‘She Said’ Shines a Thrilling Beacon

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She Said (CREDIT: Universal Pictures)

Starring: Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Morton, Angela Yeoh, Ashley Judd

Director: Maria Schrader

Running Time: 129 Minutes

Rating: R for Detailed Discussions of Sexual Assault

Release Date: November 18, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Looking back now (and even while it was going on), the downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein seems like it was inevitable. But it wasn’t going to just happen on its own. Instead, of course, it required the dedication of plenty of dogged people. This included the work of New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor. They’re played in She Said by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, respectively. The movie firmly establishes itself in a long and beloved line of based-on-a-true-story thrillers about journalists uncovering abuses of power. Twohey and Kantor have a lot of non-disclosure agreements to work around, and a lot of sources rightfully scared of retribution, but they also have the wherewithal for their simple sense of right and wrong to guide them towards what needs to be done.

What Made an Impression?: She Said could have easily been a traumatizing and depressing experience. Its focus, after all, is on one of the most famous people to have ever been accused and convicted of harassment, assault, and rape. But it doesn’t linger in the darkness any more than it has to, and I’m so thankful about how fully rounded the portrayals of Twohey and Kantor are. Despite reporting on the worst of humanity, they still manage to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. There’s one scene in particular when they’re about to go interview a source, and they discover that they’re wearing basically the same white summer dress, so Kantor declares the two of them “reporting twins.” That’s basically the cutest thing ever, and it’s fully genuine despite being stuffed between all the horrors. And the glimpses into their home lives with their husbands and young kids are similarly adorable in a slice-of-life way.

The rest of the cast is filled with veterans providing welcome support, like Andre Braugher and Patricia Clarkson in the newsroom; and Samantha Morton, Jennifer Ehle, and Ashley Judd (as herself) among the sources. But perhaps the most crucial creative contribution comes from composer Nicholas Britell, who’s probably best known for his award-nominated work on Barry Jenkins and Adam McKay projects. That’s already a fair range of tones and genres he’s put out, and he knows exactly what the assignment is in this case. Namely, it’s all about setting a vibe of constantly pulse-pounding action. The action in this case involves making phone calls, driving across town, booking impromptu flights, and clacking away at the keyboard. It’s not the stuff of whizbang wizardry, but it’s essential and requires a steady hand, and the score is there to constantly, safely remind us that.

She Said is Recommended If You Like: All the President’s Men, Spotlight

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 NDAs

Jeff’s Wacky SNL Review: Carey Mulligan/Kid Cudi

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SNL: Kid Cudi, Carey Mulligan, Kenan Thompson (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

Fun fact: I enjoy watching Carey Mulligan acting in the movies1 Does that mean I’ll also enjoy watching her host Saturday Night Live for the first time? If you read this review, you just might find out! The musical guest is Kid Cudi, who I mostly know from his one-season stint as bandleader on Comedy Bang! Bang!, though I did also know him before that, and now I’ll know him even more after this.

I got my first COVID vaccine dose approximately 10 hours before this episode started airing. I’ve had some soreness around the injection site, but that didn’t really affect my viewing experience in any significant way.

The cold opening goes the local news route by putting an Eye on Minnesota (Grade: 4/5 Eyes) and the Derek Chauvin trial, and quite frankly, everyone involved does a fine job being goofy in the midst of such a distressing topic.

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‘Promising Young Woman’ Spoiler-Filled Review Addendum

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Promising Young Woman (CREDIT : Merie Weismiller Wallace/Focus Features)

I’ve already published a rave review of Promising Young Woman that you can check out here, and now that the release date has finally arrived, I’ve got some spoiler-rific thoughts to share. This is all to say: SPOILER ALERT! So you know, don’t read this unless you’ve seen it or if you’re fine with knowing all the details ahead of time.

ONE LAST WARNING! Don’t click ahead unless you really mean to…

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‘Promising Young Woman’ Fulfills Its Promise, and Then Some

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Promising Young Woman (CREDIT: Focus Features)

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Alfred Molina, Chris Lowell, Max Greenfield, Adam Brody, Sam Richardson, Molly Shannon, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Director: Emerald Fennell

Running Time: 113 Minutes

Rating: R for Twisted Jokes, Drug Spikings, Discussions of Sexual Violence, and Some Up-Close Acute Violence

Release Date: December 25, 2020

Promising Young Woman hooked me immediately with its trailer, seemingly telling me everything I needed to know. When I finally saw the actual movie, it somehow still had plenty of opportunities to surprise me. It fits one of my favorite formulas for all-time great movies: simultaneously exactly what I was hoping for and so different from what I was expecting. Carey Mulligan is a knockout, in every way you can imagine. She plays med school dropout Cassie Thomas, a black widow who lures entitled men into this intoxicating trap she’s cooked up. She pretends to be blackout drunk at bars so that someone will not-so-gallantly bring her home to take advantage of her, at which point she drops the charade and spooks like them like a zombie popping out of the grave. She has her own history with assault, but she’s also an avenging angel taking on the entirety of rape culture.

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