Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Movie Review #345: "Trumbo" (2015)

Director: Jay Roach
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
Image Source
Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), along with nine other writers known as the Hollywood 10, are blacklisted after being accused of being communists. Despite being a pariah, Trumbo manages to continue to work writing numerous and even some award winning scripts under multiple pen names. 

"Trumbo" takes a look back on one of the many shameful times in America's past and one we are really interested in as fans of film, past and present. There was a time in this great nation where the political party with which you were affiliated could get you blacklisted. This was a time when congress openly thumbed their nose at the Constitution, violating the First Amendment rights of many of its citizens under the false guise of security against the great red threat of communism. The fear-mongering from several members of congress and certain members of the media brainwashed many unsuspecting citizens into applauding this open violation of the very thing they were supposed to be protecting: our basic rights as Americans. Does this sound familiar to anyone else, or is it just us?

First of all, this film is great. Though some may say it doesn't quite capture the time period and message it sets out to achieve with dramatic emphasis, we highly disagree. We left the theater feeling mad at the current state of our world, proud about the ground Trumbo stood in the face of such a looming and backwards threat, and educated about the tarnished history this nation has had all over again. The majority of the success of "Trumbo" has to do with the performances found here. Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Dalton Trumbo, a rich man with "radical" ideals for his time, is superb to say the least. With a furrowed brow, a wry smile curls up through Cranston's pursed lips. Cloaked in a thick blanket of cigarette smoke, Cranston wears his age like a badge of honor as he delivers his amazing and sharply written lines effortlessly with a great passion and witty charm. It feels like Cranston is one of the few remaining vestiges of a greater caliber of acting, and we feel his enthusiasm with every line he utters. This movie also gives a not too flattering look at some of Hollywood's legends, those who led the charge against their communist coworkers. Helen Mirren manages to channel her best conniving, bitchy performance as Hedda Hopper, an aging actress who comes off as extremely despicable. She and her band of Hollywood robots who are all for destroying communism at any length, even if it means trampling civil liberties, bully those who are not of the same political party and opinion as she is, threatening them with an unflattering report in her gossip column. Michael Stuhlbarg, who put up a strong showing last month in "Steve Jobs," puts on another solid performance here as Edward G. Robinson. Though he is a bit too tall for the part, he manages to get the facial expressions down pat. Louis C.K. offers up some drama with a twist of his comedic charm as Arlen Hird, who seemed to be the most reluctant member of the communist-leaning Hollywood 10. There are many others fine performances by the likes of Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk, John Goodman, David James Elliott, Roger Bart, and Stephen Root. We also have to single out the casting department for this film because they sure picked a solid choice in Dean O'Gorman as Kurt Douglas. Boy, they sure made him look an awful lot like Douglas did!

The only real knock against "Trumbo" is its pacing and a couple of out of place and abrupt tonal shifts. The film is very interesting and immersive with some great dialogue, but you certainly feel its length early on. It is factually heavy, and in turn, it is history heavy, too. If you're not interested in historical dramas, chances are you won't like this movie very much. Though the 'red scare' happened many decades ago, "Trumbo" manages to remain as poignant and topical as ever. Those who did not learn from this embarrassing time in our history are looking to repeat it today. There are still portions of the media that fear-monger and pander to a small section of the population, championing those who propose violating the very First Amendment they operate under with a heavy fervor. Those who exclaim quite loudly as thr vocal minority that they want to round up decent, honest American citizens who have certain beliefs and put them in camps, the same many said about communists 60-70 years ago when this film took place, these are the people who need to watch "Trumbo" and eat their slice of humble pie because, let's be honest, their crazy is showing at this point. This movie sheds a light on the overzealous absurdity of what would become McCarthyism and does so in a fascinating manner.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 71%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment