Was blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston, enjoying himself) a self-serving, self-righteous Type A who confused the cause of social justice with his own desire to live well? Or was he a brilliant, pro-worker Good American who figured out how to keep the S.S. Good Conscience afloat during the Red storm? Or was he an overworked, underpaid employee trying to force management to ditch its poisonous policies so that he could keep food on the table? Or was he...all three? If director Jay Roach’s (Dinner for Schmucks) take on Hollywood’s anti-commie excesses is a bit murky about its star, it’s plenty clear about its supporting personalities: gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) is the devil, actor Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg) is the jellied spine, and fellow scribbler Arlen Hird (Louis C.K.) is the idealist. (Meanwhile, John Goodman’s schlock producer Frank King is the thought-free hedonist, and so has the most fun.) The movie’s main idea seems to be that, in the end, people prefer movies to ideas. Or at least ideologies. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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