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Non-Review Review: The Armstrong Lie

The Armstrong Lie is about a lot of things. It’s nominally about Lance Armstrong’s attempted come back in 2009, and then about how it was all one big lie once the doping allegations became impossible for the athlete to deny. Those are, in a way, the least interesting aspects of Alex Gibney’s documentary. Instead, the film works best as an exploration of power and vested interest, as well as an exploration of narrative and how that narrative is manipulated and shaped to suit agendas.

thearmstronglie1

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Non-Review Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

In 1987, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street was arguably too subtle in its criticisms of the Wall Street mentality – the philosophy that “greed, for lack of a better word, is good” or that enough can never really enough. After all, the film apparently inspired a whole generation of stock brokers and investment managers, with quite a few aspiring to be their generation’s Gordon Gekko – when the movie’s central point was that Gekko was hardly an idol to worship.

This would seem to explain the rationale of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, a film that makes Stone’s brutal evisceration of Wall Street excess seem positively mild-mannered. Indeed, the film all but directly acknowledges this fact in an early scene where a “hatchet job” of an article from Forbes (the same article that would lend Belfort his sobriquet “Wolfie!”) prompts a massive upsurge in job applications for Belfort’s Stratton Oakmont.

The money shot...

The money shot…

So, understanding the need to go a bit bigger and larger, The Wolf of Wall Street introduces us to its protagonist, Jordan Belfort, snorting cocaine out of the bodily orifices of a prostitute, and yet somehow descends deeper and deeper into acts of debauchery and excess. It’s an unrelenting and energetic film, that is exhausting and exhilarating. It’s less of a structured story and more a three-hour laundry-list of depravity.

While the last hour of the film (the inevitable “it all comes tumbling down… or does it?” act) can’t maintain the forward moment that make the first two so exhilarating, The Wolf of Wall Street remains proof that Scorsese is an incredible film maker with an almost impossible vigour and enthusiasm for the medium.

Drinking it in...

Drinking it in…

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When the Sheen Comes Off: The Lonely Ballad of Charlie Sheen…

It’s human nature to want to rubberneck at some grotesque car wreck. I have no idea where that grim compulsion is rooted, but it is buried deep within our human nature – we can’t resist it, like some form of morbid curiosity. In fact, on major motorways, the problem is so intense in that it has been suggested in the Netherlands that police should erect blank screens to stop passing drivers from peering at accidents. As I watch Charlie Sheen’s continuing descent into madness (because it seems – defying the laws of nature – like there is no rock bottom), I can’t help but wonder if we should do something similar about the actor’s recent attempts to train wreck his career.

He's not Half the Man he used to be...

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Is Anton Chigurh an Angel?

Yes, you read the title right. Is Anton Chigurh, the sociopathic hitman from No Country For Old Men who kills his victims an instrument used to cull cattle, an instrument of divine will? I stumbled across an interesting argument on-line which proposed that McCarthy (who is – apparently – staunchly conservative) wrote the character as an angel who was sent down to purge all those connected in anyway with the money from the drug trade – bringing on the old-school biblical wrath which you don’t see too often these days. Talk about executing your purpose with zeal.

Everytime Chigurh kills somebody, an angel gets its wings. It's pretty crowded up there, too.

Everytime Chigurh kills somebody, an angel gets its wings. It's pretty crowded up there, too.

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