THE REVENANT (2015)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Picture – Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon
  • Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Best Supporting Actor – Tom Hardy
  • Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki
  • Best Costume Design – Jacqueline West
  • Best Director – Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • Best Film Editing – Stephen Mirrione
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini
  • Best Production Design – Jack Fisk (Production Design); Hamish Purdy (Set Decoration)
  • Best Sound Editing – Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
  • Best Sound Mixing – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
  • Best Visual Effects – Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer

Elizabeth

A long time ago, I stopped pretending I didn’t want to see a movie just because Leonardo DiCaprio was in it. When you aren’t even 30 years old and you’ve managed to keep the same favorite actor for about 20 years, I think it’s okay to admit that that actor pulls enough weight to make you see any movie he’s in. But I’m lucky. Leo makes it really easy for me because he keeps putting out incredible performances in equally amazing movies, and his performance as Hugh Glass in The Revenant is no exception.

Overall, other than Leo’s performance, the thing that struck me the most about The Revenant was how director Iñárritu’s style made you feel like you were there, not watching a movie. When “there” is 19th century frozen, battle-ridden wilderness, that’s certainly saying a lot. Iñárritu favors long, winding shots that often give you a total 360 view of what’s going on. So instead of breaking up shots, the camera just moves around as if you yourself are looking around. There is also a decent amount of shots showing the camera almost being interacted with; both blood and breath end up on the camera lens. As someone who wears glasses, there are few things that subconsciously make me feel like I’m living the action as much as seeing a lens fog up.

But obviously, the cornerstone of The Revenant is Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. For most of the movie, Leo carries all of his scenes entirely on his own. When there’s a movie with a lack of dialogue and actors and/or you’re mostly following one actor and their actions, I think a good way to determine how successful a performance was is by how compelling they were. I wanted to watch Leo trudge through the wilderness, figure out ways to survive. It was interesting, even if he didn’t have anyone to talk to. Watching his face shows that he doesn’t need anyone to act off of in order to act beautifully. I think the scene I was most impressed with was the now-infamous bear attack. Glass being attacked by a bear is the real inciting action for the whole story, so it’s important. The way it was shot was incredible and so tense; first, like Glass, you only see two bear cubs – with no mother. That never bodes well, and only after the camera pans around the forest do you realize, at the same time as Glass, that the mama bear is behind Glass, ready to attack. Now, I’m not an expert in acting, so I don’t know how you’re supposed to perform a scene where you’re mauled by a bear. We know Leo wasn’t really mauled by a bear, so what do you do – scream a lot? How much acting actually goes into a scene like that? If you’re Leo – a whole lot. In the hands of another actor, the scene would have looked fake or not that vicious. But when Leo screams, it’s from his gut, from his heart. Tears come out of his eyes the moment the bear claws at him, he grits his teeth as the bear throws him around, he tries to suppress his moans as his eyes bug out while the bear stands on him. When you have a bear attack scene where A.) You know the bear attack is not real and B.) You know the character must survive the attack given the context of the movie, and you still manage to make the scene horrific and terrifying, I think everyone involved has really done an incredible job.

And Tom Hardy was sort of perfect as Fitzgerald, a trapper that is dumb, smart, and dangerous all at once. I couldn’t help but think that he sounded exactly like a character from Kroll Show‘s “Pawnsylvania,” but other than that I was totally engaged with his performance. He was the perfect mix of being a bit of comic relief while also being the scariest character of all.

Obviously, if Leo does not win the Oscar for this it will be clear evidence of my long-suspected Don’t-Give-Leo-The-Oscar conspiracy, because he was incredible. And all in all, I really thought the whole movie was incredible and I highly recommend seeing it in theaters – especially if the theater is cold – so you get the full effect of feeling like you’re within the movie.

Christopher

It’s hard to go to a movie like this and not expect the best. It’s from a director that won an Oscar last year, actors that are always at least nominated for awards, and it sounds like it was almost impossible to film. Even knowing and thinking about all that, I still walked away from The Revenant loving it!

I think the biggest thing about the movie is it’s slow pace. However, it did not feel like it took forever to watch the movie. I think the way the movie used time and nature to really demonstrate how hopeless humans can be in nature really made the story compelling. Apart from the bear attack and issues with Tom Hardy, the way the camera used nature to dwarf the characters in this film was very impressive. It never felt like anyone had an upper hand in this long revenge plot. Like Birdman with people walking through doors, the shot we continued to see in The Revenant was looking up at trees as well as people walking with giant mountains behind them. I really like those shots though because each time the trees or mountains were slightly different. It seems weird but it was a nice small way that kept my interest in the film and help make the time really fly by when watching.

I remember too well being really into 21 Grams; I really love that Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu is still in Hollywood’s limelight. After seeing Birdman and now The Revenant, I really want to go back and watch his earlier work.

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THE WOLF WALL STREET (2013)

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS:

  • Best Picture (Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland and Emma Tillinger Koskoff – Producers)
  • Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill)
  • Best Director (Martin Scorsese)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter)

Christopher

I was really glad we got to see this and it was even better than I was expecting. It’s interesting to watch movies with Leonardo DiCaprio now because I think before I met Elizabeth I really thought nothing of him. I remember not being too into him in Titanic and I thought everyone was overreacting to his looks, but ever since he’s been in stuff as an older guy I’ve really enjoyed him, or at least I’ve never hated him. He’s pretty cool, he can be relatable in his acting. But now I look at him as this actor that has obviously touched peoples lives in his acting. I just think that’s interesting. See this movie, but if you’re scared to watch someone shoot coke and take coke out of a woman’s ass with someone, don’t see it with them.

Elizabeth

God, I fucking love Leonardo DiCaprio. And it’s safe to say my love for him is getting close to being 20 years old. And was I one of the ones that wrote an angry letter to the Academy when he didn’t get nominated for Titanic? Maybe (meaning yes). So, of course The Wolf of Wall Street is great.

But really, I did truly enjoy The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a little long, but Leo totally carries the whole thing. His performance has him do everything: he’s bad, he’s good, he’s creepy, he’s cute, he cries, he laughs, he yells, he’s funny, he’s mean . . . it’s like everything Leo’s ever done in a role, all in one movie. IT’S GREAT.

I know the movie has been criticized for glorifying Jordan Belfort and his life, but now that I’ve seen it I sort of think anyone who thinks that maybe didn’t watch the whole movie? By the end, Belfort is so obviously pathetic and unlikeable. Because the story doesn’t end at the height of Belfort’s wealth and power, I don’t see how anyone can watch this movie and come away thinking he was cool or had a great life. But that’s why Leo is so good here; if he played Belfort has a horrible, totally unlikeable person from minute 1, no one would want to keep watching. But he’s charming, he’s cute, and he sucks you in.

I was also really pleasantly surprised with how good Jonah Hill was here. With Moneyball, he proved he could act in more things than Apatow-esque comedies. But with The Wolf of Wall Street, he really proves that he can just straight up act. And he and Leo have such great chemistry that you wholly believe that of course these two terrible men are also best friends. It’s really interesting. 

I was really happy at how funny The Wolf of Wall Street is, because Leo in particular is so funny in it. And he’s always been funny, he just so rarely gets to show it. But his knack for physical comedy here, with an underlying sense of badness, is so engaging. He manages to make you feel sorry for Belfort one second, and in the next you can’t stand him. It’s really sort of amazing.

Yeah, there’s a lot of drugs, nudity, and cursing. But it’s a fucking Martin Scorsese movie! Anyone who sees this and is offended by all of that had no business seeing a Scorsese movie in the first place. A good test: if you can’t handle the drugs, nudity, or language of Goodfellas, don’t even walk near a screening of The Wolf of Wall Street. And if you do, don’t complain about it.

As someone who thinks Leonardo DiCaprio should have already won about 10 Oscars, I’m biased when I say I really want him to win the Oscar for The Wolf of Wall Street. But God, this movie was good, and he should win. 

ROMEO + JULIET (1996)

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Christopher

I’m glad we finally got to watch this movie because I know how much Elizabeth loves it. I have to say it’s not quite for me but I did end up liking it pretty okay! It’s crazy how young some of the actors are in it.

I think all the stuff I generally had a problem with is the director. He’s just kind of awful in some of his decisions. But this movie is a million times better than that shit cloud Moulin Rouge.

The best character to me is Mercutio. When he died it was easily the saddest part of the movie to me. It was also weird that it was Michael from Lost.

But the best part of the film was easily Paul Rudd. He plays Juliet’s soon-to-be-man, Paris. There is a scene in the movie where he turns around, while clapping his hands, smiling at Juliet that is one of the funniest things I have ever seen!

I’ve been wanting to watch this since high school so I’m really glad I finally saw it but I wish I had seen it in high school because I think I would have liked it a bit more.

ALL 13 YEAR OLD GIRLS GO SEE THIS!!

Elizabeth

God, what is there to say about Romeo + Juliet? It’s one of my all-time favorite movies. I’ve seen it so many times . . . honestly I would put it up around 75 times. I was completely obsessed with the play before the movie, and then hardcore obsessed with the movie. I listened to the soundtrack constantly and I give it credit for turning me onto my all-time favorite band, Radiohead. It took my all-time favorite actress at the time, Claire Danes (thanks to My So-Called Life), and paired her with my all-time favorite actor at the time (and probably still, let’s be honest), Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s just really quite incredible.

I’ve read Romeo and Juliet more than any other work (except for kids’ books), hands down, no question. I haven’t read it in years, but I still pretty much know the story backwards and forwards. And as a story everyone knows so well, it amazes me how beautiful and relevant it still is. So Romeo + Juliet is set in modern times, but is still in its own universe, where the characters all speak in Middle English, they live in a surreal beach city, and everyone carries at least one gun. Though modern, it’s still a world where telegrams and mailed messages are used over phone calls, two teenagers meet, fall in love, and get married within 24 hours, and banishment is a viable punishment that can be bestowed without trial. It’s never made clear if this is the United States, though the fact that it was filmed in Mexico is pretty clear, and that’s good. Because it’s not in the United States, it’s in Verona, and although this is Baz Luhrmann’s Verona instead of Verona, Italy, it’s its own world all the same.

Now that I am in my post-teenage years, every time I see a version of Romeo and Juliet, it’s amazing to me just how important it is to the plot that Romeo and Juliet are teenagers. In the play, Juliet is 13, and although it’s never explicitly stated how old Romeo is, I don’t think he can be more than 15. Of course, this was in the late 16th century, so those ages weren’t as young. In Romeo + Juliet, Romeo and Juliet’s ages are never stated, but Leonardo DiCaprio was 22 (and could easily pass for somewhere around 17-19) and Claire Danes was 17 when the movie was made. Why is it so important that they’re teenagers? Because only teenagers are insane enough to believably, meet, fall in love, and get married in 24 hours, and then kill themselves when they can’t be together. If adults did that, they would be insane. But things tend to be life or death with teenagers, and the fact that this was just as true in the 1500s as it is now is extremely interesting to me.

Something else that interested me: Chris and I saw this at the Drafthouse (the guy who sold us our tickets was around 30 years old and couldn’t believe the movie sold out – he was obviously never a teenage girl), so it was the first time I saw it in theaters since it came out, when I was almost 9 years old (I remember it being a big deal, this was the first PG-13 movie I saw in theaters). Watching it last night, it struck me how crazy it was to think that the last time I saw this movie in theaters, I was 8 years old, clutching a bunch of religious necklaces (I was really into the religious-themed set designs), with probably either my mom or sister or both, being so amazed at how beautiful and sad it was but also obsessing over what it must be like to kiss Leonardo DiCaprio, or really to kiss anyone. I had never kissed anyone, never had a boyfriend, never been in love. I thought I knew what sex was, but I really didn’t. I wondered what all of that was like (a lot) but I honestly couldn’t comprehend what it was like. And this is going to sound pathetic, but around the time that Romeo + Juliet came out, I was already battling really severe, early onset acne, at an age where most kids didn’t really even know what a pimple was. I was made fun of a lot, and thought nearly constantly about how ugly I was because my face was so bad, and when I watched Romeo + Juliet, my child self couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself, because I was pretty convinced I would never kiss, have a boyfriend, be in love, etc. So then last night, I found myself as a 25 year old with clear skin (thanks mostly to years of Accutane and laser treatments), sitting in a theater next to my boyfriend whom I am in love with and is in love with me, and whom I knew would later go home with me and kiss me. It almost made me cry to think about, knowing I understood the feelings in Romeo + Juliet so much more than I did when I first saw it. And it’s even better, because I’m not a crazy, suicidally-in-love teenager . . . though I’ve been that, too. It was just very comforting; Romeo + Juliet still made me cry, but just because of how tragic it is, not because I felt sad for myself.

Also, can we just talk about how insanely good at crying Leonardo DiCaprio is, especially as Romeo? I don’t think there a ton of male actors that are great at crying onscreen; it either looks fake (because it is and there aren’t any tears) or so overblown that it feels like the audience is being attacked by acting. But leave it to Leo . . . he cries his fucking heart out as Romeo, because he’s playing a teenager whose love and loss pushes him to the point of suicide. He cries tears, his eyes get red and puffy, his nose runs. He cries. And it’s heart-wrenching to watch.

It’s also important to note the “twist” ending that Baz Luhrmann gave Romeo + Juliet; of course it’s not an insane twist, Romeo and Juliet still die at the end. But in the play, and almost every adaptation, Romeo visits Juliet’s tomb, poisons himself and dies, and then Juliet wakes up, sees Romeo dead, and stabs herself to death. In this version, however, Juliet wakes up just as Romeo downs the poison, so she watches him die in her arms. Seeing her slowly start to wake as Romeo prepares to kill himself is almost unbearable. Especially the way the dialogue is manipulated; all the lines remain the same, but are just said at slightly different times (when Juliet laments the fact that Romeo didn’t leave an poison for her, she’s talking to him directly this time). And when Romeo dies, Juliet is left without her monologue, because she’s said everything to Romeo already. So instead, she cries and then wordlessly shoots herself in the head. It’s pretty gut-wrenching.

I’ve said enough, and I need to stop myself because I could write about this movie and this story forever. If for some reason you haven’t seen Romeo + Juliet, just do yourself a favor and watch it, please.