lived up to every expectation.  Is it a perfect film?  Not necessarily.  But it is unquestionably a must see film.  Hell, I could end the review right there.  For the skeptics still unconvinced, allow me to talk about some of the aspects of The Wolf Of Wall Street that surely make it great.

The story?  Based on the autobiographical novel, The Wolf Of Wall Street tells the tumultuous life story of stock broker slimeball Jordan Belfort.  This film and Michael Bay’s film Pain & Gain tell two stories that will shock you with their hilariously absurd events.  Then shock you even further when you discover that so many of those events were absolutely true.  It is closer to being a modern day remake of Caligula than a story about the stock market.  I give the real Jordan Belfort credit for still allowing the darker parts of his life to remain in the film and not be played up for laughs.  Although, you never really hate the guy even after you see them.

The structure?  The film has been shorthanded into the familiar Scorsese format, leading people to quickly describe it as the Goodfellas version of Wall Street.  And…well…it is.  Writer Terence Winter practically admitted as much.  For as herky jerky of a style it is, this format always seems to work for Scorsese and be entertaining enough for the audience to forgive it.  Much in the way audiences did for The Departed.  I bring up the structure because it may be the only criticism I can find in this film.  When it is all said and done, The Wolf Of Wall Street may only be remembered as just a collection of jaw droppingly great scenes instead of a well crafted story.  The Lemmon Quaalude scene, the goldfish scene, the midget parameters scene, the yacht chop scene, and every scene where Leo delivers a stump speech to his troops.  After seeing the film, however, I can’t imagine the story being told any other way.  The structure sets the fast pace and humorous tone this film needed.

The performances?  Are you kidding?  Even if you are one of those inexplicably strange Leo detractors, you’ll still be in love with the job he does as the wolf Jordan Belfort.  The enthusiastic vulnerability DiCaprio consistently displays in his roles continues to make me appreciate him as an actor.  His co-star Jonah Hill steals literally EVERY scene he’s in, which is a tough task for a film like this.  His performance is something deserving of an award, but will probably fall short of acclaim like his stellar one in Moneyball.  Virtual newcomer Margot Robbie holds her own with both of them.  She is the Lorraine Bracco of this film and is no less brilliant.  Honestly, every actor in this film knocks it out of the park, no matter the amount of screentime they get.  Matthew McConaughey is amazing again.  Jean Dujardin, who I didn’t even know was in this film, is terrific.  Kyle Chandler shines in the first role I’ve seen him have fun in.  Jon Bernthal is thankfully a long ways away from his Shane days.  Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Joanne Lumley, P.J. Byrne and countless others hit every note they need to perfectly.  

The Wolf Of Wall Street is a fiery car accident you can’t look away from.  No, it’s a seedy fling with your ex girlfriend after you both came to the agreement that you’re bad for one another.  No, it’s an insane night on the town with your more irresponsible high school buddies that ends in the police drunk tank.  Who am I kidding?  It’s a cinematic drug high.  The rush of the hit and the crushing darkness of the side effects.  And with all these metaphors aside, it is a truly excellent film that is well worth your time.  Sell me this pen…go downstairs and get the ‘ludes…remember your safe word…watch it…exhale and wipe your brow afterwards…then tell me I’m wrong.

December 31, 2012

Happy Holidays: Django Unchained

Django Unchained – Conversation

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately;  “Tarantino is back…..classic Tarantino,” blah, blah, blah.  My question is; “What would you call classic Tarantino?”  Yes, he’s known for his witty dialogue, mind-bending plot twists, and recently, alternative takes on important periods in U.S. and European history.  But I reiterate; “What would you call classic Tarantino?”  My answer:  There’s no such thing!  People like to come off as smarter than they are, myself included, but of course I’m reviewing movies so I need to come off as a little bit of an expert, aka, dickhead.  Tarantino is Tarantino, you can’t say any of his work is “classic Tarantino” because every film he makes is entirely original and nothing like the previous film he made.  Here’s a practical example of two other directors to prove my point:  Take Ridley Scott.  He is known for his sci-fi epics, “Alien” and “Blade Runner.”  After those two films he went in entirely different directions, please see “Gladiator” and “Matchstick Men” as examples.  Classic Scott would be sci-fi, and he went back to that with ‘Prometheus” with mixed results.  Another director would be William Friedkin, known for taut thrillers and exciting crime work, please see “The French Connection” for a excellent example.  Friedkin left those movies for a while but returned with “Killer Joe” a taut thriller that keeps you on your toes with plenty of violence.  “Joe” would be classic Friedkin.  Digressing, enough talk about “Classic Tarantino.” Yes, you can say a movie of his is a classic but enough saying “Classic Tarantino.”  I feel it’s something that someone says whose only seen “Kill Bill” and “Inglorious Basterds.”  Sorry, I had to get that off my chest, but this brings me to Tarantino’s newest “classic” the Southern-fried Spaghetti Western “Django Unchained.”

“Django” is a modern day “Birth of a Nation,” only with more guns, more talking, and the white man getting his comeuppance.  It’s intriguing, noteworthy, timely, violent, offensive, and thought-provoking.  Not since 1997’s “Amistad” has the issue of slavery been covered in such an unflattering light.  Whereas Steven Spielberg directed “Amistad” with his usual gravitas that includes a two-and-a-half hour history lesson, Tarantino directs with HIS usual gravitas that includes memorable characters, witty dialogue, graphic, sudden violence, but this time, with more maturity.  I might add that Tarantino had the added challenge of directing his first movie without the assistance of late-editor, Sally Menke, who passed away shortly after the premier of “Inglorious Basterds” in 2010.

Tarantino uses both the original 1960s “Django” film, starring Franco Nero, (who he also gives credit to during the opening credits for “Django”) and the much-maligned (and probably still is) film “Mandingo” as a template for his newest blood-soaked revenge opus.  We follow Django, played with much restraint by Jamie Foxx, as he and Dr. King Schultz, a dentist turned bounty hunter played by Christoph Waltz, set out from Texas to Tennessee and into the dark heart of Mississippi to collect bounties and save Django’s wife, Broomhilda, from the evil clutches of plantation owner Calvin Candie, played with conviction and maniacal delight by Leonardo DiCaprio.  Once again, the plot is easy to follow and unlike much Tarantino fare, is streamlined and doesn’t deviate into his non-linear storytelling aside from a few flashbacks of both Django and Broomhilda.  In typical Tarantino fashion, he is also able to find humor in dark subject matter which ranges from KKK riders who are having disguise issues to cameos by the likes of Don Johnson playing a slave-owning Colonel Sanders, and Tarantino himself as an Australian slaver.

If you’re a fan of Sergio Leone, or any Western, you’ll love the vast landscapes that Tarantino uses to great effect and moments of tension between characters.  It’s much like “Basterds” where the tension usually pays off with a grand crescendo of violence, blood, and dead bodies.  Contrary to what people might say about the violence in “Django,” its nowhere as bad as some of the other stuff that is out there, but I think it’s the context in which the violence is portrayed that might get some people’s goats.  Aside from the physical violence, which runs the gamut of black on black, white on black, and black on white, there is also the assault of the dreaded “N-word.” dum-dum-dum……the word that people still try and skate around as much as they can.  However, I don’t have a problem with Tarantino’s use of the word, especially in “Django.” Spike Lee might have an issue with it, but when you haven’t made a movie that matters since “Inside Man,” I’d be a grumpy, short, black guy too.  The word pretty much takes on a character in-and-of itself.  It flows freely throughout the film, but you know what, it flowed freely in 1858, and it still flows freely today.  No matter your creed or race, everyone has said the word, either out loud or under their breathe.  George Carlin gave us the “Seven Words That You Can’t Say,” and thank goodness he didn’t put this on the list.

Maybe it’s my white guilt, but yes, I have black friends.  Does that give me the excuse to use the “N-word?” No, it doesn’t.  There really isn’t a need to use the word at all, but we still use it, even in casual conversation. While I was watching “Django,” in a packed theater, I knew the dialogue was going to be chalk full of “the word that shall not be named,” so i was waiting to hear some noise when stars like DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson starting dropping the “N-bomb” like it was going out of style.  But, alas, not a peep.  Perhaps people were prepared to hear that type of language, and if you’ve seen “Jackie Brown” you know that Tarantino loves using it in a casual sense.  The reason this word is effective, and makes sense in “Django,” is the context.  Yes, slavers and plantation owners used this word freely (of course I don’t know that for sure, but what would you expect racist slave owners to say in the 1850s).  Tarantino’s dialogue has always been known to be both direct, and a zeitgeist for the time and place the story is taking place in.  He takes ugly language and somehow makes it beautiful and poetic.

The one problem I did have with “Django” was ironically enough the music.  Usually the music that QT picks is almost as important as his dialogue and characters, but this time around it seems like a cash-in.  There’s original music from John Legend and Rick Ross (the first time in a Tarantino film that music was actually written for his films), and while you’re not going to include music from the 1850s, why include the 808-thumping sounds of Ross.  In a film full of good ideas, this was by far the most awkward and perplexing.  It almost felt like a cheap MTV-type movie gimmick, see the trailer for “Gangster Squad” as a prime example.     

As most of Tarantino’s films, there will be a lot of conversation about the violence, language, and how he takes portions of genre films that he loved and makes them his own.  But I find “Django” his most polarizing film.  You already have the line in the sand where many people think that he is tearing the scab off the topic of slavery and uncovering the ugly, but true, side to life in the South for African-Americans in the 1850s.  Others are saying the violence is too much in a post-Newtown world, while I’m saying, relax!  Sorry social crusaders, it’s a movie, or maybe this time, it’s a little more than a movie.  Maybe it’s time to have a conversation about our ugly past.  Since the founding of our nation we have been gun-toting, slave-buying, violent jingoists.  As a society we crave violence in our films, video games, and news.  But the moment something tragic occurs it’s time to tone it back.  Enough toning back, we have to face our past demons and prepare for new ones that are sure to come.  While “Django Unchained” might not be Tarantino’s best film, it’s an example of filmmaking where someone decides that we can’t keep looking at our past through rose-colored glasses.  There were some despicable things, and people, in the work-up to the Civil War, and whether you like his style or not, no one spins a story quite like Quentin Tarantino who re-writes history again, sort of, with “Django Unchained.”

Fun Fact:  The story of Broomhilda, or Brynhildr, is an old German legend that involves a Norse Valkyrie.  She was later popularized by Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle opera series.

September 3, 2012

J. Edgar

J. Edgar: Solid

This movie is fine, and thats it.

I would say it’s a weak Clint Eastwood film.

Leonardo DiCaprio is good, like usual.

His make up was good. Clyde Tolson’s wasn’t. Really got on my nervers every time I saw it.

I would like to see a story about someone’s life that doesn’t use the standard, “I’m writing a book so let’s now go back and show you everything that I talk about”.

If you have time to kill then okay watch this, if not I’m sure you can find something a bit better.

August 11, 2012

Simplistic TV: White Collar

CUTE

In 2002, Steven Spielberg directed the film Catch Me If You Can starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.  It centered around the true story of a brilliant con artist gallivanting around the country and the relentless FBI agent tasked with capturing him.  It is one of Spielberg’s better, yet, forgotten films.  Hanks is great, Leo is great, and Christopher Walken steals every scene he’s in.  The film itself ends…(SPOILER ALERT) with Leo, the criminal, beginning to help Hanks, the FBI agent, solve some of the white collar crimes in order to commute his sentence.  This is where the USA Network show White Collar picks up.

White Collar is a procedural dramedy…or…comedrama…wait…that sounds stupid…lets stick with dramedy….about a master thief/con artist helping the FBI capture criminals while trying to stay on the straight and narrow himself.  A concept that serves as a great foundation and a smart jump off for some very original ideas rarely seen on a typical procedural cop show.  As with most USA Network shows, White Collar doesn’t shine when it sticks to the monster of the week procedural formula.  It shines when they focus on their character’s chemistry and ONE all encompassing story arc.  If there is one thing you can say about USA, most of their shows have casts and characters WITH CHEMISTRY.  Whether that be Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, and the LEGENDARY Bruce Campbell on Burn Notice….Gabrielle Macht and Patrick J. Adams on Suits…or here with Tim DeKay, Matt Bomer and Willie Garson on White Collar.  You like these characters and you like to see them have conversations with each other, no matter what they’re talking about.  This serves White Collar very well.

Where White Collar draws some critique is in its occasional tone shifts.  Where Catch Me If You Can is more drama than comedy, White Collar is more of the latter.  It feels more at home in the CUTE, light-hearted format.  For example, the tone of film The Sting, is where White Collar might want to stay.  However, there are instances where the show tries to get serious and dark.  However, it doesn’t ring very believable because its such a departure from the tone it has originally set.  Burn Notice is a show that can be fun then turn dark and it works because of the nature of the hero. (A Burned Spy)  A white collar criminal or con artist isn’t usually confrontational.  Danny Ocean isn’t ever going to beat the sh*t out of someone or kill anyone.  Neither should Neal Caffrey.

Now, I can’t blame the show runner Jeff Eastin too much for something that happens occasionally.  I’m willing to bet they’ve been knudged into shifting tone by USA during finales or sweeps.   Mainly because there is nothing that television networks love more than running an ad with somber music and a gravely voiced narrator whispering “On A Special Episode Of….Fill In The Blank” with text flashing across the screen that reads “ALL…BETS…ARE…OFF!”  And for the most part, Eastin’s show stays true to it’s better nature.

White Collar benefits from its concept, its cast, (Which includes KELLY F*#KING KAPOWSKI) and its cleverness.  Its good fun when it remembers it is supposed to be fun.  Watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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