Tag: hbo

The Wizard of Lies

by on Jun.11, 2017, under Movie Reviews

the wizard of liesRobert De Niro plays Bernie Madoff in the HBO movie The Wizard of Lies directed by Barry Levinson. The film covers Madoff and the Ponzi scheme in which he defrauded his clients for billions of dollars.

Starting with the day Madoff came clean with his family and then leading through his arrest and the fallout that proceeded, the film does a great job showing the lead up to the end of the road for Madoff as well the aftermath of his crimes. Madoff was known as a pioneer in the stock market and was revered by his peers, his clients and his friends. When all was said and done, he landed in prison, his wife left him, both of his sons died and he was left friendless, alone and with no family.

De Niro is brilliant as the lead character. He’s calculated, subtle and yet emotionally powerful at the same time, an actor at the top of his game and amazing to watch. It’s great to see De Niro playing a role that you can tell he really sunk his teeth into. Watching him is one of the things that makes this film worth seeing, he reminds me of Meryl Streep that way, where you’ll just watch a movie for the sake of seeing them perform.

The story is well told. It’s compelling in the way that the film jumps back in time to expand on the history of what led to Bernie Madoff’s fall. Levinson does a great job directing the various moving parts that bring the whole thing together including a very talented lineup of actors. Michelle Pfeiffer contributes with a passionate, powerful performance as his wife who seemed to have no clue what her husband was up to or the impact his actions had. Her portrayal is also subtle and specific as she matches Bob scene for scene in intensity and skill. She was a great choice for this role.

The cast includes Kristen Connolly, Hank Azaria, Alessandro Nivola, Lily Rabe and Nathan Darrow. Check it out on HBO.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Eagles of Death Metal: Non Amis (Our Friends)

by on Mar.19, 2017, under Movie Reviews

eagles of death metal non amisDirected by Colin Hanks, this documentary offers an inside, heartbreaking look into the tragic terrorist attack in Paris at the Bataclan concert hall during a show by the Eagles of Death Metal a little over a year ago. 89 people were killed in the theater, 368 were inujred, 130 total died in what was an act of murder and hate. This film is about not only what happened that night but how the band returned to Paris to perform for the survivors after this horrific incident.

The doc starts with some backstory in terms of how the band formed as a bond between two close friends who both used music as both catharsis and a form of expression. Those friends being Jesse Hughes (guitar and lead vocals) along with Josh Homme who is on drums. If you’re not familiar with Josh, he’s the rock star of the two as some of his credits include Kyuss and most notably Queens of the Stone Age. Both have been best buds since fending off bullies in high school and remain tight to this day. Their friendship is part of the spine of the story and is one of the elements that keeps you glued to the screen as everything plays out.

Interviews with the band, their crew and their friends along with people who attended the concert fill in all the brutal details. It’s compelling to listen to while scary and very sad all at once. To hear it in such a specific way from each person’s standpoint, it’s like they all had their own version of the same horror movie that none of them could escape.

There are uplifting moments here too, and thank God for it. After listening to what happened, I found myself angry and desperately wanting something good to be in here somewhere. Luckily, the end of the film ties up with the band returning to Paris after help and encouragement from their fans and from U2 who stepped up to show their support in the face of malice and intimidation. The calls to action from the people who rallied both in the band and around them are a big inspiration and should be both celebrated and shared as a sign of hope for others.

As hard as this film is to watch, I’m sure I’m going to watch it again, and again.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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