Quantcast
Channel: Good Efficient Butchery
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

On DVD/Blu-ray: BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB (2018) and SIBERIA (2018)

0
0

BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB
(US/China/UK - 2018)


Have I seen this color/font combo before?
A chronicle of the early 1980s L.A. Ponzi scheme that led to lost fortunes and two murders, BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB had already logged significant time on the shelf long before it found itself tangled in the downfall of co-star Kevin Spacey. Shot in late 2015 and early 2016, the film was quietly released on VOD and on ten screens in the summer of 2018, with news outlets latching on to the film's pitiful $126 opening day gross as if audiences were staying away in protest because of Spacey, when in fact it had no publicity and was getting only one to two screenings a day at those ten theaters, none of which were located in major cities. It got all the exposure of a stealth test screening. Other sites expressed outrage that Spacey was still "getting work" after the scandal, again distorting the big picture and conveniently leaving out the crucial detail that the film was on the shelf for over two years, long before Spacey's (for now) career-ending sexual assault allegations made headlines. It would be nice if all of these articles provided the proper context for the movie's dismal box office take, and as far as releasing it is concerned, let's judge it on what it is rather than on a problematic actor who happens to be in it. Not even factoring whether the movie is good or bad, there's an entire cast and crew who worked on it and shouldn't have to see their efforts get locked away forever just because Kevin Spacey is a fucking creep on his own time. Let's just be glad the next film he and Ansel Elgort both happened to be in, BABY DRIVER, managed to hit theaters before Spacey took his rightful place among Hollywood's post-Weinstein pariahs.





Ah...yes, there it is. 
But even factoring out the Spacey situation, BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB was probably going straight to VOD anyway. It's essentially a DTV-level WOLF OF WALL STREET, with director/co-writer James Cox (making only his second feature since 2003's Val Kilmer-as-John Holmes saga WONDERLAND...yeah, I forgot that movie existed, too) taking the easy Scorsese-worship route, right down to the sub-GOODFELLAS narration by Taron Egerton (the KINGSMAN movies) as Dean Karny. Dean is a fast-talking Beverly Hills mover and shaker who gets reacquainted with prep school buddy Joe Hunt (Elgort). Dean talks junior-level investment broker Joe, a kid from Van Nuys who got into prep school on a scholarship and never really fit in, into stepping up his game and before long, Joe is engineering an investment firm called BBC (which means nothing; they just like the initials but end up calling it "Billionaire Boys Club"), which is really an elaborate Ponzi scheme that allows them all to live large (cue montage of partying and coke, accompanied by Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" and David Bowie's "Let's Dance"), but they're paper rich and cash poor. Egocentric, gay Wall Street con man Ron Levin (Spacey) is eventually brought into their circle, which marks the beginning of the end and the bottom falling out, leading to the separate murders of both Levin and a wealthy Iranian businessman (Waleed Zuaiter), on the run from his country's government and who allegedly has a safety deposit box filled with priceless diamonds the BBC wants to cover their losses. This story was already told in a more thorough 1987 NBC miniseries with Judd Nelson as Joe (Nelson plays Joe's dad here) and the sole reason for this shallow and superficial redux to exist is to let some NextGen Leo DiCaprios have some fun in a WOLF OF WALL STREET scenario. There's others in the BBC but we barely get to meet any of them (along with brief appearances by Rosanna Arquette, Bokeem Woodbine, Suki Waterhouse, and Carrie Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd), and Joe's romance with aspiring artist Sydney (Emma Roberts) is strictly by-the-numbers, serving only to try to make Joe a sensitive nice guy while he's ruining the lives of his investors but feeling really conflicted about it. Elgort and Egerton are alright, and Cary Elwes has an amusing cameo as Andy Warhol, but as much as no one wants to admit it, Spacey is the best thing about BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB. The film loses pretty much all of its spark once he's whacked with about 40 minutes to go, but if this does prove to be his last film (his completed Netflix biopic about Gore Vidal has been shelved, probably permanently), he goes out with an especially flamboyant take on his usual condescending asshole routine which, let's be honest, is something at which he excels. (R, 108 mins)



SIBERIA
(US/UK/Germany/Canada - 2018)


A film whose title may also be the only place in which it played theatrically, SIBERIA stars Keanu Reeves in a ponderous thriller that feels like JOHN WICK reimagined as a European art film. The closest comparison one can make in tone and intent might be 2010's THE AMERICAN, the austere Jean-Pierre Melville-inspired mood piece that found critical acclaim but failed to win over multiplex audiences who were misleadingly sold a George Clooney action thriller. SIBERIA was written by Scott B. Smith, who also scripted A SIMPLE PLAN and THE RUINS, both based on his own novels. Smith is having a really off day with SIBERIA, with Reeves as Lucas Hill, an American diamond smuggler summoned to Russia when his business partner Pyotr (Boris Gulyarin) vanishes along with some priceless diamonds they were supposed to deliver to Russian crime boss Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). Hill's search for Pyotr leads him to a remote town in eastern Siberia where he falls into an intense fling with local bartender Katya (Ana Ularu, who was memorable as Almost Milla Jovovich in 2016's otherwise completely forgettable INFERNO), despite being generally content in his marriage to Gabby (a mostly Skyped-in appearance by Molly Ringwald). Volkov grows increasingly agitated about the diamonds, which leads to one well-handled bit of excruciating cringe tension a little past the one-hour mark, but nothing really works in SIBERIA, starting with a borderline somnambulant Reeves (one of 31 credited producers), who doesn't seem to fare well these days when he isn't playing John Wick. There's no reason to care about Hill, his situation, or his midlife-crisis acting out with Katya, regardless of how vigorously Reeves and Ularu dive into their numerous sex scenes. It seems odd for any movie to rip off THE AMERICAN at all, let alone eight years down the road, and it's not even a very well-done ripoff, blandly directed by Matthew Ross (FRANK & LOLA) from a script that's so uninspired that Smith couldn't even be engaged enough to come up with a better Russian bad guy name than "Boris Volkov."(R, 105 mins)





Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

Latest Images

Trending Articles





Latest Images