Monday, December 12, 2016

Weekend Box Office: Miss Sloane, Office Christmas Party

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Weekend Box Office: Miss Sloane, Office Christmas Party

By Debbie Schlussel

It’s nearly Christmas time. So, this is supposed to be the time of year when most of the new movies are very good. That ain’t happening. Two new movies this weekend, neither of them good.
* Miss Sloane – Rated R: This is a very cold, very harsh, very dark, and very overwrought picture of the kind of lobbying that happens on Capitol Hill. As one who worked for several Congressman on the Hill, I can tell you that this movie is ridiculous and bears no resemblance to reality. The cat-and-mouse absurdities that go in during the course of this movie are just not how it’s done in real life. Not even close.
Plus, while the movie pretends to be even-handed on the gun control debate, it really isn’t. The protagonist, a female lobbyist, risks it all in order to get stricter gun control laws passed–it’s the only “moral” position she’s ever taken in her life. And with that, the movie is a more subtle version of the gun control propaganda we’re used to seeing in the movies, on TV, and throughout pop culture. On top of that, this is an attack on the free market and makes no bones about it. Our “heroine,” the lobbyist, is a free marketeer and evil until she gives it all up to pull out all the stops in favor of more gun control.
On top of that, the movie is long, slow, and boring, taking up 132 minutes of your life that just aren’t worth the wasting here.
Jessica Chastain–in very dark, harsh makeup–is a Elizabeth Sloane, the aforementioned lobbyist, who tells us flat-out that she believes in the free market and American free enterprise. That’s “bad” in the filmmakers eyes, as she bends the rules to almost the breaking point in order to get tax laws and import duties to go her clients’ way. But she’s also smart (or so we’re told). In order to get a client’s sugar-laden breakfast cakes out from under restrictive regulations, she recommends reclassifying them as cookies, which are covered by more relaxed rules.
But that’s the humdrum stuff. Now, a new client–the gun lobby (and presumably, the NRA)–wants to hire her lobbying firm and her to in order to relax gun laws. The lobby wants her to present guns as the ultimate equalizer for women against violence and would-be attackers. But Elizabeth doesn’t want that and laughs in the new client’s face, as well as that of her boss (Sam Waterston). Soon, she’s gone from her big firm to a smaller one in order to lobby for more gun control and fight her former employer in the fight.
Elizabeth has no life. She never sleeps (and takes a lot of pills to stay awake). She hires male prostitutes for sex, as there’s no time for a relationship. And so on. In the meantime, the team she’s poached from her former firm, helps her pursue several senators to get their votes for gun control. They’re working with a victim of “gun violence.” However, later in the film, there’s an incident that makes the gun lobby’s point.
The various machinations in this movie just don’t happen on Capitol Hill. The lobbying in real life is a lot more dry and basic. There just isn’t the intrigue–to the point of the cockamamie in this film–that is presented here. Not even close. And there aren’t mechanical bugs with cameras crawling into Senators’ and lobbyists’ cars. There also aren’t major Senate hearings into the personal lives of lobbyists. The only thing I can ever remember happening that was even close (and it didn’t involve an examination of the lobbyist’s private life or health), were the Senate hearings into corrupt, convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s multi-million-dollar rip-offs of federal Indian tribes. But in that case, there was major money-laundering, tax-evasion, and other crimes going on, including the use of jihadist Muslim Grover Norquist’s “non-profit” Americans for Tax Reform to launder Indian tribe money and hide the source and ultimate destination of it. Apparently, some of that money went to Islamic terrorist outfits tied to Al-Qaeda, too. That’s a legit inquiry by Congress.
The Senate inquiry into Miss Sloane, a major and prolonged scene in the movie, is just ludicrous, and it would never happen. After nearly 2.5 hours of this movie, there just isn’t a worthy payoff. Not even a little bit. (Unless gun control is what you consider a worthy payoff.)
The movie’s just a high-styled, low-brow bore pretending to be something important. It isn’t. Certainly not important enough for 132 minutes of your life and ten-bucks-plus from your wallet.
Watch the trailer . . .

* Office Christmas Party – Rated R: I hated this poor excuse for comedy. You’ve seen this crap–waaaaay toooooo muuuuuch of it–already in recent years. Juvenile, crass, depraved jokes pretending to pass for funny. And they just aren’t. Sure, I laughed several times. But most of this movie was just dumb. Extremely dumb. On top of that, it’s the usual message from liberal Hollywood: loser, drug-using, incompetent, unethical schmucks are the good guys and the heroes; straight-laced, disciplined people, who actually work for a living are the losers and the villains. (Ditto for the human resources manager who objects to female employees wearing too-sexy-for-work outfits–she’s “too uptight”). So typical, so stupid.
The story: Jason Bateman is the Chief Technology Officer at the Chicago branch of Zenotek, a failing internet-hosting and online promotions company. Everyone at the branch is either incompetent or a whiner. The boss is Clay VanStone (T.J. Miller), a rich idiot who wastes money and acts like a child. His rival sister, Carol (Jennifer Aniston), is the hard-working, responsible adult in the family and the company CEO. She wants to pull the plug on the Chicago branch and end the bleeding. She’s right. But, of course, in all Hollywood movies these days, responsible people and responsible decisions aren’t hip and they aren’t to be admired. Instead, they are to be condemned.
Clay and his sister agree that if he can land more business and keep the office profitable, it can remain open. So, he goes about trying to recruit the account of Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance). At first, Walter rules out hiring Zenotek, and morale is lower than low. But Clay decides to throw a giant, wild Christmas party to entice Walter to change his mind and hire Zenotek. The party is filled with cocaine binges, topless naked women, a prostitute and her female pimp, and other lowlife stuff, which makes it “cool” in the world according to Hollywood. Soon, Walter is literally hanging from the chandeliers, trying to ride ropes of lighting–Tarzan-style–from across a second-floor balcony.
Ultimately there are hospital trips, annoying Uber rides, car crashes, and a power outage in the entire Chicago. Haha, funny. NOT. Also not funny: that a guy (Bateman–who is supposed to be the voice of reason here) drinks spiked eggnog from the male genitalia of an anatomically-correct ice sculpture and then gets his tongue stuck on it. If this is your idea of humor, that’s a not-so-thrilling statement on the state of America. And, sadly, that’s where we are. Forget Kris Kringle. This is Kris Kringeworthy.
Absolute garbage. And not even good for more than five or six laughs. If that.
Watch the trailer . . .

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