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Posts tagged ‘Sex’

Oscars for “Wolf of Wall Street”? Dicey

Having just sat through the WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too long “Wolf of Wall Street”I really wonder about its’ Oscar chances. It’s a three-hour movie that is self-indulgent and repetitive to the max. It’s budget is upwards of $100 million and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Martin Scorsese, but I wonder…

Simply on paper alone it looks REALLY appealing to the mostly male, mostly older Academy demographic. There’s a great deal of the Voting Membership that will relish this over-the-top Old Man’s Fantasy of a young man’s wild, drug-fueled life.  So yes, on all those counts it does get in. There’s more tits and ass(including Leo’s) to float it to a nomination from that sector alone. Or maybe not.

EVERYBODY in every branch of  the Academy gets to vote or rather at this stage NOMINATE 10 films for Best Picture, so I think on that alone in a field of ten, and taking into account the “Meat Eaters” Anne Thompson is always referring to from the many tech branches, it will get in.

But only actors can nominate actors. And only five of them. Are you following me on this distinction?

And when you turn to the Actor’s Branch, who is the largest and most critical, some would say snobbish section of the Academy, I dunno. They consider themselves, and perhaps rightly so, as the guardians of the High Art (in the case of “Wolf” that is literally) in the Temple of Acting.

These are the people who will nominate Leo or Jonah Hill…Or not…

And I can tell you right now, the women in the Actor’s Branch are going to be highly offended by the extreme sexism of this Wall St. romp.

And they don’t like Leo, who is still only 39, that much any way. They’ve not given him  an Oscar ~ YET, though he has received three nominations.

He’s giving it all he’s got, and there are some brilliantly funny set pieces, like the soon-to-be infamous “Quaalude” or “Lemon” scene, where Leo takes soooo many “Old” pills of this type, he and Jonah Hill don’t have a reaction til 45 minutes later. Trust me, it’s hilarious, and Leo exhibits a highly developed skill for physical comedy that he has never shown before….but then there’s a climatic scene that is border-line pornographic…well, I don’t see that wowing the sometimes staid Actor’s Branch.

Jonah Hill executes all that he is given to do expertly, but as of yet, he has been shown NO critical love in the crucial precursor awards, and they’ve been MANY of them at this point. He’s playing a truly repulsive character, repulsively.

Leo has turned up on some nomination lists. Like the Golden Globes ~ Best Actor Comedy, most notably, and he could win there.

Although Bruce Dern is in that category, too, for “Nebraska.” Uh-oh.

Leo really HAS to win there, but the Best Actor race has been so tightly locked up with THE FIVE = Dern, Redford, Hanks, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Matthew McConaughey(who is also in “Wolf” for one terrific scene ONLY). This race has been tied up and locked down for so long, I don’t really know if he’s going to break into it.

So we could see “Wolf of Wall Street” winding up with a Best Picture nomination in a field of ten. But not much else. Certainly not costumes, since in so much of the film, much of the cast, especially the women, aren’t wearing ANYTHING! I’ve never seen $100 million studio release that has had so much blatant onscreen nudity and sex.

“Wolf of Wall Street” is infuriating in that it’s this colossal missed opportunity. With all the talent involved, it operates between scenes of great social satire, alternated with scenes of repetitive boredom. And it’s all on Leo. It’s his movie. He’s in nearly every scene. And when he’s good he’s very, very good, and when he’s  bad, he’s just SHOUTING,And  it’s boring.

And there’s at least FIVE looonnnng monologue scenes of Leo at the mike exhorting his troops, of office workers. to sell MORE, MORE, MORE! Ugh, I wanted to yank the mike out of his hand.

And awards-wise its’ timing, so late in the season, and opening right after “American Hustle” which deals with the same subject on a much smaller canvas and with only two hours running time. With an astounding comic turn from Jennifer Lawrence, it’s a comedy about greed and con artists that is actually quite funny, in the part of the movie that Lawrence is in.

I kept thinking “Has Martin Scorcese lost his mind?” He’s never made such a lewd, nude, orgy-filled film, which of course is probably an accurate representation of the abuses of power on Wall St. which is the point of the film. But there’s too much enjoyment in the excesses and the crime and punishment of said misdoings seems not much at all. Although no one is killed, he is getting away with murder. With gleeful merriment trumping the “It’s illegal” side of the story.

And I can’t believe I’m typing these words, because I wasn’t that wowed by “American Hustle” to say the least, but “Hustle” just did this story, and better, and funnier.

Jean DuJardin pops up as a very funny Swiss bank exec. And is really marvelously comic and venal. And McConaughey’s one scene is also very  funny but pointed and BRIEF.

Martin Scorcese is known for serious films about violence and crime.This film too is about crime and the examination of a criminal mind. There’s no blood this time, just lots and lots of nudity and sex.

Didn’t anybody ever tell these people that brevity is the soul of wit? You can’t have a THREE HOUR COMEDY.

Paramount rushed Scorcese and his legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker to finish this picture in time for this year’s Oscar Race. It WAS four hours. FOUR HOURS! And now it’s only three. And it’s run right smack dab into the awards karma of “American Hustle.” And it doesn’t gain by comparison.

“Becoming Dr. Ruth” A surprise & a triumph!

Who knew that behind the facade of one of the most unlikely Pop Culture/TV icons of the last century lay such a tragic back story? “Becoming Dr. Ruth” lays all that bare to chilling, enlightening, suspenseful effect. It’s a one hour 40 min. show, with no intermission but it flew by at 100 mph. Powered by an unforgettable performance by Debra Jo Rupp as the eponymous title character. And oh yes, it’s one woman show.

At the always charming Westside Theater on W.43rd St., it’s pint-sized house and stage is just the right size for this tiny titan’s staggering story.

She is simply packing up her Washington Heights apartment that she shared with her late third husband. The stage is full of brown packing boxes, which trigger, doing the most mundane of casts, in the plainest of settings, but with the most gorgeous views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridges, Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s many memories of her childhood destroyed by Hitler and the holocaust come flooding back .Each item she packs invariably reminds of childhood moments. memories, both devastating and sweet.

As a child, she was sent out of her Frankfurt Orthodox Jewish home on the Kindertransport that got her safely to Switzerland for the remainder of the war, but she never say her father, mother and grandmother again. These memories are told plainly and without sentimental effect as Dr. Ruth, formerly Karola Sigel, lays them out in stark detail. You think “Great! She escaped to Switzerland!” but the loss of her family, and later in life, her  seeking to rebuild her own, as  first on a kibbutz in Israel and then later in Paris and finally New York, haunts her. And us.

The loss of her parents, about whom she was never able to find any information, is an ineffable tragedy that powers her drive to succeed, and succeed she does! As America’s Go-To guru of sexual advice in the ’70s. She clearly helps rebuild Americans’ damaged libidos and spirits with her always jovial, infectious optimism, which is the note on which the play ends, as she finally says proudly displaying a picture of her four grandchildren, “You see, Hitler, you lost.”

“Becoming Dr. Ruth” is the best new play I’ve seen so far this season, and although there is only one woman on stage, Debra Jo Rupp, fills it with Dr. Ruth’s ebullient, indomitable spirit, and a cast of thousands.

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