Tag Archives: Jonah Hill

Don’t Look Up (2021) Review

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Don't Look Up

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, nudity & drug use
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy
Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky
Rob Morgan as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe
Cate Blanchett as Brie Evantee
Meryl Streep as Janie Orlean
Jonah Hill as Jason Orlean
Mark Rylance as Peter Isherwell
Tyler Perry as Jack Bremmer
Ron Perlman as Colonel Benedict Drask
Ariana Grande as Riley Bina
Scott Mescudi as DJ Chello
Himesh Patel as Phillip Kaj
Melanie Lynskey as June Mindy
Director: Adam McKay

Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

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I remember Don’t Look Up at one point being one of my most anticipated films of 2021. It has a massive cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet and more. I also liked Adam McKay’s more recent dramatic work with The Big Short and Vice, and I was interested in him doing a full on satire with his latest film. However as it approached its release date, I had my doubts. The trailers weren’t the best and the reactions coming out of it weren’t exactly confidence inspiring. Still I gave it a chance and overall I’m prepared to say that I like it, though I completely understand why some people dislike it.

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I do like the premise of the movie, with the lead characters trying to warn the world about a coming disaster while the world doesn’t listen, definitely works for a satire. It is a comedy, and while I wouldn’t say it failed, most of the humour didn’t work. There are funny jokes throughout but not as many as you’d hope for. I was generally entertained throughout, even if it was never that great in the first two acts, just a mildly funny comedy with very mixed satire (more on that later). The movie is around 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and it really didn’t need to be that long. I wouldn’t say that I was bored during the movie, but it all felt very drawn out and not a lot happens or is said to really justify that length, and the comedy and satire isn’t good enough to fully sustain things all the way through. I feel like on rewatch I’d find it harder to get through. Strangely enough, it gets into much more dramatic territory in the third act, and its surprisingly quite effective, and its far better than what came earlier. Looking back at the rest of the movie, it actually works much better as a terrifying and depressing end of the world downer (with darkly comedic elements) than a smart political and social satire. Another issue is that the tone is all over the place. McKay’s last two movies jumped between drama and comedy as well, but it feels messier in Don’t Look Up. Until the third act, it just can’t seem to decide whether it’s trying to be an apocalyptic drama and a mostly straight-faced satire, or a full on spoof. I think it needed to either be more straight faced about it or lean much further into absurdity.

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While I enjoy the movie, the actual satire is one of the weaker elements unfortunately. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen of Don’t Look Up is that its very obvious and not subtle at all, much like McKay’s last two movies. And I’ll always stay true to my belief that its not inherently bad if a film is more obvious than subtle. Sometimes it is refreshing for a movie to be more direct about things. The problem is that a lot of the satire just feels a bit too obvious, in the sense that its too easy. For example, many of the characters are caricatures meant to represent types or groups of people, but they feel very overdone and a little lazy, the upbeat news anchors, the president and politicians who doesn’t know what they’re doing, dumb celebrities, etc., and McKay doesn’t do anything with them beyond the obvious. There’s nothing particularly daring or insightful said in this film, and the caricatures and not-subtle messaging makes the film hard to be engaging. I will say that some of the ways that people respond in the movie is like how people would respond in real life. However for every one of those moments, there’s moments where the satirising of aspects of today’s society isn’t quite right. An example is when Jennifer Lawrence’s character becomes a meme of sorts, but the memes that are very displayed are outdated top-text and bottom-text meme formats from the 2000s. It doesn’t break the movie or anything but moments like these go towards the film not fully succeeding at being a satire of today. While I wouldn’t say that the movie talks down to people and is condescending (although I can see why people would see it that way), there is a general sense of self-importance, and the feeling that they are more insightful and smarter than they really are. Part of that is the fact that the comet in the film is intended as a metaphor for climate change, and the movie is apparently meant to urge people to take it seriously. If we look at the movie from this perspective, Don’t Look Up really only spreads awareness that climate change exists and does and says nothing beyond that, at most its only preaching to the choir. Also when you really think about it, the comet doesn’t really make for a particularly good metaphor for climate change, especially in the context of the film (without spoiling anything). I wouldn’t normally look this deep into a movie like this, but McKay and his co-writer really seem to believe that they are saying something important about climate change, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

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One of Don’t Look Up’s biggest selling points is its absurdly large cast, which is no doubt why so many people wanted to check it out in the first place. While I wouldn’t say that any of these actors are even close to giving career best performances in this movie, most of them are pretty good in their parts. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who discover the comet heading for Earth and try to warn people about it. This is the third of DiCaprio’s more comedic performances after The Wolf of Wall Street and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he has shown himself to be surprisingly great at comedy. He’s also really good here at portraying his stressed and panic stricken character, and he especially has a great and notable rage sequence in the second half of the movie. Lawrence is also great and entertaining, she’s especially good in the scenes of comedy. DiCaprio, Lawrence and Rob Morgan (who is also great) are the best performances in the movie because they were the only performances and characters that actually felt somewhat grounded and felt like actual characters, in contrast to every other actor. When Meryl Streep showed up as the president, at first I thought she was phoning her performance, but I actually think she’s pretty good. I soon came to realise that most major actors in the cast play an over the top and obvious caricature, and so they all feel underutilised to a degree. With that said I think most of them actually work in their parts. The highlights for me were Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, and Cate Blanchett, Ron Perlman is also a scene stealer in his 5 minutes. So while it is disappointing that this stacked cast weren’t really utilised to their fullest potential, at least most of them gave decent performances. Notice that I said ‘most’ instead of ‘all’, the sole exception is Mark Rylance, I have no idea what he was doing in this movie. Rylance plays a tech billionaire, and I definitely get the point of his character. He’s a riff on Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and every other rich tech CEO right now, and it makes sense for that kind of character to be in this movie. However, his performance is so weird and strange from his line deliveries and the way he decides to play the role, and not in a good way. I think the best way I can describe it as he’s trying to play Joe Biden playing Elon Musk. I know that everyone is an over-the-top caricature in this movie, but Rylance is on a completely different wavelength from the others that he feels completely out of place.

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Adam McKay’s directing style in this movie won’t work for everyone. Most notable is the editing, which is very fast, messy, and often cuts to a lot of brief clips and images, similar to what McKay did with The Big Short and Vice. If you hated the editing in Vice, you’ll probably hate the editing in Don’t Look Up too. I will admit that I liked the editing in McKay’s unofficial political trilogy, but while I mostly liked the editing in Don’t Look Up, some of it got on my nerves a little bit at points. However, I will say that it actually does work very well in some moments in the third act and worked to give some parts some emotional punch to them. Editing aside, a lot of the other technical elements are strong. Linus Sandgren’s cinematography is great, for the most part its not really a movie that needs to be particularly well shot, but he does make the most of it when he can. Nicholas Britell is reliably great as the composer, and his score is one of the strongest parts of the film. Its definitely not on the level as his some of his other work like Succession or Vice, but its still great. The budget is absolutely insane at $75 million, and watching the movie, most of the film really didn’t need to have that large of a budget. With that said, the scenes involving large visual effects from comets to rockets were quite good.

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Don’t Look Up is already proving to be incredibly divisive amongst people. If you really aren’t a fan of McKay’s style from his past two movies, I think that you’ll find his latest film to be a struggle. I can completely understand why some people are really disliking the movie. I don’t think it really succeeds, particularly as a satire, and even from a comedy standpoint it could’ve been better. Still, it has its moments (both comedic and dramatic), some of the technical elements are strong, and most of the performances from the cast are decent. I recommend checking it out at the very least.

The Beach Bum (2019) Revew

Time: 95 Minutes
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey as Moondog
Isla Fisher as Minnie
Snoop Dogg as Lingerie (“Rie”)
Zac Efron as Flicker
Jonah Hill as Lewis
Stefania LaVie Owen as Heather
Martin Lawrence as Captain Wack
Jimmy Buffett as himself
Director: Harmony Korine

Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) is a fun-loving, pot-smoking, beer-drinking writer who lives life on his own terms in Florida. If he can put down the drugs for just one minute, he may finally be able to put his talent to good use and finish the next great American novel.

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The Beach Bum is a movie I’ve been hearing about for a little while. All I knew about it outside of the cast was that it was directed by Harmony Korine, who also made Spring Breakers. I haven’t seen Spring Breakers, but I heard that it was quite divisive, so I expected The Beach Bum to be similar and wasn’t quite sure how it was going to be. Having seen it, I honestly can’t tell who will like it and who won’t. I don’t hate The Beach Bum, and it has some aspects that I liked, but for the most part it really didn’t work for me.

Stoner comedies aren’t necessarily one of my favourite genres to say the least but there’s a few I like. The Beach Bum meanders quite a lot and is really unfocussed, sometimes that can work but it really didn’t here for me. For the first 30 minutes or so I was somewhat on board with it, or at least willing to give it a chance. It didn’t necessarily have things that annoyed me, but after a while it got tedious. After that first 30 minutes I really dropped off, and was liking this movie less and less as it was progressing. I know that a lot of people found the movie hilarious, but personally I didn’t find really any of it funny, I was just watching things happen, and at times it could be painfully unfunny. By the time it got halfway through this movie, I wanted to switch the movie off. I really didn’t get anything from the movie, I wasn’t even entertained. Even McConaughey’s performance could only do so much to make me not give up.

The cast are generally good. The absolute highlight was Matthew McConaughey as the lead character of Moondog, which was perfect casting, I can’t imagine anyone else playing the role. While I really don’t think I liked his character as much as the movie wanted me to (it’s actually quite obnoxious how much it really loves him), McConaughey is electric in the role that he makes it work for at least a good amount of time. Without him being so good in that lead role, I think I might’ve been on the point of borderline loathing watching the movie. Most of the supporting performances are pretty good, with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Isla Fisher involved contributing a decent amount. Jonah Hill and Zac Efron are alright (Efron is actually really good and does a lot to make himself stand out, even alongside McConaughey) but they don’t really get a lot of screentime.

Now this is the first movie by Harmony Korine that I’ve seen, but I mostly like his direction of the movie. It’s got a good look to it and the music choices were also good, they fitted the movie quite well. For the most part I don’t really have many issues with his overall direction. There’s enough here for me to give maybe some of his other movies I chance (potentially).

As someone who haven’t seen Harmony Korine’s other movies, I guess I can say that if you’re already really interested in seeing The Beach Bum, check it out and see it for yourself. Otherwise I’m not sure that I can recommend this movie. I mostly liked Harmony Korine’s direction of the movie, and there is some good acting (mainly from McConaughey), but after the first 30 minutes (which I wasn’t even really into), it just grows incredibly tedious and borderline annoying. I still might check out Spring Breakers, I really hope I like it a lot more than Korine’s latest.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) Review

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Jay Baruchel as Hiccup
Cate Blanchett as Valka
Craig Ferguson as Gobber the Belch
America Ferrera as Astrid
Jonah Hill as Snotlout Jorgenson
Kit Harington as Eret
Justin Rupple and Kristen Wiig as Tuffnut and Ruffnut Thorston
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs Ingerman
F. Murray Abraham as Grimmel
Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast (in flashbacks)
Director: Dean DeBlois

When Toothless gets drawn away by the sudden and inexplicable appearance of female Lightfury and a new threat finds their way into Hiccup’s crowded dragon utopia, both human and dragon alike are prompted to begin a search for the mythical ancestral home of dragons: a hidden world thought to exist only in myth. A tale of friendship, fate, and ultimately letting go.

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I really like the How to Train Your Dragon movies. The first movie, while not accurate to the books, was pretty good, very well animated and had a good story. I also remember How to Train Your Dragon 2 being my favourite animated movie of 2014, surprisingly really great and way deeper than I thought it would be. So naturally I was interested in the third movie, which would end up being the first 2019 movie I’ve seen so far. While it’s not as good as the second movie, The Hidden World is a satisfying end to the trilogy.

Something about the second movie that surprised to me was that it was darker and took on more serious themes. The Hidden World on the other hand is a much more lighthearted movie. With that, it’s good but doesn’t quite achieve the same levels of complexity as the second movie. There isn’t much character development beyond Hiccup’s arc, really there’s nothing special to say about the characters outside of Hiccup. Plotwise, it is the weakest of the 3 and is more simple in comparison. While the second movie stuck with me more, the third movie still worked for what it is. It does go for more cutesy moments, especially with the moments with Toothless and Light Fury (the female white Night Fury that Toothless forms a romance with), but is genuinely sweet and heartfelt throughout. Many moments are probably appealing to kids but it doesn’t feel forced at all. Really I liked this movie throughout. The Hidden World also ends the series on a good note, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be doing any more movies after this and I don’t think it should, it’s the perfect ending for all these stories.

The surviving characters from the second movie all return and while not all of them worked greatly, they all still had their part in the story, even if Hiccup is really the only character who gets a ton of development. The returning voice cast with Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are all good once again. The villain of the movie (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) is a pretty standard villain honestly and could be substituted by any regular villain but he’s alright enough at being a threat to the main characters.

The level of the animation is the most consistent part with all 3 movies. The Hidden World is just as well animated as the other two, if not more. It, just like the previous two, is directed by Dean DeBlois. It’s a very colourful and visually stunning movie, and it particularly shines when it involves the dragons flying. Everything from the characters, dragons, backgrounds and everything else were animated perfectly.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is not at the level of the second movie, but its good. It’s entertaining, light hearted and fun throughout. If you liked the previous How to Train Your Dragon movies, you’ll definitely like this movie, and was a solid conclusion to a really good animation trilogy.

Mid90s (2018) Review

Time: 84 Minutes
Cast:
Sunny Suljic as Stevie
Katherine Waterston as Dabney
Lucas Hedges as Ian
Gio Galicia as Ruben
Na-kel Smith as Ray
Olan Prenatt as Fuckshit
Ryder McLaughlin as Fourth Grade
Alexa Demie as Estee
Director: Jonah Hill

In 1990s Los Angeles, 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic) escapes his turbulent home life by hanging out with a new group of friends he meets at a local skate shop, plunging him into a world of fun, danger and excitement.

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All I knew about Mid90s going in was that it involved skaters and was Jonah Hill’s directorial debut. With that said, I heard some divided reactions to it so I didn’t know how I would feel about it. While I do like the movie a little bit, it wasn’t as great as I was hoping it would be. With that said, that’s not to say that there aren’t some very solid aspects to it.

I really wasn’t feeling Mid90s when it started, not that it didn’t have some good aspects in the first half though. For one, there is a certain amount of grittiness to it that you don’t really see in other coming of age stories. The dialogue (mainly between the kid characters) seems to be keeping with how people spoke in the 90s. Now I didn’t grow up in the 90s or in the skater area, so I’m not sure how accurate this movie is in portraying that. However, considering that it’s a personal movie for Jonah Hill, I’ll assume that it’s authentic. However the movie still had its issues. The characters aren’t really fleshed out all that much, and we don’t really get to learn about them, so we don’t really get to care about any of them outside of the lead character. The story can be rather rough, and seems more like a bunch of snapshots of life rather than a focussed and structured story. Not that this method of storytelling can’t work, its just that it tends to have some drawbacks when used and have the potential to feel very unfocussed and not really moving towards anything, and you can really feel it here. Then there’s a certain uncomfortable scene halfway into the movie involving the lead character (aged 13 years old by the way) and a much older girl which other people have also talked about. I’m not necessarily criticising the idea of the scene because I’m guessing it’s meant to be uncomfortable, but all I’ll say is that that this sequence played out for too long and having a minor actor being part of that scene was irresponsible to say the least, especially when they could’ve cut the scene 3/4ths in and get the same effect and thereby avoiding any problems. Ironically it’s after this scene where the movie considerably improves with the second half, as the movie gets a lot more serious and darker. We also get to learn just a little more about some of the characters and it seems to actually be moving towards something. However, we still don’t really get to learn enough about the characters, and that second half is basically 40 minutes long and when it ends its rather abrupt.

The acting all around was great and one of the best parts of the movie. Sunny Suljic is great in the lead role as Stevie, he’s only been in a few things (most notably The Killing of a Sacred Deer) but here he gives a really good performance (it definitely helps that his character gets the most depth and development out of any of the characters). The other skaters that Stevie befriended were also good but Na-kel Smith was particularly a standout. Stevie’s mother and brother played by Katherine Waterston and Lucas Hedges are also great. Really despite the lack of characterisation, the actors do really well in their roles.

Jonah Hill made his directorial debut here and he did a great job here. Immediately you’ll notice that this film is shot as 4:3, giving it a nostalgic look to it. It all seems very authentic and gritty and fully in the 90s. You can tell that it is a lower budget movie, and that actually added to the movie, making it seem more personal. The music was also really good and fitted the time period and the movie very well.

Mid90s doesn’t completely work but there’s things to admire that it does. It’s very rough and unfocussed but you can feel some genuine passion behind it, and it picks up much more in the second half. The direction and performances are also quite solid. If you’re the least bit curious about Mid90s, I’d say to check it out. It’s still a decent movie, just not as great as I wished that it was.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Review

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

The Wolf of Wall Street
Time: 180 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Drug use, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort
Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff
Margot Robbie as Naomi Lapaglia
Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna
Kyle Chandler as Patrick Denham
Rob Reiner as Max Belfort
Jon Bernthal as Brad Bodnick
Jon Favreau as Manny Riskin
Jean Dujardin as Jean-Jacques Saurel
Director: Martin Scorsese

Based on a true story, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) teamed with his partner Donny Azoff (Jonah Hill) in the early 1990s and started the brokerage firm Stratford-Oakmont. Their company’s status quickly grows in the trading community and Wall Street. As their status grows, so do the amount of substances they abuse, and so do their lies which would overall result in their downfall.

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Martin Scorsese is one of my favourite directors of all time, and when I heard of his new movie The Wolf of Wall Street I was eagerly anticipating it. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I can say that it didn’t disappoint, I absolutely loved it. Under Martin Scorsese’s direction, the film excels in everything, from the excellent acting from everyone to Terrence Winter’s brilliant dark comedic script which overall results in an overall unforgettable ride.

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At 3 hours this is Scorsese’s longest movie but it never lets up in being entertaining. The film has a very similar feel to Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino, such as the narration by Jordan Belfort which makes you feel like you are on a ride with him through his many adventures. This movie is also very funny, whether it be people tripping out on drugs or having parties in the office. Martin Scorsese hasn’t done comedies before but he really did a great job with portraying Terrence Winter’s dark comedy. This movie isn’t for everyone though. There is a lot of sex in this movie. If you are going see this movie with someone, make sure you really know if you’ll be comfortable seeing it with them because so far this is the most amount of sex I’ve seen in a movie. There is also a thought that these people are being glorified and their actions condoned. That isn’t the case, it shows them living glorious lifestyles but the final act shows their downfall. Also, these characters are never really portrayed as being likable, in fact they are quite reprehensible. I like that about this movie, it never sanitises anything, and Scorsese knows how to creates movies around reprehensible characters.

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Leonardo DiCaprio is outstanding in this movie, in fact I think that this might is his best performance of his career. Jordan Belfort in this movie goes from many emotions which enables DiCaprio to portray his (literal and figurative) highs and lows. A shining example of his great performance is a scene where dated Quaaludes Lemmons have an effect on him. Also brilliant is Jonah Hill, in probably his best performance to date. Matthew McConaughey is only in a couple scenes in the movie but he absolutely steals those scenes. There is also a breakthrough performance by Margot Robbie, as Belfort’s second wife who’s really great in the time that she’s on screen. Everyone else like Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, etc. nail their parts as well, there is no actor who’s out of place in this movie.

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This is a Martin Scorsese movie so as you can expect, the cinematography is top notch. The editing was also great, being fast based and quite a lot like Goodfellas and Casino, along with narration throughout the entire movie which really gives an insight in Belfort’s inner thoughts. The soundtrack is also very well picked, with music from artists like Billy Joel to Devo.

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The Wolf of Wall Street is a brilliant movie and I personally think that it is one of Martin Scorsese’s finest films to date. I will say that the movie is not for everyone, with the sex, drugs and the less than likable characters. However for those who are able to go in with an open mind, it is a brilliant film that is enthralling from start to finish. It’s in my opinion the best movie released in 2013 and one of my new favourite movies.