The Report

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

It’s one thing to do a historical epic or a biopic about important figures from the past. The filmmakers have the advantage of historical perspective.

This is exampled by films ranging from “Spielberg’s “Lincoln” to the in-theaters-now “Harriet.”

It’s more tricky when making a movie about living people and events too fresh for the history books. To some degree you have to take such efforts on faith, assuming they present a viewpoint by the filmmaker more than a time-tested assessment.

“The Report” is such a film.

Currently playing at Tropic Cinema, this docudrama is based on Senate Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel J. Jones’s efforts to expose abuses in the CIA’s post-9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program.

The film had the working title of “The Torture Report.”

Jones (Adam Driver) is assigned by his boss Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead the U.S. Senate investigation into “enhanced interrogation techniques” — the CIA’s systematic torture of terrorist suspects in the years following the 9/11 attacks.

Jones’s relentless pursuit of the truth plays like a political thriller. His decade-long investigation produced a 6,700-page report that uncovered “brutal, immoral, and ineffective forms of torture being used by the CIA. But getting the report published was difficult as both the CIA and White House tried to block it.

In addition to Driver and Benning, you’ll see such familiar faces as Jon Hamm, Matthew Rhys, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, Maura Tierney, Jennifer Morrison, and Tim Blake Nelson … playing real-life figures.

Writer-director Scott Z. Burns (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “An Inconvenient Truth”) made “The Report” for Amazon Studios. In the new hybrid world of streaming videos and feature films, “The Report” will follow its theatrical release with availability on Amazon Prime at the end of the month.

“Initially I had an idea to do ’The Report’ as kind of a very dark comedy, and yet it became clear to me, as I started my research, that the story was so upsetting that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything about it in a darkly comic back-to-school kind of way. So that ended up going down a different path,” says Burns.

“We talk about waterboarding, or sleep deprivation, or walling. But what we’re really talking about is physically hurting people. Then you have to take a step back and go, How did we decide that was okay?”

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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