Richard’s “Canada AM” reviews for the “Rocky” reboot “Creed,” Pixar’s latest child-in-peril movie “The Good Dinosaur,” Daniel Radcliffe as Igor minus-the-hump in “Victor Frankenstein” and Bryan Cranston as black-listed writer Dalton Trumbo in “Trumbo.”
For a brief time Dalton Trumbo was the highest paid writer in Hollywood, which also meant he was the highest paid writer in the world.
He was a family man, a wealthy and proud American communist whose career was sidelined by The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.
A new film called Trumbo, starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, tells the story of how the Academy Award winning screenwriter was reduced to penning scripts for b-movies like The Alien and the Farm Girl.
“Under the first amendment you have the right to free speech and Trumbo felt very strongly about that,” says Cranston.
“He thought it was un-American and unconstitutional for the House Un-American Activities Committee to hold these hearings and demand under threat of contempt of Congress that people answer these questions.
The questions were things like: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party? And, if so, to save yourself, renounce it now and tell us who else was a member.
The committee wanted these people to give names so they could go after more people.
“It’s fundamentally wrong and he felt that was wrong and unconstitutional to ask that question,” says Cranston of Trumbo’s reaction.
Trumbo didn’t name names and paid a heavy price, losing his lofty Hollywood perch and almost his family.
“In a way I relate to Trumbo,” says Cranston, but admits he’s not sure what he would do if his career was ever placed in a similar kind of jeopardy.
“What would you do if they subpoenaed you and said, ‘We want to know who else likes baseball? Who is it?’ Would you point the finger at other people who found enjoyment out of playing baseball?
“Of course I would love to think I would be honourable and not do it, but I have to be honest and say, that’s a hypothetical. I think I would be resistant to that pressure and perhaps even pay the price, but do I know for sure? No.
“I don’t know for a certainty because I’m not faced with it.”
After wrapping his five-season career-making run as Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Cranston has kept busy, winning a Tony Award for playing Lyndon B. Johnson on Broadway in All the Way and has eight films in various stages of completion. He made time for Trumbo because “the story itself is brilliant and that is the first thing I look for,” but admits he’s gotten picky about the parts he plays.
“I don’t want to now take a job for money. I take jobs because I’m attracted to them by the creative element or because it challenges me in some way and my agents are incentivized to work out the best deal they can.
“I don’t want to portray this idea that I’m just about the art. I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich and rich is better.”
Dalton Trumbo was an Academy Award nominated screenwriter when his political beliefs saw him drummed out of Hollywood’s inner circles, reducing him to penning scripts for b-movies like “The Alien and the Farm Girl.”
For a brief time he was the highest paid writer in Hollywood, which also meant he was the highest paid writer in the world. He was a family man, a wealthy man and a proud American communist whose career was sidelined by Hollywood conservatives like Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren), John Wayne (David James Elliott) and The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. “I love our country,” he says, “and our government is good but couldn’t anything good to be better?”
The film “Trumbo,” starring Bryan Cranston begins as the writer is enjoying the success of his scripts for “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” and “Kitty Foyle.” He’s a committed communist, who, along with a group of Tinsel Town activists like Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Arlen Hird (Louis C.K.) work tirelessly to create unions within the studio system to ensure that everyone, from the grips to the set decorators on up, earn a living wage.
Their socialist leanings didn’t go unnoticed by Congress and by a cadre of concerned actors who think the group’s socialist ways are un-American. When Hopper, using extortion and bigotry, coerces studio head Louis B. Mayer (Richard Portnow) to fire Trumbo, an industry wide blacklist bans the writer and nine others from working in Hollywood.
With all legal avenues exhausted Trumbo sees his professional and personal worlds crumble as former friends like Robinson stand before Congress and call him “a sinister force.” Punished for his political beliefs, Trumbo makes ends meets by writing screenplays under aliases and creating a script factory staffed by blacklisted writers. After a decade of working in the shadows and winning two Oscars under fake names, he finds two powerful people willing to break the blacklist and put his name where it belongs, on screen.
“Trumbo” is not the story of Senator Joe McCarthy communist witch hunt or a rehash of the Congressional hearings. Instead it is the tale of the times and the personal story of one man who would not allow his civil liberties to be stripped away.
Perhaps its appropriate that a film about the Golden Age of Hollywood—even one that tarnishes the glamour of the period—should feel a little old fashioned. It’s a redemption story, simply told and populated by archetypal characters—Elliott’s John Wayne isn’t a person, for instance, he’s a blustery caricature of The Duke taken directly from the actor’s movie roles—who revolve around Cranston’s flamboyant performance.
The “Breaking Bad” star plays Trumbo as a raging ball of ideology, quick with a quip—in a showdown with John Wayne Trumbo sneers the patriotic actor spent World War II “on a film set shooting blanks and wearing make up.”—and willing to pay the price for his actions. It’s a large cigarette chomping performance of a larger-than-life person.
It takes some time before the rest of the movie catches up with Cranston’s theatrics, but by the time John Goodman, in a hilarious portrayal of a b-movie producer, says, “We bought a gorilla suit and we gotta use it,” the film finds its level.
“Trumbo” is a film with a social conscience with important messages about civil liberties and the importance of freedom of belief, wrapped up in an old-fashioned biopic.
Dean Norris is best known for portraying police officers. “I play DEA, CIA, FBI, LAPD; I got ‘em all,” he once said. He became instantly recognizable to a generation of TV fans as the boisterous DEA agent Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad, and in his new film he’s once again playing a cop, but with a twist.
“You almost feel sorry for him,” says Norris, “until you realize who he is.”
The film is Remember, a road movie of sorts. Christopher Plummer plays Zev, a man on a journey to justice, a quest to find the Nazi guard who killed his family 70 years before. Along the way he meets Norris as Officer Kurlander, a sad and lonely man with a connection to one of Zev’s suspects.
Their explosive meeting is difficult to discuss without giving away a plot point, but suffice to say Norris reveals when he had a chance to watch it he did so with his hands covering his face.
“We had three cameras going and I was like, ‘Just run them and let me hit it,’” says the fifty-two-year-old actor. “It was one of the few times where I almost felt out of body. You know when you see red and get kind of blinded? I’m not even sure what I said some of the time.”
Norris credits his director and co-star with making the five-day filming of the wild sequence possible.
“(Atom Egoyan) does what the good directors do,” he says, “and makes a comfortable space for you to play in and feel safe, which was important on this damn thing because it is so crazy. You want to feel safe to be able to go to wherever you have to go to, and I did with him.”
Norris describes Plummer as one of the greats. “It was like working with Laurence Olivier.”
“It was a pleasure to watch him,” he says. “There would be moments where I’d be in the scene and saying to myself, ‘I’m looking into the eyes of a man who has been in these scenes for decades. Been in the moment with unbelievable people in unbelievable movies.’ It’s like I wanted that to seep into me. Steal his essence.
“It’s a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
1. Controversial Twerking! In April no one knew what “twerking” was. Unfortunately now we all do.
2. Amanda Bynes threw a bong out the window of her 36th floor apartment. It was “just a vase,” she said.
3. After calling Bruce Willis “greedy and lazy” Sylvester Stallone charged $395 per autograph at NY Comic-Con
4. Tom Cruise said Katie Holmes filed divorced because of Scientology
6. Michael Douglas admitted he didn’t get that he got throat cancer after engaging in oral sex.
7. Kat Von D not so cleverly named her new lipstick “Celebutard.” Sephora pulled the plug amid complaints from Down Syndrome Uprising, Family Member, Inclusion BC and All About Developmental Disabilities.
8. Ke$ha says she drank her urine and, “It tasted kind of like candy.”
9. Banksy stall sells art works worth up to $30,000 for $60 each in New York’s Central Park.
10. Justin Bieber’s pet Capuchin monkey, Mally, was confiscated at a German airport after the singer tried to smuggle it into the country.
Top TV moments
1. Two words: Tentacle porn. – Anthony Bourdain’s Tokyo Parts Unknown episode.
2. Zombies falling through the ceiling of a department store in The Walking Dead
3. “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive.” – Walt (Bryan Cranston) on the Breaking Bad finale
4. Orphan Black Clones!
5. Cooking lessons from Hannibal Lector on Hannibal.
6. The bisected cow on Under the Dome.
7. Nick and Jess’ first kiss on The New Girl. So passionate, Jess says the kiss made her see “through space and time for a minute.”
8. Orange is the New Black’s duct-tape sandals.
9. The “Red Wedding” massacre on Games Of Thrones. “My King has married and I owe my new Queen a wedding gift.” ― Lord Walder (David Bradley)
10. The car crash death of Downton Abbey’s Matthew in the final minute of the period drama’s 3rd season.
Top General Entertainment Stories
1. Lou Reed Dead at 71
2. James Gandolfini Dead at 51
3. Angelina Jolie announced double mastectomy
4. Paula Deen gets fired for using the N word
5. Kanye West declared himself the “number one rock star on the planet” in a BBC interview.
6. The last movie ever rented at a Blockbuster? This is the End.
7. Sinead O’Connor accused Miley Cyrus of “behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism.”
8. Born! The Royal Baby, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.
9. Cory Monteith R.I.P.
10. Star Wars: Episode VII release date announced. The Force will return to theatres on December 18, 2015.
Top Online Moments
1. The prank video showing the baffled and terrified reactions of customers in a NYC coffee shop reacting to a woman with telekinesis tearing up the place.
2. Grumpy Cat vs Tommy Lee Jones meme. A side-by-side comparison of Jones at the Golden Globes and Grumpy Cat reveals that they might be long lost relatives.
3. Wisest tweet of the year: Always remember! Many of the people on the Internet telling you what’s what are not old enough to rent a car. – @KenJennings
4. M.I.A.’s Psychedelic Dance Party at the YouTube Music Awards
5. Raven-Symone came out on Twitter after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn The Defense of Marriage Act. “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.”
6. Andrew Huang’s video of his rap song without using the letter “E” and it’s about NOT using the letter “E”!
7. Swedish Chef Ramsay meme. “Why did the bork bork? Because you borked the bork!”
8. “I want Drake to murder my vagina.” – Amanda Bynes on Twitter
9. Best web series: The Booth at the End starring Xander Berkelely as a mysterious man who grants wishes… for a price.
10. Homeless Army Veteran Turns Life Around in Amazing Time Lapse Video