There’s a moment toward the middle of the new movie about Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s life when Wilson, played by John Cusack, is begging his new girlfriend Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) to leave his house before “the people” who are now controlling his life get back and find out what’s going on.
“Please go, but don’t leave me,” Wilson pleads. “Please go, but don’t leave me,” he says again, and in his face is one of the most nakedly honest, frightened looks I’ve ever seen on a human. This man, at this point in his life, is desperate for companionship but also desperate not to get caught doing something wrong.
It’s a really powerful scene, and “Love & Mercy” is a really powerful movie. I saw it last weekend after hearing mixed reviews of it, with some people thinking the idea of having Wilson played by two actors (Paul Dano as young, high-flying 1960s tortured genius Brian, and Cusack as 1980s, dazed and confused Brian) was too strange.
And I have to admit, the constant cutting back and forth between the 1960s and Dano, and the 1980s and Cusack, was a little hard to get used to at first. Every time they’d switch to the other Brian, I’d be like “Nooo, stay with that one, I really want to see where this is going” before getting sucked into the next scene and being mad when it was cut away from.
But after a bit you get used to it, and the movie does an outstanding job showing just how innovative Wilson was, with his “Pet Sounds” album and creative struggles with Beach Boy Mike Love, and how difficult life was for him inside his own head.
The two leads are both terrific, and this is the best I’ve seen Elizabeth Banks be; her Melinda is strong and tender. Paul Giamatti is as always fabulous, though I wanted to see much more of his Dr. Eugene Landy character developed; how did he get such a hold on Wilson in the 1980s?
Really, really strong movie. 3 1/2 stars from me. Even if you don’t love the Beach Boys music (and they’re pretty hard to hate), it’s a terrific story about an American icon.
**Next up, Jimmy Kimmel did a really funny skit Monday night, wandering into the streets to find children and then asking them questions about gay marriage, in light of last week’s huge Supreme Court announcement.
All the kids are great, but the girl at 1:30 and the last boy are my favorites, especially his answer on why people shouldn’t get married.
**Finally, remember Chris Christie? Governor of New Jersey, bit of a weight problem, huge problem of being a bully? Guy who was kind of universally declared by the political media in 2014 as the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016?
Yeah, that guy. Hasn’t been much talk about him at all in recent months, as one scandal after another has engulfed Christie, while he continues to put his nasty, aggressive personality on display as much as possible.
Anyway, despite the same writers who adored him and pumped him up now saying he’s got very little chance (and this time they’re right, Christie’s way too abrasive and has pissed off way too many constituencies to be President, plus he’s much too moderate to survive the GOP “God, Guns, and every pregnancy must result in a baby” primaries), Christie declared on Tuesday that he’s running for President, bringing the total number of Republican candidates to, I believe, 432 (my math may be off.)
Perfectly timed to Christie’s announcement is this fantastic, biting column from an NJ.com writer Tom Moran, who’s been covering Christie for 14 years.
Moran pulls no punches, but instead of just a random hit job, he uses specific examples of Christie, lying through his teeth and showing no shame doing it.
Highly recommend this. Man, these GOP debates are going to be “get your popcorn” TV.