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"Fair Game"


GARY CHEW/Sacramento

I've always had a soft spot for movie titles that are a statement of pure cynicism. "Fair Game" is much more than a fair attempt at that. To take it a step further toward something not serious, covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson was "fair game" for the Bush Administration like pre-dawn wake-ups are depicted as "glorious mornings" for Rachel McAdams' Becky in a brand new romantic comedy about early morning TV news, titled, "Morning Glory."

But neither is there anything comedic nor romantic about "Fair Game." There's also nothing nuanced about "Fair Game." It's just as straightforward in the story it tells of Valerie Plame's outing as the Bush Administration was obvious taking revenge on former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson (her husband) for his New York Times piece indicating no yellowcake uranium was up for sale in Niger in order to sell the American public on the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The film is based on two books, Fair Game by Plame, and The Politics of Truth by Wilson. Doug Limon (The Bourne franchise) directed and the screenplay was written by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth.

Valerie Plame and Naomi Watts

Valerie Plame and Naomi Watts

Naomi Watts is Plame and Sean Penn appears as Wilson. Both stars bear a striking resemblance to the actual people they play and each is in top form for the film, as well.

But, I must be honest up front. I was of a mind, prior to seeing "Fair Game," that it had a good chance of not being very good. I was wrong. It is very good. It is very specific and clear about the details of the Valerie Plame Affair. It moves like crazy. Watch fast, friends. And pay attention. "Fair Game," to steal a phrase, is something to which "attention must be paid."

And strangely, it ties in with that other movie I mentioned in the first paragraph: "Morning Glory." Fundamentally, both these films---one a romantic comedy, the other telling something awful that really happened to a married couple in D.C.---are about how news coverage has mutated over the decades in the good old US, the latter being a motion picture about actual, tragic consequences for many on either side of the Iraq War issue.

In one scene, Plame, after it's become public she's a covert, CIA operative, is questioned by an Iraqi-American physician about how Valerie could lie so easily in order to maintain her cover. Plame's response hints at another important point "Fair Game" makes. She tells her friend, "You've got to know why you're lying, and never forget the truth."

A brief scene of Baghdad street combat depicted in the film caused me to recall the fear and violence I remember seeing in "The Hurt Locker," another film for which "attention must be paid." Rent it, if you haven't seen it. It won a Best Picture Oscar.

A neat cameo crops up toward the movie's end... Sam Shepard shows up playing Sam Plame, Valerie's father, a retired career US Air Force guy. Valerie was a military brat.

Sean Penn

Sean Penn

There was one more thing on my mind, going in to see "Fair Game." It was that a majority of moviegoers might avoid it because they've heard so much about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, and all the politicians and news people involved... and maybe they might be a little bit sick of politics, these days. (I couldn't blame any one for feeling that way.) However, I hope "Fair Game" will pack them in. As many American citizens as possible should to see it.

As one of my favorite old CBS News reporters was heard to say once about the proliferation of gossip and scandal stories on TV news, "My only solution is to bring back Walter Cronkite and start reporting the news again."

Roger Mudd is his name. Roger always had a direct way about how he communicated with people.

"Fair Game" official site.

Now in limited release.

See Yahoo Movies-Tulsa for theaters and times.

Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net,
Facebook.com/justin.playfair and Twitter.com/orwellingly.

Copyright © 2010, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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