I hit the Redbox a couple of times this week and caught up on with two flicks that I missed when they were in the theaters last year....
The first was "Trumbo", directed by Jay Roach and staring Bryan Cranston as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo, if you don't know the story, was one of the more prominent Hollywood luminaries who was targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950's and was blacklisted by mainstream Hollywood studios in one of the more shameful periods of American history in the 20th century. Cranston received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for this movie and he was terrific in it. Also starring and performing well were Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, Elle Fanning, and John Goodman.
The story of Dalton Trumbo (and others victimized by the blacklisting) is one worth seeing and learning about, because, I fear, there is an element about in the country today that would like to bring back those days. We need to learn from our history.
Plus, it's a good movie to boot.
Three and a half stars from The Grandstander.
The other movie was "Irrational Man", written and directed by Woody Allen. Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Woody Allen, but I can't say that this was one of Woody's best efforts. Part of this may be traced to the fact that I'm just not a big fan of Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the "Woody-surrogate" role in this one. The first half of the movie is pretty talk-y and slow moving until it gets to the plot point that is the key to the movie. At that point it picks up a bit, but I think that it would have been a better movie with someone other than Phoenix.
The movie takes place on a fictional college campus in a coastal town in Rhode Island, and it is beautiful to look at, as have been many of Allen's recent movies. Female star Emma Stone is just as cute and charming as can be, and Parker Posey does a great turn as an older amorous pursuer of college professor Phoenix. So the movie has that going for it, but it suffers in comparison with the Woodman's greater body of work.
Two stars from The Grandstander.