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Money Monster, the new thriller from director Jodie Foster, is an interesting movie that attempts to take advantage of national outrage about the behavior of big banks and the once-percenters who run them.

The movie stars George Clooney as a Jim Kramer-type TV personality who makes a living hyping stocks and preaching the gospel of savvy investment; Julia Roberts is the program's director, who has grown tired of his act and is losing interest in the financial much in which he seems to luxuriate. The problem is that a company that Clooney has been hyping suddenly has crashed, and a young Queens man, played by Jack O'Connell, has lost his life savings - and he shows up on the set of Clooney's program, during a live broadcast, with a gun, an explosive vest and a desire to find out how a stock so highly valued could go so far south so quickly. His sense is he - and the rest of a gullible American public - has been lied to ... and he's out to expose the chicanery.

As Money Monster progresses, both Clooney's and Roberts' characters begin to believe that perhaps there is some truth in the claims being made by the angry young man ... and it is from there that the plot unfolds in crisp fashion.

If there is a problem with the movie, it may be that it tries to do too much - the movie has a little bit of Dog Day Afternoon and Inside Man in it, mixed with some of the financial savvy of last year's hugely entertaining The Big Short. But it isn;t quite audacious enough to pull it off, and it ends up feeling somewhat overstuffed and under-conceived.

That said, the performances are strong, the ideas are mostly plausible, and the outrage is deserved. I enjoyed money Monster, but not quite enough to recommend it ... though if you're looking for a non-superhero movie that is made for adults, you could do a lot worse.



Got an email the other day that posed a movie-related question:

Since you are a movie buff and tied to the written word on a daily basis– just wanted to hear your broader perspective on watching movies based books.

Do you typically read the book first and watch the movie 2nd or vice versa or do you find that you usually just watch the movie? Or does it depend on the situation?


It depends, sometimes on who the author is, and frequently just on how my schedule breaks. I'm not one of those people who thinks that books always are better than the movie; The Godfather and Jaws are prime examples of two classic films made out of books that I thought were kind of mediocre. The same goes for pretty much every Tom Clancy book turned into a movie, at least for me; some would complain the the movies stripped away all the techno babble that make the books so detailed, but I always get lost in the techno babble - give me the stripped-down plots any old day.

Then again, with a few exceptions (Out of Sight, Get Shorty, and TV's "Justified"), pretty much all of Elmore Leonard's books were better than the movies they were turned into. On the other hand, having loved the movie version of The Big Short, I now want to read the original Michael Lewis book to learn more.

So it depends. I can enjoy both, or either, and it doesn't always matter in which order.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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