Friday, December 25, 2015

The Hateful Eight: Insufficiently nasty

The Hateful Eight (2015) • View trailer 
Three stars. Rated R, for strong bloody violence, gore, profanity, graphic nudity and racist behavior

By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.31.15

Quentin Tarantino’s best films are highlighted by deliciously snarky dialog, scene-stealing — and sometimes career-reviving — performances by delectable character actors, and twisty scripts that build tension to the screaming point.

Every time somebody enters Minnie's Haberdashery, those already inside — in this case,
John Ruth (Kurt Russell, left), Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a wincing
Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) — have to yell for the door to be nailed shut, lest the
blizzard blow it open again.
The Hateful Eight gets two out of three.

Tarantino’s tough-talkin’ homage to classic Westerns — complete with an awesome new orchestral score from 87-year-old Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), his first Western score in 40 years — simply doesn’t have enough story to justify its butt-numbing 182-minute length. The set-up is rich with potential, and it screams for the multiple back-story treatment that made Kill Bill so engaging ... but no; aside from two brief flashbacks, we and the cast are stuck in the same claustrophobic cabin for three interminable hours.

Granted, the actors do their best to hold our attention. Ultimately, though, the posturing and narrow-eyed ’tude can’t make up for a script that doesn’t kick into gear until after the intermission (roughly 100 minutes in).

Tarantino makes us wait much too long for the good stuff, and by then things are rather anticlimactic.

And yes, I’m fully aware that the “good stuff” is the enfant terrible filmmaker’s gleeful dollops of blood and gore. But even here, it feels like Tarantino is only half-trying; having teased us with a cabin laden with hammers, shovels, iron spikes and all sorts of other implements of potential mayhem, he settles for gunfire. Which, tasteless as it sounds, is quite disappointing.

As he did with Kill Bill, Tarantino divides this saga into chapters, starting with “Last Stage to Red Rock.” The setting is post-Civil War Wyoming, with a six-horse stagecoach doing its best to outrun an approaching blizzard. The driver is forced to halt after coming upon former Union soldier-turned-bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), perched in the middle of the road atop three of his sanctioned kills.

Warren’s horse has given out on him; he’s hoping for a lift to Red Rock. But that’s a problem; the stage has been chartered exclusively by fellow bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), who is handcuffed to his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and escorting her to a date with the hangman at Red Rock.

The wisely suspicious Ruth views any strangers as either a) somebody trying to steal his bounty; or b) somebody trying to rescue Daisy. But it turns out that Warren and Ruth know each other, if only vaguely; the requested ride is granted, if grudgingly.

Concussion: Grim reality check

Concussion (2015) • View trailer 
3.5 stars. Rated PG-13, for dramatic intensity and occasional profanity

By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.24.15

Great movie entrances are pure magic.

Consider George C. Scott’s eyebrow-raising pep talk, at the opening of Patton. John Travolta, strutting down the street, in Saturday Night  Fever. Or, more recently, Christian Bale’s meticulous “suiting up” and comb-over, in American Hustle. Everything you need to know about each of these characters, in one quick scene.

When renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin, center) finally gains an
audience with veteran NFL doctor Joseph Maroon (Arliss Howard, right), Dr. Bennet
Omalu (Will Smith) is enraged to hear that his meticulous research into brain injuries
is being dismissed. With prejudice.
Writer/director Peter Landesman grants Will Smith’s Dr. Bennet Omalu a similarly illuminating entrance, as Concussion begins. It’s a courtroom confrontation; Omalu has taken the stand to testify; his credentials have been challenged. In a bravura display of gentle chiding, unassuming pride and a droll insistence on full disclosure — leavened with an oh-so-slightly-mocking sense of humor — Omalu takes complete control of the room.

It’s a brilliant display of acting chops by Smith, who — from this moment onward — firmly has our hearts and minds. We’ve learned everything essential about this doctor, mostly crucially that he is a good and honorable man. That he respects the dignity of others, and insists — in turn — that they respect him.

The scene is marvelous: destined to become a much-viewed YouTube hit.

And, of course, the perfect way for Landesman to start his film.

Concussion, based on journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas’ exhaustive September 2009 exposé in GQ Magazine, charts Omalu’s initially lonely and Sisyphean struggle to get the National Football League to acknowledge that grown men bashing their heads together, even when wearing the (minimal) protection afforded by a helmet, likely isn’t good for their grey matter.

Indeed, far from “not good.” Potentially life-altering, even deadly.

Sensible people, confronted with such a suggestion, would nod and say, “Well, of course; what else would you expect?”

But the NFL circled the wagons, sent out the lawyers, and — possibly — pulled strings in Washington, D.C., to thoroughly discredit anybody daft enough to suggest such a thing. We’re talking football, folks: the one thing in Amuuurica capable of generating more foolish passion than the right for each citizen to own 437 guns.

But that’s getting ahead of things.

Joy: Not quite enough of it

Joy (2015) • View trailer 
3.5 stars. Rated PG-13, for fleeting profanity

By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.31.15

Few stories are more engaging than rags-to-riches empowerment sagas.

Particularly when they’re (somewhat) true.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence, center) is astonished, and angered, when she discovers the
degree to which her half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhn) has betrayed her ... a
transgression that their father, Rudy (Robert De Niro), blandly tolerates.
Writer/director David O. Russell’s third collaboration with star Jennifer Lawrence is based loosely on the astonishing life of American inventor/entrepreneur Joy Mangano, whose career arc is just about the best modern Horatio Alger story one could imagine.

Unfortunately, Russell has mucked it up a bit, by surrounding his leading lady with a motley crew of supporting characters, some of them just-plain-weird burlesques who belong in an entirely different film.

As was the case with Russell’s American Hustle — which sorta/kinda depicted what went down during the FBI’s late 1970s/early ’80s Abscam sting — the telling here is more “interpretive” than literal fact. Thanks to this wealth of oddly eccentric characters, at times the heightened tone feels like the off-kilter universe we’d expect in a Coen brothers movie (particularly Fargo).

But the key elements in Russell and co-plotter Annie Mumolo’s story are authentic, and the film is fueled by another powerhouse performance from Lawrence. If Joy ultimately lacks the exhilarating pizzazz of American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, it’s not for lack of effort on her part. It’s more a case of the various thematic elements not coalescing quite as successfully, and some of the characters being too off-balance.

I’m also not happy with the clumsy narrative device. The story is introduced and occasionally punctuated by off-camera commentary from our heroine’s grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), speaking from a not-too-distant remove. Although her remarks smooth a few of the flashback transitions, for the most part this gimmick is superfluous, even bothersome.

A brief prologue introduces Joy as a little girl (played here by Isabella Crovetti-Cramp), with imaginative sparkle; she’s the sort of kid who builds her own little worlds with scissors, tape and construction paper.

It’s likely part defense mechanism, as the home environment is tempestuous. Her father, Rudy (Robert De Niro), flits from one woman to the next; he also has anger-management issues, although his occasional rages never are directed at Joy or her half-sister Peggy (Madison Wolfe).

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Big Short: A grand romp

The Big Short (2015) • View trailer 
4.5 stars. Rated R, for profanity and nudity

By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.23.15

This is the mostly audaciously entertaining economics course you’ll ever take.

The Big Short isn’t merely a ferociously impudent adaptation of financial journalist Michael Lewis’ nonfiction 2010 book of the same title. Under the careful guidance of writer/director Adam McKay and co-scripter Charles Randolph, it’s a blistering primer that explains — precisely and unflinchingly — why the country fell off a cliff in 2007.

Mark Baum (Steve Carell, seated center) and his talented young financial analysts — from
left, Vinnie (Jeremy Strong), Danny (Rafe Spall) and Porter (Hamish Linklater) — react
with various degrees of concentration, disbelief and anger while Jared Vennett (Ryan
Gosling, seated far right) outlines his improbable scheme for making a fortune by
betting against the entire American financial institution. Jared's assistant Chris (Jeffry
Griffin) wisely keeps his mouth shut.
At the same time, it’s a raucous and yet tightly controlled showcase for a gaggle of unlikely antiheroes, played with whole-immersion glee by a top-flight cast of scene-stealers. McKay employs every trick in the filmmaking book, from Robert Altman-style overlapping dialog to characters who routinely emphasize a point by breaking the fourth wall and addressing us directly.

It sounds like total chaos, and in lesser hands that likely would have been the case. But McKay & Co. deliver the equivalent of the best, most savagely satirical Saturday Night Live sketch ever made ... and they keep it going for a full 130 minutes. True, the result sometimes feels like a series of self-contained scenes, but they’re strung together to build a cohesive narrative that is breathtaking, suspenseful and wildly entertaining.

And, ultimately, infuriating and unbelievable. Because it’s absolutely true.

Think we all got screwed by the 2007 housing bubble collapse? You have no idea how badly, or the degree to which the fat-cat, blithely indifferent — and, in many cases, reprehensibly ignorant — Wall Street and banking oligarchy danced on the ashes of your investments, retirement accounts and foreclosed homes.

McKay’s film reveals all, in torturous — and yet excruciatingly funny — detail, via the activities of a quintet of outliers and weirdoes, real people all, who smelled a rat early on and...

... wait for it ...

... still waiting? ...

... took a financial position against the supposedly rock-solid American housing industry.

Everybody else thought these guys were lunatics. Huge Wall Street corporations cheerfully took their wildcat investments, believing them the equivalent of going “all in” on the off-chance that a single number would come up on a colossal roulette wheel with 100,000 slots.

Because — and here’s the thing — most of the idiots pulling the country’s financial strings didn’t have the slightest idea what they were doing.

And the others were fully aware, but did it anyway, because a) they knew they’d never get caught; and b) knew that even if they did get caught, they’d undoubtedly be “punished” with a slap on the wrist and a fat bonus.

History — history that goes back only eight years — has proven them correct.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Everything old is new again

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) • View trailer 
Four stars. Rated PG-13, for intense sci-fi action and violence

By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.18.15

No question about it: J.J. Abrams definitely is one with The Force.

The writer/director/producer who so smartly revived the Star Trek franchise has done the same with Star Wars.

With nasty First Order storm troopers hot on their heels, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John
Boyega) do their best to survive long enough to get a valuable little droid into the hands of
good-guy Resistance fighters.
After the most recent trilogy prompted a blend of disappointment, disgust and outright hostility — Jar Jar Binks, anyone? — fans could be excused the raised-eyebrow wariness that initially greeted news of fresh doings in that galaxy far, far away. But maybe there really is something to the all-pervasive Force, because — for several months now — we’ve been part of an escalating global awareness that Something Great was in the offing.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t merely a 30-years-later continuation of the universe-spanning saga that (technically) left off back in 1983, with Return of the Jedi. Abrams and co-scripters Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt have delivered a new chapter that simultaneously advances the ongoing narrative, while strongly evoking, echoing and honoring everything that we loved about that wonderful debut, back in 1977.

Abrams sought out the best: Kasdan will be recognized as the writer who worked on both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (not to mention Raiders of the Lost Ark). He lives and breathes this stuff; he also understands the delicate art of imitating Hollywood’s Golden Age serials — with their alternating dollops of melodramatic angst and cliff-hanging action scenes — without crossing the line into overly broad farce.

And, as befits the 30-years-later scenario, we’ve been granted a fresh — and fresh-faced — cast of new characters, possessing varying capabilities, and thrust into ghastly events with either reluctance or grim resolve. At the same time, fans will cheer the return of old friends, whether human, droid or Wookie.

It can’t have been easy to deliver a film that will please both newcomers and longtime fans with light-sabers drawn; Abrams and his crew pulled it off, and then some.

The Danish Girl: An awkward transformation

The Danish Girl (2015) • View trailer 
3.5 stars. Rated R, for nudity and considerable sexual candor

By Derrick Bang

History is laden with fascinating people whose stories never make it into standard classroom curriculum, even at the college level.

We can be grateful, then, that movies often come to the rescue.

When Greta (Alicia Vikander, left) learns that her husband Einar (Eddie Redmayne)
enjoys posing in the guise of a woman, she begins to produce an entire series of
paintings that find favor with art lovers.
During the early decades of the 20th century, Danish artist Einar Wegener was celebrated for his landscape paintings. His wife, Gerda, enjoyed a steady career as a portraitist of prominent citizens, but recognition as an accomplished artist eluded her. This changed when Gerda began producing a series of Art Deco paintings of alluring, fashionably dressed women with distinctly almond-shaped eyes: in many cases, working with the same model.

The “model” later was revealed to be Einar, who had embraced this role as a means of validating a lifelong desire to dress and live as a woman: a wish so all-consuming that he eventually sought radical surgical intervention.

Today, Wegener is acknowledged as one of the first-known recipients of gender-reassignment surgery: a procedure most people probably don’t realize dates back to the early 1930s.

Einar and Gerda’s story has been dramatized with sensitivity by director Tom Hooper, the gifted British filmmaker who draws exemplary performances from his casts, and who turned The King’s Speech into such a droll, charming and effervescent slice of historical drama. Hooper elicits similarly strong work from stars Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl, but — alas — the film itself doesn’t live up to their memorably haunting efforts.

The problems are difficult to specify. At 120 minutes, Hooper’s film is a bit too long; the pacing also is extremely slow. Perhaps most noticeably, much as we admire Redmayne’s richly complex performance, Hooper and cinematographer Danny Cohen overuse tight close-ups, particularly of Redmayne’s mega-watt smile. To be sure, they’re varying levels of grins — nervous, bashful, triumphant — but, ultimately, a smile is a smile is a smile.

Strip 15 minutes’ worth of Redmayne’s smiles, and I’m convinced the entire film would play better.

But the issues go deeper. Lucinda Coxon’s script, adapted from David Ebershoff’s 2000 novel of the same title, is a bit sloppy with detail. This film has us believe that Einar’s transition from “closeted” female to surgically altered woman takes place in four short years, starting in 1926, when in fact Einar was “passing” as female by 1912. Compressing so many key events into this shorter time-span feels false and contrived: absolutely (I’m sure) the last impression Hooper would have desired.

That said, we’re no less transfixed by Redmayne and Vikander. Both cross that threshold that transcends acting, where we simply accept that they are the characters being brought to life.

Youth: Ponderous claptrap

Youth (2015) • View trailer 
1.5 stars. Rated R, for graphic nudity, sexuality and profanity

By Derrick Bang


I haven’t seen a film this obtuse and pretentiously arty since Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, back in 1991.

Mick (Harvey Keitel, left), Lena (Rachel Weisz) and Fred (Michael Caine) spend their
evenings watching the various singers, musicians and dancers hired to amuse the
guests of this opulent spa: performances that are far more entertaining than this film.
And it has been a good quarter-century, being spared that sort of self-indulgent twaddle.

Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s newest effort, Youth, has all the hallmarks of a Greenaway head trip: the same casually nude people, randomly draped like living room décor from one moment to the next; the same slow takes on still lifes, whether spacious, cow-laden fields or abandoned lawn chairs; the same jarring application of frequently discordant music.

The same droning soliloquies and dry-as-toast conversations by top-flight actors who appear to have been coached not to show emotion, or react in a manner that might be recognized by ordinary people.

In a word — no, in three words — boring, boring and boring.

Retired composer and conductor Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and defiantly vigorous film director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), friends for decades, are vacationing at an opulent hotel/spa at the foot of the Swiss Alps. It’s the sort of Art Nouveau establishment — complete with oddly detached and/or just plain weird staff members — that Wes Anderson lampooned so deliciously in last year’s Grand Budapest Hotel.

(In fact, it’s the Berghotel Schatzalp, a former luxury sanatorium built in 1900 for tuberculosis patients. Make of that what you will, given how Sorrentino has chosen to use this setting.)

Fred and Mick have reached their twilight years: the point at which each has too many yesterdays to remember with any accuracy, and too few tomorrows to anticipate with any degree of pleasure. Casual conversation sticks to “good things,” which is to say they tend to avoid topics that might get prickly, or that invade the other’s deeply private space.

“Good things” also apparently includes sharing their respective urinary accomplishments — or lack thereof — and a series of ongoing bets over whether the couple at an adjacent dining table, oddly silent evening after evening, ever will actually speak to each other.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Macbeth: Macawful

Macbeth (2015) • View trailer 
One star. Rated R, for strong violence and fleeting sexuality

By Derrick Bang

This is Shakespeare; I knew the guy had to die eventually.

Trouble is, even his death seemed to take forever. Like everything else in this dreadful film.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair ... except that everything about this turkey is foul, including any
sense of an actual relationship between Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and his wife
(Marion Cotillard).
I’ve seen Macbeth at least a dozen times on stage, TV and the big screen, with the mad king played by the likes of Orson Welles, Jon Finch, Sean Connery (believe it or not, back in 1961) and Ian McKellen, the latter a Royal Shakespeare Company production with Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth (definitely a high point, in productions of “the Scottish play”).

Goodness, I’ve even watched Sam Worthington lumber about in a contemporary update of the play, set amidst criminal gangs in Melbourne (far from a high point).

Do a title search on Macbeth at the Internet Movie Database, and you’ll come up with 95 matches, with adaptations clocking in from — among other countries — Japan, Australia, Russia and India.

Look far and wide, though, and you’ll not find a big-screen Macbeth that is worse than what director Justin Kurzel has unleashed this holiday season. Rarely has this play — or any other — been presented with such plodding, ponderous dreariness, its crackling dialog reduced to monotonous speeches mumbled by actors apparently instructed to utter every line with a complete lack of involvement.

This is Shakespeare, for goodness’ sake; impassioned monologues and overwrought performances are de rigueur. Instead, we get an entire cast that behaves like extras from a George Romero zombie movie, which is to say the slow, shambling walking dead, marked by dull, vacant expressions.

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are exceptional actors; their Macbeth and Lady Macbeth should have leaped ferociously from the screen. Instead, for reasons known only to Kurzel, they hunch, cower and sulk, often standing motionless and staring into vacuous nothing, muttering their lines so softly, and with such little energy, that we often can’t even hear what they’re saying.

Which, perversely, could be a blessing. Students of Shakespeare will be appalled by the way scripters Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie and Todd Louiso have butchered this play, committing artistic murders far more heinous than any of Macbeth’s on-screen blood-letting. Motivation and (ir)rational thought are abandoned, with far too many key events occurring seemingly at random.

Friday, December 11, 2015

In the Heart of the Sea: Waterlogged

In the Heart of the Sea (2015) • View trailer 
Three stars. Rated PG-13, for dramatic intensity, startling violence and considerable peril

By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.11.15

The ingredients are sure-fire: a fascinating, fact-based narrative; a plot that demands bravery and ghastly sacrifice by the men involved; a solid cast led by Chris Hemsworth, who makes ample use of his steely, blue-eyed resolve; and everything under the capable guidance of seasoned director Ron Howard.

Facing an undeniably vengeful attack by a massive white sperm whale, ship's first mate
Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth, foreground right) does his best to protect his men.
Unfortunately, even he won't be able to prevent what's about to happen...
And yet, In the Heart of the Sea somehow fails to resonate. Too many of the characters are defined solely by one-dimensional tics; the storyline is completely predictable; and the interpersonal squabbles are the stuff of trite cliché, particularly the sniping between Hemsworth’s first mate, Owen Chase, and their ship’s inexperienced and incompetent captain, George Pollard (Benjamin Walker).

On top of which, the thoroughly pointless 3D effects, added after the fact, do no favors to the otherwise exemplary work by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. The entire film is too dark and frequently looks washed out: the inevitable results of poor post-production 3D processing.

Howard’s film too often feels like a routine Boy’s Own Adventure Saga, albeit one granted a first-class budget. Everybody hits their marks like a pro, but the result just isn’t very involving: nowhere near as riveting as, say, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, several big-screen versions of Mutiny on the Bounty, or even the many British TV episodes of Horatio Hornblower.

Scripters Charles Leavitt, Rick Jaff and Amanda Silver also play fast and loose with historical accuracy, despite basing their screenplay on Nathaniel Philbrick’s meticulously researched 2000 book, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, which in turn is based on two published accounts by men who survived the incident. The scripters cherry-picked some details, glossed over others, and most particularly “adjusted” both Chase and Pollard for melodramatic intensity.

Perhaps borrowing from a similar technique in 1997’s Titanic, the saga is recounted in flashback via a framing device that finds an aging Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), long ago the Essex cabin boy, recounting these events to a certain Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw).

It’s a cute touch — and Gleeson and Whishaw display more acting chemistry than can be found in the film’s primary storyline — but it’s totally bogus. Although these events definitely helped inspire the 1851 publication of Moby-Dick, Melville wouldn’t have needed to approach Nickerson for “the truth of the matter.” Chase’s own account of the tragedy was published in 1821, shortly after his rescue and return to his home in Nantucket.

Ah, well. Picky, picky, picky, right?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Trumbo: The writer as triumphant gadfly

Trumbo(2015) • View trailer 
Four stars. Rated R, for profanity and coarse sexual candor

By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.4.15

You have to love ironic serendipity.

When Trumbo was scripted, and then green-lighted for production, and then filmed — with much of its dialog lifted directly from legendary Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s actual speeches and testimony, and delivered so superbly by star Bryan Cranston — nobody could have anticipated that this impeccably mounted and rigorously authentic drama would be released just as our country is poised to repeat the same ghastly mistake made with Japanese American citizens during World War II, and the so-called “Communist sympathizers” who were blacklisted during the 1950s.

Packed tightly into a movie theater filled with eager patrons, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston)
and his wife, Cleo (Diane Lane), await the film's all-important credits.
One of whom — Trumbo — is the subject of director Jay Roach’s heartfelt and thoroughly mesmerizing film.

Mesmerizing for two reasons: because of scripter John McNamara’s skillful adaptation of veteran journalist Bruce Cook’s 1976 biography, written with Trumbo’s full cooperation; and because of Cranston’s richly nuanced portrayal of the feisty novelist, screenwriter and social agitator.

No question: Trumbo was a character, and Cranston captures the famed scribe’s numerous eccentricities, righteous indignation and insufferable idealism. Trumbo fought the good fight, and lived to talk about it; his thorn-in-the-side persistence — assisted, at just the right moment, by a few Hollywood heavyweights — helped break the blacklist, and put an end to the ultimately ineffectual scare-mongering tactics that emanated from the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Roach and McNamara re-create this shameful bit of American history with the same darkly droll tinge of humor with which Trumbo peppered both his casual conversation and his screenplays. Actually, that’s an misstatement; Trumbo’s conversation rarely was casual, and Cranston gleefully chews into McNamara’s dialog — and Trumbo’s own words — with the enthusiasm of a hyena tearing at a carcass.

We’ve been down this road before, notably with 1976’s The Front — made with numerous individuals, both in front of and behind the camera, who had been smeared by the blacklist — 1991’s Guilty by Suspicion and 2005’s Good Night, and Good Luck.

The latter was highlighted by David Strathairn’s eerily authentic portrayal of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. Cranston takes a slightly different approach with Trumbo, nailing the man’s behavior and wonderfully rich verbal vitriol, without really trying to imitate him. As easily observed in the period photos and news clips that appear during the closing credits, Cranston doesn’t really look much like Trumbo.

By my, he sure sounds and acts like him.