What: The Laundromat
Why: Well, this film might just well be called The Dummies’ Guide to Money Laundering but no, this is no documentary. In a unique but uneven approach, director Steven Soderbergh, clearly far from retirement, brings his inimitable storytelling style to the Panama Papers financial scandal. Working with his constant collaborator, writer Scott Z. Burns, Soderbergh tries to explain and entertain at the same time.
Armed with an incredible cast – Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas head the list which also includes David Schwimmer, Sharon Stone and Jeffrey Wright – Soderbergh switches back and forth between two narrative strands – a senior woman from Michigan named Ellen (Streep) whose husband drowns with many others during a pleasure boat trip in New York’s Lake George and Mossack (Oldman) and Fonseca (Banderas) of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co who play hosts in making us better understand how off-shore accounts and shell companies actually work.
With references to the Bible – “the meek” from “the meek shall inherit the earth” is mentioned throughout – Soderbergh tries to use broad comedy and all kinds of playful cinematic devices to narrate his timely parable. The ending is what makes the film – in more ways than one – and saying anything more will completely spoil the experience. Yes, The Big Short was a far better film on the subject but if you are going to dig into an auteur’s indulgent take on everything that’s wrong with the money world, visit The Laundromat.
What: Living With Yourself
Why: It’s a familiar double-role device where two characters keep switching lives at will but this new show on Netflix turns the device on its head by making it the same person. How? Well, a rejuvenation session at a secret Korean spa, which is actually a DNA-cleansing cloning project. Just that they kill off the original person and bury him in the woods nearby. Yes, yes Nolan’s The Prestige did deal with the concept briefly but this one’s a full-blown eight-part web series and it’s largely meant to make you laugh!
The real charm of the show is, of course, Paul Rudd. Two of him, in fact. Impressed by his colleague’s sudden blooming in office, Miles (Rudd) visits the mysterious spa where he is duplicated without any notice. When he manages to get out of his plastic wrapping from under the ground, he realises that there’s another Miles in his bedroom. This new Miles is superior than him in every way possible, at home and in office, and while he does use him as proxy initially, the improved version eventually poses a big problem for the original Miles.
The directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who had gifted us the feel-good gem Little Miss Sunshine, don’t want to visit the age-old archetype of good twin vs bad twin. They end up creating two Miles who are both trying to do the right thing, with mixed results. As the show flows on, the home situation – Aisling Bea plays the wife Kate – becomes the focus, leading to an unholy threesome. Living With Yourself is an easy binge which reminds us yet again that you can’t have enough of Paul Rudd.
Bohemian Rhapsody, the film about Queen that won Rami Malek the Best Actor Oscar, is now streaming on Hotstar Premium.
The documentaries on the German band Rammstein, Rammstein In Amerika and Rammstein: Paris, are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The first three films of Jackie Chan’s much-loved Police Story franchise are now streaming on Zee5.
Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind are now streaming on Sony Liv.