Nothing But the Truth.jpgHow do you know who your friends are in Washington?  They're the ones who stab you in the chest.

That old joke captures the hard-edged quality of political combat in the nation's capital better than most Hollywood films, perhaps because Hollywood tends to portray power not as it is actually wielded but as a dark, comic-book conspiracy.

One recent exception to this rule is Nothing But the Truth, a 2008 film based loosely on the 2005 story of Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who went to jail rather than name the source who leaked to her the identity of NOC (non-official cover) CIA agent Valerie Plame.

But I almost hesitate to mention the Miller-Plame case, because this film goes far beyond it, to a realm that in its quiet, minimally violent way is truly unnerving.  This is due to no-nonsense writing and directing by Rod Lurie.  But it is even more the achievement of the actors.

As the reporter who suffers a grimmer fate than Miller did, Kate Beckinsdale is solid if uninspired.  But that doesn't matter, because she is surrounded by amazing performances: Matt Dillon as the friendly but feral special prosecutor who goes after her; Alan Alda as the preening but (in the end) principled lawyer who defends her; Vera Farmiga as the changeling spy; and (surprise) prominent First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams as the judge.

This all may sound like standard fare, but it is not.  These characters are more real, and more intimidating, than those in almost all other political thrillers.  Maybe that's because the issue at stake is also more genuine.
August 9, 2009 5:27 PM | | Comments (0)


Leave a comment


PRC Pop 

The Chinese pop music scene is like no other ...

Remembering Elvis 

The best part of him will never leave the building ...

Beyond Country 

Like all chart categories, "country" is an arbitrary heading under which one finds the ridiculous, the sublime, and everything in between. On the sublime end, a track that I have been listening to over and over for the last six months: Wynnona Judd's version of "She Is His Only Need." The way she sings it, irony is not a color or even a set of contrasting colors; it is iridescence.

Miles the Rock Star? 

Does Miles Davis belong in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? Here's my take on his career ...

Essay Contest 

Attention, high school jazz listeners ...

more trax

Me Elsewhere

Edward Hopper 

Painter of light (and darkness) ...

Dissed in Translation 

Here's my best shot at taking Scorcese down a few pegs ...

Henri Rousseau Revisited 

"Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris" appeared at the National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall ...

Paul Klee's Art 

Paul Klee was not childish, despite frequent comparisons between his art and that of children...

Our Art Belongs to Dada 

Rent my "Dadioguide" tour of the Dada show (before it moves to MoMA) ...

more picks


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Serious Popcorn published on August 9, 2009 5:27 PM.

White Like Him was the previous entry in this blog.

This is Not Nostalgia is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.