Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Hoax

Year 8, Day 132 - 5/11/16 - Movie #2,332

BEFORE: I spent the last few days getting both bosses to beef up their presences on the Instagram platform - at first I was against it, because they're both already on the Facebook and the Twitter, so if we have to be on another social media platform then by God, when does it end?  But after making a few posts for each one, and connecting them both with their thousands of Facebook friends so that everyone can follow each other, my phone has been pinging like crazy, non-stop since last Thursday, with all the likes and follows.  And that leads me to the conclusion that people on the new platforms are just starved for entertainment - I swear, some people "liked" a photo that was just a solid color, I'm pretty sure it was a photo that was taken accidentally, and probably posted accidentally as well.  

Richard Gere carries over again, from "American Gigolo".  I think when I start putting together my review of my themes for this year, along with topics like "art" and "music bio-pics" I'm going to have to keep "deception" in mind.  It could tie together a lot of loose ends, and it's a theme that pops up everywhere from "Gone Girl", "Maid in Manhattan" and "Man of the Year" to more subtle usages, like in "Whiplash" and "Escape Plan".  Plus I've got a few films lined up for later this year that deal directly with art forgery, so there's that. 

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Melvin and Howard" (Movie #2,015)

THE PLOT:  In what would cause a fantastic media frenzy, Clifford Irving sells his bogus biography of Howard Hughes to a premiere publishing house in the early 1970s.

AFTER: In another from a long line of very strange coincidences, last night's film, "American Gigolo", featured an actress named Nina Van Pallandt in the role of Richard Gere's character's occasional pimp.  (Can a woman be a pimp?  For a male escort, I guess she can...)  And in today's film, Richard Gere plays an author who has an affair with an ex-girlfriend, an actress named Nina Van Pallandt.  Now, I don't know all of Clifford Irving's sexual history, so I don't know if this affair really took place - and for all I know, Mr. Gere chose to appear in this film because he knew Ms. Van Pallandt, and through her was familiar with the tale of Howard Hughes' fake diary.  Then again, maybe it's all just really random. 

This film is another one based on a true story, and it's set back in 1971, when there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, no e-mail - I don't think there were even faxes yet, because we see people communicating by Telex, which I never understood.  I guess it was like an early form of text message, just much louder.  Still, I don't see why someone didn't just pick up the phone and call.  But imagine how bored everyone was back then without smartphones and internet - if you wanted to get a message out to the public, you had to write a book!  

Perhaps that's why McGraw-Hill gave Clifford Irving an advance on his autobiography of Howard Hughes, without doing their due diligence to prove that Irving really knew Hughes, or had met with him at any point.  It was the perfect cover story, the reclusive billionaire wouldn't take a meeting out in public, or allow a meeting to be photographed or recorded in any way, he'd just pay to have his goons drug someone and fly them to a mysterious Caribbean island, where he went to meditate every other Thursday.  So after a bit of clever forgery, Irving was taken at his word and given a large check.  

But here's what I don't understand, according to this film Irving and his researcher, Richard Suskind, then go out of their way to track down a few of Hughes' associates, under the auspices of writing a book about aviation, and they stumble upon a man's tell-all book which they're able to mine for details and colorful stories.  Then they track down a series of audio recordings, so they can get a feel for the way Howard Hughes might speak, and then make audio recordings of their own to test out certain sentences and ways of telling stories.  It seems like so much work that I wonder if tracking down the real Hughes and doing the research to write a proper book might have been easier in the end. 

But then the film can't seem to stick to its own premise, because a mysterious box gets delivered to Irving, and it contains files and materials that could have come from Hughes himself.  (The real Irving denies this occurred, and stated that the film took certain liberties...gee, how ironic)  And then the fictional Irving appears to have real experiences where he is drugged and taken away to receive instructions from Howard Hughes' men - but it's possible that Irving only imagined these events, or that they are hallucinations he had while drinking.  The truth is left up to the viewer to decide, and that's a fairly large problem for a film that's all about how wrong it is to fabricate things.

Also starring Alfred Molina (last seen in "Maverick"), Hope Davis (last seen in "Flatliners"), Marcia Gay Harden (last seen in "Magic in the Moonlight"), Julie Delpy (last seen in "Avengers: Age of Ultron"), Christopher Evan Welch (last seen in "The Interpreter"), Eli Wallach (last seen in "The Holiday"), Stanley Tucci (last seen in "Maid in Manhattan"), Zeljko Ivanek (last seen in "Seven Psychopaths"), Peter McRobbie (last seen in "Inherent Vice"), John Bedford Lloyd, David Aaron Baker, Stuart Margolin, John Rothman (last seen in "Hello Again"), Mamie Gummer (last seen in "Taking Woodstock").

RATING: 5 out of 10 orders of Beluga caviar

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