Tackling Monsters – Foster takes on Big Business in timely financial tale of our Times
Jodie Foster has been around a while, but unlike many (nay! the majority) of her artist predecessors, contemporaries and, indeed, imitators, Foster is both surrounded by and imbued with compelling enigma, whether it is through her private life (not so concerning for us), her choice of film as an actor, or the subject matter of her directorial material. For those of a certain age, she is and will always be, simply, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, an actor embodying ordinariness and, simultaneously, mystical and ethereal qualities – both insider and outsider. For others, Foster exudes an odd, perhaps even ambiguous sexual aura. She may indeed occupy a certain professional ‘androgeneity’. But, exactly because of its echoes to human vulnerabilities, that has proved a valuable ally in tremendous career defining roles, whether as vulnerable girl-woman, Clarice Starling, in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 classic, Silence of the Lambs, or through a stunning and often overlooked performance as the ‘girl who can’ in Adrian Lyne’s debut Foxes.
Throughout her career, Foster has taken on roles which cruise to the edge of comfort for ordinary viewers, whether as a testy prostitute (Taxi Driver, 1976), a woman who makes us question our comfort on the discussion of rape (The Accused, 1988). In Little Man Tate, her directorial debut, it is she again who occupies the role of guardian to the outsider, this time to child genius on the margins of society. Her film catalogue, in many respect, read as a road map of places you might expect an outsider actor to venture, but unlikely to succeed. And yet, despite this, Foster has succeed beyond all reasonable expectation. While, it is true that she is not your typical red carpet glamour queen, Foster is, nonetheless, movie royalty of indisputable repute. She is unique in her successful transition from era defining child actor, to rebel headed young adult star, to 21st century director – putting substantial visual and narrative meat on the stories of our times.
Foster’s directorial journey is taking her to some interesting topics. Many are cutting to the bone of contemporary angsts. Whether it is in the challenges of single parenthood to a child placing extraordinary demands on emotional resources (Tate), the struggle of learning to cope with depression (The Beaver, 2011), or facing one’s past (Orange is the New Black), Foster has shown herself to be capable of carrying through to her directing with the same effective nuancing that has underpinned her acting career. Behind the camera as much as in front of it, we are never quite sure what we dealing with, but we do understand we are in safe hands. It may not be surprising then, but it is very fitting, to find Foster behind the camera in one of the most effective and cathartic movies about what most of us may feel is an economic system peppered with injustices but over which we have little control.
At times MONEY MONSTER (2015), a fast paced thriller, in which a share gamble leads a financial victim to take revenge on corporations over the airways, feels like a parody or dodgy spoof in which the audience is near to howling guffaws of laughter at the absurdity of the set up. But, next minute we are slapped into a gruesome reality, when confronted with the fear that accompanies the threat we associate with bomb vests. That Foster manages to steer George Clooney, (the unfortunate TV host taken hostage for Kyle Budwell’s (Jack O’Connell) bitter revenge), and us, through side splitting hilarity and gut wrenching terror in the company of Patty Fenn (Julie Roberts) as the studio director (and proxy voice of the audience watching in the cinema), is the stuff of balancing eggs on swords between two duellists. Foster’s deft direction and tight grip on pacing, strikes an impressive balance between conveying the plight of the unfortunate and desperate Budwell, who has nothing to lose, and, on the other hand, that part of society who may be totally ignorant of the motivations of the downtrodden. There is a frankness in the way the story is handled, allowing moments of absurdism to shine through as perfect analogies for the absurdity of big economics and the impacts on ordinary lives. The effect is most impressively conveyed though the role of Diane Lester (played by relative newcomer, Catriona Balfe), whose polished professional PR strut on behalf of the corporation screams confidence and competence and yet, knowing nothing in fact, we are fed a splendid metaphor for the volatility underpinning financial markets.
Well into this movie, we know that Foster is in control, but we are never sure where she is going to take us. All the better for that. Nowhere in this film, which tears fearlessly into the heart of corporate conspiracies, do we get a Chomsky-ite lecturing nor an existentialist non-apology. The fact that the viewer can get to the denouement, in which the wealthy TV host and the mega wealthy corporate mogul (Dominic West) are seated alongside an injured working class boy, and we left not feeling quite so sure to whom we ought feel sorry. But this is in no way dissatisfying. On the contrary, the viewer is left with a nagging suspicion that, although the story begins with a glaring injustice, nothing is really that simple. Thankfully, Foster thinks about things a little bit more deeply than so as to confuse director for preacher. But we knew that, didn’t we! Money Monster is on general release now.
Originally from Achill Island, off the west coast of Ireland, Colm works as a consultant human rights lawyer specialising in democratisation support. He has worked extensively across Africa, which experiences inform his reflections in poetry and writing. Although writing poetry for over thirty years, he only started to air his endeavours in 2014 with a first self-published collection entitled “Journeys Inward and Out”. Several of his poems have been published by US literary journal Page and Spine. Colm also writes film scripts and children’s stories, while he also recently completed two illustrated books, the first of which, “Galicia to Glora” was published by Libros (Spain) in 2015. Colm is also a self-taught painter, motion graphics and digital matte painting artist. He has exhibited art work on numerous occasions in Ireland and twice in Madrid, Spain. His artwork has appeared in Bohemia Magazine in the USA. Colm has been based in Madrid since 2012, from where he also tries to find time to maintain his germinal websites http://templegreen.