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Mann's fourth picture, The Insider, is even better paced and put
together than Heat. Although Lowell Bergman comes out as being a little TOO
idealistic,(my colleagues at ABCNews refute Pacino's portrayal,) his rage in
response to the suppression of the Wigand story makes perfect sense, given
the devotion Bergman put into securing the trust of his source. As for
Crowe- this guy is right up there with Daniel Day-Lewis right now in terms
of his range and conviction. In going from L.A. Confidential to The Insider
and then Gladiator, Crowe shows a huge range of acting ability. The
supporting cast does their job wonderfully, especially Plummer as Mike
Wallace. However, the biggest star of the film, after Crowe and Pacino, is
Dante Spinotti captured America's natural grandeur and sensual beauty in Last of the Mohicans. Here, he likewise effortlessly brings us into claustrophobic, numb, and disorienting realms of suburban and corporate America- (I'm no longer sure Conrad Hall deserved best cinematographer at the Oscars.) The music is an odd choice, filling a story of American greed, corruption, and crumbling ideals with what sounds like tribal and spiritual music from the East. But it ultimately works! What I most like about the Insider is that it refuses to dumb down its script, images, or characters. Mann respects the minds of his audience, unlike Alan Ball's script for American Beauty. The Insider is an intelligently made film that demands your attention and rewards it.
Films inspired by real life events face an awkward task in
cinematic liberty with fact, and not reinventing history.
While dramatic license is acknowledged, THE INSIDER is that rarest of films - pure cinema that actually matters.
Michael Mann has delivered a timely, and essential message about corporate politics. It's a tragedy the film failed at the box office.
Pacino is excellent as ever, and Plummer lends masterful support. But Russell Crowe - like Pacino against Brando in 1972 - shows he is every bit as good as the master as the slow-burning powderkeg Jeffrey Wigand. Crowe will be THE actor to watch in the coming years.
Tight and exciting, the message is never lost - corporate government is irresponsible, and democracy does not exist without a free media. But the power shift continues in the publics ignorance. The crime here is that public completely missed this, the best film of the year.
Despite way too much so-called "fictionalizing for dramatic effect" in the third act, Mann's riveting whistle-blower epic is high drama of the finest pedigree. It's a soft subject matter for the creator of Miami Vice and Heat (minimal violence, no one dies, no one really gets hurt), and Mann has been roundly accused of self-importance because of his overblown styling. The movie is indeed too long and too tumultuous--but if this is a product of a filmmaker's self-importance, then I wish more directors would wake up and start thinking more of themselves.
How this movie, the best film of 1999, got a grand total of 0 oscars will
remain a mystery for a long time.
First, the movie takes a story about an overweight whistle blower with family issues and melds it with tobacco & the world of deception, cancer, medical hu-do, and lawyers. It does this and is watchable and interesting.
Second, the acting is superb. Crowe went all out preparing and doing the role and Pacino portrays his aspect very well.
Three, Mann is the Jack of all trades. He makes a short story/article into a nicely flowing and very long movie. The tough subject matter (above) is intriging full of suspense (despite the fact that we know the general ending from the true history). He then produces a good ad campaign (the poster is a classic pun of a cigarrete package. Finally, as director the entire package comes together.
Despite the nominations and despite the performances, the film did not find a huge audience and it was the only one of the 1999 best-picture nominees not to gain massive revenue from its nomination.
Possible reasons for this are that the film is really long (155 minutes) and the subject matter is complex. Given this, long attention spans and an interested audience are needed. Also, Mann may still have the TV type stigma from his Miami Vice Days (although he has since been connected to many other quality movies). Maybe it was the writing, as it was on a true event stigma (and therefore less work because an outline is theoretically established). Perhaps, Crowe (being a relatively unknown) hurt awards. Another possibility is maybe people thought Mann hollywoodized history (like Hurricane and U-571); although I cannot see it.
In the end, it did not separate itself from American Beauty as Best picture. While the two had differing audiences and vastly different material, both films were great stories with nice writing and good acting.
Either way, The Insider is a great movie that should not be missed. It is long, but every minute is important to the story. It did not win a single oscar, but it was good enough to win all that it was nominated for.
Lest one thinks that a movie made about a tobacco whistleblower who loses the chance to tell his story to the world would be dull, think again. This film is hard core drama. A gripping story ripped right off the evening news. Al Pacino plays Lowel Bergman, a producer for "60 minutes" who accidentally finds a recently fired VP of a big tobacco company holding valuable information that could cost the cigarette companies billions in law suits. But just as he tries desparately to get Jeffrey Wigand's story told (excellently played by Russell Crowe), CBS backs out of the story leaving Bergman holding the bag and angry at the CBS brass for making him the fool and a liar. This film has some of the best acting I've seen in years, especially in Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace. Plummer doesn't imitate Wallace as much as portray the intensity and drive that he is well known for. The Insider pulls no punches in attacking the cigarette industry (an easy target), but also attacks the hypocrisy of the news media wanting to be free to tell "their" side of the story at the same time wanting protection against any ramifications that come of it. This should have done better than it did in the theaters but comes across well on DVD. Don't miss it.
The Insider is filled with terrific acting, a good storyline and suspense. However, my friend and I both felt it was very drawn out and could have been condensed to make it more enjoyable. I certainly don't want to take anything away from Crowe and Pacino as they were both excellent. At times I did think the movie dragged but overall it works well and I would recommend it to almost anyone.
Is it really possible to say that an seven-time Oscar-nominated film is
under-rated? I think, with Michael Mann's "The Insider," it is very
possible. This is more than a good movie, it's a masterpiece. In fact, I
would say that it is the second-best film of 1999. In my opinion, this is a
superior film to "American Beauty."
This film has many good things about it, but there are two that really jumped out at me. The first is a phenomenal, passionate performance by Russell Crowe. He becomes Wigand, and it is truly not a glorious role. But it is an honest role, and Crowe plays it honestly. Wigand is a down-to-earth man, like you or me, but he knows something, and he feels that other people need to know this as well. This is not intelligence that is driving him, exactly, it is ethics. I am not saying that Wigand is not intelligent, rather, that anyone who has ever felt the tug of ethics can relate to what he's feeling. Crowe is one of the boldest actors that we have, and this role is truly a risky one.
The second thing that really needs to be praised is the brilliant cinematography of Dante Spinotti. Great camera work is hard to come by. When a cinematographer takes too many risks, the viewer is disoriented. When not enough risks are taken, the film is boring. Spinotti gives this film a bizarre visual image that never disorienting, but, somehow (and i can't explain how), helps us see the characters in a very human perspective. That's why I chose to use the work "brilliant," because true brilliance is difficult to explain.
Like any film, this one is not perfect. The direction is, at times, too heavy-handed, and we become a little bit aware of the film's length towards the middle (this is perhaps the fault of the writers), but no film of recent years sees a social problem so clearly and deals with it so honestly.
**** out of ****.
ok ok i am not a big fan of reality-based/news-worthy/current event type movies especially those inspired by or brought to you by headline news especially in my life time. and i mean movies like ( and not to be compared with) larry flynt, and howard stern---i've grown up with these people/this news and have read and seen televised coverage of these people/this news over and over and over again. why make a movie about it? ok--in the case of "the insider" i can see getting the underlying message out ( and a powerful message made even more powerful), one that is advertised and discarded with the subtlest ease every time you open a pack of cigarettes. and i can see the exposing of the tobacco companies---this is strong stuff. but this movie was more about the relationship between the 2 main characters, pacino and crowe, and the psychology and ramifications of getting a news story in front of the public, of getting the RIGHT news story---the RIGHT context---the RIGHT message---as seen by the two leads. don't get me wrong---i liked this movie in that regard but i felt the underlying theme of the movie ( david vs goliath/hazards of smoking) was stronger and should have been more center-stage. the acting was superb---crowe was magnificent, and it was so refreshing to see pacino in a strong, good-guy role instead of a stereo-typed pacino role, and the supporting cast was terrific, cudos to plummer as wallace. would liked to have seen a stronger female presence from mazar, gershon, or crouse or someone but hey--i can't have everything. and micheal mann's direction was outstanding---the camera work, choreography, technique was right on cue. the editing towards the end of the movie was a little shakey as far as time lapses go but again, hey . i do have to mention i loved the soundtrack to this movie so much i actually felt a rush to more emotions than were displayed by the actors, i felt lead from scene to scene moreso than needed. but killer background tracks. all in all i give this movie a 7/10. watch it if you haven't seen it on the nightly news.
Simply, all I have to say about this film is, I cannot believe American Beauty won the Oscar ! Al Pacino's performance was as passionate as I've seen him give, as deep into his character as his roles in "Scarface" and "Glen Gary, Glen Ross".. Russell Crowe is a force up and coming, and Michael Mann's direction is once again spectacular. With a sound-track as eerie and deep as "Dead Man Walking" this film is a must see... I rate it a 9 1/2
A film that is very gripping, "The Insider" is very deserving of it's seven oscar nominations. Russell Crowe and Al Pacino are excellent as Jeffrey Wigand and Lowell Bergman respectively. Film follows Wigand, a tobacco exec who's been given the boot by his CEO boss on the basis of "poor communicative skills" which in other words stands for "c**p". Bergman is a TV producer for 60 Minutes who convinces Wigand to go on the air with his story of why he may have been fired and releases some pertinent info about the tobacco company. A particularly brilliant opener follows the two main characters in their lives with Pacino's Bergman trying to prevent an already heated argument between a well known terrorist and Mike Wallace (a well done Christopher Plummer) and Wigand leaving his job. Another powerful scene takes place in a Mississippi courtroom where a lawyer truthfully tears into another lawyer and lets him have it. Christopher Plummer does an excellent job as the gruff Wallace who in one particularly scenery chewer, rightfully crushes the spirit of two CBS lawyers with some seriously hurtful insults. Michael Mann uses his visual flair to bring story to the controversial subject of tobacco, the media, and the destruction of man.
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