Tag Archives: Matthew Rhys

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD (2019) – My rating: 8/10


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a drama directed by Marielle Heller and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, inspired by the 1998 article “Can You Say … Hero?” by Tom Junod, published in Esquire.
The movie focuses on the relationship between Fred Rogers and Tom Junod.  I’m so glad I decided to see this movie — it’s better than you think!

 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood focuses on journalist, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) whose life is anything but perfect. It’s 1998 and Lloyd is married to Andrea Vogel (Susan Kelchi-Watson), a public attorney and new mother. The two are struggling to maintain their marriage, mostly because of Lloyd’s cynical and pessimistic attitude. While he’s still employed by Esquire magazine, he’s on the verge of being let go of because he never has anything good to say about the people he’s written about. He’s given a new assignment and maybe his last, to interview and write about Fred Rogers of the acclaimed children’s show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. The article has to be 400 words and categorized as a piece about heroes. Mr. Rogers was the only person who would allow Lloyd to interview him, which of course put Lloyd in his usual pessimistic state of mind.

You may believe Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was just a corny children’s show, but it taught some valuable lessons that were more than helpful to an impressionable child as well as an uninformed adult. Lloyd was estranged from his father who cheated on his mother before leaving her as she was dying of cancer. He also left his underaged children who went into foster care. When his father Jerry Vogel (Chris Cooper), showed up at Lloyd’s sister’s (Lorraine (Tammy Blanchard) wedding with the girlfriend he cheated on his wife with, (Dorothy (Wendy Makkeva) they get into a fistfight after an exchange of unpleasantries. Broken and angry, Lloyd travels to the WQED studio in Pittsburgh to interview Fred Rogers. Lloyd couldn’t and wouldn’t believe that Fred was legitimate. He told his wife Andrea, he had met the nicest man in the universe or the best con.

Upon meeting Fred, Lloyd discovered that Fred Rogers cared more about the interviewer than being interviewed. Fred worked with troubled children and their families to help them cope with depression, tragedy and death. He loved to take on dysfunctional families in order to teach them that there’s a better way to live. While many of the events in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood were true, like Fred’s friendship with Lloyd, whose real name is Tom Junod, whom Fred taught to appreciate himself and Mr. Roger’s use of puppets and his studio set up to attract a younger audience in order to make a better presentation.

I didn’t think I would enjoy A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood but I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t like the made-up parts of the story like the fact Tom Junod’s name was changed to Lloyd Vogel, I can’t figure why or the made-up wedding of Lloyd’s sister that never happened. The acting and the story were entertaining and since A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on a true story about Fred Roger’s and his relationship with Lloyd Vogel, I must say this film stayed focused on the prize. I highly recommend A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood to all, which grossed $61 million in the United States and Canada, and $1.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $62.2 million, against a production budget of $25 million. The aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 95%, based on 277 reviews, with an average rating of 8.18/10. The website’s critical consensus reads: “Much like the beloved TV personality that inspired it, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood offers a powerfully affecting message about acceptance and understanding.” Lloyd’s 10,000-word article, titled “Can You Say … Hero?”, is published as Esquire’s cover story. Check It Out!

[A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD is Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hanks) — Totaling 1 Oscar nomination]

 

THE POST (2017) – My rating: 9/10

The Post is a political thriller directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. Set in the early 1970s, The Post depicts the true story of the journalists from The Washington Post and their attempts to publish and expose the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding undisclosed information about the involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War. It was a very long war with no real theme which cost us a great many men. We the people have always wanted to know why. Still unsure of the logic behind this senseless war, only one thing is certain…

In 1965 , State Dept. military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) accompanies U.S. troops in combat to document progress of U.S. military activities in the Vietnam region for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). On the return flight, McNamara expresses to Ellsberg and President Lyndon Johnson his view that the war in Vietnam is hopeless. Years later, now working for a civilian military contractor, Ellsberg surreptitiously photocopies classified reports documenting the progress of the ongoing Vietnam War, dating back to the Truman administration. He leaks these documents, which detail more than 20 years of clandestine U.S. activities and frank admissions that the war has been going poorly, to reporters at The New York Times.

Heiress Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), who succeeded her father as owner of the Washington Post, and whose husband committed suicide, is conflicted over preparations for the newspaper’s IPO, a move she recognizes as important to strengthening the paper, but fears losing family control. She lacks confidence in her ability as a woman to lead the organization, frequently “overruled” by more assertive men who advise or work for her, such as editor in chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and board member Arthur Parsons (Bradley Whitford).

Bradlee notices Times’ investigative reporter Neil Sheehan’s lack of publication, as of late and concludes he’s on to something big. Bradlee tries to find out what it is but does not. Meanwhile, McNamara, who is Katherine’s long term friend, confides in her that he is about to be the subject of unflattering coverage by the New York Times that will include long term public deception. However, the series is halted by a count injunction.

Washington Post assistant editor Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) tracks down Ellsberg as the source for the leak, who provides Bagdikian with copies of the same material given to the Times. A small team of Post reporters sort through the disorganized papers, trying to piece together parts of the larger story. The Post’s lawyers become aware of the project and advise against publishing the material, lest the Nixon administration bring criminal charges against them.

Graham fields the input and advice of the men around her, including McNamara, Bradlee, and trusted Post chairman Fritz Beebe (Tracy Letts), agonizing over the decision of whether to publish. If the legal fallout goes badly, she could destroy the newspaper she sees as a family legacy, but if they are successful, it could instead establish it as an important journalistic institution. She chooses to run the story.

The results of this story is well known but I decided not to post any more of the story for those who don’t know. At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, the film received six nominations: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actress – Drama for Streep, Best Actor – Drama for Hanks, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score. The Post is an intense film and is well acted.

[THE POST received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and Best Actress (Meryl Streep)]