Mad City

Bomb Rating: 

What kind of name is Costa-Gavras? I'm not talking about his Greek heritage. I'm talking about that damn hyphen. Who the hell has one hyphenated name? It would be one thing if his name was Rudolpho Costa-Gavras, but it's not. This strikes me as extremely suspicious. Maybe the Department of Immigration and Naturalization ought to stop rousting innocent Puerto Ricans and fast-swimming Mexicans and get on this hyphenated name thing. What the hell do his friends call him at parties? Co-Gav?

If Costa-Gavras is typical of most Greeks with only one hyphenated name, they are prone to making serious tactical errors while making their movies. In "Mad City," Costa-Gavras hopes to explore the lack of integrity practiced by the American media. In doing so, he's created nothing more than a reflection of the manipulative, tabloidism he's seeking to so boldly criticize.

Former network investigative reporter Max Brackett (Dustin Hoffman) is plying his trade in little Madeline, California as a result of embarrassing anchor Kevin Hollander (Alan Alda) on the air. Looking to get back to the network news, Max is lucky enough to find himself in the bathroom of a museum when Sam Bailey walks in with a gun to scare Mrs. Banks (Blythe Danner) into talking to him about the job he no longer has. Before he knows it though, things are out of control and Sam is at the mercy of the press and especially Max who, along with everybody else, appears to have lost all his objectivity.

It's one thing to make a statement through your characters, quite another to give them moral compasses like Tilt-O-Whirls. That the only marginally interesting character turns out to be the guy committing the crime is high irony. Brackett would sell his mother for a little camera time. Hollander would sell his for a rating point. Then there's Brackett's assistant, Laurie (Mia Kirshner), who's the naive intern one second, and ready to suck the space of the universe through the penis of a career advancement opportunity the next.

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