Episode 205: Bombshell

Potentially lost in the shuffle of big-name releases this Christmas is one of the most important films of the year, and also one of our favorites. We chat about this riveting story of toxic sexism and how brave women at Fox News took down its infamous sexually abusive CEO. This slick, entertaining film is so much more than just a history lesson, though. It is first and foremost a story that gave us perspective, and with that plenty to talk about.

Bombshell Review – 0:01:32

The Connecting Point – 1:15:12

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bombshell

Once upon a time… in Arkansas, I grew up wanting to be a journalist. And specifically, a journalist that covered politics. I ran for school government, closely followed every election, was downtown partying in the streets of Little Rock when Governor Bill Clinton was elected President, and even volunteered on a state Senator’s successful campaign. Plans went askew, though, and somewhere after 9/11 the political discourse became too volatile and upsetting for me, so I began to tune out. For the past decade, I’ve only mildly followed the news and my awareness of major scandals was entirely through the lens of social media. So going into this film, I shockingly was ignorant to the story that “Bombshell” tells, but I’m sure glad that is no longer the case.

“Bombshell” isn’t directed by Adam McKay, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was. A major reason why is that writer Charles Randolph (who won an Oscar for writing McKay’s best film, “The Big Short”) employs much of the same fourth-wall-breaking dialogue that has become a McKay signature. Director Jay Roach kicks off “Bombshell” with an entire segment of just this – featuring Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) giving us a tour of Fox News and an explanation of how the station operates. It’s an engaging way to introduce the audience to several characters and an important background for understanding the structures of power that exist in this Trump-friendly media empire. Roach shows more restraint than McKay after that, though, and settles into a much more traditionally fluid narrative.

The true story being recounted here is a #MeToo nightmare revolving around a culture of sexual abuse and harassment at Fox News that started at the top with CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) and led to a misogynistic work environment for the women employed there. Female employees were regularly subjected to insults from Ailes, promoted based on their appearance and/or willingness to participate in coerced sexual favors, and expected to show as much leg as possible during broadcasts. Frankly, it is disgusting to watch occur, even in this dramatized manner, and many viewers will likely cringe while relating to the dialogue and power games on display that they may have witnessed themselves. For others, it will hopefully be eye-opening to the behavior women still face in many workplaces across America. Lithgow plays Ailes brilliantly, as the slick-talking untouchable snake of an executive he was. He is creepy and rage-inducing, and it’s easy to cheer for his eventual downfall that is coming.

To bring down Ailes and the toxic culture at Fox, it took many brave women speaking up and risking their careers and reputations. The story in “Bombshell” centers on three of them: two highly-regarded television journalists, Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla (Margot Robbie), who serves as a composite character to represent the experience new female employees went through when trying to climb the ladder of success at Fox News. Over the course of the film, Carlson’s initial lawsuit looms over Ailes, and we experience the struggle of women trying to fight back against men of power, with Kelly’s backing being critical to Carlson’s cause. As I mentioned earlier, it is not always easy to watch what these women endured. Roach took great care to present as detailed of a view of what it was really like at that time as possible, including troubling scenes showing women who supported Roger Ailes despite his blatant harassment.

Theron is incredible in her role as Kelly, fully transforming her voice and facial structure via the use of several prosthetics. It’s a committed performance and one that carries the film, as she tries to hide the emotional weight of what it costs for her to come out in support of Carlson against Ailes. Kidman and Robbie, though, are also amazing, providing two additional viewpoints from which to understand the damage being done. All three women portray both the vulnerable and strong parts of their characters incredibly well, and I found myself feeling heartbroken and angry for them.

If you enjoy costuming and production design, those are on point, as well. The costumes are more than just for looks as they play a direct role in how women were judged in the Fox culture. The production design is slick and shiny, just as you’d expect a newsroom to be, and the editing is likewise done through efficient cuts that feel akin to a news broadcast. What I’m trying to say is that “Bombshell” is the total package. It is an Oscar-worthy film, led by some of the best performances of the year, with strong technical elements, and it tells a very important story from the right perspective. In the end, what Carlson and Kelly courageously did will hopefully be inspirational to women everywhere, and provide them the strength and encouragement to stand up against harassment in their own lives. As for men watching, well, you either stand against it with them or you’re part of the problem. And for me? I may not ever end up with that dream career in journalism, but I now have two new heroes in the field, and I think that you will too when you see their story.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Goldfinch


 

Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 142: Aquaman

Hail to the King… of the box office, at least. James Wan’s undersea adventure fantasy film is earning gobs of cash and has enormous fan support for its unique and bombastic storytelling style. We have our good friend Andrew B. Dyce from ScreenRant.com join us once again to discuss the new DC Extended Universe entry while using as many water puns as we can fit in. An epic film deserves an epic conversation and we think this is one you’ll enjoy.

Aquaman Review – 0:03:18

The Connecting Point – 1:40:07

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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Additional Music: “Arthur” and “Kingdom of Atlantis” by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Additional Music this episode: “Lord Knows / Fighting Stronger” (performed by Meek Mill, Jhené Aiko and Ludwig Göransson) and “Gonna Fly Now” (by  Ludwig Göransson)

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MOVIE REVIEW: Aquaman


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

You Should Be Watching: July 26 – Aug 1

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.

This week’s highlights include the lesser known but no less significant collaboration between Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, and Paul Schrader. Also, Paul King’s introduction to the world of a long beloved storybook bear. And finally, a Colombian filmmaker takes us on a dark and strange journey into the Amazon jungles of last century.

Say goodbye to Finding Dory, Jackie Brown, and 13 Assassins on Netflix, Gran Torino and The Hurt Locker on Amazon Prime, Taxi Driver and All Quiet on the Western Front on FilmStruck, and Braveheart on Hulu, all leaving very soon along with many others.

Say hello to the new August titles, such as Batman Begins and Her on Netflix, The Hurt Locker and High Noon on Amazon Prime, and Leaving Las Vegas, Lost in Translation, and Shaun of the Dead on Hulu.

 

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Raging Bull

Year: 1980

Director: Martin Scorsese

Genre: Drama, Biography, Sport

Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, Mario Gallo, John Turturro, Joseph Bono, Frank Adonis, Charles Scorsese, Rita Bennett, Bernie Allen, Gene LeBell

A knockout, tour-de-force of filmmaking at all levels–acting, camera work, direction, script, sound design–and an unflinching biography of Jake LaMotta, a  talented boxer who had greatness in his grasp, but whose self-destructive, uncontrollable bouts of lust, jealousy, and rage sent him into a downward spiral.

Michael Chapman’s groundbreaking black and white cinematography grabs your attention from the opening titles. And Scorsese wears the neorealist influences on his sleeve, particularly that of the master Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti and his film Rocco and his Brothers. But his choices are often surprising as occasionally he will offset the intense visuals with dreamlike surrealism, complete with operatic score. The film received 8 well-deserved Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and took home two–Film Editing and Best Actor for Robert De Niro’s transformative performance. Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin provided the intricate script. The dialogue between Jake and his brother Joey (Joe Pesci) is as densely and carefully choreographed as the many fights, in and out of the ring.


 

Paddington

Year: 2014

Director: Paul King

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Animation

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Madeleine Worrall, Tim Downie, Matt King, Simon Farnaby, Kayvan Novak, Matt Lucas

 

Whether or not you’ve seen one of this year’s best films that happens to feature that lovable bear with an affinity for marmalade, let me remind you that the original is quite the treat as well. Paddington is an energetic, surprisingly funny, and heartwarming reintroduction to a beloved character and the Brown family, who takes him in to their home. Director and co-writer Paul King sets the perfect balance between absurdity and clever humor, creating a storybook world that’s just a little more fantastical than our own where no one bats an eye at a talking bear even though they’ve never seen one.

The Brown family is easy to like, each member delightfully unique in their personalities and quirks, even and maybe especially the straight-laced father Henry played by Hugh Bonneville. Alternatively, the mother Mary (Sally Hawkins) is immediately taken in by Paddington, despite his proneness to accidentally creating messes. It’s also fun to see the variety of familiar faces such as Peter Capaldi as the nosy upstairs neighbor who wants the status quo upheld and Nicole Kidman as the dastardly villain. The music is also engaging, full of energy and remarkably diverse.


 

Embrace of the Serpent

  

Year: 2015

Director: Ciro Guerra

Genre: Adventure, Drama

Cast: Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolivar, Brionne Davis, Jan Bijvoet, Luigi Sciamanna, Nicolás Cancino, Yauenkü Miguee

 

The plot of this striking film from Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra was inspired by the travel diaries of two South American explorers. In this story, they are two scientists separated by decades but with similar goals of finding the mysterious yakruna, a rare and sacred healing plant. The first scientist, a German named Theo von Martius (Jan Bijvoet), comes seeking a cure for his diseased body. The second, an American named Evan (Brionne Davis), intends to complete the journey Theo started.

Each end up securing the services of the same guide, the shaman Karamakate for their search into the deepest, darkest jungles of the Amazon. This bit of casting is particularly strong as the younger played by Nilbio Torres and the older by Antonio Bolívar seem like they could be the same person, though for better and worse, time has had a noticeable effect on both body and personality of the older.

The unique, remote environment and diversity in peoples rarely seen make this important viewing, but it does become quite the strange, dark, psychedelic road movie. It offers an impactful message about how society is drastically changed and long-standing culture is so quickly lost by the infiltration of outside influences, especially when that influence takes an authoritative even god-like role.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 29
Assassination (2015)

July 31
Max Manus: Man of War (2008)
Finding Dory (2016)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

August 4
13 Assassins (2010)

August 15
The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 27
Chef

July 30
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Wild Bill (1995)

July 31
A Christmas Story (1983)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Hurt Locker (2009)

August 1
The Club (2015)

 

FILMSTRUCK

July 27
All the President’s Men (1976)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
His Girl Friday (1940)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Rio Bravo (1959)

July 28
Night and the City (1950)

July 31
Taxi Driver (1976)

August 3
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Marty (1955)
The Mission (1986)
Network (1976)

August 4
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

August 10
Altered States (1980)
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Dogtooth (2009)
Falling Down (1993)
Magnolia (1999)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Them! (1954)

August 12
The Last House on the Left (1972)

August 17
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Falls (1980)
Hairspray (1988)
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

August 20
Frances Ha (2012)

 

HULU

July 31
Braveheart (1995)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Traffic (2000)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Amy (2015)
Bolt (2008)
An Education (2009)
The End of the Tour (2015)
Ex Machina (2014)
A Most Violent Year (2014)
Slow West (2015)
Tusk (2014)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Capote (2005)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)
Raging Bull (1980)

 

FILMSTRUCK

High Sierra (1941)
The Time Machine (1960)

 

HULU

Angel Heart (1987)
Black Cop (2017)
Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

 


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 29
Her (2013)

August 1
The Aviator (2004)
Batman Begins (2005)
Clerks (1994)
Constantine (2005)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Informant! (2009)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Steel Magnolias (1989)

 

AMAZON PRIME

August 1
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Freedom Writers (2007)
Frequency (2000)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
The Soloist (2009)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Watchmen (2009)

 

HULU

August 1
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
The Hurricane (1999)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Lost in Translation (2003)
The Nasty Girl (1990)
Point Break (1991)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Usual Suspects (1995)

 


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

Feelin’ It: The Beguiled

(SPOILER FREE) Aaron & Don give their thoughts on this wickedly entertaining remake from Sofia Coppola. We try to inform you so you can decide whether this seductively complex, yet simple, film is one for you.

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Intro/Outro Music – “Seeing the Future” by Dexter Britain

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