Movies like “Father Figures” have amazed me over the years for so many reasons. First of all, how can a below average screenplay like this get green-lighted to be made in the first place? Then, after so many big name actors read the script, why do they agree to do it? They must realize that its a boring story about 2 brothers trying to find their real father and nothing more than another road trip movie. My theories for how something like this happens is because of Hollywood deal making, actors who sign multiple picture deals to get the one movie they really want, favors to a friend or the basic fact that they believe that if they don’t stay active enough as an actor then the one great part might never come along. This movie rightfully has pretty poor rankings on Rotten Tomatoes, 22% and 50% on IMDB, and it definitely broke my comedy rule that nobody laughed once during the whole film and was a pretty boring 2 hours. I also thought the ending was manipulative and not believable at all, given what happened in the story previously.
The list of actors in this film is both impressive and hard to understand given the below average and boring screenplay, including Ed Helms, Owen Wilson, Ving Rhames, Genn Close, J.K. Simmons and even Christopher Walken. This is a movie that should be missed by just about everyone, except for the few of us who write movie blogs.
The odds are extremely high that in the history of movies in this country, the highly unusual circumstances of having to completely re-shoot all the scenes of a major character within a few months of news a sexual scandal is something that has probably never happened before. The actor Kevin Spacey, who is one in a long line of famous men who have had their lives ruined by the sexual harassment scandals started by Harvey Weinstein some months ago, was completely removed from the new movie “All the Money in the World” and replaced by Christopher Plummer. While watching this movie and Plummer’s performance I could not help wondering how Kevin Spacey must feel now that the movie he should have been in has been released without him and from Plummber’s excellent performance this could have been one of Spacey’s best roles. One could definiately argue that 2 months ago the 3 best male actors in the world right now are Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Danzel Washington and now, Spacey’s career as an actor is most likely over forever.
As far as this film, which is about the kidnapping in Italy of J Paul Getty’s grandson in 1973, I thought it was very well done, despite having to re-shoot Spacey’s scenes months after the movie was completed. It provided huge insight into the greedy money sickness of J Paul Getty, who at the time was the richest man of all time, and despite this, didn’t care to help one of own grandchildren who was kidnapped in Italy and originally held for a 17 million dollar ransom. He constantly delayed negotiations with the kidnappers and amazingly in the end even tried to make the payoff to them, through his divorced son as a tax deduction. In all my years of seeing so many characters in movies, I have never one person so obsessed with money and nothing else. The mother of Getty’s grandson, was played by Michelle Williams who it seems every year is always in the highest quality movie and part. Williams started as a character on the TV show Dawson’s creek and in all the years since that show ended she has consistently only taken parts in low budget high quality movies, never going for the big money and only caring about the quality of each role. She will be nominated again this year, her fifth Oscar nomination for best actress for this role and were it not for Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game might actually win this year. Christopher Plummer was also outstanding in his role as J Paul Getty and if he wins an Oscar, the irony of that achievement might be the final nail in Kevin Spacey’s self-made career coffin.
I often wonder why I see so many movies every year. Its not just because of this blog, its much more than that. I started this blog in October 2014 and before then I was seeing this many movies a year. I became a movie buff because of the high I get from seeing a rare gem among so many bad movies that are made, realizing how rare it is when you see something great. I see so many movies to admire the acting and the dialogue and most of all the screenwriting that is the underlying purpose of this this blog from the day I started it.
While watching this brilliantly written and directed Aaron Sorkin movie, “Molly’s Game” you immediately realize just like with all of Sorkin’s dialogue that nobody talks that fast. Nobody can put together words and dialogue that well chosen so quickly in real life, but that doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter because Sorkin’s dialogue is so brilliant and because of its rapid fire precision, it draws you in, mesmerizes you and before you know it, you are so engrossed with what is happening and what is being said that you don’t realize that two hours have gone by. I think Sorkin’s has people talk so fast in all of his screenplays and teleplays because he wants you to pay attention to what people are saying so you are more drawn into what is going on. This may not work with everybody, but it works for me.
Molly’s Game originally was a book about a former world class Skier who was hurt and lost out on her chances for the Olympics. Her father, played extremely well by Kevin Costner, drove her way too hard and this created resentment and ultimately the reasons, like so many people in the world, to take her life into directions that at first she fell into, but later lead her into the dangerous world of high stakes poker games. This movie teaches you a lot about poker and about the dangers that will always seep into something like this, as we see people losing their entire life savings. We also see gamblers desperately trying to get back to even and like everybody with an addiction don’t know when they have had enough losing and its time to stop playing.
Molly is played by Jessica Chastain who in my opinion, unlike last years Miss Sloan, should not only be nominated for a best actress Oscar but should actually win this year. Equally as good in his role, is Molly’s lawyer played by Idris Elba who should also be nominated for best actor or supporting actor. I could not help but admire how these actors were able to memorize so many of these complex speeches that Sorkin wrote and directed and made it seem like it was their natural way of talking. Being an actor is most challenging with dialogue like this, that is so complex and so long that there are so many takes to get it just right. I also thought that this was Kevin Costner’s best acting performance in many years, especially the brilliant and emotional ending scene with his daughter where he did 3 years of psychoanalysis with her in 3 minutes. We learn why Molly is the person she because of the problems with her spine injury and her desperation to please her father by almost killing herself trying to be an Olympic skier even after she was severely injured. Molly’s Game is Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut and he just might receive a best director Oscar along with best adapted screenplay that I think should be a guarantee.
Molly’s Game is one of the best pictures of 2017 and receives my highest recommendation.