Tiny T.O.Ts (Temptation of Trumbo) with their eyes all aglow

Dear Academy

I know there’s a double halcyon temptation in giving Bryan Cranston the Oscar for Best Actor.
First, he’s an acting genius virtually putting on a second skin to play roles such as Dalton Trumbo in Jay Roach’s TRUMBO, not to mention, he’s probably the most iconic tv character since SEINFELD in BREAKING BAD. Second, how could the Academy not want to give the award to an actor playing a blacklisted screenwriter? Talk about posthumous salve!

But please, Academy, re-visit the film TRUMBO. While it had some laugh out loud one liners and the subject matter a sad commentary on a putrid and oppressed time in America, the film had an extremely predictable and cumbersome beat. Louis CK was the anachronism I suspected he’d be. He is LOUIS CK and there’s no hiding behind his giant comedian aura, nor can his cherubic physicality perform as a man stricken with lung cancer. That’s the biggest stretch since the fake baby in AMERICAN SNIPER.

I revisited STEVE JOBS with a friend who had yet to see it and I remain firm in my three favorite films of the year being the aforementioned, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and LOVE & MERCY. These films had a pacing and undeniable emotive quality not present. I anxiously await O’Russell’s JOY and THE BIG SHORT to see if any last minute rivals come to the fore.

Signed your cinema lover,

“Spotlight” on Research and Conscience

Spotlight, directed and co written by Tom McCarthy, is an important film. Period. And sometimes having a dysfunctional part of our society exposed is more important than media entertainment.

In an artistic sense, “Spotlight” was ho-hum. Research and conscience do not equate great visuals. I’m sure Charlie Kaufman or PT Anderson could come up with some outside the box conceits, but Tom McCarthy simply told the straight story of four + reporters who had to simply research thoroughly and wait out the ‘best’ time to publish the expose` against the Catholic Church.

The acting was tamped down due to, again, the subject; men and women poring over boxes and boxes of abuse and court documents, calling on witnesses who sometimes slammed doors in the face of well intentioned reporters. That and the paper thin characterization (these reporters had invisible spouses and children) did not stop me from enjoying watching two of my favorite actors, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton

While I was well aware of the cover up history in the Catholic Church, I had no idea of the magnitude. The film displays at least 5 screens worth of domestic and international cities with similar scandals.

Can we all just agree to watch over our children and teens better and to intervene when there’s a concern? If even one parent pays more attention, the movie was a success.

A Three Way: Steve Jobs, Burnt, Truth

Michael Fassbender

Perhaps my subject line could have been one phrase: Steve Jobs’ Burnt Truth? Did Jobs scorch the truth?

Steve Jobs: I don’t know about who ‘didn’t start the fire'(Billy Joel reference), but I will say that once again, Michael Fassbender certainly has an arsenal of acting ability. He’s already thrilled me in Twelve Years a Slave and Shame (not to mention his sweet vulnerability in Frank). Now he makes the life of Steve Jobs seem human, rather than super human. Kate Winslet, yet another acting powerhouse (favorite performance The Reader), plays down her beauty as Jobs’ scrupulous, yet extremely patient assistant.

Everyone goes ga-ga over Seth Rogen and he is good, but just as intense were Micahel Stuhlbarg (check out his IMDB photo-he either identifies as a thin man who just does chunkier roles or he has body dysmorphia-no judgment, just an observation); and Jeff Daniels (favorite movie Something Wild).
Recommendation go see it, in my top 10 this year by a long shot.

Burnt: Just as Iran is half the world away, so is Burnt to Steve Jobs. Talk about a Food Channel meets MTV video masquerading as a full length film! Schmaltzy, disjointed, shallow, Bradley Cooper does a bad Clint Eastwood Tough Cowboy, who instead of a holster carries an apron full of knives. To clarify, no violence, but that tough “I’ve been through ‘hell’ exterior and have only skin deep feelings for women due to the nihilistic life I must lead”.

Truth? Not much better, flat script. Make us care about Mary Mapes, instead portraying her as a frigid workaholic. Topher Grace and Elisabeth Moss have embarrassing little to do and Dennis Quaid’s major purpose was gesturing a perfect salute. I love Cate Blanchett (odd favorite: “The Adventures of Steve Zissou”), but the aforementioned job fixation mixed with the melodrama just seemed to age her despairingly so.