Archive for the ‘Jeffrey Wright’ Category

The Laundromat

27 Nov

The Laundromat—directed by Steven Soderbergh. Crime Dramedy. 95 minutes Color 2019.
The Story: The mad fairytale of the notorious off-shore tax evasion con is danced into floodlit glare by its perpetrators and victims alike.
Here we have a that rarity, a comic polemic, apt, imaginative, convincing. How well directed? Perfectly. How written, edited, costumed, set, and designed? Perfectly.

As to the acting, all the actors should be shot.

And why is that?

Because how could any of them exceed in excellence what they triumph as here?

The piece takes on the illegal, devious, cheap, and costly scam of off-shore tax shelters. 60 billion tax dollars lost last year to the common weal, stolen and stashed by America’s corporations.

I mean, how small can you get? How vile, how cheesy to cheat one’s countrymen of education? Food? Care?

Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman play international profits isolators, Banderas from Latin America and Oldman from someplace Teutonic, Tweedledum and Tweedledee in perfect sync. Believe me, they are believed to be must seen. Which means you dare not miss the black comedy of their grift, the irony of their alibis, their slippery sloping mealy-mouthed lying tongues. They play other parts as well, all in aid of mendacity and moolah.

Meryl Streep?

I leave you to wake to her particular genius again. We keep falling asleep about her. She keeps waking us up.

Jeffrey Wright, James Cromwell, Sharon Stone, David Schwimmer—all in top form. Clear, cogent, creative.

This is on Netflix and was produced for Netflix.

Tip top entertainment. Which induces us all to rise to the occasion, I should hope.


Source Code

01 Apr

Source Code — Directed by Duncan Jones. Techno-Suspense.  An American helicopter vet from Afghanistan is involuntarily volunteered for a series of 8-minute missions into the past in order to derail a dirty bomb.  1 hour 33 minutes Color 2011.

* * * * *

Science fiction usually avoids the imaginative creation of characters that true fiction requires. Dickens would be lost in the genre. And the characters it employs want subtlety. No, the writer writes for polemic effect — a disaster we are all to blame for somehow, a threat our set-in-concrete innocence really deserves. So “fiction” is a misnomer, isn’t it?  As is “Sci” — for the genre demands not science, but the invention of machines that can do strange things. All you have to do is state the strange thing, and you can presuppose a machine that does it.  It’s not a matter of science but of technology, which is not the same thing at all. And so I dub this piece, techno-suspense; not a new genre but one rather more aptly named perhaps. The machine is a gadget invented by Jeffrey Wright, which can return an individual (suited to the task by being already dead) to a time just before a terrible calamity occurred, a calamity which is over, cannot be taken back, but at least, in finding the perpetrator, a repetition (bombs run in twos, like Nagasaki and Hiroshima) might be, in the nick of time, avoided. It’s quite good. He has only eight minutes each recession, and each time he learns a little more, grows up a little more, become a little more capable. Jake Gyllenhaal plays this bloke beautifully, of course. Gyllenhaal is at the peak of his masculinity, which is always a pleasure to behold in a male, and he is really the only important male talent age thirty with any weight in major roles working in film today. The machines in which he is trapped are three. One is a speeding train, one is a kind of crashed, derelict pod in which he waits instructions, and one is the office from which those instructions fall upon him into the pod. In the pod he is alone. In the train he is vis a vis with a fine young woman, Christine, played by Michelle Monaghan, in a pleasant mixture of bemusement, beguilement, and befuddlement, all of which hit the spot with this particular part. The gifted Vera Farmiga accompanies him in the office; they never meet, of course, but they talk. Despite being mesmerized by her beautiful eyes, I think Vera Farmiga misjudges her role. She plays her ace right away. She plays that the character is of two minds and unsure, but her unsureness is unsure, making her look incompetent in the role and also her acting. This character would not be incompetent, would not be unsure. She might grow into a different view of the machine which she runs, called Source Code, but she would not start out that way. She is perhaps miscast. Or perhaps mis-directed. And Jeffrey Wright should not wear a beard — come out from behind that bush, Jeff; it won’t serve. A character’s effectiveness is diminished tenfold by every hair on his face, except those immediately beneath his nose. The piece as a whole holds one’s attention, the special effects are as they should be, and the three sets are particularly apt and imaginative. One goes along with it. Gyllenhaal we go along with only because he is a young man, not because there is anything inherently go-along-with in him, as there was in Jimmy Stewart, say, or Jack Lemon or Tom Hanks. But see him walk. See him flirt. See him knock the guy down. Pretty good, I say.


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