-->
Reviews

Nothing But the Truth

By the time the focus tightens onto Armstrong's jail time, the movie turns righteous and, it must be said, a little tedious.


Nothing But the Truth

Director: Rod Lurie
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Vera Farmiga, Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, Matt Dillon, David Schwimmer, Noah Wyle
Distributor: Sony
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Yari Film Group
First date: 2008
US DVD Release Date: 2008-04-28
Website
Trailer

Rod Lurie's Nothing But the Truth comes to DVD as other adult-oriented films, like the recent Duplicity and State of Play, strive to recall the spirit of ‘70s thrillers: that is to say, thrillers that tend to involve talking, snooping, and reporting over car chases, boat chases, or train chases.

Nothing But the Truth is not just adult-minded, but vaguely political: reporter Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) faces pressure, and eventually jail time, over her refusal to name the source who contributed to the outing of CIA operative Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga). Special prosecutor Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon) battles lawyer Alan Burnside (Alan Alda) over Armstrong's freedom, pitting national security against freedom of the press.

Though it begins with obvious parallels to the Valerie Plame/Judith Miller case, the film was derailed by financial, not political, circumstances: fledgling indie house Yari Film Group went broke and couldn't follow through on a planned year-end release (it supposedly played in New York City for a week sometime around the end of December, though at the time I was unable to find which theater, if any, was actually showing it). Now it seeks an audience as, essentially, an unusually tony direct-to-DVD release.

On the disc's commentary track -- recorded too early to address the film's eventual release limbo -- Lurie says that he actually got the idea from his tenure as showrunner of ABC's Commander in Chief TV series; a storyline about a jailed journalist was scotched from the show along with Lurie, so he spun it off into its own feature, which wound up infused with additional topicality when the Plame story broke.

Lurie's interest in hot-button issues, amateur-wonk status, and willingness to reuse favorite story ideas are all vaguely Aaron Sorkinesque, but Nothing But the Truth has more of a Law and Order feel: straight ahead, square, technically well-crafted, yet not especially invigorating.

Indeed, television procedurals since the ‘70s-thriller heyday have both raised and lowered the bar for this sort of material: the proliferation of shows about cops, lawyers, journalists, and government spies have made the more original cinematic thrillers (to pick an unfair example, David Fincher's brilliant Zodiac) easier to pick out, while also siphoning off the adult audience those movies need.

It's hard for a movie to stand out when it's more adult in theory than in execution. Lurie's dialogue spends a lot of time explaining, wedging exposition barely-between the lines: journalists work hard for little pay; laws protecting them are sometimes murky; contempt of court can mean jail time; special prosecutors have special powers; people don't respect the press anymore. The actors reveal more through their unspoken qualities: Farmiga's tough but twitchy flintiness; Dillon's casual, polite, near-invisible menace; and Beckinsale's visible struggle not to panic in the face of mounting adversity.

The small ensemble lends the movie humanity, especially whenever Farmiga faces off against Armstrong, her superiors, or pretty much anyone else. Nothing But the Truth has a strong feminist hook, too -- both Armstrong and Van Doren are underestimated due to their gender -- but in all of its issue-jockeying, it loses its characters. Slowly, Beckinsale is sanctified and the men around her become one-note. By the time the focus tightens onto Armstrong's jail time, the movie turns righteous and, it must be said, a little tedious: a docudrama that runs out of facts and has to improvise its way out, eventually turning to a memorable, if equally strange and dubious, plot twist of sorts.

A postscript to that twist is one of the only notable moments during ten minutes' worth of deleted material included on the DVD. Most of the scenes are more like fleeting moments -- additional and unnecessary underlining and emphasizing. Lurie's mildly engaging, slightly prickly commentary fills in the background, but ultimately the straightforwardness of Nothing But the Truth doesn't present enough of a foreground.

4
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image