A BIT SHORT: The Big Short and The Hateful Eight


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Warning: SPOILERS

big short 1The Big Short, like Spotlight, is the one of those movies ripped from the headlines—of years and years ago; but this time the subject is not pedophile priests, but the downfall of the American economy. Written by Charles Randolph and the director Adam McKay, from a book by Michael Lewis, it’s also a very satisfying bit of agitprop theater with Brechtian distancing devices thrown in for good major.

It basically tells the story of four different groups of people who all realized, more or less at the same time, and years ahead of schedule, that the housing mortgage bubble was going to burst in 2007 and destroy the world’s economy.

This leads to the movie’s major irony: the people who figured this out then proceed to invest heavily against the U.S. economy, making tons of money when their Cassandra like prediction of doom came true.

So basically, we in the audience, along with the characters in the movie, find ourselves and themselves actually hoping that the U.S. financial system tanks like the Titanic. Continue reading

KING, QUEEN AND PAWNS: Kingsman: The Secret Service, Song of the Sea and Timbuktu


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
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Warning: SPOILERS
kingsmanKingsman: The Secret Service, the latest entry in a comic book franchise, this one with an espionage theme, is, in many ways, an impressive and handsomely made movie.
From a technical perspective, it’s incredibly well done with the best costumes, sets, and music money can buy. It doesn’t stint and there is nothing in this film that is an old piece of tat or is cheap as chips.
The acting is also first rate, raiding the cupboards as it does for the actors who are left who managed to not appear in The Lord of the Rings or The Harry Potter series.
And it has some beautifully well staged and directed second unit scenes of carefully, even wittily, choreographed episodes of extreme violence.
In many ways, those who like these sort of studio type tent pole films will probably find it hard to carp at anything they see.
So why did I find the whole thing dispiriting and extremely depressing? Continue reading

THRILLS BOTH CHEAP AND EXPENSIVE: Cheap Thrills and Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Cheap_Thrills_39320In the 2012 drama, Compliance, Pat Healy played a sociopath pretending to be a police officer who manipulates the workers at a fast food restaurant into do some pretty disgusting things (and I don’t mean to the food, though from what I understand, fast food workers wouldn’t need much manipulation for that in the first place).
In his newest movie, Cheap Thrills, he’s on the opposite side of the fence, playing a poor schnook being manipulated into doing disgusting things by a pair of sociopaths. Continue reading