This is a tale of two movies.
Last weekend, like many Washingtonians, I rushed to see Fair Game, the tale of an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which, through a series of political and media responses, led to the outing of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame. International intrigue. Political power plays. Criminal charges against a White House official. It’s a true story set in the nation’s capital and cities around the world.
Washingtonians like movies set in our back yard. We are eager to see if the movie-makers got it right—the geography, the photography, the historiography.
I wonder whether, in other cities, Fair Game is getting as much love at the box office as, oh, I don’t know, anything else.
Saturday night, I arrived at the theater 35 minutes before show time to find the movie already sold out. I envied my fellow wonks who would be nestled comfortably in their stadium seats, taking in the talent of Sean Penn in the role of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, Plame’s husband, who played a pivotal role in this historic real-life drama. I immediately got tickets for Sunday.
In the meantime, though, I was already in a movie mood. So I drove to my local shopping mall and saw Morning Glory, about a fictitious national morning news show. I’ve always thought it would be fun to work in broadcast news so, for me, this movie was a fantasy. Obviously, it takes place in New York, a city I love but know only as an outsider. A fantasy story taking place in a fantasy city.
For this reason, I didn’t concern myself with believability or accuracy or geography for that matter. I didn’t wonder if a taxi transporting a character six blocks can drive from Point A to Point B without crossing three boroughs, or whether or not a station can deviate from its scheduled programming to air a live feed from an hour away on three seconds’ notice. It’s fantasy; I don’t care.
So Morning Glory was amusing and entertaining—because all I had to do was sit back, get an artificial glimpse into the TV news business and munch popcorn. And try not to wonder whether the message was a lampoon or defense of what network morning programs have become.
Sunday it was back to Washington and back to reality with Fair Game. I found the movie to be very well done, the acting superb. There was one little geographic inaccuracy.
Joe Wilson hopped in a cab and asked to be taken to The Palisades. Before long, an overly chatty cab driver got on Wilson’s nerves and Wilson asked the driver to pull over. “I’ll walk,” he said. As he got out of the cab, we see that he is at the U.S. Capitol–seven miles from The Palisades.
It wasn’t fun to relive such an unfortunate event in U.S. history and I left feeling uncomfortable. But at least it was about something real. Two thumbs up.