In which J.C. Chandor goes 70's Sidney Lumet (with a little pinch of The Long Good Friday) for the story of a businessman (Oscar Isaac) and his wife (Jessica Chastain) try to maintain as they seek to expand their heating oil business, while also dealing with the probe of a D.A. (David Oyelowo) who's been keeping tabs on them.
Deals are made, jobs are lost, people get robbed, chases happen, etc. But despite the promise implied in the film's title, this is NOT some "gangster shit." Chastain's character is the daughter of a mobster but that doesn't necessarily factor into the story. Chandor is aiming for Lumet-esque New York grit, and while the mean streets of the city circa 1981 are shot beautifully once again by the great Bradford Young, it's clear that Chandor's more interested in the bleak economics and corruption of the time and the deals that come about and fall through for Isaac's character (Morales) than having him engage in a series of tough guy histrionics for our entertainment. And in case that point is missed, it's reinforced in a couple of scenes involving potential gun play and the Morales family.
Not to say that there isn't any action: I mentioned TLGF because there's also a bit of a mystery regarding who exactly is trying to sabotage Morales' efforts to come up, and the sabotage is in the form of attempted oil truck robberies. Each of these action scenes are brief but are effective in their own right, as they ratchet up the tension and the hope that Morales can get enough bread in order to seal his deal in time.
Isaac and Chastain are very good, and Isaac reminded me of Serpico-era Pacino throughout (but without the beard). His character appears to be a reasonable, rational, straight-up guy, and so it's not hard to want him to succeed in his business, even as the presence of the law is hovering. Oyelewo was fine but I wished there would be more of him. Chastain didn't have as much to play as Isaac, as she mostly dealt with accounting records and sat around and smoked and applied makeup while rocking long nails and fly early 80's wardrobe. But her character has more of a coiled aggression than Isaac's, and so it was interesting to watch that tension between the two of them. Albert Brooks is in this as well, as Isaac's lawyer, and he was okay.
Again, this is not a gangster movie, or even a "crime drama," really. Chandor uses some of the conventions of the gritty 70's thriller to create a treatise on the attempt to come up in an tough economic era. It was cool.
________________________________________________________________________________ Niggas made aliases.
1. "The Anti-Gangster Movie" In response to Reply # 0
I have to admit that midway through I was wondering why Chandor chose this story to tell but, in the end, I enjoyed this well crafted, well acted film about a man desperately trying to live on the up and up in the crooked world.
Interesting that Javier Bardem was originally the lead. I think his presence alone would have made it feel very different. I think having Oscar Isaac instead might have been better.
It's a good movie but one of those films that I think will be quickly forgotten. JC Chandor said his wife described his style as, "Taking boring subjects and making them somewhat interesting" which is pretty harsh but fairly true in this case.
3. "I absolutely loved this, striaght up..." In response to Reply # 0
This is the second year *in a row* where Isaac delivered a top 5 performance of the year. (He might have been my second favorite performance of last year after Ejiofor.) Dude is on fire.
Man, this thing burns slowly and beautifully. I agree with pretty much everything said in here so far. Tension was expertly built and sustained basically the whole time, occasionally building to a fever pitch despite the lack of a significant amount of on-screen violence. My heart rate was elevated from the first scene on. Just a really high-level of craftsmanship all around.
Margin Call was a nice first feature and All is Lost was one of my absolute favorites of last year, so after this, Chandor has skyrocketed up my list of contemporary filmmakers to keep an eye on.
4. "RE: AMVY is real gangsta y'all niggas don't get it" In response to Reply # 0
The realest gangstas wear a suit and tie a and sit in a boardroom. I have been saying this for years,dudes. Shit, watch that documentary about the men who built America. Real gangstas always get others to carry their guns for them.
Morales was a real gangsta not some dumb criminal. He has more in common with Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford than any street criminal.
AMVY, tells the story of American economics (competition, backstabbing corruption stealing). It is also about government overreach as well. See you have a businessman who is being sabotaged by competitors. He goes to the authorities and they later accuse him of tax crimes. Unbelieveable. AMVY is a simple story told extremely well.
I really enjoyed this film especially the wife. The wife knew exactly what was going down. She knew all about swimming in an ocean full of sharks and had her husbands back. She was a real ride or die chick, lol.
7. "It was great, but the Michael Corleone similarities distracted me a bit" In response to Reply # 0
Felt like Issac was definitely channeling the Al Pacino of that era with the mannerisms the diction, clothes and everything. Even the one scene where he grabs his wife aggressively by the face with two hands.
It wouldn't have shocked me if there was a flashback scene in the movie with Abel as a recently arrived immigrant, sitting alone watching Godfather 2 on loop, shaping his image.
Liked the movie though. Was great seeing a story about what it really takes to be a successful businessman.
8. "Just watched, agreed with what everyone above said " In response to Reply # 0
A rationale, well-thought out movie capped by an excellent build and Oscar Isaac as an absolute power-house. Personally, I already have an affinity with business/industry and the relationships/strategies that go along with it...so to see a movie that combines that aspect along with Isaac's character of rationale ambition and adaptation...I was sincerely enthralled.
--------------------------------- <--The drought is over
"have fun reveling in your pettiness tho" (C) Dula summing up 98% of OKS
"I didnt finish a damn thing...matter of fact I jerked off after she left." -Kobe speaking to investigators
...saw it a couple weeks ago and wanted to up this post to say how great it was, but decided not to...
Everyone brings their A game here, and I enjoyed every twist and turn...one question though,**SPOILER********* if the one guy said he only bought the product off the guys ripping OI's character off, then who beat up the salesman? I keep figuring it was the guy that had the racquetball/tennis court in his house...
"yes, sometimes my rhymes are sexist, but you lovely bitches and hos should know i'm tryin to correct it"- hiphopopotamus
13. "I was surprised at how much I disliked this." In response to Reply # 0
I'm definitely a fan of Chandor -- Margin Call is a modern classic that gets better with each viewing, and All is Lost is worthwhile -- but this one never came together for me.
I didn't think there was a clear vision for everything, like the aforementioned films. it wanted to go in a lot of directions and never went far enough in any of them. pacing was off, too, or maybe that was just me being disinterested.
this was mostly a reminder that Oscar Isaac is a "worth the price of admission" actor.
14. "me too." In response to Reply # 13 Tue Mar-05-19 10:41 AM by Nodima
The girl I was seeing at the time and I were all in on this movie when we pressed play and I'm not even sure we finished it. In my memory, it was a pretty cold movie without a pulse. We were coming to this after Ex Machina and Show Me a Hero, the latter of which also wasn't perfect but sure had some heart, and just couldn't find any passion for this one at all.