This weekend Jessica Chastain stars in the political thriller Miss Sloane. The title refers to the lobbyist main character but the film could easily have been titled Drain the Swamp.
Made before Donald Trump became president-elect, it only takes about 20 seconds before the word “trump” crops up in the dialogue. He’s never mentioned by name, but this look at “the most morally bankrupt profession since faith healing” paints exactly the ugly picture of behind-the-scenes machinations that Trump railed against on the campaign trail.
Chastain is Elizabeth Sloane, a sleep-deprived D.C. lobbyist “at the forefront of a business with a terrible reputation.” She’ll represent anyone, it seems, except the gun lobby, who offer her a lucrative contract, only to be laughed at and rejected.
Soon after she leaves her firm — one of the biggest in the country — to join a small, scrappy group who aim to whip up support for a bill that will demand background checks for all gun owners.
It’s a new hot-button peek behind the curtain of a political process, but Hollywood has been making Drain the Swamp movies for years.
The explosive Advise and Consent is based on former New York Times congressional correspondent Allen Drury’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the ratification of a secretary of state and the dirty little secrets people in public life must keep hidden. Political battle lines are drawn as a full frontal attack is launched on the character and credentials of the new nominee.
Director Otto Preminger almost pulled off one of the great casting coups of the 1960s when he offered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. a role in Advise and Consent. The mercurial director thought King would be perfect for the role of a southern senator, despite the fact that no African Americans were serving in Senate at the time. King gave the offer some thought, but declined fearing the backlash and possible harm to the civil right movement.
More recently, in The Ides of March George Clooney (who also directed) played a Democratic Party candidate; the kind of guy who would make the top of Bill O’Reilly’s head pop off. He’s pro-ecology, anti-oil. He wants to tax the rich and legalize gay marriage. If he leans any further left he’ll topple over.
Although Clooney has spoken out about many of these topics in real life, he didn’t make a left-wing film. Instead he made a warts-and-all political movie about dirty dealings on the campaign trail.
The first hour is good stuff, great acting from Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman and a fascinating, if occasionally dry look at life in the political fast lane. Then comes the blackmail, the meetings in darkened stairwells and double-crossing journalists.
Finally The Campaign, a comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as incumbent congressmen, begins with a quote from former presidential hopeful Ross Perot: “War has rules. Mud wrestling has rules. Politics has no rules.”
Neither does the movie; no rules or boundaries. These candidates go beyond the usual name-calling — “He looks like Osama Bin Laden” — to dirty tricks that would make Tricky Dick blush. It’s a through-the-looking glass-vision of how politics works that features ambition, greed, corruption and even a candidate who punches a baby.
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes do a refresher on “Captain America: Civil War” and then talk about the weekend’s big releases,the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster” and the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash.”
George Clooney is a rare breed, a one-name film star. Mention “George” and everyone knows who you’re talking about.
He’s headlined a handful of films dating all the way back to when there was a Clinton in the White House that raked in north of $100 million. Since leaving the television show ER in 1999, he’s released two movies a year on average, including this weekend’s Money Monster, a thriller about the host of a financial advice show held hostage on live TV by an investor who lost everything.
Some of his films have been successful, others not, but it’s clear Clooney doesn’t aspire to be a blockbuster star. Perhaps it’s because George is, as Time called him, “the last movie star,” that he appears determined to smash what that kind of stardom means. By lending his name to offbeat movies he deconstructs the mechanism of superstardom.
George steers his career toward character driven pieces, often at the expense of giant box office numbers. And while the fabric of his fame may fray around the edges from time to time — he’s as susceptible to box office vagaries as anyone — he stays busy, winning Oscars, producing movies like August: Osage County and acting as pitchman for everyone from Fiat to Martini vermouth.
“I’m very aware of the fact that if not for a Thursday night time slot on ER, I wouldn’t have this career,” he once said, “so I’m going to push the limits as much as I can.”
From kid flicks to period dramas and political satire Clooney has done just that.
Loosely based on a Roald Dahl story, the stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox sees Clooney as a smooth-talking fox that returns to a life of crime after buying a tree house he can’t afford. Clooney brings charm, wit and warmth to an unpredictable character, smooth one minute, a wild animal the next.
Clooney also starred in The Good German, a tribute to 1940s cinema shot with technology from the golden age of Hollywood — the same lenses, the same atmospheric lighting, the same rat-a-tat-tat style of dialogue, the same everything. It’s a retro-looking film made with twenty-first century creative freedom. Clooney, as an American military journalist covering the Potsdam Conference in post-war Berlin, and co-star Cate Blanchett look like golden age movie stars but behave more like Brat Packers.
Strangest of all is The Men Who Stare at Goats, the best movie with the worst name on Clooney’s resume. He plays a psychic soldier in this screwball satire about the state of modern warfare. Its an absurdist film, filled with memorable images — Clooney staring down a goat, enlisted men doing the Watusi and a montage of Jeff Bridges embarking on a journey of enlightenment — where no joke is too broad or too barbed.
George is so artistically eclectic he even disowns one of his biggest hits. “I always apologize for Batman!” he says of the ludicrous Batman & Robin.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson kick around the weekend’s big releases, the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster,” the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash” and the Scottish drama “Sunset Song.”
George Clooney looks like the kind of guy you could trust. Older, experienced, he seems trustworthy, brimming with advice you could take to the bank. I mean, if you’d buy Nespresso coffee because he told you to, why wouldn’t you take financial guidance as well? A new movie, “Money Monster,” uses that quality, Clooney’s charisma, as the cornerstone of a thriller about misplaced trust, mislaid money and attempted murder.
Clooney is Lee Gates, a loudmouth financial advisor who bellows about investing in stocks and saving for retirement on a live television show called “Money Monster.” Think “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” with just enough details changed to avoid lawsuits and you get the idea. Gates is a self-styled Wiz of Wall Street, a financial shock jock who starts each of his shows with a wild dance number.
Just as his Friday night broadcast is getting underway Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a jilted investor invades the studio and takes Gates, his crew, and producer Patty (Julia Roberts) hostage live on air. “Turn those cameras back on I’m going to shoot him in his head!” He trusted the TV oracle only to lose everything when a high-frequency trading company Gates endorsed called Ibis Clear Capital lost $800 million overnight, tanking the stock market. Kyle is convinced that Wall Street banks are stealing our money and our country and Gates is the emblem of the theft. “I may be the one with the gun,” he says, “but I’m not the criminal here.”
In real time over the next hour Gates learns the human cost of his actions as Kyle as the cameras broadcast every minute to a worldwide audience of millions.
Like the volatile stock market Gates chronicles on his fictional show, “Money Monster’s” story takes many unexpected twist and turns. Unexpected and, as the story unfolds, preposterous. Unable to decide whether it is an exposé of Wall Street’s dirty dealings—much of it breathes the same air as “The Big Short” minus the bubble baths and Anthony Bourdain—a humanist thriller or a comment on the remove we feel watching tragedy through a screen—“If Lee survives we got to get him on the show,” chirps one chat show host watching the action on a monitor—it blends all its ideas into a mushy concoction that is neither one thing or the other. Director Jodie Foster relies on clichés to move the story forward rather than trusting the ideas and rich vein of social commentary that could have been mined from the material. You can’t help but wonder what Sidney Lumet might have done with the same story.
Clooney does the best he can with a script that forces him to behave like a caricature. He’s believable as the cocky on-air host, less so when he has to transform that character into a vulnerable, real human being.
Roberts is trapped in a control room, barking orders through a headset for most of the film, bringing whatever charm there is to be had from a part that is essentially a conduit for information and she tries to unravel the film’s core “where did the money go?” mystery.
The third part of the triumvirate, O’Connell, plays confused/mad quite well, but again is saddled with a role that is dragged down with repetition.
Some of the supporting actors fare a little better, particularly Caitriona Balfe as the CCO who wants to do the right thing, if only she knew what the right thing was and Christopher Denham as a producer who will do anything to please Gates.
“This isn’t good Lee,” Patti says about the action unfolding in the studio. She could have been talking about “Money Monster,” a movie that feels like a missed opportunity to mix intimate life and death drama with an indictment of the wheelers and dealers who play hardball with our money.
Richard and CJAD Montreal afternoon show host Andrew Carter talk about the weekend’s three big releases, “Money Monster,” the Julia Roberts – George Clooney financial thriller, the lusty “A Bigger Splash” and the Scottish story “Sunset Song.”
Richard and CJAD Montreal morning show host Andrew Carter kick around the weekend’s big releases, the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster,” the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash” and the Scottish drama “Sunset Song.” (Starts at 52:50)
Richard talks Cannes and Xavier Dolan with the Canadian Press.
“I think he’s got probably a pretty good shot certainly at being taken seriously as a contender, even thought he’s up against the who’s who of international filmmakers like Ken Loach, Pedro Almodovar, Paul Verhoeven, Sean Penn,” says Toronto-based film reviewer Richard Crouse.
“There are a lot of people here that are working at a very high level, but I’d suggest that Xavier Dolan is working at just as high a level.”