Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Oscars: The Negative Campaigning Starts Early, with “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”


It’s that time of the year. Academy Award buzzed movies are opening. And with them comes the negative campaigning. To wit: the New York Post is leading the charge against Paul Greengrass’s “Captain Phillips.” And “Gravity” is being attacked for its bad science. Can these movies be destroyed by all this? I don’t think so.

First “Captain Phillips”: some members of the Maersk Alabama’s crew have filed a screwy lawsuit, claiming that the real Capt. Phillips purposely ignored warnings and steered them into pirate infested waters. This makes no sense whatsoever. It also has nothing to do with the movie, which is exciting and beautifully produced. Back in 2009. there were plenty of interviews with the crew, especially Shane Murphy, who is depicted in the film.

Murphy and many of the crew came to the New York Film Festival last month for the premiere. They all sang Capt. Phillips’ praises. I think it will come out that the dissident crew members weren’t paid for their stories by the production company. But until then, we’ll have to endure the accusations.

As it happens, a friend of mine and I shared a cab with Shane Murphy and his wife on the opening night from the screening to the party at the Harvard Club. We asked Murphy all about the movie’s veracity. He said, “The movie’s very good. It’s funny to see five days compressed into two hours. But mostly, they’ve got it.” He did NOT say, Listen, Phillips tried to kill us and himself so one day there would be a movie.

As for “Gravity”: who cares if the science is bad? The 3D is amazing, the actors are great, and it’s damn exciting. You want to re-enact the whole thing and see if it works?

What’s next? That the man who wrote “12 Years a Slave” was a volunteer, that he did it all to write a book, and was only down south for 6 months in 1841. That nothing in “Mandela” is right, that Nelson Mandela came and went from Robbens Island by helicopter. How about “American Hustle”? Is there enough time to get all the ABSCAM people together so they can rat it out? And so on.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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