Friday, November 20, 2015

Rapid Reviews: Suffragette and Trumbo

Carey Mulligan is one of the most talented actresses in the industry that no one really talks about. While other leading ladies like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone and Jessica Chastain tend to leave their mark on widely marketed features, Mulligan embraces the challenges of less publicized indie dramas. Her latest work is highlighted in Suffragette, filmmaker Sarah Gavron's depiction of the hardships endured by English women throughout their lengthy quest to achieve the right to vote.

Maud (Mulligan) works ungodly hours for unfair wages as a laundress in early 20th century England. After she discovers a coworker is a suffragette, Maud slowly becomes more involved in the feminist movement. She willingly defies her husband's wishes and Maud risks everything for the greater good of women's rights.

To Suffragette's discredit, the film screams a bias recollection of 1910s England. Both written and directed by women, the film unapologetically portrays every single male character in a negative light somehow. It's difficult to believe that these female warriors didn't receive support from at least a small faction of men. Either way, Carey Mulligan's Oscar-caliber performance and an engaging story do an admirable job of luring the audience. Suffragette hardly separates itself from other decent films of the year, but it's a worthwhile watch in its own right.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

After an epic career as one of television's greatest characters, Breaking Bad's Walter White, Bryan Cranston tackles his first major leading role in a feature film. The remarkable life story of shunned Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, arrives on the big screen by an unlikely filmmaker, Jay Roach. The comedy guru is best known for Austin Powers and Meet the Parents, but he teams up with Cranston in an attempt to reinvent both of their careers.

Following the aftermath of World War II and the fear of communist Russia, Hollywood begins a witch hunt for political radicals working and living in the United States. Acclaimed screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo (Cranston), becomes one of 10 industry insiders held in contempt of congress during a publicized investigation and is forced to serve nearly a year in prison. Upon his release, Dalton and the others continue to be blacklisted by Hollywood until their talents are needed to rejuvenate a creatively inept industry.

Bryan Cranston gives a fully committed performance in Jay Roach's Trumbo, however an outstretched story and artificial drama dilute the experience. Co-star John Goodman injects a burst of energy into the film, as he tends to do, but it's not nearly enough to keep Trumbo from wearing thin. This undeserving Hollywood pariah is entitled to a feature worthy of his legacy, yet Jay Roach's attempt unfortunately falls short.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C

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