Closer look at my favorite scene of 2013 from THE WOLF OF WALLSTREET

As always, it starts with the writing. So let’s take a look at the scene from Terence Winter’s brilliant screenplay as it appears in its original written form.

INT. WINDOWS ON THE WORLD – DAY (MAY ‘87)

CLOSE ON a COKE SPOON whose contents disappear up a nostril. PULL BACK TO REVEAL…

The lunchtime power spot with panoramic views of the city. At a corner table, a paranoid Jordan looks around as Hanna does another bump of coke. None of the other DINERS seem to notice or care.

MARK HANNA
(offering the spoon)
Got enough for one more? Tootski?

JORDAN
No. Thanks though.

Hanna slips the vial into his pocket as HECTOR, the tuxedoed Maitre’D, approaches.

HECTOR
Mr. Hanna, what can I bring for you on this glorious afternoon?

Hanna surreptitiously palms Hector a $100; Jordan notices.

MARK HANNA
Here’s the game plan, Hector. Bring us two Absolut Martinis straight up. Precisely seven and a half minutes after you deliver those you’ll bring two more, then two more every five minutes until one of us passes out.

HECTOR
An excellent strategy, sir.

JORDAN
Actually, I’m good with 7-Up.

Jordan might as well have farted at the table.

MARK HANNA
First day on Wall Street, Hector. Give him time.
(Hector offers menus)
No thanks, I’m not eating.

Hector heads off.

JORDAN
You can get high during the day and still function?

MARK HANNA
High is the only way to do this fucking job. Guy who coined the term “three-martini lunch” was a woman. Cocaine and hookers, my friend, the keys to success.

Jordan smiles, not sure if Hanna is kidding.

JORDAN
I gotta say, I’m really excited about being part of your team. I wanna do all I can for our clients and —

MARK HANNA (reciting an ad)
“Here at L.F. Rothschild, our clients aren’t just important, they’re family.” Just as long as we get our taste first. Remember something, Jordan, your top priority in this job: make us money. If the clients get rich along the way, bully for them. Got a girlfriend?

JORDAN
Wife. She cuts hair.

Mark swallows a comment about that. Gets to business.

MARK HANNA
OK, first rule of Wall Street. Nobody — and I don’t care if you’re
Warren Buffet or Jimmy Buffet — nobody knows if a stock’s going up,
down or fucking sideways, least of all stock brokers. But we have to pretend
we know. Make sure you stay relaxed. Nobody wants to buy
something from someone who sounds like they haven’t gotten laid in a month.
Take breaks when you feel stressed, jerk off if you can. You like jerking off, right?

JORDAN
Well… sure.

MARK HANNA
Good, jerking off is key. And I highly recommend cocaine, which will make you dial faster,
which is good for me. Churn ‘em and burn ‘em, baby.

A BUSBOY stops by with a fresh napkin for Mark who thanks him. Then, discreetly as possible, Mark removes a fresh vial of cocaine tucked within and takes a quick snort. Jordan realizes: that’s why he palmed the maitre d’ $100.

JORDAN (V.O.)
For the next six months I learned the ways of Wall Street.

==========================================================================

Great scene. Now let’s look at the scene in its final form in the movie… (Although it was not shot handheld iPhone like this!)

Now play it again while listening to just the sound and reading the script to see what is – but mostly what is not – on the page including two huge, brilliant monologues.

So how did this extremely well written scene become absolute genius? Well, you’ve got Scorsese directing, first and foremost. And then you’ve got two of our best actors at the top of their game. But in particular you’ve got Mathew McConaughey who reveals the extensive prep work (and actual writing) he did for the scene in this video:

http://nyti.ms/1fIP1Dl

What McConaughey did, I think, is an amazing gift to the film and the audience. But ultimately I credit the writer who launched him in that direction and the director who cast him and who had the vision to go with what the actor brought to the written scene.

When I saw Scorsese speak at the Directors Guild a few weeks ago at the “Meet the Nominees”event, he told a story about how McConaughey was humming as a warm up for his voice before the scene and he liked it and told him to use it. That’s beautiful directing. Especially because the humming becomes the company fight song and war cry later in the film.

Also, last but not least, DiCaprio in this scene hits just the right note of innocence with slight New Jersey accent which only makes his downfall and debauchery all the more emotional later. The subdued  way he answers  the question of how many times her jerks off a week is hilarious. Also, it was DeCaprio’s idea to reprise the chest beating “war cry” later in the movie. Check out this interview where he tells the story of how it all went down…

But the main thing I love about this scene is how it nails the whole Wall Street casino insanity so perfectly. As Scorsese said at the Director’s Guild – Nothing has changed on Wall Street. It’s just something we allow to go on for some reason.

But he seems to have answered the reason which is summed up in the final shot of the movie, looking out at all the hopeful faces, all dying to be the next Wolf. Or at least a Cub.

For my money, this scene is why McConaughey deserves the Academy Award almost as much as his stunning performance in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. Never count anyone out in Hollywood. McConaughey is doing things few suspected he could just a few years ago. Bravo to him and all involved with my favorite movie of the year.

COLD EYES – Excellent South Korean ActionThriller

Image

One of the top South Korean movies at the box office 2013 is a cool, slick, tense action thriller remake of the Hong Kong film Eye in the Sky (2007), directed by Yau Nai-Hoi (Johnny To’s longtime co-screenwriter.)

Loved the cinematography. Non stop camera movement. But very lyrical. Only shaky cam when it’s waranted. Lots of nice little character touches. Pretty much zero personal character story though which makes it mostly for genre lovers. But it moves. Very fun. And it stars a young woman who’s sensitive, caring, professional, and kicks ass. A combination rarely seen in American films.

It was co-directed by renown cinematographer, Kim Byung-seo, and Cho Ui-seok who directed the highly regarded The World of Silence (2006).

I found this film by reading the excellent film blog – http://www.koreanfilm.org/index.html from ex-pat Darcy Paquet where I check in from time to time to see what’s happening in South Korean Film. The blog has turned me on to dozens of great films including Lee Chang-dong’s OASIS (2002) –  one of my favorite movies of all time.  Here’s his write up on it: http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm02.html#oasis

The film played at TIFF last year to huge acclaim.  Here’s link to festival write up: http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/festival/2013/coldeyes

In the photo below – you see the stone cold psychotic and calculating baddy played by Jung Woo-sung who heads up a brutal robbery team and the heroin of the story, the rookie recruit on a surveillance team played by Han Hyo-joo. What I loved about the bad guy was that he was being persecuted by his own crime organization. He was just a cog in the machine.

Image

And here’s the top ten box office in South Korea for 2013 where I find it interesting that only 2 U.S. films made it to the list:

Untitled

Gimme Shelter featuring LISA FISHER with her back-up band THE ROLLING STONES from 20 FEET FROM STARDOM

Just watched the fantastic, Oscar nominated, Morgan Neville’s 20 FEET FROM STARDOM and was knocked out by this performance by back-up singer Lisa Fisher featured in the movie. This must be the best live version of the song the Stones ever did. The song verges on total collapse several times, seems drugged out and slow, but picks up pace as Lisa carries it by herself practically and makes it soar. She’s maybe even better than the Mary Clayton original recording. She blends perfectly with Mick at the end which she explains in the documentary as tuning into what he  was doing on the night. Don’t miss the notes she hits around 3:00. She’s a Goddess. When she makes a grand Diva exit the song might as well be over. Killer Rock n Roll Movie.

CINE_FIX’s Top 10 Movies of 2013

MICHAEL STEINBERG’S TOP 10 MOVIE LIST for 2013
It’s tricky sometimes to predict what movie you’ll want to see in years to come.  But the ones you end up seeing again and again down the line are the movies you should have picked when they came out. They’re often not the ones that win awards. Or the ones you think you like at the time. They are the ones that live. They are alive. So my main criteria for this year’s list – What will I want to watch again and again years from now?
1. AMERICAN HUSTLE – Best director in the world right now. Seen it twice so far and can’t wait to see it twice more soon. Why? Behavior. Predicament. Layers of story telling. Humor. History. Music. Stars. Bravura filmmaking. Everything.
2. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET – DiCaprio scorches the screen. As entertaining as anything this year.  Can’t wait to see again. Why did I lend my screener?
3. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR – unique, super well acted love story with some awkward looking marathon sex scenes that I won’t complain about too much. Must see again.
4. LONE SURVIVOR – Took me by surprise. Burns with passion. I saw a total indictment of the war in Afghanistan but you can read as Red State or Blue. That’s its genius. If he hadn’t just done BATTLESHIP everyone would be taking this one way more seriously. Kudos to WGA who gave it a nomination.
5. OBLIVION – Best sci-fi pop corn of the year. My favorite kind of movie in many respects. Of course I will watch again just like I’ll watch THE MINORITY REPORT over and over.
6. GRAVITY – Over hyped but the time flew by watching it.
7. BLUE JASMINE – Woody.
8. INSIDE LEWYN DAVIS – What happened to the guy who had the cursed luck to open for Dylan at the Gaslight? Now we know. Any Coen Brothers film is good for multiple views.
9. 42 – Came too early in the year to get noticed but was outstanding.  Suspect I’ll want to see again.
10. FRANCIS HA – Loved the screwball dialogue. Gretta is wacky adorable. Though the first season of GIRLS is similar and I’d watch that again first, I think. Time will tell.
HONORABLE MENTION
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
THE GRANDMASTER
HER
NEBRASKA
THE BUTLER
12 YEARS A SLAVE
RUSH
PAIN AND GAIN
ELYSIAM
SPRING BREAKERS
ALL IS LOST
THIS IS THE END
WORLD WAR Z
HAVEN’T SEEN YET BUT WANT TO
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
THE GREAT BEAUTY
THE PAST
SHORT TERM 12
THE KINGS OF SUMMER
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTY MITTY
AFTERNOON DELIGHT
FROZEN