The Laundromat is a complicated film with superb acting and a compelling narrative.

The North Texas Film Festival premiere of Netflix’s The Laundromat presented a complicated film that often breaks the fourth wall and presents human characters who show intense sides of humanity and propensity to vice.

It is complicated in the way a diamond-wearing, church going woman in the mid-Atlantic states losing her husband and the condo meant to remind her of him to a shady off-shore banking company involving African and Caribbean characters can be. It was never-the-less an engaging film that will capture the attention of audiences with superb acting by Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas and phenomenal portrayals by all else involved.

Power and corruption run rife in a global insurance, investments, real estate and banking industry as a suddenly widowed Ellen Martin attempts to make sense of her life. Her husband becomes suddenly deceased in a mass fatality shipwreck at Niagra Falls before he can hand her an anniversary present of a ruby. The condo she wants to remind herself of her husband who stole tickets to see The Supremes with is suddenly snapped up by a strange shell company with ties to a banking and insurance system that reroutes her calls and disconnects them.

Steven Soderbergh’s writing is a times a bit ham-handed and often times a bit too cognizant of the conventions it breaks as it tells a narrative clumsily asking for a restoration of liberty to a nation by policing its financial systems that operate as shadily in Delaware as they do in the Lesser Antilles.

It also does not present a balanced view of minorities, the accumulation of funds or goods by colonizing systems over the colonized and “fraud” in this framework or sense. It is a reasonable commentary on a need to regulate our systems of finance and capital, however, and should start many necessary conversations with its compelling storytelling.

David Schwimmer, Gary Oldman, Jeffery Wright, Nonzo Anozie, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Chris Parnell — honestly this list of talent is so long it’s hard to credit it well in passing in an article — all deliver masterful performances.

It’s decidedly a film to observe people who are living out situations, more than anything else.

The First Man American Flag Controversy

Much has been made about the controversy surrounding the lack of Ryan Gosling’s Neil
Armstrong placing the American flag on the moon in Damien Chazelle’s just unleashed
First Man.

The outrage has led to massive 1-star ratings and user reviews on IMDB from people
who have yet to see the film. If the lack of the flag being placed on the moon are the
worst thing to happen in a film, it’s massively telling for the point America has reached
as a nation. Yet these people seem to have no problems with the awful problems that our
nation faces today.

The problem is that people are more than willing to pre-judge a film before it hits
theaters. I understand judging those films with abusers in them because I’ve done the
same and won’t stop that anytime soon. But what do these protesters have to say about
First Man when Armstrong’s own family is defending the film?

One excerpt of a statement from Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Matt, and author James
Hansen says everything we need to know about their feelings:

“Although Neil didn’t see himself that way, he was an American hero. He was also an
engineer and a pilot, a father and a friend, a man who suffered privately through great
tragedies with incredible grace. This is why, though there are numerous shots of the
American flag on the moon, the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the
earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this
journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows.”

This film, they say, should not be seen as anti-American. Give First Man a chance. I
know that I will.

29134970_10102083915109720_1906448420_nDanielle Solzman is a film critic and a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle, Galeca: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and the Online Film & Television Association. She also writes for Solzy at the Movies.