Dvd let­ter­box

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey

I’M quite the sucker for movies about the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis. In the same way, it seems, we’re all suck­ers within the global bank­ing sys­tem.

Cin­ema hasn’t got its pretty lit­tle head around what’s hap­pen­ing in Europe yet but the Amer­i­cans have made some strik­ingly dis­so­nant at­tempts at doc­u­ment­ing the mess stem­ming from Wall Street in 2008.

Charles Fer­gu­son’s doco Inside Job won the doc­u­men­tary Os­car last year and is a with­er­ing, if di­dac­tic, look at the drama em­a­nat­ing from cyn­i­cal fi­nanc­ing. The tele­movie The Last Days of Lehman Broth­ers was the first drama out of the blocks, but paint me green and call me a US dol­lar if it isn’t a chaotic, poorly writ­ten and over­acted dis­as­ter (star­ring James Cromwell).

The two lat­est looks at the 2008 cri­sis are the best. Mar­gin Call just moved out of cin­e­mas and is well worth a look for strik­ing per­for­mances from Kevin Spacey, Paul Bet­tany, Demi Moore, Stan­ley Tucci and oth­ers and for its per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of the cri­sis through per­sonal drama rather than oblique ex­pla­na­tions.

This week, the HBO tele­movie Too Big to Fail (M, 135min, $34.95) is re­leased. It too will se­duce with its hand­some cast led by Wil­liam Hurt as US Trea­sury sec­re­tary Henry ‘‘Hank’’ Paul­son and fea­tur­ing Paul Gia­matti, Cyn­thia Nixon, Ed As­ner, Billy Crudup, Bill Pull­man, Tony Shal­houb, James Woods and To­pher Grace. It’s directed by LA Con­fi­den­tial’s Cur­tis Han­son.

In th­ese pages — and oth­ers — we tend to bang on about the cred­i­bil­ity of the US HBO net­work’s for­ays into drama, from The So­pra­nos to The Wire and Game of Thrones. But the net­work tends to de­liver in its se­ries.

Its tele­movies are a lit­tle more mixed. The com­ing drama based on the 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Game Change, for in­stance, fo­cuses ob­vi­ously and cru­elly on Sarah Palin (played bril­liantly by Ju­lianne Moore) in a man­ner that misses the main game: Obama.

Too Big to Fail fo­cuses on Paul­son at the mo­ment the US fi­nan­cial sys­tem — and pre­sum­ably the world’s — was days from break­ing. This fo­cus is un­der­stand­able given Paul­son brought together, phys­i­cally, the lead­ers of the coun­try’s ma­jor fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to force some kind of res­o­lu­tion.

Hurt gives a beau­ti­ful per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly in the movie’s lat­ter half as the weight of the world bears down on Hank.

But Peter Gould’s script, based on the An­drew Ross Sorkin book of the same name, is too busy try­ing to in­tro­duce all the char­ac­ters. De­spite Han­son’s en­er­getic direc­tion, many early scenes merely show char­ac­ters but­ting heads over the phone; con­se­quently, in a 100-minute film some of th­ese can be viewed only as car­i­ca­tures. Gould also tries earnestly to be Aaron Sorkin with his un­likely West Wing- ish wry gags at the end of a polemic or ex­plana­tory so­lil­o­quy.

But I loved it. Too Big to Fail is richly pro­duced and in­volv­ing, and its flaws are ob­vi­ous enough to watch around.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.