Tag: The Real Story

Posted on June 11, 2018 at 9:55 am

This is how a lifelong game of tag helps the “tag brothers” literally stay in touch.

The taggers first got national attention in a Wall Street Journal story (though the reporter was a man, not a beautiful blonde as in the movie).

You can read the formal legal agreement signed by the real-life taggers.

The movie inspired by this story opens this Friday, starring Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, and Hannibal Burgess.

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The Real Story

Dog Day Afternoon: The Real Story

Posted on July 19, 2017 at 8:00 am

Bilge Ebiri explores the real story behind one of the most indelible movies of the 1970’s, Dog Day Afternoon. The gritty reality of Sidney Lumet’s direction, the strangeness of the story (according to the film, the motive for the robbery was money to pay for the sex reassignment surgery of the transgendered romantic partner of one of the robbers) and the stunning performances by Al Pacino, John Cazale, and Chris Sarandon captured the moment. Audiences of the era remembered the bungled bank robbery as it unfolded, with the hapless criminals stuck inside the surrounded bank ordering pizzas and the hostages and the crowd outside rooting for the robbers.

Ebiri looks at the contemporary coverage of the robbery and the film. According to this story, there was a mob involvement as well. And the guy behind it all learned that “moviemaking, like crime, does not pay.”

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The Real Story

Gold: The Real Story

Posted on January 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm

In “Gold,” Matthew McConaughey plays Kenny Wells, who, with Mike Acosta, finds a rich gold mine with deposits worth billions of dollars, and then has to cope with financial, corporate, and political predators to keep them from stealing it.

It is inspired by a real story that is even wilder than the one in the movie. SPOILER ALERT: The following gives away important plot details of the film that are best enjoyed as a surprise, so read this only after you’ve seen the movie.

Wells is based on David Walsh. In the film, Wells is proud of being a third generation prospector, who grew up in a family with a heritage of seeking — and finding gold. Walsh was an investor who tried various ventures before he went looking for gold in Indonesia, with the help of geologist John Felderhof. They had an exploration manager who was later found to be a bigamist with four families, but that’s another story. After many close calls and escapades they were shutting down when they hit gold, or at least it looked like it. The company, Bre-X, became a Wall Street darling. It was valued at billions of dollars, which attracted the attention of the Indonesian government, which came in to take a big piece of the action and force partnership with their favored corporation. But then things got worse — a suicide (or maybe a murder, or maybe a cleverly orchestrated escape), and then the uncovering of a massive fraud. For more information, see the documentary below.

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The Real Story

Hidden Figures — The Real Story

Posted on December 23, 2016 at 8:00 am

It was the 1960’s and the sign on the door at NASA read “Colored Computers.” That was not a reference to IBM’s Big Blue. This was a reference to the human beings, African-American women, who were doing the calculations for the space program. Margot Lee Shetterly, herself the daughter of a NASA scientist, spent six years researching her book, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, now the basis for a film starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, along with Taraji P. Henson and Jonelle Monae. The Muse has an excellent interview with Ms. Shetterly.

There are always these first and only stories, where it’s like, the first black person to do this, or the first woman to do this, and we need those stores. They are super inspirational. But the thing that’s so exciting to me about this is that none of these women had to be the first or the only. Like the first white computer pool was five women, the first black computer pool was five women. Over time, each of those pools grew tremendously to prove over and over that women are very adaptive and have the right temperament, the right skill set, the right intellectual firepower for this work. That’s truly confidence-inspiring, because you don’t have to face the objections of like, “Yeah, well, there’s just one woman. We know that most women are like this.” It’s like, No, no, no. This is a revolution. The technological revolution that was the space race was carried out with two women and their mathematical talents, because of other women.

Here is the real Katherine Johnson.

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Gender and Diversity Race and Diversity The Real Story

Florence Foster Jenkins: The Real Story

Posted on August 9, 2016 at 3:36 pm

This week the second movie of the year based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins opens in theaters with Meryl Streep as the woman whose love for music was almost as monumental as her lack of talent.

Florence Foster Jenkins was born in 1868, the daughter of a wealthy family who was a child prodigy on the piano and performed for President Rutherford B. Hayes. She wanted to study music but her father refused, and so she eloped with a man who gave her syphilis. This disease and the primitive treatments of the time may have been the reason for her inability to hear herself accurately. She also injured her hand so she could no longer play the piano.

Jenkins left her husband and later entered into a relationship with a British actor named St. Clair Bayfield (played in the film by Hugh Grant). The great pleasure of her life was putting on elaborate concerts and tableaux, performing for her friends, who helped sustain the fiction that she was talented, despite her warped, off-key, singing. One description: “Her singing at its finest suggests the untrammeled swoop of some great bird.” As in the film, she finally did a concert at Carnegie Hall. In real life, it was attended by celebrities including Cole Porter, dancer and actress Marge Champion, composer Gian Carlo Menotti, actress Kitty Carlisle and opera star Lily Pons with her husband, conductor Andre Kostelanetz, who composed a song for Jenkins to sing that night. For the first time, critics were able to attend and their reviews were devastating. Two days later, she had a heart attack and a month later she died.

“Florence Foster Jenkins: A World of Her Own” is a documentary.

Earlier this year, “Marguerite,”a French film inspired by Jenkins was released in the US.

There have been at least five plays based on her life, including “Glorious.”

There is something endearingly captivating about the idea of someone so passionately devoted to her art, wealthy enough to make her dreams come true, and so fearless in performing. It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect in its most benign form. She’s gone, so we have the pleasure of laughing at her (perhaps a little smugly) without hurting her feelings. And now she’s being played by Meryl Streep! Somewhere in heaven, she is smiling and also singing just as beautifully as she always dreamed.

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The Real Story
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