2015 Award Circuit: Trumbo Review
The 2014 Award Circuit will be a collection of reviews of films that are in some kind of award runnings within the months of January through March. Not only will this prepare me for the big night (AKA Oscar Night), but it will also allow me to catch up with some of the critically acclaimed films I missed out on in 2014. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching and writing them.
I feel I need to tread carefully, because what I am about to write may offend people.
Its really amazing to think back on 2015, because it was a year in which it felt like everybody was offended by everything. That feeling is starting to pour into our pop culture by the gallons. The world being politically correct has become so powerful that its almost overbearing, and if you say the wrong thing, or the right thing or just something in general, you better watch out, because somebody might get offended by it. I hope very much that in 2016, our world resolution is to not so whiny about every subject. I say this, because I am about to write a positive review about a known American Communist who was blacklisted from screenwriting during the Cold War.
Now does liking a movie about a Communist fighting for his right to write screenplays make me a Communist? I certainly hope not. Its hard to not see that the movie is well-written and well-acted by a wonderful ensemble. But I have no doubt in my mind that somebody somewhere thinks me to the far-left. That is rubbish of course. I don't have to be Communist to see that Dalton Trumbo (Brian Cranston), who Communist or not, was denied rights upon criminal evidence which couldn't be proved in court. He was then blacklisted from Hollywood along with nine of his colleagues, simply for having Communist beliefs at the height of the Cold War. So what did Trumbo do? He still wrote screenplays, just under a pseudonym and he won two Oscars, simply because he kept writing. Whether you agree with Trumbo's political beliefs, its clear he was barely given a fair trial and he lost his job over fear rather than any serious grounds. That's pretty un-American into itself, but I suppose some of you will disagree because he was Communist.
Now look, I don't support Communism. I read history growing up, a lot of it. I can see that every Communist regime grew from something that may have been in the right place, but turned into a dictatorship. Think of every former Communist country you can, then try to think of one which didn't fall into the hands of a dictator. I idea of sharing everything sounds good on paper, but people have flaws and they sometimes get greedy. When we look at the world today, there are very few Communist regime's left after the Cold War, because Communism is something that is very tricky to get right, and the only Communist regime still standing are doing it wrong, because they are both failed economies. Communism works better in smaller groups, which is why it could never work here. How can a leader, no matter how good he is, be able to manage the lives of 300 million plus people? Not to mention that it undermines the whole United States Constitution. So do I believe in Communism? No, and I feel sad that I had to take the time to write that.
Dalton Trumbo believed in America, even if he was a Communist. That is the real heart to the movie. Trumbo possessed many of the values that make each of us special, he just tilted more to the far-left. He wasn't a terrorist. He wasn't trying to undermine our country. He just wanted to write movies. But the world was so scared of the reds at the time that they stopped him from doing what he loved most. That is what the movie is really about. Yes, people may complain because it makes our country look bad, and it humanizes American Communists. But what is so special about this movie is that it shows that there were no good guys or bad guys, just a lot of frightened people. Trumbo still got to write in secret, but it nearly killed his social life. The blacklisters spent so much time keeping Communist out of Hollywood that they accomplished literally nothing and found no evidence of criminal activity, so who is really to blame in all of this? I was amazed just how surprisingly neutral "Trumbo" was as a movie.
If you like Cranston in anything he's done, you'll love him here. He has a sly wit to his character here that may remind you of his days on "Malcolm In The Middle." But this character and how he plays is nothing like any of his other characters, he powerfully original every single time he steps into a new role. Its amazing, and you know who else is amazing? Diane Lane, who plays Trumbo's wife. The whole cast is rock solid, featuring performances by Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Stephen Root, Elle Fanning, Michael Struhlbarg, Alan Tudyk and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Its a stellar, stellar cast and they all really nail it. Under the authentic look of 1950's Los Angeles, its even better.
So check this out, you may like it. If you do, just remember. Its okay!
FINAL GRADE: A-