SHE SAID (2022)

November 18, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. Allow me to open with how I fully support the idea of telling (and re-telling) these stories and exposing those behind the many instances of intimidation and abuse that occurs in and around the workplace. Newspaper articles, magazine articles, TV shows, podcasts, books, and movies all find an audience and help educate and enlighten those who might become more attuned to the topic. So, even though most everyone knows the saga of movie mogul and chronic abuser Harvey Weinstein, there is a place for director Maria Schrader’s (I’M YOUR MAN, 2021) film … even as an imprisoned Weinstein continues to face additional charges in various states. Rebecca Lenkiewicz (IDA, 2013) adapted the screenplay from the 2019 book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey; a book based on their New York Times investigation and series.

Carey Mulligan stars as Megan Twohey, and Zoe Kazan as Jodi Kantor. Twohey is the more veteran and hardline of the two, while Kantor is more sensitive and keyed into the feelings of the victims. We see Twohey working on a Trump story prior to the 2016 election, but Schrader’s film mostly revolves around these two hard-working and focused women researching the Weinstein story, while also making sure we understand the added pressures of being working and career-minded mothers of young children. Some scenes are even shot within the actual New York Times offices, and of course, we get the obligatory exterior building shots as well.

One of the biggest takeaways from this is the continuous challenges reporters face when trying to get sources to go on the record for a sensitive story. Added complexity here comes in the form of Non-Disclosure Agreements, settlements, and hush money. In fact, much of the screen time involves the reporters trying to talk to people who aren’t legally allowed to talk, and to verify just how many instances of “settlements” occurred involving Harvey Weinstein.

Supporting roles are covered by Patricia Clarkson as Rebecca Corbett, Andre Braugher as Dean Baquet, Jennifer Ehle as Laura Madden, Samantha Morton as Zelda Perkins (a terrific scene), and Ashley Judd, who plays herself – the one who kicked this into the headlines. We get the feeling the filmmakers hoped this would be a modern day ALL THE PRESIDENTS’ MEN (1976), though it has more in common with SPOTLIGHT (2015). Where this film struggles is that most of us know the story so there are no ‘aha’ moments, and the best parts are the interviews with those playing the victims … and there simply aren’t enough of those moments. Instead, we see a lot of reporters on the way to investigate, or preparing to report, or taking notes … but the real crux of the story eludes us and we are left wondering if this movie is strong enough given the real life impact of Twohey and Kantor. Kudos to Schrader for never showing Weinstein’s face, but instead focusing on the women.

Opens in theaters November 18, 2022

WATCH THE TRAILER


COSMOPOLIS (2012)

September 3, 2012

 Greetings again from the darkness. David Cronenberg is a brilliant filmmaker. Brilliance doesn’t necessarily translate into popular or even accessible. He tends to make movies that force a level of discomfort while viewing, while also stretching our intellect as we attempt to follow. Even his films that come closest to mainstream (A History of Violence, The Fly) refuse to allow us to just sit and be entertained. His more esoteric films (Naked Lunch, Crash) will cause your thoughts to swim and your gut to churn.

This latest is based on the Don DeLillo novel and there is no known group of film lovers for whom this can be recommended, save Cronenberg fans. Even that doesn’t reduce its brilliance. Robert Pattinson plays Eric Packer, the ultimate example of the 1% that is receiving such notice these days. Packer is a young, billionaire, who rides around in his mobile high tech ivory tower (you might call it a white stretch limo), taking meetings while on his mission to get a haircut. The meetings are vignettes designed to grow increasingly abstract and dialogue heavy as the film progresses.

The meetings feature Jay Baruchel as his Chief of Technology, Philip Nozuka as an Analyst, Emily Hampshire as his Chief of Finance, Samantha Morton as his Chief of Theory … oh, and a special meeting with his mistress Juliette Binoche. He also manages to continually run into his new wife played by Sarah Gadon, and work in his daily doctor’s exam which is extremely thorough. All of these occur while he is being protected by his security chief played by Kevin Durand.

 This film is not plot driven, but rather ideal and theory driven. From the discussions we can tell that the financial systems are collapsing and Packer is losing millions by the minute. His fortune is vanishing and there are threats on his life. The most interesting threat comes from his true polar opposite in life – Benno Levin played by Paul Giamatti. This sequence is the film’s longest and most dialogue heavy. Understanding every sentence is not necessary to realize it’s a comment on the faceless many vs the evil privileged. The paranoia has boiled over to the point where anarchy and violence somehow make sense.

Twilight fans will not be pleased with Pattinson’s performance, but he is absolutely perfect as Packer. His cold, arrogant nature and monotone voice are anything but emotionless. He apparently realizes his path is leading to the Village of the Damned, and he seems to have designed his own purgatory. One of the funniest, yet still odd, moments arrives in the form of Mathieu Amalric, who will generate recollections of a Rupert Murdoch incident.

Howard Shore provides an extremely subtle score that fits with the mood changes a the film progresses. Again, this is a bit like watching a philosophical laboratory experiment and certainly won’t appeal to a wide audience. If you are a Cronenberg fan, have at it. If not … the risk is yours.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you are a big time Cronenberg fan (I can’t think of another reason)

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are a Twilight fan expecting Robert Pattinson’s bedroom eyes to steal your heart

watch the trailer: