Opening in Las Vegas, May 13, 2016

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Most of this weekend has been cleared for Captain America‘s second weekend, but Money Monster (56) has some star power. Directed by Jodie Foster, with Julia Roberts and George Clooney in a thriller based around the economic meltdown. The film’s lackluster projections indicate that Roberts and Clooney may be done as major draws. Roberts has this film and Mother’s Day out this month–not her best month. Russ Fischer: “The film is never as savage as the first-act anarchy suggests it might be, and its best ideas are subsumed into familiar thriller concepts. Good craftsmanship elevates the result above workaday thriller territory, but ultimately Money Monster never rages in the “mad as hell” mode that’s always kept just out of reach.”

For horror fans there is The Darkness (30), with Kevin Bacon as a family man who brings a demon back from the Grand Canyon. Only die-hard scare fanatics will want to see this. Peter Sobcynzski: “The Darkness is pretty much a total bust—it isn’t scary, it isn’t exciting and it plods along at such a snails pace that even though it clocks in at just over 90 minutes, it plays like it runs at least twice that.”

Perhaps the most interesting release this week is The Man Who Knew Infinity (56), starring Dev Patel as a real-life mathematics genius who about a hundred years ago came from the slums of India to Cambridge University. Also starring Jeremy Irons. Andrew Lowry: “Well intentioned and played, this shows flashes of what could have been, but is ultimately let down by its timidity towards the maths, and fails to make the case for its own hero’s greatness.:

 

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

6 responses »

  1. Directed by Jodie Foster, with Julia Roberts and George Clooney in a thriller based around the economic meltdown. The film’s lackluster projections indicate that Roberts and Clooney may be done as major draws.

    I don’t think Roberts has been a major box office draw post-Erin Brockovich. Films like Larry Crowne just disappeared without trace. I think she’s been gradually withdrawing from leading lady status in recent years with a fair few ensemble and supporting roles as well.

  2. Rumor has it that Roberts is pretty awful to deal with, so that + aging + a terrible modern track record = less quality roles coming her way. I think the diva act (male or female) is fine if you’re successful, but after a few bombs the studios are typically eager to part ways (see: Norton, Edward)

  3. I’m looking over Roberts’ filmography, and you’re right, Marco, she’s not had any real hits this century except for the Ocean films, which of course had little to do with her. But she’s still treated like an A-lister, getting roles in films that were hoped to be big: The Mexican, Mona Lisa Smile, Duplicity, Eat, Pray, Love, Mirror, Mirror and Secret in Their Eyes. I’m sure she was well-compensated for all of those, so somebody must think she’s still got draw, however mistaken they are. You’re right, she’s better off now doing films like Closer and August:Osage County where she’s not the center of attention. And I guess she does owe Garry Marshall a lot for Pretty Woman so she’s doing his awful holiday films.

  4. Saw Money Monster the other night and while it lacked the sharp intellect that a film like ‘Margin Call’ had on a similar subject, I had a pretty good time with it.

    It doesn’t start off promisingly – I didn’t care much for its opening extended bit of the camera following Clooney’s character dealing with thousands of challenges just before the leadup to a show to illustrate how hectic it is. That may have seemed fresh 30 years ago but it’s been done a million times now and felt awfully clichéd.

    But when it gets down to the central premise of Clooney and the gunman stuck together in the studio, it becomes quite gripping and is well handled by Foster (I haven’t seen any of her previous directorial efforts). There’s one scene where Clooney makes a lengthy emotional pitch that has a punchline that made me genuinely LOL, and there’s another scene where the kidnapper’s partner gets to speak to him that works superbly because it goes against convention and is believable.

    Alas, when the film does leave the studio setting it slowly deflates and it feels just like a conventional thriller taking short cuts to get to its relatively satisfying ending. Dominic West is good as the corporate villain but I just couldn’t buy someone like him would get in the situation he does at the film’s end.

    And back on Julia Roberts, she’s actually surprisingly impressive as the TV show producer. I’ve never rated her much as an actress previously but based on this she has a viable future with roles like this instead of the romantic stuff that she’s been too long in.

    Overall, not a great film but worth a look.

  5. Money Monster was an enjoyable time but it was surprisingly toothless and bland. Despite being exciting and even maybe riveting in spots, I think thanks to Clooney, it felt like something a film student would make because he really ‘wanted to say something’ but didn’t have the talent to get it across the way they should.

    But as Marco said, the best part of the movie, and the most surprising because, as he says, it comes out of nowhere to flatten the main antagonist and send him into another place emotionally that works like aces, I mean, you can feel this guy coming apart when his partner rails into him, and it’s basically, for the last part of the scene, him just staring at a blank screen and the actor pulls it off fantastically. But what kills that scene is they never would have let her mic go on that long if you have an unhinged guy with a gun in your studio. So while it works great on one hand, it doesn’t on the other.

    All in all, just felt like Dog Day Afternoon-really, really lite.

  6. Largely agree with that. Re: why the film didn’t have the punch it could’ve, I think for all its attempts to feel cutting-edge and contemporary it felt a bit old-hat. I heard someone say that the film felt like it should be paired with that late 1990s Travolta/Hoffman film ‘Mad City’ and that felt spot on.

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