FDR

The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  There are two films in particular that I thought about while watching Hyde Park on Hudson, the new historical film about an alleged love affair between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (Laura Linney). Three films if you count Rushmore, due to the reunion of Murray and Olivia Williams, who plays First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and the much-talked-about scene depicting a handjob in a car (not a bloody Jaguar, unfortunately), but I don’t consider this one to be an ingredient in the same way. The two that I do think of as more content-based precursors are Dave and The King’s Speech. Regarding the former, I’m surely highlighting the wrong film as an earlier instance of a leader and his wife who are all but legally separated behind closed doors, the wife fully aware of the husband’s mistresses. But Dave does involve the POTUS and First Lady, and Williams’s Eleanor did remind me at times of Sigourney Weaver’s character in the 1993 doppelganger comedy. There are very likely other dramas of adulterous true stories that relate more to the overall plot of Hyde Park. I haven’t seen the JFK-mistress movie An American Affair, which might more closely fit. But given that I really despised every moment […]

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Editor’s note: Hyde Park on Hudson cruises into theaters this week, so please get handsy with our New York Film Festival review of the film, originally published on September 30, 2012. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is considered to be one of our greatest presidents — a strong, charismatic leader during World War II, beloved by his nation. Roger Mitchell’s Hyde Park on Hudson reveals FDR to be all those things… and also quite the Don Juan. The film tries to reveal FDR “the man,” a history-making president who can also seduce the ladies, befriend shy kings, and possess a mean stamp collection. While Hyde Park on Hudson is consistently entertaining, its tendencies to meander in tone and to veer too far into the ridiculous prevent it from succeeding as a whole. One fortuitous day, FDR (Bill Murray) requests that his fifth cousin Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney) visit him at his country home in Hyde Park, New York. Naturally, Daisy obliges, and shortly after being dazzled by FDR’s stamp collection she becomes a fixture at his country home. Their visits turn into full days of merriment and long aimless drives on country roads. When FDR stops the car in the middle of a field of purple wildflowers one afternoon, however, there is only one direction their relationship can go in (not to reveal too much, but watching Bill Murray as FDR receive pleasure in a car is mildly disturbing and somewhat hilarious). Eventually, though, Daisy comes to realize that besides the First […]

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After The King’s Speech won the Oscar for Best Picture and got multiple theatrical releases, it was always just a matter of time before Hollywood tried to capitalize on its success by releasing a whole slate of King George VI movies. So here we are, getting the release of the trailer for the first of these films, Hyde Park on Hudson. It’s not quite as exciting as the inevitable news that King George will be joining The Avengers in the summer of 2014, but for now it will have to do. Seriously though, all joking about King George showing up on the cover of “Tiger Beat” aside, everyone is actually looking forward to Hyde Park on Hudson for one reason: the chance to see Bill Murray play Franklin Roosevelt. So, how does he do? From what we can tell from this first look at the film, it seems like he does wonderfully. He’s not quite doing an F.D.R. impression, but he’s not just being Bill Murray either. Most importantly, it seems as if Murray’s version of Roosevelt is a charismatic troublemaker – something of a Woody Woodpecker archetype – who’s not just being portrayed as a historical figure and a powerful man, but instead as a multi-faceted individual with his own quirks, hang-ups, and small pleasures. Quite simply, it appears as if getting the chance to watch Murray live in the skin of this character for a couple of hours is going to be a terribly entertaining experience.

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Why Watch? History matters. This is a reminder that sometimes all it takes to make a movie is an important speaker delivering a vital message with the cameras rolling. Plus, it shows off an FDR that looks totally different than this one. What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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The above image of Billy Murray chomping his cigarette filter behind the wheel of an antique comes courtesy of Hyde Park on Hudson (and an interview USA Today did with director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Morning Glory). It’s a striking resemblance that almost makes him look like Franklin Delano Roosevelt by way of Kevin Kline. This is the kind of prestige role that comes in the twilight of a career, but Michell isn’t yet known for crafting Oscar-worthy content. Maybe this is the film that will turn that around, maybe it will earn Murray some Academy recognition, or maybe it’ll just be a fun gambol through an odd culture-clashing, affair-while-President moment in our country’s fair history.

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Back when he was blowing up gophers and busting ghosts there probably weren’t too many people who though Bill Murray’s career trajectory was taking him on a path to portray Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a historical drama. But here we are, in a world where a script for a third Ghostbusters movie exists, but Bill Murray refuses to read it and instead is looking to star in an adaptation of a British radio play called Hyde Park on Hudson. If you had told twelve year old me that not only would this be the case, but that I would be in agreement with Murray’s decision, he would probably be very angry right now. But, despite how much it might disappoint that little guy, I have to say I’m really intrigued to see how Murray will do playing FDR. Hyde Park on Hudson is a telling of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s weekend visit to Roosevelt’s upscale New York home in 1939. As the weekend unfolds, details of Roosevelt’s personal life are put on display, including a rumored affair with his cousin Daisy. This being ’39, the year before World War II started, nobody really knew much about the president’s personal life at the time. There was real stuff on people’s minds. Rumors of his too close for comfort relationship never came out until much later, and still haven’t been fully explored. I think if anybody has the chops to be a shameful, incestuous version of FDR and still make […]

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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