Bombshell

A new movie review from The Movie Snob.

Bombshell.  (B)  I had time to squeeze one last movie in before the end of 2019, so of course I opted for the one starring the flawless Nicole Kidman (Aquaman).  It’s based on the sexual-harassment scandal that engulfed the Fox News organization in 2016 and ultimately took down CEO Roger Ailes (played here by John Lithgow, Confessions of a Shopaholic).  I’ve never watched Fox News and paid no attention to the scandal, so it was all rather new to me.  The incomparable Kidman plays Gretchen Carlson, a Fox personality who first got demoted, then got fired, and then sued Ailes individually for sexual harassment.  Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde) plays Megyn Kelly, an even higher-profile Fox newswoman who has to decide whether to protect her very successful career or come forward to corroborate Carlson’s story with her own account of Ailes’s misconduct some ten years earlier.  And then there’s Margot Robbie (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), who plays a wide-eyed up-and-comer who’s currently being victimized by Ailes.  Although the movie was interesting, I think it suffers from the fact that Robbie’s character is fictional (a composite of several women, I’ve read).  The main suspense of the action is whether any women who work at Fox will come forward to substantiate Carlson’s claims, and the movie sort of sets you up to expect that Robbie’s character will be the one to come forward because, unlike Kelly, she’s suffering from Ailes’s misconduct right now.  But then she doesn’t, presumably because she’s not a real person and the movie wanted to stick closer to the facts.  Anyway, I thought it was worth seeing, and I note that Theron and Robbie have picked up Golden Globe nominations for their performances (though not Kidman, criminally).

Also, I was again impressed by the Alamo Drafthouse’s pre-show entertainment, which included clips from Kidman’s first film, BMX Bandits, and a comic bit from Funnyordie.com in which Theron pretends to be practicing an Academy Award acceptance speech in her bathroom mirror.

Christmas Wedding Planner (TV movie)

Happy holidays from The Movie Snob!

Christmas Wedding Planner  (A).  Well, my sister doesn’t have cable, so I couldn’t watch a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie before the holiday rolled around. Fortunately she does have Netflix and we were able to make do with this little treat—commercial free, too! It checked off most of the critical boxes:

  • A cute and quirky heroine to root for. In this case, her name is Kelsey, and she is trying to kick off a wedding-planning business by arranging her cousin Emily’s Christmas wedding to the lackluster Todd.
  • An unattractive, uncharming romantic interest for the heroine. This role is filled by Connor, who starts showing up at Emily’s pre-wedding events uninvited.  He tells Kelsey that he’s a PI who’s been hired to look into this lackluster Todd guy for Emily’s protection.
  • Musical montage. Kelsey reluctantly agrees to help Connor, since he’s looking out for her beloved cousin Emily, and they indulge in said montage while doing a stakeout on the sinister yet lackluster Todd.
  • C-list celebrities in minor roles. Here, Kelly Rutherford (TV’s Melrose Place and Gossip Girl) and Joey Fatone (boy band NSYNC) fit the bill.

With all the ingredients in place, this 86-minute Christmas confection is ready to please.  Kelsey and Connor experience the obligatory misunderstanding that briefly drives them apart, but everything hurtles to a satisfactory conclusion. Well, satisfactory for all except poor Emily, who winds up not a Christmas bride but a maid of honor at Kelsey and Connor’s Christmas nuptials instead. But even Emily really seems pretty okay with it, so we don’t have to feel guilty about shedding wedding tears of joy for the winsome Kelsey and the homely Connor. Happy holidays!

Memoirs of Hadrian (book review)

A new book review from The Movie Snob.

Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar (1951).  I learned of the existence of this novel from Joseph Epstein’s The Ideal of Culture, and it did not disappoint.  It is a fictional memoir of the Roman emperor Hadrian (reigned 117 to 138) in the form of a long letter to his adopted grandson and heir, Marcus Aurelius.  Hadrian’s death is near, and he sums up his life and tries to offer some advice to his successor.  I get the impression a ton of historical research went into this work, so I assume it sticks pretty closely to the facts as we know them.  I really liked it, but then I’m a sucker for the swords-and-sandals genre.  So your mileage may vary.

From Fire by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith (book review)

Book review from The Movie Snob

From Fire by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith, by Sohrab Ahmari (2019).  The subtitle tells you most of what you need to know about this book.  It’s an autobiographical conversion story.  That may not be your cup of tea.  But if you give it a chance, I think you’ll find it interesting, because Ahmari is a good writer and has an interesting background.  He was born in Iran, and his childhood years there coincided with the early years of the Khomeini regime.  Then his mother moved to America (Utah!) and took young Sohrab with her.  His stories about growing up in America and trying out various left-wing ideologies are interesting.  At 207 pages, it’s a quick read.  I would have liked to learn more about Ahmari’s wife and what she thought of his becoming Catholic less than three years after they got hitched.