Monday, March 23, 2009

A Micro Review of “Rachel Getting Married”, And Journalists Get Portrayed Badly (Once Again) in “Miracle At St. Anna”

By Lars Trodson

Very rarely do you get to compliment a director for achieving his goals, but hats off to Jonathan Demme, who last year told MTV News the following about “Rachel Getting Married”: One of the challenges was not trying to make it too entertaining,” Demme said.

Well done, old man! Mission very accomplished.

A Page of Dialogue From “Miracle at St. Anna”

Hollywood may be past the point of redemption when it comes to portraying journalists accurately on the screen. It could be that the denizens of Tinsel Town have every right to dislike journalists; they may see them as either sychophantic or nasty, perhaps both. Whatever the reason, journalists almost always come off badly -- as people, as professionals -- and rarely if ever does an actor or director get the details right. An exception was David Fincher and Robert Downey Jr. in “Zodiac.”

Spike Lee added his name to a list of directors offering up simply awful portrayals of journalists in his recent “Miracle at St. Anna.”

For your pleasure, I offer you some dialogue between the hard-boiled Det. Ricci (John Turturro) and cub reporter Tim Boyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Not only is it non-sensical, with painfully out-of-date references, but the Boyle character starts his first day on the job trying to bribe a cop.

To set it up, early in the picture there is a murder, and young Boyle arrives at the crime scene late, after all the other journalists and most of the police have gone away.

Boyle: I got lost.

Ricci: Coming here? You better find another way for a dollar to change pockets.

Boyle: This is my first day on the job as a reporter.

Ricci: Probably your last. Welcome to New York. You can be like Gov. Rockefeller, come and go at the same time.

Boyle: Can you give me some kind of angle on this?

Ricci: All I can give you is an empty feeling, kid. The perp’s over at Bellevue - 8th floor peanut gallery. The victim’s deader than yesterday’s beer. I heard he wasn’t that special even when he was breathing.

Boyle: My next job is going to be stuffing ballot boxes on Staten Island.

Ricci: Remind me to vote. I live there. Most cops do. Go home, kid, and don’t stop for bread.

Boyle: Come on, Detective. How about giving me something I can work here? Can I give you a tip on a hot horse? I’ll play Santa at the next PAL Christmas gig. I’ll pay Hong Kong Sue over on Forty-Deuce who’ll blow your noodle like Satchmo. How about I put a story in your pocket - good cop helps poor kids. You’ll get three months of Saturdays out of it. How about it? I can’t go back to scratchin’ out obits.

Sure you can, kid. Now beat it.