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Telling true stories via movies has always been complicated. On the one hand, when one hears those words – “true story” – one has certain expectations that the events portrayed actually happened. On the other hand, the telling of stories should allow for some creative flexibility for the storyteller – these are dramatizations, not documentaries.

A movie like Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” is an apt representation of the myriad gray areas that come with representing real people and their stories on screen. The story of the titular Jewell – the security guard who discovered a pipe bomb during the Atlanta Olympics and saved hundreds, only to become a very public person of interest regarding the planting of that same bomb – is a complicated one; he was a very flawed man who was treated very badly largely because of those same flaws.

Jewell is the sort of man to whom Eastwood gravitates and the sort of uniquely American story that he greatly enjoys telling. It’s also problematic in its way, with some challenging the veracity of certain portrayals. It’s an incomplete portrait of an imperfect man.

Published in Movies
Saturday, 29 December 2018 21:53

The absurdity of venality – ‘Vice’

If you were to make a list of real-life political figures who might make a good subject for a biopic packed with satiric elements, pitch-black humor and a liberal sprinkling of absurdism, former Vice President Dick Cheney would probably sit pretty low on it.

And yet, that’s precisely what writer/director Adam McKay has done with his new movie “Vice.” The filmmaker’s follow-up to 2015’s “The Big Short,” his biting and surprisingly impactful riff on the housing crisis of the late-00s, takes on one of the most powerful and influential – for better or worse (mostly worse) – men to hold the office of Vice President.

With a virtuoso performance from Christian Bale as Cheney and an absolutely dynamite ensemble cast, McKay treats Cheney’s calculated rise through the ranks culminating in a consolidation of political power never before seen in the office of the VP. And he does it with a depth of intelligence and razor-sharp wit, bringing together stock footage and fourth-wall-breaking internal commentary with a more-or-less straightforward look at the biographical details; the end result is one of the most thought-provoking and challenging films of the year. Not to mention one of the best.

Published in Movies

It’s Oscar time again!

This year marks the 90th Academy Awards. 90 years of Hollywood’s biggest night of self-celebration and self-congratulation. 90 years of dazzling gowns and dapper tuxedos and impactful acceptance speeches and inane interviews on the red carpet. 90 years of excitement and disappointment.

As someone who loves the movies, I love the Oscars. Sure, they’ve grown increasingly out of touch over the years (though there’s been some solid bounceback in the last few). So what? There’s something exciting about rewarding the best of the best – even if what seems like the best of the best today might not seem so great later on down the road.

This marks the 11th Oscar preview I’ve written for The Maine Edge. I’ve been doing this for over a decade. And while I’ve gotten pretty good at determining just who is going to win, the reality is that there are always going to be some surprises. Hell, just look at last year, when “La La Land” was the winner for Best Picture … until it wasn’t.

OK, so maybe we won’t see THAT big a surprise this time around, but that’s the joy of it – you just never know.

Here’s a look at my predictions. I've included write-ups for the big ones - the four acting categories, director and Best Picture - and just picked the winners for the rest.

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Published in Cover Story

Stories of loss are difficult to tell. Finding ways to convey the notion of grief without succumbing to sentimentality or devolving into the maudlin – particularly on-screen – can prove trying to even the most accomplished filmmaker.

Published in Movies

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