Tag Archives: Matt Damon

Review: Inside Job

Narrated by: Matt Damon

Director: Charles Ferguson

“Why should a financial engineer be paid 100 times more than a real engineer? A real engineer builds bridges, a financial engineer builds dreams. And when those dreams turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.”

With the whole world reeling from the effects of the financial crisis, Inside Job takes a look at where it all began and just who was responsible for a meltdown which has set the global economy back for decades to come.

It’s probably safe to say that there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been affected by the global financial crisis of the last two years. Except that’s not true. There are a few who have escaped unscathed. The very people who caused it. Prepare to be enraged.

Charles Ferguson’s documentary was never going to make for happy viewing, but that doesn’t make it in any way unworthy of your time. Inside Job attempts to do what must have seem like a daunting task at first, explain in layman’s terms exactly what all those investment bankers and Wall Street monkeys did to bring us low, and it succeeds. Trust me, I have the business acumen and financial skills of a dry-roasted peanut and I totally understood it. In this case, however, the understanding comes with a genuine sense of hopelessness and anger.

Taking us back to the Eighties, and Reagan’s deregulation of the banks and financial markets, Inside Job traces the path of greed and corruption which ultimately led us to the hole we are now in. Using interviews and exhaustive research, Ferguson walks us through the finer points of Derivatives, CDOs and Subprime Mortgages, making sense of practices that can seem bewildering at first glance. Which is, of course, just the way they like it. What follows is all the more breathtaking for the fact that it is all real. It is all true. This isn’t an Oliver Stone movie. There are no colourful scoundrels, no Gordon Gekkos to entertain us with their misdeeds. Just a long procession of weasely, unctuous, greedy men and women who made a fortune by riding a system designed to allow them to do just that, cheating millions in the process. And getting away with it.

Bad guys this way

It is the clarity of Inside Job’s presentation that elevates it above Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, which tackled similar themes back in 2009. That it offers little in the way of comfort is unavoidable when there is little to be had. There is the meagre pleasure of watching the few culprits who agreed to be interviewed squirm under Ferguson’s interrogation, but that’s all. The occasional jump cut during interviews makes you wonder what was left out, but any thoughts of biased editing are rendered moot when the case is so clear and the evidence so substantial.

Inside Job is not going to pass for brain-dead, Saturday night entertainment, and the chances are it will pass many people by. Too bad. I would recommend this to anyone who cares about why their lives have gotten just a little bit harder lately.

Rating – 5 Stars

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Review: True Grit

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin

Directors: The Coen Brothers

When 14-year-old Mattie Ross’ father is murdered, she engages the services of drunken U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn to help hunt down her father’s killer, Tom Chaney. Together with Texas Ranger La Boeuf, they set off into Indian territory on Chaney’s trail.

The Coens continue their eclectic career path with this adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel, which was already adapted in 1969 with John Wayne in the lead role. This time around it is Jeff Bridges playing the grizzled Cogburn, reuniting with the Coen brothers for the first time since they hit the mark together in 1998 with The Big Lebowski, possibly the finest hour of both parties.

After The Fisher King and Crazy Heart, it seems Bridges has now cornered the market in washed-up, embittered drunks needing redemption. Perhaps this is because it is a role he just plays so well. And while there is nothing particularly original about Rooster Cogburn as a character, Bridges embues him with such a crusty, wizened charm that he is joy to spend two hours with. Peering at the world through his one good eye, Rooster Cogburn is the very essence of a man who has seen it all and usually ended up shooting it. In contrast, Matt Damon’s dedicated, slightly pompous Texas Ranger provides the perfect foil, and the bickering between the two of them provides most of the movie’s best comic moments.

However, the real star, and the real surprise, of True Grit is Hailee Steinfeld. More than ably holding her own against the heavyweights, Steinfeld delivers an assured and mature performance as the determined Mattie, wise beyond her years but still not fully prepared for the journey she instigates. Managing to walk the very fine line between endearing and precocious, Steinfeld emerges as a talent to watch out for.

If there is a weakness to True Grit, and it is a minor one, then it is a failing which is fairly common to the Coens; an anti-climatic ending. Like No Country for Old Men, though to a much lesser degree, True Grit may leave you feeling slightly let down by its rather hurried and weak closing.

Excitement mounts at the news that the next Bourne movie will now feature his dad.

The Western is a genre that the Coens touched on, if only in spirit, with No Country for Old Men. Here they move on to the genuine article and, while this is not an enduring classic in the vein of Unforgiven or The Searchers, it is still an extremely worthy addition to a genre that mines gold nuggets far too rarely. Of course, whatever genre they turn their hand to, there is always something recognisable about a Coen movie, and True Grit is no exception. All the usual idiosyncrasies are present, including the repeated line gag and a collection of eccentric walk-on characters. I can’t wait for the Coens Sci-fi movie, if they ever decide to give that a go.

Rating - 4 Stars

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