Archive for the ‘Kevin Spacey’ Category

The Men Who Stare At Goats

09 Apr

Men Who Stare At Goats — directed by Grant Heslov. Comedy. Mind control, the paranormal and such rise up in the military and take over. 96 minutes Color 2009.


The Men Who Stare At Goats is a drollery. For me, what’s funny in it is how seriously every actor plays his part in a piece that demonstrates that the Sixties never went away. Clooney gives a creamy performance as a talented psychic in training, and the more earnest he is, the funnier he is. I did not laugh out loud. But I was amused out loud. I smiled in the dark, and that was enough. Yes, the Sixties, which were trashed by lentils and dope and a lack of a sense of humor – a condition for which George Carlin was the antidote that never took. I like this movie. Get high on acid and set everyone free is its prescription. It would work, if what life needed was a prescription. Ewan McGregor plays the credulous reporter tagging along and overtly cowardly and incorrect at every point, and therefore believable. It’s wise casting, since everyone else in the cast is around 50. You don’t want a boy in that role; what you want is a failed writer in his middle thirties. We also have big-hearted Jeff Bridges as the teacher of the psychics, and he is no end of entertainment. Kevin Spacey plays the Basil Rathbone part of the venomous villain, with his usual peculiar comic quirk. I had no expectations of this piece when I entered the theatre: I found it to be a delicious slice of tart pie.


Margin Call

23 Oct

Margin Call — Directed and Written by J.C. Chandor. Suspense. A huge Wall Street company teeters on the brink of collapse and a crisis of conscience. 105 minutes Color 2011

* * * * *

The infuriatingly dull title for this very exciting film detours one away, only to be pulled back toward it by the presence of a superb cast. What great actors we have in this world, and all of them are at the peak of their game here. If there were Oscars for casting, this movie should win one. The focal character is played by Kevin Spacey, in the part of a management director of a trading company. He learns that the company is in dire jeopardy, and his moral dilemma is to find a way out that is on the up and up. The film begins with the ritual execution of half the staff of the company including its risk director, played with uncanny reserve by Stanley Tucci. His novice assistants follow through on his work and discover the fatal state of the company. Simon Baker-Denney plays the cold head of operations and his cold partner by Demi Moore. The announcement of Moore’s firing is a beautiful piece of acting by her, an infinitesimal response. Fabulous. The boys who uncover the disease are well played by Zachary Quinto and Penn Badgley, each of them given key scenes of resolution which they meet perfectly. Paul Bettany plays the sardonic observer-of-it-all and brings to the inner circle the necessary presence of a lack of naiveté. Everyone knows what it’s really about. The suspense builds like black cream being whipped – until the arrival of Jeremy Irons, the pivotal character of the piece, at which point suspense stops. Irons is beyond excellent in the role of the owner of the company. He’s an actor who pulls focus with every inhalation and who can carry a film easily. The problem is in the writing of his part, although he is so good at delivering it as is, that you cannot tell. The fact is that the role of a pivotal character depends on whether he will turn to the right or to the left, and our not knowing which until at last. To create this second level of suspense the picture must refocus this character’s decision on his relations with the characters we have already met and thus postpone it, and the script does not do that. We are faced instead with the question of will people be fired or not, which is jumping the gun which the Irons character holds in his hand. Instead the focus turns to the Spacey character and makes him the focal character, which he is not. But even then the story is quite fascinating and the writing even in its miscalculation is quite fascinating and the playing of the scenes is quite fascinating. Somehow each of these actors has the ability and the material to create characters, no matter how cold, no matter how little we know about them, with whom we can identify. One of the reasons for that is that none of them have private lives. It’s touching. They are all and only worker bees. None more so than the Irons character who can do nothing whatsoever in life but go out and gather more honey and never question it at all.





Horrible Bosses

20 Jul

Horrible Bosses – Directed by Seth Gordon. Low Comedy. The Three Stooges take on The Axis Powers. 94 minutes Color 2011.

* * *

What a disappointment! No wait a minute. I went to it because of the stars, and the stars do not disappoint, which is why three stars are allotted to this. The three stars are actually very funny. Colin Farrell plays a drugged-out dauphin with a comb-over to Donald Sutherland, who is an ideal boss, but who dies in his first appearance, so his chief of staff falls under the crazy sway of Emperor Farrell, and misery ensues. Jennifer Aniston plays a nymphomaniacal dentist who longs to have her otherwise engaged dental technical drill her. And Kevin Spacey who slave-drives everyone around him like Simon Legree plays the CEO From Hell with gorgeous relish. Spacey is given and rewards the most film time of the three. His grandmother scene is almost worth playing money for, except that one would have to subject onesself to the rest of the movie to do so. It is the only time I laughed. Or smiled. Or didn’t feel like leaving. For the problem with the film lies not fall with the three stars who play The Axis Powers, but with The Three Stooges who conspire to kill them. It’s a wonderful premise, especially when Jamie Foxx comes along as a professional hit man to fortify their resolve. He is delightful. As is Bob Newhart as a replacement boss. It is the style of playing of the three victims which I find distressing. What they do is actorish, indeed acteroid. You would call it hammy if it aimed at a high style, but since it aims at a low style, you would call it improv. They never shut up and they never stop Rube Goldberging responseses to the situation and to one another that read like the contents of a trash basket. That is, their collective playing is a conglomeration of what any good actor would throw out.  They drain every ounce of humor from the premise by trying to make everything, and I mean everything, funny. And as a result we the audience can find nothing funny. I didn’t laugh. Neither did the other three people in the movie house.  The only three people having fun were those three actors. They found one another infectious. So did I, except in a quite different way.


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