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Non-Review Review: All the Money in the World

All the Money in the World is an intriguing and uneven anthropological study of wealth.

Ridley Scott’s drama documenting the abduction of Paul Getty treats its subjects as members of a different species. In an introductory voice-over, the character of Paul Getty explains that the truly rich may as well come from “another planet.” They might look the same, but they are fundamentally different from ordinary people. At one point, John Paul Getty recalls an argument on how a publisher tried to change the title of his book from How to be Rich to How to Get Rich. Getty complains, “Getting rich is easy. Any fool can get rich. Being rich, that’s something else entirely.”

A Plum(mer) Role.

This idea simmers through All the Money in the World, the notion that there is something more than just a bank balance that separates the wealthy from the poor. “Money is never just money,” reflects advisor Fletcher Chase, and All the Money in the World suggests as much repeatedly. Throughout the film, journalists and paparazzi stalk the Getty family like wildlife photographers trying to snap a picture of some rare beast in its natural habitat. The Getty’s stand apart, and that sense of otherness is compounded by some measure beyond a balance in any account.

All the Money in the World is fascinating in its exploration of this idea, but it suffers from a lack of focus and clarity. All the Money in the World feels more like a series of vignettes than a single narrative story, a set of compelling sequences that never add up to a fulfilling whole. There is something intangible missing, as if the figures don’t quite add up. Then again, that flaw seems perfectly suited to the characters at the centre of the narrative.

Oil’s well that ends well.

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Non-Review Review: 9

9 looks absolutely lovely, with a heavily stylised computer-generated style that seems intended to evoke the macabre stop-motion style of films like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride, along with more traditional and conventional animation. However, as magical as the production on the animated feature might be, the movie – somewhat ironically given the way things work out – lacks soul.

A rag-tag bunch...

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Non-Review Review: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a strange film, even with the concession that Terry Gilliam is a strange film director. Everyone knows the film is the last big screen work from the deceased Heath Ledger and it’s a shadow the film doesn’t feel entirely comfortable stepping out of. It’s almost paradoxical, but in watching it one gets the sense that the film may have bee the better for being less reverent of the actor – it would stand as a better testament to his memory if it could let go of his memory. In short, The Dark Knight will probably stand as the greatest testament to the actor’s ability and and rightly so. That doesn’t mean Parnassus is a waste of time – well, not all of it anyway.

Through the looking glass...

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When Did The Oscars Become a Lifetime Achievement Award?

There’s been a fair amount of hub-bub (it’s a word – I swear!) about these year’s presumptive Academy Award winners. I’ve been following the Oscar race since early last year, and I was as surprised as anyone when Sandra Bullock’s name came into the race, first as a nominee and then as the sure-bet winner, for her dramatic turn in The Blind Side. I was also, I must admit, a little chuffed when the ever-loveable Jeff Bridges moved to the head of his pack for is own turn in Crazy Heart. However, I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about these two nominees and one question seems to be coming more than others: do those favouring these performers believe that they deserve to win for these roles, or simple that they deserve to win for years as solid and respectable actors? Do these roles just offer us a chance to recognise their longterm contributions? And is that necessarily fair?

Don't worry, Colin, your time will come...

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Non-Review Review: Up

Pixar, how I love you. If Up isn’t the film of the year so far, it’s pretty damn close. Don’t let the fact it’s a far more conventional film than Wall-E fool you – it is just as emotionally honest (it is odd how true to human feelings Pixar can be while running with more outlandish ideas). Pixar have always dealt with real experiences through metaphor – from the fear of middle-age in The Incredibles to the concerned single-parenthood of Finding Nemo – but this movie is particularly upfront about what it’s dealing with. That honesty is almost as endearing as the magical imagination which elevates the film like so many helium-filled balloons.

Almost a clear sky...

Almost a clear sky...

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country

On seeing the new Star Trek, I decided to dig into my old DVD’s and review my personal favourite of the Original Series movies. The cliched choice is The Wrath of Khan, and it is indeed awesome, but I’ve always had a soft spot for The Undiscovered Country, despite its abuse of Shakespeare. So, having just witnessed Kirk and Spock’s first voyage, what did I make of their last?

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