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Peter T Chattaway

The Informant!

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Wow-- I feel like I've just seen my new fave Matt Damon performance! He's such an underrated comedic actor.

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Much of my pleasure in watching The Informant! was based on my not knowing where the story was going, but by the time I sat down to write something about the film, I'd read multiple reviews that "give away" those developments. So I did, too. :( Sorry. The film is based on fact, and the facts are there for anyone to see. But I'd recommend going into the film knowing as little as possible. I apologize that, in reviewing the film, I made that task a bit more difficult than it might otherwise have been.

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Christian wrote:

: Much of my pleasure in watching The Informant! was based on my not knowing where the story was going, but by the time I sat down to write something about the film, I'd read multiple reviews that "give away" those developments.

Yeah, I went into the film knowing as little as possible, too. I haven't read more than one or two reviews since then, but the headline on Jeffrey Wells's item kind of gives away something that I might not have even considered until we were at least halfway into the movie. And I like the fact that I never considered it.

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Yeah, I went into the film knowing as little as possible, too. I haven't read more than one or two reviews since then, but the headline on Jeffrey Wells's item kind of gives away something that I might not have even considered until we were at least halfway into the movie. And I like the fact that I never considered it.

I, too. I tend to be really scrupulous about not revealing spoilers, too, so I'm looking forward to the challenge of writing about this movie without revealing anything that happens in it.

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My CT review, posting tomorrow, is spoiler-free-- though of course, I DO note that the plot moves in a very strange and surprising direction. That doesn't count as a spoiler in and of itself, does it? ;)

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SDG wrote:

: I tend to be really scrupulous about not revealing spoilers, too . . .

No kidding. I'm still boggling over the fact that you never mentioned the balloons in your review of Up. :)

I mean, like, for months, the only thing anybody even KNEW about that film, based on the teaser and the poster (and your avatar!), etc., was that it featured a floating house and a bunch of balloons. So to avoid even mentioning that aspect of the film? Scrupulous, for sure.

The Informant! presents a special case, though, inasmuch as it is based on a true story and anyone could have looked up the facts for themselves already. I am reminded of a debate at Jeffrey Wells's blog when he mentioned the fate of Hypatia in one of his posts on Agora. Should there be a different standard for true stories than there is for fiction?

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My CT review, posting tomorrow, is spoiler-free-- though of course, I DO note that the plot moves in a very strange and surprising direction. That doesn't count as a spoiler in and of itself, does it? ;)

Why should I even see the movie when I know there is a surprise direction the plot takes. You have officially ruined this movie for me. I will just play it save and watch Wolverine on Blu-Ray again. ;)

The Informant! presents a special case, though, inasmuch as it is based on a true story and anyone could have looked up the facts for themselves already. I am reminded of a debate at Jeffrey Wells's blog when he mentioned the fate of Hypatia in one of his posts on Agora. Should there be a different standard for true stories than there is for fiction?

Such as protecting the surprise for those who did not see the end of the Titanic? :)

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. Should there be a different standard for true stories than there is for fiction?

Such as protecting the surprise for those who did not see the end of the Titanic? :)

Link to the recent, spoilerific discussion on the final shot of Titanic for all of you who haven't seen it, but are curious, and don't want to spend 3 hours waiting to get to it. :P

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Nezpop wrote:

: Why should I even see the movie when I know there is a surprise direction the plot takes. You have officially ruined this movie for me.

Heh. Reminds me of how, when The Crying Game came out, those who didn't know there was a big plot twist were generally caught off-guard when it came, whereas those who went in knowing they should be looking for something generally figured it out pretty soon.

FWIW, I will say that seeing the entire film does put a certain aspect of the trailer in a new light. (And BTW, does the film actually have the scene where Scott Bakula tells Matt Damon he doesn't have to "narrate" everything he does? If it does, I don't remember it.)

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I just noticed A.O. Scott's piece on the difficulty of marketing this movie -- something that occurred to me earlier today, when I saw a report that this film has scored only a "C-" CinemaScore among audience members:

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I wish I'd gone to this movie alone so I could've walked out after 15 minutes. Having now seen the whole thing, I'm certain I knew enough at 15 minutes to merit an exit. It couldn't take itself seriously from the very start. It didn't know if it wanted to be a light comedy or The Insider or a Coen brothers film or a cooly narrated film ala Goodfellas, which it certainly wasn't. The narration wasn't funny, it didn't forward anything, it took away from scenes I would rather have seen. The character doing the narration wasn't interesting or fun or smart or even a dunce. He was just nothing. A whole movie full of nothing. Nada. Zip. Filler space.

The twist -- and that's all I knew about going in was that there was one -- was pointless, because by that time I'd sat there at the very least 40 minutes too long. I haven't fidgeted in a movie seat like that since I was falling asleep at 28 Days Later and having the screen mix into my dreams causing self-induced nightmares. It really was that much of a film-induced misfortune.

My parents paid for the ticket and that's the only reason I stayed til the end. Matt Damon's character was stupid, the bumbling FBI guys like keystone cops, their boss an FBI caricature, the fumbling lawyers idiotic, and the rest of the partners at the corporation, dumb as a box of rocks, like trying to speak to a kindergardner about 8th grade math.

I hated every second of this torture and felt like I was being paid to write a review. It really stunk that bad.

Oh - and best for last - the music. UUUUUUUUUGH. What, try to throw in some Austin Powers in the mix as well? Or a throwback to Dirty Harry or I don't even know, some kind of awful James Bond spy music from the sixties, the kind of music that is now used in a "wink-wink, hey isn't this really stupid but oh - we also think it's clever and cynical and cute and blackly comedic ala we're almost as good as Tarantino" kind of a way? How is one supposed to take any of that at face value?

The music certainly ruined the entire thing from the start. I think that's why I knew at 15 minutes that I was in for another hour and a half of total anguish.

I should've known from the first five seconds with the "So there" warning in the front that I was in for pointless stupid drivel. I am certain a documentary on whatever may be true in this story would be FIFY MILLION times better than all the false junk thrown in for whatever genre this was supposed to be but couldn't decide. I guess not everyone can make an Ingorious Basterds.

I blame my parents for this one. I'm just glad the new Bruce Willis film isn't out yet cuz I'm certain things could've been worse.

Ugh. AVOID

Edited by Persona

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Follow up thoughts at worst, lessons learned at best:

1. My parents: "I want to go see a movie. What's out?"

I tried to sleep this one off. Last night I thought to myself, "Don't go to A&F right away. You're just going to type/say things there that you will later regret." But, no. I woke up even angrier this morning, like I drank and slept with some girlie I'd picked up at a bar and then woke up next to my sister. Then I came here thinking, "Maybe I'm just mad because I haven't had my soothing meds today," and saw Jesus Camp right next to this on the boards, and realized, "No, I took my soothing meds yesterday, and the film sucked even more yesterday, and the guy in The Informant! was bipolar anyway, so there really is such a thing as a story that can wreck your day."

I tried to avoid coming here, I thought to myself, "Oh, I can psyche up for a Rob sermon, Oh, I can psyche up for the Bears game," but the Bears are going to lose because they lost one of their best players and are facing the Steelers -- and all the teachings on earth won't save this bugger of a film. So when someone says to you, "Hey, let's go see a movie. What's out?" It's like, "DANGER WILL ROBINSON." You don't go see a film without knowing what you're getting into!

I'm a fan boy at best. That's known around here. I scrutinize everything to the Nth degree before I see it because I'm trying to avoid an experience ike this. I love, love, love good film, and love to tell people when I've found it. So when your aunt or parents or siblings or kids or friends or acquaintances or anyone you care about says, "I want to see a movie -- what's out?" You tell them, "NO! Let's go have a conversation at Starbucks. Let's go take our shoes off and walk in the woods. Let's celebrate life. Let's enjoy each other. Let's communicate and look in each other's eyes and feel the love, because THAT is not a good reason to go see a film."

AND it gave me a refreshed appreciation for those of you that are paid and forced like you're in prison to sit through this kind of treatment and come up with something of value to say. Thank you sirs and madams, for your service.

2. The reason I think I keep alluding to the new Tarantino is because of the similar approaches in the two films. You take something true -- there was a WWII, there were attempts on Hitler, there was an Archer Daniels Midland scandal and people lost millions of dollars -- and then wipe away all forms of reality and make your own fictional work. I'm fine with that much. But at that point you've got to realize that you have completely negated substance, and your style better be damn good. It can't even be simply good -- it has to be convincingly authentic. You already have to get around the block that you're rewriting a truth, so it has to be told in a convincing way. Inglourious Basterds did this, and Tarantino held back his stylistic over-indulgences to make certain the style could at least be felt as authenitc. In the Soderbergh film, the style was so keystone-coppish that there was no authenticity left available, especially in the music. This movie needed a shot of style, but all we got was a joke, like the kind of joke that someone starts and you're thinking, "I don't want to hear this joke," but maybe it's your boss that's telling it and you have to listen to the whole thing. Horrid on the ears. Hard on the heart.

AVOID

Edited by Persona

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I, on the other hand, would say this is easily Top 5 of the year for me so far. :)

Yeah, but there's no accounting for taste. ;)

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FWIW, I will say that seeing the entire film does put a certain aspect of the trailer in a new light. (And BTW, does the film actually have the scene where Scott Bakula tells Matt Damon he doesn't have to "narrate" everything he does? If it does, I don't remember it.)

It isn't. I kept waiting for it because I'd seen it in the trailer, but it wasn't in the movie.

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I'm in Josh's camp -- appreciated the way the film surprised me several times -- but love Stef's passionate dislike for this film. Until I read his posts, I honestly had no idea how this film could've scored a grade of "C-" among audience members. What I found diverting and even delightful -- and meaningful, I might add -- others see as a pointless lark.

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Josh, after my wise crack about taste I felt bad and read your review. It's quite well written and the reasons you liked it are very well expressed. I can't agree with your conclusions at all though, and from reading many of the comments at IMDB, it seems The Informant! is a rather polarizing film. It may simply come down to different personalities and how they respond to goofiness.

But just looking at the exclamation point behind the title makes me realize how much I hate the wink-wink implausibility going on behind the scenes.

In fact, the exclamation point is the perfect example of throwing in additives to try and make something more out of a story that doesn't need it, while completely eradicating any credibility. The Informant would be a film you could take seriously -- The Informant! brings Austin Powers right into the mix. (Had I seen the title before I sat down, I might have figured this out before I went. Unfortunately, I didn't see the title, and didn't figure it out.)

But Josh -- "devoid of flash and gimmick?" Like Michael Clayton? Where were the horns and the bad narration and the bad acting and the fumbling executives and bumbling FBI guys in Michael Clayton? The film had lots of gimmick -- way too much. It was a gimmick gone awry, it was a gimmick with false teeth.

I'm in Josh's camp -- appreciated the way the film surprised me several times -- but love Stef's passionate dislike for this film. Until I read his posts, I honestly had no idea how this film could've scored a grade of "C-" among audience members. What I found diverting and even delightful -- and meaningful, I might add -- others see as a pointless lark.

Pointless lark would be a great two word review, only it's Way. Too. Nice.

For the record, I took my meds AND the Bears won. This film is twice as awful as I can find words to describe.

Edited by Persona

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Me, I love the narration. One of the things I find really fascinating about it is how the narration lures you into subjectively identifying with the protagonist ... and then you find out, later on, that you were never really inside his head to the degree that you thought you were. The narration that we DID get was as much about keeping us distant from the character as it was about bringing us close to the character.

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I can't wait to see THE INFORMANT! Soderbergh's a fantastic stylist, and even when he goes "mainstream," he tends to do things in a unique way (see his very unorthodox OCEAN'S TWELVE, which may be a failure, but features a gorgeous aesthetic and strives to be something much more interesting than its predecessor). After the very excellent CHE and THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, I'm hoping for the best.

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