Archive for the ‘Jay Roach’ Category

Blonde Battleground

Bombshell

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, Josh Lawson, Ben Lawson, Kate McKinnon, Liv Hewson, Rob Delany, Mark Duplass, Stephen Root, Mark Moses, Amy Landecker

Trumbo director Jay Roach tackles the Fox News sexual harassment scandal of 2016 in his latest film Bombshell when blonde TV anchor woman Gretchen Carlson played by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) sues Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes wonderfully played with a creepy sense of self-denial by Oscar nominee John Lithgow (The World According to Garp, Terms of Endearment) for sexual harassment.

Now for viewers that don’t follow American politics or media scandals then do not see Bombshell, this film has a very limited appeal outside of the United States.

The real revelation of Bombshell is the fantastic transformation of another Oscar winner South Africa’s very own Charlize Theron (Monster) as she plays Fox News primetime anchor woman Megyn Kelly thanks to the brilliant work of prosthetic makeup designer Kazu Hiro who won an Oscar for transforming Oscar winner Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

Charlize Theron is absolutely brilliant as Megyn Kelly as she navigates her way through a thoroughly conservative and toxic media environment at Fox News as she attempts to cover the controversial presidential campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump who inevitably became the next President of the United States.

Add to the mix of beautiful blondes that work at Fox News, is the newcomer Kayla Prospisil played by Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I,Tonya) who experiences sexual harassment first hand when she has a private meeting with Roger Ailes in a cringe worthy scene in which the media executive keeps asking Kayla to lift her skirt higher and higher.

At the times of the Roger Ailes scandal, the conservative Television broadcaster Fox News was owned by the Australian media conglomerate Newscorp which comprised of Rupert Murdoch played in Bombshell by A Clockwork Orange star Malcolm McDowell and managed by his two sons Lachlan and James Murdoch played in the film by Australian brothers Ben and Josh Lawson.

Director Jay Roach does not make a brilliant film and Bombshell appears to be extremely confusing for those viewers that are not familiar with this particular conservative American media scandal which occurred in the summer of 2016.

What Bombshell does do is highlight the extent to which women were sexually harassed in the American work place and this happened a year before the Harvey Weinstein scandal shocked Hollywood in 2017 and gave birth to the vociferous and extremely relevant MeToo movement which aims to end sexual harassment in the highly contested American media industry and beyond.

For those interested in American media scandals, Bombshell is recommended viewing and gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

For a flawed film, Bombshell is saved by two phenomenal performances by Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie.

Demonizing Dalton

Trumbo

trumbo_ver2

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Louis C. K. Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Stephen Root, Roger Bart, Dean O’ Gorman, Alan Tudyk, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Director Jay Roach really gives audiences an opportunity to witness Bryan Cranston’s acting talents first hand as Cranston plays the Oscar nominated role of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in California in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950’s.

With the rise of McCarthyism in the early 1950’s and the vindictive Committee on Un-American Activities whose sole aim was to root out the perceived communist threat within Hollywood and many other facets of American society, the anti-communist witch hunt become notorious for ruining reputations and lives of artists, actors, directors and screenwriters. Even the famous playwright Arthur Miller was perceived as a threat and his persecution was illustrated in his classic play The Crucible.

trumbo

Dalton Trumbo, wonderfully played by Cranston, is an unconventional yet brilliant screenwriter who becomes one of the Hollywood Ten perceived by the Committee as harbouring Communist sympathies. Trumbo was, as his friend Arlen Hird played by Louis C. K. said, a Socialist with Champagne tastes. His flamboyant cigarette smoking, his unusual method of writing screenplays in the bath, his reliance on Benzedrine were all traits of a fierce creative genius who was ripe for prosecution.

Michael Stuhlbarg also gives an impressive performance as Edward G. Robinson who will do anything to maintain his lavish lifestyle.

In one of the great artistic injustices, Trumbo is found in contempt of the Supreme Court and sentenced to a Kentucky penitentiary for close to 18 months. Upon Trumbo’s release he is faced with the prospect of supporting his wife Cleo played by Diane Lane (Unfaithful) and three growing children, one of which is his feisty daughter Nicola superbly played by Elle Fanning (Maleficent).

Trumbo approaches a B-Grade studio, King pictures and soon does rewrites under a pseudonym under the guidance of the studio boss, Frank King boisterously played by John Goodman (The Gambler, Barton Fink). Helen Mirren (Woman in Gold, The Queen) pops up looking suitably glamorous as the Hollywood actress turned gossip columnist Hedda Hopper who ambivalently supports the Communist witch hunt and soon suspects that Trumbo is indeed writing Oscar winning screenplays under another screen writer’s name.

roman_holiday

The Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck romance Roman Holiday was credited to Ian McLellan Hunter, played by Alan Tudyk in Trumbo, but was actually written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. Roman Holiday won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and went to McLellan Hunter acting as Trumbo’s front.

In steps Kirk Douglas played by Dean O’ Gorman who secretly approaches Trumbo to write a screenplay about a man taking on the world. That film was to become the blockbuster Spartacus.

spartacus_ver2

Besides the cinematic historical value of Trumbo, the injustices he suffered both personally and artistically, what carries Jay Roach’s film, is Bryan Cranston (Argo) who never falters in his brilliant portrayal of the legendary Dalton Trumbo.

Trumbo is a brilliant film, perhaps slightly uneven at times, but a fascinating portrayal of one man’s quest to get his name cleared and eventually receive the recognition from Hollywood that he deserves, especially for his talented contribution to film.

Trumbo is highly recommended viewing especially for cineastes and film historians, a brilliant portrayal of Hollywood in the 1950’s and the persecution of intellectuals by the American government of the time, whose paranoia concerning the cold war with Russia reached unreasonable proportions.

 

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