"I have a feeling that in a few years, the banks are going to be doing exactly the same thing," says despondent financier Mark Baum (Steve Carell) as the world teeters on the brink of economic meltdown. "They're going to blame it on immigrants and poor people." The financial crisis of 2008 is mired in so much Wall Street-patented obfuscatory bullshit you need a shovel to get down to the nitty gritty, but Adam McKay's A-list crib sheet The Big Short boils it down to the essentials: the US banks committed the largest and most audacious case of fraud ever perpetrated at the cost of every man, woman and children in America - and they got away with it.
War movies. Huh. Good God. What are they good for? By now, it feels like every manoeuvre, every landing and every battle of the Second World War has been fought and won or lost on screen. Subsequently, each new WWII movie has to prove its worth before a single shell has been fired or bomb dropped. David Ayer's Fury doesn't even bother pretending it's based on a true story, jumping straight into action with an ambush, a dead Nazi and a knife through the eye socket - and it gets progressively more grim from then on in.
It has been 10 days since I saw The Counsellor, and despite it being an obviously flawed, frustrating film, there's something about it that clings to your subconscious, like recalling the remnants of a nightmare in the cold light of day. Ridley Scott's editor is clearly a goddamn American hero, because he was tasked with cutting down Cormac McCarthy's insanely verbose script for the screen; now, having read McCarthy's original, complete screenplay, I'm happy to share with you a few things I've noticed when comparing page to film.
'Exciting on paper' is a bit of an oxymoron. Nothing's exciting on paper. Books aren't exciting, unless you throw them at passing cars to make them crash. Cormac McCarthy is a man who writes these so-called 'books', and he's said to be very good at it. And so The Counsellor, his first original screenplay, with a first-rate director and cast, is tremendously exciting on paper. Trouble is, paper and film are very different things.
So there I was watching The Counsellor, balls deep into Cormac McCarthy territory and attempting to decipher the reams of dialogue being exchanged between Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, when who should appear but Linton Travel Tavern's very own receptionist Susan aka I'm Alan Partridge actress Barbara Durkin. I should also mention the scene took place in a travel tavern, although there weren't any upset zombies around. Odd.
Bloody globalisation. It's not enough to have a film about a bunch of jocks and hot co-eds being chased by a few zombies any more. Now they've got to be taking over the whole world. Or so you'd think: new summer tentpole Pitt-flick World War Z might want to be the blockbuster its marketing suggests, but it has a schizophrenic tendency to flit between bombast and quiet contemplation. Which would be fine, except that all of its best ideas have already been done better elsewhere.
The lovely new poster for Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly (formerly Cogan's Trade) has arrived: very atmospheric it is, too. Thanks to my inside source - I shall call him only Mr Photoshop - I can exclusively reveal how it was made. The results may dazzle you.
Hollywood's great and good (and just okay) gathered together in California to shoot a photograph celebrating 100 years of Paramount Pictures. Here's what I spotted in the crowd (sadly, George Clooney didn't have his little finger sticking out of his fly this time).