Costa-Gavras thrills fans with “Capital”

Costa-Gavras, arguably the greatest living progressive filmmaker still shooting political pictures, is back with a new thriller about the banking industry, Capital. This behind-the-scenes exposé of the banksters and their nefarious high finance manipulations and machinations is a fictional, highly entertaining counterpart to Charles Ferguson’s Oscar winning 2010 documentary Inside Job, about Wall Street’s massive defrauding of the people – at taxpayer expense.

Capital is in French with some English, with Gabriel Byrne co-starring as an American-style banker seeking to impose U.S. policies on a European-based bank headed by Moroccan-born actor Gad Elmaleh, who has a penchant for quoting, of all people, Chairman Mao. “Let 1,000 flowers bloom,” and all that. Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede plays an elusive runway beauty-the stuff that capitalist fantasies are made of.

In 1969, Costa-Gavras’s classic Z – about the assassination of Greece’s peace candidate and the overthrow of the government by the Greek colonels-was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and won the Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Editing. Costa-Gavras went on to make many leftist films, such as 1972’s State of Siege, about South American urban guerrillas, and 1982’s Missing, with Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, about the aftermath of the U.S.-backed coup against Chile’s democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende.

In any case, the stylish, briskly paced Capital shows that at age 80, Costa-Gavras remains a master of political cinema and is at the top of his game. Take my word for it, PW readers will love Das-uh, I mean Le Capital.


Directed by Costa-Gavras

2012, R, 114 min.

Photo: Scene from “Capital.”


Ed Rampell
Ed Rampell

Film historian and critic Ed Rampell was named after CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow because of his TV exposes of Sen. Joe McCarthy. Rampell majored in cinema at New York's Hunter College. After graduating, he lived in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and Micronesia, where he reported on the nuclear-free and independent Pacific movement for "20/20," Reuters, AP, Radio Australia, Newsweek, etc. He went on to co-write "The Finger" column for New Times L.A. and has written for many other publications, including Variety, Mother Jones, The Nation, Islands, L.A. Times, L.A. Daily News, Written By, The Progressive, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and AlterNet.

Rampell appears in the 2005 Australian documentary "Hula Girls, Imagining Paradise." He co-authored two books on Pacific Island politics, as well as two film histories: "Made In Paradise, Hollywood's Films of Hawaii and the South Seas" and "Pearl Harbor in the Movies." Rampell is the author of "Progressive Hollywood, A People's Film History of the United States." He is a co-founder of the James Agee Cinema Circle and one of L.A.'s most prolific film/theatre/opera reviewers.