Friday 5: Stop. Hey, What’s That Sound?

From here.

  1. What’s a sound you like falling asleep to?
    Definitely rain, like everyone else.  But also the sound of a baseball broadcast, preferably radio, but TV will also work.  The rhythm of a baseball game is one of life’s perfect sounds, and few things comfort me as effectively.
  2. What sounds do you hear right now?
    The landlord is having the trees trimmed, so I’ve been hearing the sound of a buzz saw all day.  I tried to listen to music, but the combination of the music and the saw was more displeasing than just the saw.  Between blasts from the power tool, though, I also hear the whirring of my fan and the clicking of the keys.
  3. What actor or actress has a speaking voice you especially like?
    Pretty much every answer to every question about an actress is Julia Roberts.  I love Julia’s voice.  She does those Nationwide commercials so well.  And her work in the live-action Charlotte’s Web film (as Charlotte) is sublime.  I also love the voices of Lauren Bacall, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scarlett Johansson, and Ben Kingsley.
  4. What musical instrument has a sound you find unpleasant?
    Symphony lovers are likely to hate me for this, but I really dislike the oboe.  That goose-honking sound doesn’t work for me, pretty much ever.  I’m not a fan of most electronic drums, either.  I do like the sounds of the vibraphone and steel drum, but a little of each really goes a long way.  Doesn’t take much to tilt them over into unpleasantness.
  5. What are some great songs about listening or hearing?
    “Rhythm of the Rain” (Dan Fogelberg version or Kaau Crater Boys version)
    “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (lately makes me cry)
    “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel
    “Listen to the Music” by the Doobie Brothers

    I’m sure I’m missing some good ones.

Review: Money Monster

Money Monster (2016)
Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Greta Lee. Directed by Jodie Foster.

money_monster_1Lee Gates hosts one of those financial advice shows on a cable news station, with crazy graphics and general hamming it up, as much a show about a personality as investing. He’s so full of himself and so disdainful of people around him that nobody can stand him in real life, although he seems oblivious to this truth. His longtime director Patty Fenn has finally had enough, and although nobody knows it yet, today is her last day before she quits and heads to the rival network across the street. She grits her teeth through Gates’s ridiculous interactions because she’s through.

money_monster_2Kyle Budwell is a regular shmoe, just a guy who, on Gates’s advice, invested his modest inheritance in a company Gates said was a can’t-miss. He sneaks onto the Gates set and takes him hostage, live on the air, demanding that Gates explain how thousands of investors on his solid advice lost millions of dollars, and how Gates can live with this knowledge. Budwell straps explosives to Gates and shows the TV audience that he has one of those hand-held plunger detonators: if he lets go of the device, Gates and everyone in the building is going to be blown up.

Fenn continues to direct the show, sending her staffers on a search for people at the can’t-miss company who can explain the computer glitch that cost investors all this money. It’s a double layer of drama, with the hostage situation in the studio and reporters tracking down answers from the firm, Fenn playing QB in both games.

money_monster_3Money Monster is attempted commentary on the way American investors and companies treat each other, with a somewhat more interesting (and less direct) exploration of television news programs. Neither view is rewarding or insightful, although the high-school drama teacher in me was kind of intrigued by the relationship between director and performer, and how a good production team works to deliver a good product.

The film’s real strength is in the acting chops of Julia Roberts and George Clooney. Even in semi-insipid material like this, you can see an easy confidence in each actor’s approach. In fact, it all looks a little too easy for them both, leaving me with the impression that although they were very good in their roles, neither brought anything to the film that less talented actors could have brought. This isn’t a complaint, because given the choice between a ho-hum movie starring Roberts and Clooney and a ho-hum movie starring almost anyone else, I’ll happily take the former. They really do know what they’re doing, and boy are they pretty to look at.

Since there’s not much to say about the film, I’ll add two notes of mild interest. One of Fenn’s assistants is played by the daughter of Phylicia and Ahmad Rashad. And the actress who plays the Korean interpreter is Greta Lee, who was the very funny manicurist in the (also so-so) Tina Fey film Sisters. I like her.

Five-point Julia Roberts bump.