Posts Tagged ‘Max Greenfield’

Nursing a Vendetta

Promising Young Woman

Director: Emerald Fennell

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Max Greenfield, Clancy Brown, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Molly Shannon, Emerald Fennell

Actress Emerald Fennell who ironically played Camilla Parker-Bowles on the hit Netflix series The Crown has turned writer and director and created an original piece of cinema, Promising Young Woman with a film’s ending that no viewer will guess.

Casting British actress and Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) in the lead role of Cassandra, a young 30 thirty year old gorgeous woman who gets her kicks out of harassing young men after they have tried to pick her up while playing drunk, is a master stroke. Mulligan channels every controversial female role from Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction to Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey.

Set in a nameless Midwestern city, Cassie still lives with her doting yet confused parents played by Jennifer Coolidge and Clancy Brown after dropping out of med school due to her best friend Nina Fisher suffering from a horrific sexual assault incident at the medical school while they were both in their second year.

The best statement Fennell makes is that the perpetrators of sexual assault are not necessarily wealthy and powerful old men, but they can also be young professional men who behave badly at university and still manage to maintain a lucrative postgraduate career. Cassie witnessing her friend Nina’s life falling apart due to sexual assault, decides to blame all young men and tricks them into taking her home, only to turn on them in their own environment.

Cassie’s revenge really starts getting going when she meets Dr Ryan Cooper, wonderfully played by Bo Burnham, who appears to be a sweet, charming and humorous paediatrician and is attracted to Cassie. Ryan mentions to Cassie that he still sees a lot of their old medical school classmates including Al Monroe and Madison, played respectively by Chris Lowell and Alison Brie, both of whom were directly and indirectly responsible for Nina’s sexual assault.

The beauty of Emerald Fennell’s script is that there is not a lot of details given to the viewer, so Cassie’s actions and her peculiar relationship with men hints at a feminist revenge fantasy. The garish costumes adds to the dark psychology of this thriller, which leaves viewers intrigued.

One by one Cassie hunts down all those responsible for the sexual assault of her best friend and finally lands up at the foot of the bed of the real perpetrator Al Monroe on the night of his bachelor’s party dressed as a kinky nurse.

Promising Young Woman is a tour-de-force of acting for Carey Mulligan who effortlessly transcends from a demure blonde girl behind a coffee counter to a vicious sociopath who is on the hunt for vengeance.

For its sheer originality, Promising Young Woman gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 but as a feminist revenge fantasy it’s going to be divisive and controversial especially with its shocking ending.

We Own The Stars

The Glass Castle

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Ella Anderson, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield, Josh Caras, Iain Armitage, Sadie Sink, Brigette Lundy-Paine

Hawaiian director Destin Daniel Cretton’s cinematic adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jeanette Walls The Glass Castle is an emotional and intricate exploration of a dysfunctional family’s unconventional upbringing.

The Glass Castle stars Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (The People vs Larry Flynt, The Messenger) as the patriarch Rex Walls and Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (21 Grams, The Impossible) as his wife Rose Mary. Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room) stars as the grownup second daughter Jeanette who would eventually turn from gossip columnist writer to bestselling author of the novel from which the story is based.

Ella Anderson plays the younger version of Jeannette who has to deal with her poverty-stricken parents as they grow up in the backwater of West Virginia, often living in abandoned buildings and scrounging for food money.

At the film’s outset it is clear that Jeannette has a special bond with her heavy drinking, big dreaming and often delusional father Rex who keeps promising her and her siblings (two sisters and a brother) that he is going to build the family a glass castle from which they can glimpse the stars through.

As the narrative shifts between New York in 1989 and her poverty stricken upbringing in rural West Virginia, The Glass Castle intelligently explores the concepts of sustainable living, of living off the grid and repudiating the city driven Capitalist work ethic which defines contemporary America.

The mother Rose Mary is too busy painting to watch her children, never mind feed them while the father Rex is too busy drinking to actually get a proper a job to support his family. Woody Harrelson gives one of the best performances of his screen career as Rex Walls as he manipulates and misguides the family into believing that he has the capacity to actually take care of them.

Eventually the young Jeannette says to her siblings that they have to make their own plans to save up money and leave West Virginia for more lucrative work opportunities in New York.

Fast forward to 1989, where the older Jeannette, beautifully played with nuance and comprehensive emotional intelligence by Brie Larson who as a successful journalist on the verge of marrying her straitlaced accountant fiancée David played by Max Greenfield (The Big Short) suddenly has to contend with her parents squatting on the Lower East Side in an abandoned building.

Josh Caras, Brigette Lundy-Paine and Sarah Snook (The Dressmaker, Steve Jobs) play the other siblings Brian, Maureen and Lori.

The best scenes in The Glass Castle are between Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson and while the film is an emotional joyride, it does not give the parents any social accountability for the way they brought up their children through neglect and apparent starvation.

The Glass Castle is a fascinating exploration of familial responsibility or lack thereof and the emotional effects that irresponsible parents decision making can have on their unsuspecting children.

The drama gets a film rating of 8 out 10.

The highly underrated Woody Harrelson should received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Rex Walls in the upcoming 2018 Academy Awards.

The Glass Castle is recommended viewing for those that enjoy a tense, sometimes difficult family drama where the children are told to pick stars while they are starving on earth.

No Income, No Jobs

The Big Short

big_short

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Finn Wittrock, John Magaro, Rafe Spall, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, Jeffry Griffin, Billy Magnussen, Max Greenfield, Tracy Letts

The critically acclaimed film The Big Short is a highly inventive tale of how six men predicted the collapse of the US housing market and actually made money off this economic disaster.

Christian Bale turns in a brilliant Oscar nominated performance as the socially awkward Dr Michael Burry, a neurologist suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome who gives up medicine to become a hedge fund manager in director Adam McKay’s frenetic financial diatribe The Big Short, about the collapse of the American housing market in 2007 and 2008, which precipitated the worst international financial crisis since the Great Depression back in 1929.

big_short_ver2

Joining Bale in the cast are Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) as Wall Street trader Jared Vennett, Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) as hedge fund manager Mark Baum and Brad Pitt (Moneyball) as reclusive banker Ben Rickett. These four men together with two young eager investors Charlie Geller played by John Maguro (Carol) and Jamie Shipley played by Finn Wittrock all predict the imminent collapse of the US housing market due to the instability of unsecured sub-prime mortgages.

Through a series of inter related events between 2005 and 2007, these guys develop a system of credit default swaps by betting against the housing market which like the Tech industry bubble, eventually burst in 2008 bringing down Lehman Brothers in September 2008, one of the world’s largest investment banks, and forcing the entire global economy into a devastating recession.

What makes the entire dodgy financing worse is that the banks and the international rating agencies collude to actually validate the profiting of these credit default swaps, causing the Biggest Short in economic history which inevitably lead to no income and no jobs for millions of people worldwide.

Best Line in the film is prophetically “In five years’ time, everyone is going to be blaming the immigrants and the poor.”

Financial films are never exciting unless the director makes the viewer totally engrossed in what they are watching. Fortunately Anchorman director Adam McKay through some inventive directing and skillful editing along with a fascinating script by Charles Randolph which makes The Big Short an utterly engrossing film.

The Big Short is anchored down by four great performances by Pitt, Carell, Gosling and particularly Bale. Christian Bale and Steve Carell are particularly good and while some of the narrative devices are quite ingenious like Jared Vennett directly addressing the audience or using celebrities like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to explain the financial fundamentals especially of synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), the latter of which ironically taking place at a Blackjack table in Las Vegas.

The Big Short is an engaging, masculine portrayal of greed and power running unabated and the most frightening part about the story is that it is all true. The effects of the 2008 global financial meltdown are still being felt around the world in 2016.

Audiences should also look out for cameos by Melissa Leo and Marisa Tomei along with Rafe Spall (Life of Pi) and Hamish Linklater (Magic in the Moonlight). Unlike Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street or Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Adam McKay’s The Big Short does not glamourize greed but rather sheds light on how reckless and unchecked rampant capitalism has its pitfalls as the entire world was to find out in September 2008.

The scary part is that, these real life characters portrayed in The Big Short made money off the eventual collapse of a national housing market and some of the larger Banks got away with dishing out unsecured loans to unsuspecting home buyers simply by restructuring the debt packages.

The Big Short is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy financial films with edge, tenacity and an inventive style without resorting to profanity or decadence.

 

 

 

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