REVIEW: “AMERICAN PASTORAL” (2016) Lionsgate

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Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Phillip Roth, we have Ewan McGregor doing double time in this one, a.k.a directing and starring in “AMERICAN PASTORAL”. Truthfully, I struggled a lot in my viewing of this one, as the acting often seemed forced, the script failed throughout, and there were a couple of performances that just left me blank. Overall the film was quite miscast and maybe this is what lead to me not really believing in a single character.
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Told in flashback mode from the viewpoint of Nathan Zuckerman (David Strathairn) at a high school reunion is the first thing right off the bat, that didn’t make a lot of sense and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the film doing the same. The film goes on to tell us the story of a high school jock who was blessed with everything ~ good looks, incredible skill at everything he did and a profitable women’s glove business that he would one day inherit and run for his father. Seymour Levov (Ewan McGregor) otherwise known as ‘Swede’ marries Dawn (Jennifer Connelly), the ex-Miss New Jersey. They have a daughter, Merry (Dakota Fanning/Hannah Nordberg/Ocean James), and prosper in the suburbs of New Jersey. Merry grows up with a nasty stutter and a strange attachment to her father, one that set off weird alarm bells for me and I’m guessing most of the viewing audience as well, as it really comes off as just plain creepy. amerian-pastoral-4
From there, Merry grows into an angry rebellious young woman who rages against the United States and a deep hatred of President Lyndon Johnson, the Vietnam war and pretty much anything that ends up in her path. Her parents feel themselves starting to losing control of her and finally she leaves after it seems she bombed the local post office, killing a local resident and family friend. Merry goes under ground and is protected by a network of radicals who continue with their plots and killing more unknowingly innocent people along the way. Gradually the nightmare of not knowing where she is or what she is doing unhinges Dawn and she has a full-scale nervous breakdown. She is slowly able to let go of Merry but Swede can’t seem to do the same, as he finally finds her years later, but she is not even a close semblance of what she once was in one of the oddest scenes of the film to be sure.
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All this would make a great story if there was even the remotest of explanations as to how it happens. One day Merry is a sweet little girl helping her mom with the cows on the farm, the next minute she is spouting off stuttering radicalizations that we really don’t understand as again, not explained. The only thing I truly believed in the film was the points of history shown that actually happened with riots and protests etc.. Visually, it’s done quite well with bringing you a true feel of the 60’s at certain points, until again, the ending portion where logic and sense seemingly go out the window. None of the acting is standout or stellar. The only thing I thought of at the end, as I do love some of Philip Roth’s books tremendously, is maybe now I will read this one and maybe it will become a clearer story as the screenplay is not.

As 2016 is coming to a close and I am still waiting for those Oscar-worthy films to come forth, this was a disappointing exercise of film to say the least.

Grade: D+
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Meetup

Nationwide Release: Friday, October 21, 2016

“EMMY AWARDS” – 2015 – QUICK PICKS

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Just throwing out a quick roll on The Emmy’s for some of the main categories only. I always do well for my Oscar picks..but not so much on The Emmy’s. I’m guessing it’s because most of the time I haven’t seen all the shows being as I don’t have Netflix or Amazon accounts and I don’t illegally bootleg anything because good shows get cancelled because of it and people lose jobs and money. In other words.. My choices mean nothing..ha!
My picks are bolded & italicized. I probably won’t do well on this.. 😀

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
“Better Call Saul” – not my favourite new show..Some people are ranting and raving over this, I was just meh on it.

“Downton Abbey” – I mean it’s Downton.. It’s not what it once was, but it’s still very watchable.

“Game of Thrones” – This was a slow season on GOT. Just like season 2, it was very mixed with only a good episode thrown in here and there.

“Homeland” – Everyone thought this show would just go down the toilet without ‘Brody’ (Damien Lewis) instead..it was.. dare I say it..almost better. It’s all about Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend).

“House of Cards” – Only have seen an episode of this way back when..

“Mad Men” – Tis the season of Mad Men for me. This really should sweep and it’s final season proved to be hands down, one of the best ever on TV. Just truly a show to sit back, watch and be awed by.

“Orange is the New Black” – N/A

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES I just don’t have a pick here but if I had to guess…

“Louie” – I know this is a critical darling, but it’s just not my show.

“Modern Family” – it’s never bad, but it’s also rather ZZZzzzz now.

“Parks and Recreation” – I never got as hooked into this show as some did..but I did like it.

“Silicon Valley” – N/A
“Transparent – N/A
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” N/A

“Veep” – Again, another critical darling, and I watch it on occasion.

LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” – in Breaking Bad I found Saul rather humourous – in his own show..I just really didn’t gravitate towards the character at all.

Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline” – N/A – though I’ve been a Kyle Chandler fan since ‘Early Edition’..yes I said ‘Early Edition’ 😀

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” – N/A

Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” – This is Jon Hamm’s year. It has to be. His performance in this last season was just sublime. And that finale..come on!!!

Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Love this show..Love the character and the acting.. But again, it’s all Jon Hamm for me this year.

Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan” – same as above..I love Liev..but. yeah..it’s just all about Jon Hamm.

LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire” – this over-the-top show and character are amusing if nothing else..

Claire Danes, “Homeland” – Again, fantastic season and performance by Claire, but she’s won before..and the faces..oh those faces!! 😀

Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder” – I love Viola as an actress.but this show is sorely lacking and I can’t for that reason alone.

Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black” – oh Tatiana..I love you and this show equally..I do..and you so deserve this nomination.

Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men” – But I gotta go with Peggy Olsen. And not just because she is a ‘Peggy’ in this too..but because I still have that totally badass episode of her from 2014 on my DVR with her and Don.. plus her ciggie eps. She was just incredible.

Robin Wright, “House of Cards” – N/A

LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish” – I enjoyed this show from the beginning and I’m a big Anthony Anderson fan from way back but I did sorta lose steam for it.. It’s an ‘on occasion’ show for me now.

Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes” – Matt playing over-the-top Matt..is so fun.

Don Cheadle, “House of Lies” – Not a fan of this show..

Will Forte, “The Last Man On Earth” – I gave this one 2 eps. and then I was done..

Louis C.K., “Louie” – yeah..not my fav. in any way, shape or form.

William H. Macy, “Shameless” – Love Bill Macy – so-so on the show.

Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent” – N/A

LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback” – It’s Valerie Cherish – do I need to say anything more?

Lily Tomlin, “Grace And Frankie” – N/A

Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer” – comedy’s ‘It Girl’ of the moment right now..and I LOVE her.

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie” – Oh Jackie..I will miss you. No one’s ever had a nurse like you.

Amy Poehler, “Parks And Recreation” – Love Amy.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” – Julia is comedy gold..

SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul” – Big fan of Banks, but again, the character that worked so well for me on Breaking Bad, doesn’t work for me here.

Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline” – Ben Mendelsohn is a fantastic actor that can truly play almost any role. Wish I could see him in this..truly.

Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey” – I think everyone likes Mr. Carson just not enough for a win here.

Peter Dinklage, “Game Of Thrones” – Dinklage was a highlight of a slow season.

Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife” – When does Alan not bring it on this show? Even with an uneven season..he’s always spot on.

Michael Kelly, “House Of Cards” – N/A

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey” – last years surprise winner to almost everyone but me.. 😀

Lena Headey, “Game Of Thrones” – Lena gave it her all.. literally..

Emilia Clarke, “Game Of Thrones” – another fav. character for me from the show.

Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife” – Hands down, my winner. Christine is priceless.

Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men” – Joan really gave it to us for the final season. Stepping up into her own and really giving us an insight into what the fight for equal rights for women possibly entailed. I won’t be mad if she wins.

Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is The New Black” – N/A

SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” – for me, this is the funniest show on TV..And Andre just brings it to this role.

Adam Driver, “Girls” – don’t really like the show and not an Adam Driver fan so..

Keegan-Michael Key, “Key & Peele” – they have some damn funny skits.

Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” – ZZZZzzzz oh..sorry..I like Ty but I’m pretty over their run.

Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – N/A

Tony Hale, “Veep” – I’ve just not got a thing to say here..ha! I just haven’t watched the show enough to really say yay! or nay!!

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory” – not my show, just never got the ‘ha ha’ from it.

Niecy Nash, “Getting On” – Never seen this show. and I’m fine with that!

Julie Bowen, “Modern Family” – See ‘Ty Burrell’

Allison Janney, “Mom” – I’ve watched this show a few times trying my best to get into it.. I just didn’t succeed, but I do love Alison

Kate McKinnon “Saturday Night Live” – She’s just a gem all the time, every character.

Gaby Hoffmann, “Transparent” – N/A

Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – N/A

Anna Chlumsky, “Veep” – I like ‘out of the box’..this is a good ‘out of the box’ character for Anna.. but just not enough for me.

That’s it!! Wish I had more time to get in-depth on these and more categories..Just pressed for time. Let’s just hope that the Emmy’s aren’t the same ol’ same ol’ that they can sometimes be and pick some new different and I might add, much deserving winners.
Cheers all!!