Posts Tagged ‘Brad Pitt’

Poster

By and large, The Big Short is a movie about the awful things done by rich old white men with money and power, and the desperate lengths they will go in order to protect that money and power. Maintain the status quo. Consequences don’t exist for these people. This story would be too far-fetched and unbelievable if this wasn’t actually based on true events. Our economic system is a cycle of greed and abuse. The future is traded against the present and no one learns anything from the past.

Co-writer and director Adam McKay deserves credit for telling this story in an accessible manner. However, I also felt like my intelligence was being insulted. The scenes where celebrities explain an aspect of this financial situation (the housing bubble) in some clumsy comparison are weird and wholly unnecessary. I have no idea why Anthony Bourdain is in this movie. It felt like they wanted to shoehorn in some sex appeal by having Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez appear to re-state the same point. I’m surprised they didn’t have Margot Robbie stand up from her fucking bubble bath.

Fuck Off

In a sense, forcing the audience to pay attention by repeating a point with celebrities is fitting. The American public is/was too distracted by meaningless shit like celebrity culture to realize the many ways in which they are being fucked on a daily basis. The practice of predatory lending by banks is one piece in our house of cards. The evil fucks in charge didn’t care about the ramifications because they knew they would never really face any punishment. And thus, the cringeworthy term “too big to fail” was born.

The Big Short does a decent job describing this particular time period. But I would have liked it to go further—descending deeper to highlight more of the plight of the American people who suffered as a result. The movie gives us a taste, but everything is far too superficial.

The Big Short is a drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Almost to the point of being a straight comedy. It’s an odd tone to strike considering the subject matter—but it works well enough.

There are some incredibly funny scenes in this movie, which helps give the actors room to breathe. You get to see Christian Bale act amazingly weird with a fake eye and pound drums to the beat of Pantera. Ryan Gosling gets to shriek “I’m jacked to the tits!” and rock a perm while acting like a jackass. It’s rather shocking how much Brad Pitt resembles Robert Redford the older he gets. Steve Carrell has a horrendous haircut, but he revels in playing the role of cynical prick. No one here is likeable.

Jacked to the Tits

Despite very limited interaction between these characters, they all own a portion of the movie. Each actor chews their fair share of scenery. However, I found them all annoying and grating in their own way. These people could only be described as the “good guys” in this particular twisted story where faceless institutions acting without any accountability represent the true evil.

I thoroughly enjoyed the acting performances. Most people probably won’t like The Big Short as much as I did. I can be enthralled with a movie that has a mid-level/sub-par story if there are great actors being great—i.e. Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano in There Will Be Blood.

Creepy Bale

The Big Short isn’t in the same echelon, but it belongs in the same categorization. Unfortunately, it is a touch too stupid for a movie focused on a few incredibly smart people who gazed into the void and gambled against the facade. I think this could have been a much better movie in different hands.

Maybe it’s not necessarily a bad thing that The Big Short is fun and breezy.

Whatever your reaction is after watching this movie…just don’t fucking dance.

Don't Fucking Dance

4 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Poster

12 Years a Slave is hauntingly beautiful. It’s also a slog to get through, and I cannot imagine any scenario in which I would want to watch this again. Considering the gravitas of the subject matter and great all-around execution, 12 Years a Slave is in a prime position for the Best Picture at this year’s Oscars.

While this is a phenomenal movie, Her is my favorite film of 2013 and Dallas Buyers Club featured the best acting performances. In a crowded field, 12 Years a Slave probably benefits by feeling more important than it might actually be because of the focus on the darkest period in American history—slavery (no pun intended). White guilt is abound and you’re meant to feel uncomfortable at certain points, but Steve McQueen is not a paint-by-numbers type of director so don’t worry about distasteful pandering.

Based on a true story, 12 Years a Slave details the most despicable part of our history through the lens of Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) being kidnapped as a free man and sold into slavery in the South. His dignity and even his name are gone. After protesting his captors and suffering countless lashes, Platt becomes the only name he answers to as his past is completely washed away.

Throughout 12 Years a Slave, there is a very (for lack of a better term) black-and-white depiction of good and evil in this world—as seen through several slave owners and field overseers.

At the 30-minute mark, the first glimpse of good in this evil world is given with the character Master Ford (played by Benedict Cumberbactch). The only glimmer of hope possessed by Platt is the violin given to him by Ford. It’s a token that represents his true identity as well as a constant reminder of the family he may never see again. But he cannot give in to despair. Although he appreciates Platt’s tremendous talents, Ford refuses to hear his story and still treats him as property. But things could certainly be worse.

Cumberbatch

Things get worse when Tibeats (played by Paul Dano) appears on screen for the first time.

Paul Dano continues his reign as a top-notch character actor, and it’s hard to envision someone else pulling off such a comically evil racist. His horrible song is shamefully catchy. Tibeats’ bloodlust intensifies after Platt disobeys his orders and physically confronts Tibeats—forcing Master Ford to sell Platt to another slave owner, Edwin Epps (played by Michael Fassbender). While Ford is trying to save Platt’s life, this move only endangers his existence more. Fassbender plays a drunkard with a dark, sadistic pride in breaking slaves.

Fassbender

I don’t think Michael Fassbender will actually win Best Supporting Actor because of the abhorrent nature of his character, but Fassbender definitely deserved the nomination. Without the spectacular peformances from Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o in supporting roles, the ending would have been substantially less interesting and captivating. These performances help breathe life and more depth into the story, which is a much-needed gush of fresh air to get through the last of the 134-minute runtime.

This is further proof that no movie needs to be more than 2 hours, but at least Steve McQueen makes the 2+ hours visually beautiful—albeit of slavery and the tyranny of evil men. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Oscar-worthy performance is the lifeblood of 12 Years a Slave. Even with such an impressive supporting cast, this is the story of Solomon Northup and the success of the movie hinges on that performance.

I would expect this movie to have a lengthy life as a learning tool to teach future students about slavery—joining Glory in that pantheon of great black history movies. You need to watch 12 Years a Slave and any other movie made by Steve McQueen. Let’s just hope his next project possesses a somewhat lighter side than the desperate, depressing pursuit of survival during unspeakable circumstances.

It’s easy to lose hope. But hope is the one thing you must hold onto against incredible odds.

Violin

4.5 out of 5 stars