Tag Archives: Julia Roberts

Money Monster

money monster

“There’s human fingerprints all over this.”

Films about money confuse the ever-living-shit out of me. I mean, I can barely manage my monthly credit card payments and my TV bill, so going in to films like Wall Street always leave me nervous that I’m going to come out more confused than I went in. The Big Short is probably the most recent of these films to have me worried; luckily it had Margot Robbie naked in a bath tub to explain what was going on; I listened well I can tell you.

Now, I admit, I completely mis-read the kind of film that Money Monster was going to turn out to be. I was petrified that it was going to be another film that made me feel insecure about my chequebook. Luckily, I was wrong; and actress-turned-director Jodie Foster’s latest view from behind the camera turned out to be less a futile attempt to teach me how Wall Street works and more a tense, nail biting hostage thriller that doesn’t let up from start to finish.

George Clooney is Lee Gates, the loud, brash presenter of TV show “Money Monster”. Five days a week, he’s on the air giving advice and doling out wisdom to anyone who’ll listen and making money doing it. But 24 hours after IBIS International – Gates’ promised “sure thing” investment – goes south to the tune of $800 million because of a glitch in the companies trading programme, Gates finds himself staring down the barrel of Kyle Budwell’s (Jack O’Connell) pistol.

After losing every penny in the investment group’s crash, Budwell sees only one way forward – taking the financial guru and his crew hostage, wrapping him up in an explosive jacket and demanding answers on live television. With Lee’s long-time director Patty (Julia Roberts) in the studio trying to help the situation, the trio work to get IBIS’ boss Walt Camby (Dominic West) to answer for his company and get some closure before the hostage taker blows them all to hell.

Tension is the order of the day for Jodie Foster’s latest film. From the very second that O’Connell appears on the screen sweating and nervous, to the film’s final moments, you’re on the edge of your seat, with your bumhole puckered, and chewing on your nails.

Once the action starts, the film runs on at a breakneck pace, never really giving you time to catch your breath and take stock of what’s going on. For most of the film, we are confined to Gates’ set and Patty’s studio. Foster has done a splendid job of making you feel like you’re jammed into this situation, watching from the wings and wondering if you’re going to get out in one piece. It’s not quite claustrophobic, but it’s certainly very close.

And the film has actual, legitimate movie stars in it. George Clooney is awesome as Lee Gates. The Hollywood powerhouse does a great job as the ego-filled money mogul, brought down to earth with a proper bump as he’s strapped up with a bomb and told it’s his fault he’s in this position. With Julia Roberts up in the studio and in his ear, she is great as the TV personality’s foundation and ramps up the tension for all of us every time she gets nervous.

But, as is becoming the case quite a bit, the standout of the show is Jack O’Connell. Even with his slightly dodgy Brooklyn accent, O’Connell proves once again that he’s fast becoming a force to be reckoned with and believably goes toe-to-toe with Clooney at every step of the film. Considering the pedigree of actor he’s on the screen with, he still does a magnificent job of shining as bright as the rest of them.

So while I was expecting a slightly different film, Money Monster was a pleasant surprise. Every minute is wrought with tension and it’s acted and directed brilliantly. If a smartly written, smartly made hostage thriller is the kind of film that’s right up your street, then Money Monster should satisfy all your cravings.

Failed Critics Podcast: Philip Seymour Hoffman. RIP.

PSHWelcome to this week’s podcast, one in which we celebrate the work of one of this generations finest actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman. You’ll get no ghoulish speculation of judgmental nonsense here, just heartfelt appreciation of a master of his craft.

If you need cheering up after that, we also have reviews of I Frankenstein, August: Osage County, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, as well as a much needed review of Nic Cage’s Knowing.

Join us next week as we review the remake of RoboCop, as well as the Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers Club.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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A Decade In Film: The Nineties – 1990

A new series where Failed Critics contributors look back on a particular decade in the world of cinema, choose their favourite films from each year of that decade, and discuss the legacy those years have left us.

Kate has chosen to relive the nineties, because she’s old enough to remember them in their entirety  This week she revisits 1990.

5. Pretty Woman

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“I think we both know she’s not my niece.”

Bridging the gap from the big hair and leather boots of the Eighties to the sleek bobs and kitten heels of the Nineties is Pretty Woman. Hot off the heels of the female-barbershop-quintet-renal-failure-romp Steel Magnolias, Julia Roberts smashes it, teaches Hollywood Boulevard a lesson, and basically makes us all want to become a hooker.

I’ve written before that I first saw this film in primary school. Over twenty years on, it stands the test of time. Roberts is adorable and exquisite – the need to exclaim how much nicer her real hair is once she loses the wig never tires. I generally don’t see the appeal of Gere, though his brooding business man (a precursor to Sex and the City’s Mr Big)  is endearing. However it’s Héctor Elizondo as the kindly hotel manager who steals the show. And his real life love story with director Garry Marshall is even cuter than Edward & Vivian.

 

4. Home Alone

“Kevin, you’re such a disease!”

After defining teen movies throughout the Eighties, John Hughes enters the new decade with a new protagonist, and children everywhere respond by attempting to bunk off their family holidays. As is the John Hughes grown up hating way, eight year old Kevin is smarter, more socially aware, with better woodworking skills than his adult counterparts, and defends his house accordingly.

Watching this as a kid around the same age as the star was pretty exciting, and a great way to diminish a fear of burglars. Just don’t say it launched Culkin‘s career, because he was brilliant in Uncle Buck the year before. It stands up to repeat viewings, and the great Catherine O’Hara as Kevin’s forgetful mum becomes more infuriating each time. I’m a sucker for a good Christmas film, and you can’t beat a bit of Carol of the Bells. Home Alone 2 is miles better, though.

 

3. Ghost

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“Molly, you in danger, girl.”

The highest grossing film of the year, nominated for five (winner of two) Academy Awards, and perpetually dismissed as a chick flick. The ghost of a murdered banker enlists the help of a usually phoney psychic to save the life of his lover. A potter’s wheel and The Righteous Brothers also star. That Sam and his colleagues conduct their multimillion dollar deals on VDU green screens shows the leap in technology about to take place. By the end of the decade we were watching The Matrix.

A love story, no doubt, but the relationships both Sam and Molly have with psychic Oda Mae Brown are the important ones. Goldberg plays cynical and hysterical to perfection, and this role sets her up nicely for a career as a nun. The late Patrick Swayze offers up some serious emotional acting, after spending the previous few years typecast as a face kicking dancer. He still manages to take his top off quite a bit though, which is no bad thing.

 

2. Edward Scissorhands

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“Before he came down here, it never snowed. And afterwards, it did.”

Tim Burton‘s surprise follow up to Beetlejuice and Batman chronicles the discovery of an inventor’s unfinished creation in weird suburbia. The film is said to be largely autobiographical for Burton. Except the bit where he has scissors for hands. A tragic love story about society, reality and hedge-trimming. Beauty and the Beast for the Nineties, but without the happy ending.

An angsty teen staple, I watched my VHS copy until it died. Even the trailer makes me well up. Depp is stunning as our Gothic hero, in the first of many collaborations with Burton. And the always good Dianne Wiest, is the nicest Avon lady you could ever hope to procure eye shadow from.

 

1. Goodfellas

“One day some of the kids from the neighborhood carried my mother’s groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect.”

Spanning three decades in the life of a gangster and, after the economic slump of the Eighties, showcasing a lifestyle we could all aspire to. A contender for the greatest film of all time (until we reach 1994, at least) and certainly one of Scorsese’s greatest achievements (not counting his Curb Your Enthusiasm cameo).

Ensemble cinema at its best, marred only by the fact that our original DVD copy had to be flipped over halfway through the film to accommodate the 146 minute running time. From the pitch perfect soundtrack, to that tracking shot, Goodfellas is perfect every time. And then we got to relive it the following decade, when half the cast showed up in The Sopranos.