The Big Short
Adam McKay’s entertaining and depressing drama about the Great Recession and how the American subprime mortgage scandal initiated it all. A film which gives us outsider capitalist antiheroes, but which also aims to show the effects of capitalism when capitalists go capitalistic, so, go figure. But yes, entertaining. With Brad Pitt, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Hamish Linklater, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, John Magaro and Finn Wittrock et al.
Not as fun as the first, but still has its moments – this time the team are facing a double hit, from the authorities and from a self-regarding European thief (Vincent Cassel). Some nice meta moments, like when Tess, played by Julia Roberts, has to pretend to be Julia Roberts, as part of a con – right up to and including when she unexpectedly bumps into Bruce Willis (played by Bruce Willis), only to be exposed as not Julia Roberts. The usual cast is boosted by Catherine Zeta-Jones as a driven Europe agent.
A woman (Diane Kruger) recruited as a Mossad spy disappears; the bosses pull in her erstwhile cover officer (Martin Freeman) to try and find out where she is and what her intentions are. In time we learn just what it is they are all frightened off.
Based on Yiftach Reicher-Atir’s novel המורה לאנגלית AKA The English Teacher, writer-director Yuval Adler manages a taut, lean thriller, which chooses not to go all FLASH! BANG! WALLOP! on us, but instead presents a very truthful-feeling portrait of motivations and drives. Kruger and Freeman are both excellent, as is Cas Anvar, as the unwitting target of her mission brief. I particularly liked the nerve-jarring ending, in which neither the obvious nor what is inevitable when the obvious doesn’t happen happens. It is neatly untidy in this way.
[Montana title screen]
Strangely dud mashup of Leon and Hummingbird from Shank’s Mo Ali. Lars Mikkelsen is a former Serb assassin who teams up in east London with a streetwise young drug courier (McKell David) in order to get vengeance on the many who betrayed him. Most of the film is given over to implausibly training sessions and ridiculously long fight scenes . Ashley Walters is given little to do. Zlatko Buric (Pusher’s Milo) is wasted. The sub-plot about bent coppers (Brad Moore and Rocky Marshall) never goes anywhere. The action scenes are let down by unforgiving slow cuts and embarrassingly unfinished digital FX. The script is slack, there’s no characterisation, and it has the pace of a diabetic septuagenarian in a Bugs Bunny costume trying to run a marathon.
[The Interview (2014) title screen]
The Interview (2014)
The stoner comedy that provoked a cyber war, with tabloid TV host James Franco and his producer buddy Seth Rogen somehow in North Korea for a spy mission. Randall Park is the misunderstood Jucheist Supreme Leader. Written and directed by Rogen and long-time creative partner Evan Goldberg. Really not great, but definitely not terrible (on a technical level, at least).