Archive for the ‘Adam McKay’ Category

Extinction Event Deluxe

Don’t Look Up

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Melanie Lynskey, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel

Film Rating 5.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes

This film is only available to watch on the Netflix streaming service.

Similar to the absolutely disastrous 2019 film Cats in which The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper assembled an A list cast with high expectations, only for the film version of the musical Cats to absolutely flop at the box office and be completely ridiculed, director Adam McKay’s 2021 film Don’t Look Up is as big a disaster as the comet which threatens to obliterate earth and kill everyone including the vacuous media personalities, the egotistical politicians and the general American population encapsulated by a stoner performance by Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) as Jude.

Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice) unfortunately fail to lift this disastrous black comedy. Don’t Look Up just proves the theory that Netflix can attract A List stars to act in dreadful films. Next time all their agents should be shot at dawn.

Thankfully I never watched this film in a cinema.

With the exception of director Jane Campion’s excellent The Power of the Dog, Netflix films do not have that much to offer. Let’s face it the streaming service is facing a content crisis, now that everyone is back in cinemas watching Spiderman, Dune and No Time to Die.

Back to Don’t Look Up, while aspects of the script were rather funny, it really just shows how vacuous and gullible the American public are, believing everything they see in the media and on Television. That’s according to Adam McKay’s script and not my personal opinion.

Unlike Adam McKay’s brilliant take on the 2008 financial crisis in the critically acclaimed The Big Short and his even better take on politics in 2018’s Vice, Don’t Look Up falls way short of these two superior films. Even the satire and black comedy is not written with intelligence or an ounce of wit.

Don’t Look Up appears to be a spiralling pastiche of an impending extinction event in which everyone from the crazy politicians embodied by Meryl Streep’s American President Orlean and her ambitious son and chief of staff Jason wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Jonah Hill (Moneyball, The Wolf of Wall Street) to the incredibly vacuous cougar and TV presenter Brie Evantree in the Daily Rip brilliantly played by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, all of whom seem blissfully unaware of a large meteor heading towards earth and wiping out humanity.

While Leonardo DiCaprio seems to just replicate his anxiety ridden performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to a much lesser degree in Don’t Look Up and Jennifer Lawrence looks slightly confused at being in the presence of such big name stars in a film which is essentially going to be watched on an Iphone, unfortunately this deluxe extinct level event fizzles out despite the ensemble cast. Don’t Look Up is everything that genuine cinema shouldn’t be.

Don’t Look Up gets a film rating of 5.5 out of 10 and thankfully one doesn’t need to purchase a cinema ticket to watch this disaster. You can just pause the film and look away.

Ahead of the Decision Curve

Incisive Political Drama

Vice

Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Alison Pill, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Jesse Plemons, Shea Whigham, Tyler Perry

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see director Adam McKay’s highly anticipated biopic Vice about Republican Vice President Dick Cheney featuring an utterly unrecognizable Christian Bale as Cheney and Oscar nominee Amy Adams as his ambitious wife Lynne.

Inventively directed by Adam McKay, Vice does for Republican politics what The Big Short did so brilliantly for the 2008 Financial Meltdown on Wall Street. McKay, besides extracting superb performances out of Christian Bale and Amy Adams, also incisively cuts into the heart of Republican politics especially from George W. H. Bush’s Presidency in 2000 and right through the crucial months which followed the devastating attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in September 2001 to the eventual invasion of Iraq in 2003.

This is 21st century contemporary history which affected the world and writer and director McKay taps into the zeitgeist of those crucial turning points which changed American History and effectively portrays Vice President Dick Cheney to be a ruthless and opportunistic politician who believed in the executive powers theory which basically sees the President and Vice President of a country make executive decisions without any checks or balances from Congress or the U. S. House of Representatives.

Vice is an incisive look at American Politics and is much about how America got Trump into the Oval Office in 2016 as it is about any potential Republican failings in terms of U.S. foreign policy.

At the centre of this comedic biopic are two utterly transformative performances by Oscar winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) and Oscar nominee Amy Adams (The Master, Doubt, American Hustle) as this unassuming Wyoming couple who become the most powerful couple at the White House during the Bush administration from 2000-2008, always staying a step ahead of the decision curve.

Oscar winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) is equally charismatic as the young George W. Bush who asks Dick Cheney to be his running mate for the 2000 elections.

Director Adam McKay also assembles an excellent supporting cast including Oscar Nominee Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) as Donald Rumsfeld and Tyler Perry as Colin Powell. 

The film’s narrative is incisively told in a cleverly constructed pastiche of dubious politics touching on some controversial subjects like torture and rendition with some extremely graphic images thrown in.  Vice is a fascinating portrait of an unassuming bureaucrat who becomes so powerful that he fabricated reasons to invade a sovereign state and start the American invasion of Iraq, a move which definitely destabilized the Middle East as a whole.

For lovers of excellent political films, then viewers have to see Vice.

It’s an incredibly well researched indictment of the Republican Party made all the more pertinent by the disruptive Trump presidency which is currently dominating global media headlines.

Adam McKay’s Vice is brilliant and thought-provoking making Christian Bale a hot contender for another Oscar win as his transformative performance dazzles in every frame much like Gary Oldman ‘s vivid portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

Vice gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and accurately portrays how decisive strategic political actions by a global superpower like America can be indirectly attributed to the rise of global conflict and international terrorism in other regions of the world. Terrifying and fascinating stuff!

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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