HERE BE MON­STERS

JODIE FOS­TER DI­RECT­ING A NEW THRILLER? IT’S ENOUGH TO MAKE GE­ORGE CLOONEY DANCE

Empire (UK) - - PREMIERE - JONATHAN PILE

THERE’S A B-MOVIE PRO­DUCER SIT­TING in an of­fice some­where, sur­rounded by posters for schlocky films called Swamp Freak and The As­ter­oid Beast, fum­ing be­cause he didn’t se­cure rights to the ti­tle Money Mon­ster. Well, he’s missed his chance. And his loss is Jodie Fos­ter’s gain — it’s the ti­tle of her next film as di­rec­tor.

Fos­ter’s Money Mon­ster is a thriller told not quite in real-time, but close enough that it’d be churl­ish to quib­ble with the de­scrip­tion. Ge­orge Clooney plays Lee Gates, a TV pre­sen­ter who gives stocks ad­vice on his TV show. Af­ter one cat­a­stroph­i­cally in­cor­rect tip, is held hostage by a viewer who lost all his money.

That viewer is played by Brit-boy-done-good Jack O’con­nell. And while Fos­ter is pleased Clooney signed on (“That was a crazy happy day,” she said. “A happy dance day.”

Okay, so she’s very pleased), she re­serves her great­est praise for O’con­nell.

“He’s amaz­ing. I’m so proud of him,” she tells us. “It’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mance. He is play­ing a par­cel driver from Queens, and you just be­lieve ev­ery sec­ond of it. It’s very dif­fi­cult for any­one to com­pletely trans­form into a to­tally dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter, one that’s so spe­cific, and it cer­tainly would be for me. But he just is a New Yorker.”

Fos­ter, who doesn’t ap­pear in the film her­self, first read the screen­play in 2012, when it was a very dif­fer­ent mon­ster. “The orig­i­nal script was much more satir­i­cal and tongue-in-cheek, more of a black com­edy,” she says. “And once we brought the re­al­ity to it, and all the rel­e­vance of what’s hap­pen­ing now in the fi­nan­cial mar­kets, it changed the tone.” Think Net­work meets The Big Short meets In­side Man (in which Fos­ter starred), and you should be on the right path.

This is the fourth film Fos­ter’s di­rected (a point for each if you re­mem­bered Lit­tle Man Tate, Home For The Hol­i­days and Mel Gib­son pup­pet dram­edy The Beaver), and it’s cer­tainly been the most com­pli­cated to pull off.

“Hav­ing ev­ery­thing hap­pen in real time, and hav­ing a live broad­cast with four cam­eras run­ning, and also hav­ing our film cam­eras, and hav­ing all that hap­pen­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously. And then hav­ing peo­ple see­ing it all over the world [as the ac­tion es­ca­lates]?” she says. “The pup­pet strings of this movie were far more com­plex than any of the films I’ve been in­volved in be­fore. In­clud­ing Con­tact or any big sci­ence-fic­tion movie. It’s still burn­ing my brain now.”

It’s cer­tainly a far cry from a low-key drama about a man and a hand-pup­pet. Or a swamp freak and an as­ter­oid beast.

MONEY MON­STER IS OUT ON MAY 27.

1 Clooney as TV tip­ster Lee Gates, be­fore it all kicks off. 2 And on set with di­rec­tor Jodie Fos­ter. 3 Ju­lia Roberts as Nancy Fenn, di­rec­tor of Lee Gates’ show. 4 Jack O’con­nell as Kyle Bud­well.

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