The Wolf of Wall Street

TWOWS posterMartin Scorcese’s latest offering, The Wolf of Wall Street, trumps many a great movie about money-making schemes. Watching it is a blast from start to finish! It’s got that great vibe of helping you understand how people in the stock market do what they do good. I kind of expected Leonardo diCaprio to be great, but I was nicely surprised to see him a lot better than what I was expecting him to be! He would surely given Chiwetel Ejiofor of the brilliant 12 Years a Slave a run for his money in the Oscar race for Best Actor. I actually thought he’s given the best performance of his life in this movie, being really the wolf in the Wall Street.

The movie seems to be an amalgam of deadly sins: greed, gluttony, power and lust. Leonardo diCaprio characterized all of these in his characterization of Jordan Belfort, the notorious stockbroker who owned Stratton Oakmont and made lots of millions swindling investors in the stock market. The way he spoke would seem to persuade even the most skeptical person to invest in his company. He didn’t really care about the investors; he cared about making loads of money. He, together with his friends and employees, drank and partied hard, took drugs as if they’re meals, fornicate anyone even those he is not fond of. He was addicted to power by not just trying to maintain being rich, but doing all he can to become richer and richer. All of these drowned him into the well of immorality, a world where everything seemed to be fun even though they’re not.

Lending Leo their good, convincing performances include the beautiful Margot Robbie as Belfort’s wife, Naomi; the funny Matthew McConaughey as Belfort’s first employer in the Wall Street; the serious Kyle Chandler as the NBI agent who indicted him; the lovely Joanna Lumley as Naomi’s aunt; among many others. Jonah Hill seemed to do just fine, though he still portrays the same old character he’s always been: the obnoxious but caring douche bag of a partner and friend. I am just glad he didn’t put diCaprio down on their scenes. (Hill’s Oscar nomination doesn’t impress me at all.)

Scorcese still has his magic. In three hours, Scorcese showed how such a character like Belfort could have done such outrageous things. It is a testament that he really excels in doing movie that shows a study of character. He effectively showed how a small-time dreamer turned into a great but wild realist in the Wall Street. Belfort had a vision of what he wanted to be, and Scorcese made that evident in his frequent collaborator, Leonardo diCaprio, who’s insanely good in this movie.

Furthermore, this movie is a testament that Scorcese doesn’t hold back in terms of production values. The atrocious, careless spending of the filthy rich stockbrokers lavished on the screen. The megalomaniac attitudes and ways of them filthy rich surely raised envy on the watching eyes of the audiences who are watching. Kudos to the whole production team behind Mr. Scorcese.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, you would only know a movie is great by watching it. However, one percent of the time tells you that if it’s a Martin Scorcese-Leonardo diCaprio movie, it would never be a waste of your precious time.

The Wolf of Wall Street’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay

“Di siya mukhang aswang. Aswang siya!” – says Peque Gallaga while referring to the movie’s lead star in Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay

 

Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay was very entertaining. It was really fun watching one of the most famous extras in local cinema as she takes center stage for the first time. Lilia Cuntapay, best known for her roles as aswang/ mangkukulam/ multo in Philippine movies and TV shows, stars in this wacky creation of a far-fetched idea of her winning a best supporting actress award in a pseudo-award-giving body.

Lilia’s career as an actress was shown in the movie. It’s a wonder how people don’t know her name yet know her face. I guess Antoinette Jadaone, the movie’s director and writer, wanted to imply that not all people who are familiar by face are famous even though their presence in a movie or show was felt the most. Lilia Cuntapay is the best example of this implication. Have you seen episodes of Shake, Rattle and Roll during the 1990s? I guess you have seen her in one of those episodes. Yet, she’s probably most remembered in SRR 3 where she played a haunting yaya in the episode where Kris Aquino starred in.

Speaking of Kris Aquino, I think she does not deserve the title “Horror Queen” not just because she doesn’t know how to act well (oops, sorry to her fans) but because there’s someone who’s much more deserving of the title. She should give it to no other than Lilia Cuntapay who certainly embodies the Pinoy horror genre with her work.

There’s a thin line between what’s real and what’s not in the film, especially if you’re not aware of the goings-on of Philippine entertainment. Of course, you’d know the scenes where Lilia’s just lost in her head while imagining things but other than that, you could have believed everything that’s being shown albeit funny or sarcastic. It’s nice how the director was able to show Lilia living in her community, working still as an extra and preparing for her speech assuming she’d win in the faux awards-giving body. Believe me when I say that her struggles in making her speech and practicing it ceaselessly in her imagination were very, very amusing.

The best part of the movie was what it was trying to do: alleviate a veteran bit player into center stage for the first time. It’s a lesson that says everyone won’t forever be in the backseat. Somebody’s going to be ahead at some point, and while waiting for our turn, we’ve got to learn how to best enjoy the ride.

I’d like to take back what I have said after watching the movie. It’s not just amusing at best. It is amusing and entertaining and life-changing, perhaps not to everyone but to those who can really relate.

Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5