Like athletes, it’s extremely rare for movie directors to go out like a champ. In auteur parlance, that means, directing a great film as your last film… a film equal or greater than the films you are capable of making.
I would categorize “Eyes Wide Shut,” “Imitation of Life,” and, although John Cassavettes directed the rarely seen “Big Trouble” his last movie, history mercifully ignores it in favor of Cassavettes’ masterpiece “Love Streams.” Let’s give big John that.
Curtis Hanson, who passed away last year, should be afforded the same honor. His last movie is “Chasing Mavericks” which was co-directed with Michael Apted, while the last film he directed on his own, “Too Big To Fail” is an HBO movie about the financial collapse through the eyes of Hank Paulson (brilliantly played by William Hurt, who hasn’t been this good in decades… I mean, you actually root for Paulson, which is an achievement). For a film about the financial sector, this movie unravels like a Hitchcockian thriller.
Unfolding like a train wreck no one can do anything about, this is “The Big Short” before “The Big Short.” A double feature of both films would make people slit their wrist in the theater (razor blades could come with the price of a ticket). Hanson directed the shit out of this movie… except for one little yet big thing.
Paul Giamatti’s beard. Mr. Sideways plays Ben Bernake and I understand he has to look like him and talk like him, but come on. Look at the beard and tell me it doesn’t take you out of the movie! I just want to rip it off his face and dip it in his oatmeal (which Giamatti eats in every scene). While the faux facial hair does not ruin the movie (since Bernake is only a small portion of the movie), you simply can’t forget it.
On the one hand, you’re like, “man, the financial system is going to collapse again any day now” but then you’re bailed out of that fear by thinking, “I understand why Robert DeNiro gained 40 lbs for Raging Bull. He’s a great actor and couldn’t risk anything looking fake. Because that shit on Paul Giamatti’s face, that’s DeNiro’s worse fear. That is one furry breach of reality.”
Written by: Norith Soth