According to, Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” has grossed $5,216,226 since opening in wide release on Dec. 13. So it’s not exactly setting the box office on fire, but you wouldn’t know that from the media meltdowns over the film.

Philadelphia Inquirer national opinion columnist Will Bunch wrote a “nearly 2,000-word screed” complaining about the movie’s “alternate facts” and smearing of reporter Kathy Scruggs.” And now Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman is on deck, saying that the biggest lie in the movie is “its Trumpian view of American institutions.”

Gleiberman starts off by recalling Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair representing Barack Obama — something we’d completely forgotten about, but he certainly didn’t. He then argues, like Bunch, that the film essentially makes journalists look bad in an age where the president is always calling out “fake news.”

He writes:

… what’s far more disturbing about “Richard Jewell” is the film’s larger implication: that in telling the Jewell saga, it’s laying out the hidden truth of how mainstream media and national law enforcement work in America.

For this, it couldn’t be more obvious, is why Eastwood made the film in the first place: to demonize the same forces Donald Trump is now in the business of demonizing. “Richard Jewell” is a drama that piggybacks on Trump’s demagoguery. The movie says that the mainstream media can’t be trusted, and that even the government’s top law enforcement agency will railroad you. And Jewell himself is the pudgy-soul-of-the-heartland, ordinary American white-guy yokel who gets used and abused by these corrupt institutions, with no one to look out for him. The movie treats him as a symbolic Trump supporter. Yet Eastwood, pretending to be a crusader for justice, would never come close to applying the same standard of truth and honor to the institutions that defend Donald Trump.

So it’s the government and the press versus the “ordinary American white-guy yokel,” and the movie sides with him. No wonder critics are so upset by it.


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