The Founder (2016)

thefounder-michael-keaton

If you worked at McDonald’s at the ripe old age of fourteen years old, keen for cash that wasn’t gifted at the whims of your parents’ generosity, then you’ll be familiar with the phrase; “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” Decades after McDonald’s ‘founder’ Ray Kroc coined this saying, the motto remains ingrained in employees across over 35,000 outlets all over the world. This phrase perfectly encapsulates the mid-western work ethic of Ray Kroc, a go-getter salesman with big ambitions and an undying persistence for success.

When we meet Ray Kroc in the 1950’s, he’s a middle-aged, reasonably well-fixed salesman on a desperate hunt for a gimmick that will earn him his fortune. The McDonald brothers, Mac and Dick, appear to have exactly what he is looking for – a successful hamburger joint run by hard working visionaries. Overwhelmed with anticipation for what this small San Bernardino restaurant could become, Kroc talks his way into franchising and expanding into every town in America. The story of a vision that grew under the noses of its creators.

With the undeniably ubiquitous presence of McDonald’s in most people’s lives – from kids birthday parties to the 3am drive through – the story behing the Golden Arches is one we can all easily invest in. But what really drives The Founder is Keaton’s magnetic and dynamic performance as the underlying unequivocal villain, coated with layers of charm, insecurity and grit. Here Hancock tries to enforce the understanding of why Kroc did what he did, almost humanising the ruthless tale of business intrigue.

I am fascinated the follow the response to The Founder, particularly in America. Is it possible that despite everything, Ray will be viewed as a hero, an underdog with persistence that enabled him to push through every setback in his path to create an empire? But his triumph was always inevitable against the McDonalds brothers. To the movie’s credit, Kroc has an opinion about this too.

All in all, The Founder presents a version of the American Dream in which the need to succeed obliterates any other considerations; in a story of strong minded determination, a small downtrodden businessman gains his revenge on the world.

★★★★☆

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Last Vegas – It’s Going to be Legendary (2013)

Last-Vegas

I haven’t posted in a while but now that the New Year has begun I’ll be posting a review every Monday for all of my readers. Thank you again for your support!

Starring four legends like you’ve never seen them before. Last Vegas stars well-known Academy Award winners Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline. If you loved The Hangover and The Bucket List than you might look fondly upon Jon Turtletaub’s indulgent, high-concept comedy about a group of rapidly aging childhood best friends living it large in Sin City.

Faded Brooklyn buddies Billy, Archie, Sam and Paddy reunite in Las Vegas after 58 years of friendship to celebrate the much-anticipated wedding of their ring leader Billy. He’s a long-lived bachelor who has finally decided to get hitched with a fair-skinned beauty half his age, not surprising when you notice his coppery skin, silk shirts and mostly invisible insecurities. The old buddies embark on a weekend through the fantasy world of modern-day Las Vegas, whistling at young girls by the pool, gambling and drinking alcohol to their heart’s content.

Morgan Freeman plays the wily gentleman Archie, a naturally gifted gambler who struggles with his health to the point where he’s not entirely intact with his sons family. Robert De Niro smiles rarely, so naturally he’s cast as the killjoy of the group. De Niro reveals his tough side once again and proves that despite his age, he’s still got it. Michael Douglas is cast as the privileged, charming old dimwit who’s terrified of growing old. Kevin Kline elevates the film with his provisional failure, carrying the notion that he is terribly worn down. Kline manages to downplay every scene and line, timing punchline moments to advance his character’s wit. Thankfully, a soulful performance from Mary Steenburgen, an older night club singer, provides the film with at least a little heart. I suppose the film would have had edge if the characters had really been prepared to misbehave.

Despite the frequent humorous moments, Last Vegas isn’t a film I am fond of neither a film that I would recommend you watching.There are extraordinary scenes that I won’t describe, except to say they were terribly written, ridiculous but somehow painfully funny. The film faded from my memory instantly once the credits rolled, much to say that Last Vegas is simply a mockery of previous successful films based in Sin City, like The Hangover.

Last Vegas is a ninety minute picture with a few bright moments, starring the actors you like in a comedy of unmeasured proportion.

★☆☆☆

Gravity – Don’t Let Go (2013)

Just in from Academy Award winning director Alfonso Cuaron comes this outstanding Science fiction thriller. With no stronghold of fantasy, the film is simple and engaging throughout. Gravity is outstanding from a cinematography perspective complete with raw acting and perfect tone. But at the same time the story line is fairly slow, lacking pace and often sub-plots. The film is attractive yet alarming, elaborate yet gigantic and specific yet astronomically engaging. It’s directly a survival story set in outer space with no glamour, aliens or automated robots, just pure humanity.

Gravity opens with a speck in the darkness that grows into an exceptionally vivid shot that seemingly lasts forever. The Earth’s spectrum is captured from over 500 km in outer space where there are a number of trained astronauts working tirelessly in a space station. The focus shifts primarily to a skillful medical engineer by the name of Dr. Ryan Stone who is busy fixing an exterior spacecraft malfunction. A veteran astronaut on his final mission accompanies her out on the spaceship, clowning around and cracking jokes. All of a sudden the pair are informed of debris traveling from a nearby space station propelling towards them. The rest of the film is their detailed struggle for survival.

Gravity only features two living and breathing actors, Just in from Academy Award winning director Alfonso Cuaron comes this outstanding Science fiction thriller. With no stronghold of fantasy, the film is simple and engaging throughout. Gravity is outstanding from a cinematography perspective complete with raw acting and perfect tone. But at the same time the story line is fairly slow, lacking pace and often sub-plots. The film is attractive yet alarming, elaborate yet gigantic and specific yet astronomically engaging. It’s directly a survival story set in outer space with no glamour, aliens or automated robots, just pure humanity.