WEIRDLAND: Miles Teller: a man of the people, Political Spectrum: "War Dogs" and "Snowden"

Monday, August 22, 2016

Miles Teller: a man of the people, Political Spectrum: "War Dogs" and "Snowden"

Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they share a great chemistry. A new clip from director Oliver Stone’s Snowden, a biopic about the NSA whistleblower, premiered Friday that shows Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley strolling past protesters outside the White House with an early date vibe. Mills sides with the anti-war protesters, while Snowden has strong reservations. “I don’t really like bashing my country,” he says. “How about questioning the liberal media? You’re just buying into what one side is saying.”

“Maybe I am, because my side’s right!” Mills retorts. “You are a very frustrating individual, you know what? How am I going to make you see?” After Snowden went into hiding, Mills joined him in Moscow. She even appeared on stage at the 87th Oscars in 2015 when Citizenfour, the documentary about the Snowden leaks, took home the Best Documentary trophy. Source:

Miles Teller showed uncommon depth in the superior 2013 romantic dramedy The Spectacular Now, sharing the Special Jury Award for Acting at Sundance with his co-star, Shailene Woodley. Then came Whiplash. Teller had done some drumming at school, in a church choir and a band called the Mutes. Andrew, his character, was tortured and self-destructive, mercilessly hazed by a bullying teacher (JK Simmons, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor).

“I’m a pretty light-hearted person,” says Teller. “So how Andrew carried himself physically, how he related to people, his temperament, all those things couldn’t be further from me. But what I liked about that kid was the fact that he was an underdog.” Teller’s favourite scene was when Andrew charges from behind the drums to flatten his tormentor. “JK cracked a rib,” he laughs. “I’m not proud of it, but after a guy’s slapping you and yelling at you for three weeks straight…! I always dug that scene because he just finally snaps.” And at least Simmons can take comfort from his Academy Award. Teller exhales a plume of smoke, “He owes me one, for sure.”

Teller is engaged, wry and opinionated, especially on gun control in the States and the mental health of soldiers returning from war. “We’ve known how to send guys to war forever, but we really don’t know how to bring them back yet,” he says, citing a statistic that there are 22 veterans committing suicide every day in the US. Teller might act bulletproof, but it’s obvious that the Esquire story really stung him. “Oh, I felt frickin’ helpless, I felt extremely misrepresented, I felt a little angry,” he says, his voice almost cracking. 

“For the average person, they are reading this article, they haven’t met you, they’re like, ‘Oh Miles is an asshole. You didn’t hear it? You didn’t read that Esquire? Yeah, she said he was an asshole – he must be!’ “I’d say that you get a little more guarded but I’m actually not,” he goes on. “Certain times I’ll choose my words very carefully and maybe come off a little more boring. But I also think that’s why certain people do relate to me: because there is no agenda, honestly. I was raised middle-class in a small town. I have all my same friends from high school. I’m close with my family. I’m dating a normal girl. So I want to feel people think I’m a man of the people. Because I feel that way.” The “normal girl” is a bit of a stretch – Keleigh Sperry, his girlfriend of three years, is a model – but the point stands. Source:

Miles Teller’s hero of sorts, David Packouz, starts War Dogs a man adrift, working as a masseuse in Miami and trying to build a nest egg by selling high-end bed sheets to old folks homes. That changes when he reconnects with his best bud from 8th grade, Jonah Hill’s Efraim Diveroli, who has found the scam of all scams: undercutting the big boys by lowballing small government military contracts. 

Both as conceived by the screenwriters and played by Teller, Packouz is very Jimmy Stewart, meant to act as the common man to whom we are all supposed to relate. While the Whiplash star is extremely effective at this kind of acting, the real guy was more complicated and interesting: There is no mention of the real Packouz’s musical aspirations, for example, though he does appear in the film playing an acoustic version of "Don’t Fear the Reaper." For his part, Hill once again channels Joe Pesci by way of John Belushi. His high pitched cackle of a laugh—along with his penchant for snorting coke, is meant as shorthand to indicate that his character is a bad guy. Indeed, Diveroli’s greed and lack of loyalty prove to be the pair’s downfall.

The presence of both Hill and the white boy marauders armed with little more than modems and cell phones bring to mind Martin Scorsese’s misunderstood 2013 masterpiece The Wolf of Wall Street. Source:

David Packouz (Miles Teller), is a Miami Beach college dropout who works as a freelance massage therapist, a job the movie mocks: His big dream? To make a killing selling quality bedsheets to retirement homes. David has to overcome one ethical scruple that, at first, seems relatively minor: He and his fiancĂ©, Iz (Ana de Armas), are against the war. But the moral conundrum at the heart of “War Dogs” starts small and then grows, like a tumor. It’s not just about the politics of war — it’s about the interpersonal worm of lying. “War Dogs” marks a key turning point for Phillips. After all these years of yocks, it’s his first true grown-up movie, and it’s a nimble, gripping, and terrific one, with plenty of laughs, only now they’re rooted in the reality of fear, and in behavior that’s authentically scurrilous. 

The key to it all is that the two actors play it straight. David, tense and calculating, but in way over his head, is our representative, and Miles Teller has the gift of making decency magnetic. As for Hill, amazingly, he forms a direct connection to the audience even though he’s playing an irredeemable, mostly charm-free jerk who may, in fact, be a reckless sociopath. We should, objectively, be repelled by him, but in “War Dogs,” Hill, more than ever, is a true star, with a hellbent charisma that comes from deep within. Phillips, to his credit, doesn’t hit us over the head. He threads the movie’s message through every encounter, until we feel the queasiness of how lying can eat away at us. “War Dogs” lets the audience taste the lure of big easy money, and then says: That’s a hangover you have to wake up from. Source:

No comments :