Screened Out – The Big Short

By : Stephen Miller
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Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Finn Wittrock, Max Greenfield, Billy Magnuson, Rafe Spall, Tracy Letts, Margo Robbie

This Oscar-nominated dark comedy succeeds – and the people in the film succeed – by betting on failure. While the rest of us were reeling from the financial crash of 2008 – foreclosing our houses, losing jobs, watching our retirement funds disappear – a small group of counter-thinkers were getting rich.

Director/co-writer Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Anchorman) finally arrives with a film that entertains while it infuriates. It’s callous, cavalier comedy about a subject sometimes hard to understand: subprime loans. Next to Spotlight – another true story about uncovering a scandal – The Big Short has the best ensemble cast this year.

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Screened Out – Exodus: Gods and Kings

By : Stephen Miller
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Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Isaac Andrews

It might be funny to imagine an inspiring Biblical story rendered as a distracting, schlocky blockbuster – something worth a Saturday Night Live skit. Actually, Ridley Scott (Bladerunner, Aliens, Prometheus) does it but takes himself seriously. The rest of us cannot. This is just a big, loud piece of popcorn fluff.

In truth, Exodus was plagued from the get-go. Biblical scholars disparage it for its reinvention of the Moses mythology. Actors hate it because it casts well-known white people as Egyptians (a problem it shared with the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille version, The Ten Commandments). As a special effects orgy of the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, Exodus is trite fun. As a sensitive tale about a man discovering his true origin, connecting with God, and then freeing his people, it’s pretty hollow and bombastic.

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