The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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Stock broker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) becomes one of the richest man on Wall Street, with the illegal help of many of his cronies, during the late 1980s.  This crazy story which is based off of true events, is essentially what a stereotypical fraternity would look like if they illegally sold stock.

Director Martin Scorsese is notorious to have incredibly long movies that can often become painful after the first two hours (cough cough The Aviator cough), but this film never really had a slow moment which is incredibly given that it has a running time of 180 minutes.  Scorsese helped capture the blood-thirsty tone that is often associated in Wall Street especially during the 1980s; this movie was very much like American Psycho, without the mass murdering.  Jonah Hill also proved to be able to provide comedic relief, similar to his role in Moneyballto a more serious role by performing as Belfort’s right hand man.

There was a ton of sexual content that included full frontal nudity, f-bombs, and crazy, extensive drug use right within the first fifteen minutes.  It was extremely surprising how none of the characters overdosed in the entire film.  Scorsese truly did not hold anything back, and it is evident by the amount of mature content.  The film was also a lot more humorous than originally expected.  DiCaprio and Hill were a perfect duo in all of the comedy scenes in the movie.

Award season is just around the corner, and there is no way that The Wolf of Wall Street will be excluded from numerous awards from the technically and acting aspects.  There was a lot of well-deserved hype for this film, and is definitely worth seeing.  The subject matter is also very intriguing and luckily there was a book before the movie.

Overall, this is yet another excellent film by Scorsese and will have a ton of nominations in the coming awards season. After the trailer went viral last summer, many people were extremely hyped to see this film, and they had every reason for it. DiCaprio did a spectacular job, as always, and his performance made me interested into researching more about his character.  It was surprisingly funny, and was a rather quick-paced-three-hour-movie (if that can even exist).

Again, this film content extreme mature content because of sexual content, drug use, language, and some brief violence.  This is not the movie to take your visiting Nana or your kid cousin.  

4 out of 5 stars

Director: Martin Scorsese

 

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Nebraska (2013)

Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), a drunken, elderly man, receives a winning sweepstakes letter saying that he has won a million dollars from Mega Sweepstakes Marketing Prize and needs to go to Lincoln, Nebraska, to retrieve his winnings.   With the help of his son David (Will Forte) they both set out to drive from Billingsley, Montana, all the way to Nebraska while making a pit stop in Woody’s hometown.

When I first saw that Will Forte was going to be one of the leading actors of this “serious” film, I was very skeptical whether or not the correct tone would be presented to the audience.  I was pleasantly surprised and thought that he did an excellent job and will most likely have a nomination for the role.  Newcomer June Squibb did a fantastic job as playing the role of Kitty Grant, the firecracker of a wife to Woody.  She provided so much comedic relief while still maintaining the image of people that are born and raised in a Midwest, small town atmosphere.

This film really did an excellent job on focusing on the relationships between aging parents and their children.  It focused on the importance of remembering where one’s roots are and how it is important to understand where you come from but also being able to evolve into an individual personality.

Nebraska has gotten a lot of press about how it was filmed in black and white as opposed to full color.  Many find this a little pretentious, but I feel that it focuses more on the simplicity of that area of the country and the simplicity of the thoughts and morals of small town culture.  The majority of shots in the movie were also very simple, traditional video shots that also added to the overall tone and theme of “simplicity”.

As a whole, I feel that Nebraska will have many nominations in this upcoming awards season as well as a lot of good press.  It was an excellent movie especially because of the increase of people spending time with their own families this holiday season.  The film is definitely worth seeing for its perfect casting and interesting choice of cinematography.

4 out of 5 stars

Director: Alexander Payne 

Nebraska poster

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

This book has been collecting dust on my bookshelf, so while I am at home during the holidays I thought “why not read a fiction thriller during the ‘Best Time of the Year'”.  It was the best/worst decision of the week.

Still MissingNEW

Annie O’Sullivan writes to her therapist about what many people find the most terrible thing to go through: being abducted and held captive for a year.  Annie, a local realtor, has an open house when a smiley man approaches her and asks for a tour of the house.  He then grabs her, throws her into his van, and injects her a medication that makes her pass out.  Annie then wakes up in the middle of an essentially “child-proof” cabin that had every drawer and door locked.

Annie writes in horrific detail about what all happened to her while captured, but the most interesting part is when the audience starts to figure out why she was captured.

Chevy Stevens could have made the main character very helpless, but she chose to give Annie some sass and boldness which really helped shape the novel.  Stevens’ writing will have you continually turning the page until the mystery is solved.

I kept saying “This is so messed up” while reading this novel, so there is some strong, violent content that is for mature audiences.  

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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I stumbled upon this book while at a my favorite local bookshop in Houston, Texas (Blue Willow Bookshop).  The owner ranted and raved about it so I thought, “why not?”.

Don Tillman is a professor of genetics at a university in Australia.  Everything in his life is scheduled down to the second whether it be the amount of time he showers to the amount allocated to traveling to in from work.   He realizes one day that he needs to settle down with a wife therefore starting “The Wife Project” where partakers must fill out a fifty question survey and pass a series of tests.

Don isn’t good with social skills on account for his acute case of Asperger syndrome, so the questions ranged from blunt statements to extremely personal information.  Shockingly as these surveys would drive away potential love interests, Don was starting to give up.

Then Rosie comes into his life and forever changes his perspective on almost everything.  Rosie goes to Don because of his connections with the DNA lab at the university to search for her biological father therefore starting “The Father Project”.

The voice is so perfect and you can not help but find yourself thinking as Don does in everyday situation and realizes how social skills are such a key factor in society.  Simsion does a great job overall with the writing that I found myself reading half the book in one sitting.

This quirky story is hilarious and a quick, easy read perfect for traveling.

Contains some language and adult content, but nothing too crude. 

Frozen (2013)

When I first started hearing about Frozen, I really had no intentions to see the movie.  Then I saw that it had surpassed Hunger Games: Catching Fireso I thought that it would be worth seeing.

First off, this Broadway star-studded cast was unbelievable with the acting and vocals.  I will admit this was definitely produced to be seen more as a musical than a movie, but I thought that it had done an excellent job of casting actors including Idina Menzel (famous for her lead role in Wicked), Kristen Bell, Josh Gad (famous for his lead role in Book of Mormon), Jonathan Groff (famous for his lead in Spring Awakening), and Santino Fontana  (currently on Broadway playing Prince Charming in Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella).  

The plot was also very well thought out and not a typical Disney princess movie, which was extremely refreshing.  Josh Gad was also hilarious as the talking snowman Olaf.  Gad provided perfect comedic relief to the parents who got dragged to see an animation film instead of American Hustle.

The music is catching, not annoying, and were sung beautifully seeing as how half of the leads have been nominated for an American Tony Award.   It is a perfect soundtrack to play in the car with the kids.

Overall, the movie is cute, adorable and helps put people into the “winter spirit” just in time for the holidays.  It is perfect for the kids and is completely appropriate.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I had a fourteen hour car drive ahead of me, which made me think of the perfect solution for my potential boredom: audiobooks.  So I drove to my nearest bookshop and luckily they had two audiobooks in my price range, including one of my favorite books of 2013, I Am Malala.  

I had knew a portion of fifteen year old Malala Yousafzai’s story about how she was shot by the Pakistani Taliban on her way to school in October 2012.  The international headlines from that instance alone were enough to make me intrigued to read her story.

The book was very different than what I had originally expected; the first four to six hours were mainly a history lesson about the origins of Pakistan and how groups such as the Taliban came into power.  That section had so much context about that region that it gave clarification about that area of the world that is constantly in the media.  It explained the difference between religious groups and key aspects of Islam culture that I did not know previous to reading (or rather hearing) this book.

Yousafzai is so well spoken throughout the book and is an inspiration to those who want to the change the world whether it is to reform eduction or women’s rights.  Her levelness and determination for change helps explain why she is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and is often referred to as “Pakistan’s Mother Teresa”.

Overall, this book is extremely informative, inspirational, and helps denounce the negative stereotypes about Islam internationally.

An excellent choice for bookclub.

There isn’t any offensive terms, but does contain some moderate violence. 

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