Tag Archive: Robert DeNiro


The Political Yarn

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

In these weeks of political focus, two conventions deciding our presidential candidates, I have been thinking about those movies that dip into that realm.

Perhaps it is me but I see politics and societal commentary everywhere from the recent kid movie Zooptopia to blatant political satire of Our Brand is Crisis.

Our Brand is CrisisThis latest movie starring Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock is about a broken political consultant who prefers to work on pottery in a backwoods home. But she is pulled back into the game to help a South American politician win the presidency of his country.

She is not only battling the personality of a politician she doesn’t like but also a competitor helping the other (and perhaps) better candidate. This is the story of a woman battling depression, addiction issues, and altitude sickness to help a candidate she is being paid to help. What she does for her employer is not always pretty and in the end, she has to decide if she can live with her actions.

It is a good solid movie that is not meant for young children with its swearing and violence. Then again, children might be bored with the adult context of the movie.

wag the dogAnother movie that might bore them to pieces is Wag The Dog starring Robert DeNiro as a political operative who needs to create a distraction for his boss, the POTUS, who may or may not have been inappropriate with a girl scout-like group. So he brings in movie producer Dustin Hoffman to create that distraction involving a potential war in Albania.

It is a big boondoggle of a set up that could give a movie producer bragging rights for years or at least a really great story if only he could tell the story. Which he can’t because it is all top secret. Is this scenario possible? I don’t know but sometimes when I watch the latest scandal, in the back of my mind I am always wondering if this is the tail of the story or the real meat of it all.

Again, not a great movie for kids with it’s low key action and some bad words. Even adults who prefer a lot of action will probably be bored by this movie. But I love it for every actor, including musician Willie Nelson, who moved out of their comfort zone to give great performances making fun of a process that needs to be ridiculed.

mr smith does to washingtonFinally, if you have not seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with Jimmy Stewart, perhaps you should. This 1939 Frank Capra is a classic about a politically naive man who is appointed to the Senate and wages a war against corruption. He even runs a filibuster to make sure right is the law of the land and not big money.

For me it is how politicians go to Washington, how they leave depends on the evil they do to others. With great speeches and tremendous acting Stewart and Claude Rains put together a movie that searches for the true meaning of political action that is meant to help the rest of the citizens, not harm them.,

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Oh, Joy

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

The husband really wanted to watch Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence. But it never happened.

Joy posterWhen the movie was in the movie theaters, we never got to see it. When it came out on DVD, it took us months to finally get a copy. Once I had a copy in my hands, we never sat down together to watch the movie. I have since sent it back to the library. And if my husband wasn’t going to watch it with me, I was going to take the time to watch it anyway.

You know what? He would really like this movie.

Joy is about a woman who invents a new kind of mop that you never have to touch to wring out. She designs the item after a lifetime of failed dreams. She doesn’t get to go to college, she marries a man she loves but they cannot live together. After the divorce, they are friends but she is trying to support two kids and her mother on her salary at Eastern Airlines.

Joy creatingIt is during this period of stress and frustration that Joy invents her product. She has taken enough and she is ready to movie forward. That means borrowing money from Dad’s new girlfriend, forking over some control, and having to take action when things get out of control.

While most bio pics take the “based on a true story” a little seriously, this movie takes what it wants to be true and walks away from the rest. Characters are compilation, some events happened or didn’t happen, and the director never shies away from the fact that his movie may or may not be the whole truth. There are quirky bits that feel so strange one wonders if they must be real. Those bits kept me watching.

There there is Jennifer Lawrence who gives a gung-ho performance. Her character is the glue that holds everyone together but she is not there for herself. Strange how strong women always do that. I believed Lawrence as this woman who works through her fears to create more than a mop.

Joy FamilyIts not just Jennifer who is great in this movie. Her supporting cast includes Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd who make scenes crackle and spark. We watch them as strongly as we watch Lawrence. What will they do next? Even though I knew the outcome of this movie, I was rooting for Lawrence’s character to win, to shine on.

When the movie was over, with some interesting shots and some implausible action scenes, I felt great. There were times I felt as if I was watching a mob family and other times that I wondered if some of the characters could change so quickly.

This is not a kid movie although it’s one you can watch with your teenagers despite there being some tiny bits of language. No, this is a movie to watch with friends or the spouse, because we all know a Joy, we all know someone who has an idea that could go far. When the movie is done, you want to talk about it, you want to dissect it down, find out what is true and what is not.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Living the Fantasy

We all need a fantasy sometimes, right?