Archive | February, 2014

A Stupid Cross-Cinema Dating Experiment

25 Feb

Most of films with aspirations higher than the opening weekend box-office tend to focus on failed love or romantic situations that don’t quite work. But, hey, come on, everyone needs a chance at love, so in an exercise of theoretical match-making I’m going to match fictional characters with other fictional, more suitable matches. Here are a few cross-cinema couples too perfect to even come close to making an interesting film.

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Chris Hensworth’s James Hunt from Ron Howard’s Rush was a race car driving playboy always on the look out for the next exhilarating challenge to occupy his mind. Unfortunately, seeking that titular “Rush” didn’t leave too much time for a satisfying love life. Hunt married super model Suzy Miller, played by Olivia Wilde, only to get divorced from her four and half scenes later. The movie implies their relationship ended for two of the most common reasons all marriages failed in the seventies 1) a fight about skiing was confused for a conversation about coke and 2) someone was fucking Richard Burton. If Hunt only could have found someone seeking the same rush from instant gratification and being the center of attention, he may have turned out more than one Formula One racing championship. Which is why if this was a perfect world Rush’s James Hunt would have been introduced to Olivia Wilde’s Kate from Drinking Buddies. Kate loves to party and be the center of attention, which is a common interest the two can build their relationship on. She doesn’t really know what she’s looking for, but a heavy travel schedule of a F1 driver will surely allow her plenty of time to ride her fixie around London with extra space to let her eye wander.

The Biggest Obstacle: Besides the nearly thirty years difference between each of their stories, would be convincing Kate to show any type of support for Hunt’s racing. I don’t know too much about Formula One racing, but if she’s not a fan of Updike I can’t imagine her liking the nuance of taking turns at 200 mph.

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Jason Schwartzman is a hero amongst The Wes Anderson Players. His twee-est characters thrive in the roles where they pine after unobtainable women. In what seems to have been a bargaining chip to get him to continue to pony up the goods as an always-seeking forlorn man-child, Wes Anderson wrote Hotel Chevalier where Schwartzman got to make out with Natalie Portman. That film and The Darjeeling Limited both revealed, that the romance did not go well. Schwartzman’s Jack Witman was a mopey guy prone to running away to suites in Paris instead of facing his problems, and when finally confronted with a problems sees the main solution as a shower and carefully chosen tune on the iPod. Now, Portman in Hotel Chevalier was never going to put up with this kind of yahoo, but do you know the perfect person to hold Jack Witman’s hand through the trials and tribulations of facing one’s problems? That’s right, Garden State’s Sam. Portman’s manic pixie dream girl with a soft spot for hopelessness would be a perfect match for Schwartzman’s Jack Witman. And when compared to the out of work, guilt-ridden, poorly tag-named, Zach Braff surrogate Andrew Largeman, Witman, even in all of his fleeing-the-emotional-scene glory, is a better catch. Jack and Sam can dance in the rain and ride mopeds until their troubles are forever forgotten.

The Biggest Obstacle: I wonder how the conversation would go when Sam tries to tell Jack that The Shins are going to change his life?

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Lastly, I’d like to find a fictional suitor for one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite films of 2013; Samantha from Her. The artificially intelligent operating system Samantha is virtual delight and deserves so much more than the sad sack Theodore Twombly. It really isn’t that much of a shock that a super genius OS who’s hobbies include wormholes and quantum physics should lose interest in a guy with only one red shirt, but multiple melancholy playlists. Samantha needs someone with more intellectual and emotional meat on their bones, a harder nut to crack. Which is why the perfect fictional pairing for Samantha is Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash. In Cash, there would be the stark internal contradictions that naturally come with the man in black. I imagine every conversation would have the philosophical weight of the Walk the Line and Ring of Fire. Think of the collection of covers Samantha could suggest to Cash, if she was able to get a book’s worth of letters from Twombly’s day job. No offense to Rick Rubin, but it could be a collection to rival the American Recordings. There would be enough stimulation for Samantha to keep her from jumping ship to an extra dimension with the rest of the AI Operating Systems. She could mine the depths of humanity by studying just one person.

The Biggest Obstacle: Johnny Cash would never date a computer.

-C. Charles

 

Stupid Oscar Predictions

24 Feb

The title says it all so let’s get started with a comparison of how I think Sunday night should go vs. how it actually will go. These are more or less in the order the awards will be presented. I’d also like to award Oscars for reasons not included on this list but that’s another post.

Best Supporting Actor:

Who should win – JARED LETO for his role in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. Hands down owned the role of “Rayon” and embodied the elements of Comedy and Tragedy with his performance. If it wasn’t for this movie, I’d say MICHAEL FASSBENDER is a close second.

Who will win – JARED LETO because he deserves it doesn’t matter, what really counts to the judges is if the subject matter is of social importance (as Hollywood sees it). Coincidentally for this category the same nominee fits both qualifications.

Best Animated Feature:

Should win – THE WIND RISES because MIYAZAKI  is overdue.

Will win – FROZEN, not counting Pixar movies, Disney’s animated films in the past couple of years have been disappointing. This is because they used to be the best there was in animation. By continually raising the bar for animated features every year for decades, audiences came to expect perfection and in the recent past Disney didn’t deliver. FROZEN rose Disney out of the rut they’d been stuck in and is the popular choice.

Best Song:

Should win – “THE MOON SONG” from HER, this was one of the smartest movies of the year and Arcade Fire’s contribution sets the perfect tone.

Will win – “LET IT GO” from FROZEN, The Academy isn’t about music so they’ll vote for the safest choice.

Best Original Screenplay:

Should win – PRISONERS, it took you on such an intense unpredictable ride that it should win, but it wasn’t even nominated. So if HER or DALLAS BUYERS CLUB won, they deserve it.

Will win – AMERICAN HUSTLE, I really think this overrated movie was pretty bland and forgettable. But since the Academy didn’t award SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK for writing last year, they’re going to try and make up for it by rewarding the same filmmakers this year for an inferior movie. For those who haven’t seen AMERICAN HUSTLE, it isn’t the movie you think it is, those who have, you know what I’m talking about.

Best Animated Short: Has anyone heard of any of these nominees?

Should win – MR. HUMBLOT because it has a robot in it

Will win – FERAL, by contrasting the dichotomy of the modern and primitive lifestyles through the eyes of a child, blah blah blah, artsy gobbled gook = Oscar. (Sorry Mickey, snubbed again.)

Best Documentary Short: Judging by titles alone

Should win – CAVEDIGGER, I’ve actually wanted to see this movie but it didn’t play in my town and isn’t available for home viewing yet unless I pay for it on their website.

Will win  –  FACING FEAR, Because the Academy sees this as being the most socially relevant movie that nobody saw.

Best Live Action Short:

Should win – Who cares?

Will win – THE VOORMAN PROBLEM, because it is the only one in English and us stupid Americans like that.

Best Hair and Makeup:

Should win – JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA, and not just because this would be a huge surprise and fuck you to everyone but because without the skills required to make Johnny Knoxville look like an 80 year old man to the general public this movie couldn’t exist. (For the record the world would be a better place if this movie didn’t exist).

Will win – DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, because seriously we can’t let JACKASS or  THE LONE RANGER be Oscar winning movies.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Should win – CATCHING FIRE, what an improvement this movie was over the first. But since the Academy always snubs sci-fi and didn’t even nominate it, I’ll have to pick PHILOMENA, Because I want to live in a world where STEVE COOGAN wins an Oscar.

Will win – TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, regardless of the problems with his movie, the true story has such a powerful emotional impact and a historical significance. Now couple that with the fact that the script is adapted from a very old book that could easily have been lost and forgotten forever had it not been for this movie and you got an winner.

Best Supporting Actress:

Should win – I Love JENNIFER LAWRENCE and she was the best part of AMERICAN HUSTLE, but her costar in CATCHING FIRE, JENA MALONE was a better Joanna Mason than I ever expected to see. She deserves some credit and I think in the sequels we’ll see her become more noticeable. I know who should get it and…

Will win – LUPITA NYONG’O for TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE she was intense and the Academy has a recent history of favoring African American actresses.

Best Production Design:

Should win – GRAVITY, because even astronauts were impressed at the realism of the sets and props.

Will win – THE GREAT GATSBY, because it was lavish and over the top

Best Costume Design:

Should win – CATCHING FIRE even though it isn’t nominated, fashion is a big part of that world and this movie finally got it right.

Will win – TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

Best Sound Editing:

Should win –  GRAVITY, because it edited out sound to actually represent the vacuum of space, something most space movies don’t do.

Will win – THE HOBBIT

Best Sound Mixing:

Should win – INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS for how they presented Live musical performances.

Will win – GRAVITY

Best Cinematography: This is the only category where if I haven’t seen the movie that wins I will watch it ASAP. Luckily I’ve already seen the winner, 3 times.

Should win – GRAVITY

Will win – GRAVITY, It better fucking win this one!

Best Score:

Should win – GRAVITY, with minimal dialog the music is much more important to the story.

Will win – GRAVITY, normally whoever wins the Golden Globe for score wins the Oscar as well but ALL IS LOST despite winning the globe isn’t nominated.

Best Visual Effects:

Should win: GRAVITY although THE HOBBIT did look amazing.

Will win: GRAVITY

Best Documentary:

Should win – BLACK FISH I think this movie was one of the highlights of the year but it didn’t even get nominated. But 20 FEET FROM STARDOM was the most entertaining of the nominated documentaries.

Will win – DIRTY WARS because it’s viewed as politically important.

Best Film Editing:

Should win – GRAVITY, because less is more.

Will win – AMERICAN HUSTLE, because there’s no logic applied to judging this category.

Best Foreign Film:

Should win – THE GREAT BEAUTY

Will win – OMAR, because it’s from the Middle East.

Best Actor:

Should Win – MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY for DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Will win – CHIWETEL EJIOFOR for 12 YEARS A SLAVE, he was very good but will get it because of the subject matter of the movie.

Best Actress:

Should win – SOPHIE NELIESSE for her title role in THE BOOK THIEF this little girl went above and beyond and was a big part of why this little movie was wonderful and she wasn’t even nominated.

Will win – AMY ADAMS for AMERICAN HUSTLE, she is really good, but I just can’t root for anything about this movie.

Best Director:

Should win – ALFONSO CUARON for GRAVITY, because he spent 4 years developing new techniques to perfect the story he wanted to show us.

Will win – DAVID O. RUSSELL for AMERICAN HUSTLE because too many people have been brainwashed into thinking this movie is great.

Best Picture:

Should win – GRAVITY because it was the best movie of the year, your argument is invalid.

Will win – AMERICAN HUSTLE or 12 YEARS A SLAVE, because we don’t live in a sane or just universe.

Good Luck on filling out those last minute ballots for the Oscar betting pool.

Carl Wells

A Stupid Opinion Grows in Brooklyn

17 Feb

Life in Brooklyn based solely on my Knowledge of Brooklyn from Girls, High Maintenance and Brooklyn Nine-Nine

In my entire life, I have spent all of six hours in Brooklyn, none of which were productive, memorable or sober, but I’ve been lead to believe it’s a Disney Land for post-adolescent children to play and frolic while occasionally learning how to be a functioning member of society. A grad school for life, or better yet a school of hard knocks that promises to turn everyone from the jersey-wearing Jay-Z to the Nets-selling, Magna-Carta-droppin’ international mogul Jay-Z. Where people afflicted with a toxic levels of suburban angst can seek the healing powers of urban pretentiousness. Not only that, but Brooklyn is the setting for some to the best viewing delicacies available for mass consumption. Girls, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and High Maintenance are all at the top of their respective fields (Premium cable comedies, Network comedies and web series). And when looked at as a whole (and why not believe that all three take place in the same Brooklyn?) the characters from Girls, Brooklyn Nine-Nine or High Maintenance show that Brooklyn isn’t all gentrification and hipster street cred, but just a possible step on the path to becoming a happy, healthy and well-adjusted human.

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Girls shows the beginning stages of the post-adolescent, pre-adult Brooklyn induced growth. The characters are Tweens 2,  but unlike the physical unrest and confusion of not knowing what toys to buy of the original Tweens, the second round of being in between a child and an adult is full of being pushed out of the nest and being force to fly. These characters still have the wide-eye naivety that everything is destined to work out for them because they’ve taken the risk of living in Brooklyn. For Hannah living on her own in Brooklyn is the hardest thing she’s had to do, and because every other “hard” thing she’s done (e.g. college and, well, just college) has had a reward at the end (e.g. diploma) she now subconsciously believes that biggest reward is just around the corner. Of course, she doesn’t have time for emotions when people die around her because she’s focused on doing the hardest thing she’s ever done; living in Brooklyn. This is her finals, her thesis, her main trials and tribulations of her young life. Which is why it’s so hard for her to accept that people who’ve abandoned those promised dreams for the security of a unfulfilling, but reliable, position. She is a selfish character with a limited grasp on what is required of someone living in society, but that’s what tweens are; dumb and selfish. And now that Hannah and the rest of the Girls are tweens again, only this time without the excuse of puberty, their dumb and selfish ways are met with an extra dose of reality, hold the compassion.

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In Brooklyn Nine-Nine the Brooklynites have made it past the embarrassing Tween 2 stage and are ready to start their lives as functioning members of society, but they’re not fully ready to commit. Nearly all of the detectives on the show have character flaws related to the passage from young adulthood and the real thing. Detective Jake Peralta deals with impulse control and the crippling debt that comes with it, Rosa is too hard for most human interactions, Sergeant Terry copes with how to balance his professional and personal life and Detective Santiago lets her urge to be stroked blind her to her blatant brown-nosing. And to top it off, the butt of their jokes are the way beyond Tween 2 office dwellers Hitchcock and Scully. They still grasp at the last hint of childhood by mocking what they may become. The characters on the show are beyond the girls of Girls in as much as they can support themselves and have turned from the pie-in-the-sky dreams their youth to the reality of adulthood. Now, hopefully, the characters don’t mature enough to keep Brooklyn Nine-Nine from being a perennial contender for the funniest show on the air crown.

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And lastly, in High Maintenance we get the most mature characters who coincidentally all have the same dealer. High Maintenance is such a rich show and it does such a great job of developing complex characters in such a limited amount of time. All of the characters, from the short scenes surrounding the main storyline to the reoccurring minor characters to the main characters, have become adults living in Brooklyn. There is tension between the young immature characters and the more mature characters in almost every episode. The show almost seems like a counter point argument of youth in the city. The characters’ problems in the show are a million miles away from Hannah’s problems. So much so that they spend an entire episode unleashing vitriol and scorn on the Tween 2’s of the borough to the point where they’re blacklisted from the show. The majority of the problems that come about from the show are the result of the tension between people trying to be adults, and the adults coming face to face with character or behavior that could make up a three episode arch on Girls. Even the Guy isn’t the prototypical drug dealer, this guy is someone who will come to you. He isn’t the guy sitting on the couch all day playing Xbox and slangin’ some dope. No, he’s out there doing the work, with rarely a complaint. Not only is he a hard-working adult, but he’s also mastered the art of empathy, which the lack of keeps so many people stuck in perpetual adolescents. High Maintenance is the elder statesmen of Brooklyn, leaving the city in good hands.

Life in fictitious Brooklyn comes full circle. It starts with the wide-eyed selfishness of Girls, drags its feet into adulthood in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and can sit back and enjoy the high of maturity in High Maintenance.

-C. Charles 

The Lego Movie Review

14 Feb

You have to admit than when looking at previous movies that were based off of toys, they were all pretty obvious attempts to just cash in on the merchandising value those toy brands had built up during the past few decades. Looking at the track record let’s remember Transformers and G.I. Joe both had cartoon shows whose only purpose was to make kids want to buy more of their action figures. Once these kids had grown into better consumers Hollywood corporate bean counters figured they could once again sell Transformers and G.I. Joe repackaged as a movie title , even if the movies themselves are just a CG pile of stupid. So when I heard that the next toy to get a Hollywood makeover would be Legos, I wasn’t optimistic and expected another 90 minute commercial. But a mixture of curiosity for how bad could it get mixed with a little hope that they might make something fun got me to buy a ticket. Being on the fence going in I didn’t consider it a good sign that the 3D glasses the movie theater gave me had “The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey” printed on them. You know when the theater is unloading stuff they’ve sat on for 14 months they’re really pulling out all the stops to make sure you have the best experience possible. I skipped the Popcorn, figuring it also was probably from the Django Unchained opening weekend.

 Lego Moive

Five minutes after the start of The Lego Movie it had already won me over. I could tell that it wasn’t trying to be a cheap gimmick or lazy money grab and that it was going to embrace the unique charm of living up to being “The Lego Movie”. It also reminded me a little bit of Team America (easily in my Top 5 favorite movies ever) not just because it used inanimate objects to tell its story but because it derived humor out of the limitations of these objects. Team America’s puppets couldn’t dance or fight or walk, Lego people can’t bend their elbows and have claw hands so watching the characters trying to maneuver around is awkward and funny. Team America made fun of the giant special effects budget movies by having all their special effects done with miniatures and fishing line and cheap small scale explosives. The Lego Movie rendered everything in plastic; the clouds, water, smoke, lasers, gunfire flashes and explosions are all just Lego pieces, no Industrial Light and Magic needed (Yes I realize most of the movie was in fact CG and not stop motion animation with Lego but you get my point). Team America also made sure to point out all the required elements an action movie needs like a ticking clock and a montage. The Lego Movie makes use of calling story elements what they are, the main character is “The Special” his secret weapon is “The Piece of Resistance” etc. By making plot devices so apparent it is funny and also keeps things simple so you can just sit back and enjoy the blocky beauty of Lego world.

 Lego Movie 2

This movie works really hard to be everything you want it to and it shows. The previews don’t do justice to what this movie looks like, in the clips the Lego world seems like a bunch of kids with ADHD have been drinking Red Bull and snapping Lego sets together then throwing them at one each other. Watching the actual movie isn’t nearly as chaotic as the trailers make it look. What I like is that they are embracing the full legoness look of everything. The Spaceman from the 1980’s set has a broken helmet, just like mine did. People’s heads rotate 360 degrees and can be pulled off and reattached to other things. There are so many Lego based visual site-gags going on in the background I know I missed a few. In fact this movie has so many jokes in it period. Luckily there weren’t any of those jokes that are “for the parents” because kids won’t get the subtle sexual hidden double meaning of the dialog. I just think that’s too easy to do in a G movie, it takes real wit to make an adult and a kid laugh at the same gag, or maybe my sense of humor is more immature than I think it is. The adult themed humor here is geared more toward making fun of pop-culture, like how expensive franchise coffee is and how pop music is overproduced and repetitive. Parents be warned you will not be able to get your kids to stop singing “Everything is awesome”. Even knowing it is a spoof song I still have it stuck in my head cause it is so damn catchy.

I didn’t even mention the casting which uses Morgan Freeman perfectly and keeps Will Ferrell in a supporting role where he belongs and Will Arnett’s Batman steals every scene he’s in, there’s some nice surprise voices, like Charlie Day and Liam Neeson to keep an ear for out too. Summing up, this is not the Blockbuster that uses a toy in the title to sell you a movie of crap. The Lego Movie cleverly spoofs other toy Blockbusters while at the same time being the toy Blockbuster we always wanted. This movie made me happy from beginning to end.

Carl Wells

Webbed Prose – 2/11/14

11 Feb

Last time I didn’t do a good job at explaining what I was trying to do with the Webbed Prose. It was a vague and rushed explanation because I was so eager to get rolling on the prose aspect of the thing. But, I learned my lesson, I know now that Stupid Opinions still have to be clear opinions. So, here is my second take at the Webbed Prose with the set up that should have been included in the first Webbed Prose.

Webbed Prose will be where I use something I’ve read or seen on the internet as a writing prompt for something, most likely fiction. It may be a story based on who wrote the linked article, as it was last time in the vaguely described post, or it could be inspired by a sentence or a picture in the post. I don’t really know how it will work, but hopefully it will end up being a nice little companion piece for the original article, which I will post here. Feel free to read it before, after or skip it all together.

This is the depressing article about how rich a person would be if they invested the same amount of money in Apple stock as they spent on the Apple product they are bought.

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Here is the my prose inspired by this article:

 Socially Adept 

I realized when it took three minutes for someone’s animated sparkling background to load on their myspace page that social networking was a huge waste of time. And instead of just hitting pause on whatever shitty Fray song was playing, I closed the window never to open a social networking site again. Instead of indulging in the fleeting satisfaction of new message, a mention, re-tweet or wall post, I decided to spend that time on making myself a better human being. Which would be a hard task considering that I already wasn’t involved with any type of social media. So, in the instead of uploading pictures and cyber stalking ex-girlfriends, I turned to a life of productivity.

At first, I calculated that the average person spent roughly twenty minutes a day on the then popular myspace, so I began studying Spanish for twenty minutes a day. Before the poorly ran site even reached the social tipping point, I was fluent in Español. By ignoring my “top 8” I increased the sphere of people I could communicate with by roughly 400 million people. It took trips through Mexico and the majority of South America and could actually bribe my way out of the majority of situations a tourists get themselves into by myself, all on my own. During the time there were a few new people I met who asked for my information on thefacebook, but I coldly told them they could go straight to hell and besar el diablo pene. The digital plague was nipping at my heels, while in Ecuador a friend of a friend showed me a picture he tagged me in on thefacebook. After hiring some local muscle to hold him over the side of a 30 story tall apartment building until he promised to remove the photo and any mention of me on the social site, I realized that there stakes had been raised. And given the option to lighten my stance on the increasingly acceptable social network, I scoffed and double down.

Through firm handshakes and face-to-face meetings I shored up any fear I ever had about not having a job. I rose through the ranks of every company I held a position at. Only leaving one title to pursue more challenging endeavors. With my daily twenty minutes, I fucked around read War and Peace twice, Infinite Jest three times and unironically read In Search of Lost Time in its entirety.   By this point, all of my peers had taken the blue drink known as thefacebook. So, I increased my productivity from a religious twenty minutes a day to a zen like forty. Then, I added another five minutes to my holy productivity time with every invitation to join the digital hell. But I had to put a cap on my productivity time, after a month of the new policy there wouldn’t have been enough hours in the day to cover all the requests. Even with the capped time I was able to earn a law degree and an MBA while hashtags and at-signs were cracking their heads out of the different shade of blue social site. I skipped it all. I dropped my gmail account when they tried to tie to a social network and build my own email server from the ground up with my newly developed skill of coding. But even with a custom, top-notch, unsocial email client the best way to contact me is through the phone, a letter sent to one of my P.O. Boxes worldwide, or happen upon me on one of my international jaunts around the globe.

As I walk through any city in the world and I see the soul dimming light cast on the faces of people deadly gazing into the lithium fueled void in their hands my decision to keep my hands off the social networking wheel are completely reaffirmed. Don’t think I am done with the productivity yet. I’ve got my eyes on a nice little South American nation prime for a focused, productive, socially gifted and charismatic political leader to step into power. Someone able to smoke out the corruption and injustice, who can build a better social and economic nation and the only “wall” mentioned in the country will be the walls where firing squads execute people who like their own status updates.

The End

-C. Charles

The Wolf of Wall Street vs Goodfellas

4 Feb

There are a lot of similarities between Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street. That is nothing new. Both of the films are based on books about real people. Real people who aspired to bigger things (status and/or money), achieved their goals by questionable means, then ratted/narced on everyone they knew to save their own asses. The two films are very similar, but The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t Scorsese’s version of Hitchcock with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day redoing The Man Who Knew Too Much. It is a fun exercise in pop culture to point out how and where the two are similar, but what is really interesting is how the two films are different. 

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Let’s start with a look at the different motivations and actions of the two protagonist, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). Belfort wants to be rich because of the perceived respect and power that come with it, and Hill wants to be a gangster because of the respect and status. They both fulfill their aspirations within the first act of the film, the difference is that between the two Hill is a-okay with being a middle man. He takes full advantage of the benefits and enjoys life, his downfall comes when he starts to reach for something more. Once he tries to break into the drug game on his own, shit starts to go south and the film ends with him in exactly the same place he would’ve been had he not been a gangster. The whole scene where he’s coked out being chased by helicopters is the final straw. He’s got too many irons in the fire, used too many drugs and is extended himself beyond the requirements of this type of criminal activity. Belfort’s journey begins where Hill’s begins to falter. Jordan Belfort is not the philosophical heir to the Henry Hill, I can’t even he’s the bastard child of Hill’s aspirations. Belfort is so grand in his triumph of wealth that mere suggestion that he is similar to any part of The-Life-loving Henry Hill is hard to swallow. Belfort creates an empire of his desires, not by avoiding them, but indulging them, while Henry Hill is quite content to live his simple life of crime. The two characters share vices, humble beginnings and could check each other’s life stories at the local library, but look deeper and the two have different motors, and ultimately a different moral compass.

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I want to condemn Jordan Belfort his crimes, call him out as the slick asshole I think he is, but I can’t even place my finger on his crimes. Surely, by the design of Terence Winter and Scorsese the crimes are vague, but that is what makes the movie and Jordan Belfort that much more frustrating. Goodfellas the crimes were clear; murder, extortion, theft, all things everyone can agree on are wrong. The specific crimes in The Wolf of Wall Street aren’t the focus of the film, and even if they were expanded and described the layman, audience member or Stupid Opinion holder would need hours of an MBA night school to fully grasp their gravity. Henry Hill while never appearing entirely comfortable with all the collateral damage required of being a gangster, accepted it as part of the job. Where as the crimes Jordan Belfort commits are a direct result of his drive and unshakeable quest to become wealthy. His insatiable, undefined desire to be rich allowed him achieve everything in the film. Of course this film cannot condemn him, his crime is following the American dream. The path Jordan Belfort takes in the film is from cheap suit to tailored suit to business casual. The same path as every middle manager with a mortgage. Granted, middle managers are rarely under federal indictment and probably blow 70% less coke up hooker’s asses, but that is why Jordan Belfort still sells out business seminars. He achieved the American dream everyone’s since Studs Terkel is striving for.  Neither Belfort or Hill really suffer for their crimes, but of ending of Goodfellas, with Hill rotting away in the suburbs, we’re left to believe that at least he’s in mental agony, where Belfort is left with the same number of followers just waiting to be riled into a chest thumping congregation devout followers.

I guess, at the end of the day, how different can two biography adaptations really be?

-C.Charles