Tag Archives: Christian Bale

The Big Short (2015) Film Review

Set in the months leading up to the financial crash in the mid-2000s, The Big Short follows several characters who predicted what was going to happen and used their knowledge to do stuff. I know that sounds vague, but I actually watched this a while ago, and now cannot recall the ins and outs – I just know that watching it, I found it fascinating, and now I recall it being interesting, but I can’t recall the details. The good news is that I’ll be able to watch it again and find it interesting. What do I recall? Steve Carrell playing another weird and fabulous character. Brad Pitt playing another annoying holistic kind of character. Christian Bale being playing an intelligent weirdo. Don’t remember Ryan Gosling in it at all. Right, I am actually going to watch this film again and then finish this review.

Okay, so Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, an oddball character who does a whole heap of research and discovers a flaw in the financial world, relating to bad mortgages and trading on them (technical, technical stuff… blah blah). Then Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett, which pushes this on to Mark Baum (Steve Carrell). When Mark and his mates go out to investigate, they discover NINJA loans (no income, no job, no asset) which are being packaged with the genuinely AAA mortgages. Then there are a couple of young guys who get in on it and turn to a retired guy, Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) which knows a lot about the market and is quite suspicious about what is going to happen to the world of finance. The film sets all of these guys up, and while I may not have understood it all, I knew that it was not good. But the film? That is good. Brain challenging movie.

The Big Short won an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christian Bale), Best Achievement in Directing (Adam McKay) and Best Achievement in Film Editing.

 

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The Fighter (2010) Film Review

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Oh, these films that I avoid watching because I think they are one thing, then I watch and discover with glee that they are something totally different, totally better… This is one of those guys.

The basic story, based on true events, is of two boxing brothers – Micky (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky (Christian Bale). Micky is on the up-and-up, being trained by his brother. His brother, meanwhile, is living off his one great success in the ring, and tells everyone that the camera crew that are following him are documenting his comeback. In reality, the documentary is about life on crack, as Dicky is an addict. They have a close family with a dominant mother, a submissive father and seven opinionated sisters who don’t seem to do much more than hang around the house a lot. And then in comes Charlotte (Amy Adams), a bar tender who starts a relationship with Micky and clashes with the family.

So, my preconception was that it was another boxing film and I’ve seen enough of those. Though, to be fair, there is something about boxing films that so often works. I don’t know why; I don’t like watching boxing or any of those kinds of fighting sports. (I also don’t really like watching any sport… but anyhow) This is a great film. It’s surprisingly funny but also has parts that are completely depressing. I’m not a massive fan of Christian Bale – I find him quite intense and a little scary, to be honest. But he is fabulous in this – just amazing.

The Fighter won Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christian Bale) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Melissa Leo) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Amy Adams), Best Achievement in Directing (David O. Russell), Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington).

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Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) Film Review

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Why did I not think that a film based on an Old Testament story would be like Sunday School? And quite frankly, while I enjoyed Sunday School at the time, personally I’ve had enough.

So, Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) grew up as brothers despite only Ramses being the son of Seti (John Turturro). Then there is a prophecy and Moses ends up discovering his true heritage – he is a Hebrew, and all of the Hebrews are slaves. So, he gets banished and then comes back, with the help of a little boy who is God, to free his people.

The odd thing about this film was that it both bored me and lost me when it skipped large blocks of time with little explanation. The cast is impressive: not only the three mentioned above, but also Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn (who was, by far, the highlight of the film), Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Ewen Bremner. Yet yawn. Boring, long, and jeepers, I did not like Christian Bale in the role of Moses. Though, I think I may be realising that I am not a huge fan of Christian Bale. I fully expect him to prove me wrong in the future.

I think if you are into Religious Epic films, you will probably like this. I think if you are not religious and don’t mind a bit of an epic, you might like it. If you are religious, you may like it, although you may be like Egypt and Morocco and ban it because it is not historically accurate. What I would say is that even the most spectacular frog plague and the magnificent rejoining of the parted Red Sea did not make up for the yawnfest.

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Film Review

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Like many, many cinemagoers, I was ridiculously excited about this film. Although, having said that, I haven’t re-watched Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, I didn’t participate in a movie marathon of these three films and I didn’t go to a midnight screening, or even a screening over the first weekend.  I guess I am not a truly dedicated, passionate, obsessed fan. But I was still ridiculously excited.

I don’t want to recount the plot at all. If you haven’t seen the first two, get them out and watch them, then go see it. If you don’t want to, then there may be some things you don’t understand. Deal with it. All I’ll say is that the film is set several years after the last film and Gotham is a safe city. A lot of the characters are back – Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale), Alfred (Michael Caine), Fox (Morgan Freeman), Commissioner Gordan (Gary Oldman). And we’ve got some new ones – Bain (Tom Hardy), Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Selina/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), Miranda (Marion Cotillard) and the delightful surprise of seeing Ben Mendelsohn, albeit totally underused, as Daggart.

The film had much of the stuff that we’ve come to expect over the previous two films; some gruesome violence, authority figures not trusting each other and lots and lots of explosions. If it’s sounding boring or formulaic, it’s not. Yes, it is long – almost three hours, but time passes quickly in the film. Lives and the whole of Gotham city are transformed. And, in the true nature of cinema, everything rests on the final few seconds. Having said that, I picked several of the twists, which annoyed me. For me to pick up on them, there must have been too many hints. Either that, or I’m getting smarter.

There’s been a lot of talk about what the film symbolizes. Is it anti-The Occupy movement? Is it more about anti-capitalist terrorism? I’m not sure what Christopher Nolan intends from the film, how he intends it to be read. For me, it’s an awesome action film with a bit more depth than many, a fabulous cast and is well and truly worth the wait.

See it in the cinema. See it on a big screen with good sound. See it with a big audience. Just see it.

This review first appeared at www.melbournegeek.com on August 27, 2012

 

 

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Batman Begins (2005) Film Review

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Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is travelling the world, attempting to find way to get past the murder of his parents that he witnessed as a small child. After training in some mountains with a mysterious group, he eschews their offer to join them and returns to Gotham, to his butler, Alfred (Michael Caine) in the hope of improving the lives of the residents. But there is a bad guy, the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) who is causing problems. Bruce meets Fox (Morgan Freeman) who is in research and development, and Batman Begins.

Having used The Dark Night as a teaching text, I tend to be overly focused on that film over either this or the final in the trilogy. Watching this again reminds me of just how good it is – characters are set up, a strong story is told and it is left on the edge of the next film. Wonderful.

Batman Begins was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography.

 

 

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The Dark Knight (2008) Film Review

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Batman (Christian Bale) has done heaps to make Gotham a better place, and wants a quiet life with his love interest, Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Two things stand in his way; he needs a good man to be a public face of good in Gotham, and Rachel is seeing another man. Both of these problems are directly related to Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Then along comes the Joker (Heath Ledger), appearing to “watch the world burn”, bringing his own chaos to Gotham.

I’ve made it no secret that I love a good superhero film, I love the excitement and chaos of a good chase, some explosions and fighting. The Dark Knight is the next step up – dark, sinister, with some truly horrible stuff happening. Clever, and no matter how many times I watch it, I have to look away when the Joker has the pencil. The opening bank raid is one of my favourite film opening sequences, not least because I get a moment of William Fechtner, and that’s always a good thing.

The Dark Knight won Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Heath Ledger) and Best Achievement in Sound Editing and was nominated for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Make Up, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

 

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American Hustle (2013) Film Review

 

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Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a con artist who falls for Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and they develop a whole set of scams. Then in steps FBI agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper) and the plays they are running are no longer their own – and become more and more ambitious.

David O. Russell’s last film was Silver Linings Playbook, and while I enjoyed watching it, I felt an emptiness at the end, as though I’d been sucked in to think that was a good film when it just wasn’t. I was a little concerned going in to this film that I would find the same problem, and thank goodness not. This is a truly excellent film. The writing is very strong, with twists that I didn’t pick (and loved that aspect). The characters were wonderful, with some of the most repulsively wonderful clothes and hair, although I was a bit distracted by Amy Adams’ boobs. I am not a fan of Christian Bale, which I think is because many of the parts he has played are extremely creepy and unlikable. Apart from Batman; I think he was perfect in that. His portrayal of Irving Rosenfeld is brilliant. A lesser actor may have relied on the weight gain, mysterious hair and creepy glasses, but Bale showed the deeper emotions of the character,  both in a subtle manner and, when required, with the force of a sledgehammer. Add in the magnificent Jennifer Lawrence, a brief moment of Robert De Niro, Louis C.K.  and Jeremy Renner and you got a cast.

American Hustle won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (though I think it is a drama, not a comedy or a musical. A drama a laughed in, but certainly a drama), Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (Amy Adams), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role is a Motion Picture (Jennifer Lawrence) and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (Christian Bale), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Bradley Cooper), Best Director – Motion Picture (David O. Russell, Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell). It was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Christian Bale), Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Amy Adams), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Bradley Cooper), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Directing (David O. Russell), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design and Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell). It was nominated for BAFTAs for Best Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell), Best Film, Best Leading Actor (Christian Bale), Best Leading Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence, Best Production Design, Best Make Up/Hair and Best Costume Design.

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