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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Shattered Glass



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#1 of 29 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted March 20 2004 - 02:39 PM

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Shattered Glass


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Studio: Lions Gate
Year: 2003
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Retail Price: $27.95



Like dozens of other films released each year, Shattered Glass was released to rave reviews by most critics yet the film was dumped into a small selection of theaters and it didn’t get any attention or business. The film slipped in and out of theaters very quickly, only making a little over two million but on March 23rd Lions Gate will release this film to DVD and like the companies earlier sleeper, Wonderland, hopefully the DVD release will get the film a little more attention.

Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) is an up and coming writer for The New Republic as well as a freelance journalist for such magazines as George and Rolling Stone. Glass has everything going for right for him. At such a young age no one had gathered as much respect and best of all is that his coverage of political topics were able to carry humor to mix in with the drama. Glass was always able to impress his editor Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) but one bizarre story changed that.

Glass latest story called Hack Heaven was about a young hacker who was able to hack into the computer of a large software corporation but instead of pressing charges, the company instead hired this hacker to protect them from other hackers. This young kid earned millions and the story caught the eye of journalist Adam Penenberg (Steven Zahn), a writer for the internet site Forbes Digital Tool. Adam plans on doing a follow up piece but as he begins to do his research he soon learns that none of the sources can be found and even the company can’t be reached. Soon it becomes clear that Glass has made many errors in the story but there’s a lot more going on behind all the pages.

Shattered Glass is a remarkable film that has enough drama for two films and it’s a shame only a few people has seen this film. I wasn’t too familiar with the story of Stephen Glass so I’m not sure how popular this actual story was but as a movie everything is so well handed and the story is so well told that the drama comes very naturally without any problems. In our current times where blow ‘em up action films are raking in millions, it’s very refreshing to watch a film like this that goes for the brain instead of your wallet.

The film earned many comparisons to All the President’s Men, which I feel it deserves. Director Billy Ray gives us time to get to know the characters as well as the stage they are acting on, which is their office rooms and their computers. In an opening scene Stephen pretty much gives us the outline of what goes on in getting your story published and this here adds to the drama when his story starts to come under fire as being a fake. There are several editor meetings as well as fact checking and all of this comes off very natural and you can’t help but feel you’re watching a documentary instead of a film.

Another highlight of the film is the way everything comes lays itself out. The story isn’t a complicated one and in fact it’s very simple but that’s certainly not a negative thing. What Stephen Glass did was charm everyone from his friends to his editors that his fake stories seemed so real yet if those same people read the stories again with a clear mind they would have certainly known they were under a fraud. The film works on the same level because we the viewer knows exactly what’s going on but since we like Glass and perhaps feel sorry for him, we take his word and we check his sources again in hopes that what he’s saying is the truth. This is where the film’s drama comes from. We care for the character of Glass and we want him to redeem himself but at the same time we can’t hate his editor because he’s just doing his job as well. In the end, the film doesn’t settle for good guys versus the bad guys but instead tells a simple story about a mistake and the impact it had on those involved with it.

When I read the cast I must admit that I thought this was going to be a very stupid film with some overacting that you’d only find in a grade C film. That’s certainly the total opposite of what’s here and I’m now 100% certain that Academy voters never see every film out there, which is a shame because some of the year’s best acting can be seen here. Hayden Christenson gives a remarkable performance, which goes from a likeable, shy kid to a kid suffering from a nervous breakdown. The best scene in the movie is when Glass is having a conference call with Forbes magazine and while they are drilling him Glass keeps making up a story to try and throw them off his line. The way Christensen handles this is remarkable to watch because the acting is so natural that it feels like we’re watching the real Stephen Glass trying to get through these questions. Peter Sarsggard steals the film as the hated editor who must do the right thing and reveal the truth. Chloe Sevigny, Steve Zahn and Hank Azaria also deliver very good supporting performances.

Shattered Glass features no explosions, no gunfights, no sex scenes and no graphic violence. Instead it tells a simple story about a troubled man and a mistake he made and this simple story comes off so realistic that the drama naturally falls into place at every turn. I’m not sure how much, if anything was made up for this film but as a general viewing I thought everything worked perfectly without anything being forced on us. Even in the ending when most films would have thrown a message our way, this film doesn’t do that but instead lets us walk away because we’re smart enough to know what was wrong and what was right. Hopefully Shattered Glass will find a bigger audience on DVD because the film deserves it and most importantly, people deserve to see a film like this.


VIDEO---The film is shown widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The picture quality is good but for such a recent film I must admit it’s rather disappointing. There’s some major edge enhancement in a few scenes but the problem only lasts a few seconds and it’s pretty much non-noticeable throughout the rest of the movie. Colors are good throughout and the blacks are very rich and deep. The biggest problem is some black speckles, which pop up throughout the transfer. This certainly isn’t a problem with older films but for a movie released in 2003 this really looks bad on the transfer. Overall the transfer is good but it’s certainly far from being great.

AUDIO---The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 and like the video, it’s good but don’t expect anything great. The center channel handles the dialogue throughout and it’s very clear without any hiss or scratches. The Surrounds only come into play whenever there’s music in the background but this here really doesn’t pack much of a punch. The film is dialogue driven and since this is clear there isn’t too much to complain about here.

EXTRAS---First up is an audio commentary with director Billy Ray and the real Chuck Lane. For some strange reason this here isn’t listed on the DVD case as an extra but it’s certainly here and thank God for that. This is an incredibly entertaining track and it’s rather interesting hearing from the real Chuck Lane as a part of his life is playing on screen. The director goes into great detail talking about the real Stephen Glass and the making of the film. Everything from the actors to the screenplay are covered. Up next is an interview with the real Stephen Glass, which is from the show 60 Minutes. This here runs 12-minutes and is pretty interesting. A theatrical trailer is also included (although not listed on the DVD case).

OVERALL---This is a remarkable film that didn’t find an audience but I really hope that changes in a few days when this film will get a second chance on DVD. The drama comes off remarkably well and the film contains some of the best acting I’ve seen in a recent film. The Lions Gate DVD is good but there are some minor problems with the transfer and the sound is good enough for a dialogue driven film. The extras alone are worth the retail price of this.


Release Date: March 23, 2004

#2 of 29 OFFLINE   CraigL

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Posted March 20 2004 - 03:36 PM

Thanks for the review. I thought this was definitely one of the best films I've seen in a long time and proves that Anakin Skywalker can act! Can't WAIT to see it again!

And for those in NYC, it will be re-released in one of the Times Square theaters this week...although I have NO idea why. Posted Image

#3 of 29 OFFLINE   Dan Rudolph

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Posted March 21 2004 - 08:22 AM

I've been wanting to see this, but it never played anywhere near me. I heard about it largely from blogger Andrew Sullivan, who used to be an editor for the New Republic and in fact hired Glass, IIRC.
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#4 of 29 OFFLINE   Nick Sievers

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Posted March 21 2004 - 09:00 AM

I have heard really good things about this film, I might have to make a blind purchase because I don't see it being released on DVD here for quite a while.
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#5 of 29 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted March 21 2004 - 10:28 AM

I have yet to be pleased by any of Hayden Christensen's performances. However, Peter Sarsgaard's performance was very powerful and was overlooked for a Best Supporting Actor nomination in the Academy Awards. The film itself is decent, but was painful to watch because of all the lies Glass got away with.

#6 of 29 OFFLINE   Matt Pelham

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Posted March 21 2004 - 10:58 AM

Yes, I just saw this a few days ago and was very impressed, particualarly with Azaria and with Sarsgaard, whom I had only seen in Empire prior to Shattered Glass. Very well made, extremely well acted with great drama.

#7 of 29 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted March 21 2004 - 02:02 PM

Ah yes, Hank Azaria was great as well.

#8 of 29 OFFLINE   CraigL

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Posted March 21 2004 - 02:15 PM

Quote:
with Sarsgaard, whom I had only seen in Empire


excellent in K-19 as well.

Now that I'm reading this review...i'm all excited to see it again. Made me excited to like movies again.

#9 of 29 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 22 2004 - 12:40 AM

Damn, Michael. You are going to make
me spend some $$$.

I am intrigued by your review. I'll place
an order for this DVD later today

Nice review!

 

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Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#10 of 29 OFFLINE   BrianAe

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Posted March 22 2004 - 06:59 AM

I think this movie is based upon Stephen Glass's own book called The Fabulist. I for one don't want to see a con-artist with no ethics profit so I won't be watching this DVD. The potential success of Glass (even though the book did poorly) has prompted that guy who made up all that stuff in the NY Times to get a book deal and all this positive press he doesn't deserve. So, I think this film definitely has a negative impact.

#11 of 29 OFFLINE   Andy_G

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Posted March 22 2004 - 07:38 AM

I think this movie is based upon Stephen Glass's own book called The Fabulist.


You are wrong. This movie is based on the public record.

#12 of 29 OFFLINE   BrianAe

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Posted March 22 2004 - 08:18 AM

Andy,

I think you might be right. This is from Cnn.com
Quote:
His story was turned into an unauthorized film, "Shattered Glass," which received extensive publicity but did little for sales of the novel.


How does the movie treat Mr. Glass? I hope it really sticks it to him. Either way, I'm still not sure he deserves any attention.

#13 of 29 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted March 22 2004 - 08:48 AM

Looking forward to finally seeing this too. Read alot about it but never got to see it in theaters.

#14 of 29 OFFLINE   Kenneth_C

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Posted March 22 2004 - 10:32 AM

The movie is definitely NOT based on Glass' book, but on a Vanity Fair article written by Buzz Bissinger.

The movie's writer/director, Billy Ray, also used transcripts of conversations and got cooperation from some of Glass' coworkers, including the editors Chuck Lane and Michael Kelly. Lane even joins Ray on the commentary track (which is a very informative & worthwhile listen).

Glass himself did not cooperate with the film. IIRC, Ray says that he has never even spoken with Glass.

#15 of 29 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 23 2004 - 05:01 PM

This is definitely an interesting film. I never even considered the possibility that Christensen could actually act, but he is top notch here.

As far as how Glass is treated, I think that depends greatly on the perspective of the viewer. Michael stated that he was at least sometimes likeable, but in my case, my opinion started at mild disdain and grew to complete revulsion. I have known people like that (we all probably have) and every single move they make is self serving and narcissistic. These are the people who not only tap the energy and trust from absolutely every person around them, but make them think they like it.



Excellent film.

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#16 of 29 OFFLINE   R. Kay

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Posted March 24 2004 - 08:41 AM

60 Minutes interview with Glass (included as a supplement) was interesting.

Quite a weasel, was this Glass ...

#17 of 29 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 24 2004 - 09:29 AM

Quote:
60 Minutes interview with Glass (included as a supplement) was interesting.
I loved that quote by Chuck Lang at the end of that piece. Pretty well summed up Glass, who I suspect has changed very little.

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#18 of 29 OFFLINE   ZacharyTait

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Posted March 24 2004 - 01:09 PM

I rented this movie and now I'm kicking myself for not seeing in theaters when it was here. I pride myself on catching the smaller films, but for some reason I never forced myself to go see this.

Hayden Christensen shows that he needs real world scenery to deliver a terrific performance. I find it ironic that he'll be known as Anakin for the rest of his life, but so far his two best performances have not come from the two Star Wars prequels, but rather Life as a House and this movie. Compared to the Stephen Glass shown in the 60 Minutes segment, he comes off as more charismatic. The real one comes off as needy and unapologetic.

Peter Sarsgaard steals the movie from Darth however. I loved how he keeps his rage and suspicions under his skin until it all boils over at the end. While it would have been nice to see him get an Oscar nomination, I really couldn't pull one of the 5 that were nominated in the Supporting Actor category out and plug him in.

It was also great to see Moe, Chief Wiggum, Apu, Comic Book Guy, Cletus, and Professor Frink in this movie. Posted Image

I haven't listened to the commentary, but once I buy this, I'll give it a spin.

This movie definitely deserves it comparison to All the President's Men.

#19 of 29 OFFLINE   CraigL

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Posted March 24 2004 - 01:28 PM

Quote:
I haven't listened to the commentary, but once I buy this, I'll give it a spin.


There isn't a commentary.

#20 of 29 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted March 24 2004 - 01:46 PM

There is a commentary but it's not listed on the case. The trailer isn't either for that matter.