The Films of Peter Landesman
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Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (October 23/17)
An unmitigated disaster of a film, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House details the watergate-era exploits of FBI Associate Director Mark Felt (Liam Neeson) and explores his eventual decision to become the notorious whistleblower Deep Throat. Filmmaker Peter Landesman does an almost astonishingly terrible job of establishing the ‘70s-set proceedings, with the movie suffering from a pervasive lack of context that’s compounded by a script that lurches from one egregiously talky sequence to the next (ie there’s not even a hint of momentum here). It’s clear, too, that Landesman's inability to offer up even a single well-developed periphery character plays a key role in confirming the movie’s downfall, as the writer/director delivers a series of supporting figures that feel less like actual people and more like cardboard mouthpieces for his often hilariously expository dialogue. (It's a shame, certainly, given that Landesman has stacked the film's cast with an impressive roster of familiar faces, including Tom Sizemore, Ike Barinholtz, Diane Lane, and Eddie Marsan.) The result is a picture that never, ever feels as though it's building to anything interesting or significant, and indeed Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House ends on as anticlimactic a note as one could possibly imagine (ie who cares about his wayward hippie daughter?) - which confirms the movie's place as an often impossibly dull misfire that fails on just about every level it attempts.