Tag Archives: Slumdog Millionaire

The Gospel of Gekko, Wall Street and other stories told on film… #film #greedisgood

23 Jan

Greed

To celebrate not only last weeks release but also triumph at the box office, for the new Scorsese flick The Wolf of Wall Street, I thought I’d take a quick look down the road of all things Wall Street, and in essence I came to one big conclusion… Greed is Good!

Well, Gordon Gekko may have not necessarily been right but he was certainly on to something. As made clear by the recently revealed 2014 Academy Awards nominees the concept of greed remains a relevant (and prevalent!) topic in film. The reason being that we can all relate, on some level, to feelings of avarice. It’s not as if we must hold those feelings on any intimate level, but it’s merely the fact that money, more often than not, is seen as the solution to, and the reason for so many problems.

And in just the past seven years alone, there have been a number of notable films that dive headfirst into the topic to expose and investigate each and every part of it. A majority of these have been nominated for Oscars in the past and they’re now still available for you to view on either Blu-ray/DVD or through on-demand video services. One of them, the great American Gangster, is featured on the growing (and rather unique) Picturebox, where a panel of movie buffs handpicks the choices and rotates them every two months or so. This allows for a constantly fresh stream of films, which means other picks on this list should show up on there soon.

Now, here are seven movies about greed from the past seven years.

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There Will Be Blood (2007)– This best film nominee brilliantly portrayed goldminer Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) conversion to the oil business—and the immense lust for greed that came with it. All you have to do is remember the once-popular phrase “I drink your milkshake!”, which Plainview growled to make it clear that he would stop at nothing to take down every other oil man in Southern California.

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American Gangster (2007)– As is the case with any film of this ilk, American Gangster deftly examines greed through the activities of a crime lord and the police. It’s an gripping, true-to-life look at how avarice can lead to corruption (the cops) and inevitable downfalls (Denzel Washington’s Frank Lucas) in 1970s Harlem, New York.

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Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – Greed serves as the driving force behind this Oscar winner through the juxtaposed lives of two brothers. One (Salim) sees money as the be-all, end-all solution and constantly chases it, no matter what. The other (Jamal) is fueled more by love. As you may guess, this leads to two very different outcomes for the siblings, with Salim struggling to overcome his feelings of avarice brought on by poverty.

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The Social Network (2010)– Rather than stick to greed in the purely monetary sense, the Social Network explores it through an unwavering desire to be accepted. That right there is the downfall of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), who pushes away and pulls in everyone he can in his endless quest to fit in. It becomes clear that he doesn’t mind the money, either, but it’s not all about the bottom line.

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              Margin Call (2011)– In looking at the financial crisis that slammed the U.S. in 2007 and 2008, this slept-on indie film takes on the greed that spurred said issues. In particular, it presents a long night at the start of the crisis and how one investment banking firm “dealt” with it. The only downside is that Margin Call could have better presented how everyone else (the rest of the world) was impacted.

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American Hustle (2013)– In the context of this film, the subject of avarice deals more with ambition and the desire to capture the “American dream” of success and wealth. But the “hard work” done by the movie’s protagonists (played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams) is conning everyone they can, in particular the also-greedy politicians they are trying to take down with the FBI.

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The Wolf of Wall Street  (2014)– As the trailers have shown you, Martin Scorcese’s latest is all about living in excess after amassing millions through working on Wall Street. That overindulgence leads to more than money, though, as sex and drugs also play a major role. It’s basically a crash course in Greed 101.

Enjoy the magic of The Life of Pi

10 Dec

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Plot

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor … a fearsome Bengal tiger.

The Good.

If you had ever had any doubts about the use of 3D, cast them aside now. Life of Pi provides one hell of a journey, appreciated ten times more through the amazing depth that 3D can provide. Move over Avatar and James Cameron, Ang Lee may truly be the master here as he combines glorious colour with exceptional innovation in this area. Life of Pi has to be up there as one of the major contenders for Best Picture at next years Oscars.

If you’ve read the book, hopefully you wont be disappointed, and if you haven’t read the book, after watching this film you may just want to pickScreen Shot 2012-12-08 at 17.49.08 it up and give it a whirl. Life of Pi is a heart-warming tale of religion, belief, tragedy and determination. It is anchored by the exceptionally talented newcomer Suraj Sharma who plays Pi, and it’s his one man show that will keep audiences captivated for just over two hours. There are brilliant levels of humour, surprise and emotion throughout the whole of this film which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout and as emotionally and physically drained as the lead actor by the end.

Ang Lee, takes something which was once deemed unfilmable and uses his incredible skill as a director to strike a balance within his visual storytelling to allow the audience to be completely captivated with the story that is told and to fully believe that this really could happen. One of the clever things Lee also manages to do, is cast relative unknowns. At one stage Tobey Maguire was attached to the film, but replacing him with Rafe Spall was a good strategic move as it does not distract the audience because of who he is, and allows the character of  “writer” to remain ambiguous to some extent as a secondary character to the story. The real focus must be the teenage Pi. Even Irrfan Patel as the adult Pi is secondary character for two thirds of the film, but comes into his own in the last part of the film to really tug on the heart strings of the audience – be prepared to shed a tear or two!

The Bad

Some may be dubious about the use of CGI in this film, but fear not, this issue becomes a mere flicker in your mind at the beginning and you Screen Shot 2012-12-08 at 17.49.36quickly fall into the trance of the action taking place in front of you, and the CGI becomes nothing but a fully working and authentic zebra, chimpanzee or Bengal tiger. Every detail on each animal is so precise that its hard to separate what is real or fake, if any. What you also remember here is that Suraj Sharma is essentially acting with a tennis ball on a stick for the majority of this film, and you begin to really appreciate the clever choice that Ang Lee has made in casting him. How he feels that level of emotion and connection to these animals who were never really there must take years of acting training to even come close, yet Sharma manages it effortlessly and is utterly captivating. Another testament to this brilliant casting is in the final few scenes, where Pi recollects his experience, and in one medium close-up shot you watch him tell the story once more and the emotion radiates from him brilliantly.

The Ugly Truth

This film is a must see at the cinema. Whether you are a fan of the book or not, Life of Pi is truly a spectacle of cinematic brilliance. It brings the captivation and intrigue of films like Slumdog Millionaire, tugs on your heart strings like Bambi, and is probably one of Ang Lee’s most ambitious and strongest films to date.

Life of Pi opens in cinemas on the 20th December.