By Tim McEown

Mailed on January 31, 2017

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Dear Dan Guando
(former) Acquisitions and Production Head TWC

Dear Dan,

For more than twelve years you were the guy that Harvey Weinstein depended upon to find films like Snowpiercer, The Imitation Game, Grandmaster, and Carol. Sometimes you would discover these films fully formed at festivals, others you would be responsible for shepherding them through from script to release. However as TWC is apparently choosing to focus more on television productions this year, they only released Lion, The Founder and Gold for awards season.

Sadly, this is probably responsible for the former in your title. TWC has fallen on hard times because of some recent flops and has had to downsize and change their focus. But what a run it was for those twelve years. The filmography you were at least partially responsible for building is filled with with some truly interesting films, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Gold is a bit closer to the sublime than the ridiculous. Matthew McConaughey portrays modern prospector Kenny Wells, who gambles everything on a partnership with geologist Michael Acosta, and the potential of a gold strike in the Indonesian jungle. When Wells and Acosta apparently beat the odds, the rest of film explores exactly how dangerous getting what you wish for can be.

These sorts of films have become synonymous with TWC over the last few years, and while you have taken some grief for their apparent similarities, most of that snark is devoid of any real substance. At worst, TWC’s output always seem to meet a standard of competence and quality that most films would be happy to reach.

Gold is a throwback—a star vehicle meant to showcase performance and story. Though it feels slightly out of time in its stripped down, workmanlike approach, this spareness is not a negative. In fact it is one of the strengths of Gold that the technical aspects of the film-making are invisible. As I mentioned in my review forThe Founder, this is something I’ve come to appreciate in this auteur saturated era.

That this movie is as good as it is has a lot to do with the two central performances. Both Edgar Ramirez (as Acosta, he gives his usual effortless performance), and McConaughey are charismatic, interesting actors. They made it easy to become invested in their story so that we care about what happens to them. That may seem pretty basic, but more films than not fail to even achieve that minimum requirement. The supporting cast was equally effective—particularly Bryce Dallas Howard, who manages to do a fair bit with a role that easily could have read as wallpaper.

There are some parallels to be drawn between a prospector like Kenny and the work that you have done for TWC. Both of you have to wade through mountains of slag and try to find little nuggets of the right hue and sheen. Both are high stakes occupations that are infused with greed and fraud, both major and minor. And both must be ulcer inducing given how rarely your efforts bear the right sort of fruit. And perhaps after twelve years it might be the right time for a change of pace.

I like to think of you sitting in a stylish cottage in The Adirondacks somewhere, running an etsy store that sells vintage posters, sipping an afternoon cocktail. That would be an ending to a film you would probably pass on, but it’s one I wouldn’t mind watching.



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