Tag Archives: Jack O’Connell

Money Monster

George Clooney and Julia Roberts were enough to sell this movie to me, and in the end, they were enough to save it from itself.

The truth is, Money Monster teeters between a comedy and a socio-political thriller and suffers tonally. George Clooney plays Lee Gates, a slick and smug TV show host who makes stock tumblr_inline_o74ugpSGoA1t6wivs_1280market recommendations in between hip hop dance moves, obnoxious hats, and lots of gimmicks. One day, live on the air, a young man (Jack O’Connell) shows up with a bomb, ready to hold him and the CEO of a certain company (Dominic West) accountable for the loss of his life savings. Julia Roberts, playing the show’s director, is stuck in the booth directing the hell out of a show that is now being broadcast worldwide to billions, while keeping her colleague (who suffers from foot in mouth disease) alive.

The problems start with Kyle, the young man who’s just lost everything. Kyle is the audience place holder. We’re not millionaire TV hosts, or billionaire CEOs. We’re the people who work hard for our money, and are subject to the whims of Wall Street. But there’s a problem with the character when he’s just not relatable – and not because he’s brought a bomb to a TV studio. In fact, I think I am more likely to start making revenge bombs than I am to ever lose everything in the stock market. You know why? Likely you do: because you never put EVERYTHING in the stock market! The stock market is NOT free money. It’s a gamble. Sometimes you win, MoneyMonstersometimes you lose. And if, like me, you know very little about this mysterious money market, you have to take advice from strangers. I tend to avail myself of the type of strangers who sit behind ornate desks with gold nameplates, but I take everything they say with a margarita-rim’s worth of salt and skepticism. Kyle preferred to go with the smarmy guy on TV who has a weekly “pick of the millennium” which is kind of like trusting Judge Judy to try your murder one charge – but who am I to judge? Kyle gambled his whole kit and caboodle and lost the kitty in no time. And did Kyle get mad at himself for being so rash? Of course not! Kyle is a dumb millennial who feels entitled to everything but responsible for nothing and so Kyle goes looking for someone else to blame, and brings a bomb as his sidekick. Nice one, Kyle.

So we don’t really feel badly for Kyle, but nor do we root for Lee Gates. He’s making a fat paycheque doing his thing on TV, and it’s pretty clear he’s forgotten that his words have real-world repercussions for people with far more to lose than he does. He’s a self-involved guy who hasn’t questioned anything until a bomb strapped to his chest forced him to. Between Kyle and Lee, it’s unclear to the audience just who the protagonist is. There aren’t any characters to really invest in – and yes, I’ve been dying to make that financial pun for 500 words now.

So maybe this is why some critics are calling this movie empty\hollow\vacuous.  Sean certainly felt that the film’s final moments were jarring, and maybe inappropriate. I had a different read on them though.

money-monster-2016-julia-robertsThe movie is kind of a fun ride, with an almost real-time hostage situation, and we feel like we’re experiencing it along with the rest of the world. Imagine if this was happening in real life: you’d be glued to your TV or your tablet or your laptop or your phone. Where were you when President Kennedy was shot? When OJ fled in the Bronco? When the twin towers fell? Where were you when Lee Gates was held at gunpoint on live TV and made to account for his mistakes? Wouldn’t that be a Big Deal? But in the movie, the minute our characters hit a point of resolution, the whole world switches channels. They go back to their sandwiches and their IKEA catalogs. The immediacy with which it’s forgotten is arresting. Sean thought that was disgusting, and I thought it was brilliant social commentary.

So yes, I can understand why people are leaving this movie frustrated. But I also thought that was kind of the point.



I only had time for one movie during our week of having my picture taken with beloved movie characters, visiting famous movie locations, and riding movie-themed attractions. I had been wanting to see ’71 since its screening at TIFF last year and when my brother bought the DVD at LA’s Amoeba Music (my new favourite place), I finally had my chance.

Set mostly over one eventful night in 1971 Belfast, ’71 tells the story of a new recruit to the British army (Jack O’Connell, from Starred Up and Unbroken) who is left behind by his unit during a conflict with angry Irish Catholic Nationalists.  The film follows the soldier’s fight to stay alive in hostile territory while injured and scared shitless which sets off a bloody chain of events with far-reaching consequences.

First-time director Yann Demange takes no violent act for granted and is careful to acknowledge the personal and political cost of every punch thrown, every bullet fired, and every bomb that goes off. There are a lot of interested parties here and Demange shows compassion to members of each group. It’s refreshing and admirable even when the increasingly complex narrative eventually loses some momentum with a heavy-handed finale.

’71 works best as a thriller. When Demange is reminding us of the very real danger that the soldier finds himself in. Violence is used sparingly and usually following an extended build-up of tension. Hand-held cameras masterfully capture foot chases through apartment complexes, sides streets, and back alleys. it doesn’t hurt that O’Connell is up for the challenge. There’s not a trace of old school heroism with this guy as he limps through Belfast with genuine fear in his eyes.

This film may not be perfect but it is a very good one. Good enough to take a 99-minute break from my vacation.

Starred Up

I’m a sucker for any art form that has grit, character, heart and integrity. Starred Up has it all. Set in a modern day prison (Mark, this is what a real prison looks like) the story picks up as a 19 year old (Jack O’Connell) is sent to an adult prison for an undisclosed crime. From the beginning I was enthralled by the young O’Connell who not only plays his character with intensity and accuracy, but manages to be quite endearing regardless of his aggressive and sometimes unpredictable behaviour. It doesn’t take time for O’Connell to feel at home within the starredpenitentiary walls. It’s almost like coming to prison was all part of a master plan to reunite with his estranged father. The cast, which I did not recognize by name but rather by previous works is composed of Rupert Friend (Homeland) Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Night Rises, Killing Them Softly)  is also quite stellar.  Mendelsohn, who is  serving time in prison, is tasked with playing O’Connell’s caring but ultimately inadequate father.

As part of the prison routine, O’Connell is forced to attend group therapy. In comes Rupert Friend, an ultra-caring counselor who seems to have O’Connell’s best interest at heart and shows hints of a checkered past himself and turns out to be our delinquent’s only chance at redemption.  It’s safe to assume O’Connell has very little upbringing. His strengths consist of aggressiveness, fearlessness and a strong will to stand up for himself amongst a cohort of rapists, murderers and thieves.

For me, the true villain of this film is poor parenting, which left me with existential questions. For example, is it fair for a child to be thrown in prison because his father was an incompetent fuck? Is the prison system the right place for most criminals? Especially young ones. Are there any decent alternatives? And also, why is prison culture something we accept as a society? We are all aware that people get raped, stabbed, shanked, shived, beaten and even killed in prison. So why is that acceptable? Because they’re are criminals? That doesn’t fly with me.

Throughout the movie the director, David Mackenzie, tackles themes of abandonment, social justice, family and in the end our humanity. We all go through trials and tribulation but unfortunately who you were born to will, more often than not, tell you what your trials will be and what tribulations await.

I totally recommend this film to anyone who enjoys good cinema. The script, the cinematography (which I know very little about) the acting, and the soul of this movie were all very satisfying to me.


7.5  out of 10