18
May 04

It seems that my new favourite genre of films is work proceedurals

Do You See1 comment • 336 views

It seems that my new favourite genre of films is work proceedurals. Shattered Glass does it for highbrow journalism, and painstakingly spends much of its time telling you how rigourous the editing and fact-checking process is. It then spends the rest of the time showing how a spotty twenty something managed to file loads of stories which were fabricated out of his own feverish, and talented head. The lying aspect of the film interested me intensely (for some reason), and I will return to it in a longer article some time. The film is really good on its own office politics though, which helps ground the increasingly implausible narrative.

Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), he whom some how is or will shatter in the title, is awkward, preppy, unthreatening sexually and thoughtful to his co-workers. He gossips, he is generous with gum and everyone likes him. This is the secret to good lying. If people want to believe you, they will swallow things that otherwise they would not look at. The only person who is less taken by Stephen is Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgard), once a co-associate editor, now the actual editor. The animosity is initially drawn as jealousy, though this may be a slight flaw in the film. In the end Glass does not really like the man who replaced his favourite boss, and therefore does not apply his well worn obsequiousness with him.

It is Chuck of course who is most in trouble when the stories turn out to be lies. The scenes where Chuck is slowly realising Glass is lying, and Glass wheedling with get outs that he devised as a kid (Are you mad at me?) finding for the first time that they do not work. It is one of the best showdowns I have seen in a cinema for the last few years. It is only a pity that a film that gets its hands on the joys of investigative reporting, has to be about the ethics of journalism itself.

Worth watching just to see the star of the Young Darth Vader Chronicles playing a proper petulant youth as opposed to what George Lucas thinks one is like. It also is very good at what Secret Window completely fucked up last week, having a central character who is not the emotional heart of the story. That said it is odd with its period stylings: the film is set in 1998 yet the Diet Coke bottles and Windows 3.1 use seem out of the early nineties. And the irony of course, for a film about lying, is that the film lies too – because this was not exactly the way it all happened.

Comments

  1. 1

    […] Now point 1) would pretty much rule our 2) in my book but would not necessarily rule out 3). Well when you look at their list it is clearly that they have wrestled long and hard with 3) and still found no way around it. Its hard to find flag waving, capitalist friendly films ABOUT business. At least not recently. The list they actually come up with have at least fifty percent which are critical in some way or other to big business. So Wall Street doesn’t make it, Boiler Room left on the side, the criminally under-rated* Shattered Glass is also sidelined (though it is more about journalism than business). But even when these are passed over they cannot complete their list without Glengarry Glen Ross making the cut: and one cannot think of a film which is more openly hostile to capitalism, know or love it. […]

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