Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gold [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L)  RogerEbert.com (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (R. Abele) review
RogerEbert.com (M. Zoller-Seitz) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review


Gold [2016] (directed by Stephen Gaghan, screenplay by Patrick Massett, John Zinman) is a quite-engaging if thoroughly seemy "hard-boiled" / "gonzo-ish" story, loosely based on a 1990s mining scandal involving Bre-X a Calgary-based mining company founded by Canadian businessman David Walsh

Walsh's firm had a quite unimpressive track-record until ... he took a big gamble and on the advise of a geologist named John Felderhof set-out to develop a potential gold-strike in the jungles of Borneo, Indonesia.  The initial estimate of the potential of site, reported by the site's first project manager Michel de Guzman, a geologist from the Philippines, suggested that it could become one of the largest gold strikes in history.  That estimate, of course, proved to be a fraud and ... much, much intrigue (and litigation) ensued.  But with so many players -- optimistic and/or flat-out crooked geologists, a wannabee big-shot Canadian businessman arguably way out of his depth, all kinds of higher-flying investors from Toronto and beyond (read NYC), and then the requisite corrupt / corruptable wierdos that one would find the notoriously "crony-capitalist" state that was Indonesia under Suharto -- who (all) was scamming who?   Famed Rolling Stone journalist Hunter Thompson would have cut-off his right arm to tell _this tale_. 

And so a fictionalized version is told here.  David Walsh of Calgary, Canada becomes Kenny Wells of Reno, Nevada (played quite inspiringly by Matthew McConaughey).  Geologists John Felderhof and Michel de Guzman are conflated into the character of Michael Acosta (played by Edgar Ramírez).  Together Wells and Acosta set-out, up one of Borneo's Rivers and come to a seemingly random location (literally revealed to Wells in a dream) and there they start digging, and digging and ... finding nothing.  Finally, after a month-long bout with malaria that nearly killed him, Wells wakes-up only to informed by Acosta that ... OMG they found GOLD!  Lots of it, indeed POSSIBLY the largest gold strike of all time. Wells goes back home to Reno to line-up investors and as the reports get Bigger and BIGGER ... soon even Wall Street wants a piece of the pie (and arguably pretty-much THE WHOLE PIE).  In the midst of all this "gold fever" the ONLY ONE with any sense seemed to be Wells' long-time Reno-barmaid girlfriend Kay (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) who warns Wells to just get out while he can ...

Well, of course, he doesn't ... and ... well ... when the "... hits the fan ..." there are A LOT OF PEOPLE who are ... "VERY, VERY UNHAPPY" ;-/.

When one thinks about it, even the very idea of going into a place like Suharto's Indonesia IN SEARCH OF _GOLD_ would seem like A REALLY STUPID IDEA.  Even if the gold was there, could they possibly extract it, make money on it, and LIVE TO TELL ABOUT IT? 

Certainly though it makes for one heck of a story and (one would hope) cautionary tale.  This was ONE HECK OF A "TIGER" that Matthew McConaughey's character was "petting."  Don't do this at home ...


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