Charles Ferguson’s brilliant documentary Inside Job may be the most important movie of the year. It is a harsh but fair explanation of the misdeeds that led to the recent near-collapse of the global financial system. Unexpectedly, the film begins in Iceland, setting the stage for the collapse and kicking off the easily understandable explanations of the various tricks and bamboozles that have hidden behind their own complexity.
Hereafter: For the first time, Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Damned United) venture into the supernatural with the story of three people and their individual experiences with death. The most skeptical, nonspiritual viewer (me) finds this to be a compelling film.
The question of What Comes Next is unanswered, and less interesting than the film’s observations of what happens on this Earth to living humans. Eastwood’s genius is in delivering moments of complete truthfulness, one after the other, across a wide range of settings, from intimate human encounters to the big CGI-enhanced action sequence at the beginning of the film. Eastwood is an actor’s director, and star Matt Damon leads a set of excellent performances, especially by Bryce Dallas Howard, Frankie McLaren, Cecile de France and Richard Kind.
The Social Network: The birth story of Facebook is a riveting tale of college sophomores that are brilliant, ambitious, immature, self-absorbed and disloyal – and about to become zillionaires. It’s a triumph for actor Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Zombieland and Solitary Man), director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War). It’s already on my list of Best Movies of 2010 – So Far.
Howl has a fine performance by James Franco, but is marred by an unsuccessful animation.
For trailers and other choices, see Movies to See Right Now.
I have not yet seen The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, which opens this week. You can see the trailer at Movies I’m Looking Forward To.
My DVD of the Week is Winter’s Bone, the best American indie film of the year. For my recent DVD choices (including trailers), see DVDs of the Week.
Movies on TV include Freaks and Downhill Racer on TCM.