‘Breaking Bad’ star Bryan Cranston tackles injustice in ‘Trumbo’

What tyrannical disservice could a democratic country, like the USA, impose to its people? Why would a democratic country suddenly brandish communism in its own land?

World War is waving in the horizon, as the relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. deteriorated and the fear of the “Red Menace” reached unprecedented heights. A group called the House of Un-American Activities otherwise known as H.U.A.C., investigated thousands of Americans suspected of being communist sympathizers. Nobody was spared, when teachers, military contractors, civil servants, journalists, and others lost their jobs, their reputations, and even their families as suspicion and paranoia swept the nation. And Hollywood land and its denizens suffered from its claws and pangs.

Familiar Situations During the Philippine Martial Law

In the 1940s, Dalton Trumbo (played by Emmy & Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee, Byan Cranston) is one of the highest paid screenwriters in the world, penning movie classics including the Oscar-nominated “Kitty Foyle” and “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”. A fixture on the Hollywood social scene, and a political activist supporting labor unions, equal pay, and civil rights. Brilliant, ambitious and contentious, Trumbo enjoyed exposing what he perceived as the world’s hypocrisy and injustices in his films. Academy Award-winners “Roman Holiday” and “The Brave Ones” were both written under pseudonyms during his 13-year exile from Hollywood.

In the late 1940s, the HUAC paid special attention to Hollywood, aimed at rooting out communists in the film industry. The Blacklist became a dreaded document when scores of prominent actors, directors, producers and screenwriters were publicly berated about their association with an array of organizations deemed to be “un-American”. Threatened with the loss of their livelihoods, many witnesses gave evidences against friends and colleagues. Ten of those called the “Hollywood Ten” refused to testify and answer any questions, denying the committee’s right to ask them about their political beliefs and denouncing the hearings as a violation of their civil rights. All ten were sentenced to prison for contempt of Congress. The best known among them was Dalton Trumbo.

“Trumbo was still known as a communist, but people don’t realize that he was actually patriot. He was a communist in the late 30s and early 40s, when that meant you were pro-labor and anti-Jim Crow, and you fought for civil rights for African-Americans,” says screenwriter John McNamara. “It had nothing to do with Russia and everything to do with how an already great country could improve itself”.

Trumbo’s story really breaks down to human rights as U.S. citizens to free speech and assembly. Trumbo and the other blacklisters were not only denied those rights – but persecuted without having committed any crimes. He was a true patriot – he loved his country. But the system failed him. His story is still relevant today, as the world in which we are living has many people facing too much intrusion from their government.

Indeed, these situations are familiar to the Filipinos who had experienced the dictatorial regime of Marcos in the 1970’s up to the 1980’s.

Powerful Enemies

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, actors John Wayne and Edward G. Robinson, together with a gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (played by Oscar winner Helen Mirren) were among Trumbo’s antagonists.

The quintessential man’s man and All-American hero, John Wayne, was one of the chief architects of Trumbo’s downfall. As the head of the Motion Pictures Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, he led the charge to ferret out communist sympathizers who wanted to use movies to influence the American people. Famed actor, Edward G. Robinson, who testified in front of the HUAC four times, ended betraying his friends and colleagues by giving out their names. He faced a moral dilemma of the most profound proportions.

Chief among Trumbo’s adversaries is the legendary gossip maven, Hedda Hopper, was a starlet whose career was never a success. She transferred her substantial energy into becoming a very successful Hollywood columnist with a large readership and enormous power. She marshaled the forces of anti-communism in Hollywood and came out strongly against Trumbo in particular. She was determined to convince America that these patriotic writers were traitors, and she wrote scathing, gossipy smears that were read by 35 million people.

Unexpected Allies

At the apex of his career, Kirk Douglas, the superstar was one of the few brave insiders who used their influences to force the end of the blacklist in Hollywood. Douglas was instrumental in helping put blacklisted writers, performers, directors and other entertainment professionals back to work when he hired Dalton Trumbo.

Trumbo prevailed when star Kirk Douglas and director Otto Preminger each put the screenwriter’s real name on screen in their respective 1960 blockbusters, “Spartacus” and “Exodus”, effectively brought down the blacklist era to an end.

The history of the blacklist era and its continued relevance today were also big attractions for all those involved. “We sometimes take our rights for granted,” says the film director Jay Roach. “Free speech is easy to protect when we are saying things that are popular, but the Bill of Rights is designed to protect unpopular speech, especially in times of crisis. The blacklist era is almost forgotten, but everyone recognized that we had a singular chance to remind the world of the importance of this story”.

Opening across the Philippines on March 16, 2016, “Trumbo” is released and distributed by Solar Pictures.

Jennifer Garner keeps the faith with ‘Miracles from Heaven’

The core of Columbia Pictures’ new inspiring film “Miracles From Heaven” is a mother on fire, an impassioned, if constantly questioning 21st Century woman, who never lets up or lets go in her efforts to keep her child from harm.

But to get deep into the grit and turmoil of that kind of maternal drive, the filmmakers knew they needed an actress who would go all-out for a brave, complex performance without ever losing the audience’s connection to her. The consummate match for that mix was found in Golden Globe® winner Jennifer Garner.

Her career spans from action roles such as CIA officer Sydney Bristow in the hit series “Alias” and the action-thriller “The Kingdom,” to sparkling comedies such as the acclaimed “Juno,” to playing opposite Matthew McConaughey in the Oscar®-winning “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” But this was a role unlike any Garner had tackled – and she jumped into it with 100% commitment.

“Jennifer was devoted to exploring that unbending strength of a mother,” says director Patricia Riggen. “She has three kids she adores, so she had that immediate understanding of Christy’s situation. But she also brought a sense of love, care and generosity that becomes the center of all the film’s relationships. The Beam family goes through all the colors of life, which is what I think makes the film an exciting and moving experience, because you see them shift from happiness to real struggle and conflict and then back to a stronger form of happiness. As Jennifer portrays her, Christy is so human and so real and I think that’s why people will identify with her.”

Garner knew right away the role was going to demand a lot – and take her on a journey that wouldn’t be easy on an emotional, spiritual or even logistical level. But she also felt an undeniably potent attachment to it. “`Miracles From Heaven’ kind of chose me,” she explains. “The night I read the script, I practically stayed awake all night. This family’s story was so moving to me and I remember feeling so grateful for my healthy three sleeping down the hall.”

That trepidation vanished by morning’s light – replaced by the feeling that she would do whatever it took to make it work. “I woke up knowing that I had to do this,” she remembers thinking. “It felt like something that had been put out there for me and so I said, ‘Yes.’”

Meeting Christy Beam only heightened Garner’s inspiration. “Looking at the world through Christy’s eyes has been such a gift for me. It gave me perspective,” Garner says. “This is the first time I’ve been able to spend so much time with the person I’m portraying. And I knew I was going to love her before I even met her. The strength she showed is something that I aspire to as a mother. I love her quiet faith. I love her relationship with Kevin. And I love their incredibly sweet family.”

That Christy questions whether her faith, or anything at all, is actually enough to hold her up through such an epic struggle was important to Garner. “For me, that’s what makes this story so human,” Garner relates. “You can understand Christy watching her child suffering so much and thinking out loud, ‘wait a minute, where are you, God?’ But I think she goes on to take that on as a challenge and commits to working that much harder to find that trust again.”

Like Christy, Garner began to see more and more how tiny, persistent miracles are what kept the family afloat just as much as the beguiling tree incident. “They had this huge miracle happen in their lives, but a miracle is also someone like Angela showing up and becoming a friend,” she observes. “A miracle is doctors going out of their way to help. A miracle is the enduring love of a close-knit family. We all have struggles in life, but I really believe that there are miracles all around — every baby born, every flower that blooms. We’re just lucky to live in this world full of beauty.”

Based on the inspiring book and astonishing true story of the girl rescued by an out-of-the-blue accident, Columbia Pictures’ “Miracles from Heaven” stars Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam, a tenacious, devoted mother whose world is flipped upside down when her daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) is struck with a rare, incurable disorder. With a parent’s fiercest determination, Christy summons the courage to do everything she can and beyond for her child, heading on a heart-gripping quest through a medical maze, even as her faith begins to flag. Yet, just when all truly seems lost, a series of unfathomable yet documented events unfold that leave not only Christy but doctors, family and community at once baffled and profoundly inspired by the astonishing mysteries life holds out to us.

Opening across the Philippines on March 16, 2016, “Miracles from Heaven” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.