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  • True Story is based on the novel by Mike Finkel recounting his relationship with Christian Longo(James Franco), a man accused of murdering his wife and three children. Finkel(Jonah Hill)is a young up and coming journalist writing for the New York Times when his career is derailed after he plays a little fast and loose with some facts of a recently published article. While trying to plan the next chapter in his professional life he receives a call from a reporter looking to get an angle on the story about Longo. It seems that he was using Finkel's identity when he was captured in Mexico. Finkel is naturally curious but also smells a story that could put his career back on track.

    Finkel and Longo arrange to meet and what follows are a series of meetings where both men engage in a dialogue meant to extract as much information as possible from the other. But how much of what Longo shares is the truth? How does Finkel use the information he gets?

    The main problem with this movie is the pay-off, or the lack thereof. The story is simply not as interesting as it sounds. Honestly, it's no ones fault. The direction by first timer Rupert Goold is solid, well paced, and true to the story. The acting is good even if it is a little weird to see Hill and Franco together in serious roles. The best way to describe it might be we all know someone(friend or family member) who is excited to tell a story of something that happened to them or something they witnessed and when they are done, looking to you for a reaction, all you can say is "Is that it?"

    The most compelling aspect of the film is Finkel coming to grips with the fact that he has to determining what is the truth and what is a lie. Not unlike his readers had to do after reading his last story for the Times. One liar interrogating another.

    In the end, the build up leads to very little. The ride was interesting but the destination was a big disappointment.
  • I had been looking forward to True Story since I first saw the trailer in December. And then I read reviews tonight on it and was pretty worried. I actually almost didn't go to the theater to see it. I almost considered waiting for the DVD (or Digital HD rather, Ha) release. I am glad I didn't.

    I am not going to recap the entire summary of the film, as if you are reading this, chances are you already know it, and if you don't, the less you know the better. I just finished researching the true story of the film, and it appears this film is quite close to the truth. (Unlike the characters in the film)

    This is a movie about deception involving characters that fabricate the truth to incredible lengths and spin endless webs of lies. One character to a lesser extent to the other, but I found it interesting how this film portrayed the similarities between these two men. The story is brilliantly woven, and extreme attention to detail is paid. The cinematography is beautiful, the acting is solid, this is just all around an exceptionally well made film. It's tragic, yet very thought provoking.

    The main two complaints I heard in critical reviews were that the film lacked suspense, and that it was a whole lot of buildup with no payoff. The no payoff criticism concerned me the most, as I can't stand movies like that, and that criticism seemed to be the biggest people were making.

    Realize going in, this is a psychological drama/thriller. I personally was riveted and in constant psychological suspense, but there isn't any real physical suspense throughout the film. The suspense comes from a psychological place, falling victim to the constant mind games, and not knowing what the truth really is.

    And as for the biggest criticism, that there wasn't any payoff, I couldn't disagree more. I'd like to ask these critics to their face - how much more payoff are you looking for? Given the details of the true events, there isn't any more payoff that could have been provided, in fact, I felt the payoff of this film to be big. It was a psychologically riveting experience that provided a lot to think about long after the end credits rolled.
  • "True Story" (2015 release; 100 min.) brings the story of how a reporter becomes entangled in a murder suspect's world. As the movie opens, we see some brutal images of a young child being stuffed into a suitcase, which later turns up in the water. What is going on here? After the opening credits, we get to know Michael Finkel (played by Jonah Hill), a New York Times reporter, as he interviews young men somewhere in Africa. Alas, later on he is caught fabricating some of the facts for the subsequent NYT piece and he is let go in disgrace. Meanwhile, we get to know Christian Longo (played by James Franco), accused of killed his wife and 3 young kids. When he is rounded up, he claims to be Michael Finkel, NYT reporter. It is not long before Longo makes contact, from jail, with the real Mike Finkel. To tell you more would spoil your viewing pleasure, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

    Couple of comments: "True Story" is based on the Mike Finkel book of the same name, and if of course a true story. The premise of the movie is really intriguing (and cleverly played up in the trailer), reason I went to see this in the first place, namely is Longo somehow playing Finkel, while being in jail, and if so, what disastrous effects could that have for Finkel? Alas, in the movie it doesn't bear out. There is lots of build up in the movie, and ultimately not enough pay-off. I am all for a long build-up, but there has to be a reward for sticking with the build up, and when the reward finally comes, it's simply not enough. A quick word about the acting performances: James Franco does what he can with the limited material that is given to him. Jonah Hill is okay as the disgraced NYT reporter. The real star of the movie Felicity Jones in the role of Jill, the girlfriend of Mike Finkel. I also want to give props to prolific soundtrack composer Marco Beltrami (recently of The November Man; The Drop; The Giver, just to name those), who once again provides a lovely soundtrack.

    The early evening theater screening where I saw this at was attended not very well (less than 10 people), but in fairness, it was a weekday evening. That said, while this is not a 'bad' movie per se, nor do I feel that the movie is all that it could've become. That said, if you have a chance to check out "True Story", be it in the theater or on DVD/Blu-ray, I suggest you do and draw your own conclusion.
  • Saw True Story (film) starring Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Felicity Jones at Regal Cinemas last night! The film is based on actual events. It was very unusual, yet interesting and visually stimulating to see both Jonah and James playing roles so out of their ordinary type. Hill portrays Michael Finkel, The New York Times journalist who is subsequently terminated by the paper after being accused of incomplete research and creating a composite character, a boy named Youssouf Male while covering a story in an article about Ivory Coast Cocoa Plantations.

    After being let go by the Times, Finkel (Hill) struggles to find journalistic job opportunities until one day he receives a mysterious phone call from a man regarding an FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation Most Wanted individual named Christian Longo, portrayed by Franco, who is wanted for murdering his entire family and is eventually captured in México while claiming to be living as Finkel. Finkel decides this is an opportunity story of a life time, so he meets with Longo trying to figure out why his now tarnished journalistic name was used by this accused murderer.

    Finkel agrees to share his journalistic expertise with Longo in exchange for information regarding the murders for his Murder Memoir which tells a "True Story" regarding the events portrayed in the film. While in Newport, Oregon County Jail awaiting trial, Longo corresponds with Finkel via U.S. Mail, sending him written clues which appear to be confusing and misleading about his family life, yet enough information to put the pieces of the puzzle together and compile a Murder Memoir. Finkel attends the trial and at the end he uncovers the "True Story."

    The film has several twists and turns which will keep you interested. It was cool to see both Hill and Franco play roles no one would ever think they would take on. Both actors handled this "True Story" film brilliantly! Not a must see, but definitely worth seeing if you want to experience these veteran actor Academy Award Nominees in diverse roles. My cinema score is 7/10! ‪#‎maverickradio‬™
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "True Story" concerns Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), a respected journalist for "The New York Times" who has made a name for himself with numerous front-page articles. When he takes his latest piece, concerning contemporary African slave trading, and deeply obscures specific details about his subjects, he is fired from his job and his reputation is tarnished. While residing in the middle of nowhere with his wife, Michael receives word that his likeness has been used by a man named Christian Longo (James Franco), who is convicted of killing his wife and their three children. Michael travels to prison to meet and talk with Christian, who he is stunned to find is a soft-spoken, frightened soul with a story to tell of his own. After learning of Christian's own personal perspective of the murders, Michael begins to write a book on him, finding himself caught between a wedge of believing Christian's story but also looking at indisputable facts of the case.

    Right off the bat, it's odd to see both Jonah Hill and James Franco in a film together and not creating a raunchy, ribald atmosphere. While both men have ventured into drama before (especially Franco, who is, dare I say, the most diverse actor in Hollywood), having these two men work together and not drum up any laughs is a strange thing to note. However, this fact becomes less apparent when we remember, and it only takes moments to do so once the film begins, how great Hill and Franco are at playing complex, layered dramatic roles. Hill's straight-forward seriousness combined with Franco's mannered eloquence creates a story that works from the start on the basis of actor chemistry and effectiveness alone.

    The film bears a strong resemblance to Truman Capote's book "In Cold Blood," as we watch a journalist get so invested in the lives of a murderer who winds up developing tunnel vision so narrow that he can't see the obvious guilt and manipulation around him. Michael becomes wrapped up with finding out who Christian really is as a person, enthralled by his perspective, which has been muted by what seems to be sensational headlines and news reports, that he simply wants to get to the heart of his subject. Yet, when we see a family completely broken and another telling his side of the story, not really justifying his actions nor explicitly denying them, we become entangled in a web of conflicting testimonies.

    To respond to "True Story" in a manner of confusion is only natural; if anything, you're exhibiting conflicting attitudes the real life Michael Finkel probably did when he met Christian Longo and spoke with him over time. The film subtly answers the questions of truth and examines how perspective and stories, when told rather than pushed aside or muted, do not justify an entire situation, especially one so heinous, but work to complicate it and leave no questions easily answered. We become just as entangled as Michael, and when the film ends, ostensibly without progressing a whole lot, we find ourselves left to our own vices in terms of how we analyze what we just watched.

    "True Story" is destined to be one of the most underrated and misunderstood pictures of the year, and the latter because of the fact that there are going to be a barrage of ways one can digest this film. Some have criticized the film for seemingly rooting for the redemption of Christian before doubling back in the concluding trial scenes, yet consider how Michael views him throughout the entire film. He clearly wants the man to redeemed if he had done anything wrong, and tries to believe that he has a troubled, deeply confused soul in his company. However, facts catch up and it is then we realize what we're dealing with, and that's one of the reasons "True Story" is so special; it leads us one way, gets us believing one thing, before calling us on our bluff and letting our guard down.
  • True Story (2015) is a very slow and eerie story yet it is also a well worth seeing movie. It is hard to actually review or grade a movie that is based on a true story given that all movies that are based on true stories are merely based on the idea of the story and driven towards what of it they may manipulate to make it sell-able. This movie "True Story (2015)" being based on the book and/or based on a true story for the most part the movie was well done. The actors selected for the cast were great in their roles and I think were properly picked. The story "somewhat" of the book's version was fairly molded into film, and for the most part I think the film was good.

    This movie does start out slow and dry sort of like "Dead Man Walking" but it does keep your attention fairly well. True Story (2015) is worth checking out if you're a fan of this genre.
  • It's hard for me to find this movie interesting. I didn't really get it. But yes, the opening seemed so promising. Not to mention the character of Christian Longo himself. He's some kind of crazy person or even a psycho, perhaps? He's so unpredictable. Looks stupid but turned out to be smart and so deceiving. This was actually so good, but I couldn't stop thinking that there was something missing. Why Longo chooses to use Finkle's identity was not so well explained. Maybe the dialogue which was not so strong. To me, the story was just not so well explored.

    This movie is based on a memoir of Michael Finkel. I usually love movies based on true story, but not this one.Sorry. I don't know. It's just not easy to grasp. I need to consult Wikipedia to fill the holes in my head.
  • A true story is not necessarily an interesting one, a fact proved by this mess of a movie. The easy pickings for criticism begin with Jonah Hill – a very talented and enjoyable actor who is out of his depth in this leading role. After turning in excellent (and, to some, surprising) dramatic performances in Oscar-nominated supporting roles in Moneyball and the Wolf of Wall St., Hill, or someone in his camp, decided it was time to take a crack at a dramatic leading man role. I'm not saying he can't or won't someday be successful in that effort, but this wasn't time. Nor was it completely his fault.

    The script and the direction lack clarity and vision. And, as the two greatest opponents in any communications endeavor are confusion and boredom, True Story pulls of the cardinal double no-no. First time feature film Director Rupert Goold had a potentially interesting story and some capable talent in his hands but simply didn't execute on it. The montages that fail to advance the story in an interesting manner are just one example maddening displays of wasted opportunity. The staging is often flat. The edits, at times, seem to happen because they can rather than for any good reason. The strange thing to me is, watching this film in a packed free preview audience, there were more than a few people that seemed to think it was at least "okay". I could be snarky and say they got what they paid for it, but I'll take the high road. My opinion, like all, should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Hill plays Michael Finkel, a former New York Times reporter who got fired for the way he embellished a story and conflated sources to tell, what he felt, was a greater truth. I never believed Hill as a writer, though he has shown great intelligence in even some of his silliest characters previously. James Franco plays Christian Longo, who ranks among the lower level of scum of the earth for killing his wife and three kids in brutal and remorseless fashion. Felicity Jones is a fine actress whose character, Jill, seems to have some interesting things to say, but rarely gets a chance to show them. Her relationship with Hill is laughably bad. And as much as I wanted to cheer for her in the dramatic take it to Christian moment when she decides to visit him in prison (and she's there because it makes good drama…?), the movie was long since gone. James Franco flashes occasionally as Longo, but I still get the feeling he was bored or partially committed too often, unwilling to throw his full weight behind what he's doing. See him in Spring Breakers to get the depth of depravity played well if you want to see this type of thing.
  • ferguson-619 April 2015
    Greetings again from the darkness. "Sometimes the truth isn't believable. But that doesn't mean it's not true". These words are spoken by Christian Longo, the man accused of brutally murdering his wife and 3 kids in 2001. The line between truth and lies is at the core of this real life story based on journalist Michael Finkel's memoir and recollections of his conversations with Longo.

    The New York Times investigative reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is introduced to us as he is researching the story which ultimately leads to his dismissal, after it's discovered he played fast and loose with details in order to present a more impactful story. Soon he receives an odd phone call from an Oregon writer (Ethan Suplee) who informs Finkel that his name is being used by Longo (James Franco), the suspected murderer who was recently captured in Mexico. As a disgraced journalist, Finkel seizes the opportunity to connect with Longo, and soon enough the two morally-compromised men are locked in psychological warfare, where we as viewers aren't sure just who is using who in this oddball "friendship".

    Hill and Franco are best known for their raunchy and raucous comedies, and both deliver much "quieter" performances than what we have come to expect from them. While it's a bit of stretch to buy Jonah Hill as a renowned writer, Franco is absolutely chilling as a manipulative psychopath. Franco is so good in the role that he overpowers Hill, which undermines what was supposed to be an intricate game of cat and mouse.

    Franco is a frightening figure on the courtroom witness stand as he tells his version of that fateful night, and he is equally unnerving to watch in general conversation with Finkel. However, the single best scene in the film comes when Felicity Jones unleashes the wrath of truth on Franco's Longo. Ms. Jones is otherwise underutilized for most of the film, as her relationship with Finkel is never really explored.

    Rather than provide any substantive background on what makes either Finkel or Longo tick, we are instead left to make our own assumptions based on the framed magazine covers and the spurts of flashbacks. And thus the film's biggest flaw is cheating us out of the backstory that might help explain the otherwise fascinating conversations/showdowns between these two flawed gents … one significantly more flawed than the other.

    It's impossible not to compare this to Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" and the subsequent films based on his writing experience: Capote (2005), and Infamous (2006). Stretching and bending the truth are common themes, as are intriguing and disturbing insights from the writers and the accused.

    There are times True Story comes off as little more than a made for TV movie, but the best moments more than make up for it, and Franco's portrayal will stick with you long after Finkel finally understands who and what he is dealing with. It's also a reminder that there are people who "want the truth so badly" they "will lie to get it". Try saying that with a wink.
  • thesar-215 July 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    I guess they were leaving it up to the audience on whether or not James Franco's Chris killed his family or not, for those who knew nothing of the case or read the book because…they failed to really focus on the grisly murdered family. I wondered that as I watched this interesting, but never elevated back-and-forth, accused and writer relationship. Johan Hill did fine as Mike, but just as he said in the movie: there's enough here for an entire book – not just an article, I felt that this movie was basically an article on the events and not the whole story. Mercifully, the strange, but severely underdeveloped relationship between the men, kept me intrigued. And while I can see where the focus was from the screenplay writer and director, it's sad that the brutal murders of three innocent children and their mother seem completely incidental and almost meaningless.

    Had his movie been more fleshed out and gave more to all angles vs. just a weird bond, I might have liked it more. Instead we get a 99 minute, couple of chapters of a grander and more interesting, albeit depressing story.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Back in 2001 Christian Longo's wife and three children were found dead in various locations, apparently murdered. Longo himself disappeared and was put on the "most wanted" list. He was found not long after in Mexico, he was claiming to be New York Times journalist Michael Finkel. In 2003 he was tried and found guilty, and sentenced to death. Now, 13 years later he apparently is still on death row.

    This movie only treats the murders themselves in a very brief manner, does not dwell on them at all. Instead it focuses on the relationship Longo and Finkel developed. Finkel was a very recent journalistic outcast for having falsified a story about boys held into slavery and was desperately searching for redemption and also a nice paycheck. When Longo requested him, he was more than happy to meet him.

    The best thing about this movie are the acting of Jonah Hill as Michael Finkel and James Franco as Christian Longo. Both actors have been in some very poor and stupid comedic roles but here they are straight dramatic roles and each handles it very nicely.

    The story is interesting but the focus in on how Longo manipulated Finkel and how Finkel lapped it up. The movie is based on Finkel's own book and, coming off his disgrace for lying, I would presume it is mostly accurate.

    Watched the DVD from my local public library. There are a couple of interesting extras and we see and hear Finkel himself.
  • Sadly, there is not much to say about True Story. It's a crime/mystery 'thriller' (labeling this a thriller is questionable) that plays out just as you would expect. There were far too few surprises to speak of, which the movie seemed to be moving toward. Everything here felt like 'the calm before the storm' but when it came time for the storm, there was nothing there. The story in itself is quite interesting, a murder taking on the identity of a writer which leads to the two interacting and trying to determine the motive behind such a weird act. But nothing ever comes of it, at least nothing interesting or thought provoking. True Story is a straightforward crime drama that finishes as a courtroom drama.

    The acting was decent enough, a strong cast, but the camera work tries to force the creepy persona of James Franco down our throats with a ton of close of shots of his face. It was difficult to see a monster, he may look scruffy but down under there was no beast to be found here. The character of Longo was never creepy enough to carry the movie (Hopkins had 13 minutes of screen time in Silence of the Lambs and created a truly frightening monster).

    So while the trailer might look appealing, just now that it's quite deceptive (just like the main theme of the movie). Like I said, everything found here was too calm for its own good, there was no huge reveal or anything like that to make this movie interesting. Certainly a forgettable movie within Franco and Hill's growing filmographies.
  • There is nothing good to say about this movie at all. The story was boring, the characters were boring and the ending put me to sleep. It's a true story but not one worthy of making a screen play to create substance where none exists. I kept waiting for some plot bomb to drop and make me actually start to care about the plot or characters but it never came. All I got from my 90 minutes of my life was a sad excuse for a drama, suspense movie with boring dialog. There are also tons of artsy shots throughout the movie that were made for nothing more than to purposely consume screen time with nonsense that's irrelevant to telling a good story. I hate wasting my time on movies like this. Save your time or keep the FF close by to jump through the awful dialog which will bring you closer to the end of this train wreck of a movie.
  • The issue of journalistic integrity comes to the fore in this excellent story about two men who form an unlikely and bizarre friendship. Both men are emotionally damaged, both have had run-ins with authority and each identifies with the other. That one is disgraced journalist and the other a mass murderer makes the story even more intense. The movie brings out how emotions can distort reasoning and cause people to project all kinds of feelings onto another until truth becomes blurred. It is the blurring of the truth that takes place here. The movie does an outstanding job of showing how, in defiance of the intense pressure that was being applied to both men to end their communications, the friendship evolves. It occurs in stages. The details of how it happens and how it effects both men is what this movie is about. Jonah Hill and James Franco are outstanding in their respective roles as the journalist and the mass murderer. For further details, watch the movie.
  • I did not see that coming. James Franco and Jonah Hill together in a movie that is not a comedy.

    Sure, out of the hilarious cast of This is the End, it would make the most since that these two would do drama, but still, I went into this movie expecting it to be a laughable mess, but was really amazed how well done it was.

    You got to get over the fact that it's Franco and Hill. Individually the two of them doing drama is a lot easier to swallow, especially Jonah with things like Money Ball and Wolf of Wall Street on his resume. You can take it serious when the two are apart, but together you're expecting comedy.

    What's interesting about True Story is that Hill and Franco are playing the archetypes that you'd expect from them, and because of this, the movie could have easily worked as a comedy. It was Hill and Franco doing what you seen them do a million times in comedies but doing it in a drama piece. It does not make the movie better (it may have done better if they made it a comedy), but it made the movie more interesting.

    Both men did a fine job with the material, it was well acted by everyone involved. I would recommend giving it a shot.
  • I'll keep this brief. I liked the film up until about halfway through when it became clear that absolutely nothing was going to happen.

    I thought there would at least be an interesting twist; there wasn't.

    The conversations between the leads should have been engaging but they weren't and I got the sense that James Franco and Jonah Hill were struggling to act seriously during their scenes together.

    There's a particular scene involving Hill's wife and Franco's character which is just unbelievably stupid and pointless. There were so many red herrings in terms of character reactions to things (mostly by the wife) and set ups for future plot events which never materialised.

    The film gained some momentum during the court scene, mostly just because of the graphic and disturbing scenes of child murder, but this quickly fizzled due to poor script and/or story writing.

    The end credits state this film was written based on a true story and whilst I have nothing but empathy for the real life people affected by these events, this film was a waste of talent and should have been much better executed.

    5/10 (I didn't switch it off though in hindsight, I should have)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In 2002, two seemingly unrelated events brought Christian Longo (Jonah Hill) and Michael Finkel (James Franco) into each other's lives. While Finkel was getting fired from a writing gig at the New York Times for fabricating details about a cover story, Longo had murdered his family and fled the country. When Longo was finally apprehended, he gave the authorities Finkel's name as his own. Based on Finkel's memoir, True Story unpacks the bizarre details surrounding Finkel's and Longo's relationship and offers a contemporary version of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. The terse chemistry between Finkel and Longo is gripping to watch—it's never quite clear who is using whom until the film's final moments. These two actors deftly play out their characters' battle for psychological dominance—Hill makes us feel Finkel's inner turmoil, and Franco's cool detachment is both alienating and alluring. Some praises also need to be sung about Felicity Jones, who plays Finkel's quietly badass fiancée Jill. The scene in which she slices through the character insulation that Longo has built up around himself is a beautiful show of pure indignation. –Alex Springer
  • mm-3928 April 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    True Story is a strong movie. The film is a character driven movie which strongest element is the acting performances of Hill and Franco. True Story is a courtroom/prison drama which could have a bogged down story. However, Hill's character's desperation story about trying to save his damaged career drives the first half of True Story. True story's second half dives into Franco's character. Franco's performance of a narcissistic and sociopath killer is chilling. The Charming yet manipulative portrayal of Franco's character should earn Franco an award. A memorable indie style true crime drama. I believe we will see more of James Franco. Hill, I believe is type-casted into a lackey role. A good career move with both actors. I believe True Story will not be a commercial success, but a movie I would watch a second time.
  • 'TRUE STORY': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

    A dramatic crime-thriller, starring Jonah Hill and James Franco! It definitely takes a little while to get used to. The story revolves around a reporter investigating a man accused of murdering his wife and children, in Oregon, for a book he's writing. It's based on the memoir of Michael Finkel, the reporter that Hill plays in the film; while Franco plays the accused killer. The movie was directed by Rupert Goold and scripted by David Kajganich and Goold. It's a bit of a mess, but it's still worth watching and interesting enough (in some ways).

    Michael Finkel (Hill) was a rising successful reporter, working for the New York Times, until his employers discovered he falsified information in one of his stories; he was terminated because of it. He later learned that a man, named Christian Longo (Franco), was using his name to hide out under, in Mexico, until he was arrested for murdering his wife and children. He was fascinated by this and decided to meet Longo, while he was being held in a prison, in Oregon. Upon meeting Finkel, Longo told the reporter that he'd tell him his side of the story, if he taught him how to write; and kept everything he told him a secret. Finkel agreed to the arrangement, because he saw it as a big opportunity to get his career back on track. He quickly learned that Longo, and his stories, were not as they first appeared.

    At first I definitely didn't buy Hill, in the dramatic leading man role; but I couldn't decide if it was me not giving him enough of a chance, or Hill not being the right actor for the part. I also didn't think much of Franco's acting, in this movie, at first either. Then seeing the two of them, on screen together, made the movie seem even less realistic. After some time, a lot of it, I finally found their characters believable, and I became fully intrigued in the movie as well. By this time the movie was almost over though; it does come to a pretty satisfying and entertaining conclusion at least. I think it's nice to see Hill and Franco doing diversifying work, and I think they're both good in this movie, but they're a lot better in other films (especially their comedic work; that's what they're both best at). As for the movie itself, the script could have used some more rewrites and the directing isn't that impressive either; the director and co-writer are both pretty inexperienced though (so it's somewhat understandable).

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw "True Story", starring Jonah Hill-The Wolf of Wall Street, This is the End; James Franco-This is the End, Spider-Man 1,2 &3; Felicity Jones- The Theory of Everything, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Ethan Suplee-The Wolf of Wall Street, My Name is Earl_tv.

    This is not a comedy-with Jonah & James, you might have thought that it would be-and it is based on a true story-I bet you did not see that coming, from the title-about a man accused of the disturbing crime of killing his wife and 3 children. Jonah plays a reporter for the New York Times that gets fired because he lied about some details of a story he turned in- sounds kind of like the Brian Williams story where he was caught enhancing a story. James plays the man that allegedly slaughtered his entire family- thankfully, the actual crimes are not shown but they are talked about. Jonah receives a phone call from Ethan, informing him about James and his sordid past. At first, Jonah does not understand the purpose of calling him until he hears that when James was caught, he was using Jonah's identity to hide. Of course Jonah wants to know why James picked him and so he contacts James in prison to try to get some answers. Felicity plays Jonah's girlfriend, who does not like or trust James. There is a lot of back and forth between Jonah & James with doubts and issues of trust popping up and what or who to believe. As the end credits start, you learn answers about who really did what and what their situation is now. It is a compelling story. It's rated "R" for language and disturbing material and has a running time of 1 hour & 39 minutes. It's not one that I would buy on DVD-once was enough-but it would be a good rental.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The movie True Story is about a man who kills his family and then tries to confuse the jury versus taking responsibility. His temperament was very calm. And this feature or trait sets him apart from other murders. He says that he is trying to protect somebody, and I wonder if this other person could be his split personality, as there was a quick mention of insanity in this story. Is it conceivable that a person could kill in the thick of a switch over from one personality to another? Is it at least possible or impossible? I feel this movie should have included a psychiatrist to have at least explored this option. Did the lead character, who the story is based on, really have no one to defend him; and perhaps, this trial should have been a miss-trial. I believe that the story is not complete, and that is exactly what makes it a good story, because in life, mostly we live incomplete narratives based on judgements from others.
  • "True Story" is an adaptation of a book in which the author tries desperately to make himself interesting. He isn't. The screenwriters tried equally desperately to make this movie interesting. It's not.

    Apparently, Mike Finkel fancies himself Truman Capote. Without the journalistic integrity. The "True Story" movie viewing experience mirrors Finkel's true story: 100 minutes in the dark waiting for something to happen. Nothing does. Not in Finkel's real life and not in this film.

    For the most part we are treated to Longo (James Franco) being inscrutable without a hint of creepy. Jill (Felicity Jones) being concerned about Finkel without a hint of passion. Finkel (Jonah Hill) being ... I have no idea what he was being. Hill didn't seem to, either. At one point he gets really, REALLY upset. Possibly to awaken audience members who've fallen asleep.

    Is this all this nothing masquerading as drama the director's fault? The actors seem to be animated in other films. The script is doing the best it can. The set design is fine, the photography quite good.

    The real problem with this movie is: it's based on a "true story" that has no story.
  • In the movie business, casting is critical, both for the creative process and for a movie's potential profitability. A good cast can make a good script into a great movie or even turn a mediocre script into a good movie. A bad cast can ruin even great scripts and thwart the best directors. Of course, a cast starts with individuals – and certain questions that must be answered. Do the cast members fit their roles physically (at least coming close to what playing that character demands) and do each of the actors and actresses have the chops and, if the film is a drama, the gravitas to pull off the role? And what about perceptions? Audience members have opinions and they're the ones who vote with their dollars and determine whether a movie is ultimately a success or a failure. Simply put, will audiences in general, accept a given actor or actress in a specific role? Now, the best actors and actresses can overcome some of these potential casting problems, but very few, if any, can overcome them all. Unfortunately, the questions and issues I just raised could be seen as a problem for "True Story" (R, 1:40).

    This film is the… (hmmm… trying not to mention the film's title too repetitively or make a bad pun here…) it's the… Factual Narrative behind the jailhouse conversations between journalist Michael Finkel and accused killer Christian Longo. Finkel (Jonah Hill) had just lost his job as a highly-regarded New York Times reporter for making some factual errors with a major story. Longo (James Franco) went to Mexico after allegedly murdering his wife and three small children. In Mexico, Longo was giving his name as "Mike Finkel", including at the time of his arrest. When Finkel hears about this, he travels from his cabin in Montana to a county jail in Oregon to ask Longo "Why"? Why Longo appropriated Finkel's name and, somewhat more importantly, why Longo murdered his own family. Does Longo genuinely just admire Finkel, or is he taking advantage of Finkel's desperation for a new writing gig and current reputation for playing fast and loose with the facts to use Finkel for his own ends. And DID Longo murder his family? Much of the film portrays the encounters between Finkel and Longo. Finkel uses various techniques to get to know Longo and draw out his story. Longo talks to Finkel regularly, but he also writes long letters to Finkel – with pictures. Finkel writes back, and continues to visit Longo in jail – the only reporter to whom Longo will talk. Finkel soon decides that Longo's story is more than a newspaper article that he can try selling to the highest bidder, but rather a book that he can try selling to the highest bidder. Longo agrees to tell Finkel his story as long as it isn't published until after the trial and if Finkel will give Longo writing lessons. An exchange of favors and information begins – and develops into a kind of friendship. Finkel, seeing the potential for a big payday wants to get Longo's entire story and, chastened by his recent fall from grace, knows he needs to get the story right – a goal that becomes more complicated than it sounds. Finkel's girlfriend, Jill (Felicity Jones) supports him but is concerned that he might be giving Longo too much leeway and too big of a benefit of the doubt in the pursuit of truth.

    "True Story" suffers from poor casting and a meaningless story. Hill is a good actor (with two Oscar nominations) and Franco is… an adequate actor (with one nom). Both are known more for comedies. Knowing their resumes and that they're friends in real life, seeing them sitting across from each other in totally serious roles was distracting. I just kept imagining them laughing between takes or about to break into comic banter in the midst of the drama. But maybe that's just me. More importantly, were they each up to the dramatic challenge? Again, in my opinion, no. Franco's acting wasn't sinister enough to make me think he was dangerous, intense enough to make me believe he was innocent or deep enough to convince me he was serious. Hill… I just couldn't buy as a seasoned journalist. Same with the Oregon reporter played by Ethan Suplee, who is also known mainly for his comedic acting. Jones was good, as was Robert John Burke playing a cop, but that wasn't enough.

    My other big problem with "True Story" is that it just didn't have much of a point. It's a little bit "Primal Fear" and a little bit "The Usual Suspects", but the script wasn't as smart, the characters as engaging or the ending nearly as satisfying as those earlier films. This movie literally settles for a wink and a nod when it could have said something interesting about our legal system or at least given us a few thrills on the way to its lackluster conclusion. This movie isn't terrible, but it's not very good either. I'm giving this one a "C". I'm not recommending it (like something in the "B" or "A" range), but I don't think it deserves trashing ("D" or "F"). I hope you'll decide for yourself. If you do see the movie, come back and tell me what you thought. I really welcome any and all comments – good, bad or indifferent. True Story!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "He said she said" but who will you believe. It didn't really matter. The plot is very predictable. You will feel that lies are coming but wonder if the journalist will start to doubt his new and intense best friend (which happens to be a murderer). The entire play had the ball drop from the very beginning! So don't expect "April fools" to come and bite you around the corner. ("Adding the double negative" the only part of the movie that had any potential but still led to the same anticipated conclusion) don't worry! You won't need to pay close attention! Just sit back and pray that you might feel any different than i did. You'll pull out your magic shovel and try to dig up a higher understanding of the nothing that there is!! Very simple!!= a murderer fighting for a little bit of rubbish chit chat so that his time may be more stimulated. And a journalist fighting to salvage his failing career by attempting to understand and believe the very reflection of his own lie!!! Your best bet is to lower as much expectations as possible so that there might be some room left for pleasure! But seriously good luck!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I must confess I wonder what it is about James Franco that causes people to gladly through money at him? Money they are often destined to lose. Brad Pitt is producing and he has the cash to spare so I suppose it's no loss. And there's likely to be a tax benefit buried in this somewhere.

    Franco has a bad habit of appearing in money losing films and I boldly predict this one is his latest. This really should never have been more than a TV movie of the week. It's a rip off (and a poor one) of Capote's In Cold Blood. It want's to be a muscle car but is hiding no more than 4 cylinders under its hood.

    Franco, I will say, steals the show. He overwhelms just about every other actor in the cast, especially Hill who can not make the grade against him. (Sometimes his acting almost devours the scenery and not in a good way.) But wait. Franco has been portraying this same maniacal, loser doper for years and years. If he doesn't have it down by now, he's hopeless.

    It's not a bad effort for a first time director. But if I were you I'd wait until it's available at the bargain 2nd run matinée house. Not worth a full priced ticket. Unless you are a Franco groupie. Then you'd pay to watch him shovel dirt.
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