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Jim Schembri’s new release movie reviews, December 10

Article image for Jim Schembri’s new release movie reviews, December 10


99 HOMES **** (112 minutes) M

The first-world nightmare of eviction – where families are forced out of their homes and left on the side of the road with all of their belongings and none of their dignity – is recreated with merciless force in 99 Homes, a brutally honest, compelling drama about America’s housing crisis.

The film also turns into an equally honest and brutal portrait about the primal appeal of raw capitalism, and how the lure of easy money through devious means becomes a morally attractive option for ordinary people who have been left with nothing despite their hard work and honesty.

Andrew Garfield (Spider-man) plays an increasingly desperate single father after he, his mother (Laura Dern) and child are bumped out into the street by an opportunistic, realistic real estate broker (Michael Shannon). Performances are very strong, with Garfield doing an outstanding job channelling the frustration of trying to meet unmeetable final notices.

For the sake of his family, he soon finds that breaking the law is no big deal once you realise it was the law that sent you broke.

A remarkable, topical, powerful film.

MISSISSIPPI GRIND *** (108 minutes) M

Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds play off each other marvellously as two professional gamblers who go on a thinly plotted, needs-fuelled road trip to Florida.

Gerry (Mendelsohn) is the more daring and desperate of the pair, and thus the more interesting as he tries hard to counter his love of gambling’s fleeting thrill with the common sense his pal Curtis (Reynolds) has.

All good films about gambling are, in essence, anti-gambling films and this one, written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (Half Nelson), is a cracker.

Without the need to adopt a tub-thumping tone, the film is happy to proclaim how every high is inevitably followed by a doubly deep low if you persist in tempting fate and are stupid enough to challenge that unbreakable law of the gambling universe that ensures the house always wins.