Sunday, May 22, 2016

Brief Words of Mouth - Money Monster

Jodie Foster's Money Monster: "Wall Street/Big Money as the Monster" has been a pretty major trend lately from Wolf of Wall Street to 99 Homes to The Big short to this one. Money Monster isn't directed with the strength of those three films, but it's a really solid, small picture set almost entirely in one room (it opens up towards the end.)

A CNN clown host (George Clooney) is held hostage by a man whose life was ruined by a bad day on Wall Street and is kept alive by his director/The Voice of God/Julia Roberts. It opens as a blunt mockery of the sort of cult of personality that surrounds entertainment news before turning into a pretty tightly written thriller that does its best to sound like Aaron Sorkin but doesn't quite get there. Very little time is wasted, though you could probably cut nearly all of the NYPD chatter and change nothing. I'm surprised Wolf Blitzer appeared in the film (as himself) given how hard it thumbs downs the idea of pop journalists with no investment in actual truth.

It's an openly nihilistic film where nothing is won or gained with a ending that (intentionally) deflates and says that there will be only a customary, in name only investigation of what happened. The theater audience is a target of mockery, as we watch an audience within the movie lap up its violence and cheer for the "heroes" of the its narrative (both as a film and a show within the film.) Director Jodie Foster essentially says "Nothing's going to change, but go ahead and cheer while the people on the screen pretend it will. Look at these ratings." At times it's almost the Wall Street Meltdown genre equivalent of Haneke's Funny Games.

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