Wednesday 8 June 2016

Money Monster ... 'Money' wasted

DIRECTOR Jodie Foster's Money Monster is an indictment of the greediness that courses through
Wall Street and its unedifying ramifications on the working class.
   It's also about the transformation that takes place in a financial pundit, who is initially uncritical about a huge financial loss and insensitive to the plight of those who have dumped all they had into the stock market.

   Foster does a good job in showing the chaos taking place before the broadcast of a financial programme, and also the leadership required to ensure its smooth running.
   It helps a great deal that George Clooney plays the unctuous pundit and Julia Roberts plays the veteran director helming the show. However, the premise of the show is downright absurd, and I'll tell you why in a bit.
   Money Monster comes right smack in the middle of a global economic downturn, and is Foster's way of criticising powerful people who pull the strings of the financial industry. She's channelling people's anger at being outwitted and outplayed by the stock market, but her way of showing it is disingenuous.
   Kyle Budwell  (Jack O'Connell), 24, has just put his entire inheritance of US$60,000 into a company called Ibis, which specialises in high-frequency trading and was given the thumbs up by Lee Gates (Clooney), the host of a financial show called 'Money Monster'.
There's too much hairspray in your hair,
Jack O'Connell tells George Clooney.
   Lee is a snake charmer and his word is not to be taken seriously, as he says so after Kyle storms the TV studio and takes Lee and director Patty Fenn (Roberts) hostage to demand an explanation about why he had lost his money in a technical glitch that cost Ibis investors US$800 million in one afternoon. He's also attached a bomb vest to Lee.
   Kyle, a labourer, is angry that he blew the money, and his anger is understandable. O'Connell does a terrific job of showing his character's despondency.
   But viewers will think that Kyle, albeit uneducated, should have known better than to listen to a slippery financial TV host, whose trademark move is dancing with a funny hat and two female dancers at the start of his show.
   Clooney, however, makes viewers empathise with his cornered character and who eventually comes to his senses and demands answers from Ibis's married owner Walt Camby (Dominic West), who's having an affair with his beautiful unsuspecting communications spokeswoman Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe).
   It's enjoyable watching Clooney and Roberts working their charm, even though reports say they did most of the scenes separately because of scheduling conflicts.
   Viewers learn that Lee has been divorced thrice, is childless and revels in the fact that he has never eaten lunch alone. He's a guy who doesn't appreciate solitude, unlike Patty. He also doesn't express his appreciation to his long-suffering friend.
Clooney and Julia Roberts have a roundtable discussion.
  I understand that the film is under the gun, but its ability to solve a US$800 million fiasco in a few hours requires a great suspension of credibility. The walk though Wall Street at the end, surrounded by a curious crowd, is also a touch bizarre.
    Foster means to strike at the heart of Wall Street, but instead ends up sticking a dagger through viewers. She claims that the heartache and pain wrought by Wall Street are caused by the greed of only one white man. This is enough for anyone to put a bomb vest on her.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars




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