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Jon Hamm Walks a High Wire of Diplomacy in 'Beirut' at the Spring KCET Cinema Series April 3

Q&A immediately following with star Jon Hamm, producers Monica Levinson, Shivani Rawat and Mike Weber

Any good spy tale thrives on a wounded man at its center, so it’s no surprise that Jon Hamm is excellent in this role of a political negotiator with a dark past. After seven seasons of "Mad Men," here he proves himself to be a different version of a persuasive antihero…this time as a U.S. diplomat in war-torn Beirut of the 1980s. With slick confidence barely covering a life in shambles, as Mason Skiles he returns to service on a CIA mission (joined by Rosamund Pike and Dean Norris) to save the life of a friend from the group responsible for the death of his family. This adult thriller is a throwback to a pre-superhero era in blockbuster filmmaking as written by Tony Gilroy (responsible for numerous Jason Bourne screenplays). While handling the Middle East in cinema can be a delicate undertaking, the film attempts to map out the key players in a nuanced way as opposed to a cartoonish espionage caper. Its motivations remain timely with political stakes on a global scale currently higher than ever.

His character’s willingness to engage in dialogue stands in stark contrast to the current political climate, observes Hamm. “Everything’s so polarized now that you can’t say anything for fear of being a traitor to your party or a traitor to your country or a traitor to your religion,” observes the actor. “It seems like we only have the capacity to see things in black and white, but the world doesn’t exist in that color scheme. If we’re not talking, we’re fighting, and that doesn’t seem to be a very legitimate way to move anything forward. So honestly, that’s the message I hope people take away from this movie: Instead of fighting, maybe talking works a little better.”

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“Beirut” will be released on April 13 by Bleecker Street. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Q&A immediately following with star Jon Hamm, producers Monica Levinson, Shivani Rawat, Mike Weber and Pete Hammond of KCET’s Must See Movies.

Deadline.com is the official media sponsor for the spring season of the KCET Cinema Series. The series began on February 20 and runs through April 10. The film screens at 7 p.m. at the Arclight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks (15301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403). Nearby parking is available.

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