Cover photo by Patrick Bell, used under Creative Commons license

“I’ll tell you what: I’m never eating at Benihana again. I don’t care whose birthday it is.”

Welp, The Wolf Of Wall Street (imdb | rotten tomatoes) isn’t gonna make my best films of 2013 list. It’s not even in the ‘near misses’ category. It was overlong, excessive (even by Scorsese standards), and swung for the wrong fences. I wanted about ten more scenes of a mental battle with Kyle Chandler’s character, along with — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — about ten fewer extraneous scenes of naked women. They gambolled about like lost lambs and were just as disposable to these guys as their bags of Quaaludes and it was depressing.

The only things that almost saved the movie for me were 1) Matthew McConaughey’s cameo, and 2) Jonah Hill, who was flat-out amazing. With the fake teeth I actually kind of forgot it was him. So, bravo to two guys who a few years ago were just in no position to play these kinds of parts.

.:.

Cover photo by Patrick Bell, used under Creative Commons license

"You can lie, you can cheat, you can start a war, you can bankrupt the country, but you can't fuck the interns. They get you for that."

In our continuing efforts to see Oscar-nominated films, we watched two one* this past weekend:

  • The Ides Of March (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was really, really good. It would have been pretty depressing to anyone who wasn’t already cynical about politics, too. And man, what a cast…Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, George Clooney (barely in it, by the way; busy directing), Geoffrey Wright, Marisa Tomei…it’s worth it just to watch them work.
  • I’d always wondered someone could turn a book like Moneyball (imdb | rotten tomatoes) into a movie, let alone a good movie, let alone an Oscar-nominated movie. Turns out you give it to screenwriters like Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Despite all the hype I was kind of expecting something clunky and forced about baseball statistics, but it really worked. It worked because of the script, it worked because Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill (and others, especially — again — Philip Seymour Hoffman) sold it and it worked because they really highlighted the underdog angle. I’d also like to think that at least a tiny part of why it worked was the excellent score selection: strains of “The Mighty Rio Grande” by This Will Destroy You recur throughout the film to great effect. Filmmakers, take note: using Austin(ish)-based instrumental rock bands to score your sports-related films is never a bad idea.

* Yeah, so right after I wrote this I double-checked the Oscar best-picture nominee list and somehow The Ides Of March isn’t on it. War Horse (77%) is on it.  The Help (76%) is on it. Even Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (46%) is on it. What the balls, academy?