Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell (Warner Bros., 12.13) may or may not connect with Joe Popcorn. I’m not sensing any kind of populist interest among ticket-buyers, certainly not along the lines of ticket-buyer enthusiasm for Eastwood’s American Sniper (’14), which wound up earning nearly $350 million domestic. But who knows?
Two days ago the National Board of Review announced that Bates had won their Best Supporting Actress award; they also gave a Best Breakthrough Performance trophy to Hauser. This may or may not translate into the Golden Globes and Oscar realm. It might.
But despite generally favorable reviews thus far, the film may run into opposition in certain journalistic quarters because of its negative depiction of the news media (particularly the early coverage of the Jewell case by the Atlanta Constitution).
James Vanderbilt‘s Truth (’15) and Jason Reitman‘s The Front Runner (’18), which presented similarly critical instances of rash or intemperate reporting about subjects of national political interest, suffered lower-than-average reviews and went bust at the domestic box-office.
Truth earned a lousy $5,568,765. The Front Runner fared even worse, taking in $2,000,105.
Two days ago a tough Daily Beast piece by Nick Schager suggested that at least some critics and journalists (and possibly some guild and Academy members) are going to give Richard Jewell another chilly reception. Because it walks and talks like a kind of Trump fantasy.
Excerpt: “Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell wants to be a gripping, outrage-inciting drama about an innocent victim persecuted by — and driven to fight back against — institutional power. Unfortunately, what it turns out to be is a MAGA screed calibrated to court favor with the red hat-wearing faithful by vilifying the president’s two favorite enemies: the FBI and the media.”
Excerpt from 11.20 HE piece (“Clint’s Big Night“) about first major Richard Jewell screening for Los Angeles critics:
“After the q & a ended I went to the edge of the stage and reached up to shake Clint’s hand.
“I said something along the lines of ‘I can think of a certain guy in Washington who’s going to see this film about sloppy reporters who spin lies and hound an innocent man, and about an equally sloppy and unreliable FBI that isn’t on the side of truth, and he’ll say to himself ‘this is my movie, my viewpoint…it shares my beliefs about journalists and certain FBI guys.”
“And in that gentle and reflective tone of voice that he’s so well known for, Clint said that ‘we’re living in crazy times’ and that some people are going to see crazy things in Jewell’s story, but perhaps they shouldn’t. Or words to that effect.”