Tag: Richard Jenkins


LBJ

October 26th, 2017 — 3:30am

*****

LBJ

If you are of a certain age or a student of history and can remember Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. this movie should grab you, fascinate you and hold your attention. Johnson (magnificently played by Woody Harrelson) was a seven term United States senator from Texas who was for many years, majority leader of the U.S. Senate and was chosen by JFK to be his vice presidential candidate. He rode to victory with Kennedy in 1960. Rob Reiner, who directed this movie with the use of very realistic flashbacks, builds up the tension leading to those fateful days in Dallas in 1963 when Johnson assumed the presidency.

Much to the surprise of his former southern Democratic colleagues in the Senate, Johnson did not support their views on segregation and discrimination. This movie written by Joey Hartstone deals mainly with how LBJ pushed through JFK’s cutting-edge Civil Rights Legislation.

Harrelson is fantastic in capturing the essence of LBJ, his mannerisms, facial expressions, and speech inflections. Along with the script by Joey Hartstone and direction by Rob Reiner, in our opinion, this is one of the best pictures of the year. There also are some very fine performances by Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird, Richard Jenkins as Senator Richard Russell and Michael Stahl-David who plays Bobby Kennedy.

Much of Johnson’s presidential legacy is often tainted by his failure to end the Vietnam War which this movie did not focus on. However, the realistic depiction of Johnson’s domestic accomplishments which not only included civil rights legislation but also welfare reform and Medicare and Medicaid is often forgotten. This movie gives him the well deserved accolades and appreciation for his contribution to our country. Likewise we believe this film should receive great accolades for being a very well done and engrossing cinematic accomplishment. (2017)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Politics

Lullaby

June 11th, 2014 — 6:18am

*****Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 11.46.00 PM

Lullaby-sp– We gave this film our highest rating but we suggest that you think twice before you go to see it. It is about Robert Lowenstein (Richard Jenkins), a very successful wealthy man with lung cancer who has been battling his disease for 12 years and decides he is ready to die. Rachel (Ann Archer) his loving wife is at his side. Jonathan, his cigarette smoking son (Garrett Hedlund), the not so successful musician who hasn’t been around for many years finally comes to town (New York) and his bedside. As does his daughter (Jessica Brown Findlay), the Ivy League law student who soon will try to make a legal brief to convince her father why he should not agree to physician assisted suicide, which she contends is against the constitution. But early on, as soon as they all assembled at his bedside, the father announces that he has given away all his money so they won’t all become dependent on his wealth and not live out their own lives by their own abilities (including his wife). This becomes a story of a sometimes-dysfunctional family who underneath it all had great love for each other. It isn’t difficult to find some issues to identify with as the family conflicts unfold and it will be impossible not feel the emotion as you put your self in the shoes of all the characters as they appreciate the father’s pain and his need to say goodbye. If this were not enough to make this a tissue pack or damp handkerchief movie, there is another element that will tear you apart. Through a chance hospital stairwell meeting, Jonathan meets a 17-year-old girl (Jessica Barden in a perfect wonderful performance) who is dying of bone cancer baldhead and all. She confronts him with his underlying ambivalence about his father. He is drawn to visit her on the children’s ward where he sees many kids who are dying as his father, the difference being that most of then will never experience even adolescence. We don’t think this film despite our top rating is perfect. There are moments, which are played out to an almost gratuitous level to achieve every extra bit of emotion. The introduction of Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend (Amy Adams), while used to show the son’s personal growth, seems unnecessary. Despite this movie being almost 2 hours, it is sure to rivet your attention and take control of your feelings. This must be the reason why this outstanding cast, which also included Jennifer Hudson and Terrance Howard, as the nurse and doctor, as well as the stars previously mentioned, all signed on to this independent production. This film could not have had the budget, which they all usually command. Credit has to be given to Andrew Levitas, who is an established painter and sculptor, as well as a film producer. He directed and wrote this screenplay, stimulated by his experience of his father’s dying and his return home. He creatively broadened his story to encompass the potentially painful and beautiful life defining moments of the end of life. (2014)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

Waiting for Forever

February 4th, 2011 — 8:09am

****

Waiting for Forever: This is a quirky but very well done film, which will completely touch you or you will write it off as in implausible fairy tale. Very early in the film you understand that Will Donner (Tom Sturridge) lost his parents in a train crash when he was 10 years old and moved away from his home to live with an uncle, leaving behind his best friend and life long playmate, Emma (Rachel Bilson). Now here is the tricky part. When he gets older Will follows Emma from city to city just to be near her. He has great trouble approaching her and reintroducing himself to her, so this goes on for several years while she ultimately becomes a television actress. Will is content to be a street juggler/clown and gets by. Inevitably things happen. The key to the movie is the acting of Sturridge as he inhabits the character of Will and projects him as likable, sincere guy with a good heart. He doesn’t come across as a psychopathic stalker and doesn’t seem to be psychotic, although he would have to be somewhat damaged by his childhood trauma. You may find yourself rooting for him as he ultimately approaches the love of his life. While Will is certainly an unusual person who lives an atypical life, the other characters in the story demonstrate complexities and realism. Veteran actors Richard Jenkins and Blythe Danner are terrific as Emma’s parents as they deal with the anticipated death of Jenkins’ character. Bilson as Emma struggles with this event as well as her own love life.  Scott Mechlowicz is excellent as the Will’s older brother, now a successful banker. He is frustrated at his brother’s behavior but understanding and loving him as well as having shared the family tragedy. James Keach, veteran actor/producer/director who directed this movie was the guest at our screening. He clearly had an affinity for this story and he described it as a labor of love for which he took no money up front. In his role as director/producer he completed the film in 24 days with a relatively tiny 3 million dollar budget . It will open in one theater in Los Angeles 10 days before Valentine’s Day, which may be just the occasion to draw in people who will spread the warm feelings about the movie.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Romance

Let Me In

September 30th, 2010 — 5:54pm

****

Let Me In- sp You probably don’t want to see this movie unless you like Vampire films with all the blood, gore and death, so they can live another day. But if you like this genre you will get a lot more than just the horror show. It is a very touching story of the coming of age of two 12 years old kids (even if one is 250 years old in a 12 year old’s body) which beautifully shows the innocence of adolescent awakening. There is a very vivid and painful depiction of  bullying by young people which reminds us of the dread that a kid who is the victim of it will feel every day. When there is revenge for this type of treatment, you can imagine what a Vampire. can do. The audience also experiences a palpitating anticipation, which is served up in this type of a movie and greatly helped by a music score with appropriate sound effects which reverberates through your body.  This is all the work of Matt Reeves, who wrote the screenplay based on the novel  Let The Right One In and a Swedish movie by the same name. Reeves who made Cloverfield, was a guest speaker at our screening of this film. He was very clear on what he wanted to achieve, apparently keeping true to parts of the novel, paralleling the European film and writing from some of his own childhood experiences. He used two excellent child actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz and allowed them to teach him what a 12 year old might feel in these  unusual situations (of course this required them to rev up their imaginations to the fullest). They really did an outstanding job as did Richard Jenkins who was put in the role of a most evil person and yet the audience almost wanted him succeed in his grim tasks. Be aware that about 20 % of our screening audience which probably didn’t know what the subject matter was going to be, walked out on the movie during the first 15-20 minutes. There certainly was no one under 40 in those walkers. If they had stayed until the end they might have appreciated the thoughtful writing, excellent acting and a top notch Vampire film.(2010)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Horror, Romance, Thriller

The Visitor

September 9th, 2010 — 8:51am

The Visitor* * * *
The Visitor
– nf – When a movie is able to shine a fresh emotional and insightful light on some aspect of the immigrant issues in this country, it deserves our attention. Screenwriter and director Thomas McCarthy brings this film to us shortly after bringing out the acclaimed The Station Agent. In this current movie we have Walter Vale who is a depressed, isolated widowed economics professor at a Connecticut college. He comes to Manhattan to deliver a paper at NYU and finds a young couple from Syria and Senegal living in his rarely used flat. Tarek, the young man portrayed by a new comer Haaz Sleiman, plays the African drum and connects with Vale who has yearning to create music perhaps because his late wife was pianist. As the professor finds that he has a knack for playing these drum rhythms, the story also focuses on the evolution of this character who is played by veteran actor Richard Jenkins, well known especially for his work on the TV series Six Feet Under. In the commentary on the Netflix DVD, Jenkins said that he waited a lifetime for a role such as this one . The immigrant issue erupts when Tarek, on a fluke, is picked up by the police and placed in a detention center. This devastates his girl friend Zainab sensitively played by Danai Guriria in her first role since NYU acting school. Rounding out the mix is an experienced actress Hiam Abbasses as Tarek’s mother who comes from Michigan when her son stops his daily phone calls while locked up. We see how the mother and girl friend are even afraid to visit Tarek since they are all “illegal” The emotional interplay between these four actors is outstanding as their characters represent people from three different cultures. The disruption and destruction of hopes and aspiration of the three non-citizens is expressed in a memorable scene which Jenkins releases his pent-up emotions which is reminiscent of the well known frustrating outcry of Peter Finch in the 1971 movie Network . You come away from this film not with any answers but with a sense of the pain of the people who are living these scenarios every day. 2008

Comment » | 4 Stars, Crime, Drama, Musical, Romance

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