Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Movie Review #334: "Truth" (2015)

Director: James Vanderbilt
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minutes
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When Dan Rather (Robert Redford) does a report on George W. Bush's questionable military service, the team that put together the report is placed under attack by other media outlets, becoming the story themselves as their methods of obtaining the truth start to become bigger than the truth itself. 

"Truth" is a politically charged drama about a report Dan Rather did on "60 Minutes II" in 2004 about the possible preferential treatment president George W. Bush received while serving in the National Guard. This is a film that will most certainly draw a lot of controversy and will be damned from one political side and praised from another. It is based on a book by Mary Mapes, played in this film by Cate Blanchett, so it is clearly her version of what happened. Some people will slam this movie and claim it's full of lies, but we aren't here to discuss the validity of it all and how factual the content is, we are here to discuss how entertaining the movie is. This film is most certainly engaging and one that will inspire heavy discussion and debate for years to come, that is, if you can wade through the bullshit trolls and make your own opinion about it.

Regardless of our or your political leanings, there is no denying a good performance when we see one. Cate Blanchett is a force to be reckoned with here. If we lined up every single actor with a non-American accent and were asked to pick out the best of the best at concealing their true accent, Blanchett would most certainly be at the top of that list. As Mary Mapes, she goes from stressed and relieved, to stressed and content, to stressed and frazzled, to stressed and broken all within the span of 2 hours. Blanchett flawlessly executes each of these emotions and is commanding in her performance, proving that she is still at the top of the heap, the cream of the crop, an A-list actress of the highest caliber, regardless of the movie she is in. We don't think we've ever seen her put on a bad performance, and her work here is certainly Oscar nomination worthy. Robert Redford plays Dan Rather and manages to capture the cadence in his tone of voice, but not in stature or appearance. Redford, operating with slightly less screen time than Blanchett, still performs well as former veteran news anchor Dan Rather, though his looks and attitude have not changed much to mimic Rather's appearance. A minor cast featuring Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace (yes, even he is fine), Elisabeth Moss, John Benjamin Hickey, Stacy Keach, and for a short time even Dermot Mulroney, all work well with what they are given to round out and aid in Blanchett and Redford's excellent performances.

At its core, "Truth," regardless of how flawed the real actions of the real players involved may have been, isn't about whether or not the documents are real or fake, and after watching, the film isn't going to change anyone's opinion on whether they are real or fake. In the end, it doesn't matter. What does matter is the politically charged witch hunt that ensued following the report. The overall facts of the report have been reported on and confirmed by many other media outlets and at the crux of it all is really a "duh" type of finding: the children of well-connected politicians received preferential treatment to keep them out of actually having to go to and fight in the Vietnam war. Are we surprised? No. What do we expect from a political system that breeds dynasty families, which in turn breeds career politicians? We're not even talking about the Bush family specifically (who are involved in this story) because it happens on both sides of the aisle. What this film is really about is the death of integrity in news. As news outlets are now owned and controlled by major corporations, they are now more interested and invested in gaining ratings through partisan infotainment rather than offering real news people can trust. For every MSNBC on the left, there's a Fox News on the right, each of which are more interested in serving a political agenda than serving the public honest to goodness facts. Though most likely made in hindsight, "Truth" shines a light on what the news has become and the death of real investigative journalism. Now, the 24-hours news cycle in a post 9/11 world reads Twitter comments, showcases Instagram photos as proof, and reports on the doings and suckings of the Kardashian clan. They ask presidential candidates mid-debate about their fantasy football draft instead of how each candidate will improve our dwindling middle class. People shouldn't be punished for asking questions, for digging around to discover the real truth, and it's ironic that as soon as Mary Mapes was fired, the very next year her report on Abu Ghraib, the one about prisoner abuse and the subsequent photos of said torture within the prison, won CBS a Peabody award and is still considered in some circles to be one of the most important stories and discoveries of the decade. Regardless of politics, this is a great movie, even if it is a very self-important melodrama, pretty Oscar-baity, and a touch too long.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 57%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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