Bombshell (2019)

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, Allison Janney

Screenplay: Charles Randolph

109 mins. Rated R for sexual material and language throughout.

 

Bombshell is a movie I was very excited to see as soon as I caught the trailer. First of all, I didn’t realize it was Charlize Theron (Monster, Atomic Blonde) under all that makeup, and that shocked and excited me. Also, I was a big fan of Vice, which follows people I don’t much like doing bad things, and I felt like Bombshell had a lot in common with Vice tonally, so that made me all the more excited.

It’s 2016, and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (Theron) has made an enemy of Donald Trump by asking him about his comments toward women. Meanwhile, Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!, TV’s Big Little Lies) has been removed from her place on Fox & Friends, and she is contemplating a lawsuit. At the same time, Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad, Peter Rabbit) has just been hired and she wants to get to the top. When she reaches out to the Head of Fox News, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow, Late Night, TV’s 3rd Rock from the Sun), she is put into an inappropriate situation by Ailes. Soon after, Gretchen begins a firestorm when she comes forward with sexual harassment claims against Ailes, and Fox News begins to implode in the process.

This movie was painful to watch, and that’s kind of the point. The film’s trailers presented a very chic and stylized film, and while the style is definitely there, the story made me really uncomfortable, and in that way, I really found it to be an effective drama. It’s hard to really explain the techniques, but I think mostly it came from the tremendous acting work across the board and the sharp writing from Charles Randolph (The Big Short, Exposed). Director Jay Roach (Trumbo, All the Way) also elected to focus his camerawork on the performances and the story, which I really respect. The film’s overall effect on me was powerful.

Our three female leads are all incredible, each one owning their screen time quite well. The fact that Margot Robbie is able to hold her own against Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman is astounding considering the latter two actresses have been around for awhile and are playing real-life humans, whereas Robbie is an amalgam of other people. Their interactions are fiery and full of so much humanity. It’s astoundingly-performed.

John Lithgow is a disturbing presence as Roger Ailes. I never would have placed him in the role, but he is incredibly slimy and full of so much villainy. His makeup as well as that for Theron and Kidman is incredible, and their strong performances work all the better for the makeup. Having seen recent films like The Grudge, I can say that a poor makeup prosthetic can ruin a good performance and a good one can elevate it.

I also have to throw some love to Connie Britton (American Ultra, TV’s Dirty John) because she won’t get the attention she deserves for her work as Beth Ailes, Roger’s adoring wife. She doesn’t have a lot of scenes in the film, but with that time, she disappears in this role and showcases a woman who believes with all her heart that her husband couldn’t have done anything wrong (that, or she willing ignores it), and it’s shocking how long she is able to keep up with the scandal. In a lot of ways, we like to believe that our loved ones could never do anything to hurt us, and Britton exemplifies that.

Outside of the writing and acting work, there’s nothing too flashy in the film other than the strong production design, which recreates an environment like Fox News, and I think it creates a sense of realism in the film. Director Jay Roach also capably creates connections with people that I don’t really know and makes them realistic.

Bombshell is a strong performance-laden film with some shockingly-good acting work from pretty much the entire team, and its screenplay is incredibly well-constructed to connect with its audience on a cerebral level. It’s not an easy viewing experience but it is well worth it. Outside of those elements, there isn’t a lot of notable wins here, but I highly recommend the film to anyone, whether or not you like the people being portrayed.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Jay Roach’s All the Way, click here.

Silent Night (2012)

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Director: Steven C. Miller

Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, Brendan Fehr

Screenplay: Jayson Rothwell

94 mins. Rated R for bloody violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use.

 

After the disappearance of Deputy Jordan (Brendan Fehr, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: First Class) and rising count of corpses start popping up in town, officer Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King, Pearl Harbor, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) is tasked with hunting down a psychopath dressed as Santa Claus…on Christmas Eve of all days. Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange, Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness) doesn’t trust the unseasoned young cop, and Aubrey is forced to bet on her gut as a gruesome trail is uncovered, and the culprit may be tied to all of them.

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In this, the remake to Silent Night, Deadly Night (though, to be fair, it seems like more of a reboot, but never mind that), we see how flimsy the original film really was. This story is riddled with plot holes disguising themselves as tongue-in-cheek homages to clichés but come off as mere problems with a mostly problematic film. So many half-answered plot threads, so many!

Thankfully, the cast understands the intended tone of the film, and most of them perform admirably, including McDowell and Donal Logue (TV’s Grounded for Life, The Reef 2: High Tide), who plays a drunk and lousy dime-store Santa suspected of being the murderous madman.

Unfortunately, I said most. Jaime King underperforms to an already poorly put together character and can’t handles the front seat of this ride. Her character merely fills up space.

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I had fun with this film, as I did with the original it is based on, and I loved the rare send-ups to the original series with heightened my enjoyment. Altogether, though, Silent Night could have been more fun. It wasn’t.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 12 Days of Christmas, click here.

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