Archives for posts with tag: Steve Carell

Grade A

Part comedy, part drama, part suspense and part horror — unless you don’t think being unemployed and homeless is horrifying — “The Big Short” is an eye-opening, crazy ride into the world of financial markets and how the world economy collapsed in 2008/2009.

A handful of traders and investors (played by Steve Carell, Christian Bale, and Ryan Gosling, to name a few) have found serious flaws in the U.S. housing market that would cause it to collapse and take the entire U.S. economy — and those of other countries — down with it.  They decide to go “short” (basically a bet that prices will fall) against the housing market.  These men are laughed at and ridiculed by the rest of the traders/investors/banks who take the opposite bet; but eventually the financial apocalypse that so few had the vision to see — and the balls to take advantage of — will come, bringing such a wide swath of destruction that the effects are still felt by the entire world as I write this.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Gosling is trying to do business with Carell to take a large, short position on the housing market.  Carell and his guys ask for the math on Gosling’s findings.  Gosling points to a young, Asian guy and tells Carell and his crew that the Asian guy is his math specialist!  “Look at his face, look at his eyes,” Gosling says.  Ha ha!   Yes, it was a racist comment; but it was also funny as hell.  I’m Asian, and I laughed my ass off — and even if I wasn’t Asian, I’d still laugh my ass off.  Don’t be so sensitive…the world isn’t here to tiptoe around your feelings.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Big Short” is the scene when Carell is in a restaurant asking a manager of a CDO fund (Collateralized Debt Obligation, which is a financial instrument that was filled with garbage a few years prior to the financial collapse of 2008/2009) what he does and what is in his CDO fund and who the manager really works for.   This scene quickly sums up the high level of greed and callousness in the financial markets that helped usher in all that pain for hundreds of millions of workers all throughout the world.   This scene is infuriating to watch.

For those not at all knowledgeable about the financial markets, “The Big Short” can be confusing despite a few segments where celebrities — playing themselves — explain things in a more simplified form.   But this will be easily understandable by all: there were a lot of shenanigans going on in the U.S. government, the ratings agencies, the traders/investors/brokers, real estate companies, banks, investment banks, and last but definitely not least, the numerous people who took out housing loans who had no idea what they were getting into.

Bottom line: whether you’re into stocks or bonds or currencies or commodities, it’s gambling.  Know exactly what you’re getting into.

— M

 

I put this movie on for my mom and planned to leave and come back when the movie was done; but instead I started to watch with her, and stayed until the end.  I’ve seen this movie before, enjoyed it the first time, and I figured it’s worth a second watch.

“Dan In Real Life” stars Steve Carell, who plays the title role.  He’s a widower who is in a perpetually sad state because he’s never let go of his wife who has been dead for years.  Adding to his problem are his three daughters who are growing up too fast for Carell’s comfort.  Carell and family and all their baggage go into a car and off they go to a family get-together in Rhode Island; and it is there that Carell will meet a woman who will change his life, for better…and for worse.

Taking a break from his daughters who are giving him the cold shoulder because he’s being the typical, overprotective dad, Carell goes into a bookstore and finds Juliette Binoche needing help on finding a few books.  Not a problem for Carell, who makes a living in the literary field.  Small chit-chat leads to a lengthier conversation over coffee, and the two have clearly made a love connection.  Before the romance could progress, Binoche has to leave.  She’s meeting her new boyfriend, you see.  Ugh, life gives another body blow to Carell, but he is hopeful, and manages to get Binoche’s phone number…you know, just to talk and finish their conversation and that’ll be the end of it.  Ha-ha.  Slickly done, but he’s not fooling anybody, especially Binoche.

Soooo, Carell goes back to his family get-together, and is all excited talking about this amazing woman whom he has met…and she walks into the room — Binoche is the new girlfriend of Carell’s brother (played by Dane Cook)!  Life gives an uppercut to Carell, almost knocking him out.  But he toughs it out, telling himself that he won’t ruin his brother’s new relationship, and that he will just ignore Binoche, and that will be the end of it.  Again, he’s not fooling anybody — well, maybe himself — because with each hour that passes, Carell finds something else to love about Binoche, and vice-versa.  How long can they keep their love hidden before they are found out?

My most memorable, movie moment of “Dan In Real Life” is the scene when the Carell family are waiting for Carell’s blind date — set up by his parents — with Carell’s High School classmate who was nicknamed “pig face.”  As Carell paces the floor, obviously nervous about an unwanted date, his relatives create a song that mocks “pig face.”  Then she arrives, and “pig face” is played by Emily Blunt!  Gorgeous, Emily Blunt: hair all done, full make-up, tight, short, red dress, toned body…life throws a wrench in the Carell/Binoche romance.

There’s nothing extraordinary about “Dan In Real Life,” it’s simply a good romantic-comedy that follows all the basic points of its genre.  It’ll make you laugh, maybe give some insights to your own problems in life, and then leave you with a warm, happy thoughts.  Isn’t that worth about an hour and a half of your time?

— M

I borrowed this DVD from the library (thanks for all the free stuff, library!) thinking I was going to get some goofy, comedy movie about the end of the world.  Nope.  Although “Seeking A Friend For The End of The World” has many moments that make you laugh, overall this is a serious drama.  There’s a lot of emotional depth in this movie; and if “Seeking…” was a boxer, it would be a heavyweight.

Steve Carell plays a man whose wife has left him when there are only 3 weeks left before Earth gets hit with an asteroid so large it will destroy all life — except maybe for some bacteria, cockroaches, and politicians.  He tries his best to go about his life as if everything is still normal, probably because that’s all he has left.  But when he finds out his wife has been cheating on him for a long time, and he comes upon a letter from a woman he dated years ago — the love of his life, “the one” — Carell decides to find his first love and spend the last remaining days with her.

Of course, Carell’s path to his former flame isn’t a straight one.  While sitting around the house not knowing what to do with the remaining days he has left, he becomes friends with a neighbor (played by Keira Knightley) in his apartment building; and she is more morose than Carell is!   Knightley has just broken up with her boyfriend, and she missed the last flight to England to be with her family.  Well, Carell and Knightley strike up enough of a friendship for Carell to rescue Knightley from a riot, and the two find themselves on a similar path to be with the people they want to be with.

Back to the riot: this sequence is one of my most memorable, movie moments of “Seeking…”   The movie quickly changes gears and turns into an action/horror as Carell and Knightley escape their burning apartment building and run to Knightley’s car as they dodge bullets and try to outrun a fast moving mob that is destroying everything in its path.  It is one of the constant reminders to the audience that despite the funny moments that happen throughout the story, the end is coming, and it’s coming fast.

Another memorable moment of this movie is the scene when Carell and Knightley talk for the first time.  Carell invites a crying Knightley into his apartment, and Knightley says something like, “I promise not to steal anything if you promise not to rape me.”  Ha ha!   Knightley’s character is a trip.  Very much alive, a person who wants to soak in as much of life as possible.  It’s easy to like this character.

As for Carell’s character…he’s more laid back.  Older, the kind of person whose dreams have been beaten out of him by life; and he just wants the basic things, nothing special.   He likes to play it safe, to stay in his comfort zone for the most part.   But he is very likeable — at least I think so.  Carell is very kind, has a lot of love to give, and he still holds on to his morals and his humanity even when most people around him are doing whatever the hell they want to do because the world is ending.   Plus, he reminds me of somebody I know very well, so yeah…I’m partial to liking this guy.

Still another memorable moment of this movie is the scene when Knightley is talking on the phone with her relatives in England.  The range of emotions that go through her face as she speaks with her loved ones is heartbreaking.  She’s not only saying hello, she’s saying goodbye.  This scene reminds me that all the things that I try to acquire (money, fast cars, a big house) is nothing compared to the love and companionship of my close relatives and friends.  In our most desperate times, what is truly important to us comes sharply in focus.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Seeking A Friend For The End of The World” is the scene when Carell carries a sleeping Knightley to a plane that will take her to England.  As he straps her in her seat, Carell whispers something to Knightley.  What those words are will not be written here.  You’ll just have to watch the movie.

There’s something I want to address here that many of you will probably criticize this movie for: the seemingly lack of lawlessness throughout the movie.   It is mentioned on a news broadcast that rioting is taking place in many parts of America; and Carell and Knightley are mostly travelling in the suburbs and rural areas, where there is a stronger bond and feeling of community among neighbors, and so it is reasonable to not have lots of people in these places going crazy.  Plus, I think most people will stay with their loved ones instead of rioting/looting/raping, and will hold on to their dignity as their lives comes to an end.   Yes, I am shocked writing this, because I tend to be a cynical, NYC dweller who believes most people suck.  But secretly, I have high hopes for people.

As you watch “Seeking…”, you may ask yourself several times what you would do in this situation.   How you would live your remaining 3 weeks.  It is a scary thought.  3 weeks to live.   Definitely not enough time to do everything you wanted to do.  Every minute is precious…how would you use it?  And then…the movie ends, and most of you will go about your lives the way you always do, taking time for granted, thinking you have decades left of life to live.   Are you sure about that?   Many people who drive home from work and are killed in a car accident thought the same thing.   We just don’t know how much time we have left, so if there’s something you need to say to a loved one, say it.  If there’s a place you always wanted to visit, go as soon as you can.

I’m going to do my best to heed my own advice, but knowing me, I’ll probably play it safe and do what I usually do.  I just hope I have enough time.

M

With talents such as Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, writer Dan Fogelman and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, it’s no wonder “Crazy Stupid Love” is one of the best rom-coms I have ever seen.  This goes beyond being a movie and enters the realm of artwork.  The movie’s characters show us how love can be crazy, stupid and wonderful; and usually it’s a mix of all three at the same time, which is why our lives usually goes into a tailspin when we do fall in love.  Caveat emptor.

Carell is being divorced by Moore, Moore is having an affair with Bacon (sounds like a kinky, porn flick, huh?), Stone is unhappy with her boyfriend and seeks the comfort of bar hopper/ladies man Gosling, Carell’s babysitter has the hots for him, Carell’s son is in love with the babysitter, Carell meets Gosling and Gosling decides to turn boring Carell into a sharp dressed, ladies man (and the transformation is impressive), Carell still is in love with his wife…in the hands of lesser talents all this would have turned into an undercooked meal that would’ve given people diarrhea.  Instead, “Crazy Stupid Love” is a movie you should not miss.  I love this movie.  “If you love this movie so much, why don’t you marry it?” you ask.  I did the next, best thing: I bought it.

The biggest message this movie gives is that we have to work hard at our relationships.  Not just at the beginning, but always.   If you want to be with someone, and you think that person is worth it, you put the effort to make it work.  Don’t fall into the trap of being lazy and not paying attention to your significant other’s needs and wants.  I know.  It’s very hard to do all that when you’ve been married for decades.  But it’s still a good message.

My most memorable, movie moment is the scene where Carell, with the help of his kids, tries to get back with his wife; and 3 unexpected visitors show up.   The first visitor took me by surprise — which is a good thing because most movies are predictable.  That’s all I will say about the first visitor because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen this movie.

So, don’t forget to fight for what is important to you.  Fight for love, for justice, for friendship.  Don’t fight over that parking space some jackass just swiped from you right in front of your face.  Unless you think it’s worth going to prison for.  Then you’ll have crazy, stupid love with a 300 pound monster named Bubba while your face is buried in a pillow.

M

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