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RICHARD JEWELL

Warner Bros.' Clint Eastwood bio-pic about hero/victim/hero Richard Jewell, who was wrongly suspected of being Atlanta's mid-90s Centennial Olympics Park bomber. The accusation arose after a flirty, fiery journalist wrangled an FBI leak (the old-fashioned way) that the Bureau was focusing on Jewell as perp, an ironic twist because security guard Jewell was first the hero who discovered the hidden device that lead to the park evacuation that saved many but not enough lives. Not a film for the ages but Richard Jewell brilliantly captures today's tragically partisan age (see red buoy below; note that Dinghy's red buoys signal caution and in no way endorse the shade that discolors the present age).

Eastwood, ace screenwriter Billy Ray, fine casting, and strong fact-inspired story make for gripping entertainment that is creepily relevant today in its tendentious approach. All-star cast features Jon Hamm as a tunnel vision FBI suit driven by a need to nail (including Olivia Wilde, in the controversial role of an allegedly trashy Atlanta journo who seduces Hamm for a lead), the always watchable wonderful Kathy Bates as Jewell's mom; Sam Rockwell, perfect as a take no shit lawyer (see above with star Paul Walter Hauser). Hauser, who previously played the unforgettable schmucky dimwit bodyguard of I, Tonya, is especially outstanding here as the sweet, slow-witted Jewell who wants to, as the saying doesn't quite go, Make America Secure Again.

The film, diabolically partisan and shot through rose-tinted lenses, gives thumbs up to the Russians by way of Rockwell's likable colleague/romantic interest, to just plain red state folk who sometimes betray redneck genes, and to guns and hunting. Thumbs down here go to the media, to media's 'distorting' frenzies (that sometimes do not distort), to the FBI (near villainous here), and to the U.S. Government (the Oval Office again immune). And thumbs also turn sharply south for powerful print press, in this case, Atlanta's newspaper of record at the time.

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