A group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they've left the battlefield.
During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.
Kristin Scott Thomas
LBJ centers on the political upheaval that Vice President Johnson faced when he was thrust into the presidency at the hands of an assassin's bullet in November 1963. With political battles on both sides of the aisle, Johnson struggles to heal a nation and secure his presidency by passing Kennedy's historic Civil Rights Act.
Greetings again from the darkness. More than 50 years after his death, President John Kennedy casts an ever-present shadow over Lyndon Baines Johnson's career as a stellar politician and a President with significant accomplishments. Part of the reason is presentation JFK was a story book leader straight from the fashion magazines, while LBJ was a vulgar-at-times comic book adversary who looked and talked funny. Each has been portrayed on film numerous times and from various perspectives.
Woody Harrelson and his facial prosthetics play LBJ, and Mr. Harrelson seems to be enjoying the swagger and emotional range of the titular man. What this film does that's a bit different from others is embrace the comedic elements enhanced by both the performance and the script from Joey Hartstone. It seems odd (a somewhat awkward) to have so many laughs in a movie where the infamous 1963 Presidential motorcade, and subsequent assassination, form the backdrop.
Director Rob Reiner presents LBJ in all his crude and gruff glory, but also shows the ultimate politician a man who was constantly negotiating. Intimidation was always part of the LBJ motif, and the film effectively displays the tactics used by John and Bobby Kennedy (Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Stahl-David) to take the wind out of LBJ's sails after the election.
There are reenactments throughout the film that place us back in the middle of iconic images seared into our memories the motorcade after the shots, the scene at Parkland, and the swearing in aboard Air Force One with Jackie still wearing her blood-stained Chanel suit. This was an incredible time in our history, as the nation was emotionally shattered. It's for this reason that much of the film seems disjointed or misguided. Too much (or maybe not enough) attention is on LBJ's strained relationship with Georgia Senator Richard Russell (Richard Jenkins), one of the most racist men we've seen on screen. Their discussion of race relations while being served dinner by the black woman is beyond uncomfortable yet still somehow too stagey.
Most of the film is spent on LBJ's time as Senator and Vice President, with only the final act being about his famous networking upon ascending to the Presidency after which the entire focus is on the Civil Rights Act. The flow of the film seems a bit off, though most will enjoy watching Harrelson's performance especially when paired with Jennifer Jason Leigh's Lady Bird. Together, the two almost rescue the script.
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