Sunday, June 12, 2016

Strange Bedfellows

The Intern (2015): written and directed by Nancy Meyers; starring Robert De Niro (Ben) and Anne Hathaway (Jules): A mostly enjoyable piece of fluff set in the alternate, upper-middle-class universe of Nancy (Father of the Bride, It's Complicated) Meyers, who's basically Nora-Ephron-Lite. 

Robert De Niro plays a retired 70-year-old businessman who takes an unpaid internship for seniors at Anne Hathaway's Internet clothing business and soon teaches everyone how to live, love, and tie a tie. Probably the most startling thing in the movie (other than two more of modern Hollywood's drinking scenes written by people who have apparently never had a drink) is the uncanny resemblance the actor playing Hathaway's stay-at-home husband has to writer Chuck Klosterman. Lightly recommended.

All the Way (2016): adapted by Robert Schenkkan from his own play; directed by Jay Roach; starring Bryan Cranston (LBJ), Anthony Mackie (MLK), Melissa Leo (Lady Bird Johnson), Bradley Whitford (Hubert Humphrey), Frank Langella (Senator Russell), and Stephen Root (Hoover): Tony award winner for best play and best actor (Cranston) gets adapted for HBO. It's a dandy drama detailing President Lyndon Baines Johnson's attempts to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed while also winning the presidential election later that year. 

Cranston is superb portraying the canny, volatile, profane Johnson. Supprting turns from Melissa Leo and Anthony Mackie are also superb, as is Frank Langella's nuanced, wounded portrayal of Dixiecrat Senator Russell. Bradley Whitford is excellent and almost unrecognizable as Hubert Humphrey. The narrative becomes a bracing examination of the seemingly lost Art of political compromise, as LBJ must work Republicans, Democrats, and the leaders of the Civil Rights movement to achieve something compromised by lasting. Highly recommended.

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