Tag: Christian Bale


The Big Short

January 4th, 2016 — 4:03am

***

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 4.26.28 PMThe Big Short-rm

You probably know that this movie is not about pants or the measurement of peoples’ height. It is about one of the largest financial meltdowns in this country’s history and how much of it was because of some behind-the-scenes financial trickery carried on by Wall Street insiders. It is based on a book by Michael Lewis which we have not read, although M.B. did read and recommend another book by him, Flash Boys which is about a different type of financial manipulation carried by some Wall Street people

In The Big Short, Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, a real person who is a brilliant, somewhat peculiar guy, maybe Asperger type. He actually was a physician who ended up as a chief of a large financial fund. He studies numbers very carefully and concludes that the mortgage market which has always been thought to be reliable and dependable, is on the verge of collapse. The reason for this (now this is the tricky part) is because hundreds or maybe thousands of mortgages have been lumped together in mortgage bond funds that people buy and trade for the high interest rates that they generate. These funds include AAA mortgages, BB and C mortgages, the latter groups being known as subprime mortgages.

Nobody seemed to have noticed how fragile and vulnerable these mortgage funds are and that this house of cards was on the verge of collapse. That is except this one strange guy and a few other financial wheeler dealers who get wind of what’s going down. Once such team is led by a character played by Steve Carell, who continues to demonstrate his acting chops in serious roles. There are the usual excellent depictions of various key players by Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling.

There are some riveting dramatic moments as the movie goer can get caught up in the impending crash. You may not fully understand exactly what is happening but don’t feel badly since most people didn’t either as it was really happening. When the dust cleared, this cost our economy over a billion dollars (this movie only cost $28 million). We hope that people who run and regulate our economy learned some lessons from this story, but that probably is not the case. Many people, though, will find this movie quite enjoyable although it may make you uncomfortable about the future. (2015)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

American Hustle

December 22nd, 2013 — 11:29pm

 ***images-14

American Hustle- rm   The opening words on the screen states something like “Some of this actually happened”.  This refers to what is known as the Abscam Scandal, which occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the FBI ran a sting operation where several members of the House of Representatives and a US Senator were offered bribes from a fake Arab sheikh. Most of the story in this movie probably didn’t actually happen but it is somewhat entertaining, has very good acting, but is arguably overdone. The wide span that the title suggests is quite fitting because just about all the characters are hustling each other in some manner. We initially meet Irving Rosenfeld (played by a slightly overweight balding Christian Bale with a glued on comb over) who is a con man who owns a bunch of dry cleaning stores and runs a scheme where he extracts a non refundable fee of about  $5000 from people looking for a deal by promising to put them in touch with a way to make several times that amount of money but the deals never materialize. He also sells phony art to people eager to own what they think are originals. He meets his match in a young woman with a moniker of Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who assumes the persona of a sexy British aristocrat. Although she was a down and out American girl, she wins him over and they become a team. They were “busted” by an eager FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), who then enlisted them in running scams to catch bigger fish, in order to save their own skins. The plot thickens and the other characters complicate the situation including Rosenfeld’s unhappy sexy wife (Jennifer Lawrence), Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Remmer), a really good honest caring person who truly wants rebuild Atlantic City but gets ensnarled in the sting and there is Victor Tellegio (Robert di Niro) the most feared gangster who when he kills, he never hides the body in order to intimidate everyone else. Everybody is conning everyone else. The FBI is carrying on like a bunch of keystone cops fighting among each other. The maestro here was the director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) who co-wrote the script with Eric Singer. Yes, there were unexpected twists and turns. However, the characters and situations didn’t seem very real to us and we didn’t really care about most of them. The comedy and action may have held our attention most of the time but in the end we felt that we were hustled. (2013)    

Comment » | 3 Stars, Crime

Our Oscar Picks

February 22nd, 2011 — 9:27am

Like everyone else we have our favorite for the Oscar choices .We did not yet see three of the 10 nominees True Grit , Inception or Winters Bone but we still would like to weigh in on our choices. We also have some differences of opinion as to the best of the best. Here are our picks for the major categories

Best Picture & Director of 2010 (we both feel these should be lumped together and they usually go together)

MB: It is interesting that the two favorites The Kings Speech and Social Network as well as The Fighter and 127 Hours are based on true stories. At least part of their appeal is that the movie recreates and provides insight into actual events. It turns out that Kings Speech while correct in the overall theme did take a fair amount of poetic license in laying out the time sequences and the actual timing of his dramatic speech. (He apparently had been seeing the speech therapist for many years at the time of the famous speech and it was not a dramatic moment as depicted.)  For me, no matter how well done the movie may be, that does take away from the value of the film. I also find myself asking the question about Social Network – if it were not a valid depiction would I think the movie was that good and would I care about the characters? As far as I know, it was close to the truth but I find that  the main value of the film is that it satisfies my curiosity about how this world changing phenomena  came about. That by itself for me is not enough for the first place award and aside from that, I believe we are left with a very good movie but not the best. 127 Hours was gripping but it didn’t have enough depth to win the prize. Similarly The Fighter was done well but it is not another Rocky even though based on a true story.  Incidentally, as far as true stories that were made into great films this year, I am sorry that Conviction was not nominated, but as good as I think it was, it wouldn’t win my first prize. The Kids Are All Right was top notch and  a game changer  in many ways. It may even deserve to win as the best screen play but as much as I liked it and also enjoyed Toy Story 3 – they weren’t in the league of my first choice as best film .  This leaves Black Swan as my choice for the best picture of the year. This film combines a fascinating story, a horror film, beautiful dancing, fantasy, psychological intrigue and great acting. In my opinion Director Darren Aronofsky combined them all with wonderful effects and camera work to come out on top for this year’s best picture and director

SB: I thought Social Network takes the prize this year. It had the combination of a fascinating subject, great writing and acting which made it a mesmerizing movie. I really cared about the characters and could understand their point of view . The movie made me feel that I was actually present at the birth of a very important event in our lifetime.

We both were in agreement on the following four categories

Best Actress:

Natalie Portman captured the mystery, agony, fear, horror with the love and beauty of ballet all in this stunning performance of Black Swan.  The other nominees whom we saw were excellent especially Nicole Kidman as the grieving mother in Rabbit Hole but Portman excelled in each of the genres which her film touched.

Best Actor:

While Colin Furth with his poignant portrayal of the stammering King is probably the one to beat, we think Javier Bardem in Biutiful turned in just about a perfect performance of a man living on the edge, strong, sensitive, facing death with a tender caring for others. Bardem deserves his second Oscar

Best Supporting Actor:

Christian Bale earned the Oscar here. Not only did his portrayal of  the character of the older self centered brother who was almost was the champion grab the attention of  The Fighter but in a clip at the end of the film  of the real brother  showed how Bale also nailed his speech and mannerisms . Veteran actor Geoffrey Rush who has been nominated for an Oscar four times and won in 1997 for Shine was wonderful as the eccentric speech therapist but we don’t think he will knock out Bale.

Best Supporting Actress:

Melissa Leo as the mother of the two brothers in The Fighter in our opinion was a run away for this category. She exuded the persona of this character and her misguided view of her two sons and her own entitlement.

The results of the Academy of Motion Pictures will be known in a few days but we will always welcome your comments below.

Comment » | Uncategorized

The Fighter

January 30th, 2011 — 7:37am

*****

The Fighter rm–  Why is it that a good fight movie in the end will push your emotional buttons and bring a tear to your eye when it comes to the conclusion? Think Rocky. However, this movie isn’t really about boxing although there is lots of boxing in it. It is about family, loyalty. dreams and aspirations, self determination but not forgetting where you came from. It is based on a real people and a true story. It is the story of the boxer Mickey Ward(Mark Wahlberg)  and his relationship with his older ½ brother Dicky (Christian Bale), a former boxer who once fought Sugar Ray Robinson  but became involved with drugs and spent time in prison. Dicky comes back after much family interaction and soul searching and he trains his brother for the ultimate championship fight . Writers Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy along with Director David Russell provide a story with great character development where you understand them as well as seeing  them grow and change. The acting is fantastic. Mark Wahlberg does a very good job getting into shape and carrying off the role of boxer and the sensitive brother here. But the major acting kudos have to go to Christian Bale who brought the older brother and his fantasies for himself and his kid brother to life. No matter how he came to this portrayal it would be a worthy tour de force but at the very end of the film there is a brief film clip of the real brothers interacting and you can see that Bale nailed all mannerisms of his character. If this film should get two acting awards, the second one would be for Melissa Leo who plays the brother’s Mom as an insensitive, selfish mother who had been managing her son’s boxing career as it was going downhill. Maybe deep down she loves her kids perhaps the older one more but you won’t feel neutral about her.  We have seen Leo in other great performances in Frozen River and Conviction. The latter film along with Kings Speech, 127 Hours , The Social Network, including this one are in our opinion among the best of the films of 2010 and are all based on true stories. Truth may be better than fiction but you have to be able to tell a good story and this one certainly did.(2010)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Biography, Sport

Terminator Salvation

September 6th, 2010 — 2:34am

* *
Terminator Salvation
– nf – This is a prequel of the other Terminator movies and stars Christian Bales and Sam Worthington. It is a big budget film with lots of special effects. Early in the film there is some scrolling explanation of the setting which is easy to miss. Basically the world has been taken over by very smart machines which appear to be winning the war against the bands of surviving humans who haven’t given up yet. There is some time travel and a plot for one of the characters to save his father as a young man. There are lots of pyrotechnics, explosions with robots and machines that won’t die. Even Arnold, our Governor makes a fleeting digitalized appearance. If you are drawn to this movie perhaps if you look at this four minute trailer, it will be enough for you.

We think there are some great films out there to see but this is not one of them. 2009

Comment » | 2 Stars, Action, Drama

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