In Mariel Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, Tom Hanks stars as Mr Rogers, a popular figure in American childhoods, someone everyone seems to have grown up with watching his TV show Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood. We’ve never heard of him over here, not unless you watched that documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbour, about him last year.
Here, a grumpy journalist played by Matthew Rhys goes to interview Rogers for Esquire magazine and tries to get behind the mask of smiling goodness and empathy. He doesn’t. Instead, Mr Rogers’ beatific demeanour helps resolve the journalists’ own life issues.
It’s all very gentle and smiley as we watch Hanks put on his red cardie on his hokey childrens’ TV set. But frankly, I couldn’t get involved in all the tweeness, couldn’t give a monkey’s about Matthew Rhys nor his journalism, nor could I find anything to admire in Hanks’ performance, which has earned him an Oscar nomination that really should have gone to someone who needed it more.
Richard Jewell is more Americana, this time from Clint Eastwood, looking at the bombing in Centennial Park Atlanta on the eve of the 1996 Olympic Games, and the eponymous man who alerted the police to the suspect package containing the device.
Because of his profile – he lives with his Mum, has failed several tests for military and police forces, uses firearms – he goes from overnight hero who saved hundreds of lives to FBI suspect, accused of actually planting the bomb to gain attention.
It’s a miscarriage of justice tale, told with Eastwood’s customary, sober plainness and is helped by a florid Sam Rockwell performance as Jewell’s lawyer, while Kathy Bates gets an Oscar nom for playing the Mum. She has one major scene which will look good on the clip reel, but again, I can’t see there weren’t tens of equally good performances in other movies.
Paul Walter Hauser is excellent, however, in the lead, full of sweaty incomprehension as to what’s happening to him, even as he tries to help his “fellow” law enforcement officers. However, the film is badly let down by a ridiculous performance by Olivia Wilde as a local journalist who gets her story by flashing her legs and seducing Jon Hamm’s FBI man. Still, there’s something gripping to watch here.
The Rhythm Section is a dismal film. Blake Lively has never been less so, playing a prostitute turned assassin, being trained by Jude Law by a Loch then going around the world on the trail of a mysterious Arab bomber.
You can see they were going for that Killing Eve vibe, but forgot to have any fun or style with it. The plot leaps are ridiculous and the dialogue risible.