Can’t Wait: ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’


While my other movie series, I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Film School, looks back, I figured I should place at least one foot in the here and now of giddy anticipation.  Therefore, Can’t Wait focuses on upcoming movies I, well, can’t wait to see, along with a few reasons why.

Bill Murray has had one of the more unique career arcs of any actor from the last four decades.  A stand-up comedian who became a masterful improv artist who became a Saturday Night Live legend who became, along with Eddie Murphy, the biggest comedy star of the eighties, Murray has since departed the big stage for understated independent roles.  He is now the elder statesman/secret weapon of directors like Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch; that’s a Madonna-style rebranding.  While Murray’s latest role as former U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the upcoming Hyde Park on Hudson keeps him in the indie realm he’s occupied for the last decade-plus, it looks like his most dramatic yet.

Murray’s FDR would, on the surface, appear to be in line with his usual stable of characters, but that assumption would not be quite right.  His recent turns as dour, deadpan men searching for meaning in old age — think Lost in Translation or Broken Flowers — have added a new dimension to him.  In Hyde Park on Hudson, Murray seems to be fun, but not in the same way he was in his eighties heyday.  Gone is the detached, sardonic wit, and in its place is a damaged man who cares about people and life.  For the most part, the film’s trailer carries a light tone, but its implications of British royalty lobbying the U.S. president for help in World War II, along with FDR’s affair with his distant cousin, Margaret (Laura Linney), point to a darker reality the marketing campaign would be loathe to show.  The film probably stays away from the “icky factor” of the affair, but the frankness in its admittance of said infidelity is a rarity among the syrupy, awards-bait films that usually arrive in December, like this will.  A deeper look into the psychology of one of America’s most prominent twentieth century leaders (hopefully) without typical biopic hero worship is indeed something to look forward to.

P.S. There are few things that have brought me as much joy as this video.

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