Just four years later, bet it wouldn’t be made: True Story

I wondered if Rupert Goold was one of those writer/directors that critics just don’t like after many disparaged “Judy”, a movie I found quite moving. Hence, I watched “True Story” from 2015 which Goold co-wrote with David Kajganich (from A Bigger Splash!!!) based on the book by former New York Times Reporter Michael Finkel.

Cue Throat Clearing sound effect: Well? Definitely a movie that should have been left as a book, better yet, should have been simply a case study listed in the DSM-5.

I feel the same about this film as I do every time I see yet another new ‘complete biography’ of Hitler come into BookStoreOne where I work in Sarasota, Florida….like why are we giving this monster the time of day? And in fact, not only does the movie, and I assume the book, establish notoriety of the actual sociopathic murderer (which the movie doesn’t do proper justice showing the evidence that proved he indeed killed his whole family), but also makes the book author and part subject of the book also look like, I’m struggling not to use an expletive, a narcissistic jerk off.

A heinous act happens and the person who gets the most attention is the criminal….WRONG. And I think our news media, as much as I can’t stand their non-news bias (this includes the other extreme, too, Fox News) has done a better job of not detailing the criminals’ lives in some of the more recent mass killings. Shun the bad guys, in other words.

The one blessing I can say of the movie, speaking of the media I feel has completely sold out to political leanings, is that the New York Times, having been disproved recently in bold faced untruths, certainly look like idiots in the closing captions of the film in that they would never re-hire Finkel as a reporter, but DID accept articles from the mass murderer, Christian Longo. How’s that for morality and integrity?

As much as I like Jonah Hill and James Franco, they should have said no way to this project and ditto for Executive Producer Brad Pitt.

Standing Ovation: Zellweger as “Judy”

Typically I’d start out by praising a director of a tremendous film like “Judy”, but this screenplay calls for a standing ovation for dialogue. Realistic and witty, Tom Edge (and the original stage playwright Pete Quilter) I hope will win professional awards for their yeoman’s work.

Director Rupert Goold also deserves high praise for a tight movie that moves through the last segment of Judy Garland’s life like a bullet train. Goold previously received accolades for “True Story” with Jonah Hill and James Franco, both guys I totally respect for their brave choices (“Mid90’s” and “The Disaster Artist” respectively). While I need to go back and watch True Story, I have no doubt that Goold has a big future ahead of him.

Rene Zellweger deserves the most praise for owning this role, usurping the spirit of Judy Garland and bringing her back to life. Her moving portrayal as a long sufferer of child acting and abuse to her financial difficulties in later life moved me to tears. For me the hook that touched me most was how much she loved her children, but due to her instabilities, of whom she was unable to adequately care.

Finn Wittrock plays Garland’s last husband Mickey Deans and is definitely an actor to watch. He stood out in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” as the sleazy real estate broker and in Judy is superb at objectively performing the dubious role as Judy’s cougar suitor, yet due to his brilliant acting, we’re left weighing the actuality that perhaps he actually helped her sustain dignity and regrouping at the later stages of her life.

I’ll save any spoilers, but let me just say that I learned plenty about this icon and am absolutely in awe at Zellweger’s transformation. Natalie Portman received an overhype of praise for playing a stoned out Jackie O., while Zellweger actually had to act as the tragic, but gifted Judy Garland. A must see!