Why did you get into journalism?
There are several good and bad aspects of working at a cinema, so much so that I am currently writing an article about it, but for me the main benefit, other than being paid of course, is the chance to watch as many films as I want for free.
I’ve worked at three cinemas for a total of close to two years now, and in those time periods I have seen roughly 80 films, at least 60 of which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. This can work both ways, it can reveal some hidden gems that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but I also run the risk of seeing films that steal time away from my life.
But anyway, I digress. Last week the cinema I was working at started showing a film called “Truth”. I’d never heard of it, which is something very strange for me as I keep relatively up to date with all releases, and no-one I spoke to knew a single thing about it. Tickets had been exceptionally few and far between, but then I watched the trailer and I got excited by it, especially as it seemed to be a somewhat similar film to the excellent “Spotlight”, and therefore I went along on Monday evening, with my salted popcorn and Pepsi Max (not sponsored) in hand, and watched “Truth” in a screen all on my own.
I know some will question why I am reviewing a film that has been released at the cinema, and is still going. Well in the past I have done it on occasions where the film isn’t seemingly that well known, I’ve been in a screen with only a few people in it, it doesn’t have a high level of ratings on IMDB, etc.
I would also state that before I review this, due to the subject matter I have to make it clear that I have no political agenda with regards to this, I simply wanted to watch a decent film, and more to the point, not being American I couldn’t give the slightest care in the world to if what Bush is accused of actually happened.
In 2004 and Mary Mapes (Blanchett) becomes aware of a series of documents that call into doubt George W. Bush’s tenure in the US Army, a key part of the upcoming election campaign. The documents alledge that despite claims to the contrary, Bush’s was regularly AWOL from training and when he did eventually show up, he was quickly transferred to the Texas National Guard, a favourable move. Mary hires Mike (Grace), Roger (Quaid) and Lucy (Moss) to help her investigations.
The investigations lead to Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett (Keach), who has documents from various members of the military from Bush’s time of service that prove this. The team uses these and numerous other sources that back up the cover up and they get numerous witnesses stating on camera that everything is accurate. The team eventually put out a CBS 60 Minutes news piece, hosted by legendary news anchor Dan Mather (Redford). The documentary is initially deemed a success.
Soon afterwards however, many online bloggers start questioning the documents, stating that they could have easily been forged in Microsoft Word due to the exact same spacing, fonts and various other aspects of the package’s default settings. Every piece of new evidence that the team find is quickly dismissed, and this isn’t helped by Burkett admitting that he lied as he felt Mary was being overbearing.
As time goes on, CBS look to start covering their backs, all whilst the members of the team are being hounded and vilified, especially Mary.
A hidden gem or a waste of a section of my life?
This falls very much into the hidden gem category and I would urge you to watch it if it’s still showing at a cinema near you when you read this.
I’m going to start right off of the bat by saying that this isn’t quite on the same level as “Spotlight”, although to be fair I think it would have struggled to reach those heights. In many ways “Truth” is indeed very similar to that film, although there are obvious differences with the subject matter, but in terms of the most basic level of the plot (a news team trying to uncover the truth when all doubt them), it’s very similar.
Let’s start with the acting and to use an American vernacular, Cate Blanchett knocks it out of the park. She is brilliant as Mapes and you genuinely start feeling for the character, especially in the latter section of the film in which she gets attacked on a personal level and has to deal with her rapist father becoming involved. You see a great character development as she starts off as a cock-sure woman full of self-confidence and transforms into a vulnerable and fragile person, and it’s a great way of looking at the way people handle things online as people say things, often forgetting that there is a person on the other end of the abuse.
People forget that back in 2004, the internet wasn’t anything like it is today and was still relatively new. Internet pages, such as forums, didn’t have as much scrutiny as they do today and some of the comments that people post on a blog post that shows Mary’s picture is a sign of the times back then, and more importantly, it started her breakdown that continues throughout the film. It’s an important and realistic part of the plot, and Blanchett’s portrayal of a woman hurtling into depression is exceptional.
It would be unfair to single her out though as all of the cast do a fantastic job, especially Topher Grace, who offers up a very different type of character to what I’ve seen him play in the past. Granted, Grace may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s very rare you’ll see him in a role that is similar to what he’s played in the past. Quaid was almost also born to play this role and you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that character.
One thing that I also love is that the filmmakers have taken care with regards to making the film have the relevant versions of software for the time. For example, they use a correct version of Windows Media Player and the Google homepage shows 2004 right at the bottom. It’s such a small detail that is so important, and yet a lot of filmmakers get it wrong. Infact, at the time of writing, there is only one anachronism on the IMDB “Goofs” page (a tram system seen at an airport that wasn’t installed until six months after the events of the film), and for any movie set in the past that is quite an accomplishment.
Whilst there are tiny moments here and there when the film drags, I was never bored and not once did I look at my phone (I was in the screen on my own so I wasn’t disturbing anyone). It could have been so easy to make this film uninteresting (not intentionally of course), but they avoided that and made an excellent film.
The cast do a great job portraying these characters and none of them put a foot wrong. This helps with the level of care that has been put into to making the film as realistic as possible. Whilst there is the odd minor error here and there, it doesn’t distract from an excellent story.
Don’t go in expecting the same level of emotional impact as “Spotlight”, but it’s still pretty darn good.
Definitely watch “Truth”