Wednesday, October 8, 2014


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Movie Review: Kill the Messenger ... a Great Film

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Jeremy Renner is perfect to portray Gary Webb. Kill the Messenger is about integrity. It is a true story about the investigative journalist, Gary Webb, who exposed the corruption that nailed the CIA for being aware of the funding of the Contra war in Nicaragua with drug money. Webb won a Pulitzer for his reporting then was smeared by some obvious and some mysterious sources. He ended up committing suicide with two shots to his brain.
Suicide? How could he pull the trigger twice after he had shot himself once in the brain? Did he expose too powerful forces to go on living? He exposed corruption so decisively that the sources he exposed blocked his ever being able to write again. Webb needed to write to live. Writing was in his blood. Writing the truth, not what some editor wants him to write. Not what the public wants to read, but what he deemed important revelation. Silencing him murdered his spirit.
Kill the Messenger shows the behind the scenes working of newspapers and how they inspire, but can also destroy writers. The San Jose Mercury News destroyed Webb after the jealous bigger papers--the LA Times and Washington Post--became Webb's enemies because he exposed a scandal they should have uncovered . They set out to destroy his article. His writings. His character. His credibility. His discovery of the truth that drug smuggling was funding the Contra War and the CIA was aware of this but looked the other way. His discovery that the CIA created cheap crack cocaine to sell on the streets in the ghettos of Los Angeles. His discovery that the CIA created a drug infested epidemic which destroyed African Americans squatting in ghettos. Though Webb had been awarded the Pulitzer, because of pressure put on his own paper, The San Jose Mercury, and by the media as to Webb's credibility, The San Jose Mercury began to investigate the veracity of his series of articles titled Dark Alliance (1996). When he is told this, he quits, never to earn a living as a writer again. The Chicago Tribune and The L.A. Times eventually vindicate him, but the vicious smear to his character had been done.
According to Wikipedia which published, Gary Webb's following statement, "I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. So how could I possibly agree with people like Noam Chomsky and Ben Bagdikian, who were claiming the system didn't work, that it was steered by powerful special interests and corporations, and existed to protect the power elite? And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job ... The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn't written anything important enough to suppress ..."
Mike Cuesta's direction of this no frills thriller has your heart aching as you root for Gary Webb and for the poor being manipulated in ghettos by being made dependent on crack cocaine. This film's screenplay is written by Peter Landesman while it is based on Gary Webb's book Dark Alliance and Nick Schou's book Kill The Messenger. Nick Shou was a reporter for the LA Weekly reporter.
The cast is made up of stars in small, meaningful parts. These stars, one would suspect, accepted these roles because of the importance of this film. Andy Garcia, Rosemary De Witt as Gary Webb's wife, Martin Sheen, Ray Liotta, Oliver Platt, Barry Pepper, are a few of the familiar faces who appear throughout Kill the Messenger. And Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb shines over all in a tour de force performance.
Here you have history at the movies which is a joy amidst the mindless onslaught of animated films. Grab Kill the Messinger for a Golden Oldie style of storytelling...that is one with meaning and purpose.

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