Max Casella as Stanley Kubrick? It works?

Kevin Kline was born to play Errol Flynn, at some point. So he does, in “The Last of Robin Hood” (Aug. 29). Aged swashbuckler, pencil thin mustache, he’s well-cast as the seducer of underage women. But who would have realized how much former child star and sometime “Boardwalk Empire” player Max Casella looks like Stanley Kubrick, back when he wanted Flynn to star in “Lolita”? He looks right (has Kubrick’s penchant for looking down, eyes aimed up at the camera, much as he had his actors do) and is spot-on in the role.

It took entirely too long for somebody to use the well-preserved Kline as Flynn (he’s 67, now, much older than Errol was when he died). Somebody should find something more substantial to do with Casella as Stanley K. He has the look, the voice, the chops.

Casella1kubrick

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Movie Review: Bring on the funk with “Get On Up”

getup“Get on Up” is a movie of uncompromising soul, unadulterated funk and
unalloyed joy.

Dazzling, witty and emotional, this warts-and-all musical biography of James
Brown rides on the able shoulders of Chadwick Boseman. It turns out that his
terrific if saintly spin on Jackie Robinson in “42” was just a warm up act.

On first glance, Boseman suggests little of the pugnacious fireplug
“Godfather of Soul.” He’s too tall. He’s better looking. But Boseman juts his
jaw into a fearsome underbite and utterly masters the spins, splits and sweaty
stagecraft of Brown. He becomes, for two hours, “The Hardest Working Man in Show
Business.”

The director of “The Help” and screenwriters with “Edge of Tomorrow”
experience deliver a film both reverential and self-aware. Boseman, as Brown,
turns to the camera, sometimes narrating Brown’s business or music ethos in that
Third Person way of his, sometimes winking, sometimes leery-eyed with mistrust.
Every now and then, he turns to the camera in pain, and other moments betray
guilt, a “Yeah, I know I’m misusing my band” or “abusing my wife.”

The thrill of Boseman’s performance is that he never lets this damaged, very
human soul, lose our interest of empathy. The guts of the performance are
contained in his recreation of Brown’s hoarse, Southern-fried slur of a speaking
voice. It’s so thick you can’t make out everything he says or sings. But that is
exactly the way Brown was. And we still understand him and feel his pain.

Tate Taylor’s film frames Brown’s life within the day, in 1988, in which he
hit bottom. Stoned, barely coherent and armed, he terrorizes a group of white
folks renting a Georgia meeting room owned by James Brown Enterprises. He went
to prison for that, but it’s a hilarious mishap played for farce here, and it
works.

In a positively giddy first few minutes, we get a handle on the film’s flip
back and forth through his story format, beginning with an airplane ride, with
the band, into a combat zone in 1968 Vietnam. The band (Nelsan Ellis of HBO’s
“True Blood,” and Craig Robinson are in it) are quaking in fear. James Brown
doesn’t fear death, or the Viet Cong.

“They try to KILL James Brown today!”

After the life he’s led, the trials he’s faced, a little flak hitting his
plane on a USO tour was nothing. “Get On Up” proceeds to show us those trials,
the abusive father, the adoring mother (Viola Davis) who abandoned him, the
racist Georgia culture he grew up in. Chapters — “1949, Music Box,” “1964, The
Famous Flames” — capture singular moments in his story.

He calmed Boston (among other cities) by performing just after Martin Luther
King Jr.’s 1968 assassination. He insisted that everyone call him “Mr. Brown,”
and most did, long before “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” became an
anthem. He demanded respect and outfoxed an ingrained, corrupt and racist music
business run by men he called “White Devils,” by promoting his own shows,
financing his own breakthrough LP (1963’s “Live at the Apollo”).

James Brown fan Dan Aykroyd must have been in hog heaven, playing Brown’s
compliant manager, Ben “Pops” Bart. Davis is stunning in just a few scenes,
playing a mother who was both victim and victimizer, both sexual (Lennie James
is perfectly scary as her husband) and nurturing, abused and co-dependent. Ellis
is wonderfully sympathetic as Bobby Byrd, the long-suffering singer, onstage
foil and right arm to Brown for decades. “Mr. Brown” would fine his band and
other subordinates for all manner of violations of his codes of professionalism,
which gets under the skin of pros like Maceo Parker (Robinson).

Jill Scott is plus-sized sexy as DeeDee, the wife he seduced from stage
(while already married), then married and abused during their long lives
together.

But “Get On Up” is Boseman’s tour de force. He’s perfect in concert scenes,
where his mastery of Brown-the-performer is spot on (he lip syncs), hilariously
playful as he convinces his then-new group, The Famous Flames, to leap onstage
and take over the instruments that Little Richard (Brandon Smith, electrifying
in his own right) and his band have left there on a break between sets.

Taylor uses time-lapse photography to capture the passing years, skipping
between the 40s, when young James was raised by Aunt Honey (Oscar winner Octavia
Spencer) in a brothel, to the ’70s, when Brown rode out disco to become the
“Godfather of Soul.”

Artistically, “Get on Up” rivals “Walk the Line,” with a lead performance on
a par with the career-making turns of Angela Bassett (“What’s Love Got to Do
With It?”) and Jamie Foxx (“Ray”). With this wonder of the summer, Boseman and
Taylor deliver a piece of American cultural history every bit as important as
the Jackie Robinson story, a story told with heart, humor, funk and soul.

3half-star

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and
violent situations

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, Nelsan
Ellis, Dan Aykroyd

Credits: Written and directed by Tate Taylor, written by Jez Butterworth,
John Henry Butterworth and Steven Baigelman. A Universal release.

Running time: 2:17

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Movie Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

prattLaugh-out-loud funny and production-designed to death, “Guardians of the Galaxy” pops off the screen, the last but far from the least of the summer of 2014’s popcorn pictures.
A willing cast playing stupid-cool characters, video-game friendly action beats, ROFL gags and a touch of heart make this franchise-opener a rare pleasant surprise in a summer that has sorely lacked them.
In 1988, a little boy sits, lost in his Sony Walkman’s mix tape, as his mother dies in a hospital. He weeps, flees into the parking lot and is promptly abducted by aliens.
Decades later, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt of “Delivery Man” and “Parks and Recreation”) is a “junker,” tracking down this orb thing for The Broker. He’s still listening to that Sony Walkman and its ’70s hits mix tape.
But Peter, who wants everyone to call him “Star Lord,” runs afoul of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who wants the orb so he can wipe out an enemy. Peter is pursued by Ronan’s relatives — Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) — and Ronan’s minions, led by Korath (Djimon Hounsou).
He’s already being hunted by his blue-faced redneck boss, Yondu (Michael Rooker, spot on).
But the ones who catch him are the space police of the Nova Empire, ruled by Nova Prime (Glenn Close), policed by Dey (John C. Reilly).
Quill finds himself incarcerated with Gamora, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a science experiment that looks suspiciously like a raccoon, and Rocket’s towering tree-root sidekick, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). To get away, they enlist the hefty, single-minded avenger Dax, whose dimwitted dialogue is a form of poetry. Just don’t call him “thesaurus.” That goes right over his head.
“NOTHING goes over my head,” Dax (wrestler Dave Bautista, hilarious) declares. “My reflexes are too fast!”
Feisty Gamora tries to resist Peters’s “pelvic sorcery.”
The raccoon flips out if you call him “vermin” or “a rodent” because in this universe, “ain’t no thing like me EXCEPT me.”
And Quill spends WAY too much time explaining his taste in music — Blue Swede, 10cc, Mickey Thomas and Elvin Bishop — and his still-Earthbound slang, gestures and pop culture wisecracks.
“I come from a planet of outlaws…Billy the Kid, Bonnie & Clyde, John Stamos.”
They have to bust out of prison to get the orb to a safe place before Ronan gets it. And yes, the raccoon is the brains of the outfit.
The script provides a laugh a minute, thanks to the wisecracks, dated music and great running gags. Groot, for instance, has just one sentence at his command.
“I am Groot!”
It has a different emphasis and meaning every time he utters it. No, you can’t tell he’s Vin Diesel, but Bradley Cooper, liberated of his pretty boy body, cuts loose as the voice of Rocket, an old school wise guy trapped in a raccoon’s fur.
Everything about this, from the gadgets to the glorious makeup and digitally created characters — a cornucopia of aliens — to a dazzling space pod chase and space battles, is just as cool as you’d hope a summer sci-fi action comedy to be.
But stupid? Oh yeah. And pandering? My stars and garters!
Whatever the original “Guardians” were — the Marvel universe comic book series dates from the late ’60s — its 2008 comic reboot and the film incarnation have been tailored for the fanboy and fangirl universe. The Western style lovable-rogues-in-space-theme rips off of everything from “Star Wars” to “Firefly,” with a healthy dose of the gone-but-not-quite-forgotten “Ice Pirates.”
If fanboydom has a reason to exist, it’s to rescue discredited and dismissed pop culture and give it the imprimatur of “classic.” Thus, the cute but goopy ’70s pop soundtrack.
The characters, to a one, are variations on ideas born elsewhere — Groot as a cross between Treebeard (“Lord of the Rings”) and Chewbacca, for instance. There’s no point in starting your sci-fi franchise without fanboy pinup Saldana in the cast. If the role calls for a lot of makeup, tight costumes and high-kicking beat-downs, Zoe’s our lady.
And Pratt utterly commits to the part — singing and dancing and fearless about looking foolish. He wears the “Firefly” by way of Han Solo macho space leather well. He will never be the New Harrison Ford, he may become The New Nathan Fillion. As it stands now, he’s more The New Robert “Ice Pirates” Urich.
They’re going to make more “Guardians,” which is both good news and bad news. Director/co-writer James “Super” Gunn won’t have the novelty of introducing us to this universe and these weirdos again. And since that’s pretty much the whole joke here, how will he get a curtain call out of them?
3stars2
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, John C. Reilly, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, Dave Bautista, Benicio Del Toro
Credits: Directed by James Gunn, scripted by Nicole Perlman and James Gunn. A Disney/Marvel Studios release.
Running time: 2:01

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Movie Review: “Calvary”

callWill Father Lavelle die for our sins?
That’s the only question that matters in “Calvary,” the latest parable of Irish faith and the violent foibles of humanity from Irish playwright and filmmaker John Michael McDonagh.
He’s cast his muse, Brendan Gleeson as the priest in an Irish coastal village, a “good man” whom the locals treat with varying degrees of disbelief and comical contempt. He knows the sins of one and all, from the confessional. But they know the sins of the Catholic priesthood, as at least one unseen confessor lets him know.
This fellow was molested as a choir boy, and not by Father Lavelle. He’s going to kill the Good Father next Sunday, because “there’s no point in killing a BAD priest.” No one will remember that.
“Make your peace with God,” Lavelle is warned.
But the priest shows just how good he actually is, maintaining his calm, keeping his search for legal/moral loopholes in “the inviobility of a confessional” to himself.
The Father is a man of his flock, sympathetic to “the mess people make of their lives” even though they insult him at the pub, where he has a nip, or on the street when he encounters them.
There’s the laughing, sneering wanton woman (Orla O’Rourke) who cheats and cheats, and whose husband (Chris O’Dowd of “Bridesmaids”) beats her, the insufferable rich drunk (Dylan Moran) who looks down on the priest even as he drinks to forget his guilty financial misbehavior.
M. Emmett Walsh is the retiring American writer and man most accepting of the priest. And Kelly Reilly is Father Lavelle’s troubled-adult daughter, who reminds us the best priests are often men who found the calling after lives that included a different career, a wife and children.
“Not everyone can carry the weight of the world,” we’re reminded, but McDonagh is able to suggest that some people can, just by putting the Great Gleeson in an old-fashioned cassock. Gleeson is so subtle that rare is the moment when we see any fear, disappointment or exhaustion during this pious man’s week of “trials” by those in his flock.
There’s wit to the insults, which Father Lavelle both receives and delivers, since there’s a daft young assistant priest (David Wilmot) that the older, wiser man has no patience for.
And there’s a ticking clock, the days winding down to the priest’s appointment with his would-be executioner.
“Calvary” is a compact and biting tale of a righteous man being tested by his faith, his peers and his predicament. And Gleeson, paired up, in scene after scene, with wonderful co-stars (look for his moment with his son Domhnall Gleeson of “About Time”), proves once again that there are no writers for the screen like the Irish brothers John Michael and Martin “In ‘Bruges” McDonagh, and no muse for them both like the redheaded marvel that is Brendan Gleeson.

3half-star
MPAA Rating: R for sexual references, language, brief strong violence and some drug use
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly
Credits: Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh . A Fox Searchlight release.
Running time: 1:40

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New Trailer, “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” wraps it all up

 

Peter Jackson seemed to regain his furry footing with the second “Hobbit” movie. This trailer to the holiday release finale of this artificial trilogy (one book is all it took, two movies would have sufficed) suggests he’ll end his days in Middle Earth in fitting fashion.

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Movie Review: A dead zone where the star is supposed to be kills “Behaving Badly”

badlyBuilding a raunchy teen sex comedy around the low-heat Nat Wolff of “Stuck in Love” wasn’t the smartest idea. Whatever his gifts at playing “sensitive,” he doesn’t bring the energy to do a quick and dirty teen-on-the-make farce. All by himself, he drags “Behaving Badly” down.
A lot of pretty funny people saw something funny in this script, based on the Ric Browde novel “While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog.” But surrounding Wolff with Mary-Louise Parker and Elisabeth Shue (in two roles, each), Selena Gomez, Jason Lee, Dylan McDermott, Gary Busey, Heather Graham and Patrick Warburton doesn’t help. Enough.
Wolff plays Rick Stevens, a bored and boring 17 year-old who narrates the tale, in flashback, explaining how his alcoholic mom (Parker) wound up leaving a suicide note (“While I’m dead…feed the dog.”), how his best friend (Lachlan Buchanan) and best girl (Selena Gomez) ended up in jail, and how his no-good father (Cary Elwes) was mistaken for the head of the Lithuanian mob.
Rick wanted to impress his sheltered and square object of desire, Nina (Gomez) by scoring backstage passes to a Josh Groban show. His best friend’s mom (Shue) then went all cougar/MILF/Mrs. Robinson on him. Rick ran errands for the strip club sleaze, Jimmy (McDermott), which put him in close proximity with ladies with love for sale. Jason Lee, his too-hip priest with a tan-from-a-can glow, offered no comfort, nor did Warburton’s smart-mouthed pervert of a high school principal.
At home, Rick’s drunken mother (Parker) has crawled into a vodka bottle over a failed marriage, his sister is a stripper with designs on attending Stanford and his confused love life has Rick seeing visions of Saint Lola (Parker, again, all cleavage and sparkly short shorts), the “patron saint of teenagers,” there to advise him on sex and drugs and the like.
Irreverent? Quite. Broad? Incredibly so.
But there are snickers in that supporting cast. Parker plays a great drunk, Shue flings herself into trampiness, Graham, playing another in a long line of loose women, vamps up a sexy lawyer high on Ecstasy. Buchanan, playing Billy, the confused and wimpy best friend, makes the most of the funniest lines.
“This totally reminds me of this German porno I downloaded!”
Random, improvised gags work — Shue, creepily giving Nina an unrequested French braid in the background of a scene, Warburton’s principal mouthing the threat “You wanna GO?” to Rick after another Latin teacher passes away mid-conjugation. Yeah, dead language, dead teacher, we get it.
Justin Bieber does a perp-walk cameo in the jailhouse, but that, like too much of what’s on the screen, just falls flat.
First-time director/co-writer Tim Garrick has little sense of timing and the movie mainly just lies there, never percolating to life, never living down to its lowdown and lewd promise. If Garrick had any say in his leading man, that’s his real failure here. He needed somebody up to playing a 2014 Ferris Bueller. Lacking the charm, bad boy naughtiness or wicked wit necessary to pull that off, Wolff just isn’t that guy.

 1half-star
MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content and language throughout, some graphic nudity, and drug material
Cast: Nat Wolff, Elisabeth Shue, Selena Gomez, Mary-Louise Parker, Dylan McDermott, Jason Lee, Lachlan Buchanan
Credits: Directed by Tim Garrick, screenplay by Tim Garrick Scott Russell, based on a book by Ric Browde. A Vertical Entertainment release.
Running time: 1:38

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“Mad Max: Fury Road” — it’s the same movie, only without Mel Gibson

Yeah, it looks slick and cool and all that. Tom Hardy’s bigger and tougher looking than Mel Gibson. But seriously, is there anything here that wasn’t in the original version of the movie, aired on TV ad nauseum these past 30 years?

Prettier women survive this apocalypse. The sunsets are more spectacular. But it’s fitting that this trailer debuted at ComicCon. The reboot/recycle/repurpose brand name franchises that meet that crowd’s approval is driving a chunk of the audience away, as evidenced by this summer’s franchise fatigue.

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Scar-Jo clobbers The Rock, “Lucy” rocks box office

boxSaturday made it close to official. Luc Besson’s Scarlett Johansson sci-fi action pic “Lucy” will hit $44 million on its opening weekend, officially making a bankable star out of Scar-Jo, Avenger, hip indie film queen, now bodacious babe of the box office.

Brett Ratner’s “Hercules” did not bomb  — $29 million is a pretty soft opening for a swords and (no real) sorcery epic. It’ll do OK  here and abroad.

“The Fluffy Movie” opened reasonably wide, but the slow-footed thin comedy of Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias didn’t do that well — very weak per-screen opening. Yes, all the reviews praise him for being “genial” and “more a story teller than a comic.” We were just being nice. Yawn.

Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” looks to have a whopping $22,000 average per screen on its 17 theaters. Bad movie, but Woody’s NYC/LA audience is showing up.

“Boyhood” and “A Most Wanted Man” did very well in the per screen averages, too. “Boyhood” is now on over 100 screens, and opens even wider next weekend.

 

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Movie Review: T-Rex bones are fought over in “Dinosaur 13″

trex“Sue” was and is the most complete T-Rex skeleton in existence, a
paleontological find of such importance and with such far-ranging consequences
that she changed science and American legal precedent, and not just the lives of
those who stumbled across this “find of the (last) century.”

Sue was the thirteenth Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever discovered, and was
found by amateur fossil hunter Susan Hendrickson, thus her name and the title of
the new documentary, “Dinosaur 13.” Todd Douglas Miller’s film is a tale of
plucky, underdog success, “the stuff that dreams are made of,” undercut by murky
land boundaries, double-dealing and an absurdly heavy-handed Federal justice
system.

Peter L. Larson and Neal L. Larson are professional commercial fossil hunters
who, with their employee Hendrickson, discovered and extracted Sue from the
Badlands of South Dakota. With their Black Hills Institute, they had hopes of
making her the centerpiece of a small town museum that they’d fill with the
fossils that they’d collected over their decades in the business — the ones
they hadn’t sold, anyway.

Then the Native American owner of the land where they found Sue and paid
$5,000 to haul away, the Federal government, which actually held the deed to the
land in trust, and a Federal prosecutor nixed all that. The skeleton was seized
and the Feds started looking into an “antiquities” business that sits outside
of academic respectability for possible law violations.

Miller lets the Larsons, their partner Bob Farrar, journalist-writer (and
Peter Larson’s wife) Kristin Donnan, academics, IRS officials, U.S. Park Service
experts and others tell this complex tale of tribal land ownership and
prosecutorial reprisals that tied up Sue in courts for years after her 1990
uncovering near Hill City, South Dakota.

Did Sue belong to the Larsons and their Black Hills Institute and museum, to
the Federal government, which believed she might fall under the Federal
Antiquities Act, or to landowner Maurice Williams, who wanted to auction the
skeleton off to the highest bidder?

Miller’s strikingly photographed film, using the Larsons’ home video, old
news footage of the celebrated case and fresh interviews with such eyewitnesses
as National Geographic photographer and later Oscar winning documentary
filmmaker Louis Psihoyos (“The Cove”) to tell a story of small town Western
folks wronged by Big Government, Big Money and a Native American villain who, in
an earlier and less politically-correct age, would have been referred to by a
phrase that ends with “Giver.” Williams is one of a couple of bad guys in this
documentary, whose point of view mirrors that of the chanting school kids who
protested the scores of Federal agents and National Guardsmen (providing
transport) yelling “Save Sue, shame on You!” as the collection was crated up and
removed from Hill City.

But there are moments when you wonder if this CNN-produced documentary is
telling the whole story, if there was cherry picking in points of view chosen.
Referring to the prosecutor as “controversial,” a loaded word that means
nothing, or the judge as bent out of shape by leaks that supposedly revealed how
flimsy the government’s case was, demands more proof, or explanation. And while
there is brief discussion of the conflict between academic-credentialed and
institutionally-backed paleontologists and commercial fossil hunters, however
well-trained and well-intentioned, that begs for deeper exploration.

What’s on the screen is pretty damning, from the moment the Feds swoop in, to
the finale, which smacks of the heavy tread of big money museums and their big
money backers. This much is certain, after “Dinosaur 13,” commercial fossil
finders and sellers aren’t the only ones who get to place a value on what they
dig up. And landowners who allow digging on their land will join the ranks of
those who see dollar signs in those sun-bleached bones half-buried in the buttes
of the American West.
3stars2

MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements, language and brief smoking

Cast: Peter L. Larson, Neal L. Larson, Susan Hendrickson, Kristin Donnan, Bob
Farrar

Credits: Directed by Todd Douglas Miller, based on the book “Rex Appeal: The
Amazing Story of Sue the Dinosaur that Changed Science, the Law and My Life.” A
Lionsgate/CNN Films release.

Running time: 1

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Movie Review: American medicine is in “Code Black” in new documentary

codeblack

 
“Code Black” opens in chaos, settles into systemic calm and ends with young doctors struggling against “the failure of the system” to get back some of that chaos.
But this isn’t this year’s new variation on TV’s “young doctors, under stress and in love.” It’s a documentary film filled with adrenalin junkies, idealistic Type A personalities, over-achievers. They’re residents at L.A. County Hospital’s “legendary” emergency room, capturing the urgency and immediacy of this last line of defense against sudden death.
Dr. Ryan McGarry, who directed this, was one of them while making this film, a doctor put through the wringer of working in the emergency room that basically invented the concept of “emergency room.” His over-ambitious, short and sweet film wanders over much of the malfunctioning medical landscape in message. Heroic doctors (nurses are somewhat shortchanged), dedicated healers all, stay calm, cool and collected as they deal with gunshot wounds, heart attacks and every emergency malady known to humanity.
If only there wasn’t all this paperwork. If only Congress hadn’t created a medical system that allowed for-profit hospitals to dump ” a tidal wave” of patients with no insurance packing off to public hospitals. If only doctors could get back to what they got into medicine for — meeting patients, finding out what ails them and helping them.
McGarry’s film opens in a maelstrom of blood, pain and medicine, as practiced under institutional lighting. The ancient “C-Booth”, a 20 by 25 room where E.R. practices were born, is so crowded that you wonder how anyone could possibly be saved in all this disorder. I counted 12-13 people in camera operators McGarry, Sandra Chandler and Nelson Hume’s tightly framed shots — “the team,” doctors and nurses and the EMTs who got this patient there, family, a tiny balcony where med students observe this whirl of activity.
Off to one side, calmest of the calm, is “the chairman,” the attending resident — directing traffic, moving team members, instructing each other, encouraging each other. Get that tray over here, get that tube inserted.
“All the way in. All the way in. All the way in.”
But at the center of it all is the patient, the focus of every single person’s attention. Gurneys crowd against each other and frankly, it looks a bit Third World. Still, the teamwork, the dedication and the urgency of this “blue collar” corner of medicine is stunning — more impressive than any mere TV episode recreating the chaos.
That was the way it was before L.A. County got a new E.R. One of the central debates at the heart of McGarry’s film is what was lost when the hospital had to come in compliance with the myriad regulations that protect it, the doctors and nurses who work there and the government which funds it from invasions of privacy, mistakes and the lawsuits that follow.
McGarry and his teammates lament the “profit and efficiency” that are paramount in our cost-obsessed culture. They scramble to try new ways to re-invigorate an overwhelmed system — a 300 person waiting room can lead to 18 hour waits at L.A. County.
Though the film doesn’t get into the relative inexperience of those younger staffs — a common complaint about emergency medicine — McGarry does a nice job of at least listing the many barriers to providing great care and the need for health care reform that goes beyond merely making sure everyone is insured.
The more experienced doctors show up to toss a bucket of water on their idealism. Costs, nurse burnout and malpractice claims are real world problems, and “the system,” cumbersome as it is, is aimed at minimizing those, something the newbies are slow to pick up on.
A favorite moment — an elderly woman explains to Young Dr. McGarry the self-medicating she’s been doing for her sciatica. The kid doesn’t know what “Mary Jane” is.
The older doctors and nurses don’t romanticize “the day of the cowboy,” the chaotic past of an E.R. run by the seat-of-the-pants.
But McGarry, with this slick, invigorating film, whose action is set to a pulsating James Lavino musical score, has broadened a national debate that anti-healthcare reform folks have narrowed via the courts and political demonization.

3stars2

MPAA Rating: unrated, with graphic surgical scenes, blood and profanity
Cast: Dr. Ryan McGarry, Dr. Jamie Cheng and the doctors, nurses and patients of L.A. County Hospital
Credits: Directed by Ryan McGarry, written by Ryan McGarry and Joshua Altman. A Long Shot Factory release.
Running time: 1:20

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