It's one important movie, not only because of its excellence, but because it covers issues of media and corporate ethics. I was rather shaken by the excellence of these elements: acting, direction, and dialogue.
We have a huge cast of veteran actors, and none of them is less than excellent. My favorites:
- Al Pacino plays the heroic producer who fights to get the story on air. For him (as is the case for everyone else actually), the performance is business as usual. It's not the best of his career, not is it any bad at all. He's one of those actors who are incapable of giving a shitty one after all.
- Christopher Plummer who plays the interviewer. It's always a pleasure watching him.
- Bruce McGill who scared me in Matchstick Men. He plays one of the lawyers here, and a tough one at that. He delivers the movie's most potent dialogue, when in court (or whatever tha was).
- Michael Gambon plays the unscrupulous and dishonest tocacco company owner.
- Philip Baker Hall plays an executive producer, the boss of Al Pacino's character.
As for Russell Crowe, I was actually satisfied, until much later on where I just realised that this was just a man in a mask (it sometimes felt like he tried too hard), though not as awkward a mask as that of Matt Damon in The Informant. I say this because the Crowe was really good, regardless.
One thing of note is that, regardless of how strong these performances were, they are not convincing. At the end of it all (or more accurately, near the end of the movie, say an hour or so before ~150m running time ends) you are left with this aftertaste that you are watching an excuse of a spectacle. Here's this director with a massive budget and highly-acclaimed actors at his disposal, carefully crafting a fine piece of art, but sanitising it so much that it loses the realism, and leaves the glamour of Hollywood. The performances feels more like showing off ("we are a bunch o' fuckin' good actors, motherfucka!"). It's like who's outdoing who in the craft. There's way too many of them, and some are even wasted. For example, my favorite, Bruce McGill, actually appears in about 3 scenes and Michael Gambon who appears in something like 1 scene. When things like this happens, I am left wanting. I see boys showing off the sizes of their balls, sadly. I'm temped to mention masturbation.
For the reasons I outlined above, I feel that the cast of Precious is superior (there was no such aftertaste), even though the actors are far less experienced. I think cold skill isn't enough to win my affection.
direction and script
The direction is really tense, and extremely engaging. The warmth of the 2 families, Crowe's and Pacino's, is plain lovely. There are some seiously powerful dialogue moments, and actually each line that's delivered seems meticulously-crafted. Also, perhaps as testament to the lack of skill of the director, there is a sense of lack of completeness. The movie runs at ~250minutes, yet it feels like some parts were left off. I've mentioned for one the underuse of some the characters. This may be unfair, as in maybe I wouldn't have missed them so much had the performances not been so strong.
The theme running through the story is that of heroism of the two lead characters, the Al Pacino news teller and the whistleblower. This divorces the movie a bit from reality (considering the subject matter), making it feel like mere gloss (fairytale). Actually that's one thing that the younger The Informant (2009) stayed away from. No one was an angel there, well except for one FBI agent, but he wasn't given a blowjob that our two heroes here got.
I'm not satisfied with this review. The movie is tough to review because it's so sophisticated, with so much that's beautiful (and so much lacking).