All the Money in the World (2017)
Rated R, for being a serious film. Like, it's not that bad. There are prostitutes in the movie, but no actual sexual content. People be swearing. That's pretty bad, I guess. Also, someone gets his ear cut off. That's pretty graphic. Okay, maybe it deserves an R-rating, but I'm also thinking of the PG-13 horror movies out there and is it really worse than that? Probably not. It's just the language. And the ear cutting. BUT I DON'T REMEMBER ANY NUDITY, so that's a thing. R.
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
I like when I accidentally watch a Ridley Scott movie. I'm not a Ridley Scott fan or anything. He probably has more misses than hits. But I do really love Alien. Not so much the other ones. I mean, they are fine. I used to think that Hannibal was a great movie. (Note: I think that he really likes shooting in Italy. I mean, who wouldn't?) But then I just stumble across this movie? I mean, I thought it got a ton of press for the Kevin Spacey stuff. I thought that was the only reason that it got any Oscar buzz. I guess that original assessment is true, mainly because it only got a Best Actor / Supporting Actor award for Christopher Plummer. But am I the only one who thought that worked as a whole and might have been better than some of the other Oscar noms this year?
Because a lot of people are "meh" about this movie, I suppose that I should look at it with a more critical eye. That kind of stinks, because I really enjoyed it. I tend to binge the Oscar noms, so I get this deluge of great movies back-to-back-to-back. But it has been a while since I've seen a movie that was nominated for an award and it feels fresh. I think I have to write it off as a summer movie thing. I love the summer movies, but we don't tend to get the great dramas or thrillers during this time. We get popcorn / tentpole movies. I love those movies. Those are the movies I get publicly excited by. But they aren't very fulfilling. I know that All the Money in the World doesn't blow people away. I actually think that a lot of people actively don't like this movie. I get that. But I see quite a bit going on with this movie. Part of that comes from the fact that I didn't know much about the Getty kidnapping before this point. I know that it was the plotline of a season of Trust (I think that is the name), but All the Money in the World does a fairly compelling job of dramatizing a true crime. My wife loves true crime and I get excited because she gets excited. If the story was fictional, I think I would have been bored silly. A lot of that stems out of the fact that the protagonists are fairly ineffective at doing anything to get Paul back. But from a True Crime perspective, that makes an interesting story. What would a real kidnapping look like when many of the options are removed? What happens is a sense of infighting and misery that comes from the haves versus the have-nots. I know what a lot of complaints are going to be. I hear that a lot of the narrative makes Paul look like the victim when there is a substantial amount of evidence that points to the fact that Paul may have been complicit in his own kidnapping. I had the same problem when I saw (and hated) A Beautiful Mind. I can't begrudge those viewers. That is a valid point. It is really hard to tell a true story while completely ignoring major evidence to the contrary. But I seem to be more forgiving of All the Money in the World. I think it is because the story isn't about Paul; it's about Getty Sr.
Getty, Sr. is what makes the movie fascinating. That was Scott's goal. He wanted to tell the story of a man so frugal that he put other lives in danger. I'm really glad that Spacey wasn't in this role. If you watch that original trailer, all you can see is makeup. I'm not saying that the makeup was bad. The makeup is pretty good. But it is Kevin Spacey playing the part. It's the same thing when I see Gary Oldman or John Lithgow playing Winston Churchill. I see the makeup and think of the actor. Christopher Plummer, however, is makeup free and it makes it really easy to see Getty rather than someone working to get an Oscar. Plummer's Getty is the most realistic Ebenezer Scrooge imaginable. He, somehow, makes extreme frugality make sense. There's no denying that he is an awful person. There are moments in the movie that establish that Getty is an absolute monster, but it doesn't often paint it in wide strokes. Those major moments are there, but Scott does a solid job building up to these moments. There's never a lightswitch moment. Introducing Getty as a guy who does his own dry cleaning, at first, seems charming. It reminds me of my grandparents, who knew what it was like being without money, so they knew how to hold onto it. But then the movie just takes these baby steps towards establishing that money has corrupted him beyond a sense of humanity. The statue throughline is just so perfect and encapsulates so much. There's that moment of the dual "A ha" that follows that sequence that is so telling about his character. Then there is the art collection. Oh my goodness, these moments are so rich with character that it makes the kidnapping almost a secondary plotline. I say almost because that is what you are watching for, but Getty as a character is fascinating. I never knew anything about Getty. It's weird to think that Getty Images is the same family, but I digress. The thing about it all is that Getty's public reasoning is actually kind of sound. He says that if he gave the ransom money over to the kidnappers, all of his grandchildren would be kidnapped. It's why America does not negotiate with terrorists. It actually makes sense, but these moments lose their footing when we see what Getty spends his money on. He is these two different people. There is Getty who doesn't blink that he has made a small fortune in an hour and then there's the Getty who, while earnestly believing it, says that he has no money, despite being the richest man in the world. There's a reason that I watch Hoarders and it is almost the same neurosis. It's scratching the same itch.
It should be weird that I forgot that Mark Wahlberg is in this movie. Like, he's one of the two protagonists. (Also, it's a crime that Michelle Williams didn't make as much money as Mark Wahlberg because she's doing the heavy lifting in the movie.) Wahlberg's story doesn't really match his character. He's shown to be this expert on things like this. The movie does a bit too much telling rather than showing when it comes to Chase's skills. He's really there as a sounding board for Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) so she can act the crap out of this movie. There is also the scene where Fletcher Chase lets loose, but that seems like it probably didn't happen the way the movie played out. It was extremely satisfying as an audience member to get that scene, but I don't really believe it for a second that the real Chase and the real Getty had that conversation. It felt very Hollywood and I suppose that's fine. You needed to give Mark Wahlberg something to do besides sitting on his hands. But that also redirects me back to Michelle Williams. How did she not get the nomination. The movie partially is about the helplessness of the victims of kidnapping. Michelle Williams is in this position where she knows what will bring her son home alive and that she can't really do anything about it. (I'm thinking about the very publicly accepted theory that Paul was complicit, but Paul knew Getty, Sr., didn't he? He knew him to be a frugal man. Was it just a bet that he would pay?) Williams has these intense moments throughout the film. I love the relationship between Williams and the press and Williams and the police. The theme of victim shaming is palpable in this movie and I absolutely love it. It is so unique to see a movie that treats a character like Williams's as part of the problem as opposed to someone who needs support. Everything that she does is questioned and everything that she does, in the moment, seems appropriate. There is even this tone that Williams is making things worse by Chase. But Chase doesn't really deserve any of the respect because he keeps on messing up left and right. I do find it funny that there is a bond between the two of them by the end of the movie, but it works from a Hollywood perspective.
I tried to be critical about this movie, but I found it super interesting. It scratched that American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J.Simpson part of me. The aesthetics are cool. The story is a great post-game Wikipedia thing. The acting is top notch. The only thing I didn't really get was why Mark Wahlberg's part is so huge in this movie considering that he didn't do much. I don't know if I love the relationship between the kidnapper and Paul, but I also don't know how accurate that was. Regardless, I recommend this one simply because I found it fascinating. (I might not want to watch it again because that's when I start disliking movies.)
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.