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Posts Tagged ‘“Richard Jewell”’

Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Paul Walter Hauser

“RICHARD JEWELL” My rating: B

129 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Nearly 50 years ago the great New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael wondered (in a review of Sam Peckilnpah’s “Straw Dogs,” I recall) whether fascist art was even possible.

Of course she hadn’t met late-stage Clint Eastwood.

Not that Eastwood is a fascist. But his right-leaning attitudes (in this case a big-time distrust of big government and the media, an attitude he shares with our President) are on full display in “Richard Jewell,” the fact-based story of a hero who overnight became a scapegoat.

Jewell, of course, was the security guard who at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta discovered an abandoned backpack containing several pipe bombs. He was instrumental in clearing civilians from the area; nevertheless, in the ensuing explosion two persons died and more than 100 were injured.

For a few days Jewell was a national hero; then the FBI decided he perfectly fit the profile of the hero bomber, a man (usually white, often a law enforcement wannabe) who sets up a crisis situation so that he can play the role of a hero in saving lives. And from that point on Richard Jewell’s life became a living hell.

Billy Ray’s screenplay introduces us to Richard  (a spectacular Paul Walter Hauser) in the months before the incident. He’s working in a government office pushing around a supply cart when he meets Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), a combative attorney chafing under civil service bureaucracy.

Watson is initially amused by Richard, an obese fellow who years earlier had been fired from his job as a deputy sheriff and has a desperate (and wildly unrealistic) desire to get back into law enforcement. Richard is a doofus, no doubt, but a sweet and polite doofus. The two start sharing lunches, at least until Richard gets a job as a security guard at a nearby college.

That doesn’t last, either. He gets into physical confrontations with the students; he pulls over speeders on a nearby highway even though he has absolutely no jurisdiction off campus. Good news, though…with the Olympic games coming to town there’s a big demand for security personnel.

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