Only 8 months into a global war that would last 6 years, Britain reached a pivotal point that almost led to the end of the empire. Darkest Hour focuses in on May 1940 as Neville Chamberlain, played by Ronald Pickup, resigns as prime minister and Winston Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, takes over the premiership. While Churchill’s war council is pushing for peace negotiations, he is forced to stand alone for the fight against Hitler. At least, that is how the situation is portrayed in Darkest Hour.
The Founder follows Ray Kroc, played by Michael Keaton, as he transitions from a milk shake maker salesman to ‘founding’ the biggest name in fast food. His duplicitous behavior helped bring him riches beyond his wildest imagination, but at the cost of both business and personal relationships. The director, John Lee Hancock, straddles the benevolent nature of big business by showcasing Kroc’s success through self-fulfilling perseverance and blatant disregard for anyone else. His desire to maintain forward momentum left many behind him in his wake in order for one the best business models to date to flourish. Good, wholesome, intentions overpowered by greed and pride is at the heart of this film. Did Richard and Maurice McDonald lack the follow-through to execute a venture on this magnitude or were they just steamrolled by an ambitious cutthroat?
‘Sometimes it scares me to think where it’s coming from, you know?
there’s someone else inside there, not me.’
I am both a Paul Dano fan and a Beach Boys fan, especially in regards to Pet Sounds. So, I was biased going in to this film from the onset. Part of the reason I enjoyed Love & Mercy so much is the same reason I enjoy “Pet Sounds”, it challenges my thought process on life and forces introspection. This album contributed to my psyche and I feel this film adequately conveyed Wilson’s vision. The opening line of the movie passes by so quickly you might miss it. Paul Dano, as young Brian Wilson, says,
This film is not just a biographical drama, but a psychological roller coaster. Each role is well written and complex, allowing the actors to really dive in and take the viewer along for the ride. We learn to love characters we should hate and learn to hate characters we should love. From the title alone the audience knows where the film is going. As we get to know the difference between Jesse James the man and Jesse James the myth it becomes challenging to root for his survival or demise. At the same time, Casey Affleck’s performance is tremendous and conjures up ambivalence that teeters back and forth until the credits. It is rare that the protagonist in a film is also the antagonist. In addition to that, the cinematography was stunning and vibrant. Although this film seemed to fly under the radar when it was released, perhaps it was just overshadowed by its contemporaries: There Will be Blood and No Country for Old Men. I highly recommend this movie.