Thursday, 11 January 2018

David at the movies: the film not starring Kevin Spacey


On a distinctly smaller scale than Gladiator, Ridley Scott revisits the kidnapping of teenager John Paul Getty III by Calabrian gangsters in 1973. JP's parents are divorced; his father JPG II is zonked out on pot and other drugs in Morocco, but he has a devoted mother (Michelle Williams). His zillionaire grandfather JPG the First (Christopher Plummer) refuses to pay the $17 million ransom and tells his ex-CIA security chief (Mark Wahlberg) to rescue the boy.

The opening credits tell us this is “inspired by real events”. A few liberties have been taken with the facts as most of us remember them, especially towards the end of the movie. One delicious fact is the British Telecom payphone guests are obliged to use in the hall of Getty’s magnificent Tudor mansion in Surrey.

Christopher Plummer is excellent if somewhat OTT as the Scrooge-like mogul. The pace is good, with lots of fast cutting between the family and the kidnappers. It’s an okay movie, even a good movie, but it’s not in the league of Gladiator (which, let’s not forget, heavily recycled the plot of Ben Hur).

The big story with All the Money in the World is of course the surgical removal of Kevin Spacey from the first final print following his “fall from grace”. I read that Spacey’s bio-pic of Gore Vidal is now unlikely to be released – a story I’d very much like to see. Is his back-list also going to be shelved, meaning that we will never again see American Beauty or The Usual SuspectsWill Harvey Weinstein’s output (including Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and –one of my all-time favourites – Shakespeare in Love) also disappear from TV screens and online video stores? 

However vile the "crimes" these two men (and others) have been accused of (and found guilty in the court of public opinion), it surely does not totally degrade the work they – and everyone else involved in those productions – have achieved?

Hollywood is not the only ‘workplace’ where the top dogs prey upon those lower down the food chain. Throughout history great art has sometimes been produced by not-very-admirable people. When we banish the creators, do we also ban what they created?

Only asking.

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