Bethlehem Press

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Movie Review: ‘Truth’ and consequences

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 by PAUL WILLISTEINpwillistein[AT]tnonline.com in Focus

“Truth” is a compelling, disturbing and controversial film about a CBS News’ “60 Minutes” report that led to the resignation of “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather.

The film is based on the book, “Truth And Duty: The Press, The President And The Privilege Of Power,” by Mary Mapes, a principal producer for CBS’ “60 Minutes II” (which initially aired Wednesdays), who, along with several fellow staffers, was fired or forced to resign over “Rathergate,” which occurred in fall 2004, prior to the presidential election.

“60 Minutes II” reported about alleged discrepancies in then President George W. Bush’s Vietnam War era service in the Texas Air National Guard. “Rathergate” refers to what happened in the wake of the “60 Minutes II” reporting after bloggers questioned the veracity of documents on which the “60 Minutes” reporting about Bush was based.

The controversy was one of the first-ever spearheaded by bloggers. Criticism of the CBS reporting had to do with an error in the service chronology of a National Guard officer, lack of original documents and whether the Killian Documents were generated on a typewriter or computer using Microsoft Word. The typeface was Times New Roman. The facts all came down to the font.

A CBS internal panel led by former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press Executive Editor Louis Boccardi was highly critical of the “60 Minutes” news-gathering for the reporting on Bush. While the truth of “Truth” may never be known, the film has several good performances to recommend it, in addition to the subject being one of the most fascinating in the annals of broadcast journalism.

Robert Redford delivers a wonderfully-modulated, well-paced and thoughtful performance as Dan Rather. In telephoto profile, Redford even resembles Rather.

At the center of the storyline is Cate Blanchett as the tough-talking Mapes. Prior to being known for “Rathergate,” Mapes was noted for breaking the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse story, which won a Peabody Award, and the story about Sen. Strom Thurmond’s unacknowledged biracial daughter, Essie Mae Washington.

Look for an Oscar actress nomination for Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” (2013) actress Oscar and “The Aviator” (2004) supporting actress Oscar recipient, and an Oscar actor nomination for Redford, “Ordinary People” (1980) Oscar director and honorary Oscar (2002) recipient.

There’s good supporting work by several actors portraying the “60 Minutes” investigative team: Topher Grace, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and outspoken as Mike Smith; Dennis Quaid, stoic and even-tempered as Lt. Col. Roger Charles, and Elisabeth Moss, effervescent as Lucy Scott. Solid in supporting roles are Stacy Keach as former Texas Army National Guard officer Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, said to be the source of the documents; Bruce Greenwood as CBS President Andrew Heyward; John Benjamin Hickey as Mapes’ husband; David Lyons and Rachael Blake as CBS executives, and Dermot Mulroney as a CBS attorney.

Director James Vanderbilt (screenplay, ”White House Down,” 2013; “The Amazing Spider-Man,” 2012), in his theatrical film directorial debut, wrote the screenplay, which is based on Mapes’ book. Vanderbilt directs in a no nonsense style.

“Truth” may not get to the truth, but it does have the feeling of truth.

“Truth,” MPAA rated R (Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian) for language and a brief nude photo; Genre: Biography, Drama; Run time: 2 hrs., 1 min.; Distributed by Sony Classics Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: “Truth” was filmed in Queensland, Australia.

Box Office, Nov. 6: Bond. James Bond. Daniel Craig’s reported last time as James Bond in “Spectre’ opened at No. 1 with $73 million, besting the Peanuts Gang with “The Peanuts Movie” opening at No. 2, with $45 million, as “The Martian,” dropped to No. 3, with $9.3 million, $197 million, six weeks; 4. “Goosebumps,” $6.9 million, $66.4 million, four weeks; 5. “Bridge Of Spies,” $6.9 million, $54.9 million, four weeks, 6. “Hotel Transylvania 2,” $3.5 million, $161.2 million, seven weeks; 7. “Burnt,” $3 million, $10.2 million, two weeks; 8. “The Last Witch Hunter,” $2.6 million, $23.5 million, three weeks; 9. “The Intern,” $1.8 million, $71.4 million, seven weeks; 10. “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” $1.6 million, $16.2 million, three weeks

Unreel, Nov. 13:

“By The Sea,” R: A romantic-drama set in France during the mid-1970s stars Brad Pitt and his real-life wife, Angelina Jolie, who directs the film.

“The 33,” PG-13: A drama based on the real-life story of 33 Chilean copper miners trapped underground for 69 days. Patricia Riggen directs Naomi Scott, Cote de Pablo, Kate del Castillo and James Brolin.

“Love The Coopers,” PG-13: Four generations of the Cooper family gather for their annual Christmas Eve celebration when surprise visitors show up. Jessie Nelson directs Olivia Wilde, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman and Allentown native Amanda Seyfried in the comedy.

Three Popcorn Boxes

out of Five Popcorn Boxes