Sunday, April 26, 2009

"When legend becomes fact, print the legend" may be Hollywood's motto

In the last few days Hollywood has released two new films about journalists, State of Play (featuring Russell Crowe) and The Soloist (Robert Downey Jr.)

The Los Angeles Times' "chief Oscarologist," Patrick Goldstein, who says consuming "all sorts of rakish visions of newspaper life" on the silver screen pushed him into journalism, wonders how journalists' portrayal in motion pictures is evolving.
Newspaper movies are made because good drama usually involves moral dilemmas — and when it comes to complicated choices, the daily work of a newspaper reporter is a perfect vehicle.

If you look back on the history of newspaper movies, virtually all of the great films, comedy or drama, involve wrestling with difficult choices and establishing some sort of moral compass. Whether it’s “His Girl Friday” or “Sweet Smell of Success” or “Broadcast News,” the issue always raises its head — how far will you go to get the story? . . .

What might change is the gestalt of journalism movies. “State of Play” didn’t just get its facts about journalism wrong, but its tone was off, too. The days of top gun investigative reporters are pretty much over.

Today’s journalists are less swaggering and self-involved, more nuanced and self-critical, especially in an era where every move a journalist makes is immediately analyzed and chewed over in a hundred blogs.

Hollywood hasn’t quite caught up to — or felt the pulse of — that new style of journalism.
More here.

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