The Age of Innocence

This review was originally written for Blueprint: Review.

Wealthy New York aristocrat Newland Archer (Day-Lewis) announces his engagement to the well-respected May Welland (Ryder), and their blissful life together seems entirely mapped out for them. However, the arrival of May’s cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska (Pfeiffer), has the potential to derail the course due to the scandalous activities of her philandering husband, and her growing mutual attraction to Newland.
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Blind Spot: Raging Bull

Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro) was a middleweight boxer in 1940s and 50s New York. Known as something of a brawler both in and out of the ring, his animalistic tendencies, relationship paranoia and microscopic fuse often found him at odds with his brother Joey (Joe Pesci), second wife Vickie (Cathie Moriarty) and pretty much everyone else he met along the way.
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The Departed

This review was originally written as part of my USA Road Trip series for French Toast Sunday.

In Boston’s grimy crime-ridden underbelly, Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) is high on the wanted list of Massachusetts State Police, who plant a mole, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) inside Costello’s operation. Unbeknownst to the police, Costello has performed a parallel manoeuvre, with his man Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) infiltrating the police system.
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The Wolf of Wall Street

Back in 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) was an ambitious up-and-coming stock broker on Wall Street but, on the day he received his broker’s license, h also lost his job to the infamous Black Monday. Starting from the bottom, he discovered the wonder of penny stocks, which were much cheaper but garnered the broker a far larger share of the profits, allowing Jordan to quickly create his own company – later named Stratton Oakmont – and rise up the ranks to becoming a ludicrously wealthy hedonist with a penchant for every kind of narcotic available, and many that aren’t. However, Jordan’s wealth and the corrupt manners in which it has been accrued soon come to the attention of the FBI.
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Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle can’t sleep. He lives in New York and is up all night, so why not become a cab driver? Well, for starters, he hates pretty much everyone on the streets after dark, plus, he’s a potentially psychotic madman, with aspirations of saving, destroying or integrating himself into society, depending on the day. He spends his days pining for a campaign worker for a local presidential candidate, but when that relationship turns sour Bickle’s attentions turn to a young prostitute, whom Travis believes is in need of a saviour.
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Casino

This post was originally written for French Toast Sunday as part of my Road Trip series.

Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (Robert De Niro) was handed it all on a silver platter. Put in charge of a new casino on the Las Vegas strip and living the life of luxury with his smokin’ girlfriend Ginger (Sharon Stone), Ace was at the top of his game. Alas, when his old friend from back home Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) shows up, Ace’s life becomes a little more complicated. Continue reading

Top 10… Active Directors

I recently appeared on episode #164 of the Lambcast, along with Nick from the Cinematic Katzenjammer, Pat from 100 Years of Movies and Kristen from Journeys in Classic Film. Our chosen topic of discussion was our top five active directors, and provoked some interesting thoughts including why none of us like Terrence Malick. I recommend listening to the episode, if only to hear us ruthlessly mock Nick for his first-time presenting skills, but the show also inspired me to expand upon my list for this week’s Top 10.

So today, here is my list of Top 10 Active Directors. My choices are generally based on two things: the director’s recent body of work, and their upcoming work or last film(s). This prevented me from putting, say, Steven Spielberg as no. 1 purely on the basis of Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan, because technically he is still working today, but in my opinion he peaked a good few years ago

Honourable mentions:

Fincher

This is a list for which there could potentially be dozens of honourable mentions, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to just a few. First up is David Fincher, who has yet to make a film I haven’t at least liked, if not really loved. The reason he hasn’t placed higher is that although I’m always eager to see his films, I’ve never actually made it into the cinemas to see them, and I’ve had the DVD of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sat on my bookshelf for almost 6 months and still haven’t watched it. There’s no real reason for this other than finding the time to watch it with my girlfriend not around – there could be more rape scenes than she’d enjoy – but I feel my lack of excitement excludes him from the list. Next is Joss Whedon, whose Avengers Assemble was every bit as awesomely exhilarating as I’d hoped, and the trailer for Much Ado About Nothing looks decent too. Plus, the dude made Serenity, and has Avengers 2 on his slate. Other names I’d considered include Zack Snyder (who alas has had two unappealing flops for his most recent films, but Man of Steel looks promising), Martin Scorsese (I don’t deny he makes incredible films, but I don’t actually out-and-out love any of them as much as others seem to) and Sam Mendes (I loved Skyfall, Away We Go, American Beauty and Road to Perdition, but I don’t think he has any films in the works). The likes of Andrew Stanton, Danny Boyle, Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron, Adam McKay, James Gunn and Gore Verbinski can be considered as honourable mentions for the honourable mentions list. Continue reading