Review: ‘Swan Song’ (2021), starring Mahershala Ali

January 1, 2022

by Carla Hay

Mahershala Ali in “Swan Song” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“Swan Song” (2021)

Directed by Benjamin Cleary

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the sci-fi drama film “Swan Song” features a predominantly black cast of characters (with a some white people, Asians and one Native American) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A graphic designer, who is dying from an unnamed illness, keeps it a secret from his family and secretly arranges for a clone to replace him. 

Culture Audience: “Swan Song” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Mahershala Ali and will appeal to people who are interested in to seeing well-acted, emotionally heavy movies about how people might prepare for death.

Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris in “Swan Song” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

The sci-fi drama “Swan Song” is a somber and slow-paced film that viewers have to be in the right frame of mind to see. It’s a very well-acted film that handles its subject matter with sensitivity, but it should be avoided if you’re not in the mood to see a movie about terminal illness and death. The second half of the movie is much better than the first half, which has some pacing issues and takes a little long to get to the heart of the story. “Swan Song” viewers also must have patience with movies that tell stories in a non-linear, non-chronological way.

Written and directed by Benjamin Cleary, “Swan Song” does a lot with the relatively small number of people in the cast. The movie is set in an unspecified year in the future, in an unnamed U.S. city. A graphic designer named Cameron has recently found out that he’s dying from an illness, which is also not named in the movie. The only clue to what this illness might be is that it causes deterioration of the brain.

Cameron is married to a loving and loyal wife named Poppy (played by Naomie Harris), a British immigrant who works as a school teacher for children with learning disabilities. Poppy uses music therapy for her students and composes and sings a lot of the music for this therapy. Cameron and Poppy have a bright and energetic son named Cory (played by Dax Rey), who is 8 years old.

Cameron is the more introverted spouse in the marriage, while Poppy is more of an extrovert. These personality differences are reflected in what Cameron and Poppy chose for their respective careers. When the movie does show Cameron do anything related to his graphic designer job, he’s by himself, with any outside communication done electronically.

Because a great deal of “Swan Song” is shown in flashbacks (including the movie’s opening scene), this is not a movie that people should watch while being distracted by other things. There are subtle clues that can be picked up when people watch this movie with their full attention. These nuances can lead to greater appreciation of “Swan Song,” which might bore some viewers who are expecting more action.

Cameron hasn’t told his family that he doesn’t have much longer to live. That’s because he’s secretly decided to sign up for a relatively new scientific experiment from a company called Arra, which lets terminally ill people agree to have replacement clones made of themselves. (In this story, a human clone is sometimes called a “regeneration.”) As part of the contract with Arra, the terminally ill people who agree to be replaced by clones have to keep this decision a secret from everyone they know except for Arra employees.

Cameron’s clone is temporarily named Jack (also played by Ali), who not only has a replica of Cameron’s DNA but he also has a full transfer of Cameron’s memories, including subconscious memories. The only physical difference between Cameron and his clone is that the clone is given a small mole on the inside of his hand, so that the Arra staffers can tell the difference between the real Cameron and his clone. Clones are able to mimic human emotions, based on the clone’s implanted memories.

There’s a transition period when the terminally ill person and the assigned clone get to know each other. After this transition period, the clone officially replaces the terminally ill person when the clone starts to live its replacement’s life, and the clone’s memory of being a clone is permanently erased. The terminally ill person than lives at Arra headquarters until death comes.

“Swan Song” goes back and forth between Cameron’s ambivalence over wanting a clone to take over his life and flashbacks to what Cameron’s life was like before he knew that he was dying. In order to prepare for the clone to take over his life, Cameron has to spend time at Arra’s headquarters, which are designed to look like an upscale retreat. Cameron tells Poppy that he’s away on business to explain his absence from home.

Dr. Jo Scott (played by Glenn Close) leads Arra’s cloning project, and she’s determined to make it a success. She has only two human subordinates working with her: a technician named Rafa (played by Lee Shorten) and a psychologist/head technician named Dalton (played by Adam Beach). As Dr. Scott explains to Cameron, the rest of the staffing duties are done by artificial intelligence technology that she says can do the work of abut 50 humans.

Dr. Scott also tells Cameron, when he asks, that he’s only the third human who’s going through Arra’s clone replacement process. She has no ethical qualms about human cloning. “It’ll be as common as heart transplants, in a few years,” Dr. Scott confidently predicts to Cameron. Dr. Scott also keeps a tight reign on Arra’s secret cloning. When Cameron says he wants to tell his family about it, she’s quick to remind him that he signed a contract and that he will “lose the opportunity” if he tells anyone that he arranged to have a replacement clone.

During his stay at Arra headquarters, Cameron meets another terminally ill person named Kate (played by Awkwafina), whose clone has been out in the world for about 42 days when Cameron and Kate first meet. Dr. Scott says that Cameron should also meet Kate’s clone, so that Cameron can see how it’s nearly impossible to tell a clone from a real human being. Cameron goes to Kate’s job (she’s a real estate agent), where he meets Kate’s clone and Kate’s daughter Sammy (played by Mikayla Lagman), who’s about 10 or 11 years old. Sammy has no idea that Kate has been replaced by a clone. The experience of meeting a clone in the real world somewhat unnerves Cameron, who starts to doubt if he made the right decision.

Kate also has mixed emotions about seeing how her family and other loved ones were easily fooled into believing the clone is the real Kate. On the one hand, Kate says that “my guilt faded pretty quick” after she saw how her family wouldn’t have to worry if they knew the truth about Kate being terminally ill. On the other hand, it’s unsettling and sad for Kate to see a clone take over her life while Kate is still alive. Cameron will also go through the same mixed feelings, which Ali conveys with as much skill as a great actor can have when depicting an introvert.

There are additional reasons for why Cameron wants to keep his cloning decision a secret from his loved ones. Poppy is two months pregnant with their second child. And a few years earlier, Poppy’s twin brother Andre (played by Nyasha Hatendi) died in a motorcycle accident. Poppy went into a deep depression, where she could barely leave the house “for a better part of a year,” as Cameron tells Kate.

Poppy is in therapy over her grief. By contrast, Cameron has never been in therapy. Cameron doesn’t want to add to Poppy’s grief by telling her that he’s dying. Cameron also doesn’t want their unborn child and Cory to grow up without a father. Cameron’s own family history is barely mentioned, except when he tells Dr. Scott that his parents divorced when he was 5 years old, and he was raised by his mother. It might explain any extra motivation that Cameron has to make sure that his children have a father in their lives.

Before Cameron found out that he was terminally ill, he and Poppy hit somewhat of a rough patch in their marriage, where they seemed to be drifting apart. In a private conversation between Poppy and Cameron, she tells him that’s she convinced that her unexpected pregnancy with their second child is a sign that the child will be good for their marriage. Cameron seems to agree, but his terminal illness diagnosis has permanently altered those plans, because it’s very likely that Cameron won’t live to see the birth of this child.

Flashbacks show how Cameron and Poppy met: They were both commuter train passengers sharing the same table. They both ordered the same chocolate bar, but when Poppy started eating the chocolate, Cameron mistakenly thought that she was eating his chocolate bar, but they ended up sharing it anyway. It became an endearing joke between them.

Other flashbacks show their courtship, marriage, parenthood, and how Andre was a close member of their family. (Ace LeVere portrays Cory at age 2. Aiden Adejuwon plays Cory at age 5.) One of these flashbacks is of a conversation between Cameron, Poppy and Andre, where Andre talks about the news that human cloning experiments were happening. Cameron seems turned-off by the idea and says that he wouldn’t want a human clone of himself. He obviously changed his mind after getting diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Ali and Harris, who co-starred in the Oscar-winning 2016 film “Moonlight,” have good chemistry together and make a believable couple. Some viewers might feel that not enough of Cameron and Poppy’s relationship is shown, since the vast majority of the relationship is presented in flashback snippets. Harris’ role as Poppy does feel a little underwritten, since she’s mostly depicted as a cheerful and upbeat wife. The depression she had over Andre’s death is not really shown, even though this depression no doubt caused some of strain in her marriage to Cameron.

“Swan Song” is also a little uneven in explaining Arra’s cloning procedures. There are some questionable decisions in the process that no self-respecting psychologist/psychiatrist would recommend. For example, terminally ill humans are allowed to see how their clones interact with loved ones as the humans’ replacements. The clones are equipped with contact lenses that are linked to live video monitors that can be watched at Arra headquarters by the scientists and the human who’s being replaced. If there are no problems in the trial run, the clone’s memory is then erased about being a clone, and the clone will then move on to living life as the human’s replacement.

“Swan Song” doesn’t do a very adequate job of explaining why these scientists would want terminally ill people to see clones completely replacing these humans without the humans’ loved ones knowing, when the psychological effects would be too risky. Some terminally ill people might feel comforted at seeing their replacement clones take over their lives. However, most terminally ill people would probably feel disturbed by seeing a clone living the life that the humans want to have.

After Jack the clone (before he officially becomes Cameron) is sent to live with Poppy and Cory for this trial run, Cameron sees how Jack is interacting with his family. Cameron reacts exactly how you would expect him to react. It leads to a certain confrontation that affects Cameron’s decisions for the rest of the story.

“Swan Song” (whose futuristic cinematography is awash in a lot of gray and blue) doesn’t hit its best stride until the last 20 minutes of the movie, when Cameron makes a pivotal decision that affects his journey. Ali has his most impactful “Swan Song” scenes in this last part of the movie. Cameron is not a naturally expressive person, so he keeps a lot of his emotions bottled inside until he can no longer ignore his feelings. “Swan Song” might be set in the future, but it effectively shows how issues about humanity and the fragility of life are timeless.

Apple TV+ released “Swan Song” in select U.S. cinemas and on Apple TV+ on December 17, 2021.

Review: ‘Four Good Days,’ starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis

May 5, 2021

by Carla Hay

Glenn Close and Mila Kunis in “Four Good Days” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

“Four Good Days”

Directed by Rodrigo García

Culture Representation: Taking place from September 2019 to January 2020 in Riverside, California, the dramatic film “Four Good Days” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and Latinos) representing the middle-class and working-class.

Culture Clash: A heroin addict and her long-estranged mother try to repair their rocky relationship when the mother allows her 31-year-old daughter to move back home with her in the daughter’s attempt to get clean and sober.

Culture Audience: “Four Good Days” will appeal primarly to people interested in watching dramas about mother-daughter relationships or the struggles of drug addicts, but the movie’s overwrought and sometimes unrealistic scenes will be a turnoff to some viewers.

Nicholas Oteri, Audrey Lynn, Joshua Leonard and Mila Kunis in “Four Good Days” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

The dramatic film “Four Good Days” was inspired by a true story, but the shrill melodramatics in too many badly written scenes just make the movie look like overly staged phoniness. Even though lead actresses Glenn Glose and Mia Kunis seem to be putting their best efforts forward as a mother and a daughter with a troubled relationship, “Four Good Days” is ruined by a plethora of eye-rolling, ridiculous moments, especially in the last 15 minutes of the film. Instead of “Four Good Days,” the movie is better-described as “100 Irritating Minutes.”

The beginning of “Four Good Days” (directed by Rodrigo García) sets the tone for the rest of this disappointing movie, which was written by García and Eli Saslow. The movie’s screenplay is based on Saslow’s 2016 Washington Post article “Four Good Days,” about the real-life relationship between recovering drug addict Amanda Wendler and her mother Libby Alexander. In the “Four Good Days” movie, the bickering mother and daughter are Deb (played by Close) and her daughter Margaret “Molly” Wheeler (played by Kunis).

During the opening credits, Molly is seen as a vibrant, healthy-looking person frolicking on a beach. And then, the movie, shows what Molly looks like in September 2019, when this story begins. She’s very thin and strung-out on heroin, with sores all over her face and no upper teeth. She’s disheveled and looks like the homeless person that she is.

Molly hasn’t talked to her mother Deb in years (the movie doesn’t say for how many years), but Molly has shown up unannounced at the front door of Deb’s home in suburban Riverside, California, to beg Deb for a place to stay. Deb says no and firmly tells Molly: “The deal was you wouldn’t come back until you were clean.”

Deb also tells Molly that Deb and Deb’s husband Chris (played by Stephen Root) changed the locks on their home because Molly and her junkie boyfriend Eric stole guitars and other items. Molly says that she and Eric are no longer together, but Deb remains unmoved. She shuts the door on Molly and tells her to come back when she’s clean.

After this “tough love” rejection of her daughter, Deb goes inside the house and is comforted by Chris, who tells Deb that she did the right thing and that she can’t back down from her resolve. Chris comments to Deb about Molly: “She can’t walk if you carry her.” (This movie is filled with trite platitudes that sound like slogans from a drug rehab poster.)

Molly doesn’t go away. Instead, she spends the night sleeping on Deb’s porch. And the next morning, after Molly promises that she’s ready to get clean, Deb relents and tells Molly to get in Deb’s car because Deb is driving her to rehab immediately. Molly tries to make an excuse to go in the house, by saying she hasn’t taken a shower in weeks. However, Deb refuses to let her in the house, and they drive to a detox center called Clear Horizons Recovery. The movie reveals that it’s Molly’s 15th trip to rehab in the 14 years since she became a drug addict at age 17.

During the check-in process, Molly says her main drug of choice is heroin, but she’s also recently done other drugs, such as methadone, crack cocaine, Vicodin and Adderall. Molly’s Medicaid insurance will only cover a three-day stay at Clear Horizons. After that, Molly expects to stay with Deb, but Deb still won’t fully commit to it yet. After Molly is checked into to detox center and as Deb walks away, Molly yells at Deb and calls her a derogatory name that rhymes with “witch.”

Back at home, Deb is struggling with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Deb is relieved that Molly is getting the help that she needs. On the other hand, Deb has been down this road with Molly too many other times before, and it’s always led to Molly relapsing back into drug use. Will this latest rehab stint work this time?

Deb tells Chris in a private conversation in their home how she feels about Molly: “Sometimes I get the feeling that I don’t want to love her anymore … This is the mess you married into.” Chris replies, “You always talk like that when she’s around. Stop doing it.”

Who is this dysfunctional family and how did they end up this way? Through conversations in the movie, it’s gradually revealed in layers what happened. Chris (who is retired) is the second husband of Deb, who works as a facialist in a hotel spa. When Molly was about 15 years old and a freshman in high school, Deb left her first husband Dale and their two children (Molly and Molly’s older sister Ashley) because Deb felt trapped and unhappy in an emotionally abusive marriage.

Deb lived apart from her children for about two years and let Dale take full custody. This estrangement caused a lot of bad blood between the family members. And even though Deb is shown making sincere apologies to a now drug-addicted Molly for abandoning the family, Molly still has a lot of deep-seated resentment against her mother. Meanwhile, Dale (played by Sam Hennings) has essentially cut himself off from Molly because of her constant relapses after promising to get clean.

How did Molly become a drug addict? When Molly was 17 years old, she sprained her knee while water skiing. A doctor prescribed her OxyContin. And as Deb describes it when ranting to Molly’s current rehab doctor, “no refill was denied” in this OxyContin prescription. Molly got hooked on OxyContin and then later turned to heroin. Molly also dropped out of high school because of her drug addiction.

At some point during her on-again, off-again drug use, Molly got married and had two children. But not surprisingly, the marriage didn’t last, and Molly lost custody of the children. Molly’s ex-husband Sean (played by Joshua Leonard) works in construction. Molly and Sean’s children are a son named Colton (played by Nicholas Oteri), who’s about 10 or 11 years old when this story takes place, and Chloe (played by Audrey Lynn), who is about 8 or 9 years old. Molly doesn’t see them on a regular basis, but Deb seems to keep in frequent contact with Molly’s kids, since they all live nearby.

Before Molly checks out of Clear Horizons, she and Deb have an assessment appointment with Clear Horizons physician Dr. Oritz (played by Carlos Lacamara), who has to listen to Deb berate him and blame medical professionals for prescribing OxyContin to people who end up getting addicted. Deb yells at the doctor by saying “you people” are responsible for Molly’s drug addiction. This isn’t the last that viewers will see Deb’s awful shrewishness.

Dr. Ortiz is calm and patient with Deb’s outburst (Molly is mortified) and explains that a post-rehab option for Molly is for her to take an opiate antagonist, which is a medication that supresses cravings for opiates. The doctor explains that this medication, which makes people “immune from getting high,” is an injection administered by a medical professional once a month. Dr. Ortiz also makes it clear that the medication only works on people who have no opioids and other dangerous drugs in their system. Otherwise, it could lead to serious health damage and possible death.

Molly and Deb want to get this opiate antagonist treatment right away. However, Dr. Ortiz explains that the earliest that Molly can get the treatment is in four days. Molly can no longer stay in the detox center because Molly’s insurance won’t cover it and her rehab bed has to go to someone else. And so, Deb lets Molly come home with her.

Most of the movie chronicles the four-day wait for Molly to get her first opiate antagonist treatment. And, unlike what the movie title suggests, it’s a miserable four days. Not surprisingly, Molly and Deb argue a lot, because Deb understandably has a hard time trusting Molly. Deb won’t leave any money or her car keys in places where Molly could steal them. Deb gives Molly a “burner” cell phone that she says Molly can only use to call family members or a medical professional.

Meanwhile, Molly goes through the expected heroin withdrawals, but the movie unrealistically spends just a few scenes showing Molly in agony in one day. She’s shown curled up in a fetal position, complaining about how cold she is. And there are the expected scenes of Molly vomiting. But after Molly’s first full day back in Deb’s home, Molly’s withdrawals aren’t really mentioned again, as if they were just some pesky aches and pains. It’s a very simplistic and inauthentic portrayal of heroin withdrawals.

The movie takes a more realistic approach in how Molly’s physical appearance has been ravaged by drug use. There’s a scene where Molly and Deb visit with a dentist named Dr. Stevens (played by Kim Delgado), who gives Molly a set of upper-teeth dentures to wear. Molly complains that the false teeth hurt because her inflamed gums are so sore. And speaking of sores, the makeup team of “Four Good Days” did a good job of making Molly’s face look like what can really happen to a hardcore drug addict.

Deb’s approach to having Molly live in the home is like a strict parent dealing with a child who is grounded. Molly has a suspended driver’s license because of past DUI arrests. But Deb says that even if Molly had a valid driver’s license, she wouldn’t trust Molly to drive any vehicle because of the possiblity that Molly would be tempted to drive somewhere to get drugs.

After a while, Molly becomes restless and frustrated with feeling like a prisoner in Deb’s home, so there’s more arguing between Deb and Molly. And where is Deb’s retired husband Chris during all this family drama? This movie is so sloppily written that there are long stretches where Chris is nowhere to be seen and he’s not even mentioned.

The house isn’t that big, but even if it were, Chris’ presence is almost like an afterthought in the movie. He vaguely seems to support Deb’s decision to let Molly stay in the house, as long as Molly stays clean, but he’s not in the movie enough to make a real impact. However, Root and Close have one pretty good scene together where Deb is ranting and yelling at Chris to say something and she calls him a “fucking wimp.” Chris explodes and gives bullying Deb the verbal smackdown that she deserves, by yelling back at her, “I’m not your punching bag!”

“Four Good Days” should be commended for not sugarcoating the reality that families who deal with drug addiction often have at least one enabler/co-dependent who hurts more than helps the addict. Deb has all the characteristics of being a toxic enabler/co-dependent. Deb thinks she means well, but she often makes things worse. A perfect example of her toxic enabling/co-dependency is a very irresponsible decison that Deb makes in the last 15 minutes of the film. It’s a decision that will make viewers really dislike this movie.

“Four Good Days” goes a little too overboard in showing Deb vaccillating between wanting to distrust Molly and wanting to coddle Molly. In one of the worst scenes in “Four Good Days,” Deb goes to a diner to have breakfast with her older daughter Ashley (played by Carla Gallo), who is estranged from Molly. Molly was supposed to be at this breakfast meeting too, but she backed out at the last minute. Ashley doesn’t seem too surprised.

Deb and Ashley start off having a good mother-daughter talk. Deb tells Ashley how Molly is doing. Ashley, who is an attorney and a single mother, gives Deb updates on what’s been going on in her life, including Ashley’s new relationship with a boyfriend. There’s a little bit of tension when Ashley comments that Deb is obsessed with Molly and Molly’s problems. Deb essentially admits it’s true.

Things take a turn in the conversation when Deb notices that she left her wallet at home. Deb wants to go back and get the wallet because she doesn’t want Molly to be alone in the house with any cash that’s easy to find. Ashley insists that she will pay for their meal and she orders Deb not to go back to the house. It’s Ashley’s way of telling her mother not to let Molly’s addiction take over Deb’s life.

Ashley continues to talk happily about her new boyfriend, but Deb has an expression on her face that she’s tuned out of what Ashley is saying. Ashley can tell that her mother is thinking about Molly possibly finding Deb’s wallet at home. And then, Deb suddenly gets up and leaves Ashley at the table without even saying goodbye. Horrible. Ashley is not seen or mentioned in the movie again.

Molly gets restless from being cooped up in the house, so Deb invites Molly to go grocery shopping with her. At the grocery store, they run into a former high school classmate of Molly’s named Coach Miller (played by Rebecca Field), who now teaches a health and fitness class at a local high school. Molly’s drug problems are apparently very well-known in the community, because Coach Miller tells Molly that people are rooting for her in her recovery.

Coach Miller says that Molly could be an inspiration/deterrent to the kids in Coach Miller’s class. She invites Molly to be a guest speaker in the class, to talk about the dangers of drug addiction. Molly politely declines because she says she’s not good at public speaking. The problem with this invitation is that Coach Miller doesn’t know if Molly (who is fresh out of rehab) is really the best person to lecture anyone about what it takes to have long-term sobriety.

But then later in the movie, Molly is later shown giving a tear-filled speech in front of Coach Miller’s students, while Deb is standing near the back of the class. Molly is both self-righteous and apologetic in her speech. Molly berates a smug student (played by Gabriela Flores), who says that she would never become a drug addict. And to throw in some more melodrama, Molly pulls out the dentures in her mouth so that the students can see Molly’s diseased, toothless gums. And then, Molly wails and sobs toward the end of the speech, as she tells Deb how sorry she is about the pain she caused.

During the car drive from the school, Deb tells Molly how proud she is of her. And then, Molly uses that moment to tell her mother that she wants to help other drug addicts in their recoveries. And by the way, Molly says, she wants to check in on a 15-year-old girl druggie friend named Sammy, because Molly is worrried about Sammy. And so, Molly begs her mother to drive to a drug-infested area to help Molly look for Sammy.

At first, Deb is dead-set against the idea. But she’s worn down by Molly’s pleading and drives to the area and tells Molly that she has five minutes to ask around for Sammy. This eventually leads to another ridiculous scene where Deb and Molly end up in a drug house, where Deb aggressively confronts a large man on drugs who could have a weapon on him. But Deb doesn’t think about these things when she loses her temper, which she does a lot in this movie.

“Four Good Days” isn’t all about Deb and Molly’s hostile conflicts with each other. They have some occasions where they try to repair their damaged relationship. In one scene, mother and daughter have a tender moment together when Deb gives Molly a much-needed facial treatment. And in another scene, Molly’s ex-husband Sean brings Colton and Chloe over to the house to visit. It’s a glimpse of how this fractured family could be if they can heal in the right ways.

But those moments of tranquil harmony are overshadowed by angry turmoil. After a while, it’s very obvious that Molly isn’t the only addict in the family. Her mother Deb is addicted to chaos. And she’s in deep denial over it, which makes her even more insufferable to watch.

Close’s immense talent as an actress is hampered by how the character of Deb veers into asburdity and self-delusion. Deb is intended to be a complicated, flawed person, but some of the decisions that Deb makes and how she handles situations actually make Deb more into a bad stereotype of a domineering, ill-tempered matriarch. “Four Good Days” director García and Close previously worked together on the drama “Albert Nobbs,” which earned Close an Oscar nominaton for playing the movie’s cross-dressing title character. “Four Good Days” is far from an Oscar-caliber film.

Kunis’ depiction of a flaky drug addict has moments of realism, especially in the first half of the movie, but there are other times when Kunis is over-acting. It’s almost as if she’s thinking that her portrayal of drug addiction in this movie will possibly get her nominated for major awards. It won’t. The rest of the movie’s cast members are serviceable in their very sparsely written roles.

One of the best scenes in the film isn’t with Deb and Molly. It’s a scene when Deb angrily confronts her ex-husband Dale (played by Sam Hemmings) and tries to shame him for not being in contact with Molly in the days since Deb told Dale that Molly was spendng time recovering in Deb’s home. In this scene, the pent-up resentment that these two ex-spouses have had for each other over the years comes out like a bomb exploding. Deb and Dale each blame each other in some way for Molly’s addiction, when in reality Molly is the only one who can and should take responsibility for her life.

One of the worst things about “Four Good Days” is that it starts off fooling viewers into thinking that it will be a realistic story of how drug addiction can damage relationships. And although some scenes crackle with intensity, the movie takes a very Hollywood approach to how these real-life issues are handled. The character of Deb gets angry with screwed-up daughter Molly for dragging Deb down with Molly’s problems. However, Molly and Deb are such grating, self-pitying characters that this whole movie is dragged down by their annoying antics.

Vertical Entertainment released “Four Good Days” in select U.S. cinemas on April 30, 2021.

2020 Golden Globe Awards: presenters announced

January 3, 2020

by Carla Hay

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the organization the votes for the Golden Globe Awards) and Dick Clark Productions (which co-produces the Golden Globes telecast) have announced the presenters of the 2020 Golden Globe Awards ceremony, which takes place January 5 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills California. NBC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Here are the presenters in alphabetical order:

  • Tim Allen
  • Jennifer Aniston*
  • Christian Bale*
  • Antonio Banderas*
  • Jason Bateman
  • Annette Bening*
  • Cate Blanchett*
  • Matt Bomer
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Glenn Close
  • Daniel Craig*
  • Ted Danson
  • Ana de Armas*
  • Leonardo DiCaprio*
  • Ansel Elgort
  • Chris Evans
  • Dakota Fanning
  • Will Ferrell
  • Lauren Graham
  • Tiffany Haddish
  • Kit Harington*
  • Salma Hayek
  • Scarlett Johansson*
  • Elton John*
  • Nick Jonas
  • Harvey Keitel
  • Zoe Kravitz
  • Jennifer Lopez*
  • Rami Malek*
  • Kate McKinnon
  • Helen Mirren
  • Jason Momoa
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Amy Poehler
  • Brad Pitt*
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph
  • Margot Robbie*
  • Paul Rudd*
  • Wesley Snipes
  • Octavia Spencer
  • Bernie Taupin*
  • Charlize Theron*
  • Sofia Vergara
  • Kerry Washington
  • Naomi Watts
  • Rachel Weisz
  • Reese Witherspoon*

*2020 Golden Globe Awards nominee

Ricky Gervais is hosting the show. Tom Hanks will be receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement, while Ellen DeGeneres will be getting the Carol Burnett Award, which is given to people who have excelled in comedy. The Carol Burnett Award debuted at the Golden Globes in 2019, and Burnett was the first recipient of the prize. Dylan and Paris Brosnan (sons of Pierce Brosnan) will serve as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors.

Click here for a complete list of nominations for the 2020 Golden Globe Awards.

2018 Hollywood Film Awards: Hugh Jackman, Glenn Close, Damien Chazelle among honorees

October 18, 2018

The following is a press release from Dick Clark Productions:

Dick Clark Productions announced today several spectacular additions to the list of honorees at the 22nd Annual Hollywood Film Awards.  Glenn Close will receive the “Hollywood Actress Award” for her stunning performance in Sony Pictures Classic’s “The Wife,” while Hugh Jackman will be recognized for his powerful turn in Sony Pictures’ “The Front Runner.” Damien Chazelle will receive the “Hollywood Director Award” for his work on Universal Pictures’ “First Man.”

They join previously announced honorees Nicole Kidman, who will receive this year’s “Hollywood Career Achievement Award,” Timothée Chalamet and Rachel Weisz, who will receive the “Hollywood Supporting Actor Award” and “Hollywood Supporting Actress Award,” respectively, “Crazy Rich Asians,” which will receive the “Hollywood Breakout Ensemble Award,” Amandla Stenberg, who will receive the “Hollywood Breakout Performance Actress Award,” John David Washington, who will receive the “Hollywood Breakout Performance Actor Award,” Felix Van Groeningen, who will receive the  “Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award,” and Yalitza Aparicio, who will receive the “New Hollywood Award.”  The 22nd Annual “Hollywood Film Awards” will take place on Sunday, November 4 at The Beverly Hilton.

The “Hollywood Film Awards,” honoring the most acclaimed films and actors while previewing highly anticipated films and talent for the upcoming year, also acknowledges artists in the categories of Cinematography, Visual Effects, Film Composing, Costume Design, Editing, Production Design, Sound and Makeup & Hairstyling. In its 22-year history, more than 320 of the world’s biggest stars and filmmakers have been highlighted at the “Hollywood Film Awards” and more than 130 of the honorees have gone on to garner Oscar nominations and/or wins.

A six-time Academy Award nominee, Glenn Close made her feature film debut in George Roy Hill’s The World According to Garp, earning her awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review as well as her first Academy Award nomination. She was subsequently Oscar-nominated for “The Big Chill,” “The Natural,” “Fatal Attraction” and Stephen Frears’ “Dangerous Liaisons” (for which she was also a BAFTA Award nominee). Close stars in the title role of Jane Anderson’s film adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s bestselling novel “The Wife,” with Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater for Swedish director Björn Runge, which opened earlier this year. Close also stars in the title role of Jane Anderson’s stage play “Mother of the Maid,” which just premiered in New York at the Public Theater.  Close received her sixth Academy Award nomination in 2012, along with Golden Globe and SAG nominations, for “Albert Nobbs,” having co-written the screenplay with man Booker Prize-winning author, John Banville. Close was also a producer on the film and composed the lyrics for the Golden Globe and World Soundtrack- nominated song, “Lay Your Head Down.” Glenn Close made her theatre, and Broadway, debut in Harold Prince’s revival of “Love for Love.” Her theater credits include “The Crucifer of Blood,” “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs” (Obie Award), Barnum (Tony nomination) and Tony Awards for her performances in “The Real Thing” and “Death and the Maiden,” both directed by Mike Nichols, and for her performance in the highly-anticipated revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Sunset Boulevard.” Starting in 2007, Close headlined the critically acclaimed legal thriller “Damages” for five seasons. For her riveting portrayal of high-stakes litigator Patty Hewes, Close won two consecutive Emmys as Best Actress in a Drama Series and two subsequent Emmy nominations, along with a Golden Globe Award and three SAG Award nominations. Close’s twelve Golden Globe nominations include a Best Actress win for Andrei Konchalovsky’s adaptation of “The Lion in Winter” (which also earned her a SAG Award). Among the television projects that have brought her twelve Emmy nominations, is an Emmy Award for her performance as Margarethe Cammermeyer in “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story” (for which she also received a Peabody Award as executive producer). In 2009, Close co-founded the charity Bring Change To Mind, whose mission is to confront the stigma and misunderstanding around mental illness by “starting the conversation.” The idea for the organization came about following Close’s first-hand observation of battles with mental illness within her family.

Hugh Jackman can currently be seen in the Jason Reitman-directed feature film “The Front Runner.” Based on the true story of American Senator Gary Hart’s tumultuous political run for the office of President of the United States in 1988. Jackman is a multi-award-winning actor on stage and screen. He was last seen as P.T. Barnum in the worldwide phenomenon “The Greatest Showman.” He is a co-founder of Laughing Man Coffee and a worldwide Ambassador for Global Citizen, among other philanthropic efforts.

Academy Award® winner Damien Chazelle most recently wrote and directed the musical “La La Land,” which earned fourteen Oscar nominations, winning six awards, including Best Director for Chazelle, who is the youngest director to receive the award.  The film also won a record-breaking seven Golden Globes, and was also honored with five BAFTA wins and eleven nominations. His previous film, 2014’s “Whiplash,” received five Academy Award nominations and three wins, including Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons. His 2013 short, based on the “Whiplash” screenplay, won the Short Film Jury Prize at Sundance, and the following year the feature film took home both the Jury and Audience Awards from the festival. Chazelle made his first feature, “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,” as an undergraduate student at Harvard University. The film was named one of the Best Films of the Year by The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, LA Weekly, The Village Voice, and others. Upcoming in TV, Chazelle has a musical drama
“The Eddy” for Netflix, and a straight-to-series order for a drama series for Apple which he will direct and executive produce.

Additional honorees for the 22nd Annual “Hollywood Film Awards” will be announced in the coming weeks.

For the latest news, follow the “Hollywood Film Awards” on social and join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #HollywoodAwards.

Twitter: @HollywoodAwards
Instagram: @hollywoodawards

About dick clark productions
Dick Clark Productions (DCP) is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming with the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “American Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and the “Streamy Awards.” Weekly television programming includes “So You Think You Can Dance” from 19 Entertainment and dcp. dcp also owns one of the world’s most unique and extensive entertainment archive libraries with over 60 years of award-winning shows, historic programs, specials, performances and legendary programming. DCP is a division of Valence Media, a diversified media company with divisions and strategic investments in premium television, wide release film, specialty film, live events and digital media. For additional information, visit

About The Hollywood Film Awards
The Hollywood Film Awards, founded in 1997, were created to celebrate Hollywood and launch the awards season. The recipients of the awards are selected by an Advisory Team for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. For additional information, visit

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