Unfortunately for Cranston and the makers of Trumbo, it has all been for naught. The film has imploded at the box office, and even by the standards of a sluggish season at the movies, Trumbo is a cold dud.
…Based on the Bruce Alexander Cook’s biography of the same name, Trumbo tells a well-worn tale about the moment when Hollywood woke up to the fact that Tinseltown was underwater. Most of the sea was rosewater, with a vast assortment of pink “co-travellers,” but as Allan Ryskind shows in Hollywood Traitors, there were plenty of hardline Stalinists and admirers of Adolf Hitler working to undermine American culture from within the studio system, as well. And like a lot of the mythologized “Hollywood Ten,” Trumbo was in fact a Soviet lackey who followed the Comintern’s lines like a sacred screenplay.
Of course, this history makes for poor copy in today’s Hollywood, which has increasingly become dependent upon those denizens of the Internet who see politics and entertainment as two sides of the same cudgel. The better story, for their purposes, is that Trumbo was a victim of political bigotry. Like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Trumbo was a freethinker who did not fall into the atavistic mindset that demanded a puritanical allegiance to God, country, and American capitalism, you see. Trumbo names and shames the protagonist’s “oppressors,” from the fiercely anti-communist gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (played by Helen Mirren) to the ardent American nationalist John Wayne (played by David James Elliott). In other words, the enemies were Republicans—much like today.
Although thoroughly red, Trumbo still has to contend with green. Enter Bryan Cranston, the film’s talented leading man. Until recently, Cranston was not well-known for professing political views in public. But as the release date for Trumbo crept closer, Cranston, like a lot of actors, began to believe that his cinematic performance was enough to justify his own “expert” opinions. As such, Cranston has appealed to the left by calling Obamacare “fantastic,” while at the same time he has (begrudgingly) sung the praises of Donald Trump. By doing all this, Cranston has toyed with the milquetoast middle in order to deflect any potential blowback from conservatives on the lookout for liberal bias. Read the rest of this entry »
Kipp Jones reports: CBS has banned advertisements for the film Truth, which stars Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as disgraced CBS News producer Mary Mapes, during the events of a notorious discredited 2004 news story regarding former President George W. Bush’s military service record.
“I don’t think anyone expected them to send flowers…To get an official statement from them that is negative was not surprising to anyone involved in the film. I think the one thing that surprised everyone was the tone and the emotional nature.”
— Brad Fischer, one of the film’s producers
Both Mapes and Rather were fired by the network over the story, which used questionable documents supposedly written by late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian to support a claim former President Bush deserted from the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s.
“It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth.’ There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all.”
— CBS spokesman
Rather has maintained the facts of the story to be correct.
‘It’s Astounding How Little Truth There Is In TRUTH‘
Tim Graham: Variety reports CBS News is hopping mad about the forthcoming Dan Rather-lionizing movie Truth. They hoped it “would come and go quickly in limited release. But [Cate] Blanchett is generating Oscar buzz as a best actress contender for her tour de force performance as [Mary Mapes,] the hard-charging producer swept up in a firestorm of partisan politics and media scrutiny of her work.”
“There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all. The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom.”
“It’s astounding how little truth there is in Truth,” proclaimed CBS in a statement. “There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all. The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom. That’s a disservice not just to the public but to journalists across the world who go out every day and do everything within their power, sometimes at great risk to themselves, to get the story right.”
Kyle Smith writes: The classic definition of chutzpah — the guy who murders his parents and then begs for mercy because he’s an orphan — is getting a rewrite with the Oct. 16 release of “Truth,” a movie that insists forged documents are real.
“She gives an impassioned defense of her work in a speech meant to make the audience stand up and cheer — but instead comes across as obtuse to the point of being self-delusional.”
Robert Redford, who makes no effort whatsoever to look or sound like Dan Rather, plays the CBS newsman undone after he presented to the public obviously forged documents about then-President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service in the early 1970s.
“Mapes found a squirrely retired National Guard colonel named Bill Burkett, who gave her photocopied memos that purported to show Bush had been AWOL for a significant portion of his National Guard tenure.”
It was September 2004, two months before Bush was to be re-elected in a tight race against Vietnam veteran John Kerry, and Rather’s “60 Minutes II” producer Mary Mapes (played by Cate Blanchett with her usual brittle intensity) is desperate for a scoop.
She and her team of researchers (Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Elisabeth Moss) set out to find information damaging to the president, methodically contacting everyone they can think of in the chain of command during Bush’s National Guard days to find some dirt on him.
“The font and spacing on the memos perfectly matched the default settings on a 21st-century Microsoft Word program, Burkett kept changing his story about how he got the documents until he sounded completely insane.”
(In one unintentionally revealing moment in the film, co-written and directed by “The Amazing Spider-Man” scribe James Vanderbilt, Mapes is shown watching a TV commercial paid for by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an ad hoc group formed by Kerry’s former colleagues in the Navy.
She shows a complete lack of interest in digging into their stories. In fact, in the summer of 2004, the mainstream media almost completely ignored the Swift Boat veterans, as the ad campaign did serious damage to Kerry’s reputation.)
Mapes found a squirrely retired National Guard colonel named Bill Burkett, who gave her photocopied memos that purported to show Bush had been AWOL for a significant portion of his National Guard tenure. The font and spacing on the memos perfectly matched the default settings on a 21st-century Microsoft Word program, Burkett kept changing his story about how he got the documents until he sounded completely insane (and Blanchett is shown making the “cuckoo” sign as she listens to him), two of CBS’s own document experts raised doubts about them — and Burkett was a Bush hater who agreed to hand over the documents in the first place on the condition that Mapes put him in touch with the John Kerry campaign, which he wanted to assist. Mapes and Rather ran with the story anyway, defending it for days — even after other media organizations began casting doubt on them. Read the rest of this entry »
Nolan and artist Tacita Dean, renowned for her art work in film, will launch LFF Connects, a new series of high-profile talks, with an in-depth conversation at London’s BFI Southbank on Friday Oct. 9. The conversation will be moderated by BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart.
“Film has characteristics integral to its chemistry and internal discipline that form my work and I cannot be asked to separate the work from the medium that I used to make it.”
— Artist Tacita Dean
LFF Connects is a brand new series of high-profile talks intended to stimulate new collaborations and ideas within the film industry by exploring both the future of film and how film engages with other creative industries, including television, music, art, games and creative technology. The series will be launched in partnership with American Express at the 59th BFI London Film Festival. Read the rest of this entry »
With Toronto the latest sprocket opera to add episodic programming to its lineup, our critics revisit the old film-vs.-TV debate.
PETER DEBRUGE: Looks like Toronto is the latest film festival to add a television section to its lineup. These days, everywhere from Sundance to SXSW to the Canadian “festival of festivals,” smallscreen content is getting a big push, which is intriguing — and even ironic — for all sorts of reasons (ironic because the state of distribution being what it is, many of the films in Toronto will end up trickling down to VOD, rather than ever getting a commercial theatrical run). On one hand, the trend isn’t exactly new: Classy longform features like “Carlos” (which premiered at Cannes in 2010), “Top of the Lake” (Sundance 2013) and “Olive Kitteridge” (Venice 2014) made their bows at top-tier film fests before going on to air as miniseries on Canal Plus, BBC Two and HBO, respectively.
“There are many, after all, who have argued that the traditional line separating TV and cinema has ceased to exist for some time now, and that the ongoing creative renaissance in television largely puts all but the very best new movies to shame.”
But Toronto’s Primetime program — like SXSW’s Episodics, which launched last year — represents something different: Rather than expanding the definition of “film” to include projects that were “made for TV” (such as Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, “Behind the Candelabra”), festivals are carving out dedicated sidebars to celebrate this competing medium. Since its invention, television has been luring eyes away from the cinema. And now, at Toronto, audiences can go watch an episodic series pilot on the bigscreen, after which they’ll have to patiently wait until the series arrives on TV to see what happens next.
[Read the full story here, at Variety]
JUSTIN CHANG: As someone who makes too little time for television even outside the film-festival circuit, I confess that the addition of Toronto’s Primetime slate (which, full disclosure, was curated by our mutual friend Michael Lerman) will have little bearing on my schedule this September — or yours, Peter, given that our assignment in Toronto will be to see and review as much in the way of new cinema as we possibly can. Read the rest of this entry »
Katherine Timpf writes: According to the people behind the #AskHerMore social-media campaign, the red carpet is sexist because reporters ask women about their clothing and appearance more often than they ask men.
“There’s an element of being an actress in Hollywood, it’s like worsening a product,” Jennifer Siebel Newsom, founder and CEO of the Representation Project that started the campaign, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“People actually do care about what these actresses are wearing. A lot of people get their fashion and beauty tips from celebrities — the amount of television programs, websites, and magazine articles about this very subject proves that.”
“It’s like you’re a prostitute,” she continued. “It’s like you owe someone something and you don’t.”
The idiocy of her notion that having to deal with someone asking you where you got your bajillion dollar gown is like working in the sex industry is asinine — and so is the idea that these celebrities don’t owe anyone anything in this situation, especially considering how many of them get their gowns for free or even have the designers paying them to wear their clothes.
“The idiocy of her notion that having to deal with someone asking you where you got your bajillion dollar gown is like working in the sex industry is asinine…”
As New York Times fashion director and critic Vanessa Friedman Tweeted: “Sorry #AskHerMore, but the red carpet is a prison of actresses’ own making. They profited, literally, from it for a long time. #Oscars2015”
And as Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan tweeted, even if they aren’t getting the gown free, the people who made it still deserve some credit: “#askhermore frankly, I’d like to know who’s responsible for the incredible gowns that a village of artisans worked on for 100s of hours.” Read the rest of this entry »
When The Hollywood Left Becomes a Parody of Itself: Robert Redford to Play Dan Rather in Adaptation of Mary Mapes’ Book ‘Truth’Posted: July 9, 2014
With only a few additions and corrections, in red.
The Hollywood Reporter reports: Robert Redford has signed on to play Dan Rather in Truth, a film based on the 2005 memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power. In spite of the film’s humorous title, “Truth” is not intended to be a comedy.
The book, written by Rather’s producer Mary Mapes, centers on the firestorm that erupted in September of 2004 after Rather reported that George W. Bush had received special treatment while serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, a report that was based on documents that turned out to be forgeries.
Mapes’ memoir, Truth and Duty, was published in 2005. The Peabody Award-winning producer had worked for CBS’ 60 Minutes since 1999. After Rather’s
erroneous poorly-vetted, dishonest, career-ending report on Bush aired, it became the subject of harsh criticism legitimate inquiry and an internal investigation was launched. Subsequently, Mapes was accused of lapses in judgment journalistic malpractice and was fired, while Rather’s career and reputation were jeopardized destroyed. (read more)
Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов
[Today’s the day to browse Amazon’s collection of Chekhovian Delights]
From the Chekhov Wiki:
Anton Chekhov was born on the feast day of St. Anthony the Great (17 January Old Style) 29 January 1860, the third of six surviving children, in Taganrog, a port on the Sea of Azov in southern Russia. His father, Pavel Yegorovich Chekhov, the son of a former serf, was from a village Vilkhovatka near Kobeliaky (Poltava region) and ran a grocery store. A director of the parish choir, devout Orthodox Christian, and physically abusive father, Pavel Chekhov has been seen by some historians as the model for his son’s many portraits of hypocrisy. Chekhov’s mother, Yevgeniya, was an excellent storyteller who entertained the children with tales of her travels with her cloth-merchant father all over Russia. “Our talents we got from our father,” Chekhov remembered, “but our soul from our mother…