Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

The Big Short

Excellent black comedy that had many LOL moments and a terrific ensemble, especially an autistic Christian Bale and a neurotic Steve Carell.  Three parallel stories drive the fast-paced plot about four men who predict the 2007 US housing credit crisis and financial meltdown. 

This is complex stuff, though.  To make dolts like me truly understand what was happening, the film-makers had the inspiration to break the fourth wall: They used real people, speaking directly to the camera--pairing Selena Gomez with an Economics professor, Chef Anthony Bourdain, and Margot Robbie (who was in Wolf of Wall Street--to provide metaphors that both entertained and educated.  

In the end, the movie may have been too glib by half.  Maybe that was necessary, though, because The Big Short cements any anti-Wall Street, anti-government, anti-unchecked Capitalism feelings one might have. Brad Pitt is producing some very important movies these days, and this one should be required viewing before anyone goes to the polls this fall.

9 out of 10

The Revenant

My son Brian has been eager to see The Revenant, so he and I went.  It was an excellent film, and I can recommend it strongly, with the warning that it is grim, humorless, with graphic violence, and about fifteen minutes too long, and I have no desire to see it a second time.

So, why do I recommend it?  It is a work of art that you can't look away from, a film that has to be seen on the big screen. The cinematography and editing make it a beautiful and immersive experience.  It felt like I was part of the film rather than a viewer, and the scene transitions are wonderful.  Instead of cutting or fading, the camera focuses on the wind whipping a storm across mountain tops, or snow dripping from tall pines.  There are also some, "How did they get that?" shots: a close-up of ants climbing on top of each other to get from one rock to another; an avalanche on a distant mountain, perfectly framed during a climactic scene.  God, it's gorgeous!

The cast is great: Leo will finally get his Oscar (though he has been better in other films, like Gilbert Grape and Django).  Tom Hardy is typically amazing, disappearing into his character.  Domnall Gleason (who has been in every movie this year), and Will Poulter as the young (famous mountain man) Jim Bridger, provide admirable support.

The Revenant would be a neat double feature with Jeremiah Johnson, and it is similar in beauty and tone to Sicario.  I'm guessing it will unseat Spotlight as the Best Picture favorite.  As a work of art, The Revenant deserves the esteem; however, as a movie, I prefer Sicario, Spotlight, and a few other films we've seen this year, including several not nominated for Best Picture.

7 out of 10
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