Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sundance with Abe: The Report

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the sixth time. I’m seeing as many movies as I can each day and will post reviews of each as I can.

The Report
Directed by Scott Z. Burns

There’s so much happening in current history that’s sure to end up in movies after a bit of time. The commentary from late-night writers and comedy showrunners is that it’s hard to be funny these days since what’s happening in the United States is already so absurd all on its own. Tackling these issues through a more dramatic lens can be a more effective route, presenting recent events on screen that may be less known to audiences. Releasing such stories in the current political climate is always a gamble, but investigating the truth and trying to portray it through fiction can be more palatable than direct attacks might be.

The real Dan Jones, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Maura Tierney, and Scott Z. Burns discuss the film
Dan Jones (Adam Driver) changes all of his courses on his third day of graduate school following the attacks on September 11th, 2001 to help his country in the way he best can. That route leads him to become a staffer for Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), who puts him in charge of an extensive investigation into the CIA’s counterterrorism program and, particularly, their use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques of questionable legality. His research into the more than one hundred people on which these practices were carried out only furthers his belief that what the United States did was not acceptable, a conclusion that government officials understandably do not want to see publicized.

Annette Bening discusses the film
Zero Dark Thirty,” which is seen advertised on a television screen in this film, dramatized the capture of Osama Bin Laden and was received controversially due to its depiction of torture. This film contains plenty of disturbing imagery that is difficult to watch, yet its presentation feels necessary to drive home the extent to which these techniques were applied and justified despite their inherent abhorrence. Unlike “Vice,” which offered Dick Cheney a literal menu of reasons torture should be condoned, this film makes no joke about it, presenting the stark horror of eagerness to legitimize and aggressiveness in suppressing any evidence that what was done was illegal or unacceptable.

Jon Hamm discusses the film
Feinstein has been in the news over the past few months for reasons that don’t always paint her in the best light, and this portrayal, by Bening, isn’t one that shies away from the complexities of her personality and political beliefs that occasionally put her at odds with members of her party. Driver is particularly effective as the champion of what is right, relatively stoic in his investigation until he can see just how little those around him actually care about assessing the effects of their actions. Jon Hamm and Ted Levine offer appropriate support as obstacles to this report being assembled and distributed, while Maura Tierney presents a vision of results above all, regardless of what must happen to achieve them. This film, interestingly, paints bipartisanship in a questionable light as a desire not to criticize past administrations proves counterproductive to the truth, but it’s still an important and worthwhile analysis of a history that Americans may not view positively.


No comments: