Our Brand Is Crisis - This Movie Sandy Rocks
Dir: David Gordon Green
Starring Sandar Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan
Sandra (“Just Call me Sandy”) Bullock famously took the lead in this movie from its producer, a certain Mr Clooney, and had it rewritten for a woman (naturally.) It also famously opened in the States to her lowest box office since, well, forever. Which is a shame on two fronts. One, it’s not a bad film. Two, she fucking owns it.
Here’s the deal – even if the subject matter is not appealing (Bolivian Presidential election anyone?) audiences should still be obliged to show up to watch one of the best screen actresses in the world strut her considerable stuff.
But that’s an idealistic argument. And this is a movie about idealism. That almost works.
Bullock is a damaged political adviser, burnt too many times and burnt most of those times by Billy Bob’s adversary. Somehow both of them has fallen foul of the major leagues and find themselves deep in South America, but just as determined as ever to fuck each other over and themselves up in a south of the border fight to the – political - death.
It would be a delight to say that Crisis Is Our Brand as is good as the above paragraph. But it isn’t. We live in a post Aaron Sorkin world and political debate on screen has been ratcheted up more than a notch. There’s nothing here that Michel Ritchie didn’t show us in The Candidate over forty years ago. (And Redford gets name-checked here – almost as if they know.)
What Crisis has are three things in its favour. And we’re going for them – in time honoured tradition – in reverse order:
3) Anthony Mackie, who is rapidly proving himself to be just about the best supporting player in town;
2) Billy Bob - Put him up against a decent adversary and he will bring all the Bad Santa dark that just lives in that man’s on screen soul. In other words – and there are two phrases here – “the very definition of a supporting actor” and “genius”;
and 3) “Sandy” (she told us to – we couldn’t say no) is as good as it gets. There’s her and there’s Julia Roberts – both of whom simply seem incapable of ever faking a moment on screen. From the moment she shows up, Bullock owns every inch of whatever size screen she’s on. Even though the ending of this film doesn’t work, her sustained look to camera still more or less sells it to you.
This is a smart movie – not as smart as it wants to be. But carried by its people.
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