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Unbeknownst to me, the collaboration between director Michael Winterbottom and actor Steve Coogan has gone past films such as The Trip to Spain, with Greed being apparently the eighth film between the two. Given recent events and eating of the rich, it would seem like a nice idea to peek at this.
Winterbottom write the screenplay, which examines the life and business practice of Sir Richard McCreadie (Coogan), a card shark who matured to a retail business tycoon who thrives on having his merchandise worked on for the lowest costs possible (usually in sweat shops) while he makes billions. On the eve of his 60th birthday, his life and legacy is examined by Nick (David Mitchell, Peep Show), an author looking to make a biography on his work.
It's clear from McCreadie's teeth and the nature of the material that Greed is designed to be satire, but with the purpose of asking the questions about a) why retail clothing giants are white guys while b) most of those providing the product for them are women of color. And I understand that it's a powerful message to have, and the way that things trickle up is obscene to be sure.
But it seems when it comes to Greed that Winterbottom and Coogan would like to balance between having some fun with "Greedy McCreadie," making him a little too comic and making the mean streaks to others come off a little disingenuous. There is a sequence where Coogan dresses down an assistant in front of staff, on a public street. And it's a great scene, and Coogan hits every note that a character like that would be expected to hit. But he does not go all the way with the meanness for the other parts of the film, so the satire does not stick the landing as a result.
Coogan has got some good actors to play off of here; Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) plays a wife of Richard's, Asa Butterfield (Hugo) plays a scorned son, and Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones's Diary) plays his mother, and a world of famous people appear to send their regrets for attending the birthday party, while others have a line to two to reinforce the celebrity. But Richard's meanness seems like an act, reinforced by the way he negotiated deals as a youngster. That's the part that plagues the film and prevents it from being great, settling for good. He doesn't go further and through the depths of his work, so what it does to make himself ‘mean' or ‘greedy' seems like a stereotype of it, rather than going for the trophy. It's why the end of the film, aside from being a little gratuitous, has little bit of rooting for one thing or another.
If Greed had taken it upon themselves to be say, the Bob Roberts of European white collar businessmen, then I could find more in myself to have a better take about it. But it seems to want to try and go for jokes when Coogan could have played things a little more straighter and by the numbers, and it would have easily been a B+-ish type of comedy/satire. It tries to get in both silos and the result is a disappointment.
Sony Classics provides an AVC encode for the 2.39:1 presentation and it looks very good; colors on the Grecian beaches are sharp, and indoor sequences have a decent amount of detail while maintaining color reproduction well. Given the nature of the film, one would expect a little more image detail in them, and the final sequence looks natural, that is, not appearing to be drenched in visual effects, which is a nice piece of attention. But it looks impressive.
Just as impressive is the 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track, which has more dynamic range (and music use) than I was expecting coming into it, but it sounds broad, balanced and powerful. Dialogue is consistent and balanced for most of the production, and the immersion is better than anticipated. Directional effects and channel panning is present though not too abundant, and overall it's a quality soundtrack.
Teeny tiny bits of content, starting with a behind-the-scenes vignette (2:10) where Coogan talks about the character, story and point. A deleted scene (4:56) looks at what if McCreadie was trying to change the NHS, and the film's trailer (2:10).
Greed had the modern news cycle set up an audience who would see a film like this in droves. But it winds up being more of an idea about a film like this, with an occasional delve into Cooliganism (which admittedly is funny). Technically the disc is a better look and sound than you would expect given the type of film that it is, and the bonus material could certainly have used a boost. It is fine in parts, but a missed opportunity, but a rental if you are a Coogan fan.