A-lis­ters hin­der Pulitzer story

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Michael Recht­shaf­fen

Serv­ing as some­thing of an over­stuffed sam­pler plat­ter, the doc­u­men­tary “The Pulitzer at 100,” mark­ing the cen­te­nary of newspaper pub­lisher Joseph Pulitzer’s ef­fort to place jour­nal­ism on equal foot­ing with arts and let­ters, is big on va­ri­ety but comes up frus­trat­ingly short on sub­stance.

While the one-off pro­duc­tion is clearly bet­ter suited as a lim­ited PBS-style se­ries, it’s as if film­maker Kirk Si­mon en­tered into the project with­out a care­fully thoughtout agenda, in­stead opt­ing for more of a free-form ap­proach that con­stantly un­der­cuts its ef­fec­tive­ness.

Al­though it’s en­cour­ag­ing to see such a di­verse rep­re­sen­ta­tion of as­sem­bled win­ners, the de­ci­sion to have the likes of John Lith­gow, He­len Mir­ren and Martin Scors­ese lend their A-lis­ter cred by giv­ing read­ings from works of Pulitzer win­ners who are no longer liv­ing ul­ti­mately de­tracts from far more com­pelling stuff in the embattled jour­nal­is­tic arena.

At the end of the day, those iconic images from Kent State and Viet­nam (“Na­palm Girl”), as cap­tured by the lenses of Pulitzer Prize-win­ning pho­tog­ra­phers John Filo and Nick Ut, re­spec­tively, and, the newly rel­e­vant Water­gate cov­er­age by Bob Wood­ward and Carl Bern­stein (who of­fers a chill­ing anec­dote about John Mitchell) ul­ti­mately carry more weight than watch­ing Natalie Port­man emot­ing Eu­dora Welty.

In­stead of delv­ing more in­ci­sively into that ever-per­ti­nent ob­ser­va­tion about news be­ing the first rough draft of his­tory, Si­mon is con­tent to rest on his lau­re­ates.

“The Pulitzer at 100.” Not rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 31 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle Mu­sic Hall, Bev­erly Hills.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.