Never mind if you flunked macro-economics at college or never took a business or math class at all. Director Adam McKay explains it all to you in the brilliant, scintillating, maddening film "The Big Short," based on Michael Lewis' book of the same name (Lewis also wrote Moneyball).
Some viewers will go to "By the Sea" because of its famous stars: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who also wrote and directed the film. Fewer will embrace the slow, quiet, meticulously staged story of two damaged individuals. Roland struggles to revive his writing career, escaping into alcohol. An aging dancer, Vanessa languishes in a depressed state buttressed by pills.
If you've ever wondered what it was like to be inside the belly of the beast of a Sherman tank, "Fury" takes you there and closes the hatch. It is a war movie, far gorier than "Saving Private Ryan" or "In Glorious Basterds." Unfortunately, "Fury" settles for cliché over insight.
Beginning with a roar as a speeding motorcycle races by, director Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" injects nerve-jangling excitement into a tried-and-true drug trafficking disaster. The set up is elegant and quick. The Counselor, committing to marry his adored Laura, agrees to participate in a routine drug deal. His greed will, unsurprisingly, connect him with a ruthless drug network.
A familiar story receives a remarkably engaging, technically impressive presentation in director Andrew Dominic’s “Killing Them Softly.” Two dim-witted, imprudent petty criminals decide to rob a high-stakes mob poker game. A professional hit man arrives to set things straight, meaning retribution for those foolish enough to overstep their bounds.
Moneyball's behind-the-scenes drama is a terrific companion piece to the World Series' on-the-field excitement. Based on the real-life experiences of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, Moneyball asks tough questions, especially how to compete against the wealthiest teams. And it finds answers as creative as Beane's 2001 solution to having an operating revenue one-fourth the Yankees' budget, for one example.
More a spectacularly beautiful visual poem than a straight-ahead narrative, writer/director Terence Malick's much anticipated The Tree of Life gently urges kindness and love while deploring greed and ego. Interrogating the nature of existence and death, love and grief, Malick detours to contemplate the origins of the Earth and the evolution of nature with a dinosaur era scene.