Christian Bale

REVIEW: Le Mans ‘66 (2019)

When American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) is tasked with designing and building a Ford that will beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he and his team including driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), have to battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to win.

There’s nothing overly surprising about Le Mans ’66, even if you know nothing about the titular race or the people involved, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an entertaining film.

Le Mans ’66 is an underdog story. In the broader sense Ford is the underdog to Ferrari’s powerhouse as they attempt to put the Ford name on the racing map and make a lot of money while doing it. But then there’s Miles, Shelby and his team. They are the underdogs to the men in suits at Ford. Shelby and Miles know how to make a car go fast and they know no matter how fast the car is, you need the best driver to drive it. That’s Miles but as he does not get on with 95% of the people he meets, Shelby must fight for him to be able to race in the car they’ve built together.

It’s a lot of fun seeing Shelby verbally – and sometimes physically – spar with the paper pushers at Ford. His main foe is racing director Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) who wants everything done in his way, no matter how little he may know about what it takes to make and race a car. While there’re many obstacles put in his way, Shelby does find an unlikely ally in marketing guru Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal).

The racing sequences are thrilling. Quick cuts between long shots and extreme closeups adds to the intensity of the races and you never feel lost or isolated. Instead, you’re right next to Miles in the car as he weaves in between his opponents and races towards the finish line.

The scenes where Shelby and his team test and break and rebuild Ford’s cars are a lot of fun as they highlight the differences between Shelby’s approach to making cars and the executives at Ford’s approach. These scenes are also little snapshots into Shelby and Miles’s friendship and the way Damon and Bale bounce off one another is very entertaining to watch.

Le Mans ‘66 follows the usual beats for a true sporting story, but with a talented cast and solid and entertaining performances from Bale and Damon, Le Mans ’66 is an enjoyable and often exciting film. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Big Short (2015)

the-big-short-posterWhen a small group of outsiders saw what the media, big banks and government refused to acknowledge, they had an idea. The housing market wasn’t as stable as the banks liked people to believe and when these outsiders realised that, they invested and bet against the banks – if they were right it would lead to big money for them but it would also mean the end to capitalism as we know it.

There’s four groups of people who realise what’s going to happen to the housing market and they very rarely cross each other’s paths. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is the eccentric hedge fund manage who makes the discovery that the US housing market is incredibly unstable and figures out a way to make money from that. His pitch is then discovered by trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) and he decides to get in on the action and one misplaced phone call alerts hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) to his plans and Baum and his team is convinced to join Vennett. The final set of characters The Big Short follows are young investors Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) who become involved with the credit default swaps with the help of retired banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt).

All these characters were interesting and determined with what they believed in even when other thought they were crazy. Baum and his small team were brilliant, they were all jaded by the banking system, though Danny Moses (Rafe Spall) is the optimist of the bunch, and the way they bounce off each other make them feel like real people who have been working together for years. (more…)