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Man, this was some indictment of the television-reporter-mentality! It
was exaggerated, of course, but still interesting to see and in many
respects good to see because of the onslaught of tabloid-mentality
journalism that seems to have taken over the media in recent years.
That kind of "reporting" should be exposed and ridiculed.
Whatever, you can enjoy this film for the acting alone with Dustin Hoffman, John Travolta, Alan Alda, Robert Prosky, Mia Kirschner and Ted Levine. These actors, and some good dialog, make the film move along at a good clip despite the absence of much happening on screen.
The story gets you involved and reminds me of the famous 70s film, Dog Day Afternoon, in which much of the film takes place in a bank. Here, it's a museum, and a man is in a predicament something like Al Pacino was in that film except Travolta's character here is totally innocent.
The screenwriters added bit of humor to this involving story and that made it even better. It's very good entertainment and certainly recommended.
I'll be the first one to admit that this is not a movie for
everyone- it's not your average mainstream Hollywood movie. However, it IS a brilliant, scathing satire of the media's true power in modern-day society. Instead of going for overkill like the pathetic "Natural Born Killers," this movie uses dark comedy, brilliant performances, and genuine thrills to create one of the most clever and powerful social commentaries to be seen in film in years. If you're expecting a typical Hollywood thriller with a formula plot and a nice, neat ending then you'll be disappointed, but if you're looking for a smart, powerful film with brilliant performances by Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta, then I would recommend this movie. In a time when events like the O.J. Simpson trial make the media's influence in our society more than apparent, it's refreshing to see a movie willing to stare this issue right in the face.
MAD CITY is exciting and thrilling from the first scene.
A talented success-hunting reporter is sent by his boss to a totally not interesting job: to do a story about a museum with financiary problems. Upset and defeated, DUSTIN HOFFMAN's character goes there and has the chance of running into what will prove to be the story of his life: a guy enters the museum and takes everyone inside hostage. It's a smart movie, just because it debates themes that can only lead to smart scenes. Probably the best thing about MAD CITY are the actors: Travolta and Hoffman are great in their roles and they add an extra-value to the movie by the way they act.
What if you really need money to support your family and you just got fired? How far are you able to go to get your job back? Far enough to enter a museum and threat the owner with a gun? Surely. But what if by mistake you do something that you can't get out from? That's Travolta's situation.
What if all your life you aimed for a great story that will totally change everything about you? How far are you able to go? Far enough to play the victim's life in your hands an organise a live show from which you practically doom him to death? That's Hoffman's situation.
The plot grows rapidly and it's very convincing. And the ending is the only one possible.
Costa-Gavras does a great job with this movie and manages to mantain balance between the characters and the action. Good job. Vote: 8 out of 10.
Interesting look at an emotionally crippled man as he goes out of control after losing his job. He holds several children and a few adults hostage in a museum after the curator refused to discuss his termination. One of the hostages is a newsman who winds up acting as the liaison between the police and the gunman. The situation leads to national prominence, drawing in an unscrupulous network newsman who only wanted to feather his own nest with the story. Good movie about a not unbelievable happening.
I just finished watching this movie and I must say that I am awestruck. Everyone around the globe should be exposed to the truth of what the national news media has at their fingertips, the power to move the public opinion to one side or the other. This film exemplifies to the last period exactly what I fear so many are ignorant to, and that is the fact that what we see and hear on our televisions everyday lies in the palm of executives and celebrities (news anchors) who run the networks. I was amazed at the amount of detail that was put into this film to show exactly that. Nothing is left unsaid. Bravo to a production all too unknown.
A second seeing of this film recently confirmed my impressions on seeing
`Missing' (1982)(qv) also a second time a few months back. Costa-Gavras has
things to say and he does not mince up his message.
In `Missing' he succeeded in getting Jack Lemmon to play a convincing role, and in `Mad City' he managed to get John Travolta to carry out the best role I have seen him in: his playing of a deranged simple worker real mad at having lost his job is truly memorable. Dustin Hoffman ably supports but without exceeding himself overly.
However, rather than the actors in themselves, it is the story itself which is more important and its message: getting the story on your TV news programme before your competitors is much more important than any other considerations such as in this case, a group of schoolchildren held hostage with a shotgun aimed at them. But do not worry about them get the story live on TV at any price, what a scoop! what a sensation!
And thus we live at the dictates of that ogre of communications called TV: whether wars in Rwanda or Afghanistan or Palestinians blowing themselves up in Israeli cafés or airliners crashing into the WTC, the most important thing is to get it live on screen for the hungry masses. We are at the mercy of papirazzi, that merciless squad of camera-toting fame-seekers, who have no scruples at getting their story first or even inventing it.
Thanks for the message, Costa-Gavras: I learnt it long ago, but you tell it well.
I was so depressed when I left this movie - depressed in a good way though,
in the way the filmmakers wanted me to be. "The media has become an
out-of-control circus," I thought to myself. Certainly not an original
thought or insight, and not extremely different from many other movies and
stories out there with a similar message. The difference with "Mad City",
though, was that it didn't play this insight for satire or sly comedy.
There's an anger and a sadness that runs through the entire movie - a
burning regret that this is the way things have to be. The filmmakers could
have easily reached for humor or gaudy overstatement to make their points
(as was done, say, in "Network" or "Natural Born Killers") but instead they
keep most everything at the human level, and that makes all the difference.
We come to feel really bad for the Travolta character; the screenwriters'
making him such a simpleton is, I'll admit, a bit manipulative, but as
manipulations go it's a good one and a smart one - it lets us see the toll
in human terms of the media frenzy. Dustin Hoffman and particularly Alan
Alda are expert in their roles as media sharks, and the sort of Mutt and
Jeff (or perhaps George and Lenny) relationship which Hoffman and Travolta
get into here is really marvelous. It has beats of comedy to it, while never
being anything less than totally serious (kind of like Hoffman and Cruise in
"Rain Man" - though the film never strains for that connection).
I think of this movie often in conjunction with "Wag the Dog," Hoffman's other movie that year and for me it's no comparison: "Wag the Dog" is gleefully cynical, seems to take real joy in the media being so ever-present and the audience being so easily conned. For me, that rings as hollow satire; "Mad City" by truly trying to examine and get us to think about (not just laugh at) the media's power is miles away the better film.
This movie gets off to a slow start. To be honest it doesn't build much
suspense. It does, however, have a message about modern society. People
a fascination with crisis situations and media personalities feed on that
fact like sharks in a frenzy. That can lead situations to escalate out of
Dustin Hoffman stole the show as Max Brackett. A fellow viewer couldn't believe that he was the same man that had played in Rainman. He delivers a standout performance as TV news reporter Max Brackett who is looking to inject life back into his career but at the same time retains some sense of compassion and justice. The forces battle inside him through out the film.
John Travolta was on the money but not stellar as Sam Bailey, a recently unemployed security guard on the cusp of losing everything that he owns. Sam is a bit of low watt bulb, but he is basically a good person caught up in a very bad choice and situation that runs awry of his plans. He is very distraught about his situation and popping caffiene pills to stay awake doesn't help his state of mind much either. Not one of Travolta's best but it is still good.
What a pleasure to watch Alan Alda in front of the camera again. As Kevin Hollander he is the guy that you love to hate. Hollander is Max Brackett's nemesis and antagonist. Alda easily departs from his compassionate portrayal of Dr. Haweye Pierce on TV's MASH for this one.
This isn't a perfect film but it is a good one. It will leave you thinking about the message that it has. The acting is good to great.
A brilliant examination of our media-driven culture, by a film-maker who has
lost none of the passion and intelligence which previously crafted such
definitive political thrillers as 'Z' and 'State of siege'. I am staggered
that Costa-Gavras could bring this one off while actually working within the
American media empire he excoriates!
There's enough stuff here to keep any serious media-studies or political theory courses in seminars and theses for years! I immediately bought a video copy after seeing it - in Glorious SpottiVision - on Britain's quirkily watchable Channel 5; I shall be giving it regular viewings from now on. Few and far between are such examples of intellectually adult and satisfying cinema these days. Truly one to savour, unless you prefer to leave your brains out when watching films.
And Travolta's performance as the wretched ex-guard - a far from simple simpleton - is a revelation: The man is magnificent - Oscar-worthy - the great Hoffman is forced to accept a supporting role!
A great, widely misunderstood film by a true master of cinema.
Costa-Gavras is known as a political director and the most part of his movies are intriguing and makes us thinking about our way of see/accept the political facts in world. Although this movie is not necessarily political, makes us thinking at this time, about the influence of the media in the facts and in our lives. In this movies, two different lives had being linked by a casual meeting in a museum: A reporter (Dustin Hoffman) whose career was marked by a mistake made in a network, is trying to "resurrect" his work making a report about a financial scandal when he's sent to make a report in a museum. At the same time, a guard of the museum (John Travolta), fired some days before because of cut of budget, goes there trying to have a conversation with the manager and convince her to give his job back. At the same time that the reporter realizes it can be a resurrection for him, the things run out of control when other media reporter challenges the guard and him... Besides the excellent performances of Hoffman and Travolta, Costa-Gavras makes once more, a very smart movie that can't be missed.
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