Thursday, February 2, 2017

Neruda, The Comedian, and Gold

                          Marching Erratically to Very Different Drummers

                                                          Reviews by Ken Burke

Take care, curious readers, for plot spoilers gallop rampantly throughout the Two Guys’ insightful reviews.  Therefore, be warned, beware, and read on when you’re ready to be transported to … wherever we end up.  Please protect your eyes from the dazzling brilliance.
                                                  Neruda (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
Based (at times loosely) on the life of a famed poet and communist political activist, this film focuses on 1948 when a repressive government sent Pablo Neruda into hiding, but that didn’t prevent him from continuing to write as well as make his resistance-voice known, even as he's being pursued by an obsessive policeman (who’s nevertheless a fictional construct here).

What Happens: in 1948 Chile renowned-poet Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) also serves as a Senator, working with other publically-avowed-communists to bring about changes in his country’s sociopolitical structure, only to find themselves betrayed by the President they helped elect, Gabriel González Videla (Alfredo Castro), as their new head of state not only turns away from the policies he was supposed to support but also will eventually outlaw communism, rounding up members of that movement to be sent to detention camps in the desert.  Before his life becomes disrupted, though, Neruda’s shown indulging his proclivities for sensual passion, dressing up at a party like Lawrence of Arabia, not allowing his marriage to visual artist Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán) to distract him from the wiles of other women despite his close investment with her.  As the political climate begins to change, however, the couple attempts to leave the country but is turned away at the border, supposedly because Pablo has 2 official names (born Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, he later legally changed it to Neruda, originally a pen name he took from the Czech poet Jan Neruda).  

 In truth, though, despite the indication of the film’s title, an easy argument could be made that the actual protagonist of this story is the Chief of Policía de Investigaciones, Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal) as he functions as voiceover-narrator, revealing himself to be a complex man who’s determined to capture Neruda once an arrest warrant’s been issued for this former government official (impeached from his senatorial post as a matter of procedure) but expressing private interest in the poet’s writings (while publically denouncing him as a "limousine liberal") as the lengthy-chase goes on.  We also learn this dedicated cop’s trying to achieve fame for himself so his reputation can rise above the reality of being the son of a prostitute, determined that his father—whose name he’s taken despite no valid documentation—was actually a legendary chief of this police unit himself.

 Neruda’s friends provide him with hiding places but staying safely inside is boring for him in terms of available activities but also boring in terms of keeping a sense of risk alive by flaunting his situation so he continues to sneak out in public, including at a brothel party where he escapes the sudden intrusion of Peluchonneau and his men by quickly disguising himself as a prostitute.  Eventually, though, he becomes convinced that he’s not accomplishing enough in the way of resistance by staying in hiding so he and Delia shift their secret location to very-southern-Chile where he makes plans to go on horseback with a small group of guides through mountain trails across the Andes into Argentina (at various times the shots have sun flares or seem overly reddish in color, implying almost a documentary look of faded imagery rescued from bygone days for our help in seeing into the past of this monumental figure in politics and the arts).  As the travel plan is finally put into motion he’s still being trailed by the dogged policeman but the top cop's recruited-companions support Neruda so they attack Peluchonneau, leave him wounded in the snow, where his lifeless body is later found by locals, taken back to civilization for burial while Neruda ends up in Paris with fellow-leftist Pablo Picasso (Emilio Gutiérrez Caba) and more hedonistic partying to help balance his continued work on behalf of worldwide-communism, having left Delia behind (which saddens but doesn’t devastate her as she understands the many-faceted-nature of the man she was married to).  But, to end this all on an oddly-surrealistic note, we continue to get the flow of Peluchonneau’s narration seemingly from beyond the grave (as with Joe Gillis [William Holden] in Sunset Boulevard [Billy Wilder, 1950]), then it gets more strange with brief scenes of him popping back to life before burial, then ending our story looking out at the night from his rural hotel window quoting some lines from Neruda’s famously-popular-poem “Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines.”

So What? Given Pablo Neruda’s long life (1904-1973) filled with a catalogue of numerous grand accomplishments (including winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971) you get only a representative sample of his passions and writings in this film so if you want to know more about him than what occurred just in 1948 you’d have to turn to detailed biographical summaries such as this one.  Within that critical year as presented in this film, though (with events seeming to correspond well to what I’ve read about Neruda’s actual situations, except for the crucial point of Inspector Peluchonneau—to be discussed momentarily—in a manner much more historically-defendable than what’s presented in Gold [explored in the review below]), we get a strong, engaging sense of this complex man: a true communist regarding his concern for oppressed workers (but still a bit hypocritical, as pointed out by a confrontational woman at one of his parties who notes he lives a comfortable, materialistic lifestyle while spouting revolutionary talk yet her life has been spent cleaning toilets so she wants to know what future he truly seeks after an actual revolution [the one of excess. he replies]); a politician who speaks publically of the sense of betrayal to his country’s needs by the new President but a dissident who goes underground when an arrest warrant is issued rather than boldly be taken to prison to join others of his beliefs who’ve been rounded up by the government; a poet with a deep sense of human desires and values, yet a man who twice in this story abandons a wife in favor of his own situations; a literary artist who lives his life in a state of semi-fiction, mockingly staying one step ahead of his pursuers but goading Peluchonneau into the final chase as if in an episode of the pulp fiction that he periodically sends to his adversary, this equally-complicated policeman, either to nastily-goad him or show a slanted sense of respect.

 Actually, Peluchonneau exists as complicated as Neruda (or Larraín) wants him to be because unlike the other major named characters in this film he’s a completely fictional addition to this story (although representative of governmental forces who were determined to bring Neruda to their version of justice), as noted directly to him by Delia when he finally catches up with where our fugitive couple had last chosen to conceal themselves, after Pablo’s already off on his mission to escape Chile over the Andes.  He denies being merely a supporting player here in Neruda’s narrative construction, which seems upon initial viewing to simply be a statement of ego-driven-primacy, that he’s the true focus of this story, but when we learn—from reviews such as this, rather than from anything in the film itself—he’s not even a composite of notable historical figures in this series of events (as is the case with Michael Acosta in Gold [review below, awaiting your attention]) we realize such a fictional conception has entered into the film itself (as with Adaptation's [Spike Jonze, 2002] twist on the book of The Orchid Thief [Susan Orlean, 1998]) as Delia tells Oscar he’s not even real, although he fiercely-argues not only does he exist but also he sees himself as the prime character in this discourse.  From this realization we begin to understand how Neruda as a whole is a poetic interpretation of the man and his times, with just enough revealed to us for an understanding of what he meant to his countrymen (and admirers around the globe, such as Picasso) as a voice of necessary dissent.  (Which could serve as an inspiration for U.S. citizens—and potential travelers from the now-7-“banned countries”—in response to the increasingly-grotesque-Trump-administration, except this film’s getting scant exposure in our domestic market, now playing in only 28 theaters after 7 weeks in release with a measly income so far of $434,100 so with no help from an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film to boost Neruda's presence I have limited hope that it will be able to make the larger impact that I strongly think it deserves.)

Just for clarity, this is Neruda with his 2nd wife, Nadia,
not Maryka as discussed in this paragraph
Bottom Line 
If there’s any serious complaint that might be lodged against how Neruda is constructed, it would be that we get such a small dose of his accomplishments, that we have to take it on faith that he was so important to those who admired him that the Chilean government would need to go to such (as depicted; we have to assume they're accurate) efforts to locate and silence him; we don’t even get more than a tiny taste of his poetry (although I’ve tried to address that just below in my Musical Metaphors comments) so for those who don’t know his career and work it may be difficult to understand what all the fuss—and the long manhunt—is about; yet, there is a useful answer to that potential criticism with the brief appearance of his first wife, Maryka Antonieta Hagenaar Vogelzang (sorry but I can’t find the actor’s name in any credits listings), a Dutch woman abandoned (along with their daughter)—later divorced—by Neruda, brought in by the government to do a radio broadcast intended to disgrace him, intended to gain support for information leading to his capture.  However, she has nothing negative to say about the man, only that he owes her a considerable sum of money which she wants repaid (needless to say, the broadcast is cut off with the odd explanation that Maryka has suddenly left the studio).  If after that personal betrayal even she has no condemnation for him you can understand why Pablo Neruda became such a dangerous political presence, especially because an associate continued mailing out from his hiding places new writings to various journalists and public figures, making it very clear that Neruda’s still in the country, still in active opposition to the policies of his President, still serving as a loud call to action for those who wish to do the same in response to his agitation.

 Normally, I end each of my reviews with a Musical Metaphor that gallantly (I hope) attempts to present a final comment on the film that's being discussed but seen from the point of view of a different communicative perspective, even if the lyrics have to be newly-interpreted in the light of claimed-artistic-license.  In the creative spirit of Neruda's unique-but-generally-valid-biographical-filmic-presentation (from a director who seems open to his personal interpretations of historical figures, shown also in his other marvelously-impactful current release of Jackie [2016; review in our January 4, 2017 posting], a strikingly-expressionistic-portrait of beloved, long-ago-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, focused just on the events of and very shortly after the JFK assassination) I’m veering away this time from songs to poems, offering you 4 of Neruda’s poems presented in video form (although all of them do have some form of background instrumentation, handily-preserving their Musical Metaphor status) so that you can get a sense not of his political works but instead the romantic pieces beginning with the one already noted above, “Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines” (published 1924 [in Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair], bitterly about lost love) at (read by Tom O’Bedlam), then “If You Forget Me” (published 1952 [in The Captain’s Verses], another lost love exploration—if love indeed should be lost—read by Madonna) at, followed by one where this time the love is connecting in “Always” at SZrxg, then we finish with another triumph of love in “And Now You’re Mine (Love Sonnet LXXXI)” 
at; I never could find publication data for these last 2 so feel free to enlighten me if you can, as I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about this great poet as was my late friend Mario Cavallari (a note on his untimely departure begins our November 3, 2016 posting), who loved and studied Neruda's work in great detail (I so wish I could discuss it with him now), offering my hope that a brief introduction (for those of us who need such help) will inspire deeper explorations into the life and art of this justly-famed-explorer-of-the-human-heart who (in the film at least) gives us the insight that “To write well, one must know how to erase.”
 More so than usual, I must remind you of the seriousness of my opening Spoiler Alert back at the beginning of this posting because this next movie is just now opening in many parts of the U.S.A. 
(I got to see a preview screening) so most of you will have had no opportunity to view it yet, along with probably being intrigued by such an famous cast so think seriously before reading any further if you want to calm your own curiosity by seeing it first; however, if you'd prefer some encouragement to reconsider where your cash might be best invested then you might want to read on after all.
                            The Comedian (Taylor Hackford, 2016)
A former TV sitcom star has long outgrown his old famous role but audiences continue to demand it as he’s trying to build a new career as a standup-insult-comic; however, an altercation with a patron leads to jail time, then community service where he meets a woman who might be more than just a kindred spirit although she has some problems of her own.
What Happens: Jackie Burke (Robert Di Nero)—born Jacob Berkowitz—many years ago was a famous TV sitcom star when he played a cop in a show called Eddie’s Home; that continues to live in the minds of every audience he tries to convince to allow him to do something new, which is now insult comedy of a very caustic nature, leading not only to frustration on the part of this fading-entertainer but also difficulty in getting work (despite the constant efforts of his often-frustrated-manager, Miller [Edie Falco[) with his combination of rejecting the old stuff while it takes an keenly-tolerant audience to appreciate the new stuff given its scathingly-negative-nature.  While he’s loath to accept appearances that are billed as nostalgia-fests he hostilely-forces himself to do so at an outer-borough-NYC-club where the event is hosted by old-friend Jimmy Walker (of TV’s Good Times)—playing himself (as a good number of other comics do throughout this movie, although I must admit that Billy Crystal’s the only one I know much of anything about except for ‘60s pop singer Bobby Rydell, who’s claimed to be in there somewhere).  As Jackie’s trying to get the crowd to warm up to his routine he keeps getting heckled by a guy (Happy Anderson) pushing for “Eddie” material, which Jackie then realizes is because this loudmouth and his wife are videorecording the increasingly-angry-interchange for their blog website; Jackie insists they desist, they don’t, soon the guy’s (despite being considerably bigger than Jackie) decked by a couple of solid punches.  

 Even more solid is the viral-viewing of the fight, putting Jackie’s name back out in public in a manner encouraging to Miller, assuming Jackie settles his assault arrest by accepting the deal proposed by his irritated lawyer; however, the judge demands Jackie apologize to the video guy which he refuses to do, leading to a month in jail plus a requirement of 100 hours of community service which he does at the (actual) Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in lower Manhattan.  There he meets another community-service-worker, Harmony Schlitz (Leslie Mann), who assaulted her ex-boyfriend and the woman he was having an affair with, so our plot’s pieces are fully in action.

 Jackie takes a liking to Harmony; she seems to reciprocate by being a convenient date to the lesbian-wedding of his young niece, Brittany (Lucy DeVito), although Jackie’s brother Jimmy (Danny DeVito [who's also Lucy’s Dad]) isn't all that thrilled about how his famous sibling gives so very little time otherwise to his family while sister-in-law Flo (Patti LuPone) generally detests Jackie, leading to verbal sparing with Harmony after Uncle Jackie offers one of his famous impromptu crass performances (but he was begged to speak by Brittany, who’s clearly more receptive to it than many in attendance, especially because he ends with a sincere tribute to her and new wife Frankie [Kelly McCrann]).  Jackie then has to return the favor by accompanying Harmony to a dinner with her overbearing father, Mac Schlitz (Harvey Keitel), where this time it’s the men who spar over Dad’s treatment of Harmony, but given her lack of resources she has no choice but to follow him back to Florida to finish out her required service at a retirement home he runs (although she does have sex with Jackie later that night before leaving).  Jackie keeps trying for a comeback that doesn’t happen (he appears at a big Friars Club tribute to 95-year-old-comic-screen-legend May Conner [Cloris Leachman], but she dies [literally] during his 
comments so the tribute recorded-in-progress is never shown; later he gets a chance to host 
Say Uncle on Raw-TV but Jackie becomes so vilely-disgusted with the gross required-humiliation of the contestants he walks out during the premiere live broadcast) so later he begrudgingly accepts a nostalgia convention in Florida, but really only to visit Harmony who’s yet to return any of his many attempts to reconnect.  While at the rest home he manages to engage the happy, oldster-crowd with an enthusiastic version of an ubeat-impromptu-song, “Making Poopie” (also released to viral-Internet-embrace [which is what got him the Raw-TV gig, but even his angry departure there drew a huge response so his career does finally get back on track]).  Harmony’s not in tune with Jackie’s “melody,” though, finally admitting he’s the reason she’s now pregnant; a bit later he visits again, offering to be a part of the child’s life.  As The Comedian comes to a close a few years later, Jackie’s now truly on top again but as a respected-standup-comic rather than a TV star of yesteryear while Harmony’s married (to someone we haven’t seen before) but Jackie visits his daughter frequently, even to the point of encouraging her to do her own off-color-routine at her school’s talent show, much to Mom’s somewhat-embarrassed-chagrin (although Harmony was easily that conventionally-objectionable herself in this movie's scenes until she went to Florida).

So What? Relative to famous characters from De Niro’s past, Jackie Burke (given that he's fictional he's obviously 
no relation to me, but it’s quite interesting to see "Jackie" as a double-fictional-construction, as we watch an Italian actor portraying a Jew who’s portraying an Irishman; I simply try to portray a film critic—with mixed results) is not nearly as psychotic as Travis Bickle (from Taxi Driver [Martin Scorsese, 1976]) nor as physically violent as Jake La Motta (in Raging Bull [Scorsese, 1980]) but he’s still mostly obnoxiously-unlikeable even though he finally finds some harmony with Harmony but will likely never have the ultimately-endearing-personality-hidden-under-a-gruff-exterior we find with his Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents (Jay Roach, 2000), Meet the Fockers (Roach, 2004), and Little Fockers (Paul Weitz, 2010).  Jackie’s sour on being known only for his past work in Eddie’s Home when his goal is to be accepted for the new persona he’s trying to refine in live comedy.  (Although I admit I’m confused as to the nature of that old TV show because it clearly seems to have been just a standard broadcast network offering so I can’t imagine its content could have been as caustic as what audiences seem 
to recognize with Jackie in his standup-routines even as they keep on goading him to revert to his famous character—unless he was more like Archie Bunker on All in the Family than is implied by what little we learn about Eddie, although his signature complaint to his wife—“Ar-leeeeeeeeeen!”
does have overtones of Archie’s characterization of often-confused-wife Edith as a “dingbat” or even Ricky Ricardo’s constant demand that his wife had “some spainin’ to do” on I Love Lucy.)  But it’s hard to tell if the verbal jolts he comes up with so spontaneously are part of a finely-honed set of skills or whether he’s just so rudely-angry at everything around him that insults are his only sincere form of communication.  Whatever his motivation, Jackie’s a very unpleasant man to share time with in most of his scenes (although he does have a successful rapport with the homeless folks he’s serving food to at the soup kitchen) which generally gets to be grating, having to watch him constantly be so bitter until he loosens up after his viral videos re-establish him as “the comedian” audiences are now eager to pay to see.

Bottom Line 
Final Comments: With so many big-name-actors in The Comedian's cast (including Charles Grodin as Nick D’Angelo, head of the Friars Club but a bitter adversary to whom Jackie has to grovel in order to get into the May Conner tribute) you’d have every reason to expect an astoundingly good film; instead what you get is a marvelous turn by De Niro as a wry comedian with a sense of timing in his harsh, snarky delivery that feels organic in comic insight/verbal utterance rather than just an actor playing the part of a comedian (as we saw the character of La Motta clumsily attempting to do in his later-year-nightclub-scenes in Raging Bull [confirming what a great performer De Niro is, that he could make himself appear that badly as a stage presence] or De Niro as Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy [Scorsese, 1982], a man so desperate to be a celebrity he kidnaps Jerry Lewis’ character in order to force a chance in the spotlight) but in a film that overall just doesn’t hold my interest as it careens from anger-motivated jokes to thwarted romance to seeming-straight-talking-crusader-attitudes, ending in a safe place with everybody happy (even if shocked at the young girl’s bawdy talent-show-routine at the close, even though you can feel it coming given who her father is).

 Certainly this isn’t a bad cinematic experience considering the talent involved (including director Hackford [pictured just above] whose previous work includes An Officer and a Gentleman [1982], The Devil’s Advocate [1997], Ray [2004]), yet the result here is merely that of watching some highly-talented-performers go through a plot-exercise that merely gives them the opportunity to deliver a cluster of well-crafted-lines rather than inhabit a story that exhibits a need to be told.  While not that many reviews have worked their way to the collection sites as I go to print post, the ones that exist aren’t very favorable (at Rotten Tomatoes a miserable 26%, Meteoritic a surprisingly better 42%, although that’s based respectively on 31 and 12 reviews so you might want to check back at those links a bit later to see if things have improved any [these results—with details in the Related Links section farther belowcompare most unfavorably to the 96% and 82% at RT and MC for Neruda]).

 In picking a choice Musical Metaphor for The Comedian I’m drawn to Paul Simon’s “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor” (from the 1973 There Goes Rhymin’ Simon album) at blAHE (which is a late 2016 Paris concert; I like to use live performances when available for these Metaphors but at times the audio’s not all that clear so if you’d like to hear Paul's lyrics a little bit better you can take a listen to the original recording) because of its evocation of Jackie Burke’s hardened-frustration with the world, that his once-cherished-previous-fame has become a ceiling that holds him back, as he's expected to constantly recycle his past for the comfort of audiences who don’t want to negotiate new material nor endure the grim attitudes that fuel his rude, demeaning approach of a barrage of nastiness, yet others up-and-coming in the comedian business are able to build on what Jackie’s done before, taking their careers upward from the floor of their many predecessors’ past accomplishments.  Jackie never presents himself as a singer, but if he did I think he could easily relate to lyrics in "One Man's Ceiling ..." such as “There’s been some hard feelings here About some words that were said […] And what is more There’s been a bloody purple nose […] Where some people congregate in shame […] When I thought I heard somebody Call my name.”  Awful paranoia strikes deep, once again, but more so effectively in this song than in The Comedian as a whole.
Short(er) Takes
                                                             Gold (Stephen Gaghan)

This is based very loosely on real events about how a desperate Reno prospector joins with a famed metal-finder to search for a mother lode of gold in Indonesia, which they appear to do just before exhausting all of their investor capital, leading to untold riches until problems arise with the Suharto government then completely unanticipated complications occur.

 Gold has barely been embraced by the critics’ collective at a pace stronger than The Comedian (RT 40%, MC again surprisingly ahead with 49%) even though these responses feel to me to be harsher than necessary if for no other reason than the always-captivating Matthew McConaughey (although when he sinks into his ordinary car a couple of times in desperation you realize just how many miles away he is from those exquisite Lincoln TV ads) here playing Kenny Wells, a 3rd-generation-Reno, NV-prospector still trying to find fame for his Washoe Mining Co—admitted by his late father (Craig T. Nelson) as a “speculative business”—which by 1981 has been reduced to being run out of a local bar where his faithful, tolerant girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a waitress; Kenny’s constantly engrossed in smoking cigarettes, drinking bourbon, and trying to find where Mother Nature’s hidden her precious metals (he’s self-characterized by a tattoo on his arm of a flying bird with no feet who “sleeps in the wind”).  When his latest pitch to investors goes flat, with bills piling up, he’s desperate but gets energized again by a dream about finding a mother lode in the distant jungles of Indonesia.

 After hocking what little gold jewelry he has to bargain with (including a watch given as a present to Kay) he’s flying away to southeast Asia to meet up with geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez), famed for finding a trove of copper there some years ago.  Mike agrees to a partnership, Kenny manages to raise some cash based on Mike’s reputation, then they’re off to a remote spot in Borneo which seems to actualize Kenny’s dream, but the grubstake’s soon running dry without any results so their workers walk out even as Kenny contracts a bad case of malaria.  Draining Wells’ credit cards to buy a water filtration system for these jungle-dwelling-workers, Mike soon has the operation going again, then when Kenny comes out of his delirium the exploratory results finally show the promise of millions of ounces of gold.  On this news, Washoe stock soars, Kenny, Kay, Mike, and their associates (including Clive Coleman [Stacy Keach]) are rolling in cash, their dreams of exceeding-wealth fulfilled until Kenny turns down a huge buyout offer from Mark Hancock (Bruce Greenwood) who then uses his influence with President Suharto to have the mine seized, at least until Kenny and Mike make a deal with Suharto’s ne’er-do-well-son, putting them back in business—until another investor suddenly finds no gold in their samples.

  Long story short, Mike was “salting” the drilled core samples with gold dust all along but he slips away just before the scam gets exposed (just as Kenny’s getting the Golden Pickaxe Award, honored for being Prospector of the Year) back to Indonesia only to be detained by Suharto's army, seemingly thrown from a helicopter with his mangled body found later.  Kenny’s broke, questioned by the FBI, finally released but heartsick about the roughly $17 billion lost by investors, although Kay (who left, disgusted with him earlier when his ego ran out of control) takes him back with an ending that solves everything when a check for $82 million arrives from Mike (half of what he cashed in just before the stock tanked), verifying he’s not dead after all.  In broad strokes this is “inspired by true events”, but a lot of dramatic license has been taken with it, giving McConaughey glorious free rein in the story’s mostly-1988 setting to appear balding, pot-bellied, buck-toothed, and utterly-pathetic in his quest for riches (but his actions are largely done to honor the unrealized-successes of his father) yet he's also very-dangerously-ego-driven when moneymen with much bigger resources decide to insert themselves into his success.  Gold’s certainly not a memorable movie; however, its lead actor (and his solid supporting cast) never come across as complacent with their roles, with Ramírez as marvelously duplicitous giving no hint until after the fact of such treachery, Kay as the only level-headed-member of Wells’ posseshe’s willing to share in the riches but able to keep clear about her limits in this rapidly-racing-situation where trust only goes as far as whoever can swing the most leverage.  They all glitter for awhile, even as the movie doesn't fully pan out as the intriguing-adventure that it tries to convey in its encouraging trailers. 

 Let’s just say that if you’re up on your Oscar contenders and don’t care for psychological horror (Split [M. Night Shyamalan]), sentimental fantasies (A Dog’s Purpose [Lasse Hallstrom]), or grisly action (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter [Paul W.S. Anderson]) then you might appreciate the non-stop-frenzy of Gold* as long as you save some gold, get the best bargain-matinee-price available.

*Regarding this movie’s “inspired by true events” status, there actually was a huge scam involving a false gold mine in Indonesia, but the names, the decade (1990s), location of the principals (Canada), etc. have been changed in this script, with Mike being a composite of 2 men from the actuality.  You can get much more on this from a Calgary Herald article and this fact vs. fictionalization site.

 As for my choice for a Musical Metaphor for Gold you might assume I’d be drawn to either “Money (That’s What I Want)” (written by Barry Gordy and Janie Bradford which led to Barrett Strong’s original version becoming the 1st hit for Motown in 1960; recorded by many, but my favorite version’s by The Beatles, on their 1963 U.K. album With the Beatles, their 1964 U.S. The Beatles’ Second Album) or maybe “Money” (the Pink Floyd song from their 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon) but not only have I used them both 3 times each in previous reviews but also they speak only to the crass aspects of this movie, the attitudes that may have you hoping that Gold is another dose of The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013; review in our January 4, 2014 posting); therefore, I’m going in another direction with Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” (from his 1972 Harvest album) at https://www. (a live performance from 1995's Farm Aid concert [Louisville, KY] with backing from Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael) as it speaks to the underlying aspects of this story: Wells’ desire to succeed not just to be rich but to find some sense of accomplishment that would finally resolve the forlorn-hopes of his family predecessors that their instincts were as valid as their ambitions.  However, if you’d prefer the previous tunes mentioned, I’ll indulge you with The Beatles (a live 1963 performance complete with screaming girls; the video quality’s not so good, though) and Pink Floyd (from 2005, when Roger Waters briefly reunited with old bandmates David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright after a 24-year-“artistic differences”-separation).

 Finally, in addition to the usual cluster of Related Links just below I’ll add this one (lots of scrolling needed here, I'll warn you) so you can see the film and TV winners from the recent Screen Actors Guild awards (which cheers me because Denzel Washington and Viola Davis won in their respective categories for Fences [Washington, 2016; review in our January 12, 2017 posting]).  Further, if you may be interested in a SAG “biggest snubs and surprises” analysis, here it is; then, if you’re really hooked on that sort of thing here’s a similar speculation regarding the current Oscar nominees.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*We’re sorry to say that a Google software glitch causes every Two Guys in the Dark posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to the Summary page, but there are too many of them to go back and fix them all.  From 8/26/16 on this link is accurate, with hopefully not too much confusion caused by this latest stupid snafu from the Alphabet overlords’ programming problems.
AND … at least until the Oscars for 2016’s releases have been awarded on Sunday, February 26, 2017 we’re also going to include reminders in each posting of very informative links where you can get updated tallies of which 2016 films have been nominated for and/or received various awards 
and which ones made various individual critic’s Top 10 lists.  You may find the diversity among the various awards competitions and the various critics hard to reconcile at times—not to mention the often-significant-gap between critics’ choices and competitive-award-winners (which pales when compared to the even-more-noticeable-gap between specific award winners and big box-office-grosses you might want to monitor here)—but as that less-than-enthusiastic-patron-of-the-arts, Plato, noted in The Symposium (385-380 BC)—roughly translated, depending on how accurate you wish the actual quote to be—“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” so your choices for success are as valid as any of these others, especially if you offer some rationale for your decisions (unlike many of the awards voters who simply fill out ballots, sometimes for films they’ve never seen).

To save you a little time scrolling through the “various awards” list above, here are the Golden Globe nominees and winners for films and TV from 2016 along with the Oscar nominees for 2016 films.

Here’s more information about Neruda: (very short—3:46—interview with director Pablo Larraín and actor Gael García Bernal)

Here’s more information about The Comedian: (32:14 interview with director Taylor Hackford and actors Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito; the audio’s fine here but the video’s very shaky at the beginning, somewhat erratic throughout)

Here's more information about Gold: (3 trailers but twice as long in total as the one just above—6:22—and this is a Red Band one so in the 1st 2 of them you get more of a taste of the film’s actual R-rated-language along with more total brief shots from the movie, which taken together with my comments in the above review may be all you need to see/know rather than paying for this when there are lots of Oscar contenders awaiting your cash right now)

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken*

*Please note that YouTube keeps taking down various versions of this majestic Eagles performance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so I have to keep putting in newer links (of the same damn material) to retrieve it; this “Hotel California” link was active when I did this posting but the song won’t be available in all of our previous ones done before 1/25/2017.  Sorry, but there are too many postings to go back and re-link every one.  The corporate overlords triumph again.

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.

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