Posts Tagged ‘Michael C. Hall’

Taking Down the West Wing

Mark Felt:

The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Director: Peter Landesman

Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Josh Lucas, Tony Goldwyn, Kate Walsh, Marton Csokas, Tom Sizemore, Eddie Marsan, Ike Barinholtz, Maika Monroe, Michael C. Hall, Bruce Greenwood, Julian Morris

Parkland and Concussion director Peter Landesman takes on another factual drama in his detail heavy fictional account of the Watergate scandal called Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the Whitehouse.

It’s April 1972 and Mark Felt, deputy assistant director of the FBI deftly underplayed by a haggard looking Liam Neeson is hoping to get the job of Director of the FBI after the death of J. Edgar Hoover.

Oscar nominee Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List) plays Mark Felt brilliantly, underplaying the amount of stress he is under when Felt is by-passed for the directorship for a Nixon crony Gray played by Hungarian actor Marton Csokas (Noah, The Equalizer).

Felt, who always played his cards very close to his chest, realizes that there is a massive conspiracy within government agencies. These fears are confirmed when the magnitude of the Watergate scandal broke in 1972 in which covert ex-spies where caught red handed breaking into the National Democratic Convention headquarters at the Watergate Hotel just prior to the November elections.

President Nixon got re-elected in November 1972 but Mark Felt soon realizes that a move by the government to capture the integrity and independence of the FBI when the slimy Billy Sullivan is poking around headquarters. Sullivan is suitably played by Tom Sizemore who hasn’t been in many films recently but is most remembered for his roles in Natural Born Killers, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and Heat.

If audiences like detailed political docudrama then Mark Felt is for them.

Don’t expect action in this drama which is saved by memorable scenes between Neeson and his co-star Oscar nominee Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Trumbo) who plays his wife Audrey Felt as the couple also battle with the disappearance of their wayward daughter Joan played by Maika Monroe (Independence Day).

Mark Felt is a fascinating portrayal of one man’s ability to stick to his own ethics at a time when the Nixon administration was beyond reproach as Felt clandestinely feeds classified information to Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward played by Julian Morris and Time magazine journalist Sandy Smith played by Bruce Greenwood.

Felt was indeed the man who brought down the White House and in media circles was known only as deepthroat, a rather sexy title for an informant and extremely valuable source to the Fourth Estate which eventually caused the impeachment of President Richard Nixon and his administration.

Despite the intrigue, Mark Felt does get caught up in the details and scores a film rating of 7 out of 10. It is nevertheless a fascinating film for those that enjoy an intriguing docudrama. 

The film does feature a superb supporting cast including Eddie Marsan, Michael C. Hall, Tony Goldwyn and Josh Lucas. Recommended for viewers that enjoyed director Peter Landesman‘s previous American historical drama Parkland about the assassination of JFK.

 

The Libertine Circle

Kill Your Darlings

kill_your_darlings

Director: John Krokidas
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgwick

The Beat generations’ pivotal year at Columbia University in 1944 is the engrossing starting point for this literary murder story, Kill Your Darlings, featuring a superb performance by Dane DeHaan as the disturbed anarchist Lucien Carr who has been under the influence of David Kamerer played by Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame. Enter the freshman and aspiring poet Allen Ginsberg sensitively played by Daniel Radcliffe who has fled a disturbed domestic environment to attend Columbia University and study English Literature.

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Soon Ginsberg falls under the spell bounding attention of Carr and the two strike up an intensely homoerotic friendship and Carr introduces Ginsberg to William S. Buroughs wonderfully underplayed by an unrecognizable Ben Foster and Jack Kerouac, played by Jack Huston nephew of Hollywood stars Angelica and Danny Huston and grandson of legendary director John Huston.
Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac fueled by countless drugs, experimental sexuality and non-conformist attitudes attempt to liberate themselves from the pantheon of Victorian and pre-Modernist literature and invent a new type of distinctly American literary movement heavily influenced by the banned work of Henry Miller, The Tropic of Cancer along with D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover both of which was secured under lock and key in the stately Columbia Library.

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As the Second World War raged on across the Atlantic and many of their American countrymen were liberating a ruined Europe from the last throws of Fascism, The Beat Generation was germinating in the hallowed halls of Columbia University and the dive bars of jazzy Harlem. Naturally its every young man first response to rebel against society upon entering University and these four certainly do so in more ways than one, under the envious gaze of David Kamerer whose latent sexuality and jealousy threatens to destroy their unique vision that of a Libertine Circle inspired by the poetry of W. B. Yeats. Kill Your Darlings is heavy viewing and for those not familiar with the writers or works of the Beat Generation which blossomed in the 1950’s and was at the forefront to American counter-culture leading up to the youth revolt characterizing the 1960’s, should really avoid this film.

on_the_road

Kill Your Darlings refers to the breaking of all standard literary conventions like metre, narrative and plot development, something the Modernists like Yeats, Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot started doing. Central to this literary world, where creativity is fueled by drugs in Williams S. Burroughs’s case (see The Naked Lunch), or sexuality in Ginsberg’s case or recklessness in the life of Jack Kerouac whose seminal work On The Road become the literary bible for the Beat Generation is the unusual story of Carr and his ambivalent and highly influential relationship with Ginsberg. This controversial and ultimately doomed relationship would eventually be the inspiration of Ginsberg’s famous poem Howl published in 1957  as he discovers his latent homosexuality along with his distinctive voice as one of America’s most influential poets.

De Haan and Radcliffe are brave, ferocious and sexy  in Kill Your Darlings and while the murder plot tends to be slightly laboured it is their relationship with each other and also with their parents which becomes the focal point of a fascinating study of rebellion, artistic integrity in the face of conventional criticism and more significantly sacrifice. Highly recommended viewing but definitely not aimed at a broad appeal.

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