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BRYAN CRANSTON IN TRUMBO

year: 2015 cast: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Louis CK, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Dean O'Gorman
During the first thirty minutes, it seems like Bryan Cranston's Dalton Trumbo utters the same exact lines; not a broken record, but a scratched one. Moving ahead, the best scenes occur in the middle as the Blacklisted scriptwriter keeps working in secret, using fake names or other people to take the credit while he gets a cut of the action, and surreptitiously wins Academy Awards. A closer, more suspenseful and pointed glimpse into that brilliant scheme during the 1950's, and less attention on making John Wayne look like a complete jerk or Helen Mirren's caricature villain, and there would actually be a story about people rather than a forced agenda involving human cliches.

Bryan Cranston
Cranston's acting is pretty good but seems like a performance. Playing a real life icon instead of creating your own character probably isn't as easy. Louis CK sleepwalks through his "doomed buddy" role and, while a good comedian, he's completely out of place with big leaguers while John Goodman's usual bombastic personality hinders his overall importance that could have been delved into further: a small-time producer who hired Trumbo to write bad b-movies, which are probably more beloved now than the overrated SPARTACUS, finally giving Trumbo actual credit and destroying the Blacklist.

The closing speech at the end, taking place in 1970 with his problems a decade behind, is heartfelt and well-delivered by the BREAKING BAD actor. But there's little difference in cadence and style than how Trumbo converses during the rest of the movie, which is, in itself, pretty much a collection of speeches and lectures: whether to colleagues, enemies, or family (the communist sandwich comparison to his daughter is downright embarrassing). And for a movie about a man who wrote such great dialogue, there should have been more interactive wordplay than just a lot of preaching to the choir: with the same old tune.

RATING: **1/2
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