Skip to main content

Rapid Reviews: Miss Sloane and Office Christmas Party

There was a brief stretch of recent history between 2011 and 2014 where Jessica Chastain stood as one of the most accomplished actresses in the industry. During that time she tallied a pair of Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe win for her role in the Kathryn Bigelow's hunt for Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty. Since then, it's fair to say that Chastain's chosen a few questionable roles. But with John Madden's political lobbying thriller, Miss Sloane, Chastain returns to her previous Oscar-caliber heights.

Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) is the most desirable lobbyist in our nation's capital. And when an influential gun rights supporter seeks her services to sway the female public opinion surrounding an upcoming gun-law vote, Elizabeth Sloane's personal views push her to leave her firm and work on the opposite side of the issue. However, she finally recognizes that winning against the most powerful opponent in Washington will require lofty sacrifices.

In this politically volatile atmosphere where we find ourselves inescapably trapped, there's been an immense push-back against this film. However, Miss Sloane offers a reasonable portrayal of the responsible gun owner versus the emotionally reckless gun owner, both of which exist in our society. Even more important, though, is just how small of a role these identifying factors play to the greater intention of John Madden's intelligent drama. The gun rights issue actually takes a backseat to a larger message regarding the dangers of allowing money in politics and the unjust influences it can have over our elected officials. To help deliver this message, Jessica Chastain shines in her empowering lead role, providing a level of performance we haven't seen from her in a few years. Her exceptional turn supports a heady screenplay which details the mental chess-match between these feuding sides of the issue. But despite the film's fine lead performance and its cleverly concocted script, a bloated running time detracts heavily from its shining qualities. There are many lulls scattered throughout the film but, thankfully, Miss Sloane explodes with a brilliant finale that makes this marathon of a ride completely worth it.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

The modern Hollywood comedy has become completely inept and devoid of any real talent or creativity. You can look no further than Josh Gordon and Will Speck's new holiday film, Office Christmas Party, to understand just how barren the genre has become. Even a long list of recognizable comedy favorites isn't enough to salvage this jumbled mess of a film.

Fresh off a divorce, Chief Officer Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) and his overseeing branch manager, Clay (T.J. Miller), have their holiday spirit crushed when the company's CEO (Jennifer Aniston), threatens to shut them down unless they can secure a huge potential client. So rather than cancel their annual office Christmas party at the CEO's behest, they double down on the evening's shindig by trying to impress the client with an outrageous bash that he'll never forget.

Careless storylines, poorly scripted jokes and an overall lack of quality ideas spoil the latest comedy effort from the directing duo of Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory and The Switch). Ironically, Office Christmas Party opens with a flurry of well-earned laughs, but then unravels quickly thereafter. This early onset of humor provides a glimmer of hope that's held on to for way too long, up until the film ultimately reaches a point of no return with its female pimp character, played by Workaholics supporting star Jillian Bell. The film's attempt at a romance subplot stands as its most formidable aspect, but even that feels sadly forced. Silicon Valley co-star, T.J. Miller, once again validates that he's only tolerable in small doses. Unfortunately, he's asked to carry the weight of the film and everything else crumbles from there. Office Christmas Party fails to produce any memorable qualities and, in all honesty, it isn't worth your time or effort.

Stars: 1.5 stars out of 4

Grade: C-


Popular posts from this blog

The Glass Castle

Destin Cretton is anything but a household name. Yet, the gifted filmmaker turned heads with his massively overlooked 2013 drama, Short Term 12. The effort bridged together Cretton's singular story and vision with the remarkable acting talents of Brie Larson. Since then Larson has gone on to win an Academy Award (Room), but her career comes full circle in her latest collaboration with Destin Cretton in the adapted film The Glass Castle.

Told non-chronologically through various flashbacks, The Glass Castle follows the unconventional childhood of gossip columnist and eventual Best-Selling author Jeannette Walls (Larson). Prior to her career as a writer, Walls grows up under the dysfunctional supervision of her alcoholic father (Woody Harrelson) and her amateur artist mother (Naomi Watts). But as Jeannette and her siblings begin to mature and fully comprehend their squatter-lifestyle and impoverished upbringing, they must work together to escape the clutches of their deadbeat parents.

ATHIRAH (2016) REVIEW : Urgensi, Relevansi, dan Intimasi dalam Film Biografi

Urgensi, kata yang tepat dan selalu menjadi poin menarik di setiap film-film tentang seseorang atau biografi. Menilik tujuan seperti apa yang ingin diwujudkan lewat beberapa sineas setelah menyelesaikan proyek film biografi. Beberapa poin ini memang terkadang masih terkesan bias, karena masih ada kepentingan politik yang berusaha ingin disampaikan. Memang, film sejatinya bisa digunakan sebagai alternatif penyampaian pesan, film memiliki misi dari pembuatnya. Sehingga, metode ini kerap digunakan sebagai medium untuk membangun atau mengembalikan sebuah citra.
Juga ada Relevansi, kata yang tepat setelah menonton sebuah film biografi. Apa yang berusaha dibangun dan ingin disampaikan oleh menonton akan berdampak pada bagaimana seseorang memiliki paradigma dengan sosok tersebut. Dua poin itu juga yang membuat Riri Riza ingin mengabadikan secara visual tentang sosok Ibu Jusuf Kalla bernama Athirah. Memoir tentang Athirah telah pertama kali dituliskan ke dalam bentuk buku oleh Albethiene En…

The Best Performances in Christopher Nolan Films

Like a writer pushing his deadline, guest-writer Greg Rouleau has stepped in to deliver the first of a three-part Movie List of the Month featuring the magnificent Christopher Nolan just before the calendar changed to August (June's list). To begin the upcoming movie list series Greg begins by highlighting the Top 10 performances featured in Nolan's film catalog. Here's a look at the selections:

#10. Matthew McConaughey - Interstellar (2014)

The apex of the “McConaissance” came when McConaughey, fresh off an Academy Award win for Best Actor, signed on to star in Nolan’s big-budget sci-fi epic, with an ensemble that included its fair share of Oscar winners and nominees.  Heading this cast in impressive fashion, McConaughey’s Cooper perfectly embodies the rural American family man who can’t deny his dormant thrill for exploration when he’s chosen to lead a team through a wormhole in hopes of discovering a new home for Earth’s inhabitants.  Coop’s great balance of heart, herois…