Tag Archives: character driven plot

Margin Call: I’m Back to Reviews Everyone!

After a long semester of work, homework, and plain more work, I have come back to the world of review blogs. Thanks to those of you out there who come back to check and look forward to reading the inane and ridiculous things I say. And now it’s time for a little movie review. This one (that I watched wayyyyy back in August) is called Margin Call. Based on the events of the 2008 mortgage crisis, this independent film boasts a

Look at Spock and those well defined eyebrows.

star studded cast that focuses more on the characters and their interactions than it does on the action and big picture scheme. If you are looking for car chases and guns, look elsewhere. This movie gets its bite from the dialogue.

So Zachary Quinto (star of Heroes and that almost unrecognizable role as Spock) plays Peter Sullivan, a low level employee that sees the company he has been striving so hard for begin to unexplainably fall apart around him. His boss, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is fired for no discernible reason, leaving Sullivan with a program he was working on that show what we have come to know as the great 2000’s recession (I just call it that… but not really). After some late night calculations, Sullivan finds that his company is really in a lot of deep feces. I’m talking mounds of excrement with no rain boots.

A role Spacey was born to play… A lot…

So a whole meeting is called as you see the chain of command called in to this banking company. It starts with Paul Bettany’s character (my favorite of the entire movie. He’s one of those unspoken characters that just gets it.) and works itself all the way up to Jeremy Irons as the company’s CEO. I was really surprised that for an independent film such as this that so many good actors would sign on, but for a role like this that portrays life in its true form, I’m not as surprised.

But could I even say anymore about the star studded cast? I already mentioned Quinto, Tucci, Irons, and Bettany. That’s solid right there. But throw in Kevin Spacey? Now we’re just getting American Beauty high class on this one. And he’s just as brutal as a upper class boss in this one as he was in Horrible Bosses. But he does have a heart, mind

A bit of that trading floor drama.

you. You got Simon Baker as the hardass playboy with an ego issue that wants to keep it all under wraps. Demi Moore as the manipulated female staff member. Her unsure performance keys right in to a cutthroat business that leaves no room for the timid. Throw in Aasif Mandvi (without any comedic relief, unfortunately) and you have your top billed cast right there.

And what’s more, there is some really great dialogue and monologues in this movie. First one that comes to my mind is the one done by Stanley Tucci towards the end of the movie. His reevaluation of his entire life up to the point he gets fired is true and heartfelt, even if he is approaching it from the way in which he helped out a town commute from West Virginia to Ohio over a bridge. Gotta give him his props for memorizing all those numbers. And basically any line out of Paul Bettany’s mouth just sounds like privileged few from New York’s best areas. His snarky attitude and calm assessment of the downfall of banks during the crisis was just spot on. You need characters like him in movies to really gain perspective on the overall plot.

A star studded cast of dramatic proportions.

Combine all of these great interactions with greatly portrayed characters and you have yourself a movie that is character-driven. But it’s not just that. How could a movie about the logistics of the mortgage crisis be so interesting? This movie barely talks in actual economical jargon. Well, there is some, but I was enraptured by the characters to notice too much. What this movie effectively does is put real human faces to the upper management devastated by this terrible crisis in our society, and help people realize that not everyone who later benefited from the liquidations and lay-offs were such terrible people. (Sure Jeremy Irons was, but look at Kevin Spacey in comparison. Perfect contrast.)

So I would encourage fans of John Grisham bo0k-to-movie remakes and real life drama films to check this one out. It’s not that well known, but it’s worth checking out if you’re not all about the comedy and action. Real intellectual shizz. Margin Call gets a 8.4 out of 10 from me. Get at me guys, I’m back into reviewing!

Bring it home, Tucci.

 

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Baccano!: You Just Have to Watch it.

I’m going to say as little as I possibly can about this show while trying to talk about this show and how interesting it was for me. Also, in this review, I’m going to attempt to talk about characters in such a vague way that I don’t reveal anything about the plot and just encourage you to watch the show. Impossible task? Challenge accepted.

This is an anime set in the Prohibition Era of America in the early 1900’s. There is an element of magic and mystery that intertwines itself in this show so that you have to accept what’s possible with the impossible. There are gangsters, and, orignally, magicians (of  a sort). The characters range from the mentally unstable to the kind and thoughtful. With inspiration from the film, The Untouchables, the gangster and his New York accent come to life in the world of the speakeasies.

There are a lot of characters...

When you first begin to watch this show, you may become frustrated. A lot of characters and events are thrown at you all at once. Told from so many perspectives, it can become overwhelming in the first couple of episodes. But have patience. In a nonlinear plotline that comes together in pieces, this show was ingeniously crafted to have the characters drive the story until the plot becomes clear. Just remember when watching that the Flying Pussyfoot (really don’t like the name though) is the central event of the series. Things occurring on the train, for the most part, are happening in the real time (I think…) while all other events of the early 1930s are flashbacks, or maybe even flashforwards. Still not entirely sure. It’s a show worth watching through more than once.

 

What's going on?

With all the gangster families, it can become hard to determine just exactly who is who and who did what and who is wanted for what purpose. With all the accents and the strange character names, (Jacuzzi Splot. Enough said.) with three different gangster mafioso families going on at once (the Gandors, the Genoards, and the Martillos) including Jacuzzi’s gang and the Russo family, toss in Isaac and Miria, and you have a lot of chaos all at once. Nothing is as it seems and nothing seems to make much sense in the Baccano! world. It’s all about the ending payoff.

A few noteworthy voice actors in the dubbed version to speak of. You have to start with Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent. J. Michael Tatum and Caitlin Glass

Isaac and Miria. Best.

really branch their talents to their extremes with two ridiculous thieves with no care in the world and no idea what’s going on. John Burgmeier puts on an English accent as a character I can’t reveal (sorry). And R. Bruce Elliott places a mean old Russian bastard who is actually a terribly villainous magician. Joel McDonald in a surprisingly heartfelt performance gets his Brooklyn on as Jacuzzi and Nice, his eye-patched love interest and crime partner is nicely done by Colleen Clinkenbeard. Throw in a Frenchman in jail and you have the wide ranging and seductive talents of Eric Vale.  Throw in Todd Haberkorn and his always likeable goofy characters and you have a Baccano! cast.

I love this man so much.

But, I could never forget the big standout in the show. In a very underrated voice actor comes one of the best performances of his career. Ladd Russo, a highly skilled and highly delusional killer is voiced by Bryan Massey. His questioning and highly energetic character from My Bride is a Mermaid, Shark, returns as another kind of inhuman being. Ladd is vulgar, he is brutal, and he is one of the most likeable and sinister characters in the series. Any guy who can walk into a room and say, “I like you! F%*k you!” deserves respect.

Let's get to pokin'.

And for the rest, AKA the amazing plot, you have to watch it for yourself. In the same vein of shows as Durarara! (interesting, both are marked with exclamation points…) comes a character driven show with a great payoff. Watch it for the characters and voice acting. Watch it for the interesting non-linear plot. Watch it just to watch it. It’s well worth a shot. You just might find what you’re looking for in a show in this 16 episode anime, Baccano!