Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Anti-Spotlight

As I wrote here several weeks ago, "Spotlight" is an excellent movie that will likely win the Oscar for Best Picture.   It's about real life journalists who go about their jobs using their heads.

"Truth" is a so-so movie about some real life journalists who go about their jobs using their hearts.  And, of course, the end result is the polar opposite of the conclusion of "Spotlight," as well it should be.  But, even in its floundering mediocrity, "Truth" raises some serious questions about the state of unbiased journalism in America.   And you can see very easily how far down the rabbit hole we have all fallen.

Realistically, there is no straight news reporting anymore.   That's probably why the ratings of nightly news shows are in the tank.   That's probably why one newspaper after another is closing.   There is no more journalism in America. Now it's nothing but opinions from pundits masquerading as news folks.   It's always fascinating to me how lambasted the likes of Fox News is.   The same clowns doing that are watching MSNBC, which is likely as biased as they come.   In the other direction.   It becomes harder and harder to seek and hear the..truth.

"Speaking of which, the movie "Truth" is hardly that.  The story is culled from a book by former CBS News producer Mary Mapes, played with the delicacy of a falling anvil by Cate Blanchett, is the basis of the script.   And that immediately taints the proceeding because, indeed, Mapes has a major axe to grind.  Back in 2004, she led an investigative team to do a little "got cha" on then-President George W. Bush who was seeking re-election.   The Republicans were mounting a major campaign on challenger John Kerry's bogus military exploits.   Mapes and gang try to prove that Bush had evaded going to Vietnam by getting preferential treatment to get into the Texas Air National Guard.   They get a story and Dan Rather reports it on the air.

Except, in their overzealousness, they miss a few steps in the story and the egg on their faces could make omelets for the entire state of Texas.  As you know, this all results in Mapes being investigated and Rather being put out to the Walter Cronkite pasture.

Indeed, these news folks got exactly what they deserved but they argue about being railroaded.  Seriously?   In the years that have passed, the news media has so totally gone off the rails that Mapes' faux pas now pales in bitter comparison.

The problem with "Truth" is that the source material from Mapes is one-sided.  You never get to see the other side of the issue, which "Spotlight" does with regard to the Boston priests.  As a result, you get half a story and much less of a movie.   

The other complaint about "Truth" is that the acting is incredibly stilted.   You never once believe these are real people.   They all resemble...well...actors who are craving that one big scene to put on their Oscar screener.  The worst of the lot is Robert Redford who never for a moment evokes any comparison to Dan Rather.   If the real Rather was as much as a dullard as he is depicted in the movie, it's a wonder that he held the CBS job as long as he did.

Still, if you see "Truth," you will think about the state of broadcast and print journalism on the way home.   And you will be depressed all over again.   

And that's the only real truth you will get from this film.

LEN'S RATING:  Two stars.

Dinner last night:  Grilled bratwurst with peppers and onions.

No comments: