Bombshell — a film review by Gary Chew
I just finished a review on A Hidden Life. Turning now to this picture, also opening for our string of holidays, could be more of stretch than I ought maybe take. But the reviewing must go on as long as the shows must, whether on a big screen or small. I got to see Bombshell on a great big one, coupled with so much audio my ears still ache.
How does one begin to write anything about a deserving hit job on a fake news organization that can be seen on cable television so easily and by so many for so long? Well, start with: “Wow, it’s about time!” or “What took them so long?” or, “Congratulations for a job done well!” … then follow with: “Such a rhetorical flogging might be a work of art” … if the topic doesn’t tend to spoil the creation. Oh yeah, this Bombshell blows art right out of the water.
In so many ways, it’s really an ugly movie, except for the women in the cast. You got Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie. Charlize is Megyn Kelly. Nicole is Gretchen Carlson. And Margot is someone who doesn’t exist … named Kayla. She’s the composite character in the script. Turns out, Kayla is a mix of a few women who probably did or still do work at Fox News. Margot’s role makes her into a newbie, naïve, sort of evangelical young woman who’s all entranced with the BS going on in Roger Ailes fake newsroom, or as the pundits refer to as, Trump’s Newsroom. Even that hot, smarty-pants and really good comic actor on SNL known as Kate McKinnon plays back up for the three ladies at the top of the bill.
The whole schmear on this poisoned bagel is atop Roger Ailes’ plate. Oh, did I mention that Roger gets done, so to speak, by the fabulous John Lithgow? It will be hard to like Lithgow in his next picture as one will be impelled to wipe away how well he plays Ailes in this movie directed by Jay Randolph. Jay produced HBO’s Game Change with Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, Bombshell‘s script is by one Charles Randolph. Chuck wrote that delicious drive-by on the American stock market. How can anyone forget The Big Short?
If Roger Ailes could have been faithful to his wife, there wouldn’t have been all this hoop-la that began rubbing off on so many of the alt-right pundits who anchored Fox fake news programs. Ah yes, once there was a Bill O’Reilly. Oh really! (“Was” is the operative word.) A fleeting glance at an actor who might be considered an imposter plays Maestro O’Reilly, although any sign of Sean, er, uh, what’s his name goes largely unseen in any form except as a Fox News wall poster. Shep Smith is seen for real. He recently bid Fox an adieu on his own volition. He’s always shown having a sense of what news is.
I’ve digressed. What’s mostly on the anchor desk, or table in this movie is the tension between Meg and Gretch. Meg hangs on, Gretch gets the ax, but both make big trouble for Roger-the-Lodger; then toward the end of the film: Rupert Murdoch! And would you believe who plays Rupert: that Alex guy who loved Beethoven, thanks to Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick. Come on down, you’re totally correct: Malcolm MacDowell; he looking somewhat older, of course, but frazzled as we most like to think Media Mad Man Murdoch ought be. Slight but humorous nervous moments are allowed when it becomes clear that McKinnon’s character “likes girls” and spots Kayla as prey … uh, but naturally, in a very nice way. Nothing specific here. So, I’m guessing the fellows making this movie wanted it as a sliding side show of short duration. A composite character cannot be accurately accused of anything, really, even if the target is a fake news organization.
I wonder if Fox News Channel will interview any of the leads in the film on “Fox and Friends” … or maybe get Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage to review Bombshell. (Sorry, no laughing allowed.)