Margin Call

margin call

I have to remind myself from time to time that King Solomon was one of the wealthiest individuals to ever live. By itself, money is harmless, holding value just because we think it holds value, as one of the characters in Margin Call so wisely notes. Yet it is tremendously easy for me to get worked up over it, or as in the case of a scene in the movie, judge those who have it in spades.

The scene in question features two executive bankers, each one worth millions of dollars, discussing the incoming financial crisis in an elevator. Standing between them is a janitor.
It’s a nice contrast between the Haves and the Have nots, thus automatically making the aloof rich folk the villains. But going after someone just for the sake of all their millions might reveal more about our character, than it might them.

B

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mother!

mother!

Two decades into his career, it is pretty clear that Darren Aronofsky is mad (genius?). As I noticed a few people exiting the screening once the deranged third act gets under way, I wondered why he felt like giving this to audiences. A vast, vast majority of movie goers are going to detest this. But does that say more about Aronofsky’s talents, or about the cinematic preferences large groups of people have?

Once the credits started to roll, I realized that if motion pictures were not invented so stories like this one could hit the big screen, then they should have not been invented at all.

B+

Wind River

wind river

On the surface, Taylor Sheridan’s American Frontier trilogy pits an unstoppable force versus an unmovable object. In Sicario, the feds scrambled to put an end to the cartels; in Hell or High Water, a pair of deep Texas brothers were holding out the bank branches that were responsible for taking away their land, and that of the rest of the territory; in Wind River, the most emotionally engaging of the three, a tracker hunts down the murderers who prey on the most weak and vulnerable.

Diving deeper into them, one encounters a trilogy that paints a dire portrayal of America, the one not featured in postcards and pop songs, the one that could very well be a million miles away from the metropolis that dictate the rules of the land. I already wrote at length on this after watching Hell or High Water, a picture that elucidates part of candidate Donald Trump’s massive voter appeal, so even though I am tempted to do so with Wind River and its depiction of snow and solitude encroaching upon the lives of Native Americans, I must refrain.

This leaves me with praising the film’s dreary atmosphere and its unrelenting suspense. Sheridan`s world is a lawless one, in which danger lurks around every corner. This only makes the Mexican standoff near the end of the movie one of the most pulse pounding sequences of its kind I can recall.
And of course, as mentioned above, it is the most emotionally involving.

The ending of Sicario is deeply cynical, and the one to Hell or High Water offers a small bit of satisfaction. Wind River is by far the saddest of the bunch, offering a view of life where the wicked triumph, where pleasures are few and small in between, and where justice may only truly be imparted if we take matters into our hands.

A-

On the Waterfront

on the waterfront

I’ve seen my fair share of oldies before and I’ve appreciated them without being wowed by any. I am aware of the 60-80 year disconnect that exists between them and my preferences, molded as they have been by the current crop of cinema, which has little to nothing in common to the pictures of old.

Since I began watching movies five years ago, 2017 has perhaps been the most pleasant, beautiful and full of surprises out of them all, so of course it was only natural for an oldie to come along and blow me away.

On the Waterfront is an utterly great motion picture, its suspense and social commentary timeless and better displayed than in any of its contemporaries. And of course, Marlon Brando. There’s a scene in which Marlon Brando is talking to his girlfriend, when her gloves come off and fall to the ground. Brando picks both of them up, hands one back to her, and puts the other one on his own hand. The conversation carries on nonchalantly, and the camera captures Brando fiddling with the glove. If you don’t want to watch the movie, then just look for this clip online. It is a testament to the otherworldly talent of Marlon Brando.

A

The Case for Christ

case for christ

Readers are well aware of my distaste for “christian” movies, for reasons that I have already expounded on before, and am to lazy to revisit right now. So it comes as more than a little surprising to find out that The Case for Christ is actually competent. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it is a stretch to call it the best movie of its kind in a very long time, perhaps ever.

B