In an attempt to take a fair look at corporate sexuality, Bombshell offers a depressing look at office politics leading to the current surge of revelations about the corporate promotion system. These politics continue still.

Ask, if you care to, why some women do and some don’t dress in the sex-for-promotion way. As this movie makes clear, woman seducers will usually have blonde hair and a good figure adorned in scanty clothes. In this film, these women are then surprised when head of Fox News Roger Ailes demands sex in return for promotion. Why, when dressed in next to nothing, are women surprised at what happens when men are so predictable?

Megan Kelly (Charlize Theron), a Fox News star, works in a high rise building that houses a host of conservative thinkers. She considers herself relatively safe because she is an independent columnist for the network – or is there more to her story? Second blonde Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), host of Fox and Friends, becomes the next example of violating business rule #1 – an employee must never sue her boss. When she does, she learns “I’m damned for doing it and damned for not doing it sooner.” Yes, but that confusion is the price of a solution.

Both women face the inevitable self-questioning: will I be left out? Lose my job, lose my money? If I stay, do I have to put up with it? “I’m damned for doing it and for not doing it sooner.”

When Ailes’ taped conversations are revealed, Ailes is out. Why did it take this long? If the Fox News scandal is just another case of what has been going on for years, is it still simplistic to ask why women don’t avoid all this by refusing to work in corporations where men can still manipulate them?

John Lithgow infuses Roger Ailes with a perfect mixture of qualities that aren’t brutal or mean. He’s just the contemporary boss driven by wanting women whenever he wants them. He coaches them on how to dress, how to move, and believes accurately that he is helping them to rise in his corporation. He is not a monster, just a contemporary man swaddled in disgusting out-of-date illusion. Lithgow’s performance is superb.

Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman paint skillful portraits of the two women caught in the culture of their time while waking up to what they must do to obliterate sex as the main stepping stone to power in a male corporate culture. Their fine performances are part of a monster wave that is publicizing the problem at last. Their dart hits the center of the target.

You will see groups of men, discarded women, and, no surprise, Donald Trump. As current movies become stepping stones to solutions, wouldn’t it help if ambitious women wore beautiful clothes that covered more skin? It’s that skin that ignites the men. If that fails, just go to work one day in a snowsuit.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Bombshell
Word Count : 495
Running Time : 1:48
Rating : R
Date : 29 December 2019

Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell

Think 1996. The explosion at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta has killed innocents. The press has made Richard Jewell a hero throughout the country. Suddenly, the press labels Jewell the bomber and we watch him turn from hero to criminal in seconds on the front pages.

Two things stamp the movie – Richard Jewell – with quality. Nothing is spared in creating both the explosion and the aftermath. Drawing on the always increasing new techniques of cinematic creation, the filmmakers drop us into the hideous reality of what happened in Atlanta two decades ago. An explosion turns the merry festival into chaos. We are drawn in by the noisy fun of the spectators who had chosen to spend their day at the Games. They have come with pride that their city had been chosen and our time spent with them during their pre-blast fun has deepened our dread of the explosion we know is about to come.

Casting is the second positive. Walter Hauser creates security guard Richard Jewell with such consistency that we are in his pocket as he moves from being hero to bomber in the headlines. After that, his certainty of his own innocence allows him to remain just who he is. His naivety is never compromised. He is a blend of truth and ordinariness. He may be dull but he is decent, honest, and often self-defeating.

In the movie’s top performance, actor Kathy Bates becomes Jewell’s mother. As she creates Bobi Jewell, she never overacts and we understand on a deep level both her love of her son and the certainty that this love won’t be tarnished even if he is guilty. She would be hurt, but still full of love. The movie lifts each time she appears, even when she is silent.

Actor Sam Rockwell creates Watson Bryant, the understated quiet lawyer acquaintance of Richard Jewell who stands by his friend. Lawyer Bryant is a quiet fellow who rises to the demands when his friend Jewell is under attack. The movie is strengthened by the truth that we are watching two men who remain genuine, each in his own character.

Nadya Light becomes Nina Arianda, manager of Bryant’s low key office life. She enriches the movie with each of her infrequent appearances until we find ourselves looking forward to each appearance of her character. She creates a woman who wins us entirely.

The weakness here lies in the FBI characters whose approach to the case seems ridiculous and whose characters are not the least bit smart. Nearly on a par with the greedy, angry, competitive press, they make us hope the FBI can’t be quite as bad as they are here.

A city proud to be hosting the Olympics, citizens loving their own participation in the pre-explosion holiday, a handful of good actors creating the tragedy of a man and those who stand by him – that’s the good part. Weak acting here and there leaves us stuck in reality.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Richard Jewell
Word Count : 501
Running Time : 2:26
Rating : R
Date : 22 December 2019

This review was posted on December 15, 2019, in Drama.