Posts Tagged ‘Margot Robbie’

whiskey tango foxtrot

Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is a journalist who writes for the taking heads on television.  In 2003, while most journalists are covering the war in Iraq, Baker is asked to go to Afghanistan, and become a war correspondent.    Baker decides to go, leaving her serious boyfriend, Chris (Josh Charles) behind. Shortly after arriving, she meets her translator Fahim, (Christopher Abbott) the head of security detail, Nic, (Stephen Peacocke) and fellow female reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie)  She starts out as a Marine Embed, and gets stories from Afghan women, and eventually get to interview the Afghan Attorney General Ali Massoud Saddiq.(Alfred Molina)  Baker is staying in Afghanistan longer than expected, and that takes a toll on her relationship at home.  She finds out that Chris is cheating on her, and starts thinking about starting a relationship of her own. Reeling from the end of her relationship, Baker finds solace in the arms of Iain McKelpie (Martin Freeman) a lecherous Scottish journalist who hits on any woman in the country.

Despite her interviews with solders, and high ranking government officials, Baker gets scooped by Tanya, who gets caught in the crossfire of a U.S. drone attack, and whose video of that attack goes viral.  Baker needs a big story to keep her job, she turns to Iain, who is working on a story about Chinese involvement in Afghanistan, that could be huge.  But while Iain is working on that story, he is kidnapped a held for ransom.  Baker has to use all her connections in the Marines and to the Afghan government to try to get Iain back, and if she does so, she could score the biggest story of her life.  Does she succeed in helping to find Iain?

I did not like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.  It tries to do too many things, is it a war movie, is it a comedy, is it a relationship movie?  It tries to be all of these things, and does not succeed at any of them.  It has to be a war movie, because Kim baker is a war correspondent.  But it tries to be too irreverent, by sending Baker to parties and weddings, and even throwing in some unnecessary bathroom humor.  A war comedy is a hard trick to pull off, Doctor Stangelove and MASH were probably the two best ones, and this does not come close to that.  The story becomes about the reporters and how competitive they are to get a story, and that should not be the central theme in a story about the war in Afghanistan.  War correspondents have a dangerous and sometimes deadly job, this film did not portray that aspect of Baker’s job well enough. Ultimately, none of the characters are very likeable, so there’s no one here to root for.

Tina Fey tries to be funny, and hip, and self-deprecating,  dropping one-liners in her trademark style, but ultimately the script fails her, and she is left to flounder in a semi-serious half-baked comedy. Margot Robbie livens things up as a seasoned Aussie reporter, who will do almost anything for a good story.  She is not really a good person in this role, but she plays the role of frenemy well. Robbie has played a lot of different roles in her short career, and is building a versatile resume, as either a comedic or serious actress.  Martin Freeman tries to play the smarmy love interest here and that’s a bridge too far for him.  I will always consider him a good guy, and he should stick to those good guy roles.  Alfred Molina is a dubious choice to play the Afghan attorney general, and the script makes him do insulting things, so it’s not a shining moment for Mr. Molina. Very few of the Afghan roles are played by Muslims, so this is another case of Hollywood whitewashing.

The direction is ok, the pacing is slow,  this is the directing team who have directed such movies as I Love  You Phillip Morris Focus, and Crazy, Stupid Love.  The pacing was slow they only got a good performance from Robbie.  There were also no great visuals in the film, so the direction is nothing notable.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:  WTF indeed.

Movie Review: Focus (2015)

Posted: October 30, 2015 in Drama
Tags: ,

focus

Nicky (Will Smith) is a con-man, who’s turned stealing small things into big business.  He takes a newbie named Jess (Margot Robbie) under his wing, and teaches her the fine art of the con.  The pair makes 1.2 million during Super Bowl weekend and con a Chinese gambler named Liyuan (BD Wong) out of another 2 million, Jess also falls in love with Nicky.  But Nicky feels that he is getting to close to Jess, and so he gives her 80, 000 dollars and ends the relationship.  Three years later, Nicky is hired by the head of an Argentinian racing team named Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) to protect an algorithm that Garriga has come up with to make his team’s cars go a little faster than the other cars.  Nicky is supposed to con the other team owners with a fake algorithm. But then Jess shows up in Argentina, and tells Nicky that she is Garriga’s girlfriend, and that she’s gone straight, and given up conning people for good.  What is Nicky’s reaction, does he continue to help Garriga?  Is Jess really Garriga’s girlfriend or is she conning him?

This movie gets off to a good start.  Nicky explains the rules of a good con game to Jess, there’s a little comedy thrown in, it was a really interesting movie for about half an hour,  technically what Nicky and his team were doing in New Orleans was nothing more than glorified pickpocketing, but I was willing to let that go.  The scenes with Liyuan were badly written, I would have done something else entirely.  The con in Argentina was thoroughly uninteresting,  and the re-emergence of Jess was badly written.  I would have done something much more interesting with Jess, another wasted character.

Will Smith is smooth and polished as the con man, he shows that he still has comedic chops too, it was a good performance by Smith in a comeback after trying, and failing to create an acting career for his son Jaden. Margot Robbie is stunning to look at, and she handles the early scenes well, but by the time the movie gets to Argentina, she is used as little more than window dressing, and that is a shame.  Robbie does a great American accent, I did not even know she was Australian, until after I saw The Wolf of Wall Street. BD Wong  was severely underutilized, I would have used him in a different, more interesting way.  He is a much better actor than this movie shows, check out his performance as White Rose in Mr. Robot.

The direction is stylish and shows New Orleans in a glamorous light, great cinematography. Ironically, the directors are the writers, the performances were not that great, so I would say that these directors are not great actor’s directors, so I would say keep the visual aspects of your directing, stop writing completely.

Focus:  Unclear what the point of this movie is.

about time

At age 21, Tim (Domhall Gleeson) is told by his father, James, (Bill Nighy) that all male members of his family can travel through time.  Tim uses this knowledge to try to fix his love life.  The first target de amore for Tim is his sister Kit Kat’s (Lydia Wilson) boyfriend’s sister, Charlotte, (Margot Robbie) who’s going to stay with Tim for two months.  Despite many trips  back in time, Charlotte doesn’t seem interested in Tim.  Tim moves on, and meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls madly in love with her.  With many trips back and forth in time, Tim and Mary’s relationship seems perfect.  Then just as suddenly as she left, Charlotte comes back.  Who will Tim choose, his first love or his newest love?

I did not like About Time.  It is full of insipid dialogue, mostly for Mary.  Mary loves model Kate Moss for some unexplained reason, and Tim goes back in time to get his response about Kate Moss right.  When Mary wants to make love, she says something like “I’ll be in my pajamas, you can come and take a look if you want.”  The story turns on a dime, and becomes predictably weepy and manipulative, because the story has nowhere else to turn.  Finally, at 2 hours and ten minutes, the script is much too long to maintain anyone’s interest, I stopped caring about any of these characters long before the movie ended. The best of the time travel movies, Back To The Future set a seminal rule for time travel movies, if a character changes things in the past, his future will change, this movie kind of make the time travel rules as they go, and that doesn’t work.

The acting is pretty bad.  Things were going along well enough with Gleeson and Margot Robbie, and along comes Rachel McAdams, wearing some kind of ugly hairpiece or haircut , to make herself look more mousy and unattractive and speaking with a distinctively American accent.  There is no explanation of what this particular American is doing in England, no backstory for her character.  So there is no other conclusion but that McAdams is such a limited actress that she can’t even fake an English accent.  I think she tried in the Sherlock Holmes movies, and the accent wasn’t that great.  She did a time travel movie already which was actually just as bad as this one, but at least she wasn’t pretending to be insecure.

The problem with Domhalll Gleeson is that he looks like he’s about 12 years old, and Rachel McAdams looks much older than that with her mousy wig and frumpy clothes.  Chemistry in a film starts with a physical attraction, and there didn’t seem to be one here.  The couple that would have worked here is Gleeson and Margot Robbie, they’re close enough in age, and there seemed to be a spark in the scenes they did together, but the producers probably wanted a big name and so they signed McAdams as a box office draw.  The only good news is that Bill Nighy was solid once again in another character role, and Robbie was good in too small a supporting role.

The pacing was slow, slow, slow, adding to an overlong running time.  I was wondering if it was ever going to end.  Thankfully it did.

About Time: About Time McAdams stopped making cheesy rom coms.

the-wolf-of-wall-street

At age 22, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DeCaprio) gets a plum job with a prestigious brokerage.  He is taught the ropes of being a successful broker by Mark Hanna. (Matthew McConaughey) Hanna’s advice to Jordan, take a lot of drugs, pleasure yourself twice a day and separate your client’s cash from your client.  As soon as Jordan gets his series 7 license, black Monday occurs on October 19th 1987, and Jordan finds himself out of a job.  He works for a while in a small brokerage on Long Island, where he sells penny stocks to unsuspecting clients , making 50% commission.  A friend, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) is so impressed with Jordan’s take home pay that he quits his job to become a broker.  It is then that Jordan starts Stratton Oakmont in an abandoned auto garage.  He staffs Stratton with old friends from the neighborhood, most of them small time drug dealers.  Nicky Koskof (PJ Byrne) nicknamed Rugrat, because of his bad hairpiece, Chester Ming, (Kenneth Choi)  Robbie Feinberg,(Brian Sacca)  and Alden Kupferberg  (Henry Zebrowski)  join Jordan and Donnie at Stratton, and by promising to sell blue chip stocks and really selling lousy penny stocks, Jordan and his cohorts rake in lots of money.

Jordan agrees to speak to Forbes magazine for what he thinks is a puff piece, the Forbes reporter nicknames him the Wolf Of Wall Street.  Not only doesn’t this hurt his reputation, lots of newly minted brokers want to work for Stratton.  Jordan realizes that the next big step for the brokerage is to sell an IPO, initial public offering of a newly formed company.  Donnie is friends with Steve Madden, (Jake Hoffman) woman’s shoe designer who wants to take his company public.  Stratton Oakmont takes the company public, and Jordan puts 85% of Steve Madden stock under his control, which is illegal.  By this time both the SEC and FBI are investigating Stratton Oakmont for shady securities practices.  As Jordan’s professional life deteriorates, his personal life is in similar disarray. Jordan has already divorced his first wife, and is having difficulties with his second wife, Naomi (Margot Robbie) because of Jordan’s predilection for hookers.  Jordan and Donnie also snort massive amounts of cocaine and take Quaaludes to come off the high.  To say the least, these vices mess with Jordan’s judgment, but he still can get out of serious jail time if he pleads guilty to a few minor SEC violations and steps down from Stratton, will he do it?

I like  The Wolf Of Wall Street a great deal. I expected to see Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, and instead I saw a much funnier take on the Wall Street culture, some of it was laugh out loud funny.  Sometimes, I think it was too funny for its own good. Jordan Belfort is  a real person, he did swindle lots o people out of their money, and at times, I felt like the movie treated his transgressions much too lightheartedly.  By the time the movie switches to a more serious tone, the pacing also slows down quite a bit. Martin Scorsese, who directed this movie, didn’t need so much detail in telling the story, and could have done a good bit of editing to help with the pacing.

Because it’s directed by Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street reminded me of Goodfellas.  Henry Hill and Jordan Belfort are very similar, they both put on the facade of being pillars of the community, while in reality they craved debauchery. Scorsese is extremely good at showing the dichotomy between the public and private lives of both men.

The acting is good.  Leonardo DeCaprio is very good as a man whose moral compass is broken, and who only cares about fulfilling his hedonistic needs.  DeCaprio turns from good time Charlie to raving lunatic in a flash, and that’s not easy to do, a lesser actor could have blown that role very easily. He also does the New York accent very well.  Margot Robbie does a really good job in a tough role as Belfort’s second wife Naomi, she plays Naomi as a very manipulative woman using sex as a weapon, but and she also stands up for herself when she needs to. She also handles the accent well, even though she’s from Australia.  I cannot for the life of me understand the casting of Jonah Hill in this movie, he plays Donnie Azoff as a complete moron, a goofball looking for his next score of money or drugs.  Hill has never failed to annoy me with his frat boy antics in any movie he’s in.  The streak continues.  I’m similarly puzzled by the casting of Rob Reiner as Jordan’s father.  Reiner plays the role strictly for laughs, which adds to the confused tone of the film.

Overall, a very good film, a bit long, and sometimes confused tonally, but still very good.

The Wolf Of Wall Street.  A great movie, a bit long in the tooth.