MOVIE REVIEW: Richard Jewell

“Richard Jewell” tells a story that needed to be brought to the silver screen. Based on true events, this film follows one man as he goes from a national hero to a potential suspect overnight. Clint Eastwood returns to solid form as the man behind the camera after leaving little to be desired with his last two projects, “The 15:17 to Paris” and “The Mule”, in this stark retelling of the infamous 1996 Centennial Park Bombing that killed 2 individuals, injured over 100 others, and mentally scarred the nation and prestige of the Summer Olympics. Outside of the bombing, Eastwood focuses on the role of the mass media and federal government agencies, such as the FBI, who attempted to railroad one man’s life and perception to the greater society just for doing his job.

Paul Walter Hauser gives a heavyweight performance as the titular character that will impress many unknowing eyes who have not had the chance to see him do magic as a supporting character in films such as “I, Tonya” and “BlacKkKlansman”. He hits every mark necessary to carry the film while making the viewer sympathetic to the hellish plight he endures. An everyday man who is so passionate about becoming a part of law enforcement that he studies the penal code every night, Jewell shows ambition by taking on any kind of security job that could potentially get him recognized by a police agency. It’s all the more tragic once he is stamped as the main suspect in the eyes of the same federal agency he dreamed about joining. The stress and pain he goes through is not just endured by him but also by his strong mother Bobi (Kathy Bates). Bates is powerful in depicting the collateral damage that a mother deals with when it comes to their child being seen as a monster instead of the sweet and caring person she has seen all her life. She delivers a powerful monologue in the final act that drives home her heartache of seeing what society has done in painting Richard as a “frustrated white man prone to carrying out a bomb threat”. Sam Rockwell finally breaks the pattern of being in a film where he comes across as a flaming racist or Nazi by giving a commendable performance as lawyer and friend to Jewell, Watson Bryant, who keeps him from falling victim to the deception and mind games of the FBI’s investigation and his circle of family and friends.

For all of its great performances, there is one character depiction that does not sit well with me. Olivia Wilde’s role as reporter Kathy Scruggs, shown as willing to be somewhat “sensual and promiscuous” in order to gain information about who the FBI is targeting in the bombing case, is not what I have an issue with. The issue lies in that the character was not written or portrayed accurately to the real-life Kathy. I have a big problem when filmmakers take liberty in defaming people while retelling historical events. There is a difference between a director leaning into an alternate history for the sake of entertainment and wrongly depicting a real-life person to make a statement about the scandalous nature of the media. It is not fair to that person (especially one like Kathy who is deceased and cannot defend herself) or their loved ones and serves as an elephant in the room that cheapens the realism of this compelling narrative.

The role of the media and the FBI in the witch hunt and railroading of Jewell is thoroughly examined. Throughout history, there have been cases of innocent people who fall victim to being unfairly accused and sentenced to prison for crimes they did not commit. In the last decade, a big movement has started in opening up old cases files, retrying court cases, and using DNA evidence to free many people who have been locked away under the jurisdiction of correctional facilities and the federal government. The importance of a dramatic film like this is that it provides a way to look back on a dark time in society and encourage us to work towards not letting events like this happen again. A man’s life was forever changed by an act of good faith, instead of being lauded as a hero he was questioned and scrutinized by the media looking for a headline and the FBI looking for a scapegoat. At times, Eastwood drills this message in so hard that it could be considered “preaching”. The media and the FBI seem to have no redeemable traits and are painted as straight villains. Both are certainly guilty in this case, but every scene seems to take a thinly veiled shot at the government and the media, looking to undermine their integrity at every corner.

“Richard Jewell” is an important and sobering look into how mass media and the federal government’s need for a villain affected the life of a man who should have been immediately recognized as a national hero to admire. The film moves at a brisk pace and is always engaging, with the exception of some time confusion in the middle act. Supported by strong performances, this mostly accurate retelling of the 1996 Centennial Park bombing is a drama that will open a lot of eyes to an area of American history that needs to be shown to the world.

Rating:


Caless Davis is a Seattle-based film critic and contributor to the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He loves any discussion of film and meeting new people to engage in film discussions on any subject. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Episode 169: The Way Way Back

What better film to kick off the summer than a coming-of-age tale about a boy whisked away for a summer experience that challenges and changes him forever? We’re excited to talk through one of our favorites in the genre this week – a film with charming performances, poignant themes, and lots of fun to be had.

The Way Way Back Review – 0:01:31

The Connecting Point – 1:19:50

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Oscar Locks

It’s an annual tradition in my house. I spend 9 months of the year trying to convince myself that I don’t care at all about movie awards. I don’t need fancy, self-important awards shows to tell me what’s good. Sure, I’m not a critic, but I’m a dude who watches a whole lot of movies. I can decide for myself what’s good. Then, once December rolls around, I’m a triggered, angry mess for 3 long months as the awards roll in for all of the movies that I didn’t end up seeing. Well, not this year. This year, I’ve seen more movies than ever before and I’m ready to not be disappointed come time for Oscar’s big night. So for your reading pleasure, here’s a list of a few of the awards I’m looking forward to with a film/actor or two that should’ve been nominated but wasn’t, the nominee I want to win, and the nominee that I believe will win.


Animated Feature

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, Mirai

Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, Isle of Dogs

Should’ve been nominated: I’m going to start off here with a pretty boring opinion, but I think the nominations here were pretty good. I haven’t seen Ralph Breaks the Internet or Mirai, but all of the other three were great movies that I really enjoyed.

I want to win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This movie is a game changer in the world of animation. It’s funny, smart and gorgeous to look at. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to visit the Spider-Verse.

Will win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Supporting Actor

Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born; Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Sam Rockwell, Vice; Mahershala Ali, Green Book; Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Should’ve been nominated: Hugh Grant, Paddington 2. The Paddington sequel was one of the first 2018 films I saw and Grant’s performance as aging villainous stage actor Phoenix Buchanan has remained my favorite throughout the entire year.

I want to win: Sam Elliott and his glorious mustache or Adam Driver. Sam Elliott because I love Sam Elliot and the small amount of time he gets in A Star Is Born is very, very good. Adam Driver is just dynamite in BlacKkKlansman. I’m always impressed when someone plays a role of someone who is playing a role and Driver does it about as well as anyone I’ve seen.

Will win: Richard E. Grant. I haven’t seen Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but he seems to be winning everything else.

Supporting Actress

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Amy Adams, Vice; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Emma Stone, The Favourite; Marina de Tavira, Roma

Should’ve been nominated:Rachel McAdams, Game Night. She’s a total delight and boasts a comedic timing that is absolutely on point in the funniest movie of the year. “But she’s a lead, Jeremy,” you might say. And you’d be right, but so are Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.

I want to win: Regina King. I haven’t seen the movie, but I hear she’s great and I think the Academy finally makes up for snubbing her work in Jerry Maguire in 1996.

Will win: Regina King

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Should’ve been nominated: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed. Paul Schrader’s film is criminally underrepresented in this year’s nominations. Sure it got a screenplay nod, but it very easily could have gotten a director and picture selection as well. Being left off of those lists is understandable. It was a strong year in film. What isn’t understandable is Ethan Hawke not being recognized for what is arguably the best work he’s done in a very long and storied career.

I want to win: Bradley Cooper

Will win: Christian Bale. Rami Malek does have momentum in this race, but for some reason, Hollywood is really keen on Vice. And Bale’s transformation just to get in character is easily the best part of Vice.

Actress in a Leading Role 

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born; Glenn Close, The Wife; Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Should’ve been nominated: The list here is really long. Regina Hall (Support The Girls) and Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) both have strong arguments. But if you would’ve told me that Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade was simply video of an awkward teenage girl being filmed without her knowledge, first I would’ve thought that was super creepy, but second I totally would’ve believed you. That’s how amazing Elsie Fisher is in that film.

I want to win: Lady Gaga

Will win: Glenn Close. Because no one has seen The Wife and the Academy hates me.

Director 

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman; Alfonso Cuarón, Roma; Adam McKay, Vice

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Should’ve been nominated: Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born. I don’t understand how Adam McKay got a nomination over Cooper in this race. Vice is fiercely adequate as a film, but from Adam McKay it’s hardly a stand-out. It’s an angrier The Big Short with the smugness turned up to 11. I don’t think it should’ve been shut out, there are some legitimately great performances that deserve to be recognized, but it doesn’t belong anywhere in the vicinity of this category or Best Picture.

I want to win: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman. Some people might call a win for Lee a career achievement award. I think those people would be wrong. BlacKkKlansman is one of the most important films of the year and Lee presents it in a package that is funny, intriguing, intense, and uncompromising.

Probably will win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma. I’m not sure if it’s the dog crap or the naked martial arts, but people are super into Roma. In all seriousness, it is a beautiful film and every moment feels crafted with love. I wouldn’t at all be upset to see Cuarón go home with the statue.

 

Best Picture

Black Panther, Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, Roma, A Star Is Born

Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite

Should’ve been nominated: Blindspotting. It’s better than anything else on this list. Full stop. No snark, no quips, it’s better than anything else on this list.

I want to win: A Star Is Born is my favorite movie nominated, but as an unashamed lover of superhero movies, I’d love to see Black Panther go home a winner.

Probably will win: Roma. If I’m being honest, picture is the only category where I really don’t have any idea what’s going to win. I’d love to think that A Star Is Born would have a good chance because of how well it’s performed at the box office since it’s release in October, however that’s hardly an indicator of awards success. Roma is currently the odds on favorite, most likely due to it nearly sweeping the critic awards so far this year. But I think this is looking like a pretty tight race, so I’d keep checking in over there until you have to turn in your picks for the office Oscar pool.

 

There you have it. Those are my picks. Get your bets in on time. I’ll take 60% of your winnings and you can cover any losses (there won’t be any). And as a bonus for making it this far, I’ll give you one more quickie: I don’t want to be over-dramatic, but if “Shallow” doesn’t win Best Original Song, I’ll light myself on fire. Your move, Academy.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

 

Episode 125: Moon

It’s week one of Sci-Fi September and we are visiting base of Lunar Industries on the moon for this discussion about Duncan Jones’ debut film. Sam Rockwell’s incredible performance is just one of the many things to like about this gem and we give it plenty of love, but the big ideas to be considered provide us a lot of material for some great conversation, too.

What We’ve Been Up To  0:01:29

(Aaron – Searching and By Request podcast)
(Patrick – Borg vs. McEnroe)

Moon Review – 0:12:29

The Connecting Point – 1:10:49

 

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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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MOVIE REVIEW: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017)


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.

What We Learned This Week: January 1-13

LESSON #1: EITHER BUSINESS IS BAD OR PEOPLE ARE FINDING THEIR ENTERTAINMENT ELSEWHERE— I have found that in the box office business, trends rarely lie.  Looking past inflation and price changes, the reported actual ticket sale counts are alarming according to the year-end news reported in several places.  A six percent drop is telling but not drastic.  “Lowest in 25 years” is a whole other thing.  To me, as I’ve stated in this column frequently, it’s all about the price point for family dollars.  The wave of unlimited TV and streaming options available at high quality and far lower costs than it takes to bring the average family of four to the multiplex with refreshments is becoming a no-brainer for those cost-minded folks.

LESSON #2: SPEAKING OF BUSINESS, APPLE MIGHT HAVE A COUNTERPUNCH TO DISNEY— Once Disney bought 21st Century Fox, they gained controlling percentage of Hulu Plus at the same time as they’ve been positioning to launch their own dedicated streaming platforms.  The target was placed on Netflixes back, especially after the Mouse House pulled all of their content off the platform to bring under their own roof.  Netflix might have found a benefactor and powerful one.  According to reports sourced by Citi, Apple is angling to buy Netflix with a billion dollar price tag.  Throw Amazon’s power in there, and this WWE triple threat match in a streaming ring just got big

LESSON #3: SPEAKING OF BUSINESS, KEEPING ADVOCATING FOR EQUAL PAY ACROSS GENDERS— You can try to slice it, refocus the points, or pretend to justify the reasons however you want, but the Mark Wahlberg/Michelle Williams All the Money in the World compensation disparity story that broke this week is kind of sh-tty no matter which way you play it.  It just flat-out looks bad.  I’m glad it’s getting investigated by the union (Screen Actors Guild).  I keep the benefit of the doubt going that good faith is out there or that contracts are this and other contracts are that.  For that to remain, a positive outcome (with a rolled head or two) must arrive or this will only incite more from an already fractured female demographic, and rightfully so.

LESSON #4: WE HAVE TO CONSIDER THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI A FULL-FLEGED OSCAR CONTENDER NOW— To me, the Golden Globes have been a joke, are a joke, and will remain a joke with some of their category distinctions, silly nominees, and oddball choices.  That said, the Golden Globes aren’t the only awards Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand, and Martin McDonagh’s film are sweeping up.  The two actors have been surging and now stand as legitimate co-frontrunners with Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) who have dominated the Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress categories.  These dark horses aren’t so pitch black anymore.  By the way, you know which Golden Globe winner is not a real contender?  James Franco.  Via con dios, dude.

LESSON #5: THE STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI HATERS ARE GOING TO BE BUTTHURT FOR A LONG TIME— …and it’s going to be agonizing to deal with them.  Most of the haters are just harmless snobs and sub-trolls.  Their rants and forgettable and carry weak traction, like silly petitions to remove the latest film from canon.  However, some of them take it too far.  This recent story of Kelly Marie Tran dealing with racist and sexist comments is a prime example.  That’s the kind of crap that goes too far and isn’t “fansmanship” nitpicking over water cooler talk anymore.  That’s the hurtful garbage that needs to go and get a life.

LESSON #6: CIRCLE BACK TO THE BEST OF 2017— Rotten Tomatoes closed the 2017 calendar with their list of 100% Tomatometer films.  Seven titles never received a bad review.  Use JustWatch to seek them out in this boring and empty annual moviegoing wasteland known as January.  Liam Neeson flicks can only keep your attention so long.  If you want more films after those seven, you’ve got five top-ten lists right here on Feelin’ Film from your hosts and contributors.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  He is a proud member and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on FacebookTwitterMedium, and Creators Media.