Sunday, January 3, 2016

Trumbo - Movie Review

Trumbo (R) 124 minutes A
Rabble-Rouser with a cause

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis CK, Elle Fanning, John Goodman, and Michael Stuhlbarg 

After seeing this film, I was very surprised to learn that Dalton Trumbo was born in Montrose, Colorado. He attended my old high school, Grand Junction High (Class of 1924) and worked at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel as a cub reporter. In 1935 Trumbo's first novel, Eclipse, was published. It was set in a fictionalized version of Grand Junction called "Shale City." The novel did not portray the town in a positive light (see the links below). Trumbo also attended CU Boulder for a brief period and contributed to Boulder's Daily Camera before moving to California with his family.

This film is based on Dalton Trumbo's life as a controversial screenwriter, filmmaker, and communist party member. This darkly comic biopic features my favorite male performance of 2015 by a lead actor- Bryan Cranston as Trumbo. I was utterly enthralled by the story and almost brought to tears (this is not a tearjerker, I was just caught up in the moment).

The film begins in the 1940s, during the Red Scare. The House Un-American Activities Committee was fearful and paranoid. They were in full-on anti-communist mode and any progressive thinkers/activists were targeted. Trumbo and his cohorts, the "Hollywood Ten," were jailed for contempt of court and blacklisted by Hollywood studios. Faced with the need to provide for his family, Trumbo kept working under fake names and false fronts. Under these fronts he managed to win two Oscars- one for Roman Holiday and one for The Brave One. Pretty soon Hollywood figured out his scheme.

If you are familiar with Dalton Trumbo, this film may not have the same impact on you as it did on me. Nevertheless, Cranston is sensational and the film is worth a look. I love it when films motivate me to learn more about its subject. Trumbo was a nice little history lesson.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Big Short - Movie Review

The Big Short (R) 130 mins A-
Money, Money, Money

Starring: Christian Bale, Hamish Linklater, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Margot Robbie, Rafe Spall, and John Magaro

Based on Michael Lewis' 2010 best-seller, The Big Short is a fast-paced, highly entertaining film about the financial crisis of 2008. Directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman & Step Brothers), the film feels smart and original. Props to McKay for tackling a seriously important, complicated subject, while simultaneously making it fun and enlightening. It also doesn't hurt that Ryan Gosling narrates the film. Anthony Bourdain, Dr. Richard Thaler, and Selena Gomez directly explain things like Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), and Margot Robbie (if you don't know who she is, Google her) defines something in a bubble bath. Bottom line, you don't need to know a lot about finance (although, it helps) to enjoy The Big Short. Buckle up, it's a wild ride and a sure bet for a Best Picture Academy Award nomination.

Check out the trailer --->