Tag Archives: Mark Duplass

Bombshell (2019) Review

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Bombshell

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & sexual references
Cast:
Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly
Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson
Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil
John Lithgow as Roger Ailes
Connie Britton as Beth Ailes
Rob Delaney as Gil Norman
Mark Duplass as Douglas Brunt
Liv Hewson as Lily Balin
Allison Janney as Susan Estrich
Director: Jay Roach

When Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) slaps Fox News founder Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) with a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, not a soul could predict what would happen next. Her decision leads to Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) coming forward with her own story, as well as multiple other women, inciting a movement that reverberates around the world.

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I remember hearing about Bombshell for a while, it was about the sexual harassment in Fox News (specifically about Roger Ailes) and starred Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in the lead roles. As trailers started being released however, I was starting to be a little concerned about it, especially how the movie looked like a comedy (the use of Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’ certainly didn’t give off the right vibe. Now a movie about this subject could work, taking on sexual harassment in a work environment such as Fox News. It’s hard to pull off, but if executed well, could result in a truly great and insightful movie. Bombshell is not that movie.

Bombshell (2019) Margot Robbie CR: Hilary B. Gayle

One of my worries was that Bombshell was going to be a comedy on the whole. Now there wasn’t as much comedy as I thought there would be, but I do wonder if that’s because what they intended as comedy didn’t exactly produce much laughs and I just didn’t pick up that they were jokes in the first place. The thing that immediately comes to mind to this movie is the fact that this is Fox News, and of course people aren’t so into the idea of a movie following people who work at Fox, which is understandable. The movie isn’t necessarily pro Fox News, but it doesn’t full on take on them either. All the shots that they take at Fox are used in jokes, so they felt rather toothless and weak. There’s plenty of deserved criticisms about some of the prominent people at the centre of this story, but they were still victims, and their story still needed to be told. When it comes to the sexual harassment scenes, it’s fittingly uncomfortable, but that’s not exactly an achievement considering that it should feel uncomfortable. To address the elephant in the room, Bombshell is written by the writer of The Big Short (Charles Randolph), and you really feel that. Now I liked The Big Short, but with this movie it really does feel like someone did a half baked attempt at that form of storytelling. There is a lot of explaining to the audience, and that didn’t turn out so well for this movie. This style could potentially work for a movie taking on Fox News on the whole, however for one with sexual harassment as the focus, it doesn’t fit at all. People have talked about how this movie should’ve been written and directed by a woman, given the results here, women behind both roles definitely would’ve resulted in a much better movie. On the whole, Bombshell a real drag to watch, and unfortunately it’s not just because of the difficult subject matter. Lack of entertainment aside, it moves a such a slow pace and not a lot happens in the movie, with the movie not even grabbing your attention all that much. After thinking about Bombshell for a while, I just came to a realisation. This movie is just a whole lot of talking about what happened, sprinkled occasionally with deliberate shocking and disturbing moments about sexual harassment. Most annoying of all, there’s no deeper dive or complexity to it all (not with the people or at Fox), it’s all very surface level and basically a recap of what we mostly already knew happened. Even as someone who didn’t a ton about the story, I didn’t come out of Bombshell knowing much more than before I watched it.

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If there’s one reason to watch this movie, it is the performances. Charlize Theron is great here, managing to embody Megyn Kelly so believably, really great performance. A lot of the other acting is overplayed to some degree, but Theron feels grounded throughout. Nicole Kidman is not getting the awards attention that her co-leads are receiving, but she was quite good as Gretchen Carlson, who made the lawsuit on Roger Ailes. It actually made me wonder why Carlson wasn’t the lead character of the movie instead of Kelly. Margot Robbie plays a composite character, and I didn’t know what to think of that. Part of me got the impression that Robbie’s character might’ve been created because they wanted to have a main character who they could show directly harassed in a scene by Roger Ailes, but maybe I’m just reading too deep into it. Robbie generally acts well in her role, and she gets a couple great moments in the last act or so. John Lithgow plays Roger Ailes, and he played him uncomfortably well, really unpleasant and unsettling to watch when he’s on screen. At the same time, he scarily enough seems like a real human being, Lithgow did a great job on his part. There’s not much to say about the rest of the cast, they can be quite over the top and deliberately performed like a parody at times, but they’re fine enough.

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I’m not too familiar with Jay Roach, I know he made the Austin Powers movies and I’ve seen his last movie Trumbo. Many people have been saying that Bombshell has been heavily inspired by the directing of Adam McKay’s movies, and I can sadly confirm this. From voiceovers, breaking the fourth wall, cameos of people you may know of, you get the drill. Bombshell solidified that no one should be making Adam McKay-like movies other than Adam McKay himself. Now I personally liked The Big Short and Vice quite a bit, if you didn’t like them though, I think that you’d really dislike Bombshell. The camerawork was also documentary-like, and with the office taking up most of the prominent locations in the movie, it made you feel like you’re in an episode of The Office. It really didn’t serve to make the movie better, it just made it distracting and obnoxious to watch. Every time it zoomed in on someone, it gets just a little more annoying, and there are a lot of zoom ins. The visual style is so bland and uninteresting, and the movie relies so much on its visual style, unfortunately there’s not many appealing aspects here. What’s worse is that the style is not even that consistent, for example you only get the fourth wall breaks a few times, making you wonder why they did it at all. With so much of the directing and storytelling choices, it makes you wonder why they didn’t just make a documentary. The only aspect on a technical level that I can really give praise to is the great makeup, from making Theron look like Megyn Kelly and Lithgow like Ailes.

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Bombshell is a very mixed bag to say that least, and it’s a very hard movie to recommend. This topic is not pleasant to sit through (and it shouldn’t be), but it’s also more of a drag, and on top of that you don’t really learn that much from the movie (unless you’ve never heard of the story before) and doesn’t go deeper as it could’ve, also with some questionable writing and direction choices throughout. At the same time, the performances from Theron, Kidman, Robbie, and Lithgow are great, so maybe watch the movie if you really want to see their work here.

 

Tully (2018) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Mature themes, coarse language and sex
Cast:
Charlize Theron as Marlo Moreau
Mackenzie Davis as Tully
Mark Duplass as Craig
Ron Livingston as Drew Moreau
Director: Jason Reitman

Marlo (Charlize Theron) is a New York suburbanite who’s about to give birth to her third child. Her husband, Ron (Ron Livingston), is loving and works hard, but remains clueless about the demands that motherhood puts on his wife. When the baby is born, Marlo’s wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) hires a nighttime nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) to help his sister handle the workload. Hesitant at first, Marlo soon learns to appreciate all that Tully does — forming a special bond with her new, lifesaving friend.

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I had been hearing about Tully for a little while. All I knew really going in was that it has Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis and involved parenting. Otherwise I went in blind, and I think that overall improved my viewing experience. Tully is a pleasant surprise, with some great performances and was a real and honest portrayal on parenting.

I’ll try not to say too much about this movie, as I do think that it is better watching it not knowing too much about it going in. Just know that it’s about parenting and has Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis and that’s all you need to know. At around an hour and 30 minutes long, Tully is really good and I was entertained and invested all the way through to the end. Now I’m not familiar with parenting but Tully really seemed to capture the feeling of it at the very least. There’s something about the portrayal of that and life that just feels so genuine and real. You get that feeling immediately in the film’s opening scenes (by that I mean that it’s incredibly stressful). It’s also genuinely entertaining, funny and even heartwarming at points, so it’s not just ‘raising kids is absolute hell’ for the entire runtime. It’s rather a fresh look at parenting overall. There is a reveal towards the end, and while I suspected it as the film was progressing, it worked well for the movie. However there are aspects about how said reveal was handled (especially by other characters) which seemed a little far fetched and unrealistic, it didn’t bother me too much though. In terms of flaws I guess that there were brief moments where my interest dropped a little but they didn’t last for very long.

Charlize Theron as usual is fantastic, giving her best performance since Mad Max Fury Road. You really feel what she’s feeling as this mother having to deal with so many things at once and seeming overwhelmed. Mackenzie Davis plays the titular character of Tully the night time nanny and she’s great, truly a delight whenever she’s on screen. The dynamic between both Theron and Davis is really good and entertaining to watch. The supporting cast was good as well, whether that be Ron Livingston as Theron’s husband or Mark Duplass as Theron’s brother one who hires Tully in the first place for Theron.

Director Jason Reitman has made a number of movies but the only one I’ve seen is Juno, which is probably his most well known film to date. His work on Tully is really good as well. Probably some of the stand out directing parts that stood out was some of the brief things he decides to show on screen. There might be like a 5 second shot of something happening that doesn’t necessarily tie into the plot, it’s quite simple and subtle but they really added a lot to the movie.

Tully is one of the most overlooked movies of 2018 and it’s a shame because it’s really good. The performances especially from Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis were great and it just a really genuine movie all round. Definitely worth a watch, preferably not knowing too much beforehand.

The Lazarus Effect (2015) Review

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The Lazarus Effect

Time: 83 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Horror
Cast:
Mark Duplass as Frank Walton
Olivia Wilde as Zoe McConnell
Sarah Bolger as Eva
Evan Peters as Clay
Donald Glover as Niko
Ray Wise as Mr. Wallace
Director: David Gelb

Medical researcher Frank (Mark Duplass), his fiancée Zoe (Olivia Wilde) and their team have achieved the impossible: they have found a way to revive the dead. After a successful, but unsanctioned, experiment on a lifeless animal, they are ready to make their work public. However, when their dean learns what they’ve done, he shuts them down. Zoe is killed during an attempt to recreate the experiment, leading Frank to test the process on her. Zoe is revived — but something evil is within her.

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Most horror movies nowadays are terrible, with the exception of a few gems like The Babadook and Oculus. Most of them are by the numbers, have bad horror clichés and straight up aren’t scary at all. So how does The Lazarus Effect hold up? It doesn’t, it’s not scary (and as you probably guessed, relies on unscary jump scares), it felt dull and failed to thrill despite its initially interesting premise. However I wouldn’t call it a terrible movie. It does have a decent cast and the direction for the most part is fine and it’s nowhere near as bad as some other horror movies of today. But still, it’s not a good movie and not worth your time.

M182 (Left to right.) Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde star in Relativity Media's "The Lazarus Effect". © 2013 BACK TO LIFE PRODUCTIONS, LLC Photo Credit: Suzanne Hanover

This movie does have an interesting premise with the whole resurrection element, and what happens after people die. Despite this, at many points this movie just feels boring and dull, and there were so many missed opportunities to take the film into a scarier or at least more interesting level. Olivia Wilde dies like 30 minutes into the movie before getting brought back, that’s a third into the movie, so you can imagine how boring the road felt leading up to it. The tension only appears during certain scenes of the movie, it’s not maintained throughout most of the movie. It doesn’t help that this movie isn’t scary at all, but I’ll get to how the ‘scares’ are handled later on.

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This movie has a great cast, which was one of the few things that this movie had going for it. The cast was filled with talented actors such as Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters and many more. I thought that they did well with what they were given, despite not having very well written characters. They might actually be the best part of the movie and might be the only thing that sort of works, which is sad really.

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With the exception of the actual horror scenes, the movie is generally well directed and the production value is quite decent. Unfortunately when it comes to the horror scenes, it follows plenty of horror clichés. The Lazarus Effect, like other horror movies of today rely on jump scares, there are at least 10 of them, I counted them. Most of the jump scares I saw coming, though I will say that out of all the jump scares only 1 of them was a fake jump scare, but that’s hardly a compliment at this point in time.

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Overall The Lazarus Effect could’ve been an interesting horror movie with an interesting premise and a great cast but given the reception of this movie I didn’t go in expecting much and I got what I was expecting. It was brought down by unscary ‘horror’ scenes and a somehow bad plot, even though it promised a somewhat interesting result. It’s one of those movies like Transcendence which have good ideas but still doesn’t culminate in a good movie. Still, it’s nowhere near as bad as other horror movies of today like Ouija, that’s not saying much though as most movies aren’t at that level of horribleness.