OK, movie buffs, we are past the explosive blockbuster-packed months of summer and we are nearly past that in between phase that happens immediately after summer; an awkward time when prestige dramas get thrown in with trite teenage schlock like The Mortal Instruments. But have no worries, because the fall movie season is just around the corner. It is generally known for being a time when the vast majority of the “Oscar bait” is released, but let’s give it a little more credit than that. . The fall is the movie season that features a little bit of everything. Sure, it features its share of period pieces, tragedies and dramas that will inevitably garner critical acclaim and snag a glut of awards, but there are also big budget sequels, comedies, films for the whole family and lower profile indie films. In short, there is something for everybody in the fall. And it’s Saying Something’s favorite movie season.
For quite some time now, we have been talking about writing something together and now, with fall approaching, we are seizing the opportunity. Each of us will preview two different movies – one movie that we are obviously excited about and another that we are surprisingly excited about.
The Wolf of Wall Street
To say that there is a lot to like here is a gross understatement. This trailer is an embarrassment of riches. At first glance, it might remind you of this summer’s The Great Gatsby. There’s Leonardo DiCaprio, there’s a Kanye song in the background, there’s a reckless car speeding around, and there’s excess, extravagance and greed in spades. Gatsby, for all its hype, ended up being a disappointment. It was a film that I really wanted to like due to its strong source material and cast, but, for a variety of reasons, could not. This film, though, lacks the most destructive factor of Gatsby — its director. The Wolf of Wall Street is directed not by an eccentric but by the revered Martin Scorcese. Having Scorcese at the helm instead of Baz Luhrman is like having Phil Jackson as your coach instead of Don Nelson. No doubt about it, Don Nelson is interesting, but that isn’t always the same thing as good or successful, and Phil Jackson is great. Scorcese has won countless awards, the adoration of film fanatics and hasn’t had a rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes on anything he’s directed in 40 years. Baz Luhrman made Moulin Rouge, so there’s that, if you’re into that kind of thing. But anyway, moving on.
The story is about a brash and successful New York stockbroker named Jordan Belfort, played by Leo, who is surrounded by Wall Street corruption, government investigation and mob infiltration (Edit: this film didn’t include “mob infiltration”; this was just a misconception that I just had at the time). It co-stars Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau and Kyle Chandler. And, it’s based on the memoir of the real Jordan Belfort, which thankfully isn’t as well known as The Great Gatsby. So we won’t have to worry about it living up to its source material quite as much. Let’s talk about the trailer itself. It starts off with the amazing line by Leo, “My name is Jordan Belfort. The year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week,” which is funny and revealing on multiple levels. On the surface, it shows how ludicrously greedy these people are, but on a meta level it’s humorous because DiCaprio is pushing 40 in real life. Every clip and line that follows is more ridiculous and enticing than the last – Leo throwing money (and a lobster?!) at Kyle Chandler, Leo throwing Benjamin’s in the garbage, a midget being launched at a target, screaming in ecstasy, screaming in terror, escalating extravagance and escalating violence. It draws you in by throwing you around an outrageous utopia of luxury, but by the end of it, you can feel a sense of impending doom that it is all going to come crashing down. After all, what goes up must come down, and this one looks like it is going to come down in the most entertaining way possible.
I didn’t expect to want to see this. The trailer is a little over-the-top and it seems like it’s three different movies. The first looks like a poker version of 21. Thirty-two year old Justin Timberlake plays a young college student at Princeton, (I love movies!) who turns to online poker to pay his tuition. The second movie is about Timberlake being lured by a corrupt offshore corporation, headed by Ben Affleck, and being tempted by the luxury of it all. But then, the third movie is about Timberlake being coerced into helping an FBI agent (Anthony Mackie) take down Affleck and his corporation.
Honestly, there doesn’t appear to be anything too ground breaking or remarkable about any of this. And yet, I find myself getting a little excited about it. Timberlake may not be as talented onscreen as he is behind a mic or onstage, but he’s likable enough. Affleck is too, except he’s ostensibly playing the bad guy in this one; you just don’t see that every day. Also, the people involved off screen are just as enticing as the stars. It is directed by Brad Furman, who last directed the 2011 Matthew McConauhey vehicle The Lincoln Lawyer, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien a.k.a. the guys who wrote the cult hit Rounders. But the best thing about the trailer is that it looks like it will be fun to watch. When they first meet, Timberlake and Affleck have an exchange about how the house always wins and it will remind you of all the other times that that has been said in other movies. It’s not remotely original, but the familiarity is comforting. Then, you get a quick peek at the Wolf of Wall Street-level of excess that seduces Timberlake. And like The Wolf of Wall Street, this is when you start seeing the violence being thrown into the mix. Of course, the violence doesn’t appear as realistic – Affleck pushes somebody into alligator infested waters like a cartoonish villain –but that’s to be expected; this isn’t going to be as good of a movie either and that’s OK. I’m excited for this.
Blake Baxter is a native of Illinois and a 2013 graduate of Eureka College. He currently covers the Carolina Panthers for Football.com and previously covered college basketball for ESPN Louisville during the 2012-13 season. He has also written about sports, pop culture and politics for The College Fix, The Wine and Cheese Crowd and an assortment of newspapers. Blake works in the communication and marketing field for Technical Solutions & Services, but aspires to write full-time someday.
Everyone should be excited for this movie. David O. Russell, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence have not given us reason to doubt them… yet (they brought us Silver Linings Playbook). Though I have been fooled before, I don’t think the addition of Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner will bring the team down. The trailer should be evidence enough.
Who wouldn’t like that opening scene?: A bearded, curly-haired Bradley Cooper getting taught a nefarious lesson by Christian Bale (the dirty-porn-director-looking dude). People believe what they wanna believe… Now who’s the master? The painter or the forger? Profound, Mr. Bale, quite profound. Cue “Good Times, Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin. (I’m in! I won’t lie, music in a trailer can sway me.) The names of the actors pop up as each chord is struck, setting a beat for the trailer. What I really enjoy about the trailer (aside from the shot of Bradley Cooper wearing curlers) is that so much happens, or at least it seems that way, yet the viewer has no idea what the plot of the movie is; except maybe that it involves fake paintings and stealing. Blake and I have an attraction to these trailers. What we have found is that many of them end up being great films. One example – though not a movie – is AMC’s Mad Men, which notoriously shows the viewer virtually nothing about the following week’s episode. Essentially, they throw some clips together and voila! But… what is this movie about?
American Hustle tells the story of an effulgent con man, Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), who – along with his equally artful (and sexy) British partner, Sydney Prosser (Adams) – is forced to work for a tempestuous FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper). DiMaso pushes the con team into a world of New Jersey mafia and power-brokers, which proves to be dangerously intoxicating. Carmine Polito (Renner) is a volatile political operator who’s caught between the con-artists and the Feds. Rosalyn Rosenfield (Lawrence), Irving’s wife, has the power (and looks) to bring the whole operation to oblivion. Intrigued? Me too.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Strangely, I am unreasonably stoked for this movie. I cannot say that Ben Stiller has given me any reason to trust him as of late (except for his role in Arrested Development’s season 4), but this trailer makes me want to believe in him again. I mean, he used to be good, didn’t he? Meet the Parents was a classic, Zoolander was funny in high school but then he had awful, just awful movies like Tower Heist and The Watch. I’m sorry, but if you like those movies I have news for you: You like atrocious films.
The trailer suggests, however, that this film has promise. It could be that I was put under a spell by Of Monster and Men’s “Dirty Paws” playing in the background, but it could be that this mysterious trailer is a fitting prelude to 2013’s best escapist film. The trailer itself appears as a work of art. After watching one feels as if they had some sort of liberating experience, transcending the average human capacity for imagination. First, we see Stiller’s character go through the motions of life, obviously smitten by a woman with whom he is in love. Then, all of a sudden, he is an artic explorer. (I’m in!) Next, we watch Adam Scott taunt Stiller in what appears to be a juvenile case of bullying. In the solitude of his home, a man in a photograph signals for Stiller to go to him; presumably on the wondrous adventures that follow. I don’t know how you couldn’t be hyped-up at this point.
Another reason I am excited for the movie is that Ben Stiller is not only starring, but directing. If you peruse Stiller’s directing stint, you will find it eclipses his acting career. The list includes: Zoolander, The Cable Guy, and Tropic Thunder. Beyond the fact Ben is directing, there is a strong supporting cast in Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, and Sean Penn. Sean Penn has been considered one of the elites in Hollywood for quite some time and, while on a different level, Adam Scott has been well-liked for the roles he’s played. And Kristen Wiig. I just like her.
This movie could be many things but I think one thing is clear: it’s for the introvert in all of us.
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is working as a freelance writer for Sagamore Institute, creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in either economics, public policy, political science or business.