Posts Tagged ‘Blood Diamond’

Metro: With The Revenant Leonardo DiCaprio is still searching for that Oscar

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.31.07 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Leonardo DiCaprio makes $25 million dollars per movie. So he has money. His best friend is Tobey McGuire and his little black book reads like a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, so he’s never lonely. He has opulent homes on both the left and right coasts of America—one comes equipped with a vitamin C infused shower—and even owns a 104 acre unpopulated island off the coast of Belize.

He’s a superstar with all the creature comforts money can buy. Do you know what he doesn’t have? An Oscar.

He’s come close several times, earning nominations for his work in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street but he’s never entered the winner circle.

He’s always been gracious in defeat, smiling and nodding during the Oscar broadcast when someone else’s name is called. “I wasn’t surprised that Jamie got the award,” he said about the 2005 Academy Awards when Jamie Foxx took Best Actor for Ray over The Aviator. “But I knew that cameras would be stuffed up my face so I had my response ready. Anyone who says they don’t practice is a liar.”

He may not have to fake being happy for another actor this year. Pundits are predicting his new movie The Revenant could bring him that elusive honour. He plays American fur trapper Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who became a legend in 1823 when he survived a brutal bear attack and slogged across harsh terrain to get revenge on the man who left him to die.

This is DiCaprio’s Jeremiah Johnson, a movie that masks his matinee idol good looks with facial hair and grimaces. For much of the two-and-a-half-hour running time he is mute, alone on screen crawling across the frozen landscape, slowly inching his way toward vengeance. There are great physical demands made on the actor—the Bear-Maul-O-Rama being just one of the miseries he endures—but this is an internal performance. The character’s strength, pain, frustration, anger and intestinal fortitude are apparent not only in his actions—he cauterizes wounds with gun powder!—but, more importantly, in his eyes. There’s the will to survive and then there’s whatever is driving Glass and whatever that is, it’s written on DiCaprio’s face. It may not be his flashiest role—although he does get to disembowel a horse—but it is one of his best.

Nominations will be announced January 14 so we won’t know until then if he is chosen for sure, but the odds are good. So good that Vanity Fair declared, “This is going to be the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins that Oscar.”

Question is, why would someone who has everything want an Academy Award. What difference would it make in his life and career?

The truthful answer is that it would likely make no difference at all to his career, at least financially. He’s already in the top tier of Tinseltown salaries and the fabled “Oscar box office bump”—a sharp spike in ticket sales when the nominations are announced—hasn’t meant much in recent years.

The real win for DiCaprio would be in the prestige department. The Best Actor Oscar is a rare commodity. Only seventy-eight people have them—Daniel Day-Lewis has three, Jack Nicholson and seven others have two apiece—and while he is already a respected performer, winning one would put him in the company of Hollywood legends like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper.

If he becomes the seventy-ninth actor to take home the gold it’s recognition from his peers but besides that, one of those statues is the perfect thing to lend some flair to the man who has everything’s private island décor.


blood-diamond-21Great chefs know that the best food is usually created using a minimum of ingredients. Even if the ingredients are of the highest quality too many flavors confuses the palate and ruins the meal. So it is in movies. Director Ed Zwick has taken top-flight ingredients—a cast that includes Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou with Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, beautiful African locations and a worthy story—but he’s too heavy-handed with the spices, and almost ruins the stew.

In the last couple of years there have been many films about Africa’s troubled recent history. We’ve seen Hotel Rwanda, Catch a Fire, The Last King of Scotland even the documentary Shake Hands with the Devil, but none have touched on the trade in conflict diamonds. Set in 1999 Blood Diamond takes us inside the trade of western African in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

DiCaprio plays Danny Archer, a South African soldier of fortune that has turned to the lucrative but dangerous job of diamond smuggling between Sierra Leone and Liberia. Busted by border guards and thrown into jail he comes into contact with Solomon Vandy (Hounsou), a fisherman who was enslaved by the radical RUF to work in their illegal mining camps sifting for “blood diamonds” which would then be sold to legitimate sources to raise money for arms. While working at the camp Solomon managed to find and secret away a rare pink diamond the size of a bird’s egg. Archer sees this valuable diamond as his ticket out of war torn Africa. Along the way an American journalist played by Connolly and his growing friendship with Solomon raises his awareness to his part in the horror. It makes for an odd mix of straight out action and social commentary.

Zwick tries to take on the ills of the region—trade in blood diamonds, the use of children in the infantry—coupled with commentary on the West’s exploitation of the continent’s mineral resources, the responsibility of consumers understand the human cost of their purchases as well as the monetary and the personal stories of each of the characters. Throw in an almost love story and you have spoiled the broth with too many ingredients.

Each of the lead actors does good work here—although Jennifer Connolly’s war correspondent must to have an unseen hairdresser traveling with her—and several of the action sequences are spectacular, but in regard to the social and political comment of the film, Zwick seems to have bitten off more than he could chew.