Here we are – Day Five of my ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ countdown and we are at ‘Best Actor”. Once again I give who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. The only thing I can add here is it is a crying shame that Jude Hill was not nominated in this category as that young man deserved to be here. But alas here we are – Will Smith might just be the winner here as he is so good in “King Richard.” But hot on his heels will be Andrew Garfield.
JAVIER BARDEM – Being the Ricardos
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH – The Power of the Dog
ANDREW GARFIELD – tick, tick…BOOM!VERYPOSSIBLE WINNER
Probably one of the most timeless, classic lines that is still uttered today. But behind the scenes of not only the “I Love Lucy” show itself, but the marriage between Lucy and Desi itself, was a very tumultuous relationship. This is the story of one week in the lives of these two larger than life characters known worldwide then, and still today.
So let’s get the elephant out of the room right off. Nicole Kidman does not look like Lucille Ball. Javier Bardem does not look like Desi Arnaz. Whether you choose to overlook this and instead concentrate on the performances and story itself, is up to each individual watching “Being the Ricardos”. As well, it was nothing as I thought it would be, hence Being the Ricardos is not a funny comedy like the show was, and while yes, it’s hard to fathom a film about Ball that isn’t at least accidentally a bit funny, Sorkin’s biopic instead, focuses his lens on the couple through one particular tumultuous week in their lives as a married couple, their very well known marital problems, as well as being co-TV superstars. And we can also be honest enough to say “should seen it coming” as comedy is not really Sorkin’s bag.
As for Lucy herself – well she was at the time, Hollywood’s most bankable comic genius. Ball was the biggest TV star on earth, a massive moneymaking machine whose eye for physical comedy was like no other. Those working on the then biggest soundstage at the infamous Desilu Studios, in the writers room around her — Co-stars Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda), William Frawley (J.K. Simmons), Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale), Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) and a bland Bob Carroll (Jake Lacy), who contribute to a fractured work dynamic that is on the verge of collapse due to a leaked news story about Lucy being a member of the Communist Party. On top of that, pictures of Desi appeared front page of the biggest of all tabloids at the time, the Confidential, with another woman. And to add the icing to the cake, Lucy is pregnant and both her and Desi want to televise her pregnancy as part of the show – something that just wasn’t done in those times. These were the days when married couples still had separate beds on TV. So a very big deal indeed.
While writer-director Aaron Sorkin places three different events in the same week – but did they take all actually take place during the same week? Not really knowing much about all the events of the time, doing a little research paid off in droves to find out the following points of fact:
Point #1. The Walter Winchell accusation about Lucille Ball being a Communist took place on September 6, 1953. This accusation is what kicks off the events in the film.
Point #2. Lucille’s second pregnancy with her and Desi’s son, Desi Arnaz Jr. who was actually born on January 19, 1953. This would make the pregnancy announcement actually being made at some point around July of 1952.
Point #3. Desi’s cheating scandal plastered on the front of Confidential tabloid as the magazine was considered to be THE gossip magazine of the 1950’s – well, yes, they did run an article about Desi cheating on Lucy. The film implies the photo was from six months before, but the truth is that the affair had happened many years before. The article also ran as the cover story of the January 1955 issue versus the same week as everything above was listed.
So all this has of course been taken the liberty of making it all more intense of a week than what probably really happened. Look, there’s no denial that Lucy and Desi had their marital problems, nor is there any doubt about the complex (to put it nicely) relationship between the two in their private and professional lives. However, Sorkin just tries to combines too many incidents in telling this story and while we all love going behind the scenes of TV and film stories, Being the Ricardos just goes about this the wrong way.
The performances though are all quite on par. Kidman actually really comes through as Ball, even doing one of the most favourited Lucy shows of all time, the stomping of the grapes. Bardem as well, let’s you know that while Lucy is always front and center, he is the true head of the show. Nina Arianda really comes through as Vivian Vance showing how things really were for her as being the side-kick of the show and her resentment of being so much younger than her ‘show husband’. As well, when does J.K. Simmons not come through with a character performance and he does so here on point.
With good performances like these they could have left the taking of liberties with the timeline of the story itself seem unnecessary and might have been better served if staying a little more to the actual true timeline it really was, rather than trying to push making a tense drama of it all happening at once. In essence a more cohesive biographical telling of the story of such icons would have been enough.
Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies
Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR
BEING THE RICARDOS opens in theaters Friday, December 10th and debuts on Amazon Prime Video December 21, 2021.
So does Sean Penn want to be Liam Neeson… or does Liam Neeson wish he was Sean Penn.. either way, this film is the sadly the first one. “The Gunman” is from the same Director as ‘Taken’ & ‘From Paris With Love’(Pierre Morel) could easily have almost been called “Taken in Barcelona via the Congo” or “From Barcelona With Love.” Clearly the guy has a certain directing style. Too bad it didn’t work here with this stellar cast that puts Sean Penn as “Martin Terrier” a sniper on a mercenary assassination team in the Congo pretending to work for an NGO, who is forced to go into hiding after a successful kill shot puts him on a hit list.
Though Sean Penn does a really capable job of doing the action hero thingy here as his physicality is dammed impressive and he’s definitely believable in the part. It also helps that he’s in absolutely amazing shape for a man his age and definitely seems like he has skills built up over his career which works for him here. His story is somewhat convoluted though..told in that tortured soul way that sometimes just doesn’t make sense even though he’s somewhat straight to the point kinda guy, which I liked. There is also a decent enough subplot going on a medical condition Terrier has which plays off in a pretty cool way throughout the film, most especially at the end but all in all, this is not a particularly good film or even an entertaining one.
While I am a huge fan of some of the co-stars here..though none of them with the exception of Jasmine Trinca as the love interest “Annie” of first Terrier, then with Javier Bardem’s character of “Felix”, have much to do. Felix, whom I guess we could say is a ‘co-worker’ of Terrier, is really wasted in this role as he plays it in such a manner you just want to cringe and not in a good way. The one final scene between the characters is almost flat out silly.
Both Mark Rylance“Cox” & Ray Winstone“Stanley” are satisfying enough in their respective roles as they interact well with Penn and hold their own – though I would have liked a bit more of a back story on their characters and when it does come, it’s almost as if it’s too late in the game for it. And let’s be truthful, no one does that bad-assed, grizzled, no BS English tough guy like Ray Winstone does.. It’s just never wrong. Sadly Idris Elba as “DuPont” an Interpol agent who wants Terrier to do a tell-all, is just basically a if-you-blink-you-miss-him character at the very end.
Though Annie is Penn’s AND Bardem’s love interest here.. Terrier had to leave her behind when he had to go into hiding per the ‘rules’ of the assassin’s creed they had. But truly, she has very little to her character and only seems to exist to be one of those helpless way-to-young for either guy, woman characters with a pretty face. She and Penn don’t really have all that great chemistry and I doubt the film would change much or you would even notice if her character wasn’t in it.
Structurally the film was a little strange and again as noted, convoluted. For the longest time it seemed like it was going to be a thriller but then turned into an action film about halfway through. The two halves of the film don’t really seem to add up or connect together so any scenes not building up to an action sequence feel a little like they are just killing time for the sake of the films run time. At times the plot seemed lost and overly complicated for what ultimately amounts to just a series of shoot outs.
The action scenes were impressive enough and had some good diversity to them in terms of location. The ending action scene in a bullfighting arena is pretty damn awesome if not a bit gruesome. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before and might be the films only redeeming point to make it worth a watch…on VOD or DVD that is..
(See grading scale)
Peggy at the Movies ~ Film Critic | Movie Maven | Reviews & More"