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‘Chappaquiddick’ Movie’s Most Vital Cast Member isn’t the Guy Playing Ted Kennedy

May 18, 2018
chappaquiddick kennedy joe 2

Ed Helms (Kennedy cousin Joe Gargan)
and Jason Clarke (Teddy Kennedy) in “Chappaquiddick”/
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

In his April review of the Senator Edward Kennedy biopic Chappaquiddick, commentator Mark Steyn admitted that he had “minimal expectations” for how the filmmakers would handle the story of the tragic death of Kennedy campaign booster Mary Jo Kopechne. He wrote on Steyn Online:

But utter contempt for your protagonist doesn’t make for very interesting drama. So it is to the film’s benefit that its director, writers and Jason Clarke in the lead role manage to locate enough humanity in the empty waddling husk of Teddy to make a compelling story.

I think they were lucky to find any. And maybe surprisingly, that’s something which the movie neither revels in nor tries to smooth over. I rushed to see the film after Steyn’s review noted that its creators made a bold choice: to give a dispassionate narrative of what happened that night and its human toll. And while doing that, they use a set of scales wrought from the genuine weight of humanity and personal responsibility — not the outcome of a political contest.

In 1999, a film based on Patricia Highsmith’s suspense series, The Talented Mr. Ripley, portrayed a scheming, young American who put on others’ identities because he was loathe to live out his own destiny.  In Chappaquiddick, we meet another man in a similar sort of trap, but here, Teddy Kennedy’s dilemma has a twist.

He can’t seem to manage to pin down a personality.

Why? His life depends on doing whatever it takes to please others; because to Teddy, being disliked is worse than almost anything. So, he reckons, he’ll put in just enough effort to reach others’ low expectations of him. Someone else will take care of any fallout. They always have. It leaves the man with a self-worth that’s so flimsy, it might collapse on itself.

None of this is shown through a news reporter’s lens, with an outsider’s rose-colored view of events — and of Kennedy. No, that task was fulfilled by Kennedy cousin Joe Gargan, who acts as Teddy’s shadow and “fixer.” Ed Helms, sometimes with just one well-timed glance, is the counterpoint to the film’s cold, unflinching, tone. He allows audience members into the inner circle, and to experience – almost in real time – his gutwrenching emotions. Helms is someone to watch.

In another ingenius stroke, the movie doesn’t let the Kennedy political dynasty off the hook, either — sure, Ted Kennedy was able to remain in the Senate up to the time of his death. But the brass ring that represented success to his family sunk inside that car on Martha’s Vineyard along with Mary Jo’s body. And Teddy knew it.

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What Generation Xers Are Missing Out on if They Skip ‘I Feel Pretty’

April 28, 2018
i feel pretty stx

STX Entertainment

On April 25, culture writer Kira Davis wrote after seeing I Feel Pretty, the new Amy Schumer movie:

Schumer fans had high hopes for her latest project, I Feel Pretty. Unfortunately, before the film even debuted it received a remarkable amount of blowback from the feminist set, and even people like myself. Here was a movie about a relatively thin, cute white girl playing an “ugly” girl who then comes to find confidence by seeing herself as a thin, cute white girl. Schumer is no chubby chick.

By normal American standards she is at least completely average weight-wise, perhaps even above-average. She may not be a super model, but she’s not the type of woman who would be considered “gross” by any stretch of the imagination – not physically, anyway. How insulting that Hollywood would try to thrust this woman upon us in yet another of their disgustingly unrealistic standards of beauty!

Then I went to see I Feel Pretty for myself. Though I’m loathe to admit it, I have to say…I was wrong.

I laughed a lot when I saw Trainwreck, for sure (how can you resist Colin Quinn in that role?). But like Davis, I never expected to like another movie with Schumer in it.

There’s something different about this one: it wasn’t written or even co-written by the comedian. Who did write it? Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn,  the same writer/director team who brought you Never Been Kissed. Yes, the charming Drew Barrymore movie. That fact alone explains why there are softer, dramatic parts here.

Never expecting to see the movie, I joked with friends that it was probably a copycat of Shallow Hal, the Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow comedy (that Jason Alexander stole…) about an arrogant man who accidentally gets hypnotized during a chance meeting with self-help guru Tony Robbins into thinking all women are slim and attractive. But it wasn’t anything like that movie. I Feel Pretty was smarter than that.

But someone at the studio screwed up on the marketing here. The trailer should have had a scene with Schumer and Michelle Williams (yes, the same Michelle Williams who was nominated for an Oscar a year back). Williams was also in All the Money in the World within the past few months, proving that she’s practically the Meryl Streep of her generation. You can read more about Williams’ tour de force role, Avery LeClair, from Indie Wire’s Kate Erbland. I purposely put  a photo of Williams up top, because I figure no one knows she’s in this movie.

It makes me sad that many Generation X members (like myself) will write this off as another movie by someone whose politics they disagree with. But what’s sadder is that Hollywood’s forgotten how to sell a heartfelt comedy. What about Sally Field in Murphy’s Romance, or Melanie Griffith in Working Girl? Or, more recently, Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Diary?

No, in their laziness, they sold it as Bridesmaids with an exercise bike.

As Davis explained:

I Feel Pretty isn’t a movie about a perfectly fine-looking white girl playing an ugly girl transforming into a supermodel, it’s a movie about having the confidence to accept yourself as you are.

Am I saying that I Feel Pretty was perfect? No. It had a few false notes.

But there’s no denying that I cried about two or three times — because Schumer’s character went through real-life situations that plus-sized women do every single day. It hurt to see things I recognized on the big screen. But what hurt even more is that the people who make the decisions on how to sell movies today don’t have faith in its audience that it can support smart comedies.

It’s a shame.

Update: In another potential blow to the film’s marketing, Amy Schumer was forced to cancel the U.K. press tour because she came down with a kidney infection, Digital Spy reports. As she told fans on social media Friday:

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week. I was hospitalized for 5 days with a horrible kidney infection. I want to give a big thank you to the doctors, the bad ass nurses also my husband who’s name is, i want to say, Chris? and my sisters Kimby and mol who have been by my side the whole time. I wanted to share this with you because this is sexy as hell but mostly because I was meant to go to London for the opening of I Feel Pretty and my doctors have told me that’s a no go. I’m really disappointed selfishly to miss this trip because I love London and Europe in general and all the great people (food) there. But I need to put my health first. I am so grateful for all the support the movie is getting. I hope people check it out in England and everywhere else in the world. It’s sweet and fun and you will walk out feeling better. Which is something I hope to feel soon too.

A post shared by @ amyschumer on

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week. I was hospitalized for 5 days with a horrible kidney infection.

I want to give a big thank you to the doctors, the bad ass nurses also my husband who’s name is, i want to say, Chris? and my sisters Kimby and mol who have been by my side the whole time.

I wanted to share this with you because this is sexy as hell but mostly because I was meant to go to London for the opening of I Feel Pretty and my doctors have told me that’s a no go. I’m really disappointed selfishly to miss this trip because I love London and Europe in general and all the great people (food) there.

But I need to put my health first. I am so grateful for all the support the movie is getting. I hope people check it out in England and everywhere else in the world. It’s sweet and fun and you will walk out feeling better. Which is something I hope to feel soon too.

I hope people check it out, too, Amy. Get well!

 

It’s not about the base, stupid! UPDATED: @ahmalcolm: It wasn’t the turnout, period.

November 7, 2012

First thing this morning, I shared an article about the presidential election results. Right away, I got backlash– from friends. It seems like a perfectly decent analysis to me. Alright, it’s from the WSJ. Fine. But it provided a first glimmer of hope for me in the stygian night.

But now I know: the few hours after a big loss like this are dicey. Optimistic noises aren’t welcomed. These conservative friends proceeded to savage my post. They contended that, in my youth and inexperience, I was missing the fact that we’ll never be able to swing the electorate back to our side. Obamacare will keep them coming to the Democrat trough. Obama will appoint new, liberal SCOTUS judges. And our moderate GOP leaders will continue to stand idly by as it happens.

Others today have argued that we just needed to get more conservatives to the polls. The base wasn’t energized by moderate Romney, they say.

Well, if they weren’t energized, then who rallied to Mourdock’s and Cruz’s side in the primaries, who waited in long lines at Chick-fil-a? Who helped Wisconsin’s governor Scott Walker overcome the unions’ recall effort?

Last July, I watched as people flocked to see Ryan at his alma mater Miami of Ohio. Just days earlier, he had been announced as Romney’s running mate. And why else would 30k-plus brave the chill, autumn conditions in West Chester, OH, the Friday before the election to see a coalition of national conservative leaders rally around this ticket?

The base was with us. Where we lost was in thinking that that was enough. Many others– even in red county Ohio– aren’t with us.

As a member of the Americans For Prosperity-Ohio door knocking team, I helped reach out to hundreds of people in Butler County (and neighboring counties). When you knock on door after door in blue-collar, low-income areas like Middletown, South Lebanon and parts of Hamilton, you hear and see what a phone call can’t gauge. When you look a person in the eye and ask them about the economy, that’s when you can get what they really think.

What was that? Either they were not engaged in politics at all, or they struggled to put together a cogent sentence along the lines of “the economy hasn’t been great, but Obama had helped it a little bit”. A small group, though, said things that were borne out by last night’s results. You’d swear you opened the door to find David Axelrod or Stephanie Cutter standing there. The answer was sometimes word for word from an anti-Romney ad. Romney and Bain laid off those casket company employees. He’s arrogant. One woman told me that she was afraid of Romney being elected– the tax increase attack.

So, would a few more Republicans getting out to vote have been helpful? Yes, of course. But it’s a stretch to say that that’s the reason we lost. Something else entirely caused this. It’s a hurdle we’re going to have to figure out how to navigate– and quickly.

EDIT.1: There’s also this to consider.

Mike Flynn from Breitbart News:

Andrew always pointed out that politics was far downstream from media and pop culture. By ceding the media and pop culture space, conservatives were always at an extreme disadvantage whenever a specific political debate arose. They could occasionally win certain battles, but they would always be fighting against extreme headwinds. Last night was a brutal reminder that Andrew was right.

Read the rest.

EDIT.2:

There’s also this compelling argument (with numbers, for the nerds) to counteract the CW that voter turnout was way down from ’08.

-R.J.Lower

Boehner: No mandate for tax increases UPDATE: The real fight starts with a new Speaker

November 7, 2012

Last night, we retained the majority in the House of Representatives. I can see some positives in that situation.

From the Hill:

While the Speaker has in recent days predicted a victory for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he made no such declaration shortly before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, after the House was projected to stay in GOP hands.

“I want to thank Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who have carried the banner of our party with grace, vision, strength and dignity,” Boehner said to cheers from the crowd.

Boehner described the House GOP majority over the last two years as “the primary line of defense” against a government that “spends too much, taxes too much and certainly borrows too much.”

“The American people want solutions — and tonight, they’ve responded by renewing our House Republican majority,” Boehner said. “With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.”

The Speaker made no mention of Obama in his remarks, which lasted just about three minutes.

“What Americans want are solutions that will ease the burden on small businesses, bring jobs home and let our economy grow,” he said. “We stand ready to work with any willing partner — Republican, Democrat or otherwise — who shares a commitment to getting these things done.”

EDIT.1:

In my misery, I had to post something. Sorry it was the usual ramblings by my congressman. Here’s real hope from Yid With Lid:

A fight for the future of the Republican Party. Beginning tomorrow there will be a fight for the soul of the GOP. The issue will be whether the party will be an “almost as liberal as the Democrats” party, or will be dominated by the more conservative members—giving Americans a real two-party system. Look for the apex of the battle to be the vote for Speaker of the House as many conservatives are calling for John Boehner’s head. If the Boehner wing wins out, you may see a third party arise.


Read the rest, and –please– hit the man’s tip jar.

EDIT.2:

Ugh.
-R.J.Lower

#BreitbartIsHere, #OIHO Election Night ’12

November 6, 2012

My friend Justin Kendall is a poll worker (technically, a poll judge) in Toledo, Ohio.

He shared this photo of his undershirt today.

#WAR

EDIT.1: The “Two Paths” film by the great Ben Howe:

EDIT.2:

That’s right, Stacy. Watch it– as it happens– right here.

EDIT.3:

Election Night: Follow These Experts on Twitter

-R.J.Lower

Wilmington, NC, 10-year old called ‘racist’ for supporting #Romney

November 5, 2012

I couldn’t believe this really happened, but here’s the story directly from the boy’s mother:

Andrea Milman:

I hope no other child has had this experience.

My 10 year old Jaron’s school in Wilmington, NC, had a mock election that was supposed to be a fun and educational experience.

After the election, the kids were waiting to go to the bus when my son was approached by one of his classmates who said he had voted for Obama and asked who Jaron had supported. Jaron said Mitt Romney. At that time, the other child called my son a racist and said Mitt Romney is a racist too. Then they parted ways. Jaron said it made him feel “kinda bad, like he had done something wrong”.

When he told me about this incident, my first reaction was the urge to call the school. I didn’t. Jaron said no one had heard him, and in dealing with this school in the past (bullying of my older son who had Asperger’s), I know that unless it was witnessed, nothing would be addressed.

I found out later that the rules had always been that no one was supposed to discuss the election, to avoid arguments among the students. Apparently, at least one student thought rules didn’t apply to him.

I have told both my boys that you follow your convictions and the candidate that most mirrors your personal beliefs. I have been Conservative for decades, and I told the boys that if I changed my core beliefs to vote for someone based on skin color, then that is just as racist as voting against someone based on skin color. I have tried very hard to teach my kids to be colorblind. I feel totally undermined by the left using race as an intimidation factor, screaming ‘racist’ to anyone who does not vote for Mr. Obama.

My silent anger rolls in, as Mr. Obama is half white, raised by his white mother and white grandmother, attending Ivy League schools. I could make the argument, if I was so obtuse, that he is more white than black. This scenario just shows the ridiculousness of the racism name calling.

(H/T to Barbara Buffing for the story)
-R.J.Lower

@rsmccain: What to watch for in #OIHO on election night

November 4, 2012

More here.
-R.J. Lower