The story of the assassination of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy who was shot in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968 in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and 22 people in the hotel whose lives were never the same.
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Tuesday, June 4, 1968: the California presidential primary. As day breaks Robert F. Kennedy arrives at the Ambassador Hotel; he'll campaign, then speak to supporters at midnight. To capture the texture of the late 1960s, we see vignettes at the hotel: a couple marries so he can avoid Vietnam, kitchen staff discuss race and baseball, a man cheats on his wife, another is fired for racism, a retired hotel doorman plays chess in the lobby with an old friend, a campaign strategist's wife needs a pair of black shoes, two campaign staff trip on LSD, a lounge singer is on the downhill slide. Through it all, we see and hear RFK calling for a better society and a better nation. Written by
"Bobby" which tells the story of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the little brother of the late and also assassinated President John F. Kennedy, and what was going on 16 hours before it happened. We are thrown back and forth between 22 extraordinary characters and stories. Emilio Estevez writes, directs, and co-stars; he has truly elevated his level of direction and writing. This is coming from the same man who brought us hit and miss films like "Men at Work" and "The War at Home." He parallels us through a journey of injustice, racism, prejudice, adultery, and more. This film much like "Crash" with its unsubtle undertones of encroachment could be the multi-character film that has the "Good Night, and Good Luck feel that speaks assertively to America.
This film leads an all-star cast of some A and B-list actors. William H. Macy plays the manager of the famous Ambassador Hotel (which the Oscars were held at a few times) and Sharon Stone plays his wife and hairdresser of the hotel. Heather Graham plays one of switchboard operators whom Macy is having an affair with. Demi Moore plays Virginia Fallon, the alcoholic lounge singer who is set to introduce the doomed candidate of the presidency. Estevez portrays Moore's husband and manager being tormented emotionally by his wife's addiction. Lindsay Lohan, who has a step now to bring herself into more serious roles, depicts Diane, a young bride to be, who is marrying her boyfriend's brother to keep him from going to Vietnam. Elijah Wood plays the future and very grateful husband. Freddy Rodriguez known for his role in "Six Feet Under" and Jacob Vargas known for his supporting roles in "Traffic" and "Jarhead," play Mexican kitchen staff members who are working a double shift and are in search of equality. Laurence Fishburne is Edward Robinson, an older black kitchen staff employee who is teaching his fellow compatriots about offering more to life than anger. Joshua Jackson and Nick Cannon are campaign managers for the infamous Bobby. Real life father of Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen is Jack, a depressed older man who marries a younger woman portrayed brilliantly by Helen Hunt. Christian Slater is Timmons the very racist kitchen staff manager who is not subtle about his feelings towards minorities. And veterans Sir Anthony Hopkins and Harry Belafonte are John Casey, a veteran worker of the Ambassador and Nelson, an old friend reminiscing of the old days. And at the end we have a little Ashton Kutcher, Shia LaBeouf, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
The movie races against the clock to bring us into all these characters lives and show us about "Old America" and where we've come from. The film has it all, some comic relief coming from Kutcher, your strong political message, the dramatic elements, and the emotional punch that lays the icing on the already multi-layered cake. This is one of the most important films of the year and if justice is served this will be on many critics' top ten lists of the year. I can't explain too much about the film without giving away vital parts but it speaks to America. It shows a history of grave transgressions and how that may seem all behind us it is lucidly vigorous. The mention of Dr. King and his impact on people fighting for equal rights is mentioned quite of a bit and leaves in discernment. Bobby Kennedy was the light at the end of a lot of citizen's dark tunnel. People believed he was going to do some amazing things for us and we'll never know if he would have lived up to those expectations but I am now very informed of his life, legacy and how much he meant to so many individuals.
Emilio Estevez could very well be the Paul Haggis of the year with his excellent writing and direction of the film. I never would have thought he had it in him to pull off this passionate and affecting drama out of him. The performances are amazing and utterly mind blowing but to be honest, with 22 different characters as oppose to Crash's ten or twelve it's hard to pick a standout. If critics go crazy for the film, I'd place bets for Laurence Fishburne who has already received raves for his "Akeelah and the Bee", Helen Hunt's haunting and powerful performance very reminiscent of Julianne Moore's performance in "The Hours", and possibly Harry Belafonte as the veteran of the year to make it to the short list for the first time. With these bets my favorites differ; by far Freddy Rodriguez as Jose who brings a sense of humanity to his role which mirrors Michael Pena's Daniel in Crash went home with me post-experience. I wouldn't even be hesitant to say Christian Slater was great as a racist who also mirrors Matt Dillon's Oscar nominated performance. Sharon Stone also left a beautiful impact on me to make long forget about "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction."
With all of these key components and sides of "The Constant Gardener" and "JFK," this is the film of the year. Undying gratitude can be expressed to cast and crew involved in such a passionate masterpiece of film-making. The technical aspects of the film are eye-catching. The recreation of the Ambassador Hotel by unknown Colin De Rouin is beautifully constructed and is alone worthy of viewing pleasure. The cinematography always keeps the smooth flow of the film moving along with excellent editing coming from Richard Chew, the Oscar winner of a little bold masterpiece called "Star Wars." Even the Mark Isham score definitely sampled from Thomas Newman adds to a melancholy yet invigorating memoir. A review such as this cannot begin to encapsulate the consciousness of "Bobby" it can only be a fishhook with enough thrust to get a viewer into a chair and enjoy respect, knowledge and background of one of the most notorious and resourceful men in the history of politics.
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