The Courier is based on the true story of an ordinary businessman named Greville Wynne who was asked by the CIA and MI6 to deliver some materials being leaked to the west by a high-ranking Soviet official.
The movie is pretty close to the real story, with one big exception making the CIA representative be a woman, played by Rachel Brosnahan of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” It is doubly hard to figure out what really happened, first because so much of the story is still classified and second because Wynne wrote two books about his experiences which were, well, inaccurate to the point of fantasy.
This week’s new comedy release on Netflix: “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” faces a real challenge: it is near-impossible to be wilder, more improbable, or downright crazier than the real thing. Eurovision is like what we call soccer and the rest of the world calls football, Eurovision is a competition that Americans barely notice but is hugely popular in other countries. The real event is canceled this year due to COVID-19, but they’re already preparing for next year.
Eurovision is an annual international song competition, held every year by the European Broadcasting Union since 1956 with participants representing primarily European countries. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio, then casts votes to determine the winner. The costumes are often, to put it mildly, flamboyant.
The most famous winner went on to become one of the biggest recording artists of the 20th century.
And this Canadian singer won when she competed for Switzerland.
Most of the other winners did not go on to international fame but it is a lot of fun to see the range of countries and styles.
At awards season, we often get uplifting real-life stories and this year we have three that are about heroic lawyers fighting for justice against almost insurmountable odds. Here they are, with a little background on the real stories.
Billot was profiled by the New York Times, which dubbed him DuPont’s Biggest Nightmare. “Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years. Then he took on an environmental suit that would upend his entire career — and expose a brazen, decades-long history of chemical pollution.”
Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson in “Just Mercy”
Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” is based on the true story of the man who was initially hailed as a hero for discovering a bomb at a concert celebrating the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and then accused of planting it to make himself famous. Watson Bryant was the lawyer who represented him, proving that the FBI and the local and national media were irresponsible to the point of negligence and abuse.
The simple fact was that Bryant had no qualifications for the job. He had no legal staff except for his assistant, Nadya Light, no contacts in the press, and no history in Washington. He was the opposite of media-savvy; he rarely read the papers and never watched the nightly news, preferring the Discovery Channel’s shows on dog psychology. Now that Richard Jewell was his client, he had entered a zone of worldwide media hysteria fraught with potential peril. Jewell suspected that his pickup truck had been flown in a C-130 transport plane to the F.B.I. unit at Quantico in Virginia, and Bryant worried that his friend would be arrested any minute. Worse, Bryant knew that he had nothing going for him, no levers anywhere. His only asset was his personality; he had the bravado and profane hyperbole of a southern rich boy, but he was in way over his head.
“Hustlers” is based on the real-life story of strippers who drugged men and then stole money by running up charges on their credit and debit cards, figuring (mostly correctly) that the men would be too embarrassed to do anything about it.
TIME Magazine wrote about the real story. Many of the details of the story are accurately portrayed in the film, though names and some facts have been changed. After business fell off at the strip clubs following the financial meltdown, the women did sprinkle a concoction of MDMA, ketamine, and cocaine into the men’s drinks. And the police had an informant,, a man who was willing to complain, and a sting operation, which gave them what they needed to arrest the women. And the woman who inspired the character played by Constance Wu is writing a book.