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The Truth About ‘Truth’

“Truth,” like everything connected to former CBS news producer Mary Mapes these days, has been awash in controversy since its release. About the notorious “60 Minutes II” segment on President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service, it focuses on the accusations of document forgeries that resulted in Mapes’s termination and longtime news anchor Dan Rather’s resignation. Adapted from Mapes’s memoir, Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Powerthe film takes the firm stance that the news team (all of whom got the sack in one way or another) were unfairly scapegoated by the rabid right and a television network desperately trying to protect its own corporate interests. But as waggish New Yorker critic Anthony Lane wrote, “Call a movie ‘Truth,’ and you’re asking for trouble.”

Even some members of the allegedly liberal media have taken issue with the film’s unwavering conviction in the reporting of the “60 Minutes II” team. “This is one of the worst films about journalism (and there have been plenty of bad ones) to come down the pike in a long while,” fumed Christopher Orr in The Atlantic. “It loudly, hectoringly stresses the importance of always ‘asking questions’ … yet celebrates in its protagonist that she never questions whether her reporting might have been wrong.” The few positive reviews are studies in faint praise. “On its own terms,” wrote New York Magazines David Edelstein, “‘Truth’ works fine … But having a feeling and having proof are different things.” Other critics (like myself) have bigger problems with the ham-handedness – with how characters speechify rather than speak, as if they’re cogs in an especially ardent position paper. (You stop asking questions, that’s when the American people lose!)

Lost in this fervor is the fact that “Truth” may be the most feminist mainstream film of 2015. Continue Reading →

Why Hollywood Loves Boston

Last month, “Black Mass,” the biopic starring a blue-eyed Johnny Depp as the notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, hit theaters to mixed acclaim. “Black Mass” is not to be confused with “The Departed,” Martin Scorsese’s 2003 cops-and-robbers opus loosely based on Whitey. Nor is it to be confused with “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger,” the Whitey Bulger doc that came out last year, nor the other Whitey Bulger biopic that Ben Affleck was reportedly going to make after he finished the movie he’s adapted from the novel Live by Night by Boston screenwriter/author Dennis Lehane that is also about Boston gangsters. Then there’s “Spotlight,” the Michael Keaton vehicle about The Boston Globe‘s investigation of the Catholic Church cover-up scandal, which opens in wide release next month and has already generated serious Oscar buzz. In other words, Boston is all over the multiplexes, business as usual.

But why is this business as usual, especially since very few Hollywood actors can pull off that curious mix of dropped Rs and wide As that comprises an authentic Boston accent? (Lord knows Michael Keaton can’t.) Continue Reading →

The Plot of History

Power is lost or won, never created or destroyed. Power is a visitor to, not a possession of, those it empowers. The mad tend to crave it, many of the sane crave it, too, but the wise worry about its long-term side effects. Power is crack cocaine for your ego and battery acid for your soul. Power’s comings and goings, from host to host, via war, marriage, ballot box, diktat, and accident, are the plot of history. The empowered may serve justice, remodel the Earth, transform lush nations into smoking battlefields, and bring down skyscrapers, but power itself is amoral.—David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy