Wednesday, December 09, 2015
The story is about Dalton Trumbo, a hugely successful novelist and screenwriter in the ‘40s who refused to cooperate with the witch hunting Committee on Un-American Activities and (along with others) was blacklisted in the ‘50s. To make a living he and other blacklisted writers were forced to churn out schlock B-movies at a fraction of their normal fee while using pseudonyms. It’s as if today Aaron Sorkin could only get work writing Women-in-Prison movies for direct-to-video under the name Candy Apple.
If John McNamara doesn’t win the WGA Best Screenwriting Award for this screenplay with this subject matter he never will. It’s got to be the ultimate crowd pleaser for THAT crowd.
Unfortunately, there is now a parallel to today’s events. Hopefully this film will enlighten some people as to the real dangers of blatant fear and mistrust (although those people are probably all home playing MORTAL COMBAT X).
TRUMBO is a little long and lecture-y at times, and I don’t know if you’d appreciate it as much if you have no connection to that world or time period, but I found it fascinating. And I could watch Bryan Cranston peel potatoes for two hours.
There were some other terrific performances. John Goodman is absolutely hilarious, Louis C.K. is proving to be one hell of a legitimate actor, and Helen Mirren, as always, is terrific.
But hey, any movie where Otto Preminger is one of the heroes is worth seeing. And Kirk Douglas comes off well too.
Dalton Trumbo was a character. Very flamboyant, larger-than-life. After seeing the film I went on YouTube where there are some appearances by the real Dalton Trumbo and it’s amazing how well Cranston captured him. But that’s like saying an actor really had Abe Lincoln’s voice down. Unless you go to YouTube, you have no idea how Trumbo acted or sounded. So take my word on it.
Like I said, TRUMBO is worth seeing. I don’t think it’s going to receive many Oscars. But if it does win one, I suspect the Academy will adhere to tradition and not give it to them for twenty years.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM