Archive for September 7th, 2007

Bogart on the wall, Hunter in the hip pocket

7 September 2007

WASHINGTON, DC: One of the more curious phenomena in recent times is that just as the public cynicism of the media keeps climbing, the number of movies built around the media is rising, leaving preachers and practitioners wondering what the hell is happening to the craft as they know/knew it.

# Is the movie depiction of journalists/m much more captivating for the reading public which is why they like consuming it on celluloid than on newsprint?

# Is it just nostalgia with a dash of fantasy, or is the public pining for a more gung-ho, go-getting media rather than the toothless tigers that corporations and profit mongrels have turned them into?

# Are these sexed-up movies with their exaggerations and infirmities actually adding to the disconnect between what the public has come to expect from their media and what it eventually gets?

Joe Saltzman, associate dean of the University of South California Annenberg School of Communication, who heads the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture project, estimates that there are at least 18,200 movies across the world with journalists and journalism in them.

Movie number 18,201—The Hunting Party starring Richard Gere—hits the screens across America today, and it leaves media watchers no less enlightened.

The germ of The Hunting Party is a 6,300-word Esquire magazine article by Scott Anderson in circa 2000—What I did on my Summer Vacation—in which Anderson and four other journalist-friends of his, all of whom had covered the Bosnian war, pop into Sarajevo for a reunion on their way to a holiday on the Adriatic coast. One improbability leads to another, before they are mistaken for a CIA hit squad on the hunt for the fugitive Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

But, on screen, as a New York Times review by Manohla Dargis today points out, the story achieves a momentum of its own:

“Gere plays one of those Fourth Estate burnouts who periodically lurch into the movies. There’s the regulation flask, a week’s worth of whiskers and the pouched eyes that have seen a world of sorrows, and even more closing times. Marinating in booze and his own sour juices, he is meant to look worn out and nearly used up, punch-drunk on man’s inhumanity to man (and to woman and child and dog). He probably had a Humphrey Bogart poster on his dorm wall, and a Hunter S. Thompson paperback in his back pocket.”

Read the full review here: The Hunting Party

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