Many dreams of outwitting a rotten system — which is why movies like “I Care A lot,” “Kajillionaire,” and “Hustlers” are so irresistible.
Any film about scams in one way or another raises the question: maybe we, the audience, would have made a deal with our conscience if we were not afraid of retribution? Talented films of the rogue genre convince us that the actions that we considered unacceptable are quite acceptable and reconcile with the blatant at first glance antics of the characters so much that at the end, it begins to seem as if they had nothing else to do.
Perhaps we have never become so accustomed to all sorts of scams and have never been so sympathetic to those who manage to outwit the system. Heavyweight companies with impunity avoid taxes and treat their employees like robots, banks drown in debt due to their own negligence and get out of the water dry at the expense of state aid, traders profit from bending companies but do not let ordinary people to the feeder, and reality TV hosts without any experience, but with suitcases of lies are settled straight into the White House. Have you ever tried to cancel your subscription after a trial period? And yet there is something inexplicably fascinating about the shameless arrogance of scammers – so, looking at Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, we see not a cocky criminal, but a hero who knows how to take his own.
In the collection of essays “Crooked Mirror,” published in 2019, Gia Tolentino (American journalist and researcher of modern culture. – Esquire) tells the story of a generation in seven scams: from schemes with student loans to a startup selling tap water under the guise of a “raw” spring. “Of course, in life, it is desirable to be guided by morality. But who has enough time and opportunities? Tolentino writes. “Surviving in this ecosystem without compromising your conscience is becoming increasingly difficult.”
But stories about dishonest ways of survival have gained wide popularity among viewers. This wind began, probably with a documentary about the failed Fyre Festival and its unscrupulous narcissistic founder Billy McFarland. McFarland had previously been accused of electronic fraud, which did not prevent him from starting a new, shamefully ridiculous scam: he threw millennials who bought tickets from him at awards ceremonies and concerts. Obviously, his adventurism took the form of addiction. And recently fabled from behind bars, Anna Delvey – the false heiress of the German billionaire – still considers herself a socialite and shamelessly profits from television networks that compete for the rights to the film adaptation of her biography.
Despite the collapse of plans and hopes, fraudsters remain true to their credo – they all are hidden in a dense fog of illusions. Recently, cinema has been flooded with machinators. The recent films “The Swindler,” “Kajillioner,” and “Strippers” are about how people fool themselves and others and how far despair leads them.
Fraud is just a way to cut the path to imminent success. This is one of the ways to equalize the chances in a deliberately losing game. Screen scammers are so charismatic that the audience is overcome by the desire to step on a slippery slope, and only the fear of punishment prevents them – after all, all film stories have a bad ending. Their clever heroes sooner or later get bogged down in the swamp of their own machinations.
I Care A Lot
In the cruel drama, Rosamund Pike plays the fraudster Marla, who fraudulently becomes the legal guardian of the elderly and appropriates their wealth. The scheme fails when it turns out that Marla’s last target is befriending a gangster played by the snide Peter Dinklage. In the base heart of the film reign wealth and uncleanliness, and Marla Grayson, demonstrating that she will go to any villainy to achieve the desired, personifies a universal obsession with money. As in Emerald Fennell’s latest film, The Girl Giving Hope, the image of a cute white blonde is used as bait to trap unsuspecting victims – a great reason to think about who is considered dangerous in our society. “The Swindler,” released on the big screen in the midst of interest in the guardianship of Britney Spears and the heyday of the #FreeBritney movement, is a curious study of the topic of property rights and personal independence.
Promising Young Woman
The trap at the heart of the plot is both provocative and unremarkable – it allows the so-called victim to look at himself from the outside and shocks outside observers. Lonely drunk Cassie (brilliant Carrie Mulligan) from the nightly disconnects in the corner of some club to help her comes to another “good guy.” The trick is revealed when a knight in shining armor, pushing Cassie on the couch, tries to have sex with her, and she suddenly finds herself sober. The understanding that the girl watched him causes each new man so much guilt, anger, and shame that it immediately becomes clear: he hoped to go unpunished and consciously went to the crime. Thriller about revenge for rape, pretending to be a superficial blockbuster, keeps in suspense until a brilliantly unexpected ending.
“Most people want to be Kajillionaire,” says the father of a whole family of crooks. “Everyone dreams of wealth. That’s why they get hooked.” To avoid falling into the trap of consumerism, the family spins as best she can and one day decides to move from petty theft to a major operation. Having won a free vacation, marginal heroes crank out a scheme with lost luggage, invite a new friend to the accomplices – and then everything is expected to go downhill. The plot is born of the inflamed imagination of screenwriter Miranda Julia, who has a rather psychedelic view of reality. The film deftly combines her eccentricities with the exciting effect – the output is a funny and very touching story about the strangeness of life.
In 2019, Jennifer Lopez never received an Academy Award for her role in the beautiful comedy-drama by Lorin Scafarius “Strippers.” Still, this stroboscopic film about strip clubs and rampant shopping in pre-crisis New York shines without a golden statuette. “Strippers,” based on a New York Magazine article about dancers pumping up customers with booze or drugs and robbing them, tells the story of how these women took revenge on the scoundrels who bullied them when they were at the top and abandoned them when they fell to the bottom. Like the original article, the film adaptation convinces us that if the system is unfair, it is possible to break the rules and pull us to the side of women who are sinking lower and lower – we understand with great delay how far they have come.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
In this ugly film, director Marielle Heller adapts the true story of writer Lee Israel, who, suffering from lack of money and creative crisis, forged scandalous letters from Noel Cuard and Dorothy Parker. Melissa McCarthy, who played Israel, impressively coped with one of her few dramatic images, but Richard E. Grant in the role of her accomplice eclipsed everyone, and – that’s how recursion! – In this season of film awards, the actor, who had not previously won large awards, experienced such an enchanting series of victories that it is time to call him a tricky man. This intellectual movie about a victimless scam, more timely than ever in our crazy era, ridicules the stuffy near-literary world so witty that you will root for Lee until the very end.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
The crushing collapse of the fraudster Billy McFarland, who perfectly personifies the arrogant adventurous spirit of modernity, turned him into a villain on a global scale, whose unbending self-confidence many unwittingly praised. The Netflix documentary recreates the story of the failed FYRE festival piece by piece, ignoring the interview with McFarland, his version of events can be found in the Hulu documentary. But Netflix collects the memories of those McFarland dragged into his festival paradise in Barbados, which turned into a “Lord of the Flies” for influencers. One of the victims cited a very poetic metaphor: “In fact, the whole festival was built on posts in the form of an orange square, which a couple of popular models posted on Instagram. And then the guy, who has four hundred followers, posted a photo of a cheese sandwich, a sandwich went on the Internet, and everything was covered with a copper basin. “