The Big Short

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

And why is anyone going to see this movie? Seriously. Why is any person in their right mind forking over their hard-earned cash to pay to see a movie about racist, sexist, foul-mouthed rich guys who got even richer when the economy collapsed and millions of people lost their homes and jobs? Yeah, in case you were wondering, that’s what this film is about. It’s the true story of a group of Wall Street brokers and hedge fund managers who predicted that the economy was going to collapse back in 2008, and, rather than try to warn the government, or the thousands of people who stood to lose the most, just did some tricky buying and selling, and got super rich when everything went down the tubes. I HATE this movie. For several reasons!

For starters, the characters are all assholes. To give you an idea of how disgusting these people–the “good guys” of this movie–are, in one scene, Ryan Gosling is trying to convince Steve Carrell that the Housing Market is going to crash. When Steve Carrell asks how he can be sure, if his math is accurate, Ryan Gosling points to his numbers guy, an Asian-American man named Zhang, and says, “look at my numbers guy! Look at his face; his eyes! He doesn’t speak fucking English! He came in first place in a national Math competition in China! Yeah, I’m fucking sure my fucking math is right!” And as if their racial stereotyping isn’t bad enough, there’s a scene later on in the movie where two hedge fund managers, Charlie and Danny, realize that, by betting against the Housing Market, they’ve become super rich, and begin to celebrate. They’re so selfish and self-absorbed that they have to be reminded that, in order for them to get rich, millions of people have to lose their jobs, and their homes, and possibly even their lives. But do Charlie and Danny give a shit? Nope!

The second thing that bothers me about this movie is the cinematography. My god is it ugly! Virtually every shot in this film is taken from a hand-held camera, so all the images are shaky. And as if that’s not annoying enough, there’s also hardly any moments where the camera itself isn’t panning, zooming, tilting, or just making your eyes bleed with its sickening motion. Why don’t directors use steadicams, tripods, or wide shots anymore? Those things are all great! Filmmakers, you don’t need to set yourselves apart from other people by shoving cameras up your actors noses and jiggling them at every conceivable second.

The third thing I hated about this movie is the fact that it’s BORING, and unbelievably CONFUSING! It’s boring because there’s no rising action, and no climax. The economy is shown collapsing at about the halfway point, so it’s not like you can say that’s the climax. And the whole movie is just rich white guys in suits talking to each other. How riveting! Except no, no that isn’t riveting! Stuff needs to happen in a movie for audiences to be invested. Even The Wolf Of Wall Street, a movie about brokers that I really didn’t like, understood that. There, at least, the filmmakers showed the characters doing drugs, riding boats through storms, and lots of other crazy stuff that can be described as interesting. The Big Short doesn’t have any of those things. It’s just rich, racist, sexist assholes spewing financial jargon at each other. And though the filmmakers do try to make this all a little less confusing by having cut-aways to people like Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, and Selena Gomez, where they try to explain the terms, these cut-aways ultimately prove to be distracting, and just make things even more confusing.

The only things I can honestly say I like about this movie are Steve Carrell, and the soundtrack. Steve Carrell’s character is one of the few nice, likable people in the whole movie, though he does get a little annoying at points. And the soundtrack features lots of songs from the early 2000s that I really love, like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” and Gorillaz’ “Feel Good Inc.” But, beyond these two things, there’s nothing in this film that I like. This is a 5 out of 10. I’m honestly quite shocked that this movie about selfish, racist assholes has an 88% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and The Flowers Of War, a heartbreaking movie about sacrifice and redemption in The Rape Of Nanking, has a mere 42% approval rating. Guys, if you want to see a well-made, underrated picture with beautiful visuals, great performances, and well-rounded, likable characters who grow and mature as the story progresses, watch The Flowers Of War. As for this garbage, don’t give it a second thought.

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Freeheld

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

This isn’t a bad movie, but it isn’t a good one either. It’s trying to be progressive–to tell a touching, and socially relevant story–but it ultimately comes off as generic, and even somewhat banal.

For those of you who are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, I just sat down and watched an early screening of Freeheld, a new drama film starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. The movie, which comes out in theaters tomorrow, is based on the true story of Laurel Hester, a Lesbian Police Officer from New Jersey, who, when she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, was unable to transfer her pension benefits to her partner, Stacie. The film chronicles her friends and loved ones attempts to overdue the court’s ruling, and get Stacie her pension.

Now, I’ll be honest, when I heard this film’s premise, I was hopeful. I love “call to social action” films, like Blood Diamond, Philadelphia, and Dallas Buyers Club. I thought that, maybe, this movie would be another worthy addition to the list of socially conscious motion pictures that have come out in the last 30 years. Unfortunately, when I actually sat down and watched it, I was treated to a fairly generic “fight the power” drama, with no real tension, and nothing particularly new in the way of storytelling. Every cliched character you’d expect to see in a movie about gay rights–the butch lesbian, the flamboyantly gay man, the homophobe who grows a heart and does the right thing–is present here. No one’s really given any backstory, and some of the performances are a bit cartoonish. On top of that, this whole movie feels like White Guilt Oscar Bait. You all know what I’m talking about–movies that are hoping to get critical acclaim by talking about something important, like racism, sexism, homophobia, or historical tragedies. It’s practically a joke among actors that, if you want to win an Oscar these days, you’ve got to either pretend to be gay, pretend to be dying, or pretend to be disabled. Well, this film is about homophobia, and its star, Julianne Moore, is both pretending to die, AND pretending to be gay. At this point, the filmmakers are practically giving their acceptance speeches.

Now, to be fair, I know that the directors and the actors intentions here were good, but, honestly, the whole thing just feels exploitative. I’m a disabled person, and I don’t like it when I see non-disabled actors–like Eddie Redmayne in Theory Of Everything, Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman, and Cliff Robertson in Charly–using our conditions as easy springboards to critical success. Similarly, I don’t like it when I see heterosexual actors giving flamboyantly over-the-top portrayals of gay people, like Steve Carrell does here, just to win awards.

So, to sum it all up, Freeheld is a well-intentioned movie that doesn’t bring anything new to the “fight the power,” social activism genre of filmmaking, and ultimately suffers because of that. It’s a 6 out of 10. Don’t go see it if you’ve already watched films like Philadelphia or Dallas Buyers Club.