Review: Bombshell—The Hedy Lamarr Story

This is a repost of a review that also appears at Third Coast Review.

Even if you’re not a fan of classic Hollywood cinema (and why the heck aren’t you?), you know the name Hedy Lamarr. According to IMDb, Lamarr has only 35 film credits, but among them are the likes of Boom Town (alongside Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable) and Cecil B. DeMille’s Sampson and Delilah. Though she was never nominated for an Oscar, so iconic was the Austrian-born actress that other starlets working at the time followed her trend-setting ways, copying her hair, her fashion choices, even her ability to generate a headline.

Image courtesy of Music Box Films

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, opening Friday in Chicago, digs into the complicated life, loves and career of the legendary actress, turning up a few surprises along the way. The first feature documentary from Emmy-winning filmmaker Alexandra Dean, the film started as a passion project when Dean was in search of female inventors to profile and coming up short.

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Free Fire cast photo

Review: Free Fire

For all the obscure festival releases and challenging documentaries I see, all the high-brow foreign dramas and such, you’d be forgiven for thinking that most of what I watch is, well, not that fun. Or at least, not the kind of fun one is usually looking for on a night out at the cinema.

Friends, I’m here to tell you that not only do I see those other films, the ones made for the spectacle and popcorn, but you know what? I enjoy the hell out of them. I took myself to see Guardians of the Galaxy a couple years ago. I voluntarily made my way through seven Star Wars films, and now I get what the fuss is all about. What I’m saying is, sometimes you just need a fun time at the movies.

Free Fire is that fun. Ben Wheatley’s latest (High Rise), set in the 1970s, is an arms deal that quickly goes bad and the resulting 90-minute shoot-out, as both sides try to make it out alive. Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Sam Riley lead an ensemble cast of smart-asses and dip-shits who infuse a brutal gunfight with humor and, believe it or not, a bit of sympathy.

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Watch This: Get Out

Last month, Film Twitter went all a-twitter when it was revealed that this year’s Sundance Film Festival secret screening was comedian Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out (he also wrote the original screenplay). Early buzz was effusive, a promising reception after a work-in-progress Keanu, which he co-wrote, failed to blow audiences away at SXSW last year.

The team at Universal was smart to launch the film, the story of a young black photographer whose weekend visit to meet his white girlfriend’s family goes terribly wrong, at the January festival in advance of a February theatrical release. In doing so, they’ve carved out a fairly rare slice of positive momentum in an otherwise barren release slate, and when so many audiences are distracted by finishing up their Oscars viewing.

The crafty release strategy is helped, of course, by the fact that Get Out is a really, really great film. Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario) stars as Chris Washington, an unassuming photographer living in the city and dating girl-next-door Rose Armitage (Allison Williams in what I hear is her first film role, though given all that Girls exposure, you know who she is). The movie, a tightly-scripted hour and forty minutes of social commentary wrapped up in of-the-moment sensibility, opens as Rose and Chris are heading out to visit her parents at their secluded country estate. The two have a comfortable rapport, a young couple newly in love; they know each other’s friends, for example, but until he asks her directly, Chris isn’t sure if Rose’s parents know she’s bringing a black guy home.

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