Watch This: Trailer for 20th Century Women

Set for a December 25 release, 20th Century Women stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup in a story set in 1979. Jimmy Carter is on the TV talking about a “crisis of confidence” – he was sure right about that one – and a group of women team up to raise a troubled teen (Lucas Jade Zumann). Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for 20th Century Women”

Review: Trumbo

Trumbo is a fact-based story about Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter who was blacklisted during the Communist scare of the 1940s and 50s. Bryan Cranston is brilliant as the chain-smoking, hard-drinking writer who lead other Hollywood writers in a quiet but effective revolt against blacklisting.

Trumbo served time in prison for his liberal beliefs, as did many others during the hysterical fear-based Communist scourge of the 1950s. The 1st Amendment was under attack by many who sought to control the remarks and opinions of others – and throw them in prison if they disagreed. Continue reading “Review: Trumbo”

Watch This: Trailer for Trumbo

Trumbo is a slice of American history written through the lens of pop culture and Hollywood. The film details the life of Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted as a Hollywood writer in the 1940s for being a Communist. It’s based on the biography Dalton Trumbo by Bruce Cook.

Bryan Cranston and Diane Lane in Trumbo

The film stars Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo. Louis C.K., John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alan Tudyk and Helen Mirren are also in the film. Trumbo’s wife is played by Diane Lane with Elle Fanning as his daughter.

When Trumbo and many other Hollywood writers were called before House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, D.C. and then blacklisted for their political beliefs, Trumbo orchestrated a fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom. The blacklisting scandal eventually entangled everyone in Hollywood from Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and John Wayne (David James Elliott) to Kirk Douglas (Dean O’Gorman) and Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel).

Helen Mirren and Bryan Cranston in Trumbo

Trumbo was one of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were denied the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960 because of blacklisting over the Communist scare. Trumbo managed to win two Oscars for films written under other names during this time: Roman Holiday and The Brave One. His struggle ended when he finally saw his name on the screen again for the film Exodus.

Trumbo was directed by Jay Roach and written by John McNamara. It is set for a November release. Early reviews from film festival viewers have been mixed. I think the topic is interesting enough, and relevant to still occurring witch hunts in American life today, to merit giving it a chance and making up my own mind about it.

Watch This: Trailer for About Ray

Elle Fanning stars as a transgender (female to male) teen in About Ray. Ray’s mother is played by Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon plays his grandmother. Tate Donovan is his absent father. It’s an incredible cast, although there may be some criticism that an actual transgender actor didn’t get the part of Ray.

The film looks to be partly about Ray’s journey, but also about how Ray’s family reacts and reaches acceptance of his transition. It appears to be a bit of a bumpy ride, as you might expect. Ray is still in high school – does he want to change schools? Oddly, Ray’s grandmother Dolly, who is herself a lesbian, doesn’t understand the distinction between sexuality and gender. But Ray’s younger siblings might get it immediately. Here’s rooting for Dolly to figure it out.

The director is Gaby Dellal, who also wrote the story for the film. The screenplay was written by Nikole Beckwith. The story is set in New York City. The release date for About Ray is September 18, 2015.