When American Casino gets going with an on-screen quote (“The U.S. Government has pledged over $12 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers to bail out Wall Street. Most people would like to know why.”), you know right away it’s time to fasten your seat belt.
In this film (that all American taxpayers should rush to view), the complex, still-molten mortgage meltdown is brilliantly dissected in a tour-de-force that is one part crystal-clear economic primer, and one part revelation of its effect on homeowners who were duped and traumatized by appalling practices. Filmmakers Leslie and Andrew Cockburn have managed to remain even-handed by fielding a cast of movers and shakers (good guys and bad), unusually articulate and appealing victims (largely well-educated, middle-class professionals whose lives will never recover from the body blows they received), a real estate investor who made $500 million by “betting against Wall Street” that the bubble would implode, and even a pest-control expert who tries to keep up with the plague of rats and mosquitoes that breed in and around abandoned homes and pools.
At a compact, energized 89 minutes, American Casino will make you cry, and certainly make you mad as hell. Bring your friends and family, or miss it at your own peril.
Summer Biggies: Two really worth the candle……………..
Another achievement by the Japanese master animator, Hayao Miyazaki, brimming with the mixture of realism and fantasy at which he excels. An up-to-date story (with a feisty mom, voiced by Tina Fey), a little boy (Frankie Jonas) and a fish named Ponyo who turns gleefully into a little girl in love (Noah Lindsey Cyrus). There’s a hollow-eyed ex-hippie (Liam Neeson) married to an underwater goddess (Cate Blanchett who, like Meryl Streep, can do absolutely anything with her voice, as well as with the rest of her), and plenty of suspense and glory. For children and their adults who enjoy the ride.
What a blast! You’ve seen the components before (giant prawns from space, the spineless good guy who turns heroic even as he turns into, well, a giant prawn, the evil businessmen and apparatchiks who make things worse, and the selfless wife who remains constant). But stir in allusions to the still-simmering pot of South African politics, the grim humor, gore, imagination and rueful humanity of director-writer Neill Blomkamp, (whose special-effects background is put to spectacular use here), and you have a blockbuster original for the dog days of summer.