Lobe Is All You Need

Ears are important in ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.

It begins a touch awkwardly: Paul “Paolo” Getty says, “I can look after myself,” seconds before being bundled into a transit van by some of the worst people in the world.

Unluckily for him, his grandfather John Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), who is expected to pay the $17,000,000 ransom, is THE worst person in the world. Fortunately for us, after this shaky start and despite some moments that stretch credulity (we have noted that the story is merely INSPIRED by true events), the movie improves as it goes on, conjuring a kind of sick anxiety which is not exactly entertaining but proves that everyone is taking it seriously and doing their jobs.

The digital replacement of Kevin Spacey, who is credibly accused of sexual offenses, with Plummer, who isn’t, is close to seamless, although I kept imagining I could see seams. And there was an odd moment during an exterior scene when Plummer’s right ear seemed to make a strange beckoning gesture.

They say ears and noses keep growing throughout life. This is unfortunate for the generously lugged and conked Mr. Plummer, who is surely approaching the stage when he can no longer rest his head on a bed without either snapping his spine or losing his pillow in some forgotten auricle.

It may be that a stray gust from Sir Ridley Scott’s wind machine caught the Plummer ear, provoking an elephantine flapping of cartilage, or it may simply be that as the Plummer head turned in the camera’s direction, the Plummer ear, obeying laws of momentum, followed it but then kept going for a millimetre or so, or maybe I was just startled by something so huge hoving into view, like a mattress rounding a corner, but I did wonder if the digital despaceyfiers had simply manipulated an available part of Mr. P. to conceal an unruly part of Mr. S. I do know (and this is entirely true) that the animators of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT made generous use of the eponymous bunny’s ears to cover the various gadgets they were using to nudge the practical props and furniture around, simulating the not-yet-animated rabbit’s physical presence.

What works for wires and poles will work for Kevin Spacey, as we know.

Photographically, this must be one of Sir Rid’s least attractive works, though it has some very nice shots. Too much mucking around with colour in post makes it like a series of cheap postcards.

The best performance is by Michelle Williams, but everyone is good. The degenerate kidnappers are arguably overplayed, but one has to figure that the people who would behave in this way must be pretty messed up, and some of that would show…

5 Responses to “Lobe Is All You Need”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Christopher Plummer is an Axiom of the Cinema. He is also a Total Mensch. When I met him a few years back (He won LAFCA’s “Best Actor” award for “Beginners”) I had a chance to chat with him at length and he told me tons of interesting stuff about Nick Ray, Natalie Wood and many others.

    As I trust you know Paul Getty III had an acting role n Wenders’ “The State of Things” alongside Sam Fuller, Patrick Bachau, Isabelle Weingarten and Viva. He was quite good. Alas he is no longer with us

  2. Everyone loves Plummer now. He must have been a bit difficult once upon a time, since Alan Bennett was moved to remark, “Christopher is his own worst enemy, but only just.”

    These days, he’s indispensable. Particularly if your lead actor needs erasing. Many are the films that would be improved by digitally inserting the Canuck Supreme.

  3. David Ehrenstein Says:

    An actor who has “Stage Struck,” “Wind Across the Everglades,” “Inside Daisy Clover” and “Beginners” to his credit is surely One Complex Dude. I adore Alan Bennett. Wonder what brought him to loggerheads with Plummer.

  4. I can’t remember where I read it, who quoted Bennett saying it, or anything at all. I presume CP must have appeared in an EB play, if the story has any truth to it (and the line is a favourite, so I sort of hope it’s true).

    Just realized that CP’s rich, grouchy patriarch in ATMITW is a descendant of the one he plays in 12 Monkeys, only in that film it’s he who gets snatched.

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