Friday, January 27, 2017

'Gold,' Panned

This review originally appeared on

I'm so tired.

So tired of movies centered on morally bankrupt white men men who get rich off of the middle class, or the poor, or the backs of minority labor.

So tired of movies about ugly men with beautiful wives who are just there to be pretty and supportive when the story needs it, and then suddenly unsupportive and antagonistic when the male hero needs an excuse to fuck around on them.

So tired of movies using the "inspired" by true events moniker merely as a means to convince the audience that the story's absurdities should be believed.

So tired of movies using a rock-and-roll soundtrack, tricky camera shots, and anti-heroes because the director has seen one too many Martin Scorsese movies.

I am so tired of movies like Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey and his fake (?) bald head, fake snaggle tooth, and real pot belly, which actually looks completely fake because it's paired with his still-jacked biceps; guess he wasn't willing to give up arm day at the gym.

He stars as Kenny Wells, the last in a long line of gold prospectors, in 1980's Nevada. After his father (Craig T. Nelson) dies, the family business begins to fail, forcing Kenny to make one last-ditch effort to strike it rich by pairing up with geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez), who is convinced there is gold to be found in the mountains of Indonesia.

After constant drilling and a near death from malaria, Kenny's trust in Acosta proves fruitful, and he returns to Nevada and the arms of his loving wife (Bryce Dallas Howard, to try to turn the strike into a billion-dollar venture.

A lot of boring business negotiation scenes follow, as Kenny's dreams turn into reality. Of course, along with success comes the hero's inevitable descent in excess and predictable failure. The only original thing about Gold is that none of its rags to riches to rags characters falls into a severe cocaine addiction.

In movies like this, the getting rich part is usually the most fun to watch. But despite its 1980s setting, Gold is so drab, filled with beige offices, dreary dive bars, ugly hotel rooms, and bad clothes, that none of it is enjoyable. One scene follows the next, with no real sense of progression. Until someone mentions a date near the end of the film, we really have no idea how much time the story has covered. It could be months or it could be years.

For about 90 minutes, Gold just plods along, an all too familiar morality play, until finally, something interesting happens... and then about 15 minutes later, the movie ends. But I will give it this: It's a rare film that manages to close with a final scene much better than anything in the two hours of movie that preceded it.

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