Le Mans ‘66 (Ford v Ferrari) (2019) Review

Le Mans ‘66 (aka Ford v Ferrari) (2019)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Matt Damon, Carroll Shelby, Christian Bale, Ken Miles, Jon Bernthal, Lee Iacocca, Caitriona Balfe, Mollie Miles, Tracy Letts, Henry Ford II, Henry Ford, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, Enzo Ferrari, Ray McKinnon, JJ Feild, Jack McMullen, Gian Franco Tordi, Benjamin Rigby, Ben Collins, Francesco Bauco, Joe Williamson, Alex Gurney, Corrado Invernizzi, Wallace Langham

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.

My Opinion:

I liked this film a lot. It’s weird – I hate sports but quite often enjoy sports-related movies. Probably because they give the stories the Hollywood treatment, which makes the events more exciting than they were in real life? Maybe. But more than anything I like how they focus on the people and their relationships outside of that sport. I care more about the outcome when I know a little bit about the people who are competing. I felt similar when watching Rush, which was another fantastic movie in this genre. I slightly preferred Rush (possibly thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s butt) but both movies made me care about the characters AND the races. Plus the best part about not being a sports fan? I had no idea who would win any of these races! Watching the final race in this one was intense. I loved it.

Matt Damon & Christian Bale were both great and I’d be happy to see either of them get nominated for Oscars for these roles. I especially liked Bale and I cannot stand that dude. I think this is the first time I liked him in a movie but Ken Miles was a great & complex character (although I have no idea how accurate this film is compared to the real-life Miles & Carroll Shelby). He was hot-tempered (so probably a piece of cake for Bale) but also very loving with his wife & son. His wife, played by Caitriona Balfe, was also a strong character and I’m glad we got to see him with his family as well as with Shelby as that’s what made us care about him.

We didn’t see any of Shelby’s personal life, though from what I’ve read it probably wouldn’t have made for as much of a feelgood film so I can see why they focused on Miles and his family instead. With Shelby, the focus was on his career & on his relationship with Miles. As the movie feels more like it’s about Ken Miles, though, I can see it being likely that Bale gets more of the attention during Awards season but Damon was also very good in this – he’s just far more understated.

By the way – I definitely prefer the American title of Ford v Ferrari. It’s weird when they change the titles of movies for other countries. I wonder why they changed it for the UK? I suppose I could Google that if I wasn’t lazy. Doesn’t matter – it’s a good film either way. I’m glad I decided to watch it despite not loving the genre, although it’s a “one-time watch” sort of movie for me.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Money Monster (2016) Review

Money Monster (2016)

Directed by Jodie Foster

Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito, Caitriona Balfe

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars George Clooney as Lee Gates, a TV personality who advises his audience on commerce and Wall Street, and who is forcefully interrogated by Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a grief-stricken bankrupt viewer who lost his money after a previous tip.

My Opinion:

I chose to go to this movie in this way: “Eeny meeny miny… Oh, Money Monster has a much shorter running time than X-Men: Apocalypse or The Nice Guys so let’s just watch that one”. Money Monster is a decent enough film but it’s one of those that you know most people won’t bother to make a trip to the cinema to see. It’s a home-watcher. I enjoyed it even though it’s a bit formulaic & predictable but, hell, most movies are. If you like any of its stars or want to see a Jodie Foster film (I thought she’d directed far more movies than she actually has!), you’d probably like this one just fine.

This movie (its basic plot, at least) reminded me a lot of Man On A Ledge & I did keep thinking of that movie thoughout this one. I remember really looking forward to that film as it had a great concept but it ended up being a stupid, silly mess. Luckily, Money Monster is much better than Man On A Ledge so don’t worry about my comparison! It has much better writing & acting plus situations that aren’t as ridiculously far fetched.

Unfortunately, it does fall apart at the end after a pretty promising start. It’s one of those films where the “surprise” of what’s “really going on” isn’t a surprise in the slightest, which was a little disappointing as I wanted it to be something more than just “Oh, that’s it? Well that was obvious from the start”. I think it also fails to get its message across (if it even has a message?). I suppose the message of sorts is just about how big business/money always screws over the little guy but we all know that’s a fact of life anyway. This movie could’ve provided a good commentary on that but instead just turns into a pretty straightforward good guy vs bad guy hostage drama. I’d have to say that at least The Big Short made this same sort of point in a much more effective way & had a message (I actually hated that movie, though. Snoozefest!). Money Monster takes the path of “entertaining movie” more than “thought-provoking drama”. But there’s of course nothing wrong with a movie being entertaining – I just wish Money Monster had dug a bit deeper to be a little something more.

A quick mention of the film’s stars: Clooney’s role has his name written ALL over it – I would imagine he was the exact person they had in mind for the role even as it was being written. So, yeah, that works but his performance can’t help but feel a bit phoned-in because of it. I’d have to say that Julia Roberts actually does a better job here (and that’s being said by someone who really isn’t one of her fans). This is the perfect sort of role for her these days, though, and I’d even possibly go so far as to say she’s the best one in this. I know there’s been a lot of positive buzz around Jack O’Connell after Starred Up & ’71 (both of which I’ve not seen) and he’s decent enough in this but I think that his character lets him down as the movie fails to make him as sympathetic as I think it had intended.   Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito & especially Caitriona Balfe all did a good job and some of the smaller characters were pretty well-written and provided tiny bits of comic relief, even down to the cameraman who has to stay to film the whole thing while George Clooney has a bomb strapped to him.

I’d recommend Money Monster to anyone who thinks they’d enjoy it. As long as you don’t expect anything too deep, you’ll probably like it okay. I think it has slipped under the radar, which is kind of a shame as there aren’t a whole lot of similar films currently being made. I think Jodie Foster did a decent job with this one & should do more directing.

My Rating: 7/10