Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Shattered Glass - a review

This is an unmistakably odd film; I left it feeling that I was watching an advertisement for something (I have no idea for what, although the fish-out-of-water presence of Tom Cruise in the credits, as EP of an arthouse flick, does tend to set the conspiracy train of thought off in one particular direction).

Shattered Glass is also a very difficult film to write a non-spoiling review of (i.e. stop reading now, if you’re concerned with possible plot spoilage). In some ways, it works as a thriller, but in being based on an apparently real-life story from 1998, a fair few in the audience (tho’ not me) laughed disconcertingly at various plot points; presumably because they already knew what was about to happen.

For me, the most interesting facet to the story was the extreme youth (average age 26) of the staff writers at The New Republic magazine. As a GenX Australian writer, I find it almost incomprehensible that my American counterparts get/got such good jobs so young (i.e while the boomers are still in charge). While the TNR’s journo characters oft make the point that they are not well-paid relatively, this seems like skiting - their Australian equivalents (I’m talking the top students from the best unis) would consider themselves lucky to get badly-paid media-monitoring work or some-such; and certainly not reasonably hope to be writing feature articles for a well-regarded publication while still aged in their 20s.

If the film’s “ad” is meant to be a cautionary tale about placing too much trust with, and expectations on whizz-kid employees, it misses its mark by miles. The protagonist was far-less a fuck-up than Jayson Blair (a plagiarist as well as confabulator, and an especially malicious example of the latter). As well, the protagonist’s laboured unmasking - played out as a scoop by a rival publication, but in fact requiring nothing more than a basic Internet search and a few phone calls (i.e. these days, any blogger could have done it, and hopefully would have) - begs the question: Is America’s intellectual elite asleep at the wheel? Or does no one (i) read The New Republic, or (ii) care, unless or until someone makes a movie about it, with their own good selves being played by [insert name of hot young Hollywood actor]?

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