Film Review: ‘Greed’ ★★★

Direction: Michael Winterbottom
Screenplay: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Isla Fisher, Shirley Henderson
Length: 104 minutes
Rating: R

Actor Steve Coogan as Sir Michael McCreadie, the English Malcolm Tucker, in ‘Greed’ | © Channel Four Television Corporation 2020

Satire sowing the rise and fall of a high street fashion gladiator. Remind you of anyone?

Sir Richard McCreadie (Coogan) is a fashion magnate preparing to host his 60th birthday on the Greek island of Mykonos, complete with Gladiator style dress robes, wooden colosseum and lions (no, really). He is a disrespectful monster, humiliating his subordinates and superiors alike, yet all the while being thoroughly entertaining. Any normal person would run for the hills but the problem is he is a billionaire, so people are willing to ignore his explosive verbal diarrhoea for reasons I actually can’t identify.

Why do people put up with such assault, I wonder? Nobody he abuses appears to be very well paid yet celebrities are falling over themselves to work with him. Is it the proximity to success or chance of career advancement? It can’t be the money as he doesn’t appear to be the sharing type.

Flashbacks of his childhood and education at a private school provide us with enough understanding of his development of a thick skin and abrasive attitude even if we don’t necessarily sympathise. From gambling with, or rather against, his fellow students at home to bartering with tuk-tuk drivers abroad, his undivided ambition to make money regardless of failure, which happened several times, warrants some form of admiration. His methods, however, are not warranted in any fashion, even when achieving success.

McCreadie exhibits all the grandiose characteristics of a mafia godfather rather than the oily boss of a clothing empire but that doesn’t mean his reign is any less bloody. His dressing up as a gladiator only adds to the deranged emperor image he wants to dissipate. Despite a fire claiming the lives of the exploited workers (arguably slaves) in the supply factories that feed the low-cost fashion economy, he carries on taunting the refugees on the beach below his sprawling complex.

Steve Coogan is excellent as McCreadie, a man whose life is as artificial as his self-importance, as is Shirley Henderson who almost steals the show as Margaret McCreadie, Richard’s Irish megalomaniac mother. Wonder who he gets it from? Wonder no more.

David Mitchell is equally as good as McCreadie’s biographer whose interviews with those who encountered McCreadie at various points in his life serve as the backbone of ‘Greed’. We get a crash course in tax avoidance in the middle and the shocking facts of fast fashion at the end of the film.

Essentially, McCreadie is the English Malcolm Tucker. Although both are manipulative and enthralling, Tucker operates in the shadows while McCreadie exists in the spotlight. His charismatic but superficial public image, exploitation of low-paid foreign workers and corruption of financial accounts for personal gain scream of one individual in particular. His overconfidence merging into egomaniacal fantasy, sneering behaviour at a parliamentary inquiry and suggestions by those parliamentarians to remove his knighthood are a wealth of evidence to suggest McCreadie is based, at least in part, on one person.

It would have been more satisfying if the fallout from the twist in the tale and the publication of McCreadie’s biography were fleshed out more, however, neither of these would feature McCreadie prominently, only of the reaction of others, so their omission is somewhat understandable. As it stands, the denouement leaves more questions than answers and more complexity than certainty. Perhaps symbolic of the unpredictability of the emperor and his countless new clothes.

‘Greed’ is in cinemas now.

Film Review: Paddleton

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Mark Duplass and Ray Romano bond over a game of ‘paddleton’ in new Netflix drama (Credit: Patrick Wymore/Netflix)

Netflix’s new bromance drama, Paddleton, will have you chuckling and reaching for the tissues at the same time.

Recently released on Netflix following its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the month, Paddleton follows best friends Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano). The two face significant changes in their lives when they find out Michael has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The two embark on a journey together after Michael decides he wants to take life-ending drugs before his illness becomes too painful, and asks Andy to join him on a ‘road trip’ to purchase the medication to help him end his life. Although Andy is hesitant at first and continues to struggle to come to terms with Michael’s decision throughout the film, he accepts his friend’s choice and the two go on a strange, yet sort of beautiful journey.

Directed by Alex Lehmann (Blue Jay), Paddleton provides us with a refreshing take on ‘bromances’. We are often led to believe in film and television there is something funny or amusing about two men having a bromance. That there is something weird or abnormal about grown men having close platonic friendships. But Paddleton debunks this idea and shows us it is completely normal and healthy for two grown men to have a close, meaningful friendship with one another.

In Paddleton, Michael and Andy are essentially the most important people in each other’s lives. They’re neighbours, they eat together, they talk about work, they bond over watching kung fu movies every night and they play ‘paddleton’ with together. (Paddleton is similar to squash, but the ball has to bounce off the wall and land in a barrel).

But despite the pleasing friendship between the two leads, there is no escaping the serious subject matter explored in the film. The concept of ‘assisted dying’ has been examined a number of times in film and television over the years; perhaps most recently in Louis Theroux’s Altered States documentary, Choosing Death which sparked a lot of conversations online. It’s not an easy topic to digest and many people have conflicted feelings about the matter, but Paddleton manages to tackle the upsetting elements of the film in a sensitive manner and the interjections of comedy between Duplass and Romano ensure the narrative isn’t too heavy.

Ray Romano and Mark Duplass complement each other perfectly. Although neither character is particularly talkative, the dialogue is engaging and their conversations are amusing and believable. The level of comedy fades appropriately as the movie goes on, and towards the end of the film the interactions between Michael and Andy are raw and emotional.

The performances by both leads were exceptional but I was particularly impressed with Romano. We may perhaps be used to seeing Ray Romano in comedic roles. I for one remember watching Everybody Loves Raymond every morning before school. But Romano has shown more and more he is an actor with range. His performance in Michael Showalter’s Academy Award winning 2017 film, The Big Sickwas touching, memorable and entirely believable, so it’s exciting to see him take on a similar role in Paddleton.

This film is in no way revolutionary and it is not something I could watch again and again. The pacing is slow at times and nothing particularly special happens until the very end of the film. In fact, some may argue that the majority of the movie is largely insignificant. But Paddleton is a film I would recommend. It’s simple, but has a powerful message about the importance of friendship that we can all relate to.

You can watch the trailer for Paddleton below.

To read another of Olivia’s Netflix reviews, click here.

Entertainment weekly round-up

Olivia Hill takes you through this week’s entertainment news including the latest movie releases.

 

You can check out the full trailers for the films discussed in this video below:

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Toy Story 4

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Velvet Buzzsaw

Entertainment Podcast @ 4pm

Today EN4News discusses the effects of the sexual allegations on Kevin Spacey’s career.

Cameron Storer is joined by Jamie McDonald and Jamie Taylor as they discuss their views and opinions on how damaging the allegations could be on Spacey and our society.

Source: Rolling Stone

Small screens don’t give you the full picture

The joy of getting a second shot on the big screen.

I watched Aliens with some friends the other night. James Cameron’s classic sequel is one of my favourite films, but there was a problem: my TV is too small. Not because it’s old, from before the time of 60-plus inch mammoth home entertainment systems, but because a 60-plus inch ultra 4K TV still isn’t a cinema.

Truly, this is a question of go big or go home and home just doesn’t cut it. Film lives on the big screen. It’s in the way they’re shot, the way the sound is balanced, what your eyes gravitate to when they’re shown on a screen with enough mass to dominate your field of view.

Source: Google  

You could (and still can) find Blade Runner 2049 showing at every big cinema across the country, but seeing Ridley Scott’s original isn’t quite so easy and that’s a shame. I’m delighted to live in a city with cinemas that share this opinion. There’s not as many as I’d like to be sure, but places in Edinburgh like the Cameo and the Filmhouse offer the chance to see older films the way films are meant to be watched. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen Nightmare on Elm Street and Predator as I might have seen them in the mid-1980s. I’ve seen personal favourite The Thing, among others, in the same environment I’d never have had the chance to otherwise, because I had the misfortune of not being born when they released.

It strikes me as sad that more places don’t do this so often; it’s a uniquely warm, collective experience. I sat seeing Predator in a crowd of strangers, but every one of us was on the same page, because every one of us knew the script. We laughed together, were silent together and delighted in Schwarzenegger’s awkwardly iconic delivery together. It’s a shameless exercise in nostalgia no doubt, but it’s nice to leave a cinema knowing everybody enjoyed themselves as much as you did.  

Source: Google

These things bring people together. Whether it’s a showing of The Room where everyone throws plastic spoons, or an all-night horror marathon showing legitimate cult classics. Maybe that isn’t quite ‘as intended’ after all, but it’s probably just as good.

Now if I could fit or afford a 40ft screen into my home that would be wonderful, but such as it is, the cinema is the only place I could experience Aliens like James Cameron envisioned and I hope to see it on a listing one of these days. Do let me know, I wouldn’t want to miss it again.

Brainstorm: Super Bowl 2017 – Our top 5 Movie trailers

Many things happened during this year’s Super Bowl. The plucky young Falcons were latently smited by Tom Brady’s laser arm to win his 5th ring. Lady Gaga auditioned for the circus in her breathless speedrun through her musical discography.

Most importantly, however, we got another truckload of tantalising film trailers. Every time a Quarterback was tilted over (looking at you Tom Brady), or when the handsomely paid athletes asked for a time out – in which there were many – we were greeted with a slew of teasers; here are our best picks.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The Guardians are back, all in their retro Sci-fi glory! Another golden oldy (this time provided by Fleetwood Mac – The Chain) and even more dizzying glimpses at their expanded cast.

Do we see much of the plot? Nope. Does it look like it has captured the smirking fun from the original? Seems so.

LIFE

LIFE looks like the menage-a-trois lovechild of Ridley Scott’s Alien, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. Is that a good thing? It might be. Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal scowl behind spacesuits and an unknown but definitely murderous substance is wrecking havoc inside claustrophobic spaces.  Watch this space (see what we did there).

Logan

Hugh Jackman is back as the brooding, (extra) bearded anti-hero of basically all of the previous X-men films. But with gore, pained music and naughty words!

Logan now has a young and precocious child, roadtripping across beige landscapes and running away from a bald Stephen Merchant and a menacing Boyd Holbrook (straight off of the plane from Narcos). Will the film be naff? Maybe, but it probably won’t be worse than X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Pirates Of The Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

It’s at this point that the films are starting to blur together. Instead of a skeleton monkey, we have a skeleton parrot! Wow, what a difference.

More beaches, undead (of some variety) pirates and Geoffrey Rush debuts a sunburnt face in his reoccuring slot as Captain Barbossa – will he be a goodie or a baddie this time?!

The trailer features some more CGI multi-ship fights, an assumedly mud smothered cameo from (Captain!) Jack Sparrow and was that an appearance from Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

John Wick: Chapter 2

We love a wee meta trailer and what’s better than a John Wick trailer masquerading as the latest Shades of Grey film?

The retired one man army galavants across Rome in tailored, always black suits. His movements with a gun are like a lethal tango across blood-soaked floors; expect an even higher death-count than before.

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