*Movie Recap: Marriage Story and The Report

MARRIAGE STORY  (2019, Streaming on Netflix)

Marriage Story.

Noah Baumbach is known for making captivating, charming, ambitious, and complex films. Marriage Story is another achievement for this brilliant director. I think of this movie as a divorce love story. A movie that deals with the disintegration of marriage — the undoing of a family and the perils of the legal aspects of divorce. Adam Driver plays Charlie a New York theatre company director struggling to balance his work life in NYC and the separation from his wife Nicole, (Scarlet Johansson), who has moved back to California to continue to pursue her acting career. Charlie commutes to the west coast to spend time with his son and wife as often as possible. Both Charlie and Nicole had initially agreed not to involve lawyers in their separation. Still, Nicole decides to move forward by hiring a divorce lawyer and serve Charlie divorce papers, and the custody battle for their son Henry ensues. Laura Dern plays Nora, Nicole’s divorce attorney, Laura Dern’s performance steals the movie. Ray Liotta is hilarious as a high power divorce attorney representing Charlie.

You can’t ignore the parallels of this movie and Baumbach’s personal life and his divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh. The acting here is some of the best movie acting in all 2019. At the end of the movie, I could not help but feel invested and caring for these people and root for them to make things work. 

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags. 🍿🍿🍿

THE REPORT (2019, Streaming on Prime)

The Report.

The Report is a political thriller in the spirit of “All the President’s Men,” or “Syriana,” and even Spielberg’s “The Post.” It feels like some of those investigative true story political dramas made or set in the 70s. However, this movie is based on current events that are still pretty much relevant today. The coverup and the public relations propaganda regarding “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the misinformation of its results and ineffectiveness fed to the public are at the center of this film. Adam Driver delivers another outstanding performance playing Daniel Jones, a senate staffer working for Senator Dianne Feinstein, played by Annette Being, who delivers an excellent and award-worthy performance. Jones is tasked with leading an investigation into the CIA torture practices after 9/11 and deliver his findings in a report to the senate committee on intelligence. We, the audience, get to follow Daniel Jones on an atmospheric and claustrophobic investigation as he uncovers truth after truth, which took him seven years to piece together. 

HBO was supposed to make this movie, but for some reason, they decided against it. Remarkably, It was made in 26 days for a fraction of the original budget. Director Scott Z. Burns has made a very significant movie here, and in a way, a history lesson that should not be forgotten. Vice (2018) attempted to achieve something similar, but this movie goes deeper into the ineffectiveness of the CIA torture practices. I don’t feel that anyone is painted as a real villain in this movie, every character seems to believe that their cause is righteous, and acting according to what they presume is in the best interest to national security. Of course, we now have the benefit of looking back on those years and realizing that wasn’t the case. Movies like The Report and Vice keep those events from fading away into the abyss of memory.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags. 🍿🍿🍿

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