Altercation: At the Movies – The American Prospect

The film she saidrecently played at both the 60th New York Film Festival and the 30th Hamptons International Film Festival, is based on the 2019 book of the same name by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey about the women who fell victim to the crimes of Harvey Weinstein and the two New York Times the quest of reporters to get their stories on the record. It’s the best film about journalism since 2015 headlightand before that in 1976 All the President’s men. I say that as a longtime (now former) journalism professor, not as a film critic. Artistic aspects aside, these are the films that best show how high-level journalism really works; what a pain in the ass it is trying to get people who don’t want to talk to you to actually talk to you and only posting what you can prove. But sometimes it all pays off. That film, as Kantor noted during the press conference after the NYFF premiere, “underlined everything we believe about journalism and put exclamation points at the end.”

she said tells the story of how the two women did the reporting that led to their bombshell, October 5, 2017, 3,300-word article. The two protagonists show none of the “daring coolness” of Woodward and Bernstein. Rather, they are always polite, show a lot of empathy and sometimes cry. Twohey gets her work done while battling postpartum depression; Kantor juggling with small children. That her editor is a woman, like most of the people she tries to convince to speak on the record, is appropriate, not only because the story itself is female, but also because women are increasingly dominating the industry, no doubt in part because men are abandoning a profession that increasingly requires a vow of practical poverty.

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The best thing about this film is that it shows how bloody difficult, time-consuming and expensive responsible investigative reporting is; along with the small profit for the news organizations that cover it. That Times Risked a lot to help these two reporters in their quest, so it’s nice that the newspaper finally got their film: headlight was over The Boston Globe, President’s men was over The Washington Postand even Steven Spielberg’s film about the Pentagon Papers, The postthat was the Times‘ Story, it was about guessing which newspaper. Yet, as Marxists are fond of saying, it is “no coincidence” that it was Times (along with The New Yorker), which eventually broke the Weinstein story. Both are profitable, privately owned publications with audiences that advertisers want to target and readers who are willing to pay for it. Such outlets are few and far between these days.

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As these stories originally ran, Weinstein was convicted in 2020 on two counts of committing a first- and third-degree criminal sex offense. Not only is he serving a 23-year sentence, he is also on trial in Los Angeles, with another trial scheduled to take place in London later. Many corporate practices have changed, particularly in the entertainment world, thanks to the avalanche of women who eventually came forward to tell their stories.

It’s the best film about journalism since 2015 headlightand before that in 1976 All the President’s men.

Yes, the #MeToo movement has gone too far in some places. At times, its proponents fail to adequately distinguish between crime and sheer creepiness. Claims are also treated as facts by many people. Innocent flirting in the workplace has become a dangerous business. Nonetheless, such collateral damage is inherent in all cultural revolutions, and most sentient people will agree that the world is a better place thanks to these reporters, and particularly the women who have risked their reputations and livelihoods to tell them the truth about Harvey Weinstein and his army to say of enablers.

I saw another valuable journalistically themed film that ran at both NYFF and HIFF: Claire Denis’s stars at noon. This reflects the fact that – as I wrote in September 2021 – hardly anyone is interested in Nicaragua anymore. In the bad old days, the US was willing not only to fund and supply the Contras with deadly weapons, but also to mine the country’s ports, hire death squads in nearby El Salvador, and help facilitate actual genocide and then lying in the name of Guatemala. Elliott Abrams, the pardoned criminal, now a senior staffer at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the Reagan administration’s leader in all three, most notably in enabling the genocide in Guatemala.

The Denis Johnson novel on which the film is based takes place when all this action was taking place in 1984. I spent time in Nicaragua, as well as El Salvador and Guatemala not long after, being shot at by Contras, protected by Sandinista soldiers, drinking in the bar of the Intercontinental Hotel, watching the arms dealers at work, and dining with left-wing celebrities who supported the Operate “Sandalista” tourism. It was great fun.

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Claire Denis could have made a film like the excellent one Under fire, with passionate, sexy journalists as heroes. Instead, in this post-revolutionary film, the American journalist/heroine is unable to sell serious journalistic coverage to news organizations back home and is forced to literally prostitute herself in front of rebels and government officials just to survive (as well as at $50 a toss to anyone who drinks) . late in the hotel bar). Her former editor literally laughs in her face when she suggests serious story ideas. In film, as in life, Managua has become a hellscape – Donald Trump would call it a “shithole” country – but the CIA remains interested in making sure the right American companies get the oil rights. That, we eventually learn, is what turns all the killing on. (The movie was shot in Panama because it would probably be impossible to shoot a movie in Nicaragua these days.) The stars – Margaret Qualley and the handsome Joe Alwyn – who gets the girl not only in this film but also in Hulu conversations with friends– are both lost, sympathetic and inscrutable at the same time. if she said examines a high point in mainstream journalism stars at noon tells the dregs of what’s left if a superpower war doesn’t happen and the journalism business therefore has no interest in what’s left: a living nightmare.


I love my neighborhood and I hate it how The New York Times tries to make himself popular with supposedly “real” Americans with nasty comments. Steve Coll’s review of Margaret Sullivan’s memoir contains this dig: ‘She makes little effort to disguise her left-leaning policies, and while she makes her arguments clearly and with evidence, it is difficult to identify an opinion that has much in reliable Democratic ZIP Codes would cause discomfort on the Upper West Side. She argues at length that The New York Times grossly exaggerated its coverage of Hillary Clinton’s email practices during the 2016 campaign, and she concludes that The Times certainly contributed to Clinton’s defeat.” Coll denies this without evidence , but my point here is that the Times lies directly below us Westsiders, and Coll, now of The New Yorker, was the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, right above us. Many faculties of journalism in Columbia, Timesand New Yorker Employees live near here. And yet, in his review, Coll feels compelled to embody the paper’s self-loathing for the world’s best neighborhood, along with defensiveness for the paper’s almost undeniable role in handing the presidency to Donald Trump. He should be barred from Zabar for life.

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Clip and save movie lists

Other great movies about journalism, in (extremely) rough order:

  • His girl Friday (perhaps the best dialogue and performance of that dialogue of any film of all time)
  • Citizen Kane (well, obvi)
  • Groundhog Day (mainly because it’s one of the best comedies of all time)
  • Good night and good luck (gets points for an excellent history lesson)
  • ace in the hole (it’s always been a bad business)
  • The Philadelphia Story (Wonderful movie but loses points for its horrible class politics)
  • The Killing Fields (also good story)
  • The paper (criminal underestimated)
  • Between the lines (maybe my unknown favorite movie)
  • Deadline – United States (those were the days …)
  • Call Northside 777 (those were the times too)
  • The big clock (back then…)
  • Under fire and Salvador (because they’re sort of the same movie)
  • Almost famous (just fun)
  • America’s sweetheart (Because I’m a fan of rom-coms, and also because you’ll be surprised at how smart this is; also, it destroys the idea that “entertainment journalism” is actually journalism; ditto: winch)
  • slandered lady (back then …)
  • The Insider (should be paired with Good night and good luck to demonstrate the downward spiral of Divination as corporations take over…)
  • network (because of its historical significance and strange prophecy)
  • Broadcast Messages (because it’s there and pretty good)
  • Gentlemen’s Agreement (mainly for its historical importance; otherwise not that big)

The following are all the moves I’ve seen at either the NYFF or the HIFF that I highly recommend:

Movies you should see because it will be, um, good for you:

Movies you might want to watch, depending on who you are:

  • Personality Crisis: One Night Only

Movies you should only watch if you want to see people throw up for half an hour and have never seen the vastly superior ones swept away (the Wertmuller version, not the Madonna version), though Woody Harrelson plays a communist, Chomsky-quoting luxury cruise captain:

Recent dramatic films that also serve as excellent history lessons:

  • Argentina, 1985 (not at both festivals, but release this week)

The music of today

The other “she said”.

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