MONEY MON­STER

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Di­rec­tor: Jodie Fos­ter (Lit­tle Man Tate) Star­ring: Ge­orge Clooney, Ju­lia Roberts, Jack O’Con­nell, Caitri­ona Balfe, Do­minic West Verdict: A movie writ­ing cheques its story can­not cash

WHILE Jodie Fos­ter was kick­ing around the lo­cal me­dia traps ear­lier this week, she took a pot­shot at the main­stream movie busi­ness.

You know, for all those same-again su­per­hero tent-poles com­ing out ev­ery other week.

“They don’t make nar­ra­tives any more,” Fos­ter told The Aus­tralian.

Not like that new movie she’s di­rected called Money Mon­ster, which Fos­ter boasted is “about rel­e­vant things that are hap­pen­ing now, and it’s smart”.

Though Fos­ter is speak­ing the gen­eral truth about the for­mu­laic state of fran­chise films these days, the rest of her ar­gu­ment is a bit rich.

Par­tic­u­larly when push­ing a prod­uct as poor as Money Mon­ster, an un­shapely, stale hunk of filmed lard about how the stock mar­ket keeps stick­ing it to the lit­tle guy.

The re­cent, multi-Os­carnom­i­nated The Big Short ad­dressed the same core theme with great hu­mour, in­dig­na­tion and in­tel­li­gence.

Money Mon­ster so des­per­ately wants to Oc­cupy Wall Street, but it can’t even make it to the out­skirts of Vacant Hol­ly­wood.

Ge­orge Clooney stars as Lee Gates, the host of a gimmick-pow­ered, TV stock-tip show, the type of which was all the rage on US cable about a decade ago (that must be the rel­e­vance the di­rec­tor men­tioned).

Be­tween the dance rou­tines, jokes, funny clips and sound-ef­fects, what Lee has to say about a cor­po­ra­tion can sup­pos­edly move its share price up or down in mil­lisec­onds flat.

The movie doesn’t waste much time on prov­ing the mag­ni­tude of Lee’s mar­ket-shift­ing Mi­das touch. He just, umm, has it, you know?

This char­ac­ter is ac­tu­ally such a smug know-nothin’ that when a gun­wield­ing man am­bushes a broad­cast and holds Lee hostage in front of the cam­eras, the viewer isn’t re­ally sure who to side with. The in­truder goes by the name of Kyle (Jack O’Con­nell), a bit of a dunce who blew his life sav­ings on one of Lee’s hot tips. Now Kyle wants to blow up Lee, hav­ing strapped the ter­ri­fied TV host inside a vest loaded with ex­plo­sives.

Kyle swears a lot, and whines re­lent­lessly about how ma­jor in­sti­tu­tions just don’t care about mi­nor in­vestors like him­self.

Lee sweats a lot, and lis­tens in­tently to the ad­vice of his trusted pro­ducer Patty (Ju­lia Roberts) com­ing through via a hid­den ear­piece.

Amaz­ingly, Fos­ter’s dull and unin­spired di­rec­tion fails to ig­nite any ten­sion from the key flash­points in Money Mon­ster’s nar­ra­tive.

Tense stand-offs, treach­er­ous dou­ble-crosses and shock about­faces are sit­ting there for the tak­ing, and they just go on sit­ting there un­til the mo­ment has passed.

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