Tag: Kevin Spacey

Margin Call

October 6th, 2011 — 7:08am



Margin Call sp     Early in this movie, we see that a brilliant junior member of a Wall Street brokerage team has pieced together information that allows him to realize that derivatives that they had put together from which lots of money had been made for their firm have fallen apart. After taking the information to their bosses up the line, the head honcho has to make a decision whether to try to sell everything although they know it has little value. To execute this would mean that supervisors and brokers alike would have convince other brokers to buy what they had figured out was essentially “garbage”. This fairly succinct plot has captured the Wall Street debacle which involved a few brokerage houses, the results of  which we are still struggling with today. J.C. Chandor, whose father apparently had been a big time broker, pulled together the story and wrote the brilliant script. It was the strength of this story and the vision which Chandor had for the film which convinced Zachary Quinto who also acted in  the movie to sign on with his first time producing team to make the movie . The plot is really actor driven as the overwhelming majority of the film takes place in one floor of an office building with a good deal of talking. However, the actors obviously liked the opportunity that the script gave them as they couldn’t have signed on for the money. The total budget to make this independent film was about 3 million dollars and it was done in 17 days facilitated by the use of digital photography and the “Red Camera.”.  J.C. Chandler executed his story quite well in his first feature film. The all star cast who joined him consisted of  Kevin Spacey, Paul Betany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley , Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci and Demi Moore. The photography, lighting and the subtle musical score complements the undercurrent of the story. You may not understand some of the financial issues which brought about the crisis but the ethical and personal decisions  that emerged were crystal clear and makes for a riveting movie.  (2011)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Casino Jack

September 6th, 2010 — 8:42am

Kevin Spacey* * *
Casino Jack
– sp – Jack Abramoff was a very successful but very greedy Washington lobbyist who now sits in a federal jail serving out his 4 year prison term scheduled to released later this year. Director George Hickenlooper had the idea to tell his story and enlisted writer Norman Snider to put together the screenplay based on the facts of this true story.

Hickenlooper spent 30 hours visiting Abramoff in prison to gather as much information as possible to add to their study of the historical documents upon which this movie was based. Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey who plays Abramoff participated in one of these five jailhouse visits and he apparently hit it off quite well with the protagonist despite their being at opposite poles of the political spectrum. If you know the widely reported story of how Abramoff took excessive fees from multiple Indian tribes, was involved with shady business deals and paid off congressmen, landing at least one in jail and causing Tom Delay majority leader of Senate to quit this position and his Senate seat, you may be a little bored as the details are played out. On the other hand, many viewers will be getting a great history lesson at the same time that they are seeing a very well done movie. Barry Pepper is sufficiently nefarious in looks and deeds as Michael Scanlon, Abramoff’s partner who deserved more than he got for punishment. Jon Lovitz plays an almost completely serious role as a not so smart and crooked enough to end up in jail, business associate of Abramoff. Political junkies will love this movie. You can’t help coming away from seeing it without wondering how can we let our political system continue to function without reigning in lobbyists. Hickenlooper related an incident, which he touches upon at the end of the film, where while in jail anticipating his release shortly before the upcoming 2010 elections Abramoff has expressed a desire to collaborate with the Democrats and reveal information that he knows about the Republicans in order to hurt them in this and future elections. While this film is scheduled for wide release and distribution prior to the November election, there is also another movie coming out at the same time about Abramoff, which is an actual documentary and may have the same name as this one. Instead of Kevin Spacey that one will star the real Abramoff. (2010)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Biography, Crime, Thriller

The Men Who Stare At Goats

January 16th, 2010 — 2:20am

The Men Who Stare At Goats* *
The Men Who Stare At Goats
– sp – This is a comedy, or more specifically, a farce that is trying to make fun of the US Army for some ventures that they made into exploring the use of new age techniques and the potential of the application of the paranormal for fighting the enemy. The story is loosely based on book by Jon Ronson published in 2004 where he described the ideas of Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon who served in Vietnam War and in the late 1970s proposed the formation of the First Earth Battalion. He produced a 125-page manual of drawings, graphs, maps, polemical essays and point by point redesigns of every aspect of military life. Movie producer Paul Lister who was the guest at our film course told us that the actual manual was shown in the movie. In that manual it was proposed that rather than using bullets and munitions, a new force would attempt to first win the hearts and minds of the enemy by doing such things as using positive vibrations, carrying “symbolic animals” of peace—such as baby lambs—into hostile countries, greeting people with “sparkly eyes.” There was a bit in the movie where the character played by George Clooney tries to flash his eyes to bring about this effect. The overall storyline is that a recently divorced, unhappy newspaper reporter played by Ewan McGregor goes to Iraq to find a good story and meets

Clooney who tells how he is a former Jedi of the above group and is reactivated for a new mission. You add Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges to the mix with this premise and you get some good delivery of comedic situations, which brought about some loud laughs in the movie theater. There are attempts at “remote viewing” walking through walls, killing goats by starring at them etc. They also brought in the idea of giving LSD to people without them knowing it, which the US and the CIA are known to have actually done about 50 years ago. A real film clip shown in the movie of a news report of Iraqi prisoners continually being subjected to bothersome music to break them down to get information. Thus the film seems to also be attempting to satirize recent US actions with prisoners as well as the earlier time when the Earth Battalion was being proposed. Technically speaking, they are also confusing psychological warfare with paranormal or new age warfare. But after all, it is a comedy albeit it somewhat slapstick. In the end the movie goes nowhere. The targets of the satire are nebulous. It was fluffy without any real depth. (2009)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, War

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