Tag Archives: Josh Brolin

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Trader Jake (Shia LaBeouf) tries to mend the broken relationship between his fiancée, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), and her father, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), while avenging the fate of his mentor, Lou (Frank Langella), by getting close to Wall Street’s new megalomaniac, Bretton James (Josh Brolin). Centered on the 2008 financial crisis, director Oliver Stone’s follow-up is a modern-day ode to unfettered capitalism and, of course, greed.

Rating: 7 out of 10

If you had told me a couple of years ago that Oliver Stone would be making a sequel to one of his early films, “Wall Street” might have seemed the least likely. The original, while one of my favorite films of the 1980’s, wraps itself up perfectly and appeared to have no further storyline to persue. It turns out there was more good than bad to this movie, which features some of Oliver Stone’s best writing since “JFK.”

A lot of the dialogue between the main characters is believable, interesting, and likeable. Stone seems to understand these people very well and picked the right actors to execute it. Shia Lebouf, who is clearly wasting his talent making bullshit Michael Bay movies, is excellent here as the young and determined Wall Street executive who’s hoping to discover the next great investment while doing his best to maintain his relationship with Carey Mulligan’s character — who just happens to be the daughter of ruthless tycoon Gorgon Gekko. Michael Douglas returns in the role of Gekko and, despite being older physically, more than makes up for it by giving a very cerebral and cunning performance in his second go-round. While all of the performances and dialogue are excellent, I can’t help but feel that Stone had very little reason to make this film. It’s certainly not necessary to show us Wall Street has become more high tech: we know. It certainly wasn’t necessary to let us know that Gordon Gekko is a self-centered asshole: we knew. And getting more into the family drama and less into the double crossing and underbelly of the Wall Street system: not smart.

So, I recommend this film if you like the first one but as more of an epilogue to the first than a true sequel.

True Grit

After her father is murdered by drifter Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), hires Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), an alcoholic U.S. Marshal, to help her exact vengeance. The disreputable Rooster still has grit though, and mounts an epic search. The pair is joined on their quest by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who is also hunting for Chaney, in this updated Western from Joel and Ethan Coen.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Cohen brothers are wonderfully sharp directors. They choose engaging stories with unique characters that make us feel a host of emotions.

This was a step outside the box for them. Essentially this is a cover song. They’ve redone the classic film of the same name that star John Wayne in an Academy Award-winning performance. Bridges plays the role wonderfully, and in a way only he can. He’s the star of the show, and returns to work with the Cohen brothers for the first time since his outstanding work on “The Big Lebowski.” He makes the film. Damon is also excellent in his role as a cocky, corny Texas ranger.

The story offers humor, action, and interesting plays against characters. It was entertaining, fun, but was not on the same level as other work by the Cohens. It’s certainly an entertaining and fun film, and I highly recommend it.

Jonah Hex

Enlisted by a Union soldier (Will Arnett), scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) scours the Wild West in pursuit of Turnbull (John Malkovich), a crazed voodoo master with a scheme to assemble a devastating weapon that will destroy the government and lift the Confederacy. Based on the cult DC Comics hero, this action Western co-stars Michael Shannon as strange circus impresario Doc Cross Williams and Megan Fox as the prostitute Lilah.

Rating: 5 out of 10

This movie had a lot of flash and little substance.

It’s an unusual comic book movie because it doesn’t include a super hero, similar to “Hellboy” — which I loved. You have to suspend reality whenever you watch a comic book movie. This time it’s a Confederate solider who turns in his men for bad deeds and they kill him and his family. He is badly beaten and turtured and some Native Americans find him and save him. Now, he’s half dead and can talk to the dead. OK, I can deal with that. In fact, this was one of the movies I was looking forward to most last summer.

However, instead of developing characters that would have interested me — like Malcovich’s bastard of a villain — we have to deal with a love interest in Fox that is wedged into the script. It slows things down, there’s too much going on, and the result are undeveloped characters that seems to be pieced together between big, sexy action sequences.

This could have been worse, but it could have been much better.


Oscar winner Oliver Stone directs an all-star cast in this satiric retrospective of the life and political career of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin), from his troubles as a young adult through his governorship of Texas and all the way to the Oval Office. Richard Dreyfuss plays Vice President Dick Cheney, with Elizabeth Banks as First Lady Laura Bush and Thandie Newton as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Directed by Oliver Stone (World Trade Center, Any Given Sunday).

Rating: 4 out of 10

Oliver Stone is one of the most overrated directors in Hollywood. I lobbied my brother to put him on our list, but he didn’t make the cut.

“W.” came out too soon, much like the flop “World Trade Center.” Bush was still in office when this hit theaters, and no one cared then or now. Stone can’t get a budget, but actors like Brolin and Al Pacino still come out and work for him. “W.” lacked focus and realism. Stone didn’t want to totally nail Bush against the wall, which is easily done and justifiable. Instead, he wanted to show that Bush is human, and like the rest of us, makes mistakes. Stone portrayed Bush with great naivete, taking the stance that he actually was duped into believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction by bigger powers like Dick Cheney — played to perfection by Richard Dreyfuss, a lone golden nugget in this below average film.He also took the stance that Bush wanted to get revenge for his daddy and his cabinet wanted to finish the job he never did.

Personally, I found this to be a cartoonish apology by Stone on Bush’s behalf, taking the position that he didn’t know better, so it made everything OK. There was also the portrayal of Colin Powell by Jeffrey Wright as the voice of reason, the veteran with a conscious who tries to talk the cabinet out of going to war because of the lack of proof. Powell later admitted to fabricating the weapons of mass destruction speech he gave to the United Nations. I have a hard time believing he was the voice of reason.

In the end, the story is not very strong — it jumps from his youth to presidency numerous times and develops neither. With a watered down story and weak direction, “W.” is a clunker.