As Lady Bird Johnson, Jennifer Jason Leigh is distinctive — but what makes this a film worth paying for is the spectacularly good performance by fellow Texan Woody Harrelson as LBJ, a role he was born for.He has the leathery looks, the voice, the posture — as well as that bellicose, domineering way with anyone opposing him, and the coarse country realism in his language. At Toronto this year there are two films pivoting on the assassination of JFK: Pablo Larrain’s intimate look at one side of the tragedy, Jackie, with Natalie Portman, and this much more four-square account of how Lyndon B Johnson succeeded him, pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and held office for six years.In Jackie, Johnson (played by Richard E Grant) is a brute.There are good reasons why America is so actively re-assessing its civil rights years right now, so this film is oddly topical. Driving past the Lincoln memorial, LBJ angrily tells the statue: “This is your f***ing mess I’m clearing up.” His idea of a joke to tell as chair of a committee on equal employment opportunities? The movie is about a teenage girl, but it’s the 55-year-old guy who steals “The Edge of Seventeen,” tucks it under his arm and walks away with it. Woody Harrelson isn’t the only reason to see Kelly Fremon Craig’s coming-of-age film, which closed the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday night with back-to-back screenings at the Princess of Wales Theatre and Roy Thomson Hall.Naturally, she’s socially inept, which in high school means she’s perpetually on the verge of humiliation.Nadine is sharp and funny enough to be an amusing tour guide through the perils of adolescence for a while, and it’s good that writer-director Craig doesn’t let her off the hook.
LBJ, directed by Rob Reiner, re-balances that story.Though structured around that day in Dallas, this a conventional biopic, going back to portray LBJ’s earlier joustings with the Kennedys and forward to his first days in power.