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Movie Review: Gold


Gold is based on a true story. While it may be set in the '80s, instead of the '90s, change a few names and conjoin a few characters... the essence of the story lives on in this film about hitting the big time. Gold is something of a character portrait, blending adventure, entrepreneurship and biographical drama to tell the rags-to-riches story of down-on-his-luck prospector, Kenny Wells. Acting on a vision, he finds himself partnering with a geologist on a promising mining expedition in the jungles of Indonesia.

Matthew McConaughey outplayed Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, a Scorsese film that made McConaughey seem better suited to the titular role in a scene that was just too brilliant to leave out. While he ultimately won an Oscar for a transformative and career-best performance in Dallas Buyers Club, this chapter of his acting career wasn't over. In fact, it seems as though McConaughey's character in Gold is modeled or loosely inspired by these two performances. Carrying the audacious spirit and energy of his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street and mixing it with the drastic body transformation he underwent for Dallas Buyers Club, it boils down to Kenny Wells, an ambitious, balding and overweight self-starter.

No dream is too big for Wells, whose exuberance, lack of finesse and physique make him an underdog, despite his Homer Simpson complex. He may be a clown to his contemporaries, but his fighting spirit and surprising charm earns him respect in the big pond. It's a joy to see McConaughey relish the performance, deftly lacing together the romance of jungle adventure and minefield of big business. He's not alone, accompanied by the enigmatic Edgar Ramirez and heart-on-her-sleeve Bryce Dallas Howard, who act as wings for his likable yet bolshie performance.

Gold Movie

"We're going to be billionty rich!"

While the timeless themes, true story anchor and lead performance make Gold attractive and captivating, the screenplay and direction need polish. You get the impression the filmmakers were trying to make it look like it was filmed in the '80s for an added layer of authenticity. However, this just gives it a trashy overlay, which is accentuated by the shallow script. Perhaps they were going for something similar to The Infiltrator, which also leveraged a strong lead performance, a period setting, a true story and a gritty borderline trashy treatment. Unfortunately, while it aspires, it doesn't add up to the same level of entertainment value and seems like a missed opportunity.

Gold is tarnished by a lazy script, familiar notes and fairly uninspired direction. Yet, it's difficult to overlook Matthew McConaughey's transformation, his captivating full tilt performance, the incredulity of the true story and the entertaining yarn in all its flaws. Who doesn't want to watch a pulpy film about striking gold in a mysterious jungle and potentially realising your wildest dreams? Unfortunately, Gold makes this outlandish tale ordinary and mediocre.

The bottom line: Okay

 
Spling's Galileo Pick of the Week: E.T.


Spling's Pick of the Week - E.T. at Hillcrest Quarry

E.T. @ HILLCREST QUARRY (4 Apr)

Steven Spielberg is a juggernaut of a filmmaker and E.T. - The Extraterrestrial was one of his first triumphs. This heartfelt alien sci-fi fantasy adventure happens on earth, as much like a stray dog, an alien finds a home with an American family in the suburbs. Whilst often portrayed as invasive, aggressive and anonymous forces... Spielberg turned the alien sci-fi genre on its head with this simple, heartfelt, funny and thrilling film. E.T. has softened the hearts of many viewers, spinning an imaginative and magical story about a boy and his not-so-imaginary best friend. The Galileo is the perfect setting to watch moonlit bicycles!

Steven Spielberg's classic sci-fi adventure is showing under the stars at The Galileo Open Air Cinema.

BOOK TICKETS

 
Talking Movies with Spling - Ghost in the Shell, Kalushi and Alone in Berlin


Spling reviews Ghost in the Shell, Kalushi and Alone in Berlin as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

 
Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell


Ghost in the Shell is based on a manga series, which was later adapted into an animated feature in 1995. Partly inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Ghost in the Machine and partly an inspiration for The Matrix, this much-loved Japanese series continues to inspire. Now unveiling its latest iteration, an almost inevitable live-action adaptation, starring Scarlett Johansson and directed by Rupert Sanders, we get a chance to see Major come alive... even if her shoes seem too big for her.

The film takes place in the not-too-distant future, as we're introduced to Major... a cyber-enhanced human designed to be the perfect soldier and weapon against the world's most dangerous criminals. It loosely covers the same ground as the anime Ghost in the Shell as a complex hunt for a mysterious hacker unfurls with great revelations around Major's identity, the criminal mastermind and the crime-fighting organisation she represents.

While Johansson has worn skintight outfits playing Natasha Romanoff in The Avengers, she's gone as skin tight as it gets in playing Major, adopting a translucent costume. The visual effects around this outfit make it almost like a character in itself, which certainly helps since Johansson is playing Major in a performance, which is almost as alien and robotic as her take in Under the Skin.

She's supported by Pilou Asbæk, of Game of Thrones fame, who makes the best animation to live-action transition as her beefy and loyal sidekick. Takeshi Kitano is tremendous as Aramaki, rooting Ghost in the Shell at home and delivering most of his lines in Japanese. Juliette Binoche echoes her role in Godzilla as the conflicted Dr. Ouelet, while it's great to see Michael Pitt getting some more prominent screen time.

"I'm Major... in Japan."

While faithful in terms of basic plotting and some direct adaptations of scenes from the original Ghost in the Shell, the film has its own flavour. "Own" may be a bit generous when you contrast their effort with influences like The Fifth Element, Johnny Mnemonic and Blade Runner, tent poles for the live-action adaptation. While watching the 1995 anime film draws direct parallels with The Matrix, it's almost like they've fought against this contrast with the live-action film.

Major is reminiscent of Leeloo from The Fifth Element. Both beings are secret weapons and find themselves in a similar urban environment in terms of design and infrastructure. Ordinarily, this role would've been awarded to Milla Jovovich, who has become the quintessential kick-ass female lead, powering this type with The Fifth Element and recurring roles in Resident Evil. While Jovovich may have been a better casting call, Johansson's star power makes her more bankable.

The Johnny Mnemonic chicken-or-egg factor and Keanu Reeves correlation with The Matrix makes its release in the same year as 1995's Ghost in the Shell, quite curious. The opening scene has some synergies with Johnny Mnemonic, which while inferior and locked into the '90s, covered similar stylistic terrain in terms of Yakuza-inspired cyber criminal warfare.

While Blade Runner is scheduled for a reboot with Blade Runner 2049 later this year, Ghost in the Shell has incorporated a similar mix of decaying environment, dark mood and ominous atmosphere. This will help warm fans up for the reboot, but also shows how safe and magpie-orientated the new Ghost in the Shell really is under the direction of Sanders.

The cinematography is quite dazzling and the environment has depth and weight, a surprising amount, considering the degree of CGI. The translation of style is mostly on target and the film-makers have used an enhanced version of the soundtrack from the anime version. The strongest changes are made in the character's origin story, a few revelations and in the casting department... a point, which while criticised, has been handled quite deftly.

Ghost in the Shell is a beautiful and serviceable adaptation, which doesn't tarnish the series or break new ground. While we're not as invested in the characters as we'd want, the treatment is brooding and the stylistic choices are familiar and eye-popping enough to smooth over rough edges. The experience isn't entirely satisfying, but it does deliver on its promise of escapism.

The bottom line: Mesmerising

 
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