Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Jay Roach's TRUMBO proves star-studded, knockout entertainment. History and reality? Maybe not...

Even being aware of its superb cast of first-rate performers, TrustMovies found himself totally unprepared for how extraordinarily entertaining the new bio-pic TRUMBO turns out to be. Although heralded as Oscar bait, the movie may actually be too much fun to qualify for that, despite some dead-on turns from ace actors like Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren and John Goodman (among many others -- not to mention Bryan Cranston's lovely job in the title role). For those of us who were alive at the time of the Hollywood blacklist, or for any dyed-in-the-wool movie buffs, Trumbo is simply a must-see. For any others seeking star-studded entertainment, I don't think you can go far wrong.

Yeah, but what about sticking to history and the facts at hand? I'm not so sure as to that part -- having seen some years back the fine documentary about screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, also titled Trumbo, which was written by Christopher Trumbo, the (now late) son of the famous screen scribe. In that one, we learned a lot more (about the family's exile in Mexico, for instance) and still had a pretty entertaining time. In this new narrative version, directed by Jay Roach (shown at right), with a screenplay by John McNamara from the book by Bruce Cook, we learn a few things -- though nothing that a follower of the blacklist and those particularly nasty times wouldn't already know.

What we get, however, and what makes this movie such a delight, is some superb casting that combines the right "look" with the talent necessary to create a cast of characters right out of both central casting and, seemingly, life itself. This is more than mere stunt because each performer (that's Ms Mirren as Hedda Hopper, above, left, and Mr. Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson. below, right).

These are names that ring a bell, but interestingly enough one of the most moving and odd characters in this movie is a much lesser known screenwriter (actually a composite character made up of traits of several Jewish members of the Hollywood Ten), whose situation provides grist for the filmmaker's mill. That would be the blacklisted screenwriter, played quite beautifully by Louis C.K. (above, left), who becomes the most important of the many satellite characters revolving around Trumbo. Mr. C.K. imbues this man with as much humanity -- fear, fight, acceptance, love -- as any supporting performance this year. Academy: take note.

Around halfway along we meet Frank King, the B-moviemaker who gave Trumbo a second chance. As played by an all-stops-out John Goodman (above), this character -- and his baseball bat -- just about walk away with the film.

By the time, we get to the likes of the Spartacus period and Kirk Douglas (Dean O'Gorman, above) and then to Exodus and Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel, below), we've arrived in, well, movie heaven. Juicy doesn't begin to describe the dribbling delights of all this Hollywoodland fun.

If that fine actress Diane Lane (below, with Cranston) seems a bit wasted as Trumbo's ever-faithful, ever-lasting wife, Cleo, well, that's small price to pay to the rest of this notable "entertainment." In the film's final major speech by Trumbo, we also hear an interesting "take" on the blacklist -- which will probably irk both left- and right-wingers. And stick around for the newsreel clips during the end credits: They're quite something, too.

From Bleecker Street and running 124 (not one of them boring) minutes, Trumbo opens here in South Florida and elsewhere throughout the USA as part of your Thanksgiving pleasures, tomorrow, Wednesday, November 25. Click here and scroll down to find a theater near you.

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