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The Wolf of Wall Street

Since 1987’s ‘Wall Street’ burst onto screens, money-men have increasingly become cinema’s villains.  Instead of guns, they brandish mobile phones while wearing slick designer outfits.  Wall Street is their play-ground with money their constant drug.  ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ explores a man’s lust for dollars and the trappings they bring.  Director Martin Scorsese mixes this enticing brew to become one of his best recent works.

 

Stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) dreams of making it big.  Desiring more money, he teams with financial whiz Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill).  Establishing a brokerage firm, they entice the trading community to use them to cut dubious Wall Street deals.  Enjoying the trappings of the high-life, greed soon becomes their undoing.  Investigated by the FBI, they plan on hiding their wealth by any crooked means possible.

 

Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ story is one of excess.  Belfort and Azoff ensured they lived in complete decadence at the expense of those for whom they handled money.  Their ways reflected Wall Street’s fast paced allure with their skills at feeding off the greed of investors second to none.  This in turn fed into their own greed for drugs, sex and endless partying. 

 

Scorsese ties these elements together in one very long but amazingly rendered package.  The viewer is driven head-first into Belfort’s fast-paced existence which would seem improbable had it not been real.  Even at its most extreme, Scorsese injects believability with the incredulous reactions of those surrounding Belfort understandable.  It’s like a ramped up version of ‘Wall Street’ with DiCaprio’s power-house performance more than match for Michael Douglas’ famous role.

 

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is the type of full-on film Scorsese used to make.  It’s great seeing he still has that critical and wicked film-making streak setting him apart from his filmic compatriots.

 

Rating out of 10:  8

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

The ‘Paranormal Activity’ series is the leader in no-frills thrills. Shot on miniscule budgets and raking in huge dollars, it has reached its fifth entry. Whilst other horror films have been made on the same budget, they’ve had more imagination. ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ is the same as the others revealing little creativity. Once again having people scream in front of a shaky camera, this doesn’t conjure scares. It does generate wonder though – at how it has made much out of very little.

Living in an apartment complex filled with Mexican migrants, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) loves life. Events take a sinister turn when a neighbour suddenly dies. Taking a camera to investigate, he discovers items relating to black magic and voodoo. Perplexed by this, he soon notices strange happenings. Caught in a spectral quagmire, Jesse’s friends attempt to save him. Battling demons from another dimension, only strength of will can save his soul from eternal damnation.

Setting ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ from previous entries is its setting. Having new characters residing in a multi-level apartment block with their ethnic backgrounds bring different textures. How their beliefs are rattled by the increasingly fraught occurrences provide interest. That plus a sense of humour make it more bearable to view than the others. Having an actual story is a bonus with the producers making more effort in expanding the franchise.

Apart from that it’s the same cheap scares eliciting little fright. The level of anticipation has slowly eroded with each passing instalment with ‘Paranormal Activity’s’ bag of tricks running bare. The script uses a standard formula which, given how much cash this series has made, is understandable. Sadly it is neither scary nor memorable with little imagination or flair evident. The performers do what they can with the meagre material with risible dialogue wisely kept to a minimum.

If you’ve seen the other ‘Paranormal Activity’ films, you know what to expect. Unfortunately it isn’t much with this latest entry showing worn-out mechanics wheeling off the production line of ACME-style horror. Rating out of 10: 3