Review of the week
CAST: Cate Blanchett, ROBERT REDFORD, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, BRUCE GREENWOOD, STACY KEACH, Elisabeth Moss
DIRECTOR: JAMES VANDERBILT
CLASSIFICATION: 13 L
REVIEWER: PETER FELDMAN
‘Truth’ is a riveting slice of cinema. It is a crisply directed and fastidiously presented account of the disastrous 2004 exposé on the American TV programme, ‘60 Minutes’, detailing George W. Bush’s alleged draft-dodging shame in which he called on powerful friends in the military to protect him from serving in Vietnam.
It was a scandal at the time and many people believe it is still true to this day. When it was broadcast it created a fire storm of criticism that cut short the careers of two famous individuals; the trusted news anchor Dan Rather, who had been at the network for decades; and its courageous, award winning producer, Mary Mapes.
Director James Vanderbilt has fashioned an intelligent film with a slow-burning intensity that provides audiences with a blow-by-blow account of how the drama unfolded.
The film is based on Mapes’ memoir – it won a coveted Peabody Award – and has, I understand, received the full blessing of Dan Rather for its “total accuracy”.
What lifts the production above the norm is the quality of the script and the acting, which is magnificently served by the legendary Robert Redford as Dan Rather, and Cate Blanchett, who puts in a passionate performance as the hard-nosed, slavishly professional Mapes.
CBS doesn’t emerge with any glory, either, for failing to support Rather for a mistake that was clearly not of his own making. Its head, played by Bruce Greenwood, wanted to save face and felt it necessary to make an example of Rather and Mapes – despite their years of loyal service. Other members of the ‘60 Minutes’ didn’t get off lightly either.
CBS overlooked the years Rather gave to the network as a brilliant on-camera reporter who broke important news stories, exposed scandals and snared hard-to-get interviews.
‘Truth’ takes viewers behind-the-scenes to closed-door sessions that reveal how the president accepted credit for accomplishment while going AWOL on actual duty. It also reveals how Bush was granted a discharge from the National Guard nine months early and how he paid people off and used his influence to avoid going into combat.
Where the programme’s investigation went horribly wrong was that though it named real names, it did not check the names more meticulously. Rather did his broadcast in good faith on September 8, 2004, on the eve of the election. However the right-wing accused them, saying the signatures on the military service records were forged.
Dan Rather believed CBS would protect him and back him up – but they didn’t. The research and analysis of the damning documents are painstakingly recreated, thanks to director Vanderbilt’s comprehensive screenplay.
The supporting cast are excellent: Dennis Quaid as a former marine commander on the team; Stacy Keach as a military informant; Topher Grace as an idealistic researcher; and Elisabeth Moss as a journalism professor.
The film raises pertinent issues about the status of American television, which is seen as no longer serving to tell the truth – but more about money, stock market shares and profit margins.
It’s a sad state of affairs.
Other releases (synopsis)
CAST: Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, Paula Patton
DIRECTOR: Stuart Fenegan
A dark portal connects the world of Azeroth with the dying world of Draenor enabling warrior orcs to invade a civilization led by humans. Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), leader of the Alliance, is pitted against Durotan, leader of the Horde, as the two factions collide in a battle that could spell destruction for the humans or extinction for the orcs.
FILM: Now You See Me: Second Act
CAST: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
DIRECTOR: Jon M. Chu
The master magicians known as the Four Horsemen return for their most daring and astounding caper ever, elevating the limits of stage illusion to new heights in hopes of clearing their names and exposing the ruthlessness of a dangerous tech magnate.
One year after their astonishing Robin Hood-style magic shows win the public’s adulation and confound the FBI, the quartet resurfaces for a dazzling comeback performance that will make their previous escapades seem like child’s play.
With the help of FBI Special Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the Horsemen — J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and new addition Lula (Lizzy Caplan) — mount a meticulously planned surprise appearance, in hopes of exposing corrupt tech tycoon Owen Case (Ben Lamb).
But their scheme backfires, exposing Dylan’s involvement with the Horsemen and sending all five of them back on the run. To regain their freedom and their reputations they are forced by wealthy recluse Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) to recover an unimaginably powerful computer chip stolen by his treacherous former business partner — none other than Owen Case.
The Horsemen soon find themselves once again squaring off against unscrupulous businessman Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and professional skeptic Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) as they attempt to accomplish the most difficult heist of their careers — but even they cannot anticipate the ultimate surprise awaiting them.