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Entries in The Informant! (3)

Wednesday
Sep292010

Four movies that play loose with the truth, like 'The Social Network'

Hollywood biopics hit theaters all the time, but few have the potential to damage real lives. I have not seen The Social Network yet, but early reviews report that it portrays the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, quite negatively. Millions will judge Zuckerberg by David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin, and Jesse Eisenbergs' vision of him in this film. Is it right to release a scathing biopic about someone who is only 26? 

We already know that some scenes in The Social Network are fabricated--Aaron Sorkin has admitted as much. The film's plot comes from The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, a book by Ben Mezrich. From the title alone, one could guess that Mezrich is prone to embellishment. During interviews, Sorkin claims that he finished most of the screenplay before the book was actually published. Instead of waiting for the book, Mezrich read him notes from a computer so the movie could be fast-tracked.

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Wednesday
Sep232009

This American Life tells the real story of "The Informant!" Mark Whitacre (Audio)

On Saturday, This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass on NPR, re-aired an episode on Mark Whitacre, who served as a double agent for the FBI in one of the largest price fixing scandals in history, but ended up serving a jail sentence three times longer than the executives he blew the whistle on. I highly recommend you go see The Informant! in theaters if you haven’t already; it’s great. According to Ira Glass, this episode actually inspired a screenwriter to adapt Mark Whitacre’s story to the big screen. Whitacre’s tale is told in Kurt Eichenwald’s book: The Informant.

Here’s the link to listen to the MP3, or download it here.

Ira Glass speaks to Whitacre about the price fixing conspiracy at the food company ADM, Archer Daniels Midland, and his cooperation with the FBI in recording over 250 hours of secret video and audio tapes. They even play actual audio from many of the tapes. Price fixing, and its effects, are discussed in detail. I can’t recommend this program enough. Here is a link to This American Life’s website.

Saturday
Sep192009

The Informant! is one amusing and delusional guy (Review)

Have you ever been caught in a lie? In the third grade I got angry at a girl in my neighborhood when she left me and my bike out in the rain. To get back at her, I told my Mother that she maliciously rolled my bike into the ditch (I wanted her to pay). I got caught in that lie and paid the price. I found out how shameful a lie can be. Mark Whitacre never learned this lesson.

Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) was a high ranking and upwardly mobile fortune 500 executive who ratted out his own company to the FBI. He was a mole for the FBI for more than two years. Mark is a strange guy, and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word. Lucky for us, the movie made about him (this is a true story) is as idiosyncratic as the man himself.

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