Monday, January 23, 2006

Two films for Sunday

By the magic of Movieshack's "randomise my queue" function, I got a brief respite from the entire history of Star Trek over the weekend - and instead got two films inspired by recent true events, and both about journalists.

Shattered Glass was a fascinating look at the story of Stephen Glass, the New Republic reporter who made up stories to gain acceptance. While it was a fascinating narrative, I wanted to know more about why he did what he did. But I guess that would add a whole layer to the film, one that the filmmakers didn't want to add. Maybe it's also difficult because all the people portrayed are very much still alive. Historical stories can (or at least tend to) take much more liberties with implied motives, etc.

Veronica Guerin
is the eponymous story of a journalist who takes on the Dublin drug establishment, and pays for it with her life. It was a compelling tale, well told by Joel Schumacher (director) and a cast led by Cate Blanchett. Well-paced; I didn't want to look away in case I missed something.

Yet something was missing for me ... I'm trying to put my finger on what it was. I don't think it was the fault of the actors or the crew, maybe it was just me. As a man, I don't relish a tale like this because I feel for Veronica's husband, who, as the actor playing him puts it, he could choose to try and stop his wife doing what she loved, or support her as best he can while she puts them all at risk. Either way, he comes across feeling a little powerless.

Also the true story put the onus on the storytellers to be accurate - and maybe the real Veronica Guerin wasn't a classically likeable cinematic character, but instead a real person - a woman who put out a public face of fearlessness while privately living in fear. That's compelling, but it's also unusual to see in a movie. Whatever it is, it's the truth; it's just interesting that I didn't find it a "wow" movie, just very engaging and interesting.

In fact, both these films were good but not great for me. It's always good to figure out why - but sometimes you just can't get to a decent conclusion.


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