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A Film Diary

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Watched: 6 September

Oh, you know: one of those American Dream films, if we are to understand the American Dream in the same way that inferior writers, producers and directors in Hollywood do, i.e. that it’s nothing more than the pursuit and making of a shitpile of money. This time it’s Matthew McConaughey huffing and puffing away in the lead role, playing a rather one-dimensional character whose fortune is to be found via a goldmine in Indonesia, though the film doesn’t really give much thought to any serious questions relating to the ethics of his mining operation (it’s far more interested, rather predictably, in the ethics of American banks and boardrooms). Gold is yet another of those rags-to-riches-to-rags tales with a montage that depicts lots of cokey, prostitutey excess in the middle. It is directed without much panache and it’s also a bit odd (or inconsistent) in terms of its structural choices. For example, McConaughey’s expositionary voiceover appears at irregular intervals but it doesn’t add anything of value to the characterisation, as would have been the case in a Scorsese film, and if often seems as if the director, Stephen Gaghan, has forgotten all about it. Then there’s the soundtrack: the likes of Joy Division, New Order and Pixies all appear, which I am guessing is to remind the viewer that all of the action is taking place during the 1980s, but each selection reinforces the lack of thought that has gone into the film; I can’t see how anyone would think that a song like Joy Division’s Atmosphere would be a good fit for a story about a man negotiating the pitfalls of corporate America and chasing extreme wealth. It’s sloppiness like this that undoes the film, but at least the star (with Oscar bait-y combover and pot belly to disguise his good looks) is as watchable as ever. (**)

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