Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Pete Davidson

QuickView: Dumb Money (2023)

“Yo, what up everybody. Roaring Kitty here. I’m going to pick a stock and talk about why I think it’s interesting. And that stock is GameStop.”

Keith Gill

As a Reddit user, I followed the GameStop short squeeze in early 2021 with great interest as several Wall Street hedge funds were blindsided by loosely coordinated action from retail investors (to whom the finance industry derisively referred as “dumb money”), leading to the Robinhood trading app turning on its own users. Where The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street are “inside out” explanations of financial manipulation that affected the public, Dumb Money focuses on the outsiders breaking in, a grassroots movement that began on the r/WallStreetBets subreddit. The film is candid about the online community’s propensity for crude and offensive memes, reproduced here with the same weight as archival news footage. Presenting events as a “David and Goliath” story (characters are each introduced with their net worth) is an oversimplification but it captures the underlying emotional arc from hope to outrage. Dumb Money often feels like a zeitgeist movie that captures a specific point in time: the COVID pandemic highlighting wealth disparity, the rapid growth of fintech startups, spiralling student debt, and the new influence of TikTok. Craig Gillespie again collaborates with I, Tonya cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis, though here they opt for a more naturalistic style whilst building tension using David Fincher’s technique of cutting between a multitude of camera angles. The ensemble cast is impressive, Paul Dano standing out in his portrayal of Keith Gill, capturing his cadence but finding emotional resonance as well. As Gill has become a very private individual, there is a great deal of speculative material in this dramatisation, though it leans more toward aspects like the supportiveness of his wife rather than sensationalism. Dumb Money is entertaining without really having a message, Gillespie describing the film as “part of the conversation” in its portrayal of an inherently rigged financial system — there is a perhaps unfounded sense of catharsis as Dumb Money shows many regular folk winning despite the lack of structural change; in reality many retail investors also suffered huge losses, represented here only through America Ferrera’s sympathetic portrayal of a nurse burned out by the pandemic. It is a fantasy, then, but a relevant one.

7/10

QuickView: Meet Cute (2022)

“It’s okay for things to be messy sometimes.”

Sheila

Perhaps writer Noga Pnueli was giving herself permission for the messy blend of ideas in Meet Cute, which is likely to be mistaken for a romcom — particularly with Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson in lead roles — when it is really a high concept drama using time travel as a mechanic to explore issues in a similar way to Richard Curtis’ endearing About Time. Sheila is obsessed with reliving the same chance meeting and first date over and over, despite the apparent futility of never experiencing the rest of the relationship. This serves as multiple metaphors over the course of the film: firstly, how familiarity breeds contempt in a relationship; and secondly, how despair can drive us toward the safety of the familiar at the expense of growth. This mental health angle is the film’s most novel idea but it is also the most weakly developed. Meet Cute’s time travel is forgivably broken since it is never treated seriously — the tanning bed gives Hot Tub Time Machine competition for dumbest vessel. The insurmountable issue is that its two leads both bring considerable charm to the screen but lack any chemistry with one another, particularly by comparison to Lehmann’s previous connection drama in Blue Jay. Without audience investment in the relationship, Meet Cute lacks a solid foundation on which the rest of its ideas can build — it’s okay for things to be messy sometimes, but only okay.

5/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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