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Granger at the Movies: ‘The Invisible Man,’ ‘The Assistant,’ ‘Seberg’

But as her possessions mysteriously disappear and a kitchen fire erupts, neither the assurance of Adrian’s death nor the deposit of his money in her bank account can convince increasingly distraught Cecilia that Adrian is no longer around.

Indeed, at the risk of being declared insane, she’s firmly convinced he’s still stalking her and fully capable of wreaking havoc in her life. An atmosphere of dread prevails.

The Emmy-winning veteran of TV’s “The West Wing,” “Mad Men,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” resourceful actress Elisabeth Moss has come to embody female suffering.

Working within strict budgetary restrictions, Leigh Whannell changes the story’s focus from the crazed scientist to his victim. He cleverly intensifies the specificity of the tension, often utilizing jump scares, aided by cinematographer Stefan Duscio, production designer Alex Holmes and costumer Emily Seresin.

But Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is so loud that it becomes a distraction, rather than an enhancement.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Invisible Man” is a scary 7, placing an updated feminist spin on the unnervingly real mystery/horror concept.

Made all-the-more timely given the verdict in the sexual misconduct trial of disgraced Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein, Kitty Green’s workplace drama “The Assistant”profiles how power enforces silence about sexual coercion and harassment.

Unfolding over one, long exploitative workday, it focuses on Jane (Julia Garner), who is beginning her second month as a lowly assistant to an unseen/anonymous Manhattan-based movie producer.

When it’s still dark outside, Jane dutifully leaves her apartment in Queens, becoming the first to arrive at the company’s Tribeca office. She quietly prepares the morning coffee, lines up the individual water bottles and cleans stains off the cushions on the couch.

Since her boss is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles at 11 p.m. with two additional passengers, Jane must confirm that, along with his reservation at the Peninsula, field phone calls from his suspicious wife and usher a beautiful blonde in for a meeting.

Hours pass. Jane returns the gold bracelet that an Asian woman inadvertently left in the boss’s office. Ambitious male assistants (Jon Orsini, Noah Robbins) come and go, each having been assured that compliance will assure advancement.

Eventually, distressed Jane realizes exactly how her lascivious boss is manipulating and abusing aspiring actresses, ingénues who naively believe that their acquiescence will somehow propel them to film stardom — like the young waitress he flew in from Idaho and ensconced in a hotel.

But whom can Jane tell? Who will care? And will there ever be any consequences to her boss’s predatory behavior?

When Jane timidly approaches a Human Resources representative (Matthew Macfadyen) to report what she’s seen and heard, the tension is palpable. His reaction is to laughingly assure her: “You’re not his type.”

“Almost everything that’s in the movie has been recorded already in the news,” Australian writer/director Kitty Green acknowledges. “But what I wanted was some kind of emotional insight.”

On the Granger Gauge, “The Assistant” is a restrained, sensitive 6, chronicling an all-too-prevalent misogynistic culture of complicity.

Inspired by the life of French New Wave star Jean Seberg, best known for Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless,” “Seberg” is a tepid political thriller, set in the late 1960s when she was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI because of her romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.

Born in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1938, Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) rose to stardom in 1957, when director Otto Preminger literally set her on fire while making “Saint Joan.”

But screenwriters Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, along with Australian director Benedict Andrews, aren’t concerned with Seberg’s early life and formative years.

Instead, they focus on 1968-1971, when she left her husband, novelist Romain Gary (Yvan Attal), in Paris and met seductive Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), a cousin of Malcom X, on a trans-Atlantic flight.

When they disembark in Los Angeles, impulsive Seberg joins Jamal in giving the Black Power salute to the assembled press corps. Obviously smitten, she takes to heart his assertion: “If you can change one mind, you can change the world.”

Seberg passionately supports radical Jamal financially and emotionally, much to distress of his wife, Dorothy (Zazie Beetz), who refers to her as “a tourist” in the social justice movement.

Determined to embarrass Seberg when she became pregnant by Mexican student Carlos Navarra, the FBI planted a gossip column rumor that a Black Panther was the father. Two days later, when her baby died, Seberg asks for an open casket so mourners could verify that the infant was Caucasian.

The primary FBI agent assigned to spy on Seberg is conflicted, conscience-stricken Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell), along with his overtly racist partner, Carl Kowalski (Vince Vaughn).

Victimized Jean Seberg died of an apparent suicide in 1979 at age 40.

While Kristen Stewart delivers a solid simulation of androgynous Seberg, complete with cropped blonde pixie cut, her twitchy, persecuted performance is undermined by the stumbling superficiality of the script.

On the Granger Gauge, “Seberg” is a fervent, yet fictionalized 5. Lacking insight, it becomes bana. l


WestportNow.com Image

(Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at www.susangranger.com.)

But as her possessions mysteriously disappear and a kitchen fire erupts, neither the assurance of Adrian’s death nor the deposit of his money in her bank account can convince increasingly distraught Cecilia that Adrian is no longer around.

Indeed, at the risk of being declared insane, she’s firmly convinced he’s still stalking her and fully capable of wreaking havoc in her life. An atmosphere of dread prevails.

The Emmy-winning veteran of TV’s “The West Wing,” “Mad Men,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” resourceful actress Elisabeth Moss has come to embody female suffering.

Working within strict budgetary restrictions, Leigh Whannell changes the story’s focus from the crazed scientist to his victim. He cleverly intensifies the specificity of the tension, often utilizing jump scares, aided by cinematographer Stefan Duscio, production designer Alex Holmes and costumer Emily Seresin.

But Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is so loud that it becomes a distraction, rather than an enhancement.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Invisible Man” is a scary 7, placing an updated feminist spin on the unnervingly real mystery/horror concept.

Made all-the-more timely given the verdict in the sexual misconduct trial of disgraced Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein, Kitty Green’s workplace drama “The Assistant”profiles how power enforces silence about sexual coercion and harassment.

Unfolding over one, long exploitative workday, it focuses on Jane (Julia Garner), who is beginning her second month as a lowly assistant to an unseen/anonymous Manhattan-based movie producer.

When it’s still dark outside, Jane dutifully leaves her apartment in Queens, becoming the first to arrive at the company’s Tribeca office. She quietly prepares the morning coffee, lines up the individual water bottles and cleans stains off the cushions on the couch.

Since her boss is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles at 11 p.m. with two additional passengers, Jane must confirm that, along with his reservation at the Peninsula, field phone calls from his suspicious wife and usher a beautiful blonde in for a meeting.

Hours pass. Jane returns the gold bracelet that an Asian woman inadvertently left in the boss’s office. Ambitious male assistants (Jon Orsini, Noah Robbins) come and go, each having been assured that compliance will assure advancement.

Eventually, distressed Jane realizes exactly how her lascivious boss is manipulating and abusing aspiring actresses, ingénues who naively believe that their acquiescence will somehow propel them to film stardom — like the young waitress he flew in from Idaho and ensconced in a hotel.

But whom can Jane tell? Who will care? And will there ever be any consequences to her boss’s predatory behavior?

When Jane timidly approaches a Human Resources representative (Matthew Macfadyen) to report what she’s seen and heard, the tension is palpable. His reaction is to laughingly assure her: “You’re not his type.”

“Almost everything that’s in the movie has been recorded already in the news,” Australian writer/director Kitty Green acknowledges. “But what I wanted was some kind of emotional insight.”

On the Granger Gauge, “The Assistant” is a restrained, sensitive 6, chronicling an all-too-prevalent misogynistic culture of complicity.

Inspired by the life of French New Wave star Jean Seberg, best known for Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless,” “Seberg” is a tepid political thriller, set in the late 1960s when she was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI because of her romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.

Born in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1938, Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) rose to stardom in 1957, when director Otto Preminger literally set her on fire while making “Saint Joan.”

But screenwriters Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, along with Australian director Benedict Andrews, aren’t concerned with Seberg’s early life and formative years.

Instead, they focus on 1968-1971, when she left her husband, novelist Romain Gary (Yvan Attal), in Paris and met seductive Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), a cousin of Malcom X, on a trans-Atlantic flight.

When they disembark in Los Angeles, impulsive Seberg joins Jamal in giving the Black Power salute to the assembled press corps. Obviously smitten, she takes to heart his assertion: “If you can change one mind, you can change the world.”

Seberg passionately supports radical Jamal financially and emotionally, much to distress of his wife, Dorothy (Zazie Beetz), who refers to her as “a tourist” in the social justice movement.

Determined to embarrass Seberg when she became pregnant by Mexican student Carlos Navarra, the FBI planted a gossip column rumor that a Black Panther was the father. Two days later, when her baby died, Seberg asks for an open casket so mourners could verify that the infant was Caucasian.

The primary FBI agent assigned to spy on Seberg is conflicted, conscience-stricken Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell), along with his overtly racist partner, Carl Kowalski (Vince Vaughn).

Victimized Jean Seberg died of an apparent suicide in 1979 at age 40.

While Kristen Stewart delivers a solid simulation of androgynous Seberg, complete with cropped blonde pixie cut, her twitchy, persecuted performance is undermined by the stumbling superficiality of the script.

On the Granger Gauge, “Seberg” is a fervent, yet fictionalized 5. Lacking insight, it becomes bana. l


WestportNow.com Image

(Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at www.susangranger.com.)

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