Richard Jewell, What a Gem!

Do you care if a movie strays from a historical tale IF it is a well told story? I guess I’ll find out after I write this review as I had avoided the articles about the controversy after finding a key piece of plot surprise that I did not want to know about the actual history.

My son was three in 1996 and I was fully in mommy mode, meaning my main television watching was Barney by day and Seinfeld at night.

Let’s just Billy Ray’s (screenwriter of Captain Phillips and Hunger Games) screenplay starts out shaky, as he and (?) Clint Eastwood decided to jam all the minor characters down our throats without saying who they were-sure, we know they’re Jon Hamm and Sam Rockwell but who the hell are they in the movie? It wasn’t clear. Olivia Wilde is the only from-the-get-go character who is fleshed out (and for anyone with a human hormone, hummina hummina, she’s gorgeous). YET, her character is what the primary controversy is all about…did she expose~ herself for the news expose~? Again, I look forward to finding truth vs. fiction, yet I don’t think it’ll affect my film opinion.

Paul Walter Hauser (the ultimate doofus hood hired to hit Nancy Kerrigan in I Tonya and had a role in Late Night, which now I really want to see) nails the role of Richard Jewell. He looks like Jewell and plays the super naive security guard to perfection.

Kathy Bates whose choices in the last couple of years have been so so, is also tremendous as Richard’s mom. I fully support her as Best Supporting Actress nominee. Sam Rockwell is finally back in the pocket as the sexy, charming, smart ass nice guy.

Fortunately the narrative rises to the performers acumen once the bombing happens and in regards to sound and score, the movie is also topnotch.

As with many other late entry movies (Marriage Story and Honey Boy), I teared up at the ending. Not only is Richard Jewell belong in the justice genre, it also encompasses a buddy flick and mother son film.

Shame on the media for knocking the film (can’t help but think this might be political since Eastwood is a somewhat vocal Republican) as well IMDB who let some dumb ass comment that there were 30 f-bombs which sounds about like the FBI case against Jewell, fabricated. I definitely did not notice excessive swearing and say there weren’t more than 8 to ten expletives.

Go see Richard Jewell for the story and acting. Then appreciate the facts for what they are.

No Good Deed Goes Un ‘Sully’ ed

How thoughtful of the Hollywood 20 to simulate the arctic air atop the January Hudson River….NOT.:) Hey, I’m grateful, I got to go outside to get warm afterward, which is still pretty novel for a New York transplant.

“Sully”, directed by Clint Eastwood, was excellent. Not tremendous, in spite of Tom Hanks, who is undeniably our generation’s Jimmy Stewart, maybe even bigger (light bulb idea=future comparison blog).

Why wasn’t ‘Sully’ a 10? One bias of mine is Laura Linney. I love this woman and seeing her reduced to a fretting wife made me feel sad. Please some one, give this woman a script! In the meantime, rent “Savages” which is tremendous.

And the ‘meanwhile back at the ranch’ scenes’, while necessary, weren’t enough, just as a telephone or long distance relationship doesn’t give the emotional sustenance of face to face, body to body, skin to skin…you get my touch? No, because I’m not delivering this as a live speech. How to translate his financial concerns to screen is problematic, unless you do back story scenes which may have been better? Tough call, I realize.

Another difficulty: Sully’s inner turmoil, his guilt, the ‘did I do the right thing?” I have those questions just rising out of bed in the morning, so I empathize, but similar to me again, this is all internal. Akin to that title “The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner”. Or as they probably said in the sixties, ‘it’s in my head, man’. So, the Hanks jogging and the Hanks agonizing again is tough, because his inner conflict is problematic to translate visually.

Also challenging were the scenes that didn’t connect up: Sully’s old flying days both on the farm and in the military, Sully’s imagining planes crashing into buildings, no explanations…., Benson’s commentary, ‘clunky scenes’ mentioned on his podcast Doug Loves Movies.

Why it’s worth the price of admission: a. Hanks (aforementioned), b. the great range and realistic emotions displayed by the excellent passenger actors, so well written and executed, c. the investigation, both in writing and acting, also seemed real in the bureaucratic bologna sort of way, d. the awkward, but again, realistic moments with complete strangers who suddenly felt the faux media intimacy television creates, e. the suspense of the cockpit, again A+.

A fact check I want to research is, did they really play the cockpit recording live to the two men who experienced it in front of a large audience of airline execs?

Sully, while imperfect, is well worth a view.

You Say You Want a Revolution: Snowden and Howard’s Beatle Doc.

Oliver Stone

I took in two equally solid movies this past week, both by famous directors.

First, Oliver Stone’s Snowden which I was lucky enough to see opening night including a talk back with the Stone, the actors, and most importantly, Edward Snowden via satellite. I have not read the reviews yet, not liking to be tainted by the critics, but I did see the percentage number was right around 60%, much too low of a mark.

I can guess the problems were: Shailene Woodley’s bad wig, lack of chemistry between Gordon-Levitt and Woodley, and most problematic, the evil ‘big brother’ NSA boss ridiculously histrionic performance. Sorry Patrick Joseph Byrnes, you sounded like a bad Clint Eastwood, doing the raspy, ‘make my day’.

Beyond that, the film showed an accurate depiction of the documentary CitizenFour, and filled in the back story that the documentary could not address. Gordon-Levitt is a wonder, making you forget he’s an actor. The story also is alarming as to how much technology has taken over our lives.

The real Snowden was so well spoken, I really believe he simply has an exceptionally high moral compass. The fact that he does not dare to come back to the U.S. also speaks to how far we have fallen from our founding fathers democratic principles in regard to due process.

Ron Howard’s The Beatles 8 Days a Week is just adorable, as cute as Opie’s little cheeks in the Andy Griffith Show. I was concerned from the description that the doc would get mired in the days before fame, that while interesting, doesn’t compare to the years of genius. But luckily, the doc’s focus was how under the microscope, the foursome felt confined to pop music, and that not until they disconnected from the ‘machine’ did they break through with truly original sounds. This is not to discount in anyway their younger songwriting gems, but simply to marvel at how they evolved into grown men with different influences. Simply to witness the half hour rooftop concert at the end of the doc, is well worth the price of admission. Great job Ron Howard!