What do you know about Dick Cheney? What does anyone know about Dick Cheney? I knew a bit here and there, certainly had read a bit about his involvement, as Vice President to George W Bush, in the conflict in Iraq and in extraordinary rendition and torture in the years post 911. This film tells his story – well, it tries. It admits, both at the start and at the end, that it is a flawed telling, and anyone who knows my struggle with biopics will know how much I appreciate this. But the story it tells is of a man who initially has little motivation but, with the almost Lady MacBeth urging of his wife, rises through the White House enjoying the ability to manipulate people and situations as he sees fit. He appears to have no real moral compass and his sole drive appears to be power.
This film is told in an unusual manner, with direction narration to the camera by some unknown bloke. There are twists and turns and, honestly, at times I was wondering what was going on. I walked out wondering about it but, after talking about it with a few people I decided that I really liked it. A lot.
Vice won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Christian Bale) and was nominated for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Adam McKay), Best Director – Motion Picture (Adam McKay), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Amy Adams), Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Sam Rockwell)
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.
Gru (Steve Carrell) is an evil villain, but an evil villain is only as respected as his last act of evilness. So when a new villain, Vector (Jason Segal) comes on the scene, Gru, his side-kick, Dr Nefario (Russell Brand), and his minions need to step up big time.
Excellent cast, good story, some reasonable female characters (still not enough, animated film makers, come on), I really should have loved it a lot more than I did. I’d been told by a lot of people that I’d really like it, but it just seemed a bit samey to me. Funny, yes. Cute, definitely. Well conceived, sure. So what didn’t work? I just can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps I am just a bit over the bad guy who ends up not being the bad guy? (Although I loved the bedside stories). I’d be concerned it was being over animated films, but I really enjoyed Frozen just recently. It’s not you, Despicable Me, it’s me. You’ll find someone who loves you for who you are. Just not me.
Despicable Me was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Best Animated Film.
Horton (Jim Carrey) is an elephant who discovers a microscopic community, lead by the Mayor (Steve Carrell) living on a speck of dust. He becomes their protector, trying to save them against the evil Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) who wants to destroy them, to stop the creatures in this world believing in things they can’t see.
I’m not sure how close this is to the original book; if there really is the angst between the Mayor and his emo teenage son or what. Whatever, though. This is what it is; a pretty decent kids film. The animation is beautiful, there is a bit of humour, and the ‘message’ is not bad: “A person’s a person no matter how small”
Surely a film about a fourteen-year-old boy who strikes up a friendship with a man in forties who refuses to grow is going to be a bit creepy? Well, apparently, no. This film has its creep factor, but amazingly, that’s not it.
Duncan (Liam James) is taken away for the summer with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette) to the holiday house of her boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carrell). Trent’s daughter races off with friends, leaving Duncan to find his own way. So while Pam and Trent and enjoying drunken, stoned nights with vivacious neighbour Betty (Allyson Janney) and other friends, Duncan forms a friendship with the manager of the local water park, Owen (Sam Rockwell). Owen gives Duncan a job where he starts to come out of his shell with the help of a strange group of employees.
This cast is filled with some of my favourite actors. In fact, I think I love little more in life than seeing Steve Carrell play a nasty character – and boy is Trent nasty. He bullies everyone around him, but comes across as jovial. The scenario is so well-played that I wanted Duncan to just leave, and had to remind myself that he is a fourteen-year-old boy. Where would he go? His desperation at times was so intense, and I found myself in tears several times. What a good sign that is.
Like Fun With Dick and Jane, this was a film that I re-watched after disliking the first time, and was generally, pleasantly surprised. Having loved the television series Get Smart, I wondered how on earth it could be remade with any credibility at all. The answer? Steve Carell.
The premise is that Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is an analyst at CONTROL, a secret spy agency. He is desperate to get out into the field and be an agent, despite being quite physically incompetent. A break-in results in Maxwell being one of the only agents able to be deployed, sent out with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).
It’s quite good, but certainly any weaknesses in the script are saved by the cast. Not only is there Carell and Hathaway, but Alan Arkin as the chief, Bill Murray in a delightful cameo as Agent 13, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (who I totally love playing comedy or action, but ideally both) as Agent 23 and Terence Stamp as Siegfried from KAOS. For me, I still didn’t like the last half hour or so. Perhaps it should have been a ninety minute film rather than a hundred-and-ten minute film. Or perhaps the last section just needed to be better.
If you are a massive Get Smart (the television show) fan, you may like the nods to the original that are in this, but overall, there was no way it was ever going capture the kitsch glamour of the original.
Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is devastated when his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) asks him for a divorce, seemingly out of the blue. He moves in a nondescript apartment and spends his nights sitting alone at a local bar moaning about David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), the man his wife slept with. Ladies man Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on him and helps him to reinvent himself, but all Cal wants is his wife and family back. Meanwhile, Jacob meets a woman that makes him question his life choices, Cal’s son is in love with his babysitter, and the babysitter is in love with Cal. It’s a complex series of plots, and that hasn’t even gone into half of it.
I make no apologies of my love of the performing of so many members of this cast; Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Bacon; even Marisa Tomei has a hilarious role. Plus, the film is so well-structured that I did not pick the twist and I thought it was a doozy. It’s not an easy film to watch; there are elements that are like an emotional car crash, but it’s just wonderful.
Kay(Meryl Streep) is a woman who has been married to Arnold(Tommy Lee Jones) for a long time and is deeply unhappy. They sleep in separate beds, and Kay feels they have no intimacy. She books them in to a marriage workshop in the town of Hope Springs. (Steve Carrell) works with the eager Kay and Arnold, who feels that everything is as it should be, and is cynical about change.
The opening sequence with Kay dressing in a slinky nighty and entering her husband’s bedroom to seduce him sets up the story of a marriage without sexual intimacy. It shows him as a grumpy old man and her as a woman who wants to change her situation. But then she seems to fall into a more passive role – although how this is possible when it is her actions that drive the film, I’m not sure.
This is clearly a film for an older audience, but I still enjoyed it. It gave me a few chuckles and even the odd tear, but it certainly was nothing controversial or ground breaking. I was surprised to see that Streep has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance – it seems that she gets nominated for everything because she has been wonderful in so many films, but I don’t think this was really her best.