REVIEW: “RICHARD JEWELL” (2019) Warner Bros.

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The title of this film “RICHARD JEWELL” is our subject matter as well. Jewell is a security guard who was hailed as a hero for finding a pipe bomb and thus preventing a bigger tragedy in 1996 during the time of the Atlanta Olympics. The film focuses on the events of the bombing itself and what takes place in the life of Richard Jewell post-bombing.

Imagine being falsely accused of a terrorist act that killed and injured people. Imagine that you are the FBI’s primary suspect. Imagine your name and face are spread across every possible media outlet. Imagine your belongings have been searched and seized as evidence – right down to your mom’s underwear. Lastly, imagine all of this occurs mere days after your actions actually saved lives and you were hailed as a hero across all of those same media outlets.  Well that imaginary man is actually Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser), a humble but rather over-zealous security guard whom yes, imagines himself a law enforcement officer as he never fails to tell us.

We first meet Richard as a supply clerk at a law firm in 1986. His awkward ways and surprising efficiency catches the eye of attorney Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), a quasi-connection that comes into play a big part in both of their lives a decade later. We then jump ahead 10 years to find Richard being fired from his campus security job at a college due to not only his odd behaviour, but his escalating over-zealous focus on following protocol to a point of pulling people over off-campus as a police officer would. Fortunately for Richard, the Olympics are coming to Atlanta, so finding work as a security guard is pretty easy.

Pan to Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. Crowds of people are dancing at a Kenny Rogers concert and two days later we have Sly & The Family Stone and people dancing the Macarena. As one of the on-site security guards, Richard spots a suspicious backpack that turns out to be holding the pipe bomb that detonates minutes later, creating turmoil and tragedy at the site.  In hindsight we see that thanks to Richard, it wasn’t worse and as the viewing audience, we know that Richard’s actions saved lives and he definitely is not responsible for planting the bomb. And it’s because of knowing this, that we have the feeling of being in Richard’s shoes – thanks in part because of the Oscar-worthy performance here by Hauser as well.  Every time we hear Richard say “I’m law enforcement too”, it’s heart-breaking to us and gives an opening for the FBI to try and manipulate him. The scenario of a single white male living at home with his mom, carrying his gung-ho dreams of a career in law enforcement while collecting guns, knowledge on bombs and police procedure, makes Richard Jewell the perfect patsy.

Two key supporting roles come courtesy of Oscar winner Kathy Bates as Richard’s mother Bobi, and Nina Arianda as Bryant’s paralegal Nadya. Bates starts out as a loving and simple mother to Richard, but her press conference captures the character in a new light. It’s a strong and heartfelt performance. Arianda on the other hand, brings some warmth sprinkled with welcome sarcasm to her role. Once again, Hauser is spot-on in every scene, and when the four are all together, it’s a pleasure to watch. Hauser and Rockwell are especially good in their scenes together as the ‘wronged man’ contrast with the take-no-bull attorney and somehow actually gives a touch a humour in this otherwise not so humourous story.

With Jon Hamm having perfected the role of the cocksure agent-man and this one being no different as he plays FBI Agent Tom Shaw, the man totally focused on proving Richard Jewell was the perpetrator. The depiction of Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) is a bit curious, being that the uproar is over what some interpret as a reporter trading intimate relations for a scoop, yet the contempt here seems focused more on the idea of trying this case in the public eye while lacking any real evidence outside of a profile. Perhaps the viewer reaction to this is just a sign of the times we are now in.

Leading me into the fact that with four-time Oscar winner Clint Eastwood directing yet another story of a working-class hero, or essentially as he would like us all to see it. While the film deserves to be commended, the story being true as it is, as well as the wonderful performances by the entire cast, it was not lost on me on or many I saw the film with-of the political propaganda side of this film in the times facing us in our present situation. Staunch Republican that he is, Mr. Eastwood was sure to make note at what could be construed to believe to be perfect timing of the fact of the FBI made a huge error is their assessment of Richard Jewell and as such are not to be trusted. Same point being made with the media – aka ‘fake media’. Perfect timing Mr. Eastwood for more political rhetoric to keep in tune with the division of this country. Taking the hero story to the next level as we all know human beings make mistakes – and while there is cause to find total fault with the mishandling of this case, it goes without saying that they are not always wrong. No one would want to find themselves in Richard Jewell’s shoes, hence this story does deserve to be told even if it feels like a two-headed coin spin by Eastwood here.

Both Richard Jewell and Kathy Scruggs have passed, him in 2007, her in 2001, so we will never know their take on all this today.

Grade: B

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Media Screening: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros. 

“RICHARD JEWELL” IS OUT IN U.S. THEATERS NOW // WORLDWIDE TO FOLLOW JANUARY 2020

7 DAYS OF OSCAR COUNTDOWN ~ DAY 2 ~ BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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We are only on Day Two of the ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ countdown and already we are at ‘Best Supporting Actor’. You know that magical time of year where once again, I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories- who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
NOMINEES

WILLEM DAFOE
The Florida Project
As much as I do love most of Dafoe’s work – and did like this movie – it just wasn’t a ‘love’ for me.

WOODY HARRELSON
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Woody was good in this film. It was a classic, good Woody and I wouldn’t be mad if he won.

RICHARD JENKINS
The Shape of Water
I was give or take here.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER
All the Money in the World
Unfortunately I’ve not seen this film, so have missed the performance. It happens.

SAM ROCKWELL ~ MY PICK/WINNER
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
And of course you knew if you follow me anywhere how much I loved this performance. While Rockwell’s career has probably had more misses than hits, McDonagh definitely knows how to bring out the hits in him.

REVIEW: “THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI” (2017) Fox Searchlight

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Step right up Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell and please just accept your Oscar’s for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor already. Yes, truly they are that good and that’s how I feel. And hey, throw in a Best Picture nod while you’re at it please!!!

This wonderfully dark comedy featuring a brash, outspoken and very funny McDormand in the lead role as Mildred Hayes, a divorcee from Ebbing, Missouri and let me tell you, Mildred is one extremely pissed woman at her local Police Department. Most especially Sherriff Willougby (Woody Harrelson), and she is not afraid to let everyone know this as she rents out 3 billboards on the outskirts of town at $5000 a month from Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones). The way Mildred see’s it is it’s been seven months since her teenage daughter Angela (Kathyrn Newton) was raped, murdered and set ablaze on a quiet stretch of country road, and yet still no arrests have been made or suspects identified. Mildred and many others in the town, feel as the local Sherriff’s dept. are “too busy torturing black folk”. And she’s right as Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) has been investigated for doing just that. Sheriff Willoughby however, doesn’t much like being publicly mocked by billboards that read: “Still No Arrests?” “How Come, Chief Willoughby?” and “Raped While Dying.”
And the story that unfolds before you is one that will capture every emotion you thought you never had. This is a hard -edged drama, but with enough sarcastic comedy in it to somehow keep it funny through a dark subject throughout the film. This film is a brilliant piece of storytelling that somehow has stories within that all fit together in the end in a 360 degree type circle.

McDormand is simply superb as the mother whose anger is just part of her problems in life. She breaks this character down inch by inch in front of us in such detail you are sure not to forget her anytime soon. Rockwell – who let’s face it, can be very ‘hit or miss’ with his performances, here he is so crazy good and volcanically funny that you want to almost applaud whenever he shows up, as he somehow he makes Dixon both horrendous and humane – sometimes both in a same breath – it is truly a tremendous performance. Harrelson is wonderful, yet sarcastic, a bit vulgar and yet even in the face of death, funny. Peter Dinklage as James, the town’s only ‘small person’, Lucas Hedges in another fine performance as Mildred’s son Robbie and John Hawkes as the ex-husband, truly round up a great supporting cast. The only true problem I had any of this cast was with Harrelson’s wife Penelope (Samara Weaving) as the being 1/2 his age part wasn’t the only blur, but how in the world is an Australian somehow in this little backwoods town of Ebbing, Missouri. Besides that, it truly is a flawless picture by Martin McDonagh and not only my favourite film of the year so far, but hopefully a shoe-in for a couple of those Oscars!

Grade: A
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Media Screening Review: Monday, November 6, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
“THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI” is now playing nationwide // International release in Jan 2018

REVIEW ~ LAGGIES (2014)

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There have been some very bad movies released this year and this doozie is definitely one of the worst.  I almost didn’t even want to write a review as I feel like I’m wasting as much of my time on it that they made me waste watching it and that was enough, so expect this to be very short and simple, to the point.

Keira Knightly in ANOTHER really awful performance, her 2nd of the year so far btw in a bad American accent again no less, is “Megan” an 20-something who is the sign-spinner (yes, you read that right..the person in front of a business who spins the sign for people to come in) for her father “Ed” (Jeff Garlin) accounting office and seems to be in the throes of a quarter-life crisis..yes really..if there is such a thing. She’s got a degree, lives with her boyfriend, “Anthony” (Mark Webber) who it weirdly seems as though she barely likes him and he seems to unquestionably just support her financially etc., without a problem and yet she just floats around aimlessly while all her friends like “Allison” (Elle Kemper) progress in front of her with their lives.  laggie 1

That is of course until she meets high-school student “Annika” (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her group of friends, “Misty” (Kaitlyn Dever), “Junior” (Daniel Zovatto), and “Patrick” (Dylan Arnold) and buys them beer and they become besties.. yep..they do. In fact, in order to ‘get away from it all’, Megan begins to hang out with this group of high-school students and proceeds to stay at Annika’s house until her divorced dad, “Craig” (Sam Rockwell) wonders, as all of us do, why is this woman staying in my house with my high-school aged child and saying they are friends like this is normal behaviour.. Let’s just say this movie is painful and not even Sam Rockwell can save it when he hooks up with Megan which of course unless you’re very impaired you know is going to happen from the moment Megan steps into their house.  Along with the absolute just inane – trying so hard to be quirky – plot of all this is the fact that Megan not only goes to a high-school party without any qualms or awkward feeling of anyone asking her WTF she is even doing there..she just fits right in..but wait for it…as yes..she goes to the prom too!!! At this point in the movie, I’m not sure how I had stayed so long without screaming or pulling my hair out in exasperation over how horrifically bad this movie is.. I guess because it was a screening and I always feel guilty if I leave early..and yes, thankfully I didn’t pay any money to see this farce, as then I would have been really PISSED!!!

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So to sum it up in case you haven’t guessed already, this is one bad movie. It’s kinda weird that a person in their 20’s would even want to hang out with high school kids..I don’t know anyone who ever did..and it’s not funny, there is no chemistry between any of the characters or any depth to any of them and it ends just as lamely as it started.

Grade: D-  (don’t waste your time or money)

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