Mark and Devin review Adam McKay’s political comedy The Big Short, which features noisy performances and bad hairdos from Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt. Then they look back on a particularly painful week for celebrity deaths to analyze how people respond to the news that their favorite Hollywood stars have passed.
The Big Short discussion starts at 0:45. Celebrity deaths begins at 24:47.
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Everything in The Big Short is a little off. Scenes end a beat or two before one of the characters finishes his sentence. Brief snippets of unrelated events creep into the spaces between sequences. The movie’s central foursome – Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt — don’t look their glamorous best. Celebrity cameos and profane outbursts punctuate what seems at first like a standard ripped-from-the-headlines drama. Funny bits and striking melancholy appear hand-in-hand, not clashing, but not quite fusing either.
The “directed by” credit accounts for some of the movie’s unusual energy. Adam McKay, who also co-scripted this adaptation Michael Lewis’ novel of the same name with Charles Randolph (Love & Other Drugs), is best known for his big-budget, big-hit studio comedies. Most of them star Will Ferrell and a cadre of assorted funny people improvising until their ears turn blue. McKay is not the first person you’d think of to direct a politically charged account of the year leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown. But his outsider’s approach actually fits the story, which is about the sloppy-looking but sharp-thinking Wall Street outsiders who saw the crash coming. That they did nothing to stop it is the specter that hangs over even the movie’s funniest bits like a dense fog. McKay mines this rinky-dink bunch for the comedy of their absurd behavior. If you pay close enough attention, though, you see him seeding the ground for a slow-burning gut punch. These are the men who could have saved millions of livelihoods – and didn’t.
This week on The M&M Report, Devin and I had lots to say about the remarkable new movie 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. We discussed the movie’s approach to historically tricky subject matter, the searing performances and McQueen’s impressive command of visual storytelling. We both think this movie is more than worth seeing – it just might be essential.
(Note: we discussed the movie in general terms before getting into spoilers. If you’re on the fence about seeing this movie, listen to the first few minutes for our verdict.)
At the end, we simply couldn’t resist making room for a new feature: Devin Doesn’t Like Things. This week, Devin explains his true feelings about Halloween. Beware: he’s not a fan.
We’ve got lots of exciting things on the way in the next few weeks, including a return to music and a parade of guest stars certain to keep things interesting. We hope you’ll stick around!
Based on its pedigree and early reviews from the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, I’m eagerly anticipating 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s much-anticipated new film about a free black man (Chiweter Ejiofor) who endures horrendous treatment at the hands of a ruthless slave master (Michael Fassbender). In an article entitled “Your Best Picture Winner Will Be 12 Years a Slave“, Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan writes, “A century from now, when they put together a montage about the history of movies? They’ll put the film we just saw in the first ten seconds of that montage.” If this movie really is the Schindler’s List of slavery, as others have suggested, all the better.