Wednesday, January 22, 2020

1917 and Short Takes on Bombshell

Warfare: Battlefield and Corporate

Reviews by Ken Burke

I invite you to join me on a regular basis to see how my responses to current cinematic offerings compare to the critical establishment, which I’ll refer to as either the CCAL (Collective Critics at Large) if they agree with me or the OCCU (Often Cranky Critics Universe) if they choose to disagree.
                              1917 (Sam Mendes, 2019)   rated R

“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): Director Mendes calls on what he still vividly recalls of his grandfather’s stories about battlefield exploits in World War I back in 1917 to present an historically-inspired-yet-ultimately-fictional-tale of 2 brave British corporals in combat in France tasked with walking (telecommunication lines are down) for hours across hostile territory to deliver an urgent message to a group of Allied soldiers to stand down from their planned attack the next day because it’s actually a German trap that would result in horrific slaughter.  The sense of being immersed into this dangerous action where you never know when or how your next challenge might emerge is captured in a uniquely-effective-manner by editing together a series of long camera takes into what appears to be a seamless, real-time maneuvering of these 2 men as they overcome constant obstacles not only to save an entire battalion but also to protect the brother of one of these urgent couriers.  While this story’s not based directly on exploits of Mendes’ ancestor during the “Great War" (if you can call it that, with all the horrific bloodshed from modern weapons of machine guns, tanks, airplanes, etc.; likewise it wasn't "the War to End All Wars" as we've learned often since then), stories of that combat inspired what we see here on screen.  This has already won major awards from the Golden Globes and the Producers Guild, nominated for several top Oscars also, so see it if you can but until then beware of the spoiler-marked-material in the review below.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who’d like to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify such give-away sentences/sentence-clusters thusly: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.

What Happens: April 6, 1917—World War I rages on after years in northern France as British battle Germans when Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is suddenly ordered to choose a companion (he takes Lance Cpl. Will Schofield [George MacKay]), then report to Gen. Erinmore (Colin Firth) who tells them the Devonshire Regiment’s Second Battalion planning to attack what they mistakenly think is a retreat by the enemy but it's actually a brutal trap to annihilate 1,600 men, including Tom’s brother, Lt. Joseph Blake (Richard Madden).  Further complication, the Germans slashed all the telephone/telegraph lines between Tom and Will’s present location and their distant destination, so the only way to deliver this essential order to halt the British attack is for these 2 soldiers to walk through no-man’s-land, an ordeal of anywhere from 6 to 8 hours depending on what obstacles they may face along the way.  Will wants to wait until darkness descends, providing whatever help lower visibility offers regarding German snipers or small clusters of the Kaiser’s forces still in the area, but Tom insists they leave immediately to give them every chance to save his brother before the beginning of the surprise slaughter set for tomorrow.  Off they go, making their way through barbed wire, mud, dead bodies from both sides, occasional sniper fire, and a crisis in abandoned German trenches when a rat runs across a trip wire setting off an explosion which buries, temporarily blinds Will until Tom rescues him before the whole structure collapses.  Then they face their most direct challenge when a couple of Allied airplanes shoot down a German plane, followed suddenly by the downed aircraft hitting the ground, on fire, racing right at our guys.  They avoid the collision, pull the injured pilot out of the wreckage even though his legs are burning, Tom yelling at Will to get water from a nearby pump.  (Dear readers, I hate to insert the spoiler alert just below, so early into this review, but a crucial event happens which would be unethical for me to reveal, given what you’d expect about how this plot might develop based on the trailer or other spoiler-free-reviews you might read; curse me if you wish if you’re going to wait until you see this unique cinematic experience for yourself, but you’re just going to have to wait until you’ve visited a local theater [easy to do as it’s playing in plenty of them] to know what comes next as this nerve-wracking-film works its way to the eventual climax.  Otherwise, if you’re seen 1917 already or are willing to wallow in spoiler territory feel free to read on because I’ll have to be just as circumspect in the other sections of this review so you may not get a full-enough-sense of this powerful film from what I can say in spoiler-free-terms.  So sorry; it’s just the nature of the situation.)

*Whether you’ve seen this film yet or not, here’s a short video orientation (10:04) to many aspects about or relating to it, including Mendes’ career, a bit of history on WW I, details on the experiences of Sam’s grandfather during the war including carrying his own crucial message across enemy lines.

 ⇒Before Will can complete his rescue task, the battlefield determination of some combatants emerges prioritizing obligation to national intentions before humanitarian attempts at bridging the chasm of hatred these military men are trained to internalize, so the pilot attacks Tom with a knife, severely injuring his abdomen. Will shoots the German, killing him, but has no hope of keeping Tom from bleeding to death, which he does in short order, first passing on a family photo before he dies. Will removes Tom‘s rings and dogtag, determined to finish the mission, obviously for the sake of saving hundreds of Allied lives but also to honor his dead comrade (despite their occasional squabbles through rugged terrain up to this point) by helping keep his brother safe, in a situation somewhat reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998), set in WW II with a squad of American soldiers trying to protect a family’s last surviving son before he also might be killed.  Soon Will encounters an Allied convey, allowing him a brief ride in a troop truck (hampered at one point by getting stuck in the mud, with Will leading a determined effort to push it loose so he can continue on his journey), but as they come upon the ruins of Écoust-Saint-Mein with the needed bridge for the convey to continue now destroyed Will‘s once again on foot, trying to make his way through the fiery remnants of the town when he’s shot at by a German sniper in a building close by.  Carefully making his way up the stairs, Will kills his wounded adversary but not before being hit himself, knocking him unconscious for an unspecified length of time, with only night as he awakens offering any clue as to how long he’s been out.  As he continues to work his way through the rubble he comes upon a Frenchwoman and her baby; she speaks a little English so they rudimentarily communicate, her patching up his wounds, him handing over the canned rations he’d earlier taken from the abandoned German trenches along with milk in his canteen from a lone cow back at an abandoned farm.  As he continues on he’s chased by other Germans, escapes by jumping into a river, finally manages to stumble onto the Second Battalion at dawn, can’t get through the crowded trenches to give his orders to the commanding officer so he has to run across the deadly battlefield (attack’s just been launched) to reach Col. Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch), who bitterly agrees to obey orders by stopping his troops’ advance.  With that task accomplished, Will finally finds Joseph, gives him the sad news of Tom’s demise plus the mementos, staggers to rest against a tree after his intense ordeal taking photos from his pocket of his wife and daughters with the message on the reverse side of one: “Come back to us,” for a last wistful thought before the final fadeout.⇐

So What? Much has been written/explored about this film, mostly on these 2 topics: (1) How the events of 1917 don’t directly recount but instead are inspired by Albert Mendes’ stories from his participation in WW I, including delivering an important message through active-combat-conditions, and (2) the seeming presentation of this narrative in what appears (except for the solemn fade to black when Will’s hit by a bullet when he kills the German sniper) to be a single shot running the almost-2-hours of the film’s screen time.  On the first point, director/co-screenwriter (with Krysty Wilson-Cairns) Sam Mendes is clear this film’s not directly based on his ancestor's wartime actions nor is Will supposed to represent Albert; rather, 1917’s a tribute to all the brave warriors of that so-called “War to End All Wars,” inspired by Granddad’s stories about experiences which stayed with his talented grandson (many successes, my favorites being American Beauty [1999]—won Best Director Oscar—Revolutionary Road [2008], and the previous 2 James Bond movies, Skyfall [2012], Spectre [2015]) for years until this story emerged.  As for the 1-shot look of the film, there’s lots you can find about that so here's a couple of videos I’ll share on this process: this first one (15:02 [beware of an ad at about 6:00]) discusses how cuts are hidden in the editing process (I was aware of the probability a couple of times when a character walks into a dark chamber, allowing a quick-but-unseen-transition, but even with long takes attempting to reduce the total number of shots needed there were an enormous number of such matches coming off as generally-imperceptible except to those who know where they are), info on cinematographer Roger Deakins,* along with some general history on WW I including how the cryptic date of April 6, 1917 is when the U.S. entered the war, although no Americans are seen here; the second one (10:19 [an ad's at the end]) goes into more detail on how the single-shot-concept was created and executed, including brief notes on previous uses of this technique in Rope (Alfred Hitchcock,1948) and Birdman (Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, 2014; review in our November 6, 2014 posting).  Yet, despite all this ongoing praise for 1917 along with fascination about its overwhelming planning and execution, making it a solid contender for Oscar’s Best Picture, here’s an argument on why it doesn’t deserve that high award.  But what if I took it one better, challenging the whole concept of this film?  Please read on.

*He won the Best Cinematography Oscar for Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017; review in our October 12, 2017 posting), has been nominated 13 more times for that award over his extensive career, with some of my favorites being Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), A Beautiful Mind (2001), No Country for Old Men (2007), Skyfall, and Sicario (2015), along with his Oscar winner and 1917 (all but the first and third of my little group were Oscar nominees for Deakins, so here’s the whole list).

Bottom Line Final Comments:  While my 2019 Top 10 list won’t be finalized until my next posting (probably next week, but life’s never predictable) as I do a final pondering of what I’ve seen, why something’s somehow better than something else within a cluster of subjective decisions, I’m quite sure 1917 will be on it, but, like with Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019; review in our October 31, 2019 posting)—another almost-sure-inclusion—and Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019; review in our December 4, 2019 posting), which won’t quite make my cut, I’ve got a script continuity problem with 1917 notable enough to knock it down a few notches in my estimation of what could have been.  I have no problem with anything on any screen taking some liberties with physics, history, or likely human reactions, but I do insist on narratives being consistent within themselves (how else could I enjoy series such as those involving King Kong, James Bond, or Luke Skywalker?), thus I’ve got some logic-within-the-story-problems with the 2019 celebrants just noted (see my reviews for details on these earlier ones), yet 1917’s the worst of all (unless I’ve totally missed something; if so, take me to task in the Comments section at the very end of this posting): Gen. Erinmore tells our besieged-travelers their mission will take at least 6 hours, yet even as I saw this film unfold in seeming-real-time I was aware it’s listed to run only 2 hours so was I in for a considerably-longer-perch in my seat than planned for?  Well, no, even discounting the period Will was unconscious (doesn’t factor into tallying travel time!) the events occur in just 2 hours so how’s the lengthy mission accomplished with that notable temporal discrepancy?  My concern doesn’t negate the marvelous cinematic choreography (leaving me to consider Mendes richly-deserving the Directing Oscar, even though I’m inclined toward Scorsese for The Irishman [2019; review in our November 21, 2019 posting], so I’m still mulling that over), but I just can’t ignore what seems to me to be a substantial 1917 narrative goof, even though the viewing experience as a whole is so powerful as to demand a 4 stars rating from me.  (However, I’ve got another concern: I’m willing to believe Deakins is a master cinematographer, probably an Oscar frontrunner in his own right, but as I sat through the enormous list of special-effects-artists for 1917 I had to wonder how much of what we see on screen is from the camera, how much is created in post-production as visual effects?  In our cinematic-viewing-reality of the preponderance of computer-generated/enhanced-imagery, this should continue to be a worthy concern where celebrating true, pure cinematography's in question.)

 You’ll find the CCAL doesn’t share my concerns much, with Rotten Tomatoes providing 87% positive reviews, Metacritic with a 79% average score while audiences have been quite supportive as well with an ever-expanding-reach of domestic (U.S.-Canada) theaters from 11 to 3,612 over the last month bringing in a domestic total of $81.5 million (worldwide gross of $144.6 million) to complement the Golden Globes wins of Best Motion Picture-Drama plus Best Director and the Producers Guild award of Best Picture, along with Oscar noms in such top categories as Picture, Director, Original Script, and Cinematography (curiously enough, not Editing—also, Parasite took the Screen Actors Guild award award for Ensemble Cast [their version of Best Picture], so keep that in mind as we’ll see what happens at the Oscars in a couple of weeks).  In the meantime, you can listen to my Musical Metaphor wrapping up my thoughts on this film, using a tune Mendes chose for when Will found the Second Battalion as the soldiers all sat quietly listening to a comrade sing the early-19th-century-American folk song, “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger” (done here by Johnny Cash at [I don’t know what album his version’s on or when it was released]), as the lyrics of “I know dark clouds will gather ‘round me I know my way is hard and steep But beauteous fields arise before me Where God’s redeemed, their vigils keep” speak also of Will and Tom’s arduous journey, especially Tom’s travels of “I’m just going over home” (there are only a few ordinary photos of Cash accompanying the audio so you might want to scroll down below the video screen to the lyrics, then you can sing along).  Even with my concerns about chronological-clarity in events on-screen, I’m still very taken by 1917, encourage you to see it (even if you don’t care for war stories as, oddly enough, there are few actual scenes of combat here) for both the human drama of this difficult journey (extreme as it may be with one terrible obstacle after another cropping up in a bit of an over-plotted-manner—but, then again, this is war, where the unexpected is part of a never-ending-regimen) and the magnificent choreography of actor/camera movement (camera constantly flowing around to either follow human movements or serve as their destination), a feat of planning reminding me of the grand flow of action when a central character interacts with a wealth of historical personages in real time (no editing at all) through St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum in Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, 2002) for 90 continuous minutes (shot in high-def video).  You can call any such visual experiment more trickery than substance, but any film that I’ve cited here using this ongoing/flowing-hidden-cuts-technique (except Russian Ark which truly never stops, finally achieved what it was after on the 4th take—final option, given the logistics of commandeering the museum for the day) never loses sight of a compelling story along the way, certainly is the case with 1917 (despite my conceptual complaints).
SHORT TAKES (spoilers also appear here)
                     Bombshell (Jay Roach, 2019)   rated R

Based in the reality of firing Roger Ailes as CEO of Fox News in 2016 after a revolt by many women he’d sexually harassed over the years—especially Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman)—there’s little new to see here, except a key fictional character (Margo Robbie), but it’s all generally well conceived and presented.

Here’s the trailer:

       Before reading any further, I’ll ask you to refer to the plot spoilers warning far above.

 I’m quite late in reviewing this hot-button-movie about the downfall of Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) as head of Fox News in 2016, especially as it’s been out for 6 weeks, but other options kept jumping ahead with my vow to see it before the Oscar nominations came out so I could mull over my own sense of top contenders in the major awards categories before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made their decisions public.  Given how long I took to get to Bombshell, I was lucky to find it at as it’s dropped from 1,721 domestic theaters down to a mere 410 last weekend so it was almost gone even in my San Francisco Bay area (I’m surprised it didn’t get bigger coverage after being out for 6 weeks, but at the end of 2019 it competed with a lot of others vying for entertainment dollars [it got a marginal amount: $29.4 million domestically, $31.9 million globally] and recognition from various awards groups, which has paid off in nominations: Golden Globes: Charlize Theron—Best Actress, Motion Picture Drama, Margot Robbie—Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture; Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Theron—Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Robbie and Nicole Kidman—Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role; Oscars: Robbie—Best Supporting Actress [also Best Makeup and Hairstyling], plus a lot of other noms/wins summarized here); however, depending on how the Oscars go none of these major considerations have resulted in a trophy yet, reflecting reality of strong competition in those acting categories as well as tepid audience response (by comparison, a far-less-significant-movie, Bad Boys for Life [Adil El Arbi, Bilail Fallah] took in about twice as much in its domestic-debut-weekend, $62.2 million [global $112 million] than Bombshell’s earned in its lengthy marketplace presence [of course, Bad Boys … also benefitted from opening at 3,775 venues; whether the dynamic of male stars—Will Smith, Martin Lawrence for Bad Boys ...vs. female stars for Bombshell played into this difference would be a relevant topic for focus groups to argue over]).  Another factor possibly constraining response to Bombshell is TV’s Showtime miniseries from summer 2019 on the same topic, The Loudest Voice, which recently won a Golden Globe Best Actor-Miniseries or Television Film award for Russell Crowe as Ailes, an even more chilling depiction than Lithgow’s bloated, creepy version in Bombshell (given Ailes’ support of the Presidencies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and—especially—Donald Trump, there may also have been disinterest from loyal Fox News viewers who didn’t care to see their hero tarnished, even if there’s little you could say in his favor given his documented ruthlessness as a person and disgusting sexual policies toward his female employees [especially the most-attractive-ones, a point made clear in both tellings]).  As for me, I enjoyed Bombshell for its intentions and acting (Theron and Robbie are in my top 5 of any female actor categories), but didn’t really find it making a dent in my 2019 Top 10 films (more on that topic soon).

 Here’s yet another “dramatization inspired by actual events” (of which there were plenty on-screen in 2019) with Robbie’s Kayla Pospisil (a “Millennial evangelical,” eager to be a Fox star—until she gets a taste of what that takes in Ailes’ office as she constantly has to hike up her already-short-dress to the point of seeing her underwear) as the most obvious “dramatization,” because she’s a composite character whereas Ailes, Megyn Kelly (Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and many others in this story including Rupert Murdoch (Malcolm McDowell), Bill O’Reilly (Kevin Dorff), Rudy Giuliani (Richard Kind), Geraldo Rivera (Tony Plana) are all reality-based, with even some actual Fox News footage used to give more tangibility to depicted events about Ailes’ lecherous treatment of his female employees leading to Carlson publically accusing him of sexual harassment after being fired (notably just after she voiced support for restrictions on assault weapons), then leading to Kelly taking the same approach, shocked to find out in her initial meeting with lawyers she’s the 23rd woman to testify as evidence was being gathered (Carlson made the most impact, though, because she spent a year secretly recording her private conversations with Ailes, which seemed to finally give his publically-supportive-wife, Beth [Connie Britton] reason to see the truth in what eventually became an avalanche of accusations).  There’s little to hide as spoiler revelations because most of these events are already well-known (see this video [12:28] for the top 10 things Bombshell got right, at times using clips from Fox News to verify the arguments, along with the second item in the Related Links section of this posting where the real Megyn Kelly and others formerly from Fox discuss their reactions to Bombshell) even if some of it’s been fictionalized for dramatic purposes (but not Donald Trump’s attacks on Kelly after she co-moderated a 2016 GOP debate, put him on the spot for his crude remarks about women). ⇒However, Robbie’s character’s a fictional composite so I can go into spoiler alert mode about her because you won’t find anything in the historical accounts.  In Kayla’s attempts to move up from the supportive-staff-pit she got assigned to Bill O’Reilly’s show but was fired on her first day (back to the pit), so she commiserates/gets drunk/sleeps with cubicle-mate Jess Carr (Kate McKinnon)—another fictional character I assume—waking up the next day to proclaim she’s not a lesbian; Carr is, though, as well as being a secret Hilary Clinton supporter, keeping all of her private info hidden because she desperately needs the job.  At the end, when Ailes is fired, Kayla quits (Jess doesn’t, despite her agreement with the women who’ve come forward, because previous attempts at other network jobs weren’t successful).  Kayla’s lost her eagerness to be part of what Fox News had previously meant to her but argues with Megyn that this more powerful woman (with a prime-time-anchor position) should have spoken up in defense of other women harassed by Ailes (actual Ms. Kelly speaks even-handily to the situation at the end of that second item for this movie in Related Links just below).⇐

 Given my watching of The Loudest Voice (and memories of this crisis for Fox News, which I celebrated then but have sadly seen their prestige as cable-news-ratings-champ continue along with unwavering fawning over Trump), I didn’t learn much from this latest iteration of Ailes’ demise (fired in July 2016, denied in his request to Murdock for both to announce it publically, died in May 2017)—not a fault of the film, just a coincidence of near-overlapping-stories—but I was more impressed than some in the OCCU with RT offering 69% positive reviews (one of their “rotten”-deciders [83 of 264] is Leonard Maltin: Bombshell  resembles nothing so much as a TV movie with an inflated budget and an all-star ensemble. That’s hardly a recommendation to run out and see it in theaters”), MC at an almost-equal 64% average score (Stephanie Zacharek of Time is impressed with the concept but doesn’t see Kelly as so all-heroic: “as Megyn Kelly, [Theron’s] like a Hitchcock blonde with all the allure drained from her […] as she plays a woman who, in real life, argued that Santa and Jesus unequivocally had to be white […] Bombshell is a story of bravery. But just because a woman has made history doesn’t mean you have to like her”).  Despite such rejections, I’m glad I saw Bombshell, applaud its filmmakers for bringing an aspect of rampant misogyny in the American workplace (and other societies, I’m sure) to bright light in an easily-accessible-form using famous actors to help lure audiences in with hopes such exposure of Ailes, O'Reilly, and their ilk will make some difference in how this intolerable behavior has often been ignored (how’s your sweat-factor, Harvey Weinstein?)—although any sense of justice at Fox News is weakened by how the many female victims got a total $50 million settlement ($20 mil of that to Carlson, not allowed to speak publically about it) while the 2 offenders got a severance total of $65 million ($40 mil to Ailes).  Maybe I do see this well-intentioned, well-produced movie as akin to a big-budget HR required-harassment-awareness-video even if it’s a useful addition to needed public dialogues about movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, but beyond the recognized-quality of the principal actors, it just doesn’t inspire me to the full 4 stars-rating I initially considered (possibly more direct address from Kelly throughout, as we got in the opening scenes, would have heightened its impact).  The message is clear, though, leading me to a Musical Metaphor about Ailes and his sexist-power-monger-allies (including Trump by his own boastful-admission in the "Grab 'em" audio), “Piggies” (from the 1968 2-disc The Beatles [“the White Album”]) at com/watch?v=t0nzZ8-kIf0, sometimes interpreted as an insult to cops (given the protest-era when it was written) but George Harrison notes it was inspired by George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm (with its pushy pigs), where the corrupt barnyard rulers epitomized “Everywhere there’s lots of piggies living piggy lives You can see them out for dinner with their piggy wives Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.”  At least Ailes and others like him finally found out how it feels to be on the other end of such utensils when their fed-up-victims called them out about “crawling in the dirt.”
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

AND … at least until the Oscars for 2019’s releases have been awarded on Sunday, February 9, 2020 we’re also going to include reminders in each posting of very informative links where you can get updated tallies of which 2019 films have been nominated for and/or received various awards 
and which ones made various individual critic’s Top 10 lists.  You may find the diversity among the various awards competitions and the various critics hard to reconcile at times—not to mention the often-significant-gap between critics’ choices and competitive-award-winners (which pales when compared to the even-more-noticeable-gap between specific award winners and big box-office-grosses you might want to monitor here)—but as that less-than-enthusiastic-patron-of-the-arts, Plato, noted in The Symposium (385-380 BC)—roughly translated, depending on how accurate you wish the actual quote to be—“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” so your choices for success are as valid as any of these others, especially if you offer some rationale for your decisions (unlike many of the awards voters who simply fill out ballots, sometimes for films they’ve never seen).

To save you a little time scrolling through the “various awards” list above, here are the current Golden Globe nominees and winners for films and TV from 2019 along with the Oscar nominees for 2019 films.

Here’s more information about 1917: (24:52 discussion with director/co-screenwriter Sam Mendes, actors George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, co-screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and cinematographer Roger Deakins)

Here’s more information about Bombshell: (a pedestrian official site at best) (29:51 video of Megyn Kelly’s response to this movie, along with Juliet Huddy, Rudi Bakhtiar, Julie Zann, and Megyn’s husband, Doug Brunt—all 
3 of Kelly’s female former Fox co-workers lost their jobs and haven’t worked in TV news since—
most of what they saw in the movie they liked, even had emotional reactions to [as well to their 
own horrid experiences with Roger Ailes—and Fox News D.C. head Brian Wilson with Bakhtier]
but Kelly clarifies a few notable bits of fantasy worked into the script)

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.  You can also leave comments at our Facebook page, although you may have to somehow connect with us at that site in order to do it (most FB procedures are still a bit of a mystery to us old farts).

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my email address of if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

If we did talk, though, you’d easily see how my early-70s-age informs my references, Musical Metaphors, etc. in these reviews because I’m clearly a guy of the later 20th century, not so much the contemporary world.  I’ve come to accept my ongoing situation, though, realizing we all (if fate allows) keep getting older, we just have to embrace it, as Joni Mitchell did so well in "The Circle Game," offering sage advice even when she was quite young herself.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come. 
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 29,450 (as always, we thank all of you for your support with our hopes you’ll continue to be regular readers); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:

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