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Review: Solid Performances Make ‘The Big Short’ And Wall Street Painfully Entertaining

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The Big Short Brad Pitt Steve Movie Spoon

The Big Short Movie Spoon

Show Me The Money: The Big Short

The triumph of The Big Short, featuring Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale, is in its ability to create amusing entertainment out of the complex and dry world of high finance, but without stooping to the boisterous and demeaning tactics of The Wolf of Wall Street and the two Gordon Gekko films.

Sure, it’s nice to have one stellar bad guy and one shining good guy to point out the pure evil behind Wall Street greed. But The Big Short takes another tact: Bankers, according to the Adam McKay, Charles Randolf script, are not so much bad guys, as really, really stupid.

Yes, there’s rampant fraud on Wall Street, but it is so built into the system that most bankers don’t have a clue that their small contribution in the financial universe is just one unglued weight-bearing wall in a house of cards.

The film tries to make heroes out of Michael Burry (Christian Bale), Steve Eisman (Steve Carell), Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), because these guys are basically Wall Street outsiders. Burry is so anti-social and quirky, he might have Asperger’s Syndrome. Eisman is so mad at the world after a brother’s suicide, there appears no way of putting his emotional house in order. Rickert, in turn, quit Wall Street to live on the organic edge of society in Colorado. This gives us some toe-hold on which to place our sympathy. But these guys are also opportunistic financiers who saw what nobody else saw when they bet against the housing market.

And, while Burry did the basic research, the others were just lucky enough to pay attention to the right tips at the right time.

What is mostly missing in this story about a recession that went global is a little bit of you and me. There’s anecdotal attention paid to a blue-collar homeowner duped by a bank into thinking he could live in a mansion with a subprime loan and a stripper interviewed early on who has five mortgages, all of which are doomed to fail.

By the end of the film, there’s a swelling of understanding that this financial tsunami has been triggered by a lot of stupid bankers, who either lost their jobs or still drive BMWs to work. There’s also a sad understanding that bankers pay off politicians far too well for any real change in finance laws to occur.

In fact, subliminally, The Big Short might just be a terrific pitch for fire and brimstone Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who says Wall Street should be very scared if he is elected president. Go, get ’em Bernie! The Big Short should be all the convincing most of us need.

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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