There was a nice article here by Todd Van Luling for the Huffington Post that was basically an interview with journalist Kim Barker about what it was like having Tina Fey play her in the movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, based on Barker's memoir.
But one paragraph stood out for me, for an odd reason.
";Whiskey Tango Foxtrot'" is now on a very short list of journalism-focused movies with studio-sized budgets. Journalism teachers will inevitably show the movie right along with staples such as 'All the President’s Men,' 'Shattered Glass,' 'Network,' and the recent winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, 'Spotlight.'"
What's odd about that is that the four other movies Mr. Lulling named were three films which all won the Oscar for Best Picture...and one which pretty much no people have ever even heard of, let alone seen.
By the way, I'm not complaining. I absolutely LOVE Shattered Glass -- and I suspect the author does, as well, which is why he included it. I even go around telling people about it and recommending they see it, when it's appropriate to the conversation -- and I suppose sometimes even when it's not. It's a great film, written and directed by Billy Ray, who also wrote and directed Breach, and wrote Captain Phillips and The Hunger Games, among others. I'm just surprised that Mr. Van Luling had it in there with the three Oscar-winners. Like me, he must really love it.
Shattered Glass tells the true story -- which you may recall -- about Stephen Glass, an acclaimed journalist for the highly-admired The New Republic magazine, who it was discovered had made up a great many of his most attention-getting cover story articles. The film is sort of a tense, but disarming detective story as the publication's new editor (played by Peter Sarsgaard) starts to get suspicions and tries to surreptitiously track things down. Glass is played by Hayden Christensen, and both are wonderful. Actually, everyone is the film is terrific, including Hank Azaria, Steve Zahn, Rosario Dawson, and Chloe Sevigny, with few false steps.
The fact that I'd yammer about to movie to others, even complete strangers, let to a funny tale, and one of my favorites, which is saying a lot.
During the last Writers Guild strike in 2007-8, I was assigned to the picket line at the 20th Century Fox studios. I showed up one morning, signed in, got my bagel, picked up my picket sign and lingered for a few moments finishing eating. There was a conversation nearby where three writers were discussing films, and I heard Peter Sarsgaard's name mentioned. I waited for a pause in the conversation, and jumped in, saying that if they liked Peter Sarsgaard that much, I'd just seen a great movie he starred in that they'd probably love, and it was called Shattered Glass.
One of the three WGA members broke into a smile and said, "I know. I made that."
It was Billy Ray.
I have to figure that that's about the best kind of praise any writer or filmmaker can get. When a total stranger interrupts his conversation, has absolutely no idea who he is, and start raving about his work.
It was well-deserved. It's a terrific film. Smart, thoughtful, beautifully acted, taut, involving, charming, well-crafted and a true story.
Here's the trailer.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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