Tag: Leonardo DiCaprio

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Infernal Affairs (2002)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous syas: “I’ll definitely be watching the two sequels (prequels?).”

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The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched.  The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough.  I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies.  With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

“Remember this, if you see someone doing something but at the same time watching you… then he is a cop.”

As a wannabe movie nerd, I know there’s a real hole in my knowledge of and appreciation for Hong King cinema, specifically Hong Kong action cinema.  I think before now, John Woo’s Hard Boiled might have been the total extent of my Hong Kong viewing.  And even then, I was a little underwhelmed by what I’m lead to believe is a bit of a bench mark in the genre.  Maybe I’d seen too many derivative American knock offs to really appreciate what Hard Boiled had to offer, but it didn’t compel me to see more.  What did compel me to see more was knowing that Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was a remake of the Hong Kong movie, Infernal Affairs.


Tony Leung is Chan Wing-yan, a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of triads, he’s the Leonardo DiDacprio of Infernal Affairs.  Andy Lau is dirty cop Lau Kin-ming, on the payroll of the same triads, let’s call him, Matt Damon.  Their shared triad boss is Eric Tsang’s Hon Sam, AKA Jack Nicholson.  If you’ve seen The Departed, you know this is a cat and mouse game where Leung and Lau are both constantly cat and mouse at the same time.  Each is hot on the other’s trail, trying to uncover their deception, while all the time knowing they’re also being pursued by one another.  It’s an ouroboros, snake eating its own tail kind of deal. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Basketball Diaries (1995)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: The Basketball Diaries takes what could be an over the top, scared straight style after school special, and makes it scarily tragic, heartbreaking and real.”

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters 
“I was just gonna sniff a bag but one guy says if you’re gonna sniff you might as well pop it and another guys says if you gonna pop it you might as well mainline.”

Looking back on the last few years of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career, it just looks like an Oscar waiting to happen.  In the last decade, he’s been nominated for Best Actor twice, for The Aviator and Blood Diamond, before finally winning last month for The Revenant.  And even in less prestigiously highbrow roles, like Django Unchained and Shutter Island, he is never less than 100% committed.  I was thinking that this was something he grew into, once he got the heartthrob years of shit like Titanic out of his system.  But then I remember his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a movie he made as teenager, with a performance that’s nothing short of amazing.  And now I’ve seen him back it up just a few years later with The Basketball Diaries.


In New York at no specific point in time, Jim (DiCarprio) is a high school basketball star, wannabe poet and borderline delinquent.   Jim and his teammates, including Mark Wahlberg as Mickey, are the kinds of dudes who steal from their oppositions lockers after a game in a better neighbourhood than their own.  While it’s played off as ultimately harmless, it’s clear that on some level, Jim’s actions are fueled by the frustration of having his best friend (Michael Imperioli as Bobby) in hospital, dying of leukemia. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Django Unchained (2012)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The instant I started watching it again for this review, I was immediately caught up in just as much as the first time around.”

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“Kill white people and get paid for it? What’s not to like?”

While I consider myself a Quentin Tarantino fan, I definitely like his old stuff better than his new stuff.  I’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown plenty of times, and I assume I’ll see them plenty more.  Whereas his work after those are movies I tend to really enjoy at the time, but their impact is fast fading.  Which was my initial reaction to his latest, The Hateful Eight.  But this time, the impact of The Hateful Eight hasn’t faded.  I still find myself thinking about it, a lot.  Which then lead me to thinking that even though I have liked his last few movies, I may have been a little dismissive of them as well.  Which is why I decided to re watch Django Unchained.


Two years before the American Civil War, a band of slaves are being dragged through the cold night when their masters are stopped by a suave, German dentist (Christoph Waltz as Dr King Schultz).  No longer practicing dentistry, Schultz now makes his living as a bounty hunter, and he needs a slave who can identify his latest prey.  One speaks up, claiming he can, so Schultz dispatches the slave traders and departs with the helpful slave, who he makes a free man, Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Revenant (2015)

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As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe… keep breathing.

I’m a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, and will see pretty much anything either is in.   I may not think Birdman was necessarily the best movie of 2014, but I liked it and generally dig what director Alejandro Gonzalez Innuritu does.  And the stories around the making of his latest movie are nothing short of incredible.  But it’s those stories that made me a tad reluctant to see it.  I’m always wary of a movie where the most interesting thing about it seems to be its intense, or harrowed, or insane shooting process.  Shouldn’t the finished product be the thing that gets people talking?  Well, The Revenant did go through an intense, harrowing and insane shooting process, but the good news is, the end product is good enough to outshine that stuff and more than stand in its own.


After six long months in the snowy wilderness, a group of fur trackers a readying their haul and thinking about what they’ll all do with their share of the profits. But a raid by some Native Americans sees their furs stolen and over 30 of their party killed.  The dozen or so who survive only do so thanks to the quick thinking and local knowledge of their guide, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio).  But not everyone is thankful for, or believes in, his expertise.  Fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Hardy) second guesses most of Glass’ decisions and is always looking for the quickest way home, rather than the safest or smartest. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Shutter Island (2010)

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“Which would be worse, to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?”

Martin Scorsese has never made a bad movie.  That’s the kind of Scorsese fan I am.  I truly believe that.  And even when I don’t necessarily love a Scorsese movie, like, say After Hours, or New York, New York, I blame myself, not Saint Marty.  Or, in the case of New York, New York, I blame his coke dealer.  But I firmly believe he’s one of the greatest film makers of all time.  I even love Gangs of New York.  Yeah, I said it.


Even when you ignore the hallowed classics, like Taxi Driver, or Raging Bull, or Goodfellas, the middle ground stuff by Scorsese standards, is still better than almost any other movie you’ll ever see.  So when I call Shutter Island middle ground, it’s only when using Scorsese as his own measuring stick.  Because in the big scheme of things, Shutter Island is first class horror, suspense, psychological thriller stuff. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #83. Titanic (1997)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

  Titanic

“I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper.”

Titanic plays a pretty important role in my development as a movie nerd.  It came out when I was about 16, and like everyone else alive at the time, I saw it in the cinema.  It was important because it was the first time I was really consciously aware that big budget, prestige movie making didn’t make a movie exempt from predictable clichés and lazy story telling.  Before that time, I’d recognised predictability and familiar structure in cheap comedies and bad horror.  But for some reason, I thought movies like this were above it.


Then I spent three hours in a cinema with Titanic refusing to surprise me in any way.  I haven’t watched it since, hoping and assuming that I never would have to.  Then I decided to do this AFI countdown, and shot myself in the foot.  So, almost two decades later, does Titanic still live down to my huge disappointment? (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

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What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a movie I might have seen before, or I might have only seen bits and pieces of.  But I knew enough to know it was the movie that made most people notice Leonardo DiCarprio for the first time.  And finally sitting down to watch it properly, at least 15 years since the last time I saw a single frame of it, DiCaprio’s performance lost none of its impact.

Gilbert Grape, played by Johnny Depp, opens the movie with a handy piece of narration to get everyone up to speed.  He lives in the dying town of Endora, Iowa with his two younger sisters, morbidly obese mother and mentally challenged younger brother Arnie (DiCaprio).  Gilbert and Arnie are watching the annual convoy of caravaning holiday makers drive through Endora on their way somewhere a lot nicer.  One holidaying pair however, gets stuck in Endora due to a breakdown, Juliette Lewis’ Becky, and her grandmother.

Both Gilbert’s narration and the look of the town itself paint Endora as the Iowan equivalent of the dead end wasteland town in Peter Bogdonavich’s The Last Picture Show.  It’s the kind of town that if you don’t escape the second you finish high school, you’re probably stuck there forever.  Gilbert and his friends, played by John C Reilly and Crispin Glover, are the ones who didn’t make it out.

Depp stumbles through What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in a haze.  He has been worn down by taking care of his family, especially Arnie, ever since their father died.  He aimlessly works at the local supermarket that won’t last much longer against the big chain store on the edge of town.  He passively has an affair with Mary Steenburgen’s local middle aged hotty and aimlessly waits for life to just be over.  Until he meets Julliette Lewis and starts to realise he can take control of his life and maybe make it better.  It’s weird to think there was a time when someone though it was believable to cast Juliette Lewis as the love interest opposite Johnny Depp.  Oh well, I guess it was a different time all the way back in the early 90s.

Arnie is definitely the heart of the movie and ihe heart of Endora.  Gilbert’s boss at the local grocery store lets the childlike Arnie basically just hang out and get in the way.  When the police finally have to arrest Arnie for climbing the local water tower for what is obviously the latest of many times, you can see how reluctant and apologetic they are that it finally came to this.  DiCaprio is out and out amazing as Arnie.  It’s easy for actors to go over the top with sort of role, but somehow DiCaprio manages to be big and broad, but really subtle and real at the same time.

The only downside to his performance is, it’s easy to forget everyone else who does a great job in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.  Depp delivers the kind of normal, quiet performance that seems less and less likely we’ll ever see from him again.  John C Reilly and Crispin Glover are the perfect goofy friends and Gilbert’s mother, played by Darlene Cates in her one and only film, is pretty heartbreaking.   It’s a small movie that will probably be remembered for DiCarpio’s more than impressive breakthrough.  And it is an amazing break through.  But that’s almost a shame, because the rest of the movie around Arnie is great too.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Directed By – Lasse Hallstrom
Written By – Peter Hedges

MOVIE REVIEW | Infernal Affairs (2002)

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As a wannabe movie nerd, I know there’s a real hole in my knowledge of and appreciation for Hong King cinema, specifically Hong Kong action cinema.  I think before now, John Woo’s Hard Boiled might have been the total extent of my Hong Kong viewing.  And even then, I was a little underwhelmed by what I’m lead to believe is a bit of a bench mark in the genre.  Maybe I’d seen too many derivative American knock offs to really appreciate what Hard Boiled had to offer, but it didn’t compel me to see more.  What did compel me to see more was knowing that Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was a remake of the Hong Kong movie, Infernal Affairs.


Tony Leung is Chan Wing-yan, a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of triads, he’s the Leonardo DiDacprio of Infernal Affairs.  Andy Lau is dirty cop Lau Kin-ming, on the payroll of the same triads, let’s call him, Matt Damon.  Their shared triad boss is Eric Tsang’s Hon Sam, AKA Jack Nicholson.  If you’ve seen The Departed, you know this is a cat and mouse game where Leung and Lau are both constantly cat and mouse at the same time.  Each is hot on the other’s trail, trying to uncover their deception, while all the time knowing they’re also being pursued by one another.  It’s an ouroboros, snake eating its own tail kind of deal.

Co-directors Wai-keung Lau and Alex Mak really know how to turn the screws on a story and wring out every drop of tension in a given scene.  Even though I’d seen The Departed and knew where the story was ultimately headed, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the suspense of it all.  Every time one cop almost caught the other, I was genuinely invested in and excited by what came next.

For a movie that seems so reliant on its Hong Kong setting, characters and history, it’s amazing how faithful Scorsese’s Boston centric remake was.  The Departed really is a beat by beat remake with only a few changes.  The most obvious being the pacing.  If you thought The Departed crammed a lot of plot, twists and turns into 151 minutes, you might get whiplash watching Infernal Affairs tell the same story in just over 90.

In The Departed, we see Damon’s character as a young boy when he meets Nicholson’s for the first time.  We see DiCaprio introduced to Nicholson’s gang, we see him stuck on the edges of the gang, we see him gradually earn the trust and acceptance of the gang.  Infernal Affairs starts with Leung already ten years into his undercover assignment and Lau already working for Tsang.  We’re dropped in the middle of this thing and expected to hit the ground running.

As faithful a remake as The Departed is, having already seen Scorsese’s version in no way means the shine has been taken of Lau and Mak’s original.  In fact, having seen The Departed so many times made me appreciate Infernal Affairs even more.  It’s really interesting and entertaining to see how another culture approaches a story like this, the different rhythms and techniques of film making lead to a really unique film, even if the plots are almost carbon copies.  I’ll tell you this much, I’ll definitely be watching the two sequels (prequels?) that come with the Hong Kong original.

Infernal Affairs
Directed By – Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak
Written By – Alan Mak, Felix Chong