"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

Richard Jewell

Even before that fake baby in AMERICAN SNIPER, people were talking like Clint Eastwood was some confused old man who doesn’t know how to direct a movie anymore. Gotta disagree. I know I’m far from the only one who really enjoyed and was surprised by THE MULE, and now that I’ve caught up with Clint’s latest director-only drama, RICHARD JEWELL, I’m here to tell you that’s a good one too. Really good, and to me it’s by far the most compelling of what now seems to be a Real American Heroes series with SNIPER, SULLY and THE 15:17 TO PARIS*.

Okay, yeah, so there’s a part where kids drinking beer in a dorm room have a poster on the wall that says “Beer 2 Night.” Have fun with that one. I didn’t notice the fake baby before so maybe there’s some in this one, I honestly don’t care. It’s a fascinating story, it made me laugh, it moved me, it has one of if not the best lead performance of last year. My friends, I have Jewellmania.

If you weren’t too young in the ‘90s you know Richard Jewell as history’s most famous temp security guard. While working the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta he found a suspicious bag under a bench that turned out to have a bomb in it. Thanks to his discovery they managed to back the crowd away before the bomb exploded, but a woman was still killed by the blast, a man died of a heart attack, and 111 were injured by shrapnel.

Jewell was briefly lauded as a hero, until the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that the FBI was investigating whether he planted the bomb himself so he could pretend to save everybody. The theory was completely wrong – abortion clinic and gay bar bomber Eric Rudolph confessed to the crime years later – but it instantly turned Jewell into one of those ‘90s figures like O.J. Simpson or Tonya Harding, who received round-the-clock sensationalistic news coverage. He was presumed guilty and sentenced to humiliation, with reporters shining a spotlight on his failed law enforcement career and the fact that he lived with his mom.

Of course that means Jay Leno filled his monologue with hacky jokes about Jewell being a fat hick loser. American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell, a 1997 Vanity Fair article credited as one of two sources for the movie, happens to quote Leno joking about Jewell’s “scary resemblance to the guy who whacked Nancy Kerrigan.” And sure enough both of the people Leno was insulting have now been played by the same actor, Paul Walter Hauser. He pretty much stole I, TONYA with his very funny, surprisingly accurate portrayal of the wannabe “counter-espionage expert” who pays two “operatives” to injure Nancy Kerrigan’s leg. He’s also really funny in Cobra Kai Season 2 as an adult security guard who joins the teen karate school Cobra Kai and decides to start braiding his goatee and calling himself “Stingray.”

The movie was originally set up with Paul Greengrass directing Jonah Hill as Jewell and Leonardo Dicaprio as his lawyer. Eastwood had the way better idea of casting Hauser based on clips from I, TONYA and the show The Kingdom. He didn’t even make him audition. As a character, Richard Jewell is a weirdly perfect progression for Hauser. He still gets to be funny in a similar way, throwing around lots of laughable cop lingo to try to sound important, but of course he’s a much more sympathetic character than those other two, and his internalized anger and grief occasionally boil over in very moving ways. I won’t impugn any of last year’s best actor nominees as undeserving, but Hauser definitely belonged up there with them.

It starts in ’86, with Richard pushing a supply cart in an office where ornery, anti-establishment lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell, MATCHSTICK MEN) warms to him enough to give him the nickname “Radar.” When Richard leaves the job to pursue a career in law enforcement, Watson makes him promise not to become an asshole.

Cut to Richard being an asshole as a college security guard in Athens, Georgia. Admonished by the bow-tie-wearing dean (Charles Green, “Orderly #3, DISORDERLIES) for, among other things, pulling people over on the highway, Richard explains, “I believe in law and order, sir” and refers to his contemporaneous notes to prove that he was once asked to prevent “mickey mousin’” on campus.

Next we see him in his infamous living situation with his mom, Bobi (Kathy Bates, DICK TRACY) in Atlanta; the movie correctly indicates that he was staying temporarily to look after her after a surgery and try to work the Olympics. The plan works out well at first because he gets his mom into a Kenny Rogers concert.

(HUGE INEXCUSABLE MOVIE ERROR: Ronnie Allen [“Bouncer” in THE EXPERT starring Jeff Speakman] is listed on the credits as “Kenny Rogers Impersonator,” even though he plays the real Kenny Rogers. GET IT STRAIGHT, END CREDITS!)

Richard likes to hang out with the cops doing security detail and talk himself up. They laugh at how big a deal he makes of everything, but seem to either like him or think he’s harmless. When he first finds the bag, though, they seem impatient with how by-the-book he is about everything, assuming that it’s nothing and pointless to go through all the formalities. Until it turns out that holy shit, there’s really a pipe bomb in there. Those guys in the sound tower who assumed he was full of shit when he came in yelling to leave owe him an apology.

But he doesn’t turn into a Danny McBride character about it. He’s humble to a fault and quick to give the credit to everyone else on the scene. He seems a little embarrassed and unprepared, but also flattered, to get interviewed on TV. Somebody from pavilion sponsor AT&T set up the interview – in the article it says they made sure he wore his polo shirt with their logo on it.

It’s that dean who fired Richard from the college (very justifiably, it should be noted) who fucked everything up by calling the FBI and telling them he was a nut. And though Clint and screenwriter Billy Ray (COLOR OF NIGHT, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, GEMINI MAN) are clearly on Richard’s side, they don’t pretend it’s completely ridiculous to be suspicious of him. In fact, it’s kind of funny how much of it is a result of him being a know-it-all. A law enforcement buddy comes over for dinner wearing a wire, and when Richard speculates about how the bomb was built, and explains that it would’ve shot the shrapnel in a much deadlier way if some drunk kids hadn’t tipped the bag over, it really does sound like he knows too much about it.

Shortly before he’s in trouble, when he thinks he might get a book deal, Richard calls up his old friend Watson for some lawyer help. That’s how a lawyer nobody ever heard of with a staff of one ends up on the biggest case in the country. Jon Hamm (SPACE COWBOYS) plays the FBI Agent who both leads the investigation and leaks it to the media. His character Tom Shaw is a composite, but it really is true that agents tricked Jewell into coming in to be interviewed for what they claimed was an FBI training film!

Shaw is backed by agents Hughes (Dylan Kussman, JACK REACHER) and Bennet (Ian Gomez, who was on a show called “Felicity”’ where apparently his character Javier was the main character’s boss at Dean & Deluca and was very effeminate and had an accent but looked the same as this macho agent), and Hamm and Rockwell get to really bounce their disdain off of each other.

But the real chemistry is between Richard and Watson. It’s kind of a buddy movie. They’re so different, but they really like each other. Watson is so exasperated as he finds out new incriminating things about Richard or fails to stop him from being nice to the agents who are harassing him 24-7. After seeing something on TV he has to ask if he was really arrested for impersonating an officer.

“Once. It was complicated.”

That’s nothing compared to when he finds out that Richard saved a splinter of the exploded bench in a scrapbook. Doesn’t look great. He’s not some hippie – the real guy calls himself a libertarian – but he’s clearly befuddled by Richard’s gun collection. He asks if he’s preparing for a zombie invasion, which kind of seems anachronistic, but I like to think it means he has good taste in movies and made references to DAWN OF THE DEAD before it took over the culture.

The movie definitely simplifies many things about the case (Watson was not his only lawyer, for example), but it passes the “Movie Still Seemed Good After I Read the Original Article” test, and stays closer to the facts than some other good ones like THE MULE and HUSTLERS. (Movies that have failed: ARGO, PAIN & GAIN, WAR DOGS I’m guessing from the trailer.) It takes some lines of dialogue straight out of the article and includes numerous colorful details, including that Richard kept a cooler of water bottles and Coke by his station to pass out to cops and pregnant women, and that one of his favorite bands, “Jack Mack and the Heart Attack,” were performing during the bombing. (I didn’t catch this at all, but apparently the performance footage is from the real show.)

One detail from the article that would’ve been funny to include in the movie: Watson didn’t immediately answer Richard’s call in part because he was annoyed that Richard had never paid him $100 he owed him for a radar detector.

I knew long before seeing the movie about the controversy involving Olivia Wilde (A VIGILANTE)’s character Kathy Scruggs. They use the real name of the journalist who broke the story that the FBI was investigating him, but add the fictional event of her convincing him to leak the name of the suspect by offering him sex. Worse, the real woman can’t defend herself, because she’s deceased. And even worse than that, there’s a scene where she says “YES!” when “The Macarena” starts playing. And unless they can back that up I don’t think that’s fair.

For what it’s worth, Vanity Fair also had an interesting article about Scruggs and the controversy. An editor that worked with her for years felt the movie portrayed her well except that the sex insinuation was “just bullshit.”

It’s an unfortunate stain on an otherwise really good movie. But the controversy is also a little misleading. Some of the things that make it a little different than it sounds:

1. Wilde is really good as a funny asshole who comes in with all sleaze guns blazing and two middle fingers raised. There’s a part where Watson gets into his car and she sits up out of the back seat, scaring the shit out of him, and starts asking him questions! Her vibe isn’t ‘despicable,’ it’s ‘humorously crass and audacious.’ So separate of any possible defamation she’s a fun character.

2. She has a previously established flirtatious relationship with Agent Shaw and they both joke “are we really doing this?” when they leave the bar together after he’s already given her the information. It’s a journalist sleeping with her source – a sexist cliche – but not exactly the reported quid pro quo.

3. She ultimately (SPOILER) realizes that Jewell really is innocent, feels enormous remorse, and attempts to convince Shaw to back down. And he’s the asshole who doesn’t change his mind.

4. The emphasis of the movie is much more on the FBI fucking up than the media.

That’s the thing with Clint. He has those reactionary libertarian octogenarian politics that he mouths off about and sounds like an asshole, and then his movies are always more thoughtful than that. People jumped to the conclusion that he was using this very old case of journalistic malpractice for the popular right wing hobby of painting the entire news media as bad guys. That’s kind of a side issue – Richard’s mom loves Tom Brokaw and says he “sure is handsome,” so it’s devastating to hear him talk about her son as if he’s guilty. But the central theme is Richard’s very long, slow journey to realizing that the cops he has worshiped his whole life can be wrong, can be incompetent, can be assholes, can take a totally innocent guy – in fact, a hero who saved a whole bunch of lives – and destroy him.

In a way it’s similar to the arc of SULLY, the pilot who saves a bunch of lives and for some reason they accuse him of doing it wrong but then they say oh yeah, whoops, my bad, yep, you obviously did it right. But everybody still remembers him as Sully the hero pilot. For Richard it was like 2 days of hero and 3 months of possible suspect, so that’s the part we remember him for.

Throughout the movie Richard tries to offer the agents help and can’t get mad at them like Watson does because “Uh, I was raised to respect authority, sir.” He keeps telling them “I’m law enforcement too” and that they can talk to him “cop to cop” even though he knows they’re laughing at him. We only see Bobi’s Disney tapes in the house, but I picture Richard owning all the DIRTY HARRY movies on VHS. He hero worships cops, and a federal one – you know, a cop from that bureau founded by J. EDGAR – is even cooler. So when he gets to the point of telling them that he doesn’t respect them as much anymore, it’s like Dirty Harry throwing his badge in the water at the end.

RICHARD JEWELL rules, other movies drool.

 

*I also watched 15:17 when it came out on video, and for some reason never finished my review of it. It’s the one where the young men who pinned down a terrorist who tried to shoot a bunch of people on a train play themselves. I remember thinking that the casting choice was both the only very interesting thing about the movie and a major roadblock to it ever being very effective. There were some flashbacks to their school days that seemed laughable to me. I think one of them had a poster for one of Clint’s westerns, which is kind of an interesting self-reference since it could also be a commentary on how those parts of our pop culture inspire people. The re-enactment of what they did was much more intense than I knew to expect and it is very weird that they had to relive it on camera like that. And didn’t seem bothered by it. And I kind of liked the parts that were just like a travelogue of them visiting Paris.

In summary, 15:17 is Eastwood’s worst movie of recent years, maybe worst ever, but at least interestingly weird and distinctly late-Eastwood.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 at 7:42 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

24 Responses to “Richard Jewell”

  1. I didn’t see 15:17 but it sounds like Eastwood doing one of those Herzog documentaries where he makes the subject reenact the traumatic experience that the film is about. So it’s like, does Eastwood watch Herzog? Or did Clint and Werner each come up with the approach independently? Or was the approach suggested to Eastwood by someone? None of them seem farfetched, but I know I like the idea of Eastwood loving Fitzcarraldo best.

  2. So nobody else thinks it’s a little suspect that Hollywood’s premiere Republican chose to make a movie about the one time in the history of the universe that cops decided to try and frame a middle-aged white conservative instead of the nearest available young black man, and apparently it’s all the fault of the Deep State-controlled feds, an elitist academic, and a slutty female journalist with loose morals (like there’s any other kind)?

    Nobody?

  3. Mr. M — I think a lot of people think that, and a lot of ’em said it. In fact, this movie was a huge bomb, probably for that exact reason. But even if it was made with the hidden intention of projecting and bolstering an ideological worldview, I think it can still be a good movie, and it does seem to play pretty straight with the facts in this particular case (except that one). I can’t say that I was feeling especially eager to see this particular story told at this particular cultural moment, either, but I’m still glad to hear that someday, when I’m in the mood to approach it in a different context, I’ll probably like it.

  4. The show he was in was just called ‘Kingdom’, no ‘The.’ It’s about an MMA gym and it’s a great show. It stars Vern-favorite Frank Grillo in his career-best role. Paul Walter Hauser plays a very memorable side character.

  5. Maybe some tiny slice of those people who think the police can do no wrong could have their minds slightly wedged open by this example where they don’t immediately shut their minds because of race. I don’t know. But it’s a really interesting story about a legitimate injustice that really happened. As I tried to convey in the review, the main emphasis is on the collapse of this guy’s blind worship of law enforcement, hardly a right wing talking point. And since Clint doesn’t usually ask for much rewriting on the scripts he chooses, I suspect he was using the version developed for Paul Greengrass.

  6. I’m not trying to dismiss the story or anything. An injustice is an injustice and it shouldn’t matter what race it happened to. But timing matters. Context matters. In this climate, this movie looks like WHATABOUTISM: THE MOTION PICTURE. “Black men get persecuted by cops at an alarming rate, you say? Well, what about Richard Jewell, smartypants? Obviously, this one bizarre outlier proves that racism is extinct.”

    I’m not saying it plays out that simplistically. I just question the motivation behind the telling of this story at this time.

  7. To say nothing of choosing to make a movie that demonizes the press and legitimizes the concept of “fake news” at this point in history. So while some viewers may think “You know, maybe cops aren’t always right after all” (though aren’t the bad guys really the feds? And don’t republicans hate the feds already?), I bet they’ll also think “See, but I KNEW the media was bad! This is just like that impeachment hoax! Poor Trump, just trying to do the right thing and save everyone, and look how they do him!”

    It’s just not possible that someone with their priorities in the right place would choose to make this movie right now.

  8. Mr. M — I think it’s fair to question the motive behind deciding this story needed to be told at this moment. Hell, I’ll do you one better: I think you’re very likely 100% correct about the implication here. If Eastwood just happened to pull this script off the top of a pile, it’s a pretty big coincidence how closely it mirrors a litany of right-wing talking points from the past few years.

    But the good news is, the moment will pass, and the movie will remain. And if it’s good, we’ve got ourselves a nice little treat for someday down the road when the context is a little different. When I finally sit down and check it out, I’m sure I’ll be glad to have a nostalgic break from fighting cyborg space mushrooms or whatever.

  9. Jesus, I’d already forgotten about the impeachment. How times do fly…

    Thanks for this review Vern. I’d written this one off but I’m planning on checking it out now.

    Re: Clint’s personal politics expressed by the man himself, vs the more nuanced and/or sensitive points of view often expressed in or by his movies— it reminds me of Yukio Mishima, whose writing got me to think about this same issue a few years back. In actual life, Mishima infamously believed in the primacy of his insane ideology over all other things and wound up killing himself very dramatically because of it— and yet, so much of his writing seems to be saying the exact opposite to the points of view that he expressed in life: namely, that blind commitment to a belief robs one of the experience of being alive. It got me to appreciate that, since the subconscious and creativity work in tandem, it is almost guaranteed that the art made by someone who habitually espouses a rigid belief in actual life might contradict that belief in their creative output, sometimes even going so far as to express the exact opposite of what they’d say they believe if you were to ask them.

    That said, giving monstrous humans the spotlight just to see what their art says about their thought processes is hardly something I’d speak in favor of. But luckily Clint is at least one bodybuilding obsession and several dozen militant lackeys short of Mishima.

  10. I can see your suspicion about an FBI-fucked-up movie during the window when Republicans are against FBI for briefly trying to investigate a handful of Trump’s crimes. But I don’t know how someone would get “racism is extinct” out of this one, and it shows everything is much more complicated than “Fake News.” And did any of you see THE MULE? It seems like much more of a questionable timing than this one when you hear what it’s about – the border, Mexican drug cartels! – and yet it shows even the drug cartel as people and its primary theme is the fruitlessness of profiling.

    Obviously I also read into the timing of movies, but this isn’t RAMBO: LAST BLOOD. As I’ve been saying in all these reviews, Clint’s movies are good exactly because they take these issues that people see in black and white terms and show them with tons of grey and nuance. So I don’t like the idea of dismissing them sight unseen. People who have those dumb views SHOULD see a movie that tries to make them be more thoughtful about it.

  11. Oh, man, Jack Mack And The Heart Attack! I only know them from the original POLICE ACADEMY soundtrack, but it’s a helluva song.

  12. Gotta respectfully disagree. I’ve seen all these movies and scrolling through the old IMDB, the last good movie he directed was….Gran Torino? I guess? It’s not great but it’s okay. Every single movie after that is unmitigated dog shit. Before that you have Changeling (also dog shit) and Letters from Iwo Jima (legit great). Scrolling back further, you have to go all the way to Bridges of Madison County to get to another good movie. My point is, on the whole, good old Clint “One Take Is Enough” Eastwood has a pretty shitty record as director. I know we all love Unforgiven but it can only paper over so much…

  13. Gotta respectfully disagree. I’ve seen all these movies and scrolling through the old IMDB, the last good movie he directed was….Gran Torino? I guess? It’s not great but it’s okay. Every single movie after that is unmitigated dog shit. Before that you have Changeling (also dog shit) and Letters from Iwo Jima (legit great). Scrolling back further, you have to go all the way to Bridges of Madison County to get to another good movie. My point is, on the whole, good old Clint “One Take Is Enough” Eastwood has a pretty shitty record as director. I know we all love Unforgiven but it can only paper over so much…

  14. Back in the late 8o’s, early 90’s, I saw the movie Broadcast News, which told the story of a half-bright, good looking jerk who was able to style himself as a respected news icon with some calculated insincerity and a willingness to step on the heads of his colleagues. At the time it was rumored that he was based on Pete Jennings or Tom Brokaw. Looking at those guys through that lens, with Jennings, I just couldn’t see it. With Brokaw, though, I could definitely see it. I remember he had some kind of commercial that was him talking about his career, and it was very self-aggrandizing, him saying something like “when something big happens, the news is going to be there because Brokaw wants it there”, attributing that as some kind of quote from network big-wigs… annoying.

    But then there the day he called Richard Jewell “the Unidoofus”. I knew that Jewell wasn’t guilty. Anyone who didn’t have a tendency to immediately believe in wild tales of speculation or who had a grasp of human nature knew that Jewell wasn’t guilty. But still there was Brokaw, this half-bright narcissistic fool, just jumping in with both feet on these allegations and ruining this guy’s reputation with a dumb wisecrack while lazy law enforcement ruined his life. If I had ever had any respect for him I would have lost it. No consequences for him, no apology that I was ever aware of, just Brokaw strutting around and acting like he wasn’t some dummy who parroted BS and got paid big for it.

    Then he rebranded as the biggest cheerleader for the elderly (not like, caring for the elderly, just talking about them in a way that the conversation was still somehow about him) with that “Greatest Generation” horsesh*t. There was an Onion headline back then that went something like “Tom Brokaw to personally fellate every American over the age of 70”. I thought, at least somebody gets that this guy is full of crap.

    And just yesterday Martha McSally pulled a Brokaw, and tried to make coronavirus about “the Greatest Generation” but really about herself, performing for the cameras, not doing a thing to actually care for the elderly (who are boomers, not GG’s), but styling herself as some kind of icon of benevolence to the exact audience she was playing to.

    So, Brokaw is an a$$hole is what I’m saying. I’m glad Clint took this opportunity to portray Richard Jewell as a person instead of as a story and to acknowledge how stupid media and lazy feds happily ruined a guy just because they didn’t give a crap about him.

  15. It is kind of pathetic how the Boomers have tried to rebrand themselves the Greatest Generation and steal the valor of their own parents in the last few decades. As if they were responsible for defeating the Axis and then returning home and building America into the powerhouse of the world. They were snot-nosed teenagers when this country was being built. I understand the tragedy of Viet Nam and sympathize with their angst, but really the hippies who protested the war were a small percentage of that generation, and those who joined in with the Civil Rights protests were even fewer. My uncle was pulled into Nam and had a pretty rough time there, but my dad spent the war in Puerto Rico.

    I don’t go with the idea that Boomers ran America into the ground, but a lot of them sure went right along with the politicians and CEOs who outsourced our industry to Mexico, Japan, China, wherever they could pay slave labor to the local workforce. As long as their management level jobs kept paying the big bucks and their retirement funds kept going up, they didn’t care. I was telling people 20 years ago that America was heading for a disaster, with the people at the top having all the money while the manufacturing sector got hollowed out in the middle, leaving a shitload of people with dead end jobs polishing each other’s shoes and doing each other’s nails until the nation’s built up wealth ran out. My friends looked at me like I was crazy. Who is crazy now???

  16. After reading the Vanity Fair article mentioned in this review, it became a long time dream of mine to write this movie. This is an amazing, horrifying and moving story that absolutely deserves to be told. Shame it got caught up in the ‘fake news’ culture wars. The story does not need that context to be worthwhile or meaningful and the idiocy journalists and film writers who complained about Eastwood telling the story of “the one time the media wrongly fingered a white man for a major crime” is such elitist bullshit.

  17. Did you see the movie yet, Tawdry? I’m curious what you thought of it and how it compared to how you thought it could be adapted.

  18. The Kathy Scruggs stuff notwithstanding, this is easily Eastwood’s best since IWO JIMA. It would be so easy for this to tip over into hagiography, and it never does — it lays out why Jewell gives in to his power fantasies of bossing around boozing frat boys and condescending yuppies, but doesn’t excuse it. Jewell is awkward and sometimes even creepy, the movie doesn’t try to prettify it, and he still earns our sympathy and respect. That’s largely thanks to Hauser, who was one of the few bright spots in I, TONYA, and is just incredible in this. It’s unforgivable that the Oscars passed him by.

    THE 15:17 TO PARIS is just … weird. The whole thing was misconceived from the get-go. How do you make a feature film about a skirmish that was over in seconds? Apparently, by making it into a travelogue of Europe with nonprofessional actors. Parts of it aren’t terrible, it’s occasionally even interesting, but I still don’t understand why it exists.

  19. Wow, what an amazing movie. Great on pretty much every level.

    And people are outraged morally by this? WTF? I have a hard time pointing out recent films with equal universal and timeless moral focus. This film is simply truthful, with a lot of heart. It’s like getting outraged by Babe: The Gallant Pig. The controversy just shows how pointlessly and stupidly politically biased everything has become.

    And Wilde’s and Hamm’s characters clearly wanted to fuck each other brains out from their first scene, so the concept of her offering sex for information is just stupid. It actually never happens, the two are just goofing around with strong sexual chemistry. Again, WTF?

    And also Wilde was just incredible in this. Smoking hot, ballsy, smart and hilarious. I really wish she would do more movies. Loved her since Tron Legacy.

  20. This review got me to finally go “okay, I’ll check it out.”

    Now let’s back up. I went a little crazy last year and went to the movies A LOT. I decided to set a personal record. I saw anything that even slightly interested me and even things that flat out DIDN’T interest me. I sat thru garbage like Dark Phoenix, Black Christmas, Nekrotronic, Hobbs and Shaw, and probably a dozen others I can’t recall off the top of my head to keep the count up.

    That I skipped Richard Jewel is now my biggest film going mistake of 2019. What a great fucking movie. Absolutely enthralling. This is my first time seeing Paul Walter Hauser and he is a goddamned revelation. He and Eastwood don’t ever deify him. He’s not bright, he’s got serious inadequacy issues, he’s drunk on his tiny slice of authority, but he’s still a genuine person doing the best he can muster. He broke my heart.

    Thanks Vern for giving me the little push I needed to check this movie out.

  21. Weird question,

    Is the scene where Dirty Harry throws his badge into the river a sideways reference to Muhammad Ali’s experience with his gold medal? Or do I have the date’s wrong? Or is it just a weird coincidence? Or is there some larger, Social history of throwing shit into bodies of water of which I am unaware?

  22. It should be noted that Paul Greengrass and David O Russell both attached themselves to this material and thought it was a story worth telling, long before Eastwood came along and finally got things off the ground. The idea that this movie exists because of the dujour right-wing ideology just doesn’t make much sense in the face of how long it takes to develop a film and get it greenlighted by a major studio.

    Plus, the idea that this story is noteworthy or worth telling because it focuses on a _white_ man who was railroaded by the system is grotesque identity politics. The kind of surface level liberal thinking that cheerleads for _more female drone pilots!_ _more Black billionaires!_ _more gay priests!_ and thinks that broad representation within current systems of power will fix things without ever interrogating the deep rot within those very systems.

    It is not less tragic because Jewell was a white man. And that is not why this story gained National notoriety.

    Finally, RE:VERN,

    I sadly missed this movie while it was in theaters. It came out while I was in the middle of a pretty darn intensive writing fellowship and I wasn’t seeing any movies. I became a full-time stepdad almost immediately after that program, so seeing movies that only Tawdry cares about has become a rarity. If the Mrs. or the Kid doesn’t wanna watch it too, it’s probably not gonna get rented.

    HOWEVER, I can tell you that the finished film is quite different from my take. My version would have been a satire about a man who realizes too late that the American Dream has more cracks than the Liberty Bell. I would have played it from the angle of laugh-so-you-don’t-cry, but it sounds like the real movie was built around the same emotional core I saw. One of Jewell slowly discovering that his blind hero worship of authority figures just might be unjustified.

    I was happy when David O Russell was onboard with Jonah Hill. That version sounds like it might have hemmed closer to the movie I saw in my head after discovering the article. But, oh well.

    In any case, I hereby pledge to watch the finished product and report back to y’all.

  23. Tawdry: the stuff with the badge is an homage to HIGH NOON. Funny to think of Harry swimming around later on since he’s still a cop for another four movies.

  24. Just watched this after regretting now seeing it in theaters. Dare I say this is maybe the ultimate slobs vs snobs movie?

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