That generic title obscures a surprisingly complex exploration of the real-life events surrounding the fall of iconic American newscaster Dan Rather in 2004. And while the film's script is rather talky (it's like Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom crossed with George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck), it's strongly made point is too important to ignore. And it features yet another storming, intelligent performance from Cate Blanchett.
She plays Mary Mapes, a producer at the classic CBS news programme 60 Minutes, who just a few months before the 2004 presidential election is working on a story about incumbent George W. Bush's shady National Guard service during the Vietnam War. She has an ace team of investigators (including Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid and Elisabeth Moss), plus the nation's top news anchor Rather (Robert Redford). But after the story airs, Mary is attacked with questions about the authenticity of a series of memos that trace irregularities in Bush's service record. Her boss (Bruce Greenwood) applies plenty of pressure as the controversy gains more traction than the story itself. And the media storm that follows catches everyone by surprise.
This account is based on Mapes' own memoir about these events, which gives the film a personal, as opposed to journalistic, tone. It hints heavily at both government and corporate efforts to discredit the story, putting Mapes and her entire team in an impossible situation. The film also makes it clear that those memos were indeed real, and that the controversy was actually just misdirection. What brings this to life is the revelatory acting from the ensemble cast, led beautifully by Blanchett, who gives Mary a passion for the truth that's fuelled by her inner demons. And the entire supporting cast adds layers of wit and insight, although Redford kind of relaxes on his easy charm as the engaged, engaging Rather.
Continue reading: Truth Review
When the gorgeous Kate and Steve Jones (Moore and Duchovny) move into a wealthy suburb with their equally alluring teens Jenn and Mick (Heard and Hollingsworth), the locals notice their fabulous clothes, gadgets and cars. And of course start trying to keep up with them. But the Joneses aren't a family: they're a team of marketing experts whose performances are measured by how they affect sales in this town. And as they work to keep their boss (Hutton) happy, their neighbours (Headley and Cole) are paying a heavy price.
Continue reading: The Joneses Review
Dreamland may be stuffed full of cliched characters in its trailer trash setting (and why a trailer park would be constructed under power lines in the middle of the New Mexico desert I have no idea), but let's put that aside for a moment. At its heart it is not the awful direct-to-DVD movie that you're probably expecting. The only legitimate reason for that is star Agnes Bruckner, who continues to take role after role in movies that simply don't measure up to her capabilities as one of our best young actresses. (If you haven't seen her in her other headlining role this year, The Woods, don't.)
Continue reading: Dreamland Review
For starters, it's literally crawling with cult-friendly stars, including Jon Favreau (Swingers), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), Bud Cort (Harold and Maude), Jon Gries (Real Genius), Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill),and Rachael Leigh Cook (who seems to be making a living off of desert-based movies these days). Secondly, it's got message boards buzzing with fans asking a variation on one simple question: What the hell does it all mean?
Continue reading: The Big Empty Review