Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Apr 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Captivating Kennedy

arch lohanThe ’60s, RFK and the hope for great change blend well in a moving ‘Bobby’

There are people out there who will criticize writer director Emilio Estevez’s Bobby. I’m not one of those people.
Bobby is an extraordinary movie for a number of reasons. For starters, you know within the first few frames what Mr. Estevez is doing. He wants you to absorb the legacy of the Robert F. Kennedy. He wants you to hear the late senator’s words. He wants you see his face in old footage, where the man is often seen gracefully interacting with the people of 1968, all of whom appear to have hung their very last hopes on Kennedy’s idealism.

A captivating outing from beginning to end, it includes an all-star cast that ignite most every scene they occupy—and, who, apparently worked for almost nothing to get the project off the ground. What Estevez has created is effective not because he’s documenting every nuance of the events leading up to Kennedy’s assassination, but because he’s captured a mood, through these characters, of an era that bares a haunting resemblance to the one that’s unfolding in 2006.
    The only one glaring difference: Even in the midst of ’60s turmoil—Vietnam, Martin Luther King’s assassination, protests et al—the majority of the populace still had hope that things could change. That, and, as some would argue, that people still gave a damn.
    Using 22 fictional characters, all of which happen to be in the L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel the day Kennedy nabs the California primary, nearly paving the road to the White House, Estevez flips the Kennedy story inside out. We’re not watching what’s happening to him, per se. We’re witnessing the lives of others—their current challenges, some of their ideologies, their hopes, their despair, their triumphs, their prejudice, their world, all on the eve of the assassination.
    Glimpses into the lives of most of these characters often come clustered. There’s Anthony Hopkins and Harry Belafonte as retirees reflecting back on life—Hopkins is a retired doorman who can’t seem to let go of the Ambassador Hotel; Belafonte wonders why he’s forgetting things. Hopkins, always alluring, particularly stands out here because he fully owns his role. There are some moments where the delivery of his dialogue is so free, so void of “acting” you’d just assume be sitting next to the man in a restaurant it’s so real.
    William H. Macy is the hotel manager, a man carrying on with a sexy hotel operator played by Heather Graham. Sharon Stone—by far one of the most affecting performances here because she seems to know how to offer more by giving less—plays Macy’s wife, a woman who’s accepted her fate working in the hotel’s beauty salon.
    Estevez uses the hotel kitchen as his portal for prejudice. Christian Slater is a bigoted boss here who won’t let his Latino staff out of work to vote. Meanwhile, Laurence Fishburne is the sous chef, a man who’s absorbed King’s message by meeting the prejudice thrust upon him with loving detachment. Jacob Vargas, as a beleaguered busboy, doesn’t warm up to Fishburne so he warns his fellow coworkers that someday the whites will fear Mexicans as much as they do Blacks. (And you’ll also note other fascinating forshadowings, particularly footage of Kenndy speaking to children on the effects of pollution.)
    The film’s soul appears to come in the form of Freddy Rodriguez, another busboy who’d rather attend the evening’s milestone Dodger’s game. Through him, we’re able to see the possibility of a brighter road ahead even though he knows that walking that road could bring challenges.
    Demi Moore—downright tragic here but affecting—delivers as a faded celeb Virginia Fallon, who’s scheduled to introduce Kennedy at the primary party. Estevez plays her weary husband.
    As for the youth of day, there’s Lindsay Lohan—she’s marrying a man (Elijah Wood) to prevent him from heading to Vietnam. Ambitious campaign aides (Joshua Jackson and Nick Cannon) fend off a Czech journalist (A brilliant Svetlana Metkina). And two newbie campaign volunteers (Brian Geraghty and Shia Lebeouf) distract themselves via Ashton Kutcher’s Christ-figure, a drug dealer.
    That leaves Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt, two East Coast socialites trying to rekindle their marriage. Watch how Hunt effectively captures a housewife too afraid to confront her emotions—or reality for that matter.
    For the most part, the interweaving of these characters works. Although some would argue Estevez goes a bit over the top with a drug sequence, it manages to tighten the bigger late-’60s tapestry.
    In between, Estevez takes his audience away from the fiction by punching up the mood with fact. Vintage footage of Kennedy campaign is injected at various points, creating a much needed depth to the picture. (And … when was the last time you actually saw genuine hope in eyes of a person as they watched a potential presidential candidate walk by them? You don’t find that sort of emotion in the faces of the public today. If might be there, but the media hasn’t captured it.)
    While you get the sense Estevez is saying: It was a different America but it is the same America today, you’re apt to feel some sort of void within, your mind wandering off to places, asking: When was the last time I believed in something; in someone?
    Aside from the emotion the film tends to evoke, we are watching, technically, a work of fiction. And as stories go, this is not a bad one at all. By the time the final scenes unfold, you’re actually witnessing Estevez’s take on Kennedy’s final moments in the Ambassodor’s kitchen, where he was gunned down. Fittingly, at least here, Kennedy falls into the arms of Rodriguez.
    Behind the scenes, there were a few curious twist worth noting. Estevez, who was only 6 years old at the time of Kennedy’s death, had been struggling with writer’s block after taking on the project more than six years ago. Hoping a change of scene would help, he checked into a Pismo Beach hotel. The woman behind the front desk recognized him and inquired as to what he was doing in town. He mentioned he was writing a script about the day Kennedy died. The woman looked at him, teared up and told him she was there at the hotel; that she had been a Kennedy volunteer and married a young man to keep him from going to Vietnam. Something sparked. Estevez would later find himself interviewing the woman and using her story as a framework for Lohan’s character.
    He completed the screenplay one week before another American tragedy—9/11.

BOBBY

*** ½ (out of four)
With Harry Belafonte, Nick Cannon, Emilio Estevez, Laurence Fishburne, Brian Geraghty, Heather Graham,, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Lindsay Lohan, William H. Macy, Demi Moore, Freddy Rodriguez, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Sharon Stone and Elijah Wood.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.