Reviews – New movies opening January 17th 2014

We review this week’s new cinema releases, including THE DEVIL’S DUE and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET…

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin, P. J. Byrne, Joanna Lumley, Jon Favreau.
THE PLOT: Charting the rise of Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) from failed Wall Street shark to famed Wall Street shark, we jump headfirst into this murky, macho and mercenary world as a sleek TV commercial for Stratton Oakmont is interrupted by a debauched office party at the billion-dollar investment company’s New York HQ. Belfort has just offered a $25,000 reward for anyone who can hit the bull’s eye with the hired midget. Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about Stratton Oakmont, and its founder.
From there, with more than a nod to Goodfellas’ Henry Hill, we get Jordan Belfort’s account of how he got to be so disgustingly rich, rude and famous. Starting out on Wall Street at 22 as self-confessed pond scum, Jordan had only just been introduced to the smoke and mirrors approach to making millions (by McConaughey’s spaced-out mentor) when, on his very first day as a qualified stockbroker, October 10th, 1987, Black Monday struck, and our boy was out on the streets. Building up an empire through selling penny stocks (the upside being the 50% commission), it wasn’t long before Belfort was heading up his gold-plated frat house. Having a close “team of jerk-offs” helps, led by goofy righthand man Donnie Azoff (Hill, channeling, fittingly enough, Slade’s Dave Hill).
THE VERDICT: Scorsese’s three-hour commercial for the wonders of cocaine has been getting a lot of stick for its abundance of the ‘f’ word, the glorifying of a money-grabbing pig, and, well, being a three-hour commercial for the wonders of cocaine. Which, of course, is all a little bit silly, given that you’re dealing with a true-life money-grabbing Wall Street pig – what’s to like?
Which is possibly why The Wolf Of Wall Street is never quite as sexy as you want it to be. Far closer to the so-so Casino than the towering Goodfellas, Scorsese’s may have found himself another fascinating career criminal, but you never find yourself rooting for this particular sly dog. Maybe it’s the fault of DiCaprio, a smart actor but not always a truly great one. Or maybe it’s just Scorsese hitting all the usual notes but failing to play us a new tune.
Suffice to say, as with all Scorsese movies – even in the brilliant mistake that was Gangs Of New York – there are moments of sheer devilish delight here, but The Wolf Of Wall Street never quite hits the dizzying heights nor plummets the dark, dank depths that a slippery subject such as Jordan Belfort should inspire.
Review by Paul Byrne

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillet. Starring Allison Miller, Zach Gilford, Sam Anderson, Roger Payano, Vanessa Ray, Bill Martin Williams, Geraldine Singer.
THE PLOT: Happy loving couple Zach (Gilford) and Samantha (Miller) like to record their every move as they finally get hitched, from Zach’s shimmy up the drainpipe the night before their big wedding to their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. It’s here though that their fine romance takes a dark turn after a psychic warns them there may be trouble ahead, and a night on the batter leaves them both with no memory of what they did. The camera never lies though, which is why Zach and Samantha aren’t too crazy about the abundance of bizarre occult rituals on their holiday video. Still, it’s not all bad news – turns out Samantha’s pregnant. Despite the fact that she’s been taking her birth control pills. Nothing strange there. Thank Allah.
THE VERDICT: Fittingly enough, horror films that come with little or no warning – all part of the big plot surprise, you understand – have a habit of leaving cinema-goers dazed and confused. Dazed because the big plot surprise invariably proves to be just another look-out-behind-you cliche, and confused because, well, deep down, you know just about every new hit-and-run horror film disappoints. And yet, they still come. We’re in very familiar found-footage territory here, mixed with more than a little blood from Rosemary’s Baby – the nod to the latter masterpiece offering up a stark contrast to the standard-issue horror on offer here.
Review by Paul Byrne