Why ‘Richard Jewell’ was a Great Movie and ‘Joker’ Wasn’t: With awards season upon us, getting the best that be obtained

As I said in my review of Richard Jewell, the movie—it was an important film that every Trump supporter should see. For that matter, everyone should see the new Clint Eastwood film as it tackles an obscure truth that we live with every day, the nature of power to corrupt those worst to rise to the top of institutionalism. In a society that values perpetual bootlickers and places them in the highest ranks of institutionalism, it should never be questioned why things go wrong yet they do, and that is the precise point of the film. I think its important to mention that it was distributed by Warner Bros. which is the same company that produced Joker, which I thought was the most destructive film I have seen in a long time. In many ways this is the answer to the questions brought up in the Joker and its nice to see our 1st Amendment hard at work. These are the types of choices that we should have as a free society.

I have serious doubts however that Richard Jewell will win any Academy Awards which obviously the studio is hoping to get nominated for. The real-life performances provided in Richard Jewell were certainly worthy of awards, but the politics of the matter is the problem. This film was certainly a direct offering to the 60 million and more Trump voters who have been wanting for a long-time options from the kind of world that went after Richard Jewell cruelly, and unjustly. Even with all we know about our modern FBI and its connections to the Department of Justice, what we have read through the direct text messages of Lisa Page and Peter Strzok which could have easily have been the plot line of Richard Jewell, we are still reluctant to name the beast and call a spade a spade. The point of the movie was a good one, and worthy of best picture of the year for Warner Bros. but the question is one that no institutionalist wants to ask. Rather, they will prefer the Joker’s anarchy to the legitimate questioning of power through constitutional means offered by Richard Jewell.

I generally only have time to talk to really smart people professionally, so it amazes me during the holidays every time, when I get a chance to talk to normal people—people who care more about Ohio State football than the trivial complexities of Freudian legalizations wrapped with the bows of institutionalism which ultimately had a love affair with Karl Marx a long time ago and are still spawning children of thought to this very day. I don’t enjoy talking to those kinds of people with small talk because they don’t care about the big things in life, and for me, those are the only important things. Big things. It was simply stunning to hear so many normal people not understand why Nancy Pelosi is holding back on sending her impeachment votes to the senate, or how people don’t understand the relevance of what Peter Strzok did in the FBI, or the nature of James Comey the former FBI Director who was drunk with power, conspired with anti-Trumper John McCain to attempt a coup right in front of our faces, and expect not to get caught. For many, they just don’t have the mental horsepower to think about such things so they don’t even try and it never ceases to baffle me to their lack of curiosity.

But then someone like Clint Eastwood comes along and nails it with great simplicity pulled into focus in a way only a master storyteller could. Richard Jewell is a far better film not just politically, but ethically than Joker even without the fancy soundtrack and dynamic cinematography. The ultimate question is asked, and the protagonists provide the answer through the direction of the story, which in this case is even more difficult because a lot of the players in the story are still alive and it was true. Can we trust our media, can we trust our government, and the answer is no. Should we move toward anarchy and throw the baby out with the bathwater as they did in the Joker—of course not. That is what made the Joker a cheap shot where Richard Jewell was a true examination to a very modern problem within our functioning republic.

There were several very powerful moments in the film including at the beginning when the attorney friend of Richard Jewell gives him a hundred-dollar bill and says it’s a quid pro quo which everyone should know by now what it means. Jewell says he understands the meaning of the term and its then that Watson Bryant says that he expects in exchange for the Benjamin that Jewell will not become corrupt with power as he fulfills his dream of becoming a police officer. And in several scenes behind Bryant is a sign that says, “I fear my government more than I fear terrorists.” Bryant’s girlfriend and assistant is from Russia and is always there to remind him that likely the government is lying to protect itself as she is the first to believe the story of Richard Jewell’s innocence. And of course, at the end of the film when Jewell finally sticks up for himself, when he leaves the FBI interrogation with Bryant behind him smiling the door to the glass room closes with a the camera fixated on the reverse image of the FBI logo. This was a film that openly questions our government and for that, the Academy should be applauding. Unfortunately, most members of the media culture are precisely like Olivia Wilde’s character of Kathy Scruggs.

It’s movies like this that ultimately educate those who don’t read many books and are not intellectually curious about the world around them. They just want their chicken wings and their Bowl game football to distract them from moment to moment without the impediments of questioning the validity of it all. Trump supporters have been questioning things for a long time and that 60 million number is growing. Hollywood doesn’t necessarily want people questioning things, but I did find it extremely interesting that Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the producers of Richard Jewell. I always watch the credits of a new movie at the theater to the very last one, because there is a lot to learn from doing so, and what I see happening in Hollywood is a change in focus. Even when a terribly irresponsible movie like the Joker is made and the executives at Warner Bros. are betting chips on several potential winners that may be politically opposed—they all make money for the studio which is the name of the game, a trend can be seen emerging. I don’t think Richard Jewell would have been made before the Trump election. Nobody would have understood how to play the parts because our assumption of behavior would not compute the evil it takes to behave the way the FBI and the media did.

There was a scene where Bobi Jewell watched on television the terrible things that Tom Brokaw said about her son and in many ways that was a very powerful scene because that was all of us watching television every day. A few years ago we looked at figures in the media and we liked them until we have witnessed them turning on us over the 2016 election and it has been shocking, even very painful. People who don’t pay much attention to these things do so for the same reason that the Jewell family did, even if they were desperately naive. Bobi Jewell told her son to work hard at defending justice and he believed it whole heartedly, like most of us do and when faced with the terrible evil that those working in the media and the FBI are just as flawed as the worst of us, it is a grim reality that hits home painfully. And that is the essence of this great movie Richard Jewell. It tackles a great pain with a youthful buoyancy found only among very high intellects, but it doesn’t talk down to anybody. Its just a story that has a hard truth attached to it, and for that, it deserves the best awards that it can get. But to ol’ Clint Eastwood, I would think that the best reward he could receive is that people watch the movie and learn something from it. If not at the theater, then when it streams soon from our home televisions. And that is something that every single American should do at least once.

Rich Hoffman