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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!

 

This Blog Has Moved…

November 11, 2012

Or as I was going to title this: new world, new blog.
All of the cool kids are over at www.beccalower.com . There’s even a tip jar. And tomorrow, there will be another sunrise.

-R.J.Lower

Let the president eat his (hot) dog

November 9, 2012
tags:

A health Nazi organization has doubled down on its calls for President Obama to stop eating junk food in public, now that the election’s over:

 

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) made headlines in May when it filed a petition with the White House objecting to Obama’s habit of grabbing hamburgers, hot dogs and other unhealthy foods with his staff and visiting dignitaries.

 

After PCRM last criticized Obama, a group funded by the restaurant, food and beverage industries came to his defense.

“Let the president eat his hot dog,” said the Center for Consumer Freedom, which blasted PCRM as a “phony doctors group” with a covert “vegan agenda.”

PCRM has come under fire in the past for its provocative campaigns, including billboards that read, “Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer.” The group advocates for preventive medicine, healthy eating and alternatives to animal testing.

What more can you say, really?
-R.J.Lower

Man with a Plan

November 8, 2012

The Way to Win it Back!

After our losses I questioned God’s plan and what my next step would be. I could have never imagined an America that would vote themselves servants to the political elite. As a child who grew up during the cold war, I was thankful every night for having been born in the only free nation of the world. Our nation is no longer exceptional as a sanctuary for liberty. We will rapidly see the unraveling of personal freedom as Obamacare is implemented and so many other laws, rules and regulations are passed or dictated.

As those hard truths pressed upon me, I was made more optimistic after listening to Glenn Beck (he will build a larger media footprint to combat this) and Mark Levin (he will not go gentle into that good night and we shouldn’t either).

Read The Lonely Conservative’s plan here.

I, too, listened to parts of Beck’s Wednesday morning show. It had a buoying effect, to an extent. But I cannot be deaf to voices closer to me than those on a radio show. One friend grew up in Communist Cuba, and she brings experience to her opinions that could be ignored as easily as a klaxon. We are in big, big trouble. We must fight, but the odds are staggering that we will not win. You’re not going to be getting rainbows and ponies from me. Not today.

-R.J.Lower

Lady Thatcher’s Lesson

November 8, 2012

Tom Reynolds wrote this on Facebook:

Here’s an article Lady Margaret Thatcher wrote in 1975 after her party lost power. It appears to have some good lessons for today.

“We lost because we did not appear to stand firmly for anything distinctive and positive. Sneering at “middle-class values” is to insult the working class no less than the bourgeois. Do British workers have no deep feelings for freedom, for order, for the education of their children, for the right to work without disruption by political militants?
Of course they do. And if they are no more than cash-grabbing anarchists, then we must all bear some of the responsibility and try to show them the way back to sanity. But I do not believe they are.
Most of them want to do a fair day’s work in a job that gives them satisfaction—and strongly resent what they regard as State subsidies to shirkers. Most of them deplore violence, truancy and indiscipline in schools, and cannot understand the complaisance of some of the middle-class intellectuals who run the schools.”

(Hat tip: Tom Reynolds via Jedediah Bila)

-R.J.Lower

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