Journalists in Broadcast/Print

TMP

On Monday, I attended the North American premiere of Spotlight, an entertaining and infuriating film about four reporters at the Boston Globe who investigated the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse at the hands of their priests. Seeing the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, and Liev Schreiber walk onstage was exciting enough but the good people at TIFF really brought the house down with the surprise appearance of the real Pulitizer Prize-wnning journalists themselves to, of course, a standing ovation and a speech from Ruffalo about “unsung heroes”.

spotlight

Somehow, as usual, Wandering Through the Shevles seems to know what’s going on in my life because this week we’re paying tribute to these “unsung heroes”.

All the President's Men

All the President’s Men (1976)– Pretty much every movie about investigative journalism that I’ve ever loved has been compared to this movie. “In the tradition of All the Presidents Men”, the TIFF website wrote of Spotlight. It’s been years since I’ve seen this story of the two Washington Post reporters who investigated the Watergate scandal but what has stayed with me is the way that it manages to hold our attention and build suspense from behind a desk. Instead of car chases, we get phone calls, research, and checking sources. It doesn’t hurt that the journalists are impeccably played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

insider_interview

The Insider (1999)– In his best film by far, Michael Mann tells the story of 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman’s battle with the brass at CBS to get his interview with a whistleblower against Big Tobacco on the air. Having Al Pacino’s and Russell Crowe’s names above the title wouldn’t be as exciting today but Mann was lucky enough to catch both actors in their prime. Only Crowe managed to earn an Oscar nomination from his performance but the great Christopher Plummer (doing an uncanny Mike Wallace) was somehow overlooked.

zodiac

Zodiac (2007)– This movie scares the shit out of me. The murder scenes are as chilling as they come but David Fincher’s return to the serial killer subgenre isn’t really about the Zodiac killer at all but about a small group of people who became obsessed with finding him and practically had their lives ruined as a restult. Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. do some top-notch reporting (even though Gylenhaal is employeed only as an editorial cartoonist). What’s most impressive about Zodiac is the ammount of information they throw at us without it being impossible to follow and how much of the information we already knew without it being boring.

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13 thoughts on “Journalists in Broadcast/Print

  1. Wendell

    I’ll be saying this a lot today, but I need to see All the President’s Men. Sounds like I need to see The Insider, too. The premise is intriguing plus you just told me it was better than Heat. I like, but don’t love Zodiac. That last act dragged badly.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Oh not for me, I was absolutely riveted by Zodiac all the way through. I would be interested to hear what you think once you’ve seen it but I do submit The insider as a considerably better movie than Heat.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I highly recommend Zodiac although I have to warn you that every time I see it, I check under my bed before I go to sleep. We;re actually back from TIFF but there’ll be plenty more TIFF coverage to come.

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  2. joelnox

    Love all of your choices! Zodiac was unsettling, clearly its intent, and both well directed and brilliantly acted but because of the unease I felt while watching it its something that I’ve only watched the once. Still I’m glad I saw it and its a fine film.

    The Insider is a terrific pick. I thought it could have been a little more tightly edited but overall it was highly entertaining and a actor’s showcase. Pacino and Plummer were both exceptional but Crowe was captivating, I was familiar with his work previous to this so he wasn’t as much of a revelation to me as he was to the rest of the audiences but he’s a great actor and this is one of his very best performances.

    President’s Men is one of my picks as well. It’s one of my top 5 favorite films period and something I watch every couple of months just a great, great film.

    This is one of my favorite genres of film and I have to admit I got carried away but since I started with a list of 15 films that I absolutely love the fact that I was able to get it down to six is pretty good I guess. I ended up with a mix of very serious down to silly wackiness.

    All the President’s Men (1976) – Compulsively watchable chronicle of Woodward and Bernstein’s relentless investigation of the Watergate break-in for the Washington Post. For a drama that is all talk this is a fascinating viewing experience with exceptional work from the entire cast and perfectly judged direction by Alan J. Pakula.

    The China Syndrome (1979)-While on location for a documentary on energy at a nuclear power plant reporter Kimberly Wells and her crew witness a near catastrophe which her cameraman secretly films. When they get back to the station and want to broadcast the story they hit a wall of resistance from both the network and the plant. During further investigation Kimberley discovers how much peril they, and the state of California, were in coming close to “the China Syndrome” and the fact that the issue has not been repaired and the threat remains. Incredibly timely on release, while this was playing in theatres the Three Mile Island accident occurred in Pennsylvania turning the film into a monster hit.

    June Bride (1948)-Carey Johnson (Robert Montgomery), a combat journalist just back from assignment is forced to take a job covering a June wedding for a bridal magazine run by Linda Gilman (Bette Davis), the fiancée he jilted, much to her displeasure. Off they travel to Indiana, with the rest of the crew, in the dead of winter for the “June” shoot. When they arrive Carey immediately starts looking for an angle to his story causing trouble for all involved but most of all for himself. Slight but breezy comedy with a great supporting cast including Mary Wickes, Fay Bainter and Tom Tully. Keep an eye out during the wedding scene and you can spot Debbie Reynolds in a wordless bit, her screen debut.

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  3. joelnox

    My other three:

    Broadcast News (1987)-Incisive look at the news division of a Washington D.C. station with a love triangle woven in. Hard driving and ambitious producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is torn between her attractions to the handsome but cloddish Tom Grunick, a new reporter at the station who is on his way up and Aaron Altman a superior reporter who doesn’t have the right look for television despite his skill and who she sees as a brother figure. He loves her desperately and therefore feels a fierce competition with Tom who he sees as inadequate. Set against a station reorganization at a time when hard news departments were still bastions of respectability and fighting the incursion of entertainment news into their formats.

    The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)-An Australian reporter, a very young Mel Gibson, is on assignment in Jakarta during the political upheaval of Sakarno’s rule. He is taken under the wing of Billy Kwan, a brilliant Linda Hunt who won an Oscar, a photographer who worships the leader. Along the way he falls in love with an equally young and striking Sigourney Weaver. He is just starting to build contacts when the situation explodes and it becomes a race for life or death. Filmed with an oppressive atmosphere and tense direction by Peter Weir.

    Libeled Lady (1936)-When his newspaper accidentally prints a false story about an heiress and she threatens to sue for libel he concocts an elaborate scheme to make it appear true, pulling an old friend and his own fiancée into the plan. Things naturally go awry. Classic comedy with four great stars, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and William Powell working at the top of their craft. Harlow and Powell were engaged at the time this was made but she died the following year before their marriage could take place.

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  4. reocochran

    I loved seeing All the President’s Men film. I watched it almost as many times as the other movies of the era with both Redford and other famous actors. (I like that I found in the Encyclopedia Brittanica the Hole in the
    Wall gang from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Looked this up while in high school. The Sting was more if a fun romp.) I felt like a journalist researching the “facts.”
    I am a fan of The Insider (Russell Crowe stepped away from his “popular” role to be a serious actor while he also did a top notch job with playing Nobel Peace prize Nash.)
    Zodiac. Talk about obsession that consumed Jake Gyllenhaal’s and Robert Downey Jr’s characters!
    The Year of Living Dangerously with Kevin Costner and Linda Hunt playing a male photographer was amazing and definitely newsworthy.
    * Matt, I would agree and add Network to the mix of television journalism and news broadcasting with sarcasm. Who can forget the shouts of I can’t take it anymore and seeing tv’s thrown out windows? 🙂 I cannot wait till “Spotlight” comes in November. Smiles, Robin

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  5. Pingback: TIFF 2015: Spotlight | Assholes Watching Movies

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