Why I love George Clooney

Money Monster
(director: Jodie Foster; main roles: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell)
Quote of the film:
“We take care of eachother, it’s embedded in our DNA.”
Kindred films:
Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976), Good Night And Good Luck (George Clooney, 2006)

If you dig the bigger picture, and want to truly understand what really happened to our world since the 2008 financial collapse, this is the one Hollywood flick you should try to see. Even if you don’t find terms like quants (quantative analytics), algorhythms and high frequency trading very funky, you ought to give this one a try. It’s been a while since I saw a social satire with as much intensity and wit as Money Monster.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a host of Money Monster, a daily tv-show for Dow Jones watchers and get-rich-soon-cravers. Clooney is at his best as a cynical, powerhungry media tycon in his own right. Suddenly, during a live broadcast, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) pops up with a gun, holding Gates hostage and demanding to keep the cameras running. Budwell has lost a lot of money when he followed up on an advice by Gates on his programme. Patty Fenn (Gates’ producer, Julia Roberts in a tailormade performance), Lee and Kyle start a complex conversation, with on the outside police forces approaching rapidly.

The excellent script makes a complex international story (the financial collapse of 2008) comprehensible via vintage Hollywood strategies: celebs, a great, intelligent story, emotional tension and relief. After Clooney’s own brilliant black and white social satire Good Night And Good Luck, concerning the origins of mass media manipulation, Hollywood’s most engaged star actor takes another level for his statements. Some of these statements really stick after leaving the cinema. Did we the people really believe the explanation that it was a glitze in computer software used by trading companies which are to be held responsible for the tremendous losses? Which HFT companies have been taken to court? And why do we blame ‘bankers’ as an abstraction, a depersonalized version of Evil, while at the same time keep on trying our luck at stock exchanges? In one brilliant shot, the camera is on all of us.

One of the more off beat questions I’m asking myself after seeing this movie is: how the hell can it be that now in the Netherlands we are engaged in petty discussions how, where and how much pocket change money we ought to spend on culture (in the last weeks, the major cities excluding Amsterdam have published their advices for government arts budgets, 2017-2020), whereas the big boys and girls on Wall Street keep on spending millions, killing foreign companies and even nations (I cry for you Greece) just to keep shareholder value maximization up and running?

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