True stories…or are they?


Kill the Irishman – One of the best gangster films I have had the pleasure of seeing for a long while. In Cleveland 1976 36 car bombs go off in an all-out mob war with Danny Greene an Irish gangster with honour and pride verses the Italian mafia. True to the story and beautifully cast and performed.

Margin Call – This is a master class in acting from many great names. The film is based on the financial firm Lehman Brothers at the start of the economic crisis. It is an amazing insight to the usually unseen corporate world on the verge of collapse.

Into the Wild – Deep, real, adventurous and very touching; this is the true story about an amazing intelligent student called Chris McCandless. He abandons his possessions and gives the $24,000.00 in his account to charity and leaves to live in the wild. On his trip to Alaska he comes into contact with characters which will shape the rest of his life.

The King’s Speech – This film delivers in every aspect cast, writing, direction and artistic value. It’s a view of intimacy of a well-known royal family that is very rare. This film is more than someone with a speech impediment; it explores many levels and has become a timeless classic.

The Counterfeiters – This is an epic film about the biggest counterfeiting operation in history carried out by the Nazis in 1936. This is an outstanding piece of cinema consisting of many layers and managing to avoid the usual clichés in Nazi orientated films. It is a story of survival, manipulation and one’s beliefs and being able to adapt in extreme circumstances. A must see.

The Social Network – David Fincher has produced a modern, intelligent and engaging biopic about the creator of the most popular website the world has ever seen. Sophisticatedly portrayed simultaneously across two lawsuits; the quality of this picture is evident from the very start.

The Blindside – An extraordinarily inspirational film; about a traumatised homeless school boy who is taken in by a caring family. This single act of kindness sparks a sequence of events which would ultimately see him playing American football in the NFL. Condensing years to hours is no easy task but here it has been accomplished dignified and skilfully.

Secretariat – This is the story of the faster horse in history known as ‘Big Red’ who went on to win the racing crown triple on 1793 which hadn’t been done for 25 years. It’s all those things Disney love to associate with their films; inspiring, uplifting, exciting and based on a true story.

American Gangster – Ridley Scott produces an accurate drug-trafficking gangster film that makes you think. Scott keeps away from usual gangster film stereotypes and instead ops for an elegant and intellectual film that delivers a poignant message. The cast are magnificent, the direction is outstanding and the story authentic: the result an epic film.

Changeling – The incredible story directed by the Godfather of film Clint Eastwood. A mother takes on the LAPD when they try to pass off an imposter as her missing son. This is an expertly executed film and Jolie and Eastwood are a formidable team. This film may be hard to sit through at times, but every moment is worth it.


Sanctum – So James Cameron decided to take a break from being a part of decent films after Avatar and produced this ridiculous film. The script was loud, over the top and nothing like the story that inspired it except it was in a cave. I understand the use of artistic license but when the source material is so bad why use it in the first place? Predicable, cheesy and very run of the mill; avoid at all cost.

The Pursuit of Happiness – I’m not sure what the director was thinking when making this film but according to the book he left out a few interesting details. Firstly the fact that while on the broker program he was so focused on getting his first million he didn’t even know where his son was for four months. Secondly they mistakenly showed before his interview Gardner being arrested for parking tickets when actually because he was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife. There were a few other aspects also left out such as; his small stint at selling drugs; doing cocaine, PCP and weed with his mistress; and the fact his son in the film was conceived while he was married to another woman. Domestic abuse, illegal drug consumption and being a neglectful father; I’m surprised Gardner was so keen to pursue happiness when he seemed to already be having so much of it.

A Beautiful Mind – In a biopic you don’t expect them to stray too far from the truth, alas this is Hollywood and all can be shaped in the predictable formulas they so loving use. The film omits the fact Nash was married twice to the same woman after splitting in 1963 they remarried in 2001. In that time he had several affairs with men and women. It was voices he heard not visual hallucinations. He believed the voices he heard were extra-terrestrials communicating with him, providing him with advanced knowledge. He also made numerous anti-Semitic statements which he put down to him illness and in contrary to the film he also refused to take his medication. This instability led to him not to making that beautiful acceptance speech he portrayed in the film. There was no denying Nash was a magnificent and troubled individual but what is strange is why Ron Howard decided he could wash over and fabricate vast parts of Nash’s life.

21 – In this story a group of MIT students who were trained in becoming expert card counters in order to take the casinos in Las Vegas for millions. The problem with this film is that the six students it was based on were of Asian decent and the character that Spacey was also based on an Asian person. The only ones in the film were relegated to geeky sidekicks while the white kids did all of the intellectual work. I guess the only way Asian person can get a lead role is if they can do kung fu…and that’s not racist at all is it.

Remember the Titans – In this inspiration film based on an African-American coach on his first season as a racially integrated unit. But that was not strictly true, the school the story is based on TC Williams High School which was integrated in 1963 but consolidated with another school in 1971. This tripled class size and gave the school a much larger talent pool to use. The awesome dramatic run in the middle of the night which led to the moving Gettysburg speech never happened. Neither were they the only integrated team in the 1971 season as was stated in the film but by that time all of the teams were fully integrated. The games were not as close as Disney made out, they virtually annihilated every team they came across. In the final game of the film the real score was 27-0 to them but I guess that’s not dramatic enough for Disney.

Last King of Scotland – This film was based on the events of a brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin from the point of view from his Scottish physician Nicholas Garrigan. Firstly there was no Scottish doctor called Nicholas Garrigan but there was an English Major named Bob Astles. He was sent to Uganda in 1949 and worked with the government until 1971 when there was a coup d’état and he was taken and tortured for 17 weeks before transferring his services to Amin. Astles served Amin as his Head of Anti-Corruption and British Affairs Advisor until Amin was finally overthrown. Astles had then to face criminal charges in Uganda for his actions as aide to Amin. There was one thing loosely based on truth, in the film the Garrigan became romantically involved with one of Amin’s wives. This actually happened with an African doctor named Mukasa. Amin’s wife died during a botched abortion by Mukasa, who then ended his own life. Not sure how any of this could not be used, I found it a lot more interesting than Forest Whitaker in a kilt.

Frost Nixon – In this film we are led to believe that the plucky Brit Frost managed to journalistic prowess to trick Nixon into a guilty confession. In reality it was Nixon’s PR team that should be awarded with that accolade as they saw it as a way of rehabilitating Nixon’s image. So the final interview was delayed and the whole thing was scripted, in exactly what and how he would say it. So basically transpired just as Nixon wanted it to, and that is why they called him “Tricky Dicky”.


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